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24 Oct 2002 : Column 474W—continued


Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the Government's response to the Agriculture and Biotechnology Commission's advice to the Government that a public debate be held on genetic modification issues. [75176]

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to hold a public debate on genetic modification issues in response to the advice of the Agriculture and Biotechnology Commission. [75900]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 21 October 2002]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 26 July the terms on which the Government will sponsor a public dialogue on genetic modification (GM) issues. The overall process will have three components: a public debate organised independently of the Government, a review of the science on GM issues, and a study of the costs and benefits associated with GM. The Government wants an open and balanced dialogue that will help to deepen understanding of the issues surrounding this technology.

Agricultural Wages Board

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 21 October 2002, (75916) if she will dismiss Mrs. Jacquie Findlay and Professor Ian Smith, independent members of the Agricultural Wages Board. [76815]

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Alun Michael: Mrs. Jacquie Findlay has served as an independent member of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales for 5 years. Professor Ian Smith has served in this capacity for a total of 8 years. We are currently reviewing Board appointments and both Jacquie Findlay and Ian Smith have indicated that they do not wish to be reappointed. The Independent member posts were advertised nationally earlier this year and over 140 applications were received. Details of the successful candidates will be announced shortly.


Mr. Michael Jabez Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she is taking to conserve and enhance biodiversity in England; and if she will make a statement. [77743]

Margaret Beckett: Today I am publishing a biodiversity strategy for England. The document, ''Working with the grain of nature'' is being placed in the House libraries.

The undertaking to prepare a biodiversity strategy for England was made in the Rural White Paper, ''Our Countryside, the future: a fair deal for rural England''. The Strategy is intended to build on the progress that the Government has already made in protecting and enhancing biodiversity in England, for example with greater protection for sites of Special Scientific Interest under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and the implementation of 436 biodiversity action plans for priority habitats and species. We recognise that we can only secure the long-term health of biodiversity that is needed to bring a truly sustainable future by also achieving fundamental changes to public policy and the behaviour of people across the board.

The Strategy sets this process in train by seeking to embed biodiversity considerations into all the main sectors of economic activity, public and private. The Strategy sets out a vision and programme for the next five years for five important policy sectors.

In Agriculture, we aim to encourage the management of farming and agricultural land so as to conserve and enhance biodiversity as part of the Government's Sustainable Food and Farming Strategy.

In water, we aim for a whole catchment approach to the wise, sustainable use of water and wetlands.

In woodland and forestry, we are looking for the management and extension of woodland so as to promote enhanced biodiversity and quality of life.

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In marine and coastal management, we aim to achieve the sustainable use and management of our coasts and seas using natural processes and the ecosystem-based approach.

In urban areas, we want biodiversity to become a part of the development of policy on sustainable communities, urban green space and the built environment.

The Strategy also identifies a number of cross-cutting themes, with the aim of involving society as a whole in the achievement of biodiversity improvements. For example, we aim to encourage business to act for biodiversity in the boardroom, through the supply chain, in their management systems, in their annual reports and accounts and on the ground. We will also help make biodiversity part of people's everyday lives through information, communication and education and establish a mechanism to involve children and young people in the development of biodiversity policy. In addition, we will continue to encourage partnerships for biodiversity at local and regional levels in England.

It will be essential to ensure that we measure biodiversity trends and the effects of our policies. Much work is already underway to improve the information that is available to understand the status of habitats and species, and the Strategy announces the development of a new web-based Biodiversity Action Reporting System to be launched in 2003 and the adoption of a set of biodiversity indicators to measure our progress. These indicators will be published in full within a year.

This Government Strategy has been prepared, uniquely, with the active contributions of a large number of partners and stakeholders. We shall continue to rely on the widest possible partnership as we move forward to implementation. The partnership will be represented through the England Biodiversity Group, which will review the Strategy annually and publish a report on progress in 2006.


Departmental Schemes

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list the schemes and initiatives sponsored by his Department and its agencies which are not the subject of national roll out, showing (a) the authorities or areas covered by the scheme and (b) the budget of the scheme in the last year for which information is available. [75673]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The schemes and initiatives sponsored by LCD, its agencies and the Public Record Office are set out in the table below.

Partnership Innovation Budget which builds on the ethos of the CLS in encouraging joint working and fresh approaches to service deliveryLondon
South East
South West#1,070,052
West Midlands#766,354
North West#2,166,265.75
North East#1,234,237
East Midlands#831,472
Capital (revenue)
Exhibit (AR* p.22)Chelmsford, Basildon and Southend#1.2M(#1.7M)
Digital Audio Recording (AR p.23)Doncaster, Bournemouth and Snaresbrook#1M (#500K)
Electronic Presentation of Evidence (AR p.23)Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Blackfriars, Liverpool, Manchester, Kingston, Southwark, Central London#2.1M(#200K)
Video Conferencing Crown Court (AR p.23)Hampshire, Lewes/Hove, North West(#800K)
Flexible Plea and Directions (AR p.23)Preston, Newcastle & Middlesex Guildhall(#130K)
PREMA E-mail applications (AR p.27)Preston#65K
Virtual PDHManchester(#190K)
Business Centre (AR p.27)Walsall#1.5M(#600K)
Information Kiosk (AR p.28) including Crown Court websites (AR p.22)Telford, Ipswich, Chester, Kingston, Mold, Southwark Crown Courts, Bournemouth Combined Court#150K (#100K)
Extended Magistrates' Court Sitting HoursLondon and Manchester(#0.8M)
Pilot of a regionalised Court of Protection in Preston, enabling hearings to be dealt with locally rather than in LondonNorth and North west EnglandCost has been absorbed into normal running costs
Public Record Office
Profile—raising campaign aimed at PRO's local community. Aim to increase understanding of PRO and how the local community can use it. Campaign involved production and distribution of information leaflet.Richmond, Barnes, Kew, Chiswick, Brentford, Acton, Ealing.2002–2003 #11,428.05 (printing, design, distribution of leaflet)


* AR = Court Service Annual Report 2001–2002—HC 1187

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Assaults (Courts)

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many assaults there have been on (a) justices of the peace, (b) district judges, (c) district judges (magistrates courts), (d) circuit judges, (e) Crown Court judges, (f) High Court judges and (g) court staff in England and Wales whilst sitting or working in court or during private room appointments in each of the last five years for which records are available. [74960]

Yvette Cooper: Reliable central records of security incidents have only been collected since April 2001, primarily as a result of strengthening procedures in the wake of the attack on Judge Ann Goddard at the Central Criminal Court in January 2001.

Of the incidents reported since then, 9 have involved courtroom/chambers assaults on the categories of personnel listed, broken down as follows:

There have been no reported assaults on circuit judges or Crown Court judges over this period.

The Lord Chancellor's Department takes extremely seriously any assault on those working in the courts. A major programme of security improvements to district judge chambers and an ongoing programme to install more secure docks into a number of criminal courtrooms have increased the security for those working in the courts. Further improvements to court security are being developed.

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