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Geraint Davies: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he will publish the analysis of the responses to the consultation paper, "Electronic Conveyancing: A Draft Order Under Section 8 of the Electronic Communications Act 2000". 
Mr. Wills: The Lord Chancellor's Department has today published an analysis of the responses under the title "Electronic Conveyancing: Analysis of the responses to the consultation paper on a draft order under section 8 of the Electronic Communications Act 2000" (CP(R): 05/2001). I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many, and what proportion of letters received by the Department from right hon. and hon. Members between 20 June and 20 July were replied to in (a) under 15, (b) under 20, (c) under 30, (d) under 40 and (e) over 40 working days. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Information on the volume of correspondence from Members of Parliament received by ministerial agency chief executives, and Departments and agencies and performance in handling them is published annually by the Cabinet Office. The most recent report, covering 2000, was announced by the then Minister for the Cabinet Office on 6 April 2001, Official Report, column 325W. Between 20 June and 20 July 2001, the volume of correspondence and percentage of replies within each of the specified timescales was, as follows:
Replied to in under 15 days: 41 (40 per cent.)
Replied to in under 20 days: 31 (30 per cent.)
Replied to in under 30 days: 13 (13 per cent.)
Replied to in under 40 days: 12 (12 per cent.)
Replied to in over 40 days: 5 (5 per cent.)
Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the location of British Portland cement manufacturing plants accredited to the EU eco-management and audit scheme. 
Mr. Meacher: The UK Portland cement manufacturing plants registered under the EU eco-management and audit scheme (EMAS) are: the site of Rugby Cement at Barton on Humber, North Lincolnshire; and sites of Blue Circle Cement UK at Aberthawe, South Glamorgan; Barnstone, Nottinghamshire; Cauldon, Staffordshire; Cookstown, County Tyrone; Dunbar, East Lothian, Hope, Derbyshire; Northfleet, Kent; Weardale, County Durham; and Westbury, Wiltshire.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of
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the increase in the departmental expenditure limit from 200102 to 200203 will be accounted for by wage costs. 
Mr. Morley: The level of wage costs within the Department's budget this year and in future years will be dependent upon negotiations. Departmental reports published next spring will give full retrospective costs.
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 30 November 2001, Official Report, column 1172W, on industrial action, if she will list the measures her Department will use to ensure that all payments are made within the 16 November to 31 January window. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 6 December 2001]: The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is currently taking a range of measures to ensure that delays on the Arable Area Payments Scheme (AAPS) are kept to the minimum, including:
Redeploying all RPA staff with relevant experience on to the AAPS
Back filling staff redeployed with casual/agency staff
Increasing the number of staff authorising claims
Using validation reports to determine which claims can best be handled by less experienced staff so that better use is made of those with more experience
Switching staff periodically from casework to payment authorisation
Deploying staff returning from FMD duties.
Mr. Curry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to recover the public money committed to the Institute of Animal Health study into sheep TSEs. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 10 December 2001]: The Permanent Secretary for DEFRA is currently considering this issue, in his capacity as the Departmental Accounting Officer.
Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance was issued to valuers with regard to the calculation of slaughter premium when valuing cattle for slaughter during the foot and mouth outbreak; and what change has been made to that guidance. 
Mr. Morley: The valuation of animals to be compulsorily slaughtered for animal disease control purposes (eg TB and brucellosis) is an established practice, carried out on DEFRA's behalf by independent valuers. The valuation process should take into account any relevant factors which would have a bearing on the real market value of an animal which is due to be slaughtered. Eligibility for slaughter premium can be taken into account if, in the opinion of the valuer, this eligibility would have an impact on market value.
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The system for valuing animals for foot and mouth disease was no different from established practice until the option of standard values was introduced on 22 March 2001. Standard values include an element in respect of slaughter premium where relevant. However, in the light of a number of queries on valuations from farmers and industry organisations, it was decided to issue central guidance to valuers which confirmed the Department's position. This was issued on 11 September, as follows:
Mr. Morley [holding answer 25 November 2001] [pursuant to the reply, 6 November 2001, c. 14546W]: The original reply was incorrect, and should have been as follows.
A total of 248 premises currently classified as Slaughter on Suspicion (SOS) and 396 premises currently classified as Dangerous Contacts (DC) had laboratory tests conducted for the presence of foot and mouth disease. Of these, one DC premises returned a positive result.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will instruct her Department's offices in Leeds to involve (a) local practising veterinarians and (b) other organisations with local knowledge to help eradicate foot and mouth disease. 
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Mr. Morley: The Leeds Disease Control Centre (DCC) has, from the onset of foot and mouth disease, involved and consulted with local veterinarians and other stakeholder organisations in an effort to promote an integrated approach to eradicating the disease. The Leeds DCC appointed a highly experienced local veterinarianfrom the Thirsk areaas Liaison Officer for the Local Veterinary Inspectors, three local farmers as National Farmers Union Liaison Officers, an industrial Liaison Officer and local authority personnel to provide additional links with local communities. Regular meetings and consultation with local stakeholders have provided opportunities for the exchange of information and expertise.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the lines of communication between her Department and the farming community in Thirsk during the foot and mouth outbreak. 
Mr. Morley: The Leeds Disease Control Centre has endeavoured to maintain good relations with the Thirsk farming community, both directly and through the National Farmers Union and other organisations, since the initial outbreak in the Thirsk area on 5 July. The importance of the strict biosecurity enforcement measures in the Thirsk 'Restricted Infected Area' (RIA), introduced on 30 July, which were designed to halt the spread of the disease made the need for good communications particularly important. The improvement in the biosecurity arrangements of farmers and others while the RIA was in place, as measured by the reduction in infringements of the biosecurity requirements, suggests that key messages were communicated effectively.
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