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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether the 2001 United Kingdom business package waste recovery and recycling targets for (a) recovery and (b) material-specific recycling were met; and whether the percentage levels of business packaging waste recovery and recycling in the United Kingdom in 2001 satisfied the stipulations of the EU Packaging Waste Directive 1994;
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 26 March 2002]: The recovery and recycling targets in article 6(1) of the EC Directive on Packaging and Packaging Waste94/62ECwere implemented in Great Britain by the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (as amended).
In order to comply with the requirements in the Directive, recovery and recycling targets for 2001 under the packaging regulations were 56 per cent. for recovery and 18 per cent. for material-specific recycling of packaging waste. Final figures for 2001 are not yet available, but data received to date suggest that, if all obligated parties met their obligations, these targets should be met. This would mean that the UK had recovered 4.6 million tonnes of packaging waste in 2001 ie 50 per cent. We would expect to recycle some 45 per cent. We also anticipate that all materials will meet the 15 per cent. material-specific recycling target in the Directive, with the possible exception of plastic.
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Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her assessment is of the economic benefit to the United Kingdom of European Union fishing rights agreements (a) with third countries south of the EU and (b) with third countries north of the EU. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 26 March 2002]: The United Kingdom's fishing industry has a negligible interest in fisheries agreements south of the EU so no assessment has been carried out. Fisheries agreements with countries north of the EU are of considerable importance to UK fishermen. However, the economic benefit cannot be assessed precisely since it depends on availability of fishing opportunities which can vary year on year and actual catches taken.
Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps the Government have taken to ensure that the funding assigned to conservation within the money spent on the acquisition of EU fishing rights agreements with third countries is spent on the purpose for which it was intended in countries (a) north of the EU and (b) south of the EU; 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 26 March 2002]: It is the responsibility of the European Commission on behalf of the EU to ensure value for money and to assess environmental impact in relation to international fisheries agreements to which the EU is party. It is the United Kingdom's view that, certainly in relation to many of the southern agreements, the Commission's performance of these tasks needs to be improved. We have expressed this view in the Council of Ministers and will be looking for the issue to be addressed in the forthcoming review of the Common Fisheries Policy.
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many EU directives were received by her Department and its predecessor departments; and what the average time taken to implement such directives was from (a) 1990 to 1996 and (b) 1997 to 2002. 
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost was of (a) in-house canteen and (b) other catering services provided by her Department in each of the last four years. 
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Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Department has spent on the Queen's Jubilee in each of the past three years; how the money was allocated; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of farming businesses which are connected to the worldwide web. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 28 February 2002]: Internet access is becoming an essential business tool for agriculture and information on computer and internet usage by farmers was collected in the December 2001 Survey of Agriculture. The results are due to be published in early April.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to respond to the report of the Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The Commission's report will make a substantial contribution to a new strategy for sustainable food and farming, which we aim to launch in the autumn. This will be a response to the report but will go further than that. We will work with a wide range of stakeholders to determine how best to take forward the Commission's ideas and deliver positive changes on the ground. As responsibility for addressing the Commission's recommendations rests with industry and other organisations as well as Government, we will be looking for their active involvement.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria are being applied to determine applications for appointments to the Countryside Agency after 1 April; on what date the advertisements for applicants was placed in the national press; what timescale was anticipated for drawing up the list for applicants for interview at the time the advert was first placed; when it is expected that such interviews will now take place; what measures were taken to encourage applicants in addition to the national advertising campaign and on what dates those measures were taken; what the political balance is of board members; what the political balance is intended to be after the appointments are made; and if she will make a statement. 
Alun Michael: The criteria applied to determine the applications for the appointments to the Countryside Agency were that applicants should have a general interest and experience of countryside issues, and preferably have specific expertise in the areas of rural business/rural enterprise, rural development or the
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voluntary sector. In addition we made clear that we were particularly seeking applications from candidates based in the West Midlands or South West England.
Advertisements were placed in the national press on 13 and 16 September 2001, with a closing date of 11 October 2001. Our intention was to appoint up to two candidates. In line with our normal timetable, a shortlist of candidates for possible interview was drawn up in November, four shortlisted candidates from South West England were interviewed in January and one has now been appointed. The deadline for applications from candidates based in the West Midlands was extended to 11 February 2002 and this was advertised on the DEFRA and Countryside Agency websites. We are now considering the applications from candidates based in the West Midlands, received both before and after the original deadline, and hope to interview a shortlist in May. However, there is no fixed number for the number of people on the Board, and only one member is leaving the Board in April; so we will not necessarily appoint a second person this year.
In addition to the national advertising campaign, which included information being posted on the DEFRA and Countryside Agency websites, we approached 160 organisations with an interest in countryside issues in September 2001 asking them to suggest candidates. We also made a limited number of further approaches in the West Midlands for additional suggestions in January.
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