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Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the working relationships of the UK Xenotransplantation Interim Regulatory Authority, the Farm Animal Welfare Council and the Agriculture Environment Biotechnology Commission. 
Mr. Morley: The Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC) was set up to provide the Government with independent strategic advice on developments in biotechnology and their implications for agriculture and the environment. It reports to the Secretaries of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and for Trade and Industry and to Ministers in the devolved Administrations.
The AEBC works alongside the regulatory and advisory bodies in agricultural biotechnology. It has taken evidence from and consulted informally the Farm Animal Welfare Council. Through its secretariat, the AEBC has also liaised as required with the UK Xenotransplantation Interim Regulatory Authority.
Mr. Morley: Operational responsibility for flood management measures rests with the local operating authorities, normally the Environment Agency and local councils, who decide which projects to promote and their timing. The operating authorities are invited to submit applications for DEFRA funding for flood and coastal defence capital works, and associated studies, which meet essential technical, economic and environmental criteria and achieve an appropriate priority score.
DEFRA recently agreed Portsmouth city council's strategy for Old Portsmouth, including both flood alleviation and coast protection works. Applications are now awaited from the council for funding approval of individual phases of work. DEFRA has also approved funding for the council's strategy study for Portsea Island (Portsmouth and Southsea). The study, designed to examine options for coastal defence work, began earlier this year and is scheduled for completion by the end of next year.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people are employed by the Department under the new deal for young people; and at what cost to public funds. 
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Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have to increase the capacity of local projects to recondition white goods appliances. 
Mr. Meacher: The Government currently have no such plans. However, the Prime Minister has announced that across the UK £50 million from the New Opportunities Fund is to be used to support community recycling and related initiatives, which could include the reconditioning and re-use of white goods.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if the Government plan to continue to encourage the re-use of whole white goods appliances to supply to people on low incomes; 
Mr. Meacher: A draft Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive is under discussion. Once agreed and implemented in the UK and other member states it will require targets of recovery, re-use and recycling for components, materials and substances of separately collected electrical equipment to be met.
The wording of the current draft points to targets for the re-use of whole appliances being set in the future. Although these have yet to be set, an objective of this draft is to minimise the amount of electrical equipment becoming waste and so the proposal ensures that priority would be given to the re-use of whole appliances. There is a requirement for appliances to be collected and transported carefully to ensure that any re-usable equipment does not get damaged in transit. There is also a requirement for consumers to be informed of return systems, which could include information on offering equipment for re-use.
The draft Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive defines re-use as any operation by which waste electrical and electronic equipment or components thereof are used for the same purpose for which they were conceived, including the continued use of the equipment or components thereof which are returned to collection points, distributors, recyclers or manufacturers.
Mr. Morley: The Government have commissioned research into the scale and variety of timber and timber products being purchased to meet the operational requirements of central Government Departments and their agencies. Three Departments and three agencies have been selected as samples to reflect the range of activities involved. The research is due to be completed
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by the end of May 2002 and should help the Government in implementing their timber procurement policy by identifying options for guidance that will be made available to its own buyers and to the wider public sector.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the progress of the Government's plans to use sustainable timber only, whenever possible, as part of the materials used in the construction of public buildings. 
Mr. Morley: The Third Annual Report on Greening Government, published on 27 November 2001 and available on the internet http://www.sustainable- development.gov.uk includes information on timber purchase by Department as well as information on overall progress towards implementing the Government's policy on purchasing timber from sustainable and legal sources. That report covers activities undertaken during the financial year ended 31 March 2001. Since then the Government have commissioned consultants to undertake research and report on options for further assisting their buyers to actively seek to purchase timber and timber products from sustainable and legal sources.
The Government are working with stakeholders in producing countries to encourage sustainable forest management as well as tackling illegal logging. The UK was instrumental in organising a ministerial conference in Indonesia this year to address forest law enforcement and governance in East Asia. This produced the real prospect of bilateral agreements to secure more effective controls. A similar conference is planned to address the same issues in Africa next year. These international initiatives are intended to help to reduce the volume of illegally logged timber entering the UK and to effectively create more demand for sustainable timber in construction projects and more generally across both the public and private sectors within the UK.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of her Department in encouraging Government Departments to take part in the pilot project to use only wood from sustainable sources. 
Mr. Morley: This Department has accepted, on behalf of the Government, an offer made by the World Wide Fund for Nature to assist the Government in their efforts to source timber from sustainable and legal sources when a suitable project can be identified. The Department has written to Heads of Procurement in the major central Government Departments to advise them of the offer made by WWF. To date no Department has come forward to suggest a suitable project. The Department will continue to engage the inter-departmental working group on timber procurement in searching for a suitable project.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she plans to take to implement her Department's policy of using only sustainable timber for public buildings. 
Mr. Morley: The Government are working with the timber trade, environmental pressure groups and other stakeholders to encourage a greater demand for sustainable timber across all sectors of the economy. The
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Government are also working with many stakeholders in different producer countries to promote sustainable forest management as well as tackling illegal logging.
For their own operational activities the Government are committed to actively seek to purchase the timber and timber products they need from legal and sustainable sources. To this end Government buyers have been instructed to implement this policy and to report annually on their purchases. An interdepartmental working group is monitoring progress and will provide further guidance and advice to that already provided to buyers in our Green Guide for Buyers and elsewhere on the Greening Government website http:// www.defra.gov.uk/environment/greening/gghome.htm. The Government's approach should help to transform the market into supplying more timber and timber products from sustainable managed sources. The Third Annual Report on Greening Government, published on 27 November 2001 and available on the internet http://www.sustainable- development.gov.uk includes information on timber purchase by Department as well as information on overall progress towards implementing the Government's policy on purchasing timber from sustainable and legal sources. More generally, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has recently set up a Sustainable Procurement Group of officials to consider how Government policies on sustainable development can be more effectively implemented through the Government's own procurement activities.
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