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28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1129W
|Arable Area Payments Scheme||Main payments||99|
|Beef Special Premium Scheme||Advance payments (1999)||97|
|Balance payments (1998)||99|
|CID applications issued (1999)||99|
|Premium paid CIDs issued (1999)||99|
|Suckler Cow Premium Scheme||Balance payments 1998||99|
|Advance payments 1999||99|
|Sheep Annual Premium Scheme||Claims marketing year 1999||99|
|Environmentally Sensitive Areas||Applications||90|
|Environmentally Sensitive Areas||Applications||77|
|Farm and Conservation Grant Scheme 1991||Plan Claims||78|
|Farm Woodland Premium||Applications||90|
|Injurious Weeds||Complaints receiving a response within 15 working days||95|
|New Nitrate Sensitive Areas Scheme||Claims (1999)||98|
|Protection of Badgers Act 1992||Licence applications||97|
|Agricultural Wage Inspections||Visits made within 10 working days of the RSC receiving the complaint||67|
|Wildlife and Countryside Act||Licence applications||98|
|Correspondence||Answered within 10 working days||92|
|Complaints||Numbers receiving response within 10 working days||80|
(1) Unless otherwise specified
1. FWPS claims--Under certain circumstances, FWPS agreement holders may count some or all of their FWPS land towards their AAPS set aside requirement. The AAPS set aside payment rate (to which the FWPS payment is 'linked' in these cases) fell below the FWPS rate for the first time in 1999, and the associated payments had to be restricted. Problems/delays were encountered both by the Information Technology Division in amending the payment system, and also by the RSCs in identifying the agreements/land involved. Regrettably, this resulted in a significant number of Charter failures.
2. FWPS applications--The FWPS is one of a number of measures which were notified under the new EC Rural Development Regulation (RDR), which took effect on 1 January 2000. The majority of 'failures' reported relate to applications submitted on or after that date, which cannot be approved until the England Rural Development Plan (ERDP) has received Commission approval.
3. The high failure rate for Agricultural Wages Inspections arose primarily because of difficulties at one RSC where most of the complaints were sent for investigation during a short period when the wages inspectors' time was already fully taken up carrying out IACS Arable Area Payments Scheme inspections needing urgent completion to protect the Department from EC disallowance.
4. The relatively high failure rates for the ESA Scheme were due primarily to the introduction of new and complex EC Regulations, uneven workloads and staffing difficulties.
5. The number of claims processed for the Farm and Capital Grant Scheme 1991 is insignificant compared to most other schemes. Staffing problems at the two RSCs with the largest number of claims has distorted an otherwise excellent success rate.
6. The 80 per cent. response rate to complaints is explained by the fact that often cases require referral to HQ or the National Scheme Management Centres and thus take longer than 10 days to resolve. In all cases where the deadline was not met, a holding letter was issued to the complainant detailing the reason for delay.
7. The total percentage has been calculated by setting the entire number of applications or claims cleared within the target time, against the total number received. Applications and claims not cleared due to reasons beyond our control (incorrect information supplied by applicant, etc.) are not included as failures to meet target.
8. The Farm Conservation Grant Schemes 1989 Claims and Pilot NSA Claims have been omitted from the table since these schemes are now closed.
9. Forty four complaints were referred to the MAFF Adjudicator during the year. Ten of these were upheld and four were partly upheld. Twenty seven were not upheld. Three cases were dealt with outside of the Citizen's Charter.
28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1131W
28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1131W
Ms McCafferty: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what communications he has received from the Environment Agency in response to his request for a report on the causes and impact of the flooding in Calder Valley; and if he will make a statement. 
The report covers the impact of the flooding; the causes of the flooding, including assessment of the contributory factors suggested by local members of the public; the effectiveness and timeliness of flood warnings; to what extent the effects of these floods were mitigated as a result of the measures taken to implement the Independent Report of the Easter 1998 floods; and what further lessons can be learned from these floods.
The report provides an assessment of the floods and their causes. I welcome the fact that it identifies a number of factors where management of the event was assisted by the work undertaken to implement the Independent Report of the Easter 1998 floods. The Agency has also identified a number of further lessons to be learned and they are making plans to implement them.
28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1132W
regarding its use of lindane; and what recent discussions he has had with other EU farm Ministers regarding the future use of lindane. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 27 July 2000]: The Ministry's policy in respect of all pesticides, including lindane, is to ensure that they pose no unacceptable risk to people and the environment. To this end all pesticides are tightly controlled through stringent scientific evaluation and risk assessment.
Ministers have had no recent discussions with other EU farm Ministers regarding the future use of lindane. However officials from the Ministry supported the vote on 13 July by the EU Commission's Standing Committee on Plant Health to withdraw the agricultural uses of lindane throughout the EU as insufficient data, mainly concerning the environmental effects of lindane, have been submitted to support its continued use for these purposes.
Jackie Ballard: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which countries are carrying out GM crop trials; and what the recommended separation distances are in each of those countries between GM and conventional crops. 
28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1133W
Ms Quin: The separation distances currently applied for GM crops are set out in guidelines issued by the industry group SCIMAC (the Supply Chain Initiative on Modified Agricultural Crops). These reflect existing knowledge and experience in the production of certified seed, and they specify various distances according to the crop species and whether the conventional crop is for seed, organic or ordinary production. A distance of 50 m is relevant to oilseed rape and forage maize crops where the conventional crop is for ordinary production.
Mr. Breed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the costs of establishing a map-based register of GM crop sites; and if he will make a statement. 
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer of 7 July 2000, Official Report, column 350W, on GMOs, when the desk modelling study, and review of the consequences for agriculture of the introduction of GM crops, will be completed; and if the results will be published. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 17 July 2000]: The desk study on the risks to the agricultural environment from the release of GM crops is nearing completion. The review of the consequences for agriculture of the introduction of GM crops is not due for completion until 2002. The results of both projects will be published in due course.
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his answer of 7 July 2000, Official Report, column 350W, on GMOs, if he will make available information about (a) the causes of the Advanta Seeds contamination and (b) the separation distances used between GM and non-GM crops in the production of the contaminated Advanta Seeds once the Canadian authorities have completed their investigation. 
Ms Quin: A rigorous assessment of applications for new GM plants is undertaken by the Advisory Committee on Animal Feedingstuffs, including any implications for animals. There is no evidence that the introduction of the current generation of GM crops into animal feedingstuffs has caused any harm to farm animals. My Department is not currently funding research in this area, but the need for research will be kept under review.
Mr. Grogan: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the progress of the scientific review of separation distances and their relationship with crop varietal purity. 
Joan Ruddock: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food who will carry out the independent scientific review of the relationship between separation distances and levels of varietal purity and the implications for thresholds of GM presence. 
28 Jul 2000 : Column: 1134W
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