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Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the scientific assessment of GM issues announced on 31 May relates to existing regulatory processes for GM crops; and whether the findings will be submitted to (a) Action with Communities in Rural England and (b) the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes. 
Mr. Meacher: The Government announced on 31 May that they will encourage a full and open debate on GM issues, including GM crops. We are promoting a genuine debate and dialogue, to identify the questions which the public has and provide information in response.
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GM crops have to go through a detailed safety evaluation before they can be approved for release. As one element of the debate there will be an assessment reviewing the current state of scientific knowledge in this area. This will contribute to the wider discussion and will be made freely available. If significant new evidence comes forward during the debate which is pertinent to the regulatory status of a particular GM crop or food it will be considered by the relevant Government advisory committee. The safety of GM crops is considered by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment and the safety of GM foods by the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes.
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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what outbreaks of serious (a) animal, (b) fish and (c) plant diseases and pests there have been in the UK since 1997; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 11 July 2002]: The information is as follows:
(a) animal diseases
There were outbreaks of classical swine fever in 2000 and foot and mouth disease in 2001.
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(b) fish diseases
There was an outbreak of infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) in Scotland between May 1998 and May 1999. ISA is a serious fish disease which, in the event of an outbreak, is required to be controlled in accordance with measures specified in the Diseases of Fish (Control) Regulations 1994 (SI 1994 No. 1447) as amended.
(c) plant diseases and pests
Statutory action has been taken is shown in the following table. This includes figures for Northern Ireland and Scotland provided by the devolved Administrations.
|Rhizomania (disease of sugar beet)||10||33||13||68||(7)1|
|Ralstonia solanacearum (potato brown rot)||0||2||1||0||0|
|Bemisia tabaci (tobacco whitefly)||26||20||32||19||3|
|Liriomyza huidebrensis (South American leaf miner)||53||42||36||13||2|
|Viteus vitifoliae (Grape phylloxera)||0||0||0||1||1|
|Pepino mosaic virus (on tomatoes)||0||3||6||6||0|
|Soil borne wheat mosaic virus||0||1||2||0||2|
|Phytophthora ramorum (cause of sudden oak death)||0||0||0||0||73|
(7) No longer subject to statutory control after 1 April 2002.
Further information is available on the plant health pages of the DEFRA website: http://www.defra.gov.uk/ planth/ph.htm.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the EU Committee on the Monitoring Mechanisms of Emissions of CO 2 and other greenhouse gases in the Community is next due to meet; whether representatives of the Scottish Executive (a) have been and (b) are members of it; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: The next meeting of the EU Monitoring Mechanism Committee is scheduled for 17 September 2002. Places per member state at this committee are limited, so officials from the Department usually represent the UK having consulted the Scottish Executive and the other devolved Administrations on the UK line.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what definition of recycling her Department uses to measure the statutory recycling rate for local authorities. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 11 July 2002]: The definition of recycling used by the Department for measuring local authority recycling rates is that contained in the Best Value Performance Indicator 82a, under which local authorities are requested to report the percentage of household waste which has been 'sent for recycling'. 'Recycled' is defined as "reprocessed in a production process for the original purpose, or for other purposes, but excluding energy recovery".
In this context, household waste includes:
street cleansing and litter collection;
bulky waste collections;
hazardous household waste collections;
household clinical waste collections;
garden waste collections;
any other household waste collected by the authority.
Mr. Meacher [holding reply 11 July 2002]: Guidance on the calculation of household waste, including items that should be excluded from the calculation, is set out in the guidance on "Best Value Performance Indicators", first published in December 2000. This guidance underpins the DETR's "Guidance on Municipal Waste Management Strategies", which was published in March 2001.
The Department has not defined the 'community recycling programmes' that may be included in this calculation. If there is any uncertainty about whether a particular approach should score in an authority's calculation, we would expect the relevant authority to raise this with their external auditor in the first instance.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received regarding GM foods; and if she will make a statement. 
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Mr. Meacher: This year the Department has received over 40 representations on the subject of GM foods, from various organisations and individuals, including consumer groups, environmental groups, industry and members of the public.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent talks she has had regarding GM foods with members of the European Parliament; and what the conclusions from those talks were. 
Mr. Meacher: In line with normal practice for reports passing through the European Parliament, written briefing setting out the UK Government's views on the Commission's proposals on the traceability and labelling of GMOs and on GM food and feed was sent to all UK Members of the Parliament in advance of the Parliament's discussions on these proposals. Officials from DEFRA and the Food Standards Agency spoke with and visited Members of the European Parliament interested in obtaining further information about the Government's view.
Brian White: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is towards using open source software; and what percentage is used in her Department. 
Alun Michael: DEFRA's IT technical policies do not indicate the use of open source software. The vast majority of DEFRA software requirements are currently met by commercial off-the-shelf software; open source software usage is insignificant in overall percentage terms. DEFRA's use of open source software will follow the Government policy when published. The draft policy can be viewed on http://www.govtalk.gov.uk/default.asp. It is understood that there are plans to publish the policy in summer 2002.
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many licences have been issued for sand extraction in (a) the UK, (b) Wales and (c) Ceredigion in each of the last 10 years; 
Mr. McNulty: I have been asked to reply.
Sand extraction above mean low water comes within the planning powers of Local Minerals Planning Authorities. There are no central UK-wide, English or Welsh records of numbers of planning permissions issued for such extraction. Over the past 10 years, successive Secretaries of State with responsibility for planning have granted planning permission on appeal and in respect of called-in planning applications in England and Wales for a number of sand extraction proposals but there are no central UK-wide, English or Welsh records of the total tonnage of sand only permitted on a year-by-year basis.
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Nearly all sand extraction below mean low water is licensed by the Crown Estate, which owns most of the seabed around the UK coast. The Crown Estate advise me that:
(a) it has granted the following numbers of aggregate (including sand) dredging licences in the UK and Wales over the past 10 years:
|Total extraction UK (tonnes)||Total Extraction Wales (tonnes)|
(c) it has granted no licences in waters off Ceredigion.
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether she plans to (a) increase and (b) reform sand extraction in (i) the UK, (ii) Wales and (iii) Ceredigion; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McNulty: I have been asked to reply.
The rates of production from areas with the benefit of planning permission for extraction of sand from the land and areas subject to marine minerals dredging licences at sea depend on demand from the market, although marine consents and some planning permissions for extraction from land specify maximum annual tonnage that can be removed. Policies for the supply of sand, administration of the development control system, and determination of applications for marine minerals dredging licences are devolved matters which are, in Wales, for the Welsh Assembly Government.
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