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Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many people have been poisoned by pesticides in each year since 1995, indicating the pesticide concerned in each case. [133298]

Mr. Meacher: Comprehensive information on the number of people who are poisoned by pesticides each year is not available. Some information is available from the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE's) Pesticide Incidents Appraisal Panel, which considers all incidents investigated by HSE or local authorities where the use of a pesticide is alleged to have caused ill health. Summary statistics of such incidents are published annually in HSE's Pesticide Incidents Report. I have asked officials to compile a table listing, for each year since 1995-96, the pesticide active ingredients involved in such incidents, the number of people concerned, and whether or not the Panel assessed the case as having a confirmed or likely link with pesticide exposure. I will arrange for a copy of this table to be placed in the Libraries as soon as possible.

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Low-cost Housing

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he is taking to ensure increased access to high-quality low-cost housing. [133393]

Mr. Mullin: The recently announced spending plans for 2001-02 to 2003-04 provide extra investment of £1.6 billion for housing and will increase both the quality and supply of low cost housing. This extra investment includes an additional £872 million over the next three years for new social rented housing provided through the Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme. It also includes an additional £250 million between 2001-02 and 2003-04 to expand our support for low cost home ownership through the new Starter Home Initiative.

Local authorities are also able to use their additional resources towards the provision of affordable housing, where this best meets local needs. We have recently reinforced the powers available to local authorities to seek the provision of affordable housing as a proportion of new private developments. We will be issuing best practice guidance to help authorities to make more effective use of these powers.

Our spending plans will also ensure that we tackle the backlog of repairs and modernisation in local authority housing in line with our target to bring all social housing up to a decent standard within a decade.

For full details of our planned investment in the quality and provision of low cost housing, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Thomas) on 24 July 2000, Official Report, columns 398-404W.


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he is taking to ensure that the BA Concorde fleet is airworthy; and if he will make a statement. [133714]

Mr. Mullin: British Airways carry out regular inspections and maintenance on its Concorde aircraft in accordance with a programme which was determined at the time Concorde received its initial certification. The Civil Aviation Authority is therefore satisfied that the BA fleet of Concorde aircraft is airworthy. However, in the light of the recent accident, BA, in consultation with the CAA, carried out exhaustive tests on its Concordes overnight 25-26 July. These involved a range of engineering and systems checks, including the running of all engines; boroscope inspections of the engines; and visual inspections. These tests did not reveal any airworthiness problems.

Inspectors from the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch are participating in the technical investigation of the accident being carried out by the French Bureau Enquetes Accidents. If the investigation identifies any additional action which is necessary to maintain the airworthiness of the Concorde fleet the CAA will take appropriate action.

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Timber Procurement

Mr. Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on timber procurement following the commitment made by G8 heads of Government. [133792]

Mr. Meacher: The UK has worked hard in recent years to promote sustainable forest management and help reduce illegal logging world wide. Illegal logging damages both the environment and society. It reduces government revenues, destroys the basis of poor people's livelihoods and in some cases even fuels armed conflict.

Working directly with affected countries to combat illegal logging will continue to be the mainstay of our efforts in this area. Among other initiatives we will sponsor later this year, along with the US and World bank, is a high-level meeting in south-east Asia to examine what can be done to strengthen enforcement of forestry laws in the region, and how donors can assist in this. However, we must also deal with parts of the problem nearer to home. It is counterproductive to help enforce laws abroad without striving to ensure that illegally produced timber is not consumed at home.

The Government are a major purchaser of both timber and timber products, and have a responsibility to ensure their own house is in order. Guidelines already exist to encourage Government Departments to purchase from legal and sustainable sources, but we can do more. To show a lead in addressing the G8 communique's call to

This programme does not involve banning the purchase of timber or timber products which cannot be shown to be sustainably and legally produced. That would be both unfair and impractical. There is currently not enough timber that can be independently guaranteed to have come from sustainable and legal sources to meet all needs; albeit that different assurance schemes are growing quickly. We would also not want to penalise poorer countries and producers which have not been able to put in place such schemes. We will continue to work with such producers to ensure they have fair market access, and that any action is fully consistent with our international obligations. Our aim is to give confidence to those obeying their country's laws and managing their forests

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responsibly that they will find a welcome market in the UK, and will not be undercut by unscrupulous and illegal competitors.

Government Panel on Sustainable Development

Mr. Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the response to the sixth annual report of the Government Panel on Sustainable Development will be published. [133793]

Mr. Meacher: I am pleased to announce that the Government's Response to the sixth and final annual report of the Government Panel on Sustainable Development will be published on 8 August. We agree with many of the Panel's recommendations; notably

The Panel has been an extremely valuable source of advice for Government in the achievement of sustainable development and I am grateful to the Convenor of the Panel, Sir Crispin Tickell, and his colleagues for all their work over recent years.

Copies of the Response will be placed in the Library, and it will also be available in electronic form on the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions website

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