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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 12 March 2002, Official Report, column 936W, PQ4610, when she will publish her organic action plan. 
25 Mar 2002 : Column 723W
Mr. Meacher: Combating illegal logging requires effort from both timber producing and consuming countries. Timber producing countries are responsible for defining and enforcing the national legislative and regulatory frameworks that define legality.
The Department for International Development (DFID) is working with a number of timber exporting countries to help them improve governance and strengthen forest law enforcement. We are also working to develop capacity for the implementation of timber certification schemes in some producing countries.
Domestically, the UK is working to ensure that the import of endangered timber species is in full compliance with CITES, the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species. We are also implementing a new Government timber procurement policy that seeks to procure forest products only from legal and sustainable sources.
The UK has shown leadership under the G8 Action Programme on Forests in promoting bilateral arrangements with timber producing countries whereby countries work together to tackle illegal logging and associated trade. We are currently negotiating the first of these with Indonesia. We hope that bilateral agreements will lead to regional and, eventually, an international agreement that will have a big impact on illegal trade.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research her Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the success of the Greening Government scheme in encouraging Government Departments to purchase timber from independently certified sustainable sources; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: The Department has commissioned a report on the scale of timber procurement activities undertaken by central Government Departments and the improved guidance required to help buyers purchase timber and wood products from sustainable and legal sources. The final report is not due to be published until the summer of 2002. The timber trade, non-governmental organisations and other interested stakeholders are being consulted on the options for assessing product supplier claims on the sustainability of the source of the wood in their products. A consultation paper has been published on the website of the Tropical Forest Forum in advance of an open discussion on 25 March 2002. Written comments have been invited too. Following completion of the report it is intended that Departments will be given clearer guidelines including how to monitor and report on the evidence presented by suppliers. Departments will be asked to include information on wood product procurement in their returns for the annual reports on Sustainable Development in Government. This should enable their success in purchasing timber from independently certified sources to be evaluated.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what financial assistance is made available by the European Union to assist member states in the provision of coastal and inland flood defences. 
25 Mar 2002 : Column 724W
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when her Department expects to provide consent for the tidal defence works planned for Hullbridge, Essex; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 21 March 2002]: I understand that the Environment Agency is seeking to obtain planning permission and to purchase the land necessary to compensate for the loss of internationally important habitats which would result from the construction of tidal defences at Hullbridge. These issues need to be resolved before the agency can submit an application for grant aid to this Department. When an application is received it will be considered against the normal economic, technical and environmental criteria and priority score arrangements for funding flood and coastal works.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will supply data from the National Soil Inventory, using the average figure of all arable sites measured, on the change in (a) soil depth, (b) pH level, (c) nutrient level and (d) heavy metals between the 1978 to 1981 survey and 1994 to 1996 soil survey. 
Mr. Morley: The National Soil Inventory can supply no data on changes in soil depth. Data on the other variables requested are not available at "arable sites" level, but data on arable/ley grassland sites are given in the following table.
|(c) nutrient level|
|(i) organic carbon (percentage)||3.27||2.79||-0.48|
|(ii) available phosphorus (mg/l)||31.81||41.45||+9.64|
|(iii) available potassium (mg/l)||199.19||236.01||+36.82|
|(iv) available magnesium (mg/l)||141.78||143.80||(42)|
|(d) heavy metals|
|total zinc (mg/kg)||88.64||68.30||-20.34|
|total copper (mg/kg)||20.24||18.27||-1.97|
|total nickel (mg/kg)||27.05||24.45||-2.60|
|total cadmium (mg/kg)||0.80||0.32||-0.48|
|total lead (mg/kg)||41.46||36.21||-5.25|
|total cobalt (mg/kg)||11.58||10.94||-0.64|
|total chromium (mg/kg)||43.82||35.08||-8.74|
|total arsenic (mg/kg)||4.22||5.36||+1.14|
|total mercury (mg/kg)||0.06||0.12||+0.06|
|total selenium (mg/kg)||0.43||0.40||(42)|
|total molybdenum (mg/kg)||0.94||0.69||-0.25|
|total vanadium (mg/kg)||47.77||44.05||(42)|
(42) The change is not regarded as significant in statistical terms.
"Available" means concentration in extractant.
SSLRC (2000)Comparison of original and resampled national soil inventory data. DEFRA R&D Project SP0506, Final Report.
25 Mar 2002 : Column 725W
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 8 March 2002, Official Report, column 642W, on flooding, what plans she has to review groundwater flooding matters. 
The current legal situation is that, as with land subsidence, responsibility for taking remedial action generally falls to the individual householder or landowner. Only where groundwater problems are directly related to a defined watercourse do flood defence operating authorities have permissive powers to act. In deciding whether to do so they would need to consider the technical, economic and environmental effects of such action.
However, the Environment Agency routinely monitor major groundwater aquifers for water resource purposes. This information, and data on long-term accumulations of rainfall, may be used to provide general warnings for certain vulnerable areas at times of increased risk on a best endeavours basis. It is not technically feasible to provide specific warnings to particular properties though in most cases there are simple steps that individuals can take to monitor their own situation.
Mr. Morley: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) provide 145 full-time subsidised nursery places for departmental and agency staff at six sites. The actual number of children using the nurseries is higher than this figure due to many of the places being allocated on a part-time basis. The cost of nursery places and the amount of subsidy varies for each location.
The overall cost of this provision for the HQ offices (York and London) during the 200102 financial year is estimated to be £60,000, which works out at approximately £17.86 per head of staff at those sites. In actual terms, the benefit per parent is higher as not all staff require child care support. Child care facilities at other sites are funded from local budgets and up to date figures are not available at short notice.
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