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7 Nov 2002 : Column 583Wcontinued
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if the Government will introduce legislation to compel the use of biodegradeable materials for packaging of goods. 
Margaret Beckett: Some retailers are using a substitute for plastics in some types of packaging made from potato starch. This material is entirely biodegradeable and can be composted. Other biodegradeable materials are manufactured based on modified plastics made from mineral oil. These materials still have to be sent for recycling after use. We do not therefore plan to introduce legislation to compel the use of biodegradeable materials for packaging of goods, but we do strongly support the development of biodegradeable materials from non-fossil sources.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reason the United Kingdom made no application to the EU for a share of its 2003 funding programme to control animal diseases and zoonoses. 
Margaret Beckett: The UK has applied for and obtained EU funding in support of agreed control programmes for 2002 and previous years. In respect of the 2003 claims, claims for TB and Brucella were not received by the Commission until after the 1 June 2002 deadline. We are in discussion with the Commission in an attempt to correct the position.
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Mr. Morley: Defra approved the grant aiding of the Environment Agency's flood alleviation scheme for the Frankwell area of Shrewsbury in October 2001. I understand that work is expected to be substantially complete by June 2003 although, weather permitting, the defence should be operational before the end of November 2002.
The Agency is continuing to consider the viability of sustainable defence measures for other areas of Shrewsbury, although in the current situation I understand that there is little likelihood that a further scheme could be justified.
Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her Answer to the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute at European Standing Committee A on 23 April 2002 column 7, what steps she is taking to persuade the European Commission that banning trawling for nephrops will have a very small impact on cod recovery. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 November 2002]: The European Commission has yet to bring forward its proposals for the management of commercial fish stocks in 2003, following the recent recommendations from international scientists for a moratorium on most directed cod fishing and also on fishing for other species unless the taking of cod as a bycatch can be eliminated. We are working closely with the fishing industry to devise a package of measures which we can advocate in the EU and which will respect the scientific assessment whilst as far as possible keeping fishing opportunities open for the industry. We have already reminded the Commission of our viewsubstantiated last year by detailed scientific analysisthat curbing nephrops fishing brings minimal benefit to cod.
Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the Answer from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute at European Standing Committee A on 23 April, 2002 Official Report, column 7, if she will place in the Library (a) her Department's evidence to the European Commission which demonstrated that the level of cod by-catch in the nephrops fishery was very small and that the Commission's figures were an overestimate and (b) the European Commission's response; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The Fisheries Departments in the UK submitted material to the European Commission on several occasions in 2001, refuting in detail the Commission's argument that cutting nephrops fishing significantly benefits cod stocks. The specifics of this correspondence are confidential, but the basis of the case was figures demonstrating that landings of cod did not increase in line with landings of nephrops. This material was submitted in support of the UK's request for in-year restoration of the cuts that were made to the Total Allowable Catches for nephrops in the North Sea, in the Irish Sea and West of Scotland in 2001: in response, the Commission did not agree to restore the cuts, but did subsequently largely withdraw its
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proposals for further substantial cuts for 2002. Restoration of the cuts made in 2001 is an issue we are still actively pressing with the Commission.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate her Department has made of the weight and value of cod discarded in each of the fish management areas in the seas around the UK as a result of an unintentional by-catch of over quota cod in each year since 1997 and the latest available estimate for 2002; 
Mr. Morley: Estimates of discards are obtained by placing observers on a random sample of fishing vessels. Observers are not in a position to establish fully the reasons why fish are discarded, but the main reasons appear to be that fish are undersized, not of sufficient quality, or damaged. We are not able at this time to provide estimates for discards of all species in all sea areas. Estimates of the weight of cod discards (in tonnes, gutted) by (a) English and Welsh vessels in the North Sea and Irish Sea and (b) UK vessels landing into Scotland, are set out below.
|North Sea||Irish Sea|
|Year||< Legal Size||> Legal Size||Year||< Legal Size||> Legal Size|
* January to June
nd = no data
|Year||North Sea (IV)|
|< Legal Limit||> Legal Limit||Total|
|Year||West Coast (Via)|
|< Legal Limit||> Legal Limit||Total|
7 Nov 2002 : Column 586W
outstanding claims against her Department is owed in respect of clean-up operations on farms affected by foot and mouth disease. 
Margaret Beckett: It is not possible at this time to reveal details of these claims for reasons of commercial confidentiality and legal privilege. Defra is pursuing the recommendation in the NAO report on the 2001 Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease concerned with the urgent pursuit of those cases where my Department believed it was overcharged for goods and services. Irregularities in contractors' claims are being investigated and resolved as quickly as possible. We have an obligation to ensure proper accounting methods are applied to valid invoices submitted. We have no intention of simply paying Invoices and claims that cannot be properly accounted for.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what plans she has to provide match funding for microlisation; and if she will make a statement; 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 4 November 2002]: The UK is obliged under Community law to match-fund, pound for pound, money raised through modulating Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) production subsidies. Under current plans, the rate of modulation will rise from the present 3 per cent. to 4.5 per cent. by 2006.
The spending plans for 200304 to 200506, set out in the 2002 Spending Review White Paper ''Opportunity and Security for All'' (Command Paper 5570) presented to the House on 15 July by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, include provision for match funding of #75m in 200506. This would be necessary if the rate of modulation were to be increased to 10 per cent. from 200506, as recommended by the Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food. However, a decision on increasing national modulation has yet to be taken. The final decision will depend on factors including the success of a pilot to test the Policy Commission's recommendation for an entry-level agri-environment scheme, and the outcome of negotiations on the Mid-Term review of the CAP.
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