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Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what date her Department established a working group of officials to prepare her Department for the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and on what dates this committee has met since it was set up. 
Mr. Morley: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Mr. Wills) on 21 November 2001, Official Report, column 366W.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has established a working group to prepare for the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. So far the group has met three times, on 21 August 2001, 2 October 2001 and 13 November 2001.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she last met representatives of the distribution industry to discuss the use of low emission fuels. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 16 November 2001]: My colleagues the Secretaries of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and for Trade and Industry, as well as their respective Ministers, are in regular contact with representatives of the oil and motor industries to discuss the production, distribution and promotion of low emission fuels. My Department also has a keen interest in this area, because of the environmental benefits that cleaner fuels can offer. My ministerial colleagues and I are always prepared, in principle, to meet with representatives from relevant industries to discuss ways of reducing harmful emissions.
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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her plans for meeting the requirements of the Landfill Directive; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 16 November 2001]: Consultation on a set of draft regulations to implement the technical and regulatory requirements of the Landfill Directive in England and Wales closed on 26 October 2001. The Government will be laying regulations before Parliament shortly.
We have also consulted on a tradeable landfill permit scheme to implement the targets in Article 5 of the directive for the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill and will bring forward primary legislation to introduce such a scheme as soon as parliamentary time allows.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will meet representatives of Belfast city council to discuss sustainable development and procurement policies. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 16 November 2001]: Government procurement has considerable potential to support sustainable development goals. A high level cross-Government group is being set up to consider how to generate greater action across Government and make recommendations to Ministers. Progress by Belfast city council, and others in the private and public sector in utilising procurement to support sustainable development goals will no doubt be of interest to this group.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of Belfast city council's procurement and recycling policy. 
Mr. Meacher: None. This is a devolved matter for the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she has met Green Ministers from other Government Departments since May. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 16 November 2001]: My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Environment, in his role as chairman of ENV(G)the ministerial sub-committee of Green Ministershas met Green Ministers from other Departments once since May. The first meeting of ENV(G) took place on 25 October 2001. I have not met Ministers from other Departments specifically in their capacity as Green Ministers.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) plans and (b) targets she has agreed with Green Ministers for each of the next three years. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 16 November 2001]: The Green Ministers' work programme was set out in "Greening Government: the second annual report of
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the Green Ministers Committee" published in November 2000. This report included a target for all Departments to contribute towards the Government estate target of a 1 per cent. per annum on-going reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from buildings.
Since publication of the report, Green Ministers have agreed cross-government targets for water usage and renewable energy as follows:
For offices in metered buildings where the Department is sole occupier or is billed the water services charges; all Departments should achieve a maximum level of water consumption equivalent to 11 cubic metres per person (fulltime equivalent staff) by 31 March 2002, and a further 30 per cent. reduction over the next two years, achieving a level of 7.7 cubic metres by 31 March 2004.
All Departments will ensure that, by 31 March 2003, at least 5 per cent. of their electricity comes from renewable sources that are exempt from the climate change levy, or from self-generation, provided this does not entail excessive cost. This will rise to at least 10 per cent. supply from such sources by 31 March 2008, but will be reviewed after 31 March 2003 to take account of market conditions following the introduction of the renewables obligation. The review of 2003 will include consideration of increasing or bringing forward the target.
Further plans for Green Ministers are set out in the third annual report on greening government published today.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what standard operating procedures and contingency plans have been established by her Department based upon the experiences of the outbreak of swine fever in 2000. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 16 November 2001]: The amendment of operational instructions and contingency plans following the outbreak of swine fever in 2000 was interrupted by the outbreak of FMD in 2001. The action following both outbreaks will now be carried forward in parallel.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish her Department's contingency plan for combating future outbreaks of (a) foot and mouth disease and (b) swine fever. 
Mr. Morley: The EU agreed foot and mouth contingency plan (updated in July 2000) was placed in the Library of the House in May 2001. It has also been published on the DEFRA website at: http://defraweb/ animalh/diseases/control/contingency/index.htm.
A copy of the classical swine fever contingency plan (most recently updated in September 2001) has also been placed in the Library of the House. The swine fever contingency plan has not been published on the website but it is very similar to the foot and mouth disease plan. We will publish it on the newly developed "Disease surveillance and Control" area of the DEFRA website soon.
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Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her French counterpart on the imposition of a ban on the import of British beef into France during November; if she intends to raise the matter at the forthcoming Council of European Ministers meeting; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The UK is not directly affected by action taken by the French trade in respect of beef imports from other member states, since France still refuses to accept imports of British beef under the Date Based Export Scheme. The matter is now before the European Court of Justice, which is expected to rule on it shortly. At the meeting of the Agriculture Council on 20 November the European Commission reported that it was examining the compatibility with EU law of the action by the French trade.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what targets she has set to remove the backlog of cattle due for slaughter under the over-30-month-scheme. 
Mr. Morley: Waiting times for over-30-month scheme abattoirs vary across the country. Some are shorter than at this time in previous years. Now that the OTMS abattoirs are fully operational again farmers should not have to wait more than two to four weeks. At present no special measures are required. The Rural Payments Agency will continue to monitor waiting times and optimise slaughter capacity.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many incidences of BSE there have been in the last 12 months in (a) the United Kingdom, (b) France and (c) Germany. 
Mr. Morley: In the last 12 months there have been 1,138 cases of BSE in the United Kingdom, 145 in France and 129 in Germany. The figures for France and Germany are based on reports by the Commission. All the figures cover the period between 31 October 2000 and 31 October 2001.
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