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Farming (Berkshire)

Mrs. May: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many dairy farms there were in Berkshire in (a) 1996-97, (b) 1997-98 and (c) 1998-99. [108421]

Ms Quin: The data are not available in the precise form requested but, from the June Agricultural Census, the number of holdings in Berkshire with one or more dairy cows was as follows:

YearNumber
199685
199778
199880
199973

Potato Industry

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the dates of those meetings he has had with representatives of the United Kingdom potato industry since he became Minister, indicating which individuals and groups he met. [107240]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 27 January 2000]: My right hon. Friend the Minister of State has responsibility for the potato industry. She met the Director General of the UK Potato Processors' Association on 13 January. Representative organisations and individual members of the potato industry are in frequent contact with officials and have a good working relationship with the Department.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he has taken to promote the UK potato industry abroad. [107241]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 27 January 2000]: The Department sponsors the British Potato Council (BPC) and works closely with it and producers to promote exports via trade fairs and other events both here and abroad. One of the core functions of the BPC is to promote the British potato industry abroad as exports offer a significant opportunity for market growth. Details of the BPC's activities and achievements since it came into being in July 1997 are set out in the Council's annual report.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the current level of (a) domestic production, (b) imports and (c) exports of (1) Adora, (2) Ailsa, (3) Ambo, (4) Anna, (5) Arran Banner, (6) Arran Comet, (7) Arran Pilot, (8) Atlantic, (9) Ausonia, (10) Avalanche, (11) Avondale, (12) Balmoral, (13) Barna, (14) Bimonda, (15) Bintje, (16) Brodick, (17) Brodie, (18) Buchan, (19) Cara, (20) Carlingford, (21) Charlotte, (22) Cultra, (23) Desiree, (24) Duke of York, (25) Epicure, (26) Erntestolz, (27) Estima, (28) Fianna, (29) Foremost, (30) Golden Wonder, (31) Hermes, (32) Home Guard, (33) Kennebec, (34) Kerr's Pink, (35) Kestrel, (36) King Edward, (37) Kingston, (38) Lady Rosetta, (39) Majestic, (40) Marfona, (41) Mariana, (42) Maris Bard, (43) Maris Peer, (44) Maris Piper, (45) Mondial, (46) Morene, (47) Nadine, (48) Navan, (49) Nicola, (50) Nieta, (51) Panda, (52) Penta, (53) Pentland Crown, (54) Pentland

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Dell, (55) Pentland Hawk, (56) Pentland Javelin, (57) Pentland Squire, (58) Premiere, (59) Record, (60) Red Cara, (61) Red Pontiac, (62) Remarka, (63) Robinta, (64) Rocket, (65) Romano, (66) Rooster, (67) Sante, (68) Saturna, (69) Saxon, (70) Shepody, (71) Sierra, (72) Slaney, (73) Spunta, (74) Stroma, (75) Ulster Sceptre, (76) Valor, (77) Wilja, (78) Winston and (79) Yukon Gold potato varieties. [107242]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 27 January 2000]: The latest potato statistics available for the United Kingdom are provisional figures for 1999 when the level of (a) domestic production was 7,100,000 tonnes; (b) imports (excluding processed and seed) were 256,000 tonnes and (c) exports (excluding processed and seed) were 175,000 tonnes. Statistics are not collected to the level of detail requested but the British Potato Council's publication "Potato Statistics in Great Britain 1993-97" gives planting figures for some of the varieties mentioned by the hon. Member.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which representatives from his Ministry will attend the European Potato Industry Conference in Rome on 27 to 28 January. [107243]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 27 January 2000]: There will be no representatives from my Ministry at the forthcoming European Potato Industry Conference.

Climate Change Levy

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has had and with which bodies about the climate change levy. [107235]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 27 January 2000]: Since my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in last year's Budget that the Government intend to introduce a climate change levy, I have met with a large number of bodies and individual companies representing the food, drink and agricultural industries. The climate change levy was raised at several of these meetings. Most of these organisations have also put their concerns to Ministers at the Treasury and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) to ensure that the interests of the food, drink and agricultural industries can be taken fully into account during the detailed design of the levy.

Correspondence

Mr. Beith: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will reply to the letter from the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed dated 9 November, relating to a constituent from North Bellshill, Belford, concerning area aid for farmers. [107289]

Mr. Nick Brown: A reply to the letter from the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed was sent on 27 January 2000.

Mr. Beith: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will reply to a letter from the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, dated 27 September 1999, relating to the qualifications of veterinary surgeons. [107287]

Mr. Nick Brown: A reply to the letter from the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed was sent on 27 January 2000.

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Pig Farmers

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has made to the European Commission for compensation for the public health related costs imposed on pig farmers following the BSE crisis. [107234]

Mr. Nick Brown [holding answer 27 January 2000]: I and my officials have had a number of discussions with the European Commission on the current difficulties being faced by UK pig producers. My most recent discussions were with Agriculture Commissioner Fischler in the margins of the Agriculture Council on Monday 24 January and then on Tuesday 1 February in London.

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Rural Transport Policy

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many officials within his Department are directly employed in developing rural transport policy; and what proportion this figure represents of the total number of people employed by his Department. [105280]

Mr. Hill: A large number of officials throughout my Department and the Government offices are responsible for rural transport policy as part of the developing integrated transport strategy and rural White Paper process. In addition, the Countryside Agency administers some transport grants on our behalf, offers advice and is involved in working with the Department on rural transport pilots.

"The Urban Renaissance"

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress has been made in London on the proposals of the Urban Task Force's report "The Urban Renaissance". [107354]

Ms Beverley Hughes: There are more than a hundred wide-ranging and forward-thinking recommendations in the Urban Task Force report. The Government have welcomed the report as an important contribution to the urban renaissance debate and are considering its recommendations in detail in drawing up the White Paper on urban policy, due to be published later this year. The Mayor may also wish to consider the report when producing the Spatial Development and other strategies set out in the GLA Act 1999 and generally, as the London boroughs are already doing.

In the meantime, it is important to keep up the momentum and many of the report's recommendations are already being taken forward. We have already set up nine pilot home zones, including two in London, at Five Roads in Ealing and in the Holmewood area of Lambeth. In addition, pilot urban regeneration companies have been published, although as yet there are none in London.

Issues relating to the management of land supply are being covered in revisions to Planning Policy Guidance notes 3, 11 and 12 that apply throughout the country. The recommendations for streamlining of the Compulsory Purchase Order process are to be covered in the review

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which is currently taking place, while similar work on planning obligations is also under way. These will all be of direct significance to the capital.

In London, the new Mayor and Assembly are charged with preparing a spatial planning framework (the Spatial Development Strategy) that is consistent with other Mayoral strategies for transport, economic regeneration and the environment. This provides an opportunity to provide a more effective and integrated strategic framework for delivering urban renaissance in the capital.

Draft guidance has recently been issued on Strategic Planning in London which stresses the importance the Secretary of State attaches to the SDS promoting urban renaissance through good urban design and improvement of the public realm. New arrangements for consultation on strategic applications will mean that the Mayor can ensure SDS principles are delivered on the ground.

The Government have just published a report, jointly with the London Planning Advisory Committee (LPAC), on how to achieve more sustainable patterns of residential quality by using a design-led approach ("Sustainable Residential Quality: Exploring the Housing potential of Large Sites: LPAC January 2000"). Copies of this report have been forwarded to every London borough.

In addition to the responsibility for drawing up the Transport Strategy for the capital to which the boroughs will have regard in producing their Local Transport Plans, the Mayor has also been given the powers to introduce road user (congestion) charging and workplace parking levies and to use the revenue generated in support of the Transport Strategy. With the agreement of the Mayor, the London boroughs may also introduce such measures.


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