Previous Section Index Home Page


Best Value Environmental Criteria

Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received concerning the inclusion of environmental criteria in consideration of best value. [40866]

8 May 1998 : Column: 515

Ms Armstrong: The closing date for responses on the Best Value Consultation Paper was 1 May. The responses are still being analysed although it is clear that a number of authorities have made representations about the importance of environmental matters in Best Value. Our conclusions will be published in a White Paper later this year. Although the Government will lay down the general framework for Best Value, it will be for local authorities to decide how to include environmental criteria in the consideration of Best Value, in consultation with the local community and against the background of progress in drawing up Local Agenda 21 strategies.

Greater London Authority

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how the Government intend to proceed with regard to the role of the Local government Commission in the event of a yes vote in the referendum on the Government's plans for a Greater London Authority. [41387]

Mr. Raynsford: I have issued a Direction to the Local Government Commission in accordance with Part II of the 1998 GLA Referendum Act. A copy of this has today been placed in the Library of the House.

Road Accident Fatalities

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many road accident fatalities there were in Coventry in each year since 1990. [40946]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The information requested is shown in the table.

Fatalities in Coventry Metropolitan District Council area: 1990-96


Speed Limits

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what measures his Department is taking to improve enforcement of speed limits; [40947]

Ms Glenda Jackson: We receive a considerable number of letters from people seeking a reduction in speed limits. Highway authorities already have considerable scope for reducing limits on particular roads, but a greater challenge is to ensure more people comply with the limits. The enforcement of speed limits is an operational matter for the police and chief constables take this responsibility very seriously. To assist police in that

8 May 1998 : Column: 516

task, we are currently discussing with colleagues a better funding system for speed enforcement cameras to encourage their more effective use.


Flood Defences

Ms Keeble: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment his Department has made of the state of repair of inland flood defences. [40593]

Mr. Morley: Responsibility for such assessments rests with the local operating authorities (Environment Agency, local authorities and Internal Drainage Boards). Whilst this Department has overall policy responsibility for flood defence in England and administers grant aid for capital defence schemes, the planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of defence measures is the responsibility of the operating authorities. The Ministry calls for Medium Term Plans from operating authorities which indicate the need for capital works.

In recognition of their responsibility, the Environment Agency are implementing an Asset Register of Flood Defences which, inter alia, will record the state of repair of inland flood defences.

Equine Exports

Dr. Palmer: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many equines were exported from the UK in 1997, and to which individual countries of destination, (a) for slaughter, (b) for breeding, (c) for competition purposes and (d) for use as saddle horses. [40831]

Mr. Morley: The Overseas Trade Statistics show that a total of 6,247 horses were exported from the UK in 1997. None of these were exported for slaughter.

It is not possible separately to identify horses exported for competition purposes or as saddle horses. The table shows the recorded destinations of exported horses.

The data will be subject to a degree of statistical error. The overall level of errors will be low, but these errors will have a much greater proportional effect on countries with small volumes of recorded trade. Therefore great care is needed when interpreting the data in this table as it will inevitably include a number of errors.

CountriesPure bred breeding horsesOther horsesTotal
Irish Republic1,33111,332
Abu Dhabi29151342
Saudi Arabia16410174
Hong Kong542175
Czech Republic25732
South Africa4812
Grand total3,7342,5136,247


All data are provisional and subject to amendment

8 May 1998 : Column: 517

Fisheries Commissioner

Mr. Baldry: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the occasions since July 1995 when the UK Fisheries Minister has met the EC Commissioner with responsibility for fisheries matters and the location of each such meeting. [40923]

Mr. Morley: I or my predecessor as UK Fisheries Minister met the member of the European Commission with responsibility for fisheries on the following occasions since July 1995:

17 October 1995Brussels
26 October 1995Luxembourg
21-22 December 1995Brussels
5 March 1996Brussels
18 March 1996London
22 April 1996Luxembourg
4 June 1996Brussels
10 June 1996Luxembourg
14 October 1996Luxembourg
22 November 1996Brussels
19-20 December 1996Brussels
14-15 April 1997Luxembourg
20 May 1997Brussels
18 September 1997Vigo
30 October 1997Luxembourg
18-19 December 1997Brussels
8 January 1998London
24 March 1998Brussels

Genetically Modified Crops

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment he has made of the potential impact on biodiversity, including the indirect effects on birds, of (a) genetically modified herbicide- tolerant crops in general, (b) a crop of genetically modified oil seed rape and (c) a crop of genetically modified sugar beet; what proposals he has to monitor such impact; and if he will make a statement. [40556]

8 May 1998 : Column: 518

Mr. Morley [holding answer 7 May 1998]: Under the legislation on release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), the risk to human health and the environment is assessed on a case by case basis for each and every proposed release. This includes an assessment of the direct and indirect effects of the crops on other organisms, including birds.

Similarly, the possible risks to human health and the environment, including birds, from the use on a genetically modified herbicide tolerant crop of a herbicide to which it is tolerant, would be assessed in accordance with the pesticides legislation.

In 1997, the Department commissioned a programme of research on possible risks to the agricultural environment from the release of herbicide tolerant crops. This includes a three-year monitoring programme to look at the effects on plant biodiversity in field margins. A LINK research project is being put in place on the impacts and management of herbicide tolerance, which will include research into the effects on plant diversity within arable systems. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions also has a research programme on the risks to the environment from the release of GMOs.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the Novel Foods Regulation 258/97 requires food products containing oil extracted from genetically modified soy-beans to be labelled to refer to the use of genetically modified material. [41191]

Mr. Morley: The labelling of food ingredients derived from Monsanto's genetically modified (GM) soya beans is covered by Commission Regulation 1813/97. Detailed rules for these ingredients are to be decided at the Internal Market Council on 18 May.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking during the United Kingdom's Presidency to achieve consistency of labelling for genetically modified foods across Europe under the Novel Foods Regulation 258/97; and if he will make a statement. [41190]

Mr. Morley: Under the United Kingdom's Presidency, we have been working hard to improve a Commission proposal on detailed labelling rules for genetically modified (GM) soya and maize ingredients to ensure that the rules are practical and meaningful to consumers. The UK proposals have attracted a large degree of support from other Member States, and the issue will be decided at the Internal Market Council on 18 May. I expect these rules to set a precedent for the labelling of GM foods under the Novel Foods Regulation (258/97).

Next Section Index Home Page