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1 Apr 2003 : Column 646W—continued

Chlorofluoro carbons

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it is her policy that, under the terms of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, developed countries' production allowance for chlorofluorocarbons for export to meet the basic domestic needs of developing countries should be further reduced below the percentages allowed in the Beijing Adjustment to the Protocol; and whether the United Kingdom will raise this issue as one to be advanced by the EC in this year's meeting of the parties to the Protocol. [105627]

Mr. Meacher: The UK is keen to ensure that there is no oversupply of CFCs in developing countries as a result of production for basic domestic needs, as this could lead to CFCs being available at lower prices than alternatives and hence could jeopardise developing countries' compliance with consumption controls under the Montreal Protocol. The European Commission is currently finalising a study on the production of CFCs in both developed and developing countries for basic domestic needs and the level of supply of these substances. Based on the conclusions in this report we will consider, with the Commission and other EU member states, what further adjustments to the levels of production agreed in Beijing in 1999 might be appropriate for consideration by the Parties to the Protocol at their meeting this year. The UK is a member of a working group of member states established by the Commission to discuss this.

Pollution (Stansted Airport)

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the annual emission of (a) NOx, (b) SOx, (c) Carbon Dioxide and (d) particles in the area surrounding Stansted airport was in (i) 1997, (ii) 1998 and (iii) 1999. [106518]

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Alun Michael: The following table shows estimated emissions of NOx, SOx, Carbon Dioxide and particulates (PM10) for Stansted Airport in 1997, 1998 and 1999:

Emission (tonnes)199719981999
NOx (as Nitrogen Dioxide)502625805
SOx (as Sulphur Dioxide)34.943.456.1
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)106,319132,258171,070
Particulates (PM10)9.511.815

Source:

National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory. Aircraft emissions during the complete take off and landing cycle up to 1,000m are allocated to the airport. Consequently a proportion of the emissions are emitted at some height and horizontal distance from the boundaries of the airport. Emissions are calculated from aircraft movement data. The emissions are based on the number of aircraft movements at the airport in relevant years. Emissions from aircraft support vehicles are based on UK totals for this sector apportioned pro-rata according to the number of aircraft movements.


Animal Movements

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons transporting livestock to and from shows will no longer be exempt from the six-day standstill. [105642]

Mr. Morley: We announced in a written statement on 23 January 2003 that the standstill would be reduced from 20 to six days for cattle, sheep and goats with effect from 4 March 2003, but with far fewer exemptions.

The mixing of animals at shows—just as at markets—presents a risk of spreading undetected disease. During the period when the general rule was a 20-day whole farm standstill, it was agreed that an exemption could be allowed for show animals, but only if they were isolated in Defra approved facilities for 20 days before moving to shows and on return home.

The removal of most of the exemptions to the standstill is a counter-balance to the increased risk created by the reduction in standstill period to six days. Pigs—which are still subject to a 20-day whole farm standstill—may take advantage of an exemption if they are individually identified and isolated for 20 days in approved Defra facilities before moving to a show.

Supermarkets

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what initiatives she has undertaken to persuade supermarkets (a) to reduce food miles and (b) to source food products from the locality of their stores. [104613]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 24 March 2003]: The Government are keen to see supermarkets re-examine supply routes to reduce journeys wherever sensible. However, the issues involved are complex and reducing food miles may not always be the most environmentally preferable solution in terms of reducing overall energy consumption. To help clarify the issues, Defra and DfT are supporting a study by Transport 2000 into the scope for reducing food miles in selected product sectors by using local suppliers and different distribution patterns.

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The Advisory Committee on Consumer Products and the Environment and the Sustainable Development Commission are also planning to do work in this area.

The Strategy for Sustainable Food and Farming reiterated the Government's commitment to developing a comprehensive Food Industry Sustainability Strategy to provide strategic direction and set priorities for the food industry. Work is now in hand to take forward the drafting of this strategy. We recognise that the strategy will need to cover difficult issues such as food miles. Defra has recently commissioned external research on food miles. The purpose of this research is to establish preferred statistical measure(s) of food miles and their validity as indicators for assessing progress towards sustainability in the food chain.

Many of the major retailers are introducing policies which should lead to an increase in the range of locally sourced produce stocked, in response to consumer demand. In addition Food From Britain, which we grant-aid, is working with the large supermarkets to encourage the sale of quality regional produce. Defra has also helped finance workshops organised by the Institute of Grocery Distribution, designed to bring together supermarkets and small local producers to explore how barriers to local sourcing can be overcome.

Town and Parish Councils Directory

Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will place in the Library a copy of her Department's directory of town and parish councils. [105972]

Alun Michael: The Department's database of parish and town council clerks in England has been drawn together to enable us to communicate with parish and town councils, it is not immediately clear whether it would be consistent with the Data Protection Act 1998 to publish our internal database as a public directory. It must be remembered that many clerks work from home on a part-time basis although some of the larger town and parish councils do have their own offices. I have asked for the matter to be considered by our legal advisers and I shall write to my hon. Friend after I have considered that advice and shall place a copy of the letter in the Library of the House.

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to increase woodland cover in (a) the East Riding of Yorkshire, (b) Yorkshire and the Humber and (c) England. [105276]

Mr. Morley: With support from the Woodland Grant Scheme and Farm Woodland Premium Scheme, private woodland owners in Yorkshire and the Humber, including the East Riding, created some 850 hectares of new woodland over the last two years. The forthcoming Regional Forestry Framework is expected to identify priorities and actions for forestry in the Region, including further woodland creation.

As regards our Forestry Strategy for England as a whole, we are currently reviewing our grant schemes with a view to achieving, among other things, improved targeting of support for new woodland. At the moment,

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our target is to create 30,000 hectares of new woodland over the seven year period of the England Rural Development Programme.

DEFENCE

Armed Forces (Council Tax)

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make representations to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to request that local authorities suspend liability to council tax for members of HM armed forces for periods when serving in the Gulf. [106091]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has no plans to make representations to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to stop council tax payments for members of the Armed Forces while serving in the Gulf.

Armed Forces Pension Scheme

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his written ministerial statement of 20 March 2003, Official Report, column 54WS, on the Armed Forces Pension Scheme, whether the system of ex-gratia payments will apply to all partners irrespective of sex or sexual orientation; who will make the decision on eligibility for the payments; and if he will make a statement. [105834]

Dr. Moonie: The policy change announced on 20 March applies equally to same sex and opposite sex partners; for eligibility, personnel will need to demonstrate that the relationship was substantial. It will also need to be confirmed that the death related to conflict. Decisions on eligibility will initially be taken by the scheme managers using evidence provided by the partner. The partner will be notified of the decision and reasons behind it; where the claim is not accepted, the existing appeals procedures can be invoked including, where the Internal Disputes Resolution Procedures have been exhausted and where otherwise appropriate, reference to the Pensions Ombudsman. The policy change will not be retrospective with respect to deaths occurring before 20 March.


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