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Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if it is the policy of the Government to modify the requirement in section 151 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 that a dog when in a public place must wear a collar with a tag or a plate attached giving the name and address of the owner even if it is microchipped. 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 8 July 2002]: Dogs in a public place are required to wear a collar with a tag or a plate attached giving the name and address of the owner, as specified under section 151 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, even if the dog is microchipped. We have no plans to modify this.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the recent research published by the Countryside Agency relating to the number of parishes with access to a village hall. 
Alun Michael [holding answer 12 July 2002]: In 1997 the Countryside Agency published research which showed that 72 per cent. of villages had a village hall. The definition has been refined following responses to that research which indicated that some villages have a community hall which is technically not a "village hall" but fulfils largely the same purpose. In November 2001 the Countryside Agency published a report entitled "Rural Services in 2000" which revealed that 85 per cent. of parishes had a village hall or a community hall in 2000. The proportion of parishes with a hall is 32 per cent. for those below 100 population, 77 per cent. for those with between 100 and 300 people, 92 per cent. for those between 300 and 500, 94 per cent. for those between 500 and 1,000, 95 per cent. for those between 1,000 and 2,000, 98 per cent. for those between 2,000 and 5,000, and 96 per cent. for those over 5,000.
Village halls can play a vital role in rural communities as multi-purpose community centres and hubs for village life. We are supporting the development of active local communities and parish and town councils in a variety of ways; the village hall as a hub for social activity and service provision fits in well with our policy objectives, and support of village halls and the activities that take place there is available from a range of public sector and other sources.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent
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representations she has received from NFU Scotland with respect to the defence of Scottish agricultural interests in the European Union. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 16 July 2002]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, receives representations from the NFU Scotland from time to time on a range of agricultural issues. However, there have been no recent examples.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent representations she has received from the Scottish Executive with respect to the defence of Scottish agricultural interests in the European Union. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 16 July 2002]: There is an on-going dialogue with the Scottish Executive across a wide range of issues which affect Scottish agriculture. Most recently, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State met with Ministers, or their representatives, from the devolved Administrations in Brussels on 15 July prior to the EU Agriculture Council meeting. The Commission's communication on the mid-term review of the common agricultural policy was the main focus of discussion.
Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she last discussed the French beef ban with (a) the French Agriculture Minister, (b) the Scottish Executive, (c) the EU Commission and (d) the Prime Minister. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 16 July 2002]: The Secretary of State regularly discusses the French ban on British beef with the French Agriculture Minister and EU Commission, including at Agriculture Councils. She also regularly discusses the ban with Ministers in the devolved Administrations. The Prime Minister raised the ban with the French Prime Minister on 15 July and with the French President on 19 June.
Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the outcome was of the Agriculture Council held on 15 July; what the Government's stance was on each issue discussed, including its voting record; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: I represented the United Kingdom at the meeting of the Agriculture Council in Brussels on 15 July. The Welsh Minister for Rural Development and Wales Abroad and the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development also attended.
This was the first Council meeting of the Danish presidency which accordingly introduced its work programme for the six months ahead.
The main item of business was a public debate on the mid-term review of the CAP. The Commission introduced its outline proposals and member states gave initial reactions. I welcomed the general direction of the changes proposed, but indicated where they fell short of what the UK believes is required to modernise the CAP. The
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proposals will be further considered by Ministers in September; officials will start detailed examination of them next week.
The Council discussed the Commission's proposal for a mandate to open negotiations on modification of the bound duties for rice and cereals. Delegations, including the UK, expressed a range of reservations about the proposal. The Commission will be looking to narrow its scope and take further soundings at official level.
The Council held a policy debate on Commission proposals for control of zoonoses. The Commission reported progress on establishment of the European Food Safety Authority and briefed the Council on progress made on its food safety White Paper.
Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on progress relating to the shellfish licensing system. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 27 June 2002]: We are committed to the introduction of a shellfish licensing scheme. Officials are currently considering the timing and format of such a scheme.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the judgment of the High Court in the case of DEFRA v. Asda Stores and others. 
Margaret Beckett [holding answer 2 July 2002]: The Department's appeal in this case was dismissed in the High Court on 24 June. The Department has considered the implications of the judgment and has lodged an application for leave to appeal to the House of Lords. EU horticultural marketing standards continue to be directly applicable in the UK as in other member states, and the holder of products covered by the marketing standards is responsible for observing them.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research has been undertaken to update maps of indicative inland flood risk areas as a result of recent flooding; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The Environment Agency, with support from DEFRA, has a number of current initiatives to improve information on flood risk. These include a national database of all defences and further investments in flood risk mapping. The best means of presenting all this information in a readily accessible form is currently under active discussion.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what evaluation has been undertaken of the effectiveness of the Environment Agency in responding to the flooding of autumn 2000; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The Autumn 2000 Lessons Learned report gathered information from the Environment Agency and all of its emergency partners. I support the
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main conclusion of this report, that a seamless and integrated flood forecasting, warning and response service had been delivered. The report put forward a number of actions and recommendations that have largely been concluded. Some of these have been further considered as part of the recent consultation on the Flood and Coastal Defence Funding Review, and others were referred to in the Cabinet Office Emergency Planning ReviewThe Future of Emergency Planning in England and Wales. The Agency has also recently commissioned an independent external audit, which should provide a further independent assessment of its effectiveness.
Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of the egg industry's ability to pay the cost of implementing the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002. 
Mr. Morley: A full regulatory impact assessment concerning the cost of implementing the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2002 has been published. The long implementation times for the Regulations mean that the industry has a lengthy period over which to write off the required capital investment.
Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether UK producers in this country will be permitted to continue using conventional egg laying cases until the EU deadline of 1 January 2012 as provided for by Council Directive 1999/74/EC. [70337R]
Mr. Morley: The date for the ban on conventional egg laying cages across the EU is 2012 and this is the date we have stipulated in the English implementing regulations. We have no plans to bring that date forward unilaterally but the matter may be reviewed in 2005 at EU level.
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