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Mr. Meacher: Provisional figures from the Department's latest Municipal Waste Management Survey show that the proportion of municipal waste recycled or composted has continued to increase, from 7 per cent. in 199697 to 12 per cent. in 200001. Local authorities are required to further improve their recycling rates in order to achieve the statutory targets the Government have set for them, to double their recycling rates within three years and treble them in five. The recently announced £140 million fund for waste minimisation and recycling will help them to do this.
30. John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of how many forms her Department required on average a farmer in England to fill out in 2001; and what efforts are being made to reduce this. 
Mr. Morley: It is not possible to make such an assessment. The number of forms completed by farmers depends on the nature and size of individual enterprises. As far as statistical forms are concerned, in 2001 more than half of the main holdings in England received no forms and the average number of forms issued to the other 68,638 holdings was 1.39. Only 319 holdings received more than four forms during the year and of the 95,125 survey forms issued more than one third were in respect of voluntary surveys. Many of the forms the Department issues to farmers relate to particular schemes such as CAP subsidy and rural development schemes. The number will vary widely depending on which schemes they participate in.
The Department is committed to reducing paperwork. Electronic forms for IACS applications have already been introduced. The Government's Regulatory Reform Action Plan published in February contained a number of measures which will reduce the burden for farmers. These include for example enabling livestock producers to
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submit electronic claims for livestock premium schemes and removing unnecessary duplication of information. In the longer term the possibility of a whole farm approach to regulation should enable information required in forms to be rationalised.
31. Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals the Government have to control the disposal of ash and other toxic residues from waste incinerators. 
Mr. Meacher: Ash and air pollution control residues which are disposed of from waste incinerators are subject to the waste management controls in the Environmental Protection Act 1990, including the requirement that these wastes are disposed of in accordance with a waste management licence, and handled in accordance with the duty of care.
The Environment Agency is carrying out a thorough investigation into the destinations of solid residues from all current municipal waste incinerators and any implications this may hold for the environment or human health. I am expecting the report to be completed later this month and I will ensure that a copy is placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Morley: The Department funds a substantial programme of research into farm animal diseases. The current spend is some £33 million annually. Details of our research projects can be found on the DEFRA website (http://www.defra.gov.uk/research/researchfrm.htm).
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Strategies for handling outbreaks of serious animal diseases vary in detail according to the characteristics of each disease, notably the means of spread and the species affected. Policies for dealing with the main diseases are set out in EU and UK legislation. Many elements of animal disease control contingency planning are common for a range of diseases. These include surveillance, reporting and investigation procedures; import controls; tracing and diagnosis; eradication options such as slaughter and vaccination; valuation and compensation procedures; controls over animal movements; and the principles of biosecurity, including cleansing and disinfection of premises and vehicles.
The findings of the Royal Society and Lessons Learned Inquiries following last year's FMD outbreak will be taken into account in keeping our strategies for handling animal disease outbreaks up to date and effective.
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Mr. Morley: The Government published an action plan on 28 March, which has a range of measures aimed at reducing the risk of exotic animal and plant diseases entering the country. The plan takes account of recent discussions the Government has had with stakeholder interests on the priorities and actions for the coming year to tackle the issue of illegal imports. A copy of the action plan will be placed in the House Libraries and it can also be viewed on line at http//www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/ int-trde/prod-im/prod-im.htm.
Mr. Morley: Common EU standards for the production and marketing of organic produce are prescribed by Council Regulation (EEC) 2092/91. However, the Regulation does not prevent an individual inspection body approved under it from applying more restrictive standards to operators it registers.
Alun Michael: The England Rural Development Programme provides grant aid for a range of activities that may be of benefit to farmers seeking to sell produce locally. We have also assisted various local projects under the Agricultural Development Scheme as well as supporting the National Association of Farmers' Market's training and accreditation programmes and the development of the South West Food and Drink Organisation.
Through Food from Britain we contribute to the funding of a network of regional food groups which provide trade development services to regional and speciality food producers, some of whom will be farmers. Food from Britain has been active in encouraging supermarkets to stock more local produce.
We have actively encouraged the development of farmers' markets, as has the Countryside Agency which we grant-aid. Farmers may also derive benefit from the Countryside Agency's "Eat the View" programme which seeks to achieve more favourable market conditions for local products that support sustainable land management.
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Mr. Meacher: The UK has shown leadership under the G8 Action Programme on Forests in promoting bilateral arrangements with timber producing countries whereby countries work together to tackle illegal logging and associated trade. We are currently negotiating the first of these with Indonesia. We hope that bilateral agreements will lead to regional and, eventually, an international agreement that will have a big impact on illegal trade.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many seizures of illegally logged wood have been initiated by her Department in total in the last three years. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 April 2002]: International trade in some woods is controlled under the terms of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Those species of wood listed in Appendix I & II of CITES, require import permits from the UK before they can be imported. These are issued only where the UK Management Authority (DEFRA) is satisfied that the wood has been legally obtained in the country of origin and has the necessary permit for export from that country. Species listed in Appendix III of CITES do not require import permits. For these species a self-completed import notification form must be presented to HM Customs prior to the arrival of the specimens, together with the relevant export permit(s) or certificate(s) of origin issued by the Management Authority in the exporting country. It is for the Management Authority in the country of origin to decide whether the import has been legally logged. On the basis of these procedures the Department has not initiated any seizures of wood in the past three years.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the percentage of rainforest timber entering the United Kingdom which derives from illegal logging. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Combating illegal logging requires effort from both timber producing and consuming countries. Timber producing countries are responsible for defining and enforcing the national legislative and regulatory frameworks that define legality.
The Department for International Development (DFID) is working with a number of timber exporting countries to help them improve governance and strengthen forest law enforcement. We are also working to develop capacity for the implementation of timber certification schemes in some producing countries.
Domestically, the UK is working to ensure that the import of endangered timber species is in full compliance with CITES, the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species. We are also implementing a new Government timber procurement policy that seeks to procure forest products only from legal and sustainable sources.
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We estimate that of the total UK timber and timber product imports, less then 10 per cent. is from tropical timber. A reliable estimate of rain forest timber entering the UK that is derived from illegal sources can only be made once chain of custody systems are in place in exporting countries that can verify legal compliance. The Government is in discussion with some exporting countries about the introduction of such systems.
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