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Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Northavon of (a) 3 April, her reference 153878, (b) 3 May, her reference 155624, (c) 14 June, her reference 156587, (d) 8 May on the 20 day standstill for livestock movements, our ref GWY/LH, (e) 4 May on behalf of Mrs. Thomas, (f) 4 May on behalf of Mr. Barton, (g) 26 June on behalf of Mr. Weaver and (h) 23 July on behalf of Mrs. Summers. 
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the European Commission's directive on the definition of meat and meat foodstuffs; and if she will make a statement. 
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The new definition establishes a common basis for declaring meat content of products within the European Community and will provide consumers with more transparent and consistent information about the meat products they buy.
The Food Standards Agency consulted the main stakeholders twice during the negotiation of the Commission directive. Although the new definition is more restrictive than the existing one in the United Kingdom, it is not intended that it should change current manufacturing practices of meat products. Some technical amendments will be required to the UK's Meat Products and Spreadable Fish Products Regulations, which lay down reserved descriptions and a minimum meat content in certain products such as sausages and burgers, to take account of the new definition. A consultation process on these amendments has already begun, and amended regulations will be prepared this year.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she has taken to improve surveillance measures on imports of Belgian beef in order to ensure the prevention of specified risk material entering the UK. 
Specified risk material, in the form of spinal cord, has been found in carcase beef imported from Belgium on two occasions, both during November 2001. The beef came from two different Belgian plants, and in each case only a small proportion of the total consignment of carcase beef was involved. The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is responsible for food safety matters in the United Kingdom, informed the Belgian authorities promptly about these incidents, asking them to investigate and to notify the FSA of the action being taken to prevent a recurrence. On each occasion the FSA also notified the European Commission.
As meat is part of the single European market, beef from another European Union member state is not subject to border inspection controls. But it is subject to checks at the meat plant of destination within the United Kingdom. In April 2001, the FSA instructed the Meat Hygiene Service to check every consignment of imported carcase beef arriving at licensed meat plants in Great Britain. Similar advice was given to local authorities, and in Northern Ireland. This policy remains current practice.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list by country the sources of beef found to have traces of specified risk material in consignments of beef imported into the UK in the past 12 months. 
In the past 12 months, traces of specified risk material have been found in consignments of beef imported into the United Kingdom from Germany (8 times), the Netherlands (5 times), Ireland (4 times), Belgium (twice), Spain (twice), Italy (once) and Denmark (once).
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|Country||Plant||Date of SRM find in UK|
|Germany||Loblein Teterower Fleisch, Gustrow||17 January 2001|
|Westfleische, Lubbecke||17 January 2001|
|Standard Fleisch, Oldenburg||29 January 2001|
|Fleisch-Versand Heinz Gausepohl, Bakum||1 February 2001|
|Fleischverkaufsstelk, Kalkar||1 March 2001|
|Mueller Fleisch, Birkenfeld||2 March 2001|
|Fleischzentrum, Wilhelmshaven||30 March 2001|
|Gausepohl Fleisch, Bakum||25 June 2001|
|Netherlands||Brada's Vleesbedrijft, Leewarden||1 March 2001|
|Brada's Vleesbedrijft, Leewarden||5 March 2001|
|Domburg Vlees, Bodegraven||7 August 2001|
|Exspl. J Gosschalk en Zoon, Epe||21 August 2001|
|Kroot Vlees, Tilburg||24 October 2001|
|Ireland||Liffey Meats, Ballyjamesduff||2 February 2001|
|Kildare Chilling, Kildare||21 March 2001|
|Fair Oaks (Clonmel), Clonmel||2 August 2001|
|Fair Oaks (Carlow), Bagenalstown||10 and 11 December 2001|
|Belgium||NV EEG Slacthuis Verbist, Izegem||15 November 2001|
|NV Dierickx, Zele||29 November 2001|
|Spain||Givesa, Palencia||7 March 2001|
|Fribin, Binepar||9 March 2001|
|Italy||Industria Carni, Torino||20 March 2001|
|Denmark||Danish Crown, Skive||30 April 2001|
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Redundancies can have a devastating effect on local economies, especially where they occur in an area of high unemployment or the local economy is largely dependent on one industry. We are introducing the rapid response service so as to reduce the impact of large-scale redundancy on the whole community. The service offers a coherent response tailored to need and will help those affected by redundancy to make the transition to sustainable new jobs offering opportunities for progression.
The service is already helping people who have lost their jobs at Viasystems. Following the announcement of redundancies, rapid response funding of £202,000 was secured to provide help with training and resettlement. In the light of the company being placed in receivership additional measures were introduced to provide support for the redundant workers, including a telephone helpline for information on jobs, training and benefits. Additional staff from Employment Service, South Tyneside metropolitan borough council, Learning and Skills Council, North Tyneside council and local colleges ran sessions aimed at providing advice and counselling for redundant employees. Advice sessions have been held at local community centres which were attended by over 100 people. A further event with training providers and employers was held at Jarrow jobcentre on 20 October and attended by over 70 people and redundant workers were also invited to an employment fair at the South Shields families day on 23 October.
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Mr. Nicholas Brown: The Learning and Work Bank was launched as Worktrain in March 2001. Worktrain is an internet portal bringing together, for the first time, information on job vacancies, learning opportunities, occupational profiles and child care providers. The aim of the service is to make it simpler for people to look for jobs and learning opportunities, and to provide other useful information to help them make work and career decisions.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: Since new deal started, the Employment Service Large Organisation Unit have worked continuously with Government Departments and agencies on the recruitment of new dealers. They have also developed a close working relationship with the Cabinet Office to encourage employment of new dealers within Government Departments. This has resulted in:
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Mr. Nicholas Brown: Muslim women can benefit from the range of new deals and other welfare-to-work initiatives that we have introduced to help people overcome the barriers to employment and to make work pay, such as working families tax credit, the national minimum wage, and the national child care strategy. From later this year, we will also invest in a new service in five areas of the country, to reach out to minority ethnic people who are at a disadvantage in the labour market.
Measures are also being introduced in the current Employment Bill that will help working mothers to remain within the work force through better balancing of their work and home commitments. This is good for parents, children and business.
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