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Mr. Morley: All pesticides used in this country, including Atrazine, must be approved by Ministers. Approval is only granted following thorough scientific evaluation of the risk that the pesticide might pose to people, wildlife and to the wider environment. Only if this evaluation shows that there is no unacceptable risk will approval be granted.
Both the UK and the EU systems for regulating pesticides contain routine review programmes of older pesticides to ensure they meet current safety standards. Atrazine is currently being reviewed as part of the EU programme with the UK acting as Rapporteur Member State. The review covers both the possible effects of Atrazine on human health and the environment. The UK's report on Atrazine is currently being considered by the EU Standing Committee on Plant Health with particular attention being given to the levels of Atrazine found in ground water.
In the UK restrictions were placed on the agricultural uses of Atrazine in 1992 as there had been widespread breaches of the EU Drinking Water Directive's limit. However, the levels found did not endanger the health of consumers or damage the environment.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the level of strategic reserves of staple foodstuffs in the UK; and how many weeks supply of such foodstuffs are available. 
Mr. Morley: The Government no longer holds strategic reserves of food. The availability of staple foodstuffs and plans to handle emergency situations are kept under review at regular meetings between officials and food industry representatives. The fuel crisis of 2000 was a good example of Government and industry working together to ensure the distribution of food in an emergency situation.
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Mr. Morley: Eurostar has been in touch with the Department about the Pet Travel Scheme in the light of representations that it has received from, amongst others, the Royal National Institute for The Blind. Eurostar has made it clear that while it has not been its policy to date to permit the animals of any kind on its trains, it is keenly aware of the assistance that guide dogs bring to visually impaired passengers. The company has, for some time, been considering whether, and how, it might allow the carriage of assistance dogs on its trains. The Department is ready to advise it on how the company could meet the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme.
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Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will estimate the amount of coley (saithe) that was discarded back in the sea by British registered vessels during 2001. 
Mr. Morley: There is no reliable basis for estimating quantities of saithe discarded by all British registered vessels during 2001. On the basis of partial information, we believe that the amounts of saithe discarded or slipped by UK vessels landing into Great Britain during 2001 may be in excess of 12,000 tonnes.
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Mr. Leslie: The Civil Contingencies Secretariat at the Cabinet Office was established last June to support the Civil Contingencies Cabinet Committee, and provide the central focus for the Government's commitment to deal effectively with disruptive challenges, crises and emergencies.
11. Mr. Brady: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State what role his Department has (a) in providing guidance to other Departments on the answering of parliamentary questions and (b) in providing them with briefings on parliamentary questions. 
Mr. Leslie: In response to a Report of the Public Administration Select Committee on Ministerial Accountability and Parliamentary Questions, the Cabinet Office issued revised "Guidance to Officials on Drafting Answers to Parliamentary Questions". Departments can liaise with each other from time to time where parliamentary questions cut across departmental boundaries.
Mrs. Roche: The Government Offices have an important role in strengthening the English regions as set out in our White Paper published on 9 May. They will bring together key Government bodies in their regions. They will also be given extra responsibilities to strengthen regional decision-making.
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The Government remain committed to the principal that women and men should hold an equal proportion of all appointments. To this end, each Department has published plans for increasing diversity in public appointments by 2005 and, specifically, increasing the proportion held by women, people from ethnic minority backgrounds and disabled people. These plans are contained in "Public Bodies: Opening up Public Appointments 20022005", copies of which are in the Libraries of the House.
If the targets set out in these plans are met, this will mean that, by the end of 2005 and for the majority of Departments, women should hold 4550 per cent. of the appointments to the bodies they sponsor.
In addition, the Women and Equality Unit is currently running a series of regional seminars, which aim to encourage women who currently hold a local or regional public appointment to apply for a national appointment. Additional seminars have been planned for ethnic minority women, business women, women in journalism and the trade unions.
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