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Mr. Morley: The State Veterinary Service carried out 50 welfare inspections of duck producers during 2000 and 32 welfare inspections in 2001. Separate figures for duck welfare inspections are not available for earlier years.
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research the Government are conducting into tackling Japanese knotweed, with particular reference to natural biological methods of control. 
However, through the joint DEFRA/Environment Agency flood management research programme, the Government are supporting a programme of work relating to management and control of aquatic and riparian plants, including Japanese knotweed, by the Centre for Aquatic Plant Management. Also, English Nature, the Government's scientific adviser on wildlife and conservation in England, has commissioned a study on management of problem non-native species, which includes consideration of Japanese knotweed.
Mr. Meacher: I am pleased to announce today the arrangements for the distribution of the National Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund. Local authorities in every region of England (apart from London which is being handled separately) will receive a total of £42 million in 200203 from the fund to kick start new projects. The money will go to schemes that improve recycling, complement municipal waste management strategies and contribute to a better quality of life for residents.
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From over 190 applications to the fund for 200203, 112 schemes were approved by DEFRA with the assistance of an expert panel. Details of the successful schemes will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses shortly when the local authorities have been informed. We are now inviting applications for grants from the fund for 200304 when £76.3 million will be available; almost double the amount for 200203.
contributing to high performance, innovation and best practice;
establishing a challenge fund for general projects;
developing community initiatives;
turning around low recycling performance.
Neighbourhood renewal is also a key area of Government policy and over half of the 88 NRU local authorities in England are low recycling performers. 21 NRU local authorities were approved for direct grant in 200203, amounting to a total of some £14 million.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures her Department has implemented since June regarding the conservation of (a) albatrosses and (b) petrels. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 13 June 2002]: The main threat to albatrosses and petrels arises from long-line fishing for tuna and toothfish in the southern oceans, in which I understand that no metropolitan UK vessels are involved. Last June the UK signed the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP), made under the Convention on Migratory Species. ACAP will require its parties to co-operate in the development and implementation of an action plan for the conservation of these species, encompassing both the control of fishing activities, including measures to mitigate the impact of long-line fishing, and the protection of breeding sites, some of which are in the UK's overseas territories. The RSPB has recently undertaken research into these and other bird species on Gough Island, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The Government are currently in discussion with the authorities of the range state overseas territories to ascertain whether they need new legislation in order to implement the requirements of ACAP. We are also considering the position in respect of the metropolitan UK, and will explore with our partners in the European Union the prospects for wider European participation.
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Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the recent FAO discussion paper on Good Agricultural Practice, with specific reference to the section on animal welfare; and if she will make a statement. 
FAO's discussion paper on Good Agricultural Practice was circulated for comment to the "Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) Major Stakeholder Groups" defined in chapter 14 of Agenda 21. The UK Government have not been consulted and we have as yet made no assessment of the paper.
It has not been possible to identify a dietary concentration of ethinyloestradiol that is universally accepted as being safe for everyone, as a level of exposure that is without hormonal effects has not been found. In addition, ethinyloestradiol is a human carcinogen, but a threshold dose below which there is no increased risk of cancer for anyone has not been established.
John Healey: Customs have today issued a consultation document entitled "Modernising the VAT Treatment of Face Value Vouchers". Copies have been placed in the Library of the House. Responses to the consultation are invited by 1 October 2002.
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Mr. Gordon Brown: Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to approve my recommendation that a crown piece should be issued to celebrate the life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Collector versions of the coin will be ready by early summer and the coin will also be available, later in the year, at its face value of £5 from most post offices.
Mr. Willetts: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the answer of 5 February 2002 to the hon. Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison), Official Report, column 851W, on fraud and error, if he will place a copy of the report on the benchmarking exercise on working families tax credit fraud in the Library. 
Dawn Primarolo: The Inland Revenue are continuing to analyse the data from their compliance benchmarking exercise. We shall be considering the results, and questions of publication, when we have received their report.
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