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Access to Information

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the administrative manuals and internal guidance which her Department has made public as required by Part 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information; and which of these were first made available after May 1997. [45396]

Mr. Morley: No administrative manuals or internal guidance are currently published though certain material, particularly in relation to handling complaints, is published on the DEFRA website.

Forests

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average acreage of new forest land planted in each of the last five years was. [45210]

Mr. Morley: The information is given in the table.

Thousands of hectares

Year ended 31 MarchNew planting
19974.7
19984.4
19995.1
20005.9
20015.9

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what role her Department has played in discussions relating to the fourth Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe; and if she will make a statement. [46570]

Mr. Morley: The Forestry Commission is actively involved in the discussions and preparatory meetings and will represent the interests of the UK at the conference. Some of the key issues are likely to be national forest

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programmes, biodiversity and forest conservation, fostering cooperation with central and eastern European countries and cultural and spiritual aspects of sustainable forest management.

Ham Fen Beaver Project

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when her Department was first informed of the situation of the Norwegian beavers involved in the Ham Fen Beaver Project. [44766]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 21 March 2002]: I understand that Kent Wildlife Trust contacted the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 30 January 2001 to notify them of the possible importation of beavers for conservation purposes.

The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), which had responsibility for controls on non-native species was not contacted. The DETR became aware of the situation on 1 May 2001, following the beavers' arrival at Heathrow Airport on 30 April.

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason the Ham Fen beavers have been held in quarantine for 11 months. [44768]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 21 March 2002]: The Norwegian beavers, which are not native to the UK and are subject to import, quarantine and release controls, entered the UK on 30 April 2001 and were subject to six months quarantine, which is now complete.

The beavers are also subject to release controls. Kent Wildlife Trust made an application for a licence for permission to release some of the beavers to Ham Fen nature reserve, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This application was received on 10 September 2001. It raises some serious environmental questions. The Department has agreed in principle to issue the licence, with conditions, as soon as possible.

Waterways (Kendal Canal)

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the British Waterways Board has to reopen the canal to Kendal; and by what means. [45303]

Mr. Morley: British Waterways have announced proposals to restore the northern section of the Lancaster Canal to navigation. The project will be taken forward by the Northern Reaches Restoration Group which comprises British Waterways, local authorities, The Waterways Trust and other voluntary organisations.

Beef

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she will take to secure the lifting of the ban imposed by the French Government on imports of beef from the UK. [45388]

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what recent representations she has made to the Government of France to lift the ban of British beef; [45213]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 25 March 2002]: The Secretary of State met the French Agriculture Minister at the 18 March Agriculture Council and made it clear that we expect France to lift its ban on the import of UK beef produced in accordance with the Date-based Export Scheme as soon as possible. However, it is for the Commission to take action to enforce EU law and on 20 March the Commission wrote to the French

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Government seeking observations on France's failure to comply with the ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). This is the first stage in a process which may lead to a further ECJ case against France.

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of the beef consumed in the UK was imported in the last 10 years for which figures are available; what proportion of the beef imported annually into the European Union is used by the UK for domestic consumption; and what assessment she has made of the effect on the UK beef industry of the European Commission's proposal to increase beef imports from Argentina. [46403]

Mr. Morley: The amount of beef imported as a proportion of the total available for consumption in the UK between 1991 to 2000 has fluctuated between 18 per cent. and 25 per cent. Detailed figures are shown in the table.

Beef and veal19911992(65)1993199419951996199719981999
Supply and use ('000 tonnes, dcw)(66)
Home-fed production(67)1,0289738889471,002710698699679
Imports from:
the EU(68)1651601571491459514192125
the rest of the world394552416774756059
Exports to(69):
the EU126140167228263641399
the rest of the world3125456572161
Total new supply1,0751,014885844880799901842853
Increase in stocks8021-36-125-236737-16-83
Total available for consumption in the UK995993921969903732865858936
Closing stocks220240204795612316014461
Imports as % of the total available for consumption in the UK212123202323251820

(65) For comparability with other years, the figures have been adjusted from a 53-week to a 52-week basis where appropriate.

(66) Does not include meat offals or trade in preserved or manufactured meat products. Boneless meat has been converted to bone-in weights.

(67) Excludes cattle slaughtered under the over-30-month scheme and selective cull and calves slaughtered under the calf processing aid scheme.

(68) Includes meat from finished animals imported from the Irish Republic.

(69) Adjusted, as necessary, for unrecorded trade in live animals.

Source:

Statistics (Commodities and Food Division), Economics and Statistics Directorate, DEFRA 26 March 2002


Imports of beef into the UK originating outside the EU as a proportion of imports into the EU rose from 15 per cent. in 1991 to 31 per cent. in 1996 but then fell to 24 per cent. in 2000. Detailed figures are shown in the table.

Imports from third countries of beef, 1991–2000
Units: Thousand tonnes product weight

YearEU importsUK importsUK imports as % of EU imports
1991216.533.015
1992219.732.415
1993194.934.318
1994209.143.121
1995161.845.928
1996170.352.831
1997202.757.828
1998177.946.426
1999201.342.421
2000202.448.024

Source:

Eurostat, Comext CD-Rom, Disk No S2/2001, Extracted: 26 March 2002


This table is not directly comparable with the supply and use table which is expressed in carcase weight and includes the meat equivalent of live trade.

The EU may import up to 293,690 tonnes of beef, under various concessionary tariff schemes. This represents less than 4 per cent. of EU beef production, which totals approximately 8 million tonnes per year. UK beef consumption is around 900,000 tonnes a year, of which imports from third countries account for less than 10 per cent., around 64,000 tonnes. The proposal to increase imports from Argentina may increase UK third country imports by around 2,000 tonnes.

Although UK consumption has shown steady recovery since the BSE crisis in 1996, recent estimates of consumption in 2000 and 2001 show a downward trend of 2 per cent. on previous years but an increase of 4 per cent. is expected in 2002.UK beef production fell 8 per cent. in 2001 following the effects of the FMD crisis. Although recovering, UK production is still expected to meet only 69 per cent. of consumer demand in 2002.

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Furthermore, the Community beef market is well protected from third country imports by the use of import tariff systems. While some imports are allowed under certain limited concessionary import schemes, the concessions are limited to a quantity of beef amounting to no more than 5 per cent. of total Community production.

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she next intends to hold discussions with (a) her French Government counterpart and (b) the European Commission about the continuing French ban on imports of British beef; and if she will make a statement. [46402]

Mr. Morley: The Secretary of State repeatedly raises this issue with both her French counterpart and the Commission at Agriculture Councils.

Action to enforce the Judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) lies with the Commission which wrote to the French Government on 20 March seeking observations on France's failure to comply with the ruling. This is the first stage in a process which may lead to a further ECJ case against France.


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