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Departmental Expenditure (Publications)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her estimate is of the expenditure of her Department on newspaper, magazines and periodicals in each of the last four years. [30091]

Mr. Morley: DEFRA was created on 8 June 2001, the estimated centralised DEFRA expenditure for newspapers, magazines and periodicals via the libraries supporting the Department is #140,000 for the current financial year. Expenditure incurred outside the management of the libraries for this type of expenditure cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

Departmental Communications

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the process used by her Department to issue circulars to farmers and growers; how often mailing lists are updated; and what system is in place to ensure that circulars are issued to farmers and growers in an enterprise-specific manner. [33376]

Mr. Morley: The print production, distribution and mailing of circulars to farmers and growers is provided by commercial firms appointed by DEFRA Communication Directorate. The Directorate is provided with mailing lists by relevant policy divisions. It is the responsibility of these divisions to establish and amend the material on such lists.


Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking to prevent fraudulent claims for agricultural subsidies; and if she will make a statement. [38823]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 28 February 2002]: The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) takes rigorous action to prevent fraudulent claims by having in place stringent controls for each of the schemes that it administers. Control plans are set up using risk analysis techniques and are regularly reviewed. RPA Inspectorate carries out pre and post payments checks in accordance with the relevant Community regulations.

RPA Counter Fraud and Compliance Unit carries out an annual programme of scrutiny control audits in accordance with EC Regulation 4045/89 using a systematic approach in order to prevent and detect irregularities and fraud. The Unit's Investigation and Intelligence section makes enquiries into all referred allegations of suspected fraud and conducts a full investigation where appropriate.

Age Discrimination

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her Department's policy is towards age discrimination. [42567]

Mr. Morley: Age has been integrated into the Department's equal opportunities policy, including a commitment that there should be no unfair

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discrimination on the basis of age. Departmental Diversity policies also make clear that all staff should be respected and valued.

Staff in administrative and support grades may continue working up to 65 (subject to continued efficiency) and short service concessions are available to those in other grades with less than 20 years' service at normal retirement age.

In line with the recommendation in the Policy and Innovation Unit report, XWinning the Generation Game", the Department is actively considering the case for allowing other staff the option of retirement at up to age 65.


Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she intends to reply to the letter to her dated 25 January from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Cait Cawley. [42797]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 12 March 2002]: I am sorry for the delay in replying. A response to my hon. Friend's letter was sent on 28 February 2002.


Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her reply of 5 March 2002, Official Report, column 220W, on pollution control; if she will list the key stakeholders referred to; how her Department uses the comments received from key stakeholders, since when these reports have been published, and if she will place in the Library copies of unpublished reports; if she will provide details of the process by which the reports are considered; if she will list the decisions made on what steps should be taken since these reports were first published; and what steps have been taken to reinforce to local authorities the importance of adopting such practice. [43481]

Mr. Meacher: The key Local Air Pollution Control stakeholders are the members of the Industrial Pollution Liaison Committee and the Industry Forum, which meet twice a year. The Committee and Forum comprise respectively, organisations representing local enforcing authority regulators and trade bodies representing regulated industries. A copy of the statistical report is also now sent to the Environmental Industries Commission, who I recently met to discuss Local Air pollution Control among other matters. Any comments made by these stakeholders are carefully considered.

Statistics have been produced from the annual LAPC statistical survey since it was first undertaken for the year 1991–92 and have from the outset been provided to members of the Committee and (from its establishment) the Forum. A copy of the statistics covering the period 1991–00 is being placed in the Library. The reports for 2000–01 is on the Department's website. In addition, XLocal Air Pollution Control in England and Wales; Five Year Report 1991–96" was published in December 1996 and contained a statistical review. The reports are considered by officials and the key findings are reported to Ministers. The statistics have helped inform policy on LAPC throughout the lifetime of the regime.

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Officials raised the importance of local authorities adopting cost accounting in discussion with the Local Government Association and, when the opportunity arose, in discussion with individual local authorities. The issue was discussed at the Industrial Pollution Liaison Committee.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 5 March 2002, Official Report, column 219W, on local air pollution control, what guidance has been given to local authorities in each case; and if she will (a) provide a definition of low inspection record, (b) state on what date all local authorities were written to, provide details of to whom within each local authority these letters were addressed and place a copy of the standard letter in the Library, (c) provide details of responses to these letters and (d) state what outcomes she expects from the letter to chief executives. [43534]

Mr. Meacher: Guidance on inspection under the Local Air Pollution Control (LAPC) system was issued by the Department of the Environment in 1995 in additional guidance note reference (AQ4(95)). In 2000 local authorities were publicly listed which undertook an average of less than 0.5 inspections per process in a year. In 2001 the threshold was raised to one inspection. Letters were sent on 8 November 2001 to the chief environmental health officer of most of the relevant local authorities; a further four authorities were written to on 28 February 2002. I am placing a copy in the Library of the House. All except two of the local authorities written to on 8 November have responded with improvements they intend to make to their inspection performance. My Department is in contact with the remaining two authorities over their responses. I expect the letter to local authority chief executives to focus the minds of local authorities on the importance of carrying out sufficient process inspection in undertaking their LAPC regulatory functions.


Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received from the Scottish Executive concerning the French ban on UK beef since the Barcelona Summit. [45818]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 25 March 2002]: None. However, the Scottish Executive wrote to the Secretary of State on 13 March about remarks made by the new French Minister of Agriculture. The Secretary of State wrote to the French Minister and to the Commission on 15 March. The Commission wrote to the French Government on 20 March seeking observations on France's failure to comply with the ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). This is the first state in a process which may lead to a further ECJ case against France.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she is taking to promote the export of beef and beef products. [43035]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 14 March 2002]: The promotion of exports of beef and beef products is primarily the responsibility of the Meat and Livestock

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Commission (MLC), a non-Departmental Public Body sponsored by DEFRA. DEFRA's International Relations and Export Promotion division liaises closely with the MLC concerning the promotion of exports of British meat, livestock and genetics and the MLC is participating in a number of DEFRA's overseas trade fair stands, missions and other events this year. DEFRA chairs a Beef Exports Liaison Group which includes exporters and the MLC and which will be meeting on 16 April to discuss the best way of promoting beef exports once the trade resumes.

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