Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidelines she has set for the disposal and use of lower grade compost that will be unfit for agricultural use. 
Mr. Meacher: The recovery or disposal of waste, including lower grade composted waste, must be carried out in compliance with the controls in place to fulfil the requirements of the waste framework directive. The main controls are set out in Part II of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Waste Management Licensing Regulations (the 1994 Regulations). We have issued guidance on these controls in DOE Circular 11/94; and statutory guidance to the Environment Agency on waste management licensing in Waste Management Paper Number 4.
Waste compost may be spread on land for agricultural benefit or ecological improvement under the terms of the licensing exemption provided in paragraph 7 of Schedule 3 to the 1994 Regulations and registered with the Environment Agency. The spreading of waste compost in these circumstances is classified as a waste recovery operation. The disposal of waste compost must be carried out under the terms of a licence issued by the Environment Agency.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has commissioned research investigating the markets for composts fit for restricted use, which will include those unsuitable for use in agriculture. The work will assess
25 Mar 2002 : Column 720W
Mr. Leigh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consultation took place between the Intervention Board, her Department and the Home Office before the announcement that the Hemswell Cliff site was a possible site for an asylum seekers' accommodation centre. 
Mr. Morley: No consultations took place between DEFRA and these bodies prior to the Home Office announcement of the potential sites for trial accommodation centres. The Home Office will take a wide range of factors, including environmental, health and safety issues, into account at every site before final decisions are made.
Mr. Morley: The Rural Payments Agency currently has two Government owned stores, Hemswell Cliff and Locharbriggs near Dumfries the combined capacity of these is 15,000 tonnes. In addition commercial storage is acquired as necessary.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many members of staff at her Department are locally elected democratic representatives; and if she has a strategy for her Department to encourage members of staff to become locally elected democratic representatives. 
The Department actively supports its staff in giving more time to their communities. Staff are allowed varying amounts of paid time off for voluntary public duties, including service as locally elected representatives.
Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what extra welfare standards (a) have been implemented and (b) are planned to be introduced by the Government over and above the EU Directive 1999/74/EC on the welfare of laying hens. 
Mr. Morley: It is intended that the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive 1999/74/EC will be implemented in England without being added to in any way. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will follow suit. If changes are proposed, there will be a full public consultation.
25 Mar 2002 : Column 721W
Mr. Morley: An implementing statutory instrument in respect of English legislation is being prepared and will shortly be presented to Parliament. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are following a similar timetable.
Mr. Meacher: The Government, in common with the rest of the international community, is working on the basis that the Johannesburg Summit is about implementing Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration rather than renegotiating them. The Johannesburg intergovernmental political declaration should therefore reaffirm and reinforce the Rio Declaration.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been taken by the Government since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 to (a) set goals on environmental protection and (b) improve eco-efficiency and resource productivity relating to fresh water issues; and what these (i) goals and (ii) improvements have been. 
Mr. Meacher: In 1999 the Government published its strategy for sustainable development for the UK, "A Better Quality of Life". This strategy is supported by a core set of around 150 indicators of sustainable development. A subset of 15 headline indicators focuses on specific issues and reflects targets against which progress is measured and reported annually. River water quality is one of the headline indicators. Over the last decade, general river quality in the UK has either improved or remained high.
In 1995 the Environment Act amended the Water Industry Act 1991 to place water companies under a statutory duty to promote the efficient use of water by their customers. Ofwat enforces this duty and requires companies to produce five-year water efficiency plans on which progress is reported annually. Following the Water Summit in 1997, Ofwat set annual leakage targets for water companies, which have resulted in a reduction of about 30 per cent. Further details are contained in the Ofwat report 'Leakage and the efficient use of water 200001', a copy of which is in the Library of the House. In addition, the Government runs the Envirowise programme, which promotes resource productivityincluding water useby industry. This resulted in over 29 million m 3 of water being saved last year.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government have taken since the United Nations General Assembly Special Session in 1997 towards the objectives of (a) poverty eradication and (b) sustainable production and consumption patterns; and what steps are planned towards further progress on these objectives. 
25 Mar 2002 : Column 722W
Mr. Meacher: The issues of poverty eradication and sustainable production and consumption have been addressed by a number of key strategies published since 1997. In particular, the UK Government's Sustainable Development Strategy, 'A Better Quality of Life' sets out an overarching strategy for achieving sustainable development through social progress which recognises the needs of everyone, effective protection of the environment, prudent use of natural resources, and maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment. It includes a set of indicators to measure progress. The 2001 Annual Report on progress with the strategy was published last week.
Related strategies include: the Government's poverty and social exclusion strategy, set out and monitored in the annual 'Opportunity for All' reports; the Climate Change Programme; the Waste Strategy for England; and the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy, which sets out the framework for addressing the problem of households who cannot afford to keep warm.
In the future, the Government's work will include taking forward the recommendations in the reports to Government from the Performance and Innovation Unit covering Resource Productivity, Energy, and the forthcoming one on Waste.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what preparations her Department is making for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. 
Mr. Meacher: DEFRA, working closely with other Departments, is leading on the UK's domestic and international preparations for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The Department is represented on MISC18, the Cabinet Committee set up to co-ordinate, develop and deliver the Government's strategy for WSSD. DEFRA also chairs two official level groups which co-ordinate preparations for the summit and will be attending the third preparatory meeting in New York starting on 25 March.
DEFRA has also led on the development of a cross-Whitehall communications strategy to raise awareness of the summit. We are working closely with local authorities, NGOs, business and other organisations to ensure that we engage a wide range of stakeholders in the summit. DEFRA has also developed the Government sustainable development website (www.sustainable- development.gov.uk) to include information on the WSSD.