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Renewal Area Status

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will assess the benefits of introducing renewal area status for self- contained groups of fewer than 300 dwellings. [101413]

Mr. Mullin: My Department is currently considering a number of issues relating to policy on private sector housing renewal, which includes policy on renewal areas. The housing Green Paper, which will be published shortly, will provide an opportunity for us to set out our thinking on these and other housing issues.

Open Countryside (Mapping)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects the mapping of open countryside in England and Wales to be completed; and if the exercise is being carried out in stages according to the nature of the terrain. [101483]

Mr. Mullin: The Countryside Agency and Countryside Council for Wales will be responsible for producing maps showing land to which the new statutory right of access will apply. They are currently undertaking preliminary

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work, the results of which will help determine the best approach to mapping, and enable a timetable to be established for the production of consultation maps.


Mr. White: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will undertake a comparison between the audit process for small parish councils and those for (a) charities and (b) businesses of similar financial size. [101488]

Ms Beverley Hughes: As recognised by statute, the audit processes for local authorities, including parish councils, are not comparable with those of the private sector or charitable bodies, reflecting that authorities largely obtain their funds through taxation.


Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if it is his policy to exempt parking places at (a) police premises and (b) prisons from workplace parking charges. [101837]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 7 December 1999]: The Transport Bill currently before Parliament allows the Secretary of State or the National Assembly for Wales to require workplace parking levy schemes to include exemptions for particular types of premises. Local authorities will also be able to include their own exemptions. Our consultation paper "Breaking the Logjam" sought views on a range of possible exemptions. A detailed response to the consultation exercise will be published in due course.


Sir Nicholas Lyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will place in the Library the Skeletons of Argument for the Crown in R v. Secretary of State for Environment, Transport and Regions ex parte Factortane (a) in the Court of Appeal and (b) in the House of Lords. [101137]

Mr. Morley: I have been asked to reply.

A skeleton argument is drafted by Counsel in the course of litigation for the assistance of the court, or as appropriate in the House of Lords. In the present case the Government have no objection to placing copies of these skeleton arguments in the Library and this has now been done.


Meat Hygiene Service

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received in the last six months on the performance of the Meat Hygiene Service. [99291]

Ms Quin: In the last six months, my Department has received several hundred representations from Members of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament, industry organisations, individual meat plant operators, farmers, consumers and others about the performance of the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS), and in particular the

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extent of veterinary supervision in meat plants, and about proposals to increase MHS inspection charges. Representations have also been made about the need to use fully qualified veterinarians by the MHS.

The Government have listened to these concerns about the future of the slaughtering sector. Following fresh advice obtained from the European Commission, published on 13 October, low throughput slaughterhouses will not be required to have full-time supervision by a vet during post-mortem inspection. The MHS is now reviewing its levels of inspections in individual low throughput premises. Moreover, as the Minister announced on 1 December, the MHS hygiene inspection charges for the whole of 1999-2000 are being held at the levels set for 1998-99. The Government have also given a commitment that the rates of MHS hygiene inspection charges in 2000-01 should not rise by more than the rate of inflation above the levels charged in 1999-2000.

Land Prices

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the freehold sale price by English region of grade 1 agricultural land for the most recent year for which figures are available. [100579]

Ms Quin: The average prices of freehold sales of agricultural properties are shown in the following table.

Average price of Grade 1 agricultural land sold in 1998, by English region

Government Office region£000 per hectare
North East(7)--
North West8.1
Yorkshire and Humberside8.5
East Midlands6.0
West Midlands(7)--
South East7.3
South West7.1

(7) Denotes insufficient sales to give an average price

The average prices in most cases are based on a very low number of actual sales and hence are not a reliable indicator of regional differences. As details are reported up to three years after the sale date, these estimates are provisional.

Farming (Leicestershire)

Mr. Reed: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will estimate the total value to Leicestershire farmers of all CAP payments for (a) the last year for which figures are available and (b) 2000-01. [101061]

Ms Quin: The following schedule shows approved payments to Leicestershire farmers for both the 1998 calendar year and the 1998-99 financial year. Farmers in Leicestershire will also have benefited from CAP schemes supporting market prices which do not involve payments made directly to them.

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Regarding estimates for 2000-01, with so many variables it is not possible to provide estimates with any degree of accuracy at this time.

CAP Payments in Leicestershire

SchemeCalendar Year 1998Financial Year 1998-99
Sheep Annual Premium Scheme2,489,9612,406,632
Suckler Cow Premium Scheme2,454,0532,210,637
Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowance----
Beef Special Premium Scheme4,352,8334,331,827
Arable Areas Payments Scheme28,210,37528,013,534
Environmentally Sensitive Area----
Organic Aid Scheme11,35014,158
Farm Woodland Scheme34,40734,407
Farm Woodland Premium Scheme110,469117,145
Nitrate Sensitive Areas----
Countryside Stewardship Scheme364,188402,471


The figures are based on the addresses to which payments have been made which in the majority of cases will be the address where the relevant farming activities have taken place. However, when a single farm business operates on land in various locations, the payment is made to their main holding rather than, in all cases, the holding where the cropping or livestock maintenance may necessarily have taken place. This means that an element of the payments shown will relate to farming activities in other parts of the UK but the payments will have been made to the main holding address in Leicestershire. Conversely, the figures attached will not include payments for farming activities in Leicestershire in cases where the main holding is located in another part of the UK.

All schemes have individual 'scheme years' and these, invariably, respect neither calendar nor financial year boundaries. The figures quoted give totals of all payments made under the schemes, which will cover a mixture of scheme years. For example, in the case of BSPS, they will be made up from the balance payments for the 1997 scheme year, paid in April 1998 and the Advance payments for the 1998 scheme year, paid in November 1998.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Mr. Brake: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the total amount of agri- environment or general agricultural support expended, in the most recent period for which figures are available, on SSSI land in England; and if he will break down the figure in different types of expenditures. [101290]

Mr. Morley: In 1998-99 total payments in respect of SSSI land under the Environmentally Sensitive Areas scheme amounted to £6.4 million. Figures are not available in the form requested for the other agri- environment schemes or for general agricultural support.

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