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Lord Sewel: The Forestry Commission has asked the Timber Research and Development Association to investigate how modern technology has expanded the range of use for birch timber. The results of this investigation will be used to plan a research programme to help select appropriate varieties for planting. In the meantime, as part of a continuing project to improve the quality of birch in Britain, the Commission has established research plots of seedlings grown from seed collected from high quality stands in northern Britain. In addition, the Highland Birchwoods Initiative was set up in 1992 with the main aims of restoring and extending the birchwoods in the Highlands and promoting the positive management of birchwoods for conservation, amenity and sustainable utilisation of timber and other products.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): According to available records, on 1 April this year there were 45,139 UK Service personnel serving overseas in the following countries and dependent territories:
Lord Gilbert: The Consultation Document placed in the Library of the House on 5 March 1996 indicated that the cost of establishing the necessary interim accommodation for the Joint Services' Command and Staff College was some £11.45 million. The work is currently on course for completion by September 1997, on time and at a cost of under £10 million. When Greenwich accommodation is vacated, the Government, as the outgoing occupant, are obliged to fund dilapidations rather than refurbishment. Such costs would also have been incurred had MoD remained at Greenwich. Investment appraisals over a 14-year period have shown that the costs of decommissioning JASON are more than counterbalanced by the savings attributable to the relocation of the Department of Nuclear Science and Technology to HMS "Sultan", instead of maintaining it, and JASON, at Greenwich.
Lord Gilbert: I am advised that, when the various options for the future Joint Services' Command and Staff College were considered in early 1995, (the Consultative Document published in January 1995 refers), the Greenwich-based option at £256.0 million Net Present Value over 25 years (subsequently revised to £253.9 million, both in 1994-95 prices), was some 25 per cent. higher than the Camberley option, which then became the basis for the Public Sector Comparator in the PFI competition. A detailed reassessment of the cost of a Greenwich option would be time-consuming and costly and could not be justified at this stage. However, using an index for general defence inflation to uprate the £253.9 million to current costs gives a figure of approximately £289.4 million. Under this option the teaching and single living accommodation
Lord Gilbert: The provision of a new JSCSC by means of a competitive PFI procurement is one of the MoD's highest priorities. The requirement for high quality Command and Staff training and the importance we attach to increasing the opportunities for joint training will not be affected by the Strategic Defence Review. Since their selection as preferred bidders in February, negotiations have continued with Defence Management regarding their proposals for a permanent JSCSC at Shrivenham. A contract will be placed as soon as negotiations can be satisfactorily completed.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): All consignments of meat products imported into the UK from other member states must have been produced in accordance with harmonised Community rules laid down in Council Directive 77/99/EEC (as amended). As regards fresh meat, the harmonised rules are laid down in Council Directive 64/443 (as amended).
My right honourable friend announced on 5 June that the Government were opening consultations on proposals which would mean that the requirement in the Specified Bovine Material Order to remove and dispose of specified tissues would apply not only to carcases of bovine animals which have died or been slaughtered in
Lord Donoughue: The department compiles annual reports on all such incidents reported to it. These reports are available to enquirers, free of charge. The latest report by the department's Incident Response Team, entitled Food Protection 1996, has been placed in the Library of the House.
Lord Donoughue: Member states contribute to the EU budget as a whole, and not to any particular part. The CAP currently accounts for about half of EU budget expenditure. As an indicator of contributions and receipts in 1996, the table below shows by member state, in column (a) percentage gross contribution to the EU, in column (b) percentage distribution of common agricultural policy receipts, and in column (c) the sterling equivalent (£ million) of CAP receipts. Developments over the next two years will depend on a variety of factors, including the weather, trade flows, changes in the animal health situation, and decisions to be taken by the Council of Ministers, and cannot be predicted.
The UK gross contribution is net of the Fontainebleau abatement.
CAP receipts converted into sterling from ecu equivalent using 1996 average exchange rate of £1 = 1.204 ecu.
Gross contributions: 1996 Supplementary and Amending Budget.
Draft 1996 FEOGA Report.