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Alun Michael: The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is recognised by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry as the sole national body for the accreditation, against international standards, of certification and inspection bodies, testing and calibration laboratories. Defra uses UKAS accreditation services whenever it is appropriate to do so.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of eggs sold were (a) free range and (b) intensively farmed in the last year for which records are available. 
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David Burnside: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she has taken to encourage the formation of co-operatives among farmers; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: We have been working with an industry led steering group on the development of proposals for a new body called English Farming and Food Partnerships to encourage greater co-operation and collaboration between producers. It will aim to enable farmers to become more competitive by advocating collaboration, providing specialist advice and project delivery, and through training and education. It is intended that the body will be launched early this year.
We have also announced that projects which aim to strengthen and expand collaborative activity among farmers will be one of the priorities of the new Agricultural Development Scheme. The Rural Enterprise Scheme offers grants for the formation or development of collaborative groups to market quality products. Collaborative groups of producers are also eligible to apply for capital grants under the Processing and Marketing Grant scheme.
Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason slaughter premiums are included in foot and mouth disease valuations after April 2001, but not before. 
Mr. Morley: This is not the case. Foot and mouth disease culled cattle did not meet the criteria for receipt of the slaughter premium subsidy. Compensation was based either on market valuation, and thus needed no adjustment, or, from 22 March to 29 July alternatively, the standard values, which were set at fixed rates including the value of the subsidy.
|Date (June)||Price p/kg/dw #|
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Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to support rural economies, with special reference to communications links. 
Alun Michael: The new rural Public Service Agreement sets targets for increasing productivity in the least well performing rural areas and improving service accessibility. Both sets of targets require good quality communications links, both physical and electronic.
Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the dairy industry about the impact of the proposed changes to the welfare milk scheme; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The Dairy Industry Association was represented at a meeting which my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Lord Whitty, held jointly with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Public Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Salford (Mrs. Blears), on 24 October 2002 to discuss the proposed reform of the welfare food scheme. This followed earlier discussions my hon. Friend had had with the Association.
Mr. Alexander: The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is recognised by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry as the sole national body for the accreditation, against international standards, of certification and inspection bodies, testing and calibration laboratories. My Department has engaged in a number of useful discussions with UKAS and are currently developing with them new assessment procedures in relation to the Charter Mark scheme.
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by the British Indian Ocean Territories administration in the next financial year; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: There are no specific plans to assist any representatives of the Chagossian community in the next financial year. However, the BIOT Government has stated that it will consider reinstating the visit to the outer islands of the archipelago of a group of Chagossians which had to be cancelled earlier this year.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance was offered to the group of British Indian Ocean Territories people who arrived in the UK on 16 September travelling on UK passports. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Although British citizens are not automatically entitled to benefits on arrival in the UK, the UK passport holders within this group were offered assistance from Crawley social services to find accommodation and employment. This help was also provided for their non-British family members.
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with EU representatives and countries surrounding the Caspian Sea regarding the securing of energy resources in the Caspian Sea region for European markets. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: Ministers and officials discuss Caspian energy issues with governments in the Caspian region and with EU partners on a regular basis. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met Kazakh Foreign Minister Tokaev on 2 December and discussed UK energy investment in Kazakhstan. My hon. Friend the Minister of Energy and Construction (Mr. Wilson) visited Moscow recently and discussed energy issues, including the Caspian, with the Russian Energy Minister. Caspian energy issues are regularly discussed between EU partners and those Caspian countries with which the EU has Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan).
Mr Heathcoat-Amory: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on the establishment of (a) an EU diplomatic academy and (b) an EU diplomatic service. 
Mr. MacShane: We are content with the idea of an EU diplomatic academy which would exist alongside member states' national training arrangements, as suggested in the report from the External Relations Working Group of the Convention on the Future of Europe. We will remain engaged in the debate on this issue as it develops.
On the establishment of an EU diplomatic service, we believe that it remains for EU member states to organise their respective bilateral diplomatic services at the national level, though co-ordination and co-location of diplomatic missions with EU partners may be appropriate. There are already 138 bilateral and
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5 multilateral delegations overseas which represent the Commission abroad. As the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy develops under the Council of Ministers and its High Representative, currently Javier Solana, there will be increased demands upon the delegations of both the Commission and member states.
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