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Mr. Morley: I assure the hon. Gentleman that we shall certainly raise the matter with the Commission. There needs to be common sense in the application of such regulations. Of course, there are serious issues about veterinary medicines and food animals, and about animal welfare. In relation to animals such as horses, there are a range of medicines and there needs to be some flexibility. Discussions will be held, probably for about two to three years, during which we shall try to resolve these issues.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Elliot Morley): The Environment Agency has a general supervisory responsibility for all matters relating to flood defence in England and Wales. The agency has been working with the other operating authorities in developing arrangements for inspecting defences and watercourses, receiving reports and assessing flood risk. We have been reviewing the present arrangements for funding flood and coastal defence as part of that, and we will consider whether the institutional arrangements are fit for the purpose.
Gareth Thomas: I am grateful for that response. On the subject of insurance against flooding, I am sure that the Minister will be aware that many householders are now finding it difficult to obtain insurance cover. Does he think that the Government have a roleand if so, what rolein ensuring that the insurance industry, which is so keen to collect premiums from people in good times, provides affordable cover, save in exceptional circumstances?
Mr. Morley: I agree with my hon. Friend. The Government are regularly in touch with the Association of British Insurers, and we have held several meetings recently to discuss those points. Insurance companies are of course in the business of managing risk, while the Government are in the business of reducing risk for people in relation to the threat from floods. The substantial sums that we are putting in and the substantial programmes that we have in place are reducing those risks, and we expect the insurance companies to respond accordingly.
Mr. Michael Foster (Worcester): One of the barriers in setting up flood defence mechanisms seems to be the economic test to which they are subject. Will my hon. Friend impress on the Treasury the need to change the economic test so that, when it is used to assess value for money for flood defence schemes, it includes social costs, impact on health, and business and commercial losses?
Mr. Morley: We are currently reviewing the way that we apply the points score on the very issues raised by my hon. Friend. Of course, issues such as the effect on health can be difficult to quantify, but we accept that that is a perfectly legitimate consideration to take into account, and we are examining how that could be done in the future review of assessments.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr. Elliot Morley): The UK pig industry is going through a difficult time, partly as a result of the foot and mouth disease outbreak but also because of slack demand and plentiful supply. However, with the re-opening of export markets and the ability of the industry to restructure, using funds provided by the Government, medium-term prospects look more promising.
Mr. Heath: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that reply, although it is a slight understatement to say that the industry is going through a difficult time. Historically, the pig industry has neither sought nor received Government subsidy and it is still reeling from the after-effects of, first, classical swine fever and then foot and mouth. It still cannot believe that the Government are not taking action to prevent illegal meat imports.
Will the Minister tell us about the pig industry restructuring scheme? The Government set aside £66 million, which was welcome. How much of that has been spent, how has it been distributed and what will be done with any residue to help our hard-pressed pig industry?
Mr. Morley: I certainly accept the hon. Gentleman's point that the pig industry has never really sought support from the Government and the taxpayer, and it deserves great credit for that. As he rightly states, the industry has been under some pressure and we acknowledge that.
I have to take issue with the hon. Gentleman over the point about illegal imports. We are spending a great deal of time, money and resources to ensure that illegal imports do not get into this country and we shall, of course, continue to review and strengthen those efforts. However, no one can give a 100 per cent. guarantee that it will not happen.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett): The national waste strategy, published in May last year, seeks to encourage more sustainable resource use by reducing the amount of waste created and by extracting value wherever possible from the waste that is produced.
We have set demanding statutory recycling targets for local authorities, increased the landfill tax, held consultations on a system of tradable landfill permits to achieve the required diversion from landfill, and established the waste resources action programme to help create stable and efficient markets for recycled materials and products.
Mr. Amess: The Secretary of State will be aware that in Essex recycling is running at 19 per cent. countywide; in civic amenities the figure is as high as 53 per cent. Does she realise that in order to meet increased targets local authorities will incur huge extra costs? In July, the comprehensive spending review promised more moneyspecifically, £140 million was promised to local authorities. Will she explain why local authorities have not so far received any extra money?