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17 Oct 2002 : Column 928W—continued


Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which landfill site operators have submitted site conditioning plans; in each case (a) what classification they are seeking for their site, (b) for what capacity and (c) what substances; and which operators have not submitted plans. [73723]

Mr. Meacher: To comply with the Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002, landfill operators had to submit a conditioning plan to the Environment Agency (EA), for each individual landfill site, by 16 July 2002.

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As part of that plan, operators have to state which of the three types of landfill they wish the site to be classed as—hazardous; non-hazardous or inert.

The latest information indicates that conditioning plans have been submitted for over 940 landfill sites, with some 228 seeking to operate as hazardous waste landfills. The total number submitted represents approximately 90 per cent. of the plans that were expected by the EA. The Agency are currently checking the plans that have been received and are actively chasing-up the remainder.

Details of conditioning plans have to be placed on the Agency's public registers, however operators can apply for information concerning individual sites to be witheld if it is commercially confidential. Pending resolution of any such claims the information cannot be made public.

Nevertheless by early September the EA expects to be in a position to publish a complete list of landfills for which conditioning plans have been received and will indicate on that list which sites have been classified as landfills for hazardous waste.

Public Buildings

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 3 July 2002, Official Report, column 376W, on public buildings, if she will name the projects sponsored; and if she will make a statement on the Design Champion's personal input in respect of each. [73641]

Mr. Morley: As Design Champion for Defra I am sponsoring the building projects at Old Rectory Farm in Surrey and at Drayton in Warwickshire for the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) programme. I have received briefings on them and commented on design issues.

Countryside Access

Mr. Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason parliamentarians are not included in the Schedule on page 27 of the Access to the Countryside (Provisional and Conclusive Maps) (England) Regulations 2002 (S1 1710); and if she will make a statement. [73415]

Alun Michael: The Regulations provide for provisional reduced scale maps to be made widely available for inspection, both in the locality to which they relate, and on the internet, at They will also to be sent to a similar range of organisations as receive draft maps, including land manager and user representative bodies, as well as parish councils and local access forums. The maps are costly to produce and bulky to store: in view of their availability on the internet and in Members' constituencies, I believe it would be unwelcome and unnecessary to supply paper copies to all Members. However, the Countryside Agency has agreed to supply reduced scale draft, provisional or conclusive maps showing Members' constituencies to any Member on request.

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Meat Imports

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what controls on meat imports are in place to guard against foot and mouth and other diseases. [73654]

Mr. Morley: All legally presented consignments of fresh meat imported into the UK from other EU Member States must have been produced in accordance with Community rules laid down in Council Directive 64/433/EEC. Imports from third countries must have been produced to standards at least equivalent to those in the Directive. The European Commission's Food and Veterinary office is responsible for carrying out inspections in third countries from which fresh meat is imported into the community.

In respect of the importation of meat into the United Kingdom and the risk posed by FMD, European Community legislation permits us to import meat from certain countries where FMD is present but only where the disease is restricted to specific areas. Community legislation allows us to take appropriate safeguard action, which may include a ban on imports of meat from all, or parts of that country.

All imported meat in to the United Kingdom from third countries must enter at a designated Border Inspection Post where it is subject to veterinary inspections. All consignments are subject to documentary and identity checks and at least 20 per cent. of consignments undergo physical checks. These checks ensure that import conditions are met and that the products remain in a satisfactory condition during transport.

The Government accepts more needs to be done to tackle illicit trade. An Action plan was published at the end of March which contains a range of measures. A progress report was issued on 8 July. A copy can be viewed on the Defra Illegal Imports website (


Minimum Wage

Mrs. Irene Adams: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what action has been taken against employers in Paisley North who have failed to pay the national minimum wage. [73680]

Mrs. McGuire: The information is not held in the format requested and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, Inland Revenue has specialist enforcement teams based in Aberdeen and East Kilbride who are responsible for enforcing the national minimum wage in Scotland. The teams follow up complaints made by workers and third parties about non-compliance and use other Revenue risk based data to identify employers for enquiry. Since April 1999, the teams have conducted 1,910 inspections and recovered over #660,000 in wage arrears for low paid workers in Scotland.

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Electoral Register

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when she expects to publish proposals under section 12 of the Scotland Act 1998 to ensure MSPs are entitled to a free copy of the electoral register. [73721]

Mrs. McGuire: The draft of the Scottish Parliament (Elections etc.) Order 2002, which contains provisions enabling the supply of free copies of the full version of the electoral register to MSPs, was laid before Parliament on 16 October. Subject to parliamentary approval by both Houses, the Order will come into force 14 days after it is made.

Rail Freight Services

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps she is taking to ensure that rail freight services between Scotland and the continent via the Channel Tunnel will recommence their operation. [73730]

Mrs. McGuire: The Government has ensured, through close co-operation with the French authorities, that initial physical security measures at Frethun are almost complete and are proving effective. We will continue to work to ensure completion of the agreed measures later this year.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and the French Minister for the Interior met on 26 September at Calais and reaffirmed their commitment to the measures set out in their communique of 12 July. On the specific issue of rail freight services, they announced that security considerations were no longer a constraint on rail freight service levels. France is committed to increasing the levels of security at the site, including gendarme presence, as the rail traffic increases.

At present the Channel Tunnel is fully operational for freight operators, including services between Scotland and the Continent, between the hours of 14h00 and 03h00. The SRA, EWS and SNCF are discussing the progressive restoration of a full and reliable 24-hour service.

Fuel Poverty

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps she is taking to help eliminate fuel poverty in Scotland. [73729]

Mrs. McGuire: The Government is working in partnership with the Scottish Executive to tackle fuel poverty. Measures the Government have taken include the #200 Winter Fuel Payments for people aged 60 and over; the cold weather payments for people on Income Support and some other benefits; and reducing VAT on domestic fuel to 5 per cent.

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Director General for Criminal Justice System

Information Technology

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Director General for Criminal Justice System Information Technology was appointed. [73227]

Hilary Benn: The Director General for Criminal Justice System Information Technology was appointed on 12 December 2001.

Criminal Justice

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how he will respond to the widespread public belief found in XImproving Public Attitudes to the Criminal Justice System", Home Office Research Study 245, that prison was the most effective sentence for reducing crime. [73783]

Hilary Benn: There is no doubt that, for some offenders, prison is both an appropriate punishment and a factor in reducing crime. The same Home Office study also shows that the general public sees prison combined with supervision in the community as a sentence, which is effective in reducing crime. 72 per cent. of the general public in the study thought that a sentence of three months followed by three months supervision was more constructive than six months imprisonment. That system of combining custody with supervision is proposed in our Custody Plus scheme outlined in the white paper ''Justice for All''.

Other disposals such as restorative justice schemes and drug treatment schemes also received high ratings from the public in this report. The Government does believe that the public should be given better information about the alternatives to custody that exist and their effectiveness in reducing crime and re-offending.

Sentences are not just about reducing crime, however; there may be many reasons for imposing a particular sentence including protecting the public, punishing the offender or rehabilitating the offender. We need therefore to retain a range of different types of sentence appropriate for different offenders and different crimes.

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he will take in response to the finding in XImproving Public Attitudes to the Criminal Justice System", Home Office Research Study 245, that the provision of simple factual information about crime and sentencing had an impact on confidence in the criminal justice system. [73784]

Hilary Benn: In the Criminal Justice White Paper ''Justice for All'' it was proposed to create a Sentencing Guidelines Council (para 5.15). One of the functions of the Council will be to publish Guidelines ''in a way that is easily accessible to the public as well as to the judiciary and other legal practitioners'' (para 5.16) and sentencers will be required to take those guidelines into account both in their decisions and in framing the reasons for their decisions. This is designed to provide a common point of reference for the public and to enable greater consistency in sentencing across the country.

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