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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will meet the All Party Group on Animal Welfare in order to discuss its recommendations on circus animals; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The Department is currently consulting widely on the content of a possible Animal Welfare Bill. The consultation includes the issue of animals in circuses. I will be happy to meet the group as part of the consultation process.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the safety standards are for the transport of live sheep on ships; when they were last reviewed; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The requirements for the protection of welfare of sheep during transport on ships are set down in Directive 91/628/EEC as amended by Directive 95/29/EC and implemented in GB by the Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997, as amended. We look forward to the European Commission's expected proposals to amend and update this directive.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times the ship the Kalifeh has (1) breached safety guidelines when carrying sheep since January 2000; and if she will make a statement; 
Mr. Morley: Safety and standards in the maritime industry are a matter for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. With regard to standards for animal welfare, the MV Kalifeh 1 is known to have carried sheep twice from the UK. Both voyages were from Northern Ireland and the vessel was inspected by the Northern Ireland Veterinary Service and assessed as suitable to carry sheep. The vessel has not been refused entry to a European port following departure from the UK. However, on 16 February 2002 the French authorities refused a consignment of 274 sheep as a result of alleged irregularities in procedures relating to the animals which originated in the Republic of Ireland. This matter was resolved between the authorities in France and the Republic of Ireland.
Mr. Morley: It is departmental policy, as an equal opportunity employer, to meet requests for all types of flexible working, including part-time working and job sharing, wherever the nature of the work allows.
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total cost of her Department's website was in real terms in each of the last four years; and how many hits it received in each of those years. 
Alun Michael: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs was created only in June 2001. Many units across DEFRA contribute to the maintenance of the Department's website as part of their communications activities, and an overall figure cannot be arrived at without incurring disproportionate cost. The DEFRA website has received 30,581,206 hits between 8 June 2001, the date on which DEFRA was created, and 20 November 2001, the latest date for which usage statistics are currently available.
Mr. Morley: Staff in DEFRA and its executive agencies who are transferred from one workplace to another in the Department's interest and at its instigation are reimbursed reasonable costs for expenses necessarily incurred in moving home where the distance between the old and new workplaces merits a home move.
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated size of the (a) fox, (b) hunting dog and (c) hunting horse population in the UK has been in each year since 1995 for which figures are available. 
Alun Michael: There is no way to collect such information, but the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs, which was chaired by my noble Friend Lord Burns and published in June 2000 (Cm 4763), estimates the pre-breeding fox population of England and Wales as 217,000. The population almost trebles in early summer.
The report contains information based on data returned in response to a survey of hunts conducted by Produce Studies Ltd. in February 2000. This provided an estimate that there are 793 horses owned by hunts in England and Wales and 19,162 hounds used for hunting in England and Wales.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what actions she is taking in response to the Reasoned Opinion relating to the dangerous substance directive and the waste oils directive. 
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Mr. Meacher: The Government are dealing with points made by the Commission in its Reasoned Opinions relating to the implementation of directives concerning the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances and the waste oils.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department has taken to (a) increase the rate of response in the local authority pollution control statistical survey and (b) assess the performance of inspection of polluting processes of those local authorities who failed to respond to the local authority pollution control statistical survey in 200001. 
We are pleased with this response rate, which we believe to be the result, among other things, of introducing electronic returns, despatching survey forms earlier, and improved guidance. We will, however, be writing to the 14 authorities that failed to send returns, and considering what steps can be taken to reduce errors and queries and tackle late returns, or whether it may be more sensible to publish the statistical report a little later in the year. We will also be contacting all authorities in the residual 8 per cent. to ascertain their inspection frequency in 200001.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will place in the Library copies of (a) the "Green Guide for Buyers" and (b) "Towards More Sustainable Construction". 
Mr. Meacher: Both documents can be found on the Greening Government website: the guide for buyers at http://defraweb/environment/greening/greenpro/greenbuy/ index.htm and the construction guide at http://defraweb/ environment/greening/land/suscon/index.htm. The "Green Guide for Buyers" was revised in February 2001 and produced in electronic format only as the information it contains needs to be updated regularly. However, copies of "Towards More Sustainable Construction in the Librarya green guide for managers on the Government estate" that was published in April 1999 will be placed in the Library.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration she has given to further guidance and controls since the unauthorised disposals of toxic ash residues from the incinerator and fuel plants at Byker, Newcastle. 
Mr. Meacher: The Environment Agency is currently piloting new procedures to track the destination of ash following disposal by municipal waste incinerators. Subject to a satisfactory outcome of the pilot exercise, the agency intends to apply this approach to all municipal
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waste incinerators in England and Wales, and any other municipal waste derived fuel plant that is similar to the one at Byker.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what quantity of toxic ash residues was disposed of in unauthorised ways from the incinerator and fuel plants at Byker, Newcastle; and how much of this material was dumped outside the city boundaries of Newcastle upon Tyne. 
Mr. Meacher: In its investigations the Environment Agency established that approximately 2,000 tonnes of ash from the Byker plant were deposited in and around Newcastle over a five-year period from 1993 to 1998 by Newcastle city council.
There are two sites outside Newcastle upon Tyne that the Environment Agency has identified as receiving ash from the Byker plant. Approximately 11 tonnes was deposited at Northumbria Horse Holidays, Annfield Plain, Durham and 40 tonnes was deposited at Murton Riding School, Murton village, Shiremoor. Newcastle city council deposited the ash at the owners' requests for use as exercise arena surfacing.
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