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Alun Michael: The responsibility for the control of wild mink rests with those people most likely to benefit from such control, the individual landowners and occupiers. Predation by mink has been a factor in the decline of our native water vole population. The Government's Biodioversity Action Plan for water vole encourages control of mink where they pose a threat to water vole populations.
Alun Michael: As we have already announced, there will be no allocation of Sheep Annual Premium Quota from the National Reserve for 2003. However we are making arrangements to ensure that producers who would have been eligible to apply to the 2003 Reserve will be able to apply to the 2004 Reserve.
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Mr. Meacher: The first Marine Stewardship report was published on 1 May. It sets out our strategy for the conservation and sustainable development of our marine environment. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Meacher: The UK Fuel Poverty Strategy, published in November last year, set out the government's goal to seek an end to fuel poverty, with the first target to ensure that by 2010, no vulnerable household need risk ill health due to a cold home.
19. Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on discussions between her Department and the European Commission regarding the implementation of European waste and packaging directives. 
The Water Bill aims to ensure improved management of our water resources; place consumers at the heart of a more open and accountable regulatory process and increase the powers of courts and the Regulators to level appropriate financial penalties on water companies. In addition, the Bill will contain provisions for extending competition for users of large amounts of water.
The consultation response considered in detail more than 150 responses and following this, a number of amendments will be made to the draft Water Bill. The main changes are; firstly that Ofwat will be governed by a Regulatory Board rather than an individual Director General, along similar lines to other economic regulators. This is instead of the Advisory Panel proposed in the Draft Bill. Secondly, the Director General's duties to ensure that companies can secure "reasonable returns on their capital" will not be altered. And thirdly the Director General of Water Services will be given a sustainable development duty. While this will not alter the Director General's purpose or aims, it will oblige him to be
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21. Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she will take to ensure that timber procured by Government is from well managed, sustainable sources. 
Mr. Morley: The Government is actively engaged in implementing its policy of seeking to procure its timber and timber products from sustainable and legal sources, DEFRA is monitoring progress and will be issuing further guidance to central government departments and their agencies.
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 7 May 2002]: The Government's current timber procurement policy became a binding commitment for central Government Departments and their agencies with effect from 28 July 2000, following a written reply to a parliamentary question on that day by the Minister for the Environment, Official Report, column 947W. This followed the G8 summit earlier in July 2000, where in response to a UK led initiative members agreed to consider how public purchasing could help reduce illegal logging. Prior to the policy becoming a binding commitment it had been part of the model policy for greening government operations since 1997.
Mr. Meacher: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, has not had any recent discussions with particular local authorities to discuss meeting recycling statutory performance standards. However, negotiations have recently been concluded with 6 local authorities who have agreed to exceed their statutory performance standards on recycling as part of a Local Public Service Agreement. Similar discussions are currently being held with a further 5 local authorities. We have also recently received bids from a number of local authorities for the first year of the £140 million waste minimization and recycling fund.
Mr. Morley: The Common Fisheries Policy was substantially laid down in regulations adopted in 1983 which specified an interim review in 1992 and a further review in 2002. Any changes to the regime should be decided by end 2002 for application from 2003. We expect the proposals to be produced by the end of May. We are disappointed that the proposals failed to emerge earlier since the Government is keen to begin
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negotiations. The Commission, however, is responsible for handling its own work programme and we must wait for them to complete their deliberations.
33. Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the European Commission's proposals for the reform of the common fisheries policy. 
Mr. Morley: Our primary objective for the Common Fisheries Policy must be for a policy which is both economically and environmentally sustainable and one which involves stakeholders more closely in management decisions affecting them. Only in that way will the CFP attract support and credibility from fishermen and so ensure responsible stock management and give the promise of a viable future. I strongly agree with the Commission's conclusions in their Green Paper on the operation of the CFP that it is not meeting its objectives. The forthcoming review of the CFP will give the opportunity not only to put right what has gone wrong but also to consider how the CFP should develop over the coming years.
We expect the proposals to be produced by the end of May. We are disappointed that the proposals failed to emerge earlier since the government is keen to begin negotiations. The Commission, however, is responsible for handling its won work programme and we must wait for them to complete their deliberations.
Alun Michael: We assist the horticulture industry by funding a programme of strategic research and development worth almost £11 million per annum. For 200102, some £2.6 million of this spend is allocated to the soft and top fruit sector. In addition, the England Rural Development Programme, through both the Rural Enterprise Scheme and the Processing and Marketing Grant, provides opportunities for the industry to improve its competitiveness.
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