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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what would be the estimated net cost to public funds of drawing down all EU agrimonetary compensation packages currently available. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 19 October 2001]: There is approximately £55 million of agrimonetary compensation currently available for the arable sector. The net cost to the UK Exchequer of drawing down this sum would be approximately £47 million.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the effect on the environment of dioxin veltase associated with the disposal of carcases during the foot and mouth outbreak. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 15 October 2001]: Dioxins have been measured in the air and the environment around some of the pyres used to dispose of carcases during the foot and mouth outbreak. All this monitoring data will be reported on the Department of Health website.
Analysis of the air measurements and modelling by the Environment Agency suggest that earlier estimates of dioxin emissions were likely to have been overestimates and to have erred on the precautionary side.
Levels of dioxins measured in soil, herbage and food were mostly similar to levels at control farms not affected by pyres. Some chemical analysis of ash from pyres has been performed. Levels of dioxins were within the range found in urban soils.
Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to give financial assistance to the Youth Hostel Association to offset the impact of foot and mouth disease. 
Alun Michael: We are well aware of the impact that foot and mouth disease and the measures to control it have had on the Youth Hostel Association's finances. I and the Minister with responsibility for tourism, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, have met representatives of the YHA to discuss their difficulties and possible sources of help. We have recently announced a change to the guidelines for the Business Recovery Fund to clarify that individual hostels, if their applications meet the Fund criteria, may apply for assistance in their own right. In the light of the recommendations of the rural task force which I chair, published on 18 October, we are considering what further help might be made available.
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Margaret Beckett [holding answer 15 October 2001]: My Department is co-ordinating action across Government to improve our ability to detect and prevent illegal imports. Improved publicity for travellers has been introduced. Posters have been placed at main airports and information is being provided by the travel industry and FCO posts abroad. National legislation has been amended to make it easier for local authorities to act when illegally imported meat is found and the Food Standards Agency are encouraging local authorities to ensure that checks for illegal imports are part of their routine inspections of food premises. An improved system of sharing and analysing of information has been introduced to enable enforcement bodies to target action more effectively. We are also looking at other ways in which enforcement of import controls may be improved.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to reduce the amount of waste being disposed of by incineration; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 18 October 2001]: Our priority is to meet the requirement of the Landfill Directive to divert biodegradable municipal waste away from landfill by maximising recycling and composting and minimising the need for incineration and landfill. In order to achieve this the Government have set tough statutory targets under best value for local authorities to double the amount of household waste recycled by 200304 and treble it by 200506, and will set further targets for later years.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on European Commission proposals to reclassify veterinary medicinal products as prescription only medicines. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 1 November 2001]: This proposal forms part of a much wider set of proposals produced by the European Commission to amend the procedures for the authorisation and control of both human and veterinary medicines in the EU. In considering the proposal the Government have taken account of its likely impact on the supply of veterinary medicines and have agreed that, during negotiations, UK officials should seek to modify the proposal to enable a flexible approach to the distribution of veterinary medicinal products that takes advantage of existing national practices, so long as consumer protection and animal welfare can be demonstrably assured.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received from the Food Standards Agency regarding the adequacy of food import controls; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 26 October 2001]: Officials from my Department and the Food Standards Agency meet on a regular basis to discuss food import issues. There have been no representations from FSA to DEFRA other than these discussions.
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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many civil servants are employed in each area of her Department's responsibilities, and at what grades; and what the equivalent figures for the same responsibilities were prior to the establishment of DEFRA. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 26 October 2001]: The information requested is given in the figures. The data are derived from different sources and this may lead to minor inconsistencies. The figures relate to people in post; they include staff employed to deal with foot and mouth disease and those who are in the process of transferring to the Rural Payments Agency. The figures are expressed as grade equivalents.
|Core MAFF and DETR Central(7)||Core DEFRA(8)|
|Agriculture and Food|
|Environment, Rural and Regional Services|
|Animal Health (including State Veterinary Service)|
||European Union and International Policy
||Grade 7|| 9|| 6
||Economics and Statistics
||SCS|| 4|| 4
||Grade 6|| 1|| 2
||EO|| 47|| 41
(7) At 1 April 2001
(8) At 1 October 2001
5 Nov 2001 : Column: 33W
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