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Food Standards Agency

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had regarding the continuation of financial assistance to the Food Standards Agency to enable the agency to reduce meat inspection changes for small and medium meat plants after 31 March 2004; and if she will make a statement. [61878]

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Mr. Morley [holding answer 17 June 2002]: Responsibility for the MHS, the Executive Agency responsible for the enforcement of meat hygiene legislation, was transferred from MAFF to the Food Standards Agency when the Food Standards Agency was created on 1 April 2000. Funding transfers were made at the same time.

In 2001 the Government reduced charges to small and medium sized plants, as recommended in the Maclean review. This resulted in a loss of income to the MHS. The then MAFF, and the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales, as industry sponsors, contributed towards the cost of this change through baseline funding transfers to the Food Standards Agency.

Responsibility for this issue has therefore passed to the Food Standards Agency, although DEFRA will continue to be consulted, as industry sponsors, on the FSA's proposed charges for future years. I understand the FSA has not made proposals for future charges beyond the present financial year.

Certified Timber

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the refurbishment projects that (a) are in progress and (b) will start within the next six months; and what action is being taken to ensure that these will procure certified timber. [59768]

Mr. Morley: DEFRA has the following refurbishment projects valued in excess of £250,000 that:

DEFRA is reviewing these contracts and processes to ensure that it is procuring timber in accordance with the answer given to Mr. Burgon on 28 July 2000, Official Report, column 948W.

Bank Branch Closures

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect on the rural economy of the closure of rural branches by the major clearing banks. [60366]

Alun Michael: Whereas the closure of branches of the major clearing banks in rural areas can sometimes lead to inconvenience for those who cannot easily travel to the nearest town, there are more rural post offices than rural branches of all the banks combined. Post offices are therefore well placed to provide banking services, and access to banking in rural areas is improving as more banks turn to the Post Office to provide their customers with convenient access. The Government are strongly supporting the Post Office in its plans to help reduce financial exclusion through innovative banking schemes and has made clear that it is prepared to provide funding for 'universal banking' on the basis of a robust business case.

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Common Fisheries Policy

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent meetings she has had with the Scottish Executive to discuss the common fisheries policy; and if she will make a statement. [58122]

Mr. Morley: Officials from here who deal with the common fisheries policy maintain frequent contact with their opposite numbers in the Scottish Executive. My most recent meetings with Ross Finnie, Minister for Environment and Rural Development in the Scottish Executive, to discuss the Commission's proposals for the reform of the CFP were on 6 and 10 June.

Live Animal Transportation

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many animals were (a) found dead, (b) identified as unfit to continue their journey and (c) removed from vehicles for other reasons at UK ports in each of the last five years; and what species were involved. [61127]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 13 June 2002]: This information is available only from 1999 for consignments of slaughter and fattening animals through Dover port. The following figures are for sheep only unless otherwise indicated.

Number deadNumber unfitNumber removed for other reasons

(8) Figure includes one pig

Clean Water and Sanitation

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations her Department will make to (a) the US, (b) Australia, (c) Canada and (d) Japan on clean water and sanitation before the UN's World summit on sustainable development in September. [62059]

Mr. Meacher: The Department will take every opportunity, at both ministerial and official levels, through bilateral and multilateral contacts with these countries to confirm safe water targets and agree sanitation targets for the World summit.

Nuclear Waste

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what role Nirex plays in the management of plutonium as a nuclear waste. [57976]

Mr. Wilson: I have been asked to reply.

Nirex provides advice to the producers of radioactive waste on the packaging of any trace plutonium present in intermediate level waste.

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Anderson Report

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when she expects to receive the report of Sir Iain Anderson's Lessons Learned inquiry; [61604]

Mr. Morley: [holding answer 19 June 2002]: The report of the Royal Society's inquiry into infectious diseases in livestock is currently expected to be published on 16 July, and that of Dr. Iain Anderson's Lessons Learned inquiry on 18 July.

Waste Incineration Directive

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action the Government are taking to implement the Waste Incineration Directive; and if she will make a statement. [64094]

Mr. Meacher: My Department has today published a consultation paper that sets out how the Government intend to implement EC Directive 2000/76/EC on the incineration of waste. It is aimed at operators of incineration and co-incineration plant, regulators, waste producers and waste managers, all of whom will be affected by the implementation of that directive. It is also aimed at waste and environmental interest groups who have an interest in environmentally sound regulation.

The consultation raises a number of issues for consultation and includes a copy of the draft implementing regulations, directions to regulators and an explanatory commentary.

This consultation is solely about the mechanism to implement the tight controls on emissions from incinerators to which the UK has signed up throughout the passage of the Waste Incineration Directive. These controls embody what was already accepted and largely applied in the UK as good practice. This consultation is not about the place of incineration in waste management strategies. It is about ensuring that incinerators continue to be tightly regulated.


Fire Service

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of firefighting staff were women in each of the last five years, in each fire service. [61853]

Mr. Raynsford: All fire services in England and Wales are required to provide annually to Her Majesty's fire service inspectorate statistical information about personnel employed, analysed by gender and ethnic origin. The table provides the percentage of the total number of firefighters in each fire service who are female (whole time and retained services combined), based on the statistical returns for the years 31 March 1997 to 31 March 2001.

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Percentage of firefighters in post at 31 March 1997 to 31 March 2001—female
Per cent.

Bedfordshire and Luton2.222.913.142.783.23
County Durham and Darlington0.530.720.710.541.08
East Sussex1.611.501.611.652.37
Greater Manchester(10)
Hereford and Worcester1.610.581.341.442.25
Isle of Wight1.361.341.401.351.85
Isles of Scilly0.
Mid and West Wales0.781.
North Wales0.960.961.101.901.60
North Yorkshire1.491.382.162.472.61
Royal Berkshire0.851.
South Wales0.450.500.580.710.70
South Yorkshire0.100.410.621.421.52
Tyne and Wear0.
West Midlands0.390.340.390.541.18
West Sussex1.
West Yorkshire0.360.470.470.490.43

(9) As at 31 March

(10) Two firefighters are excluded from the 31 March 2001 percentage as their gender was not known.

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