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Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the last refit of HMS Nottingham was; how long she has been deployed on her current deployment; what task she is carrying out; and if he will make a statement. 
HMS Nottingham deployed from Portsmouth on 18 March 2002 and was scheduled to return to the United Kingdom on 6 December 2002. She deployed for duties as the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) ship but was subsequently assigned to Operation ORACLE in support of the fight against terrorism and was being held at notice for this purpose while deployed to the Asia Pacific to honour our commitments to the FPDA. The main focus of this deployment was to have been participation in the FPDA Exercise STARDEX in September with other FPDA partners (Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore). HMS Nottingham was also scheduled to undertake a series of visits in support of Defence Diplomacy, wider security objectives, and Defence Export Services and United Kingdom industry initiatives. Her immediate programme will no longer proceed. The impact on Fleet programming is being assessed.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if it is the intention of his Department to cease the allocation of surface ship refits to Rosyth Dockyard in 2005; and what plans he has to allocate further refits to Rosyth Dockyard. 
Mr. Ingram: The last refit in the programme of surface ship work allocated to Rosyth Dockyard is due to be completed in 2005. There are no plans to allocate further refit work to the Dockyard, as the Department is opening up the wider ship refit and repair programme to competition. Rosyth Dockyard is expected to bid for that work.
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Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what representations she has received from the UK pig industry about overseas restrictions on the export of British pigs;  (2) what representations she has made, and to which countries, to remove restrictions on the export of pigs from the United Kingdom. 
Margaret Beckett: I have received a number of letters from the UK pig industry, which is naturally anxious that overseas restrictions on the import of British pigs are removed as soon as possible. The Chief Veterinary Officer wrote to his opposite numbers in other countries on 25 January this year asking them to recognise the UK's foot and mouth disease free status and requesting import certification requirements for livestock and genetic material. Officials in my Department are working closely with representatives from the livestock industry to identify the priority markets and to pursuade those countries to lift any remaining restrictions. The priority countries for pigs and porcine genetic material include Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, South Africa, Thailand, USA. This is being pursued by a variety of methods such as lobbying officials at trade shows, bringing them in on inward missions, getting British Embassies to make representations and through further correspondence.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which interested parties received an invitation to contribute to the consultation on the future of fox hunting; which of those bodies she (a) has met and (b) plans to meet before the consultation finishes; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: My right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for Rural Affairs (Alun Michael) continues to meet with representatives of the three main interest organisations on a regular basis. They are the Countryside Alliance, the Middle Way Group and the Campaign for the Protection of the Hunted Animal. In addition to these regular meetings, he is holding a number of meetings with a wide range of groups with more specific interests
Following my right hon. Friend's statement to the House on 21 March, he has written to all Members of both Houses of Parliament, Welsh Assembly members, interested individuals and interested organisations.
Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she is taking to implement the NAO recommendation on the pursuit of cases where the Department believes it was overcharged for goods and services and the investigation and resolution of irregularities in contractors' claims. 
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Mr. Morley: The accounts of the principal contractors used by DEFRA during the FMD outbreak have been the subject of detailed examination. This has been an extensive exercise as the contractors concerned carried out work to the value of hundreds of millions of pounds involving the generation of tens of thousands of invoices. This work is on-going.
It has necessitated DEFRA obtaining legal advice from a number of external law firms as well as the establishment of invoicing panels and commercial teams staffed by forensic accountants and quantity surveyors, all of whom come from external professional firms.
It is on the recommendation of these panels and teams following examination of the accounts that further payments have been made by DEFRA to contractors and/or deductions have been sought from the contractors' invoiced sums. In many cases, the deductions have been substantial. The process is on-going.
Wide-ranging issues have arisen on the accounts. These include legal issues such as matters of contractual interpretation, forensic accountancy issues and evidential issues involving the assessment of both a large amount of documentation and proofing of witnesses.
Some of these disputes will inevitably result in court proceedings although DEFRA remains committed to resolving matters by mediation where appropriate. We will have no hesitation in taking whatever action is required to protect taxpayer interest in the light of forensic examination of the accounts of contractors.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the EU Management Committee of the common organisations of agricultural markets for poultrymeat and eggs is next due to meet; whether experts nominated by the Scottish Executive (a) have been and (b) are members of it; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The next meeting of the EU Poultrymeat and Eggs Management Committee will be held on Tuesday, 17 September 2002. UK representation depends on the agenda items under discussion. Officials from the Scottish Executive and other devolved Administrations attend as necessary in accordance with their interests. However, there have been no occasions in the last 12 months where the Scottish Executive have sought to have an official form part of the delegation.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the EU Committee for the implementation of the Directive relating to the availability of consumer information on fuel economy and CO 2 emissions in respect of the marketing of new passenger cars is next due to meet; whether experts nominated by the Scottish Executive (a) have been and (b) are members of it; and if she will make a statement. 
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Committee meetings would therefore generally be attended by officials of the Department for Transport only. However, officials will continue to ensure that their counterparts in the Devolved Administrations are kept informed of developments in this area and consulted on any proposals to amend the directive put to the Committee.
My response on 21 May 2002 to the hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow), Official Report, column 214W15W, was incorrect. It stated that this Committee had not yet met, whereas it did in fact meet on 15 November 2000 to agree a format for reporting on the effectiveness of the Directive. Since this question was answered, the Committee has met a further time although as yet no proposals to amend the Directive have been received.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the EU Committee for the implementation of the Community framework for co-operation in the field of accidental or deliberate marine pollution is next due to meet; whether experts nominated by the Scottish Executive (a) have been and (b) are members of it; and if she will make a statement. 
The Management Committee on Marine Pollution is scheduled to meet on 4 October 2002 in Brussels. Officials from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), part of my Department, represents the UK on the Committee. However, my officials consult the Scottish Executive on agenda items in which it might have an interest in accordance with our Concordat with the Devolved Administrations.
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