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Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy not to impose penalties on farmers where errors on integrated administration and control system forms lead to an underclaim. 
Mr. Morley: Penalties are not normally applied to errors that lead to an underclaim. Where there are different rates of aid for different crop groups within a
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claim there can be a large underclaim in one crop group and a smaller overclaim in another so in global area terms there is an underclaim. However, penalties would still be applied to the overclaim.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will provide financial assistance to farmers to help with feeding their animals over the winter. 
Mr. Morley: My officials are in touch with the Arthur Rank Foundation and with industry bodies about the work of the ARF's National Fodder Bureau and Government match funding for this charitable work.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the average cost is to public funds, per journey, of ADAS monitoring transport from farm to slaughterhouse; and what the average cost is, per journey, for livestock transported from the Isle of Wight; 
(3) what proportion of journeys of livestock from farm to slaughterhouse ADAS is required to monitor under contract from her Department. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 19 July 2001]: The Department does not have a contract with ADAS to monitor the transport of livestock from farm to slaughterhouse. Temporary arrangements were operated, under ADAS supervision, to allow livestock from the Devon Infected Area to move to a slaughterhouse outside that Infected Area.
As part of a general contract to provide assistance for Foot and Mouth Disease issues, ADAS monitors the transport of livestock moving for welfare reasons under a Longer Distance Movement Licence.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many applications under (a) the over-30-months scheme and (b) the welfare scheme have been outstanding with her Department for (i) more than one week, (ii) two to four weeks, (iii) four to six weeks and (iv) more than six weeks. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 19 July 2001]: Both the Over-30-Months (Slaughter) Scheme (OTMS) and the Livestock Welfare (Disposal) Scheme are administered by the Intervention Board (IB).
(a) No applications are required to be made to IB in respect of OTMS. Entry to the scheme is via a booking system operated by participating abattoirs. The latest survey of this list shows that approximately 50,000 head have been booked in and are awaiting slaughter. This represents around three weeks throughput at current levels.
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(b) All applications under Livestock Welfare (Disposal) Scheme (LW(D)S) received at the Intervention Board are scrutinised by a team of experts from the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service (ADAS) within seven days of receipt. Each application is checked for eligibility and, if acceptable under the scheme, is prioritised for slaughter. An application for which no additional information is required will normally be slaughtered within about 14 days. In the most urgent of welfare cases slaughter can be arranged within 48 hours of application. Where there is insufficient information supporting the application or further clarification is required, the applicant is asked to provide this. In turn this may require applicants to seek information from other sources. The application will be approved or rejected once this information is available. The length of time it takes to reach that stage is dependent on the speed with which applicants reply to any request for further information.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if interest will be paid on payments outstanding following the 21-day window for slaughter under the Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme. 
Mr. Morley: When the Livestock Welfare (Disposal) Scheme was opened in March, the Intervention Board said it would aim to make payments within 21 days of slaughter. There has been enormous demand for the scheme, with over 1.5 million animals having been slaughtered and over 15,000 claims amounting to £175 million paid. The number of applications far exceeded all forecasts at the time the scheme was introduced. In addition, the increasing complexity of the eligibility rules as movement restrictions were lifted and the large number of points in the disposal chain from which documentation had to be returned have contributed to delays in payments of claims. These delays are regrettable but in the circumstances unavoidable.
I am pleased to say that the Intervention Board has now cleared its backlog of claims and is making payments on over 90 per cent. of claims which do not require any further investigation within 28 days of slaughter. Against the background of logistical difficulties and unanticipated volumes already referred to, payment of interest is not considered appropriate.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the steps she intends to take to speed up payments made under the Livestock Welfare Disposal Scheme. 
Mr. Morley: Steps have already been taken by the Intervention Board to enhance payment performance. Currently over 90 per cent. of claims not subject to query or investigation are being paid within 28 days of slaughter.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the price and availability of (a) fodder and (b) grazing for livestock (i) nationally and (ii) on the Isle of Wight. 
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Mr. Morley [holding answer 19 July 2001]: My officials are in touch with the Arthur Rank Foundationand with industry bodies about the work of the ARF's National Fodder Bureau and Government match funding for this charitable work. These discussions have included consideration of the prices and availability of fodder and grazing across the country.
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much farming land is in set-aside land in the UK. 
Mr. Morley: The area of land set-aside in the UK under the Arable Area Payments Scheme in 2001 is provisionally assessed as 844,805 hectares.
Sir Brian Mawhinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire will receive a reply to his letter of 26 March on behalf of his constituent Mrs. Hall. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 20 July]: I replied to the right hon. Member's letter on 21 August.
Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what target she has set for the length of time her Department takes to answer letters from (a) hon. Members and (b) members of the public. 
Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has set different targets for the length of time that the DEFRA may take to reply to correspondence from hon. Members and members of the public.
The Department's target for responding to letters from hon. Members is 15 working days. This is also the Department's target for replying to correspondence from members of the public, except in the regional offices of the Rural Payments Agency and the Rural Development Service, where the target is 10 working days.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many officials previously employed by MAFF were not transferred to her Department. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 20 July 2001]: All officials previously employed by MAFF were transferred to the new Department.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the report into the dioxin levels in building materials will be published; if she will place the report in the Library; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 20 July 2001]: The Environment Agency currently expects to complete its investigation into the production and fates of solid residues from municipal waste incinerators in December.
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The results will be published shortly afterwards, and a copy of the report will be placed in the Library in due course.
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