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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when the Panel report will be published on draft regional planning guidance for the south west of England. 
Mr. Meale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress he has made in drawing up principles governing the ethical conduct of local authority members; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: My right hon. Friend, the Minister for Local Government and the Regions will publish a consultation paper today setting out nine principles which we propose should govern the conduct of elected and co-opted members of local government. This will be based on the work of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, chaired by Lord Nolan. The consultation period runs until 31 October.
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We will also write today to the Local Government Association asking them to help draw up a new model code of conduct for councillors. The new Code will need to provide members with a clear set of rules in order that they can know what standards of conduct are expected of them.
We will ask the LGA to take account of the views of bodies representing parish and town councils, police authorities and the Greater London Authority among others. They will be asked to submit their proposals by the end of October.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when ACRE will publish the criteria against which changes in biodiversity will be measured in the GM crop trials. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 3 May 2000]: The farm scale evaluations have been designed to test the hypothesis that there are no significant differences between the biodiversity associated with the management of certain GM herbicide tolerant crops and comparable non-GM crops at the farm scale. When the results are available they will be reviewed by the Scientific Steering Committee and published.
The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment will be asked to consider the results and advise ministers. The ACRE sub-group set up to consider the assessment of these issues intends to publish draft assessment criteria for discussion shortly.
Jackie Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what variables are to be measured in the assessment of GM farms trials; and how the criteria for judging success in relation to a particular GM crop will be measured against those variables. 
Mr. Meacher: The objective of the evaluations is to test the null hypothesis that there are no significant differences between the biodiversity associated with the management of genetically modified herbicide tolerant crops and comparable non-GM crops at the farm scale. In practice, the variation in biodiversity can not be recorded for all species. The approach is to compare key indicators of biodiversity between the GM HT and non-GM HT cropping systems. In reporting these effects, they will be placed into the context of national recording schemes that can help to show the relationships between the biodiversity associated with the study sites and arable areas in general.
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When sufficient data sets are available the null hypothesis will be tested separately for each indicator. The data will then reveal whether or not there are any statistically significant differences in biodiversity arising from the two cropping regimes. The independent Scientific Steering Committee is over-seeing the evaluations to ensure appropriate scientific rigor of the evaluations. The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment will consider the outcome of the evaluations, assess the implications for the environment and advise Ministers. A sub-group of ACRE is currently considering the criteria which are appropriate for such assessments.
In addition, there are studies to monitor geneflow. These are monitoring the extent of cross pollination with neighbouring sexually compatible crops for the oil seed rape and maize, both of which will flower and produce pollen, and, in the case of rape, the formation of hybrids with wild relatives.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to the oral statement of 18 May, Official Report, column 474, on the introduction of a seed purity inspection system, when the process of planning this system began; when he will publish details of how the system will work; if the introduction of the system is conditional upon EU or other international agreements; how much the system will cost; and how the system's costs will be funded. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 5 June 2000]: The process of planning seed purity inspections began in February this year when the new arrangements for the inspection of GM release and marketing consents were being developed with the Central Science Laboratory (CSL), who were formerly appointed to undertake this task on 1 June. CSL's responsibility is to ensure that every GMO release site in England and, where appropriate, Wales is visited and expected once a year, and that
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consent holder's arrangements to ensure compliance with consents are audited. Consent holders are charged an annual subsistence fee to pay for these inspections.
In the light of the recent Advanta oilseed rape case, interim arrangements have been made to audit imports of seed, and sample seed for testing where necessary. These inspections are being carried out under provisions in the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and are not conditional on EU or other international agreements. My main concern is that unauthorised GM seed is not imported and released into the environment. Importers of seed have been contacted and reminded of their duties. Industry will be carrying out their own tests to ensure imported seeds and grain does not contain unauthorised GMOs. The costs of this testing will fall to the industry. CSL will audit their arrangements to ensure that this has been carried out effectively.
Costs of the audits have not yet been finalised. For the time being the Government is funding CSL to do his work. The Government will consider how to charge for these inspections when implementing forthcoming EU legislation on GMOs and seed purity.
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham of 24 May 2000, Official Report, column 539W, on dioxin, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness and accuracy of the programmes which monitor dioxin levels; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 19 June 2000]: There are 210 dioxin and furan compounds, of which 17 are thought to have toxicological consequences. Each of these 17 compounds is measured, weighted according to its relative toxicity and aggregated to give a single result in terms of the toxic equivalence of the total mix. These measurements are made over each quarter of the year, and the uncertainty of an individual quarterly dioxin measurement in air has been assessed as 19 per cent., expressed in terms of the overall toxic equivalent. The corresponding annual mean value has an uncertainty of 9 per cent.
Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list each group that is responsible to his Department, with significant and plural membership from outside the Civil Service, and to which the Nolan rules on non- departmental public bodies do not apply; and for each such group, if it (a) is a company limited by guarantee, (b) is a charity, (c) has no formal legal basis and (d) has some other legal basis, giving details. 
Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 18 July 2000]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office on 27 July 2000, Official Report, columns 799-800W. I can confirm that apart from the Review of the Index of Local Deprivation none of my Department's groups listed
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have a legal basis. The legal basis for the Review of the Index of Local Deprivation is the contract with the University of Oxford for this research project.
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