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Child Soldiers

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when the Government will ratify the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of Children in Armed Conflict; and if she will make a statement. [22263]

Mr. Hoon: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 6 December 2001, Official Report, columns 458–59W, to my hon. Friend the Member for South Swindon (Ms Drown).


Post-16 Education (Rural Areas)

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of young people living in rural areas in the United Kingdom went into post-16 education compared to the national average in (a) 1996, (b) 1997, (c) 1998, (d) 1999, (e) 2000 and (f) 2001. [16535]

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Alun Michael: The DfES, which is responsible for the publication of statistics on participation in education, does not produce figures on the basis of an urban/rural breakdown. Figures for individual local education authorities and local skills councils are available in their statistical bulletin "Participation in Education and Training by Young People Aged 16 and 17 in each Local Area and Region, England, 1994–95 to 1998–99", available on their website.

Castle Cement Plant, Ribblesdale

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many tests have been carried out by the Environment Agency on dioxin emissions at the Ribblesdale plant of Castle Cement in the past 12 months; and if she will publish the findings. [18543]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 27 November 2001]: Since November 2000 the Environment Agency has conducted three sets of dioxin tests on the kilns at Castle Cement's Ribblesdale plant. The individual sample results are shown in the table. The dioxin limit in the site's Integrated Pollution Control (IPC) permit is 0.8 ng/m 3 .

Sample pointDate sample takenResults ng/m(28) dioxin
Stack from kilns 5 and 614–15 February 20012.887 and 1.628
Kiln 71–2 May 20010.001 and 0.001
Stack from kilns 5 and 616–17 August 20010.212 and 0.295
Kiln 5a16 August 20010.053
Kiln 5b16 August 20010.216
Kiln 617 August 20010.200

Full details of these results are available on the agency's public registers, at the local Environment Agency office (Richard Fairclough House, 50 Knutsford Road, Warrington, WA4 1HG) and at the Ribble Valley borough council's offices.

The agency, in accordance with its enforcement policy, has investigated the breach of the emissions limit that occurred at the stack from kilns 5 and 6 on 14–15 February 2001 and a warning letter has been issued to Castle Cement. Over the period to August 2001, I understand that the company undertook its own exploration of emissions from the stack, including sampling. Following the February breach, the agency commissioned work modelling the likely fate of dioxins in the environment and the human food chain. This concluded that even under the worst conditions, individuals in the community exposed to the levels found during the breach of the limit would be most unlikely to exceed the World Health Organisation guideline intake. However, the agency will not accept any re-occurrence of the elevated levels found in February 2001.

Agricultural Development Scheme

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether funding from round three of the Agricultural Development Scheme will support projects outside areas directly affected by foot and mouth disease. [18872]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 28 November 2001]: Yes, projects from all areas of England are eligible provided that they meet the eligibility criteria for the

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scheme, including the requirement that they are directed at sectors affected directly or indirectly by foot and mouth disease or address structural or other weaknesses highlighted by foot and mouth disease.

Environmental Management Systems

Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if the standard for environmental management systems 1SO 14001 is one of the measures of environmental management standards recognised by her Department as demonstrating a commitment to responsible environmental performance; and if she will make a statement. [20512]

Mr. Meacher: The Department acknowledges the important role of the international standard for environmental management systems, ISO 14001 at the global level. It provides organisations with a sound mechanism for demonstrating publicly their commitment to pollution prevention, to responsible management of environmental risks and impacts and to continual improvements in performance. Having an independent third party certify that the organisation has implemented the management system in accordance with the requirements of the standard is something that is increasingly valued by various stakeholders.


Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with her EU counterparts regarding the revocation of licences for the use of (a) carbofuran and (b) chlorfenvinphos; and if she will make a statement. [20663]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 4 December 2001]: Under EU rules the UK is not obliged to inform other member states of any national review programme of pesticide products undertaken to address national issues. However, all member states and the Commission were informed of the UK programme to review organophosphate compounds which included carbofuran and chlorfenvinphos. In addition, all are automatically informed of any new product approvals and revocations. The separate European programme intends to review all active substances used in plant protection products within the community and all member states and the Commission are involved in this decision-making process.

The approval holders for carbofuran and chlorfenvinphos chose not to submit supporting data for their products under the UK review and therefore these products will not be available in the UK after 31 December 2001. Under the European review programme carbofuran has been supported so far although its continued use will depend upon the assessment of the data submitted. Chlorfenvinphos has not been supported. The impact of the European regime will not be felt until 2003 when all the compounds not supported by companies anticipating extensive data requirements will be withdrawn.

Member states, can however, carry out their own review exercises and carry them out at different times to the European review. In this case, the UK

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organophosphate review was introduced to address public concerns about the safety of these compounds and we have acted in a consistent manner to revoke their use where appropriate. However, the impact of the loss of these products is not underestimated and officials will continue to do everything possible to help the trade and user groups.

Animal Health Bill

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received on the compatibility of the Animal Health Bill with the European Convention on Human Rights. [21103]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 6 December 2001]: As at 4 December the Department has received four pieces of correspondence from interested organisations and individuals which, among other issues relating to the Animal Health Bill, commented on its compatibility with human rights legislation.


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received concerning the management of Britain's waterways, with particular reference to those in the north-east. [19993]

Mr. Meacher: The Department has received a number of representations recently on the review of the Environment Agency's navigation responsibilities, but none related specifically to the management of waterways in the north-east.

Rural Reports

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will respond to the reports by the Rural Task Force and by Lord Haskins. [23123]

Alun Michael: I will be publishing the Government's response to the report of the Rural Task Force tomorrow. The published document will also be a response to the report of Lord Haskins, also published on 18 October, and will also take stock on the progress on delivering the Rural White Paper.


Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what further steps she plans to take to assist farmers to meet appropriate biosecurity measures. [18023]

Mr. Morley: Many farmers are operating high biosecurity standards as a result of the foot and mouth disease outbreak and it is in their interest to maintain high standards into the future. I have therefore asked my officials to prepare a Code of Practice that will recommend best biosecurity practice to be available to all those engaged in livestock farming. The code will draw on the advice that has been given by the local Biosecurity Units of the State Veterinary Service during the foot and mouth disease outbreak.

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