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Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what guidelines are in place to monitor the air quality of commercial aircrafts arriving or departing within the United Kingdom; who regulates the effectiveness of high-efficiency particulate air filters; and if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of HEPA filters on the transmission of turberculosis. 
Mr. Jamieson: There are at present no guidelines relating to the monitoring of air quality in aircraft. There is no statutory requirement for the use of filters in aircraft ventilation systems but where such filters are used, the CAA requires that they do not adversely affect the prime functions of the aircraft systems to which they are fitted and that airlines conduct maintenance in line with the aeroplane manufacturers' instructions. According to tests carried out by a manufacturer of High Efficiency Particulate Air filters, they have been found to remove microbiological organisms with an efficiency greater than 99.999 per cent.
The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology in its report on air travel and health concluded that the modern aircraft cabin environment generally poses no greater risk of transmission of infection between its occupants than crowded situations elsewhereand may, indeed, be healthier than most of them.
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Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if (a) private and (b) non-Governmental organisations have been given access to the Veterinary Risk Assessment report on hunting prior to its official publication; and if she will make a statement. 
Alun Michael: No one from private or non-government organisations was given access to the Veterinary Risk Assessment prior to publication although some draft recommendations emanating from the Risk Assessment were discussed with both pro and anti-hunting groups.
Mr. Anthony D. Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what types of unusual incidents hunts are expected to report when returning their certificates of compliance to her Department. 
Alun Michael: Hunts would be expected to report episodes such as the disturbance of deer or other animals unrelated to the hunt or anything else unexpected which would pose a risk to the disease control requirements.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact on (a) farm cash flow and (b) farmers' livelihoods in the Macclesfield constituency of delays in the (i) despatch and (ii) processing of (A) livestock and (B) South West Peak ESA scheme (1) claim forms and (2) payments from the Rural Payments Agency in Worcester; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: For some ESA cases there has been a delay in despatching claim forms because of queries that need resolution. However the majority of claim forms were sent out in September. This is about one month later than normal and was due to the restructuring of ex MAFF regions. Payments are however expected to be made within the two month Citizen Charter target.
There has been no delay in despatching livestock claims but a number of factors, including the loss of experienced staff to foot and mouth disease (FMD), industrial action, the need to cross check claims against the FMD database to establish entitlement and the need to update computer software to reflect some changes have affected the speed of processing. Advance payments on SAPS and BSPS are on target, and advances on SPS are currently ahead of last year's performance. No advances on SCPS have yet been made but are expected to start shortly with the intention of them all being paid by the deadline.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 17 December 2001, Ref 20948, what savings have been made since the establishment of the Rural Payments Agency. 
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Mr. Morley: The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) was established on 16 October 2001. By 2004 it will have implemented a major change programme that will deliver cost efficiencies in key aspects of CAP administration. During this period there will be two phases of office closures coupled with progressive delivery of changed business processes supported by modernised IT.
The first phase of office closures will be completed by the end of February 2002. However, the remaining site rationalisation and development of new IT system are not due for completion until 2004. As a result, the full scale of savings will only be realised at the end of the change programme.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact on (a) farm cash flow and (b) farmers' livelihoods of delays in the despatch of sheep annual premium to farmers who have had a partial contiguous cull of sheep as a result of foot and mouth. 
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the impact of a pesticides tax on the profitability of UK agriculture. 
Mr. Morley: Proposals for a pesticides tax are not currently under discussion, pending evaluation of the success of a voluntary initiative by industry. In the 2001 budget, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer welcomed the package of voluntary measures for minimising the adverse environmental impacts of pesticides submitted by the Crop Protection Association, farming unions and other stakeholders and said that the Government wished to see it implemented nationwide as soon as possible. The 2001 pre-Budget report published on 27 November sets out the Government's latest position and the relevant paragraphs are as follows:
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Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations the Government have made in Europe since the last meeting of the European Union's Agriculture Council for reform of the sheepmeat regime. 
Mr. Morley: The Commission's proposals for reform of the sheepmeat regime have been the subject of discussion at ministerial and official levels with a number of other member states and the European Commission. The proposals were agreed by the Council of Ministers (Agriculture) on 19 December.
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what calculations she has made of the change in the public moneys expended in the foot and mouth disease areas during the outbreak; and what that sum would have been had no outbreak occurred. 
Mr. Morley: The Chancellor's pre-Budget report shows that the Government are spending an additional £2.7 billion to tackle foot and mouth disease (FMD) and its implications for the rural economy. This includes the cost in compensation paid to farmers affected by FMD and additional support to the rural economy.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures her Department is taking to promote consumer awareness of farmers' markets in town and city centres. 
Mr. Morley: The promotion of individual farmers' markets is primarily a matter for market organisers. However, the Department has provided funding to the National Association of Farmers' Markets to help re-launch farmers' markets following the foot and mouth crisis. The Countryside Agency, which we grant aid, is also providing support to the National Association.
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