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3 Jun 2003 : Column 16W—continued

Coffee

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recommendations for action she will make at the International Coffee Organisation/World Bank Coffee Conference on 19 May. [113506]

Mr. Morley: The European Commission will speak on behalf of EU member states at the International Coffee Organisation/World Bank Conference. The Conference aims to bring together producers from developing countries, Government officials, experts from international organisations, advocacy groups and industry representatives to discuss alternatives such as diversification, quality, added value and market development in order to help coffee producers increase their income and improve living standards. It is hoped that the Conference will help to develop ideas for specific programmes and activities which could make a real contribution to solving the coffee crisis.

Efficiency Savings

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the target is for efficiency savings in 2003–04 expressed (a) in money terms and (b) as a percentage of the Department's expenditure limit. [114105]

Alun Michael: As part of the 2002 settlement from the Treasury, Defra is expected to find £16 million in efficiency savings for 2003–04. This figure represents 0.6 per cent. of the Department's expenditure limit (of which the administration component represents approximately 3 per cent. of the administration budget).

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Farm Advisory System

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her estimate is of the cost to the United Kingdom of introducing and operating the Farm Advisory System proposed by the European Commission; what the Government's policy is on the appropriate division of the costs of the scheme between Government and industry; and if she will make a statement. [114091]

Margaret Beckett: The Government estimate that a farm advisory system as proposed by the Commission would cost government at least £42 million p.a., and farmers a further unquantified amount. The Government do not consider this likely to be good value for money and are pressing for a less bureaucratic approach.

Fishing Quotas

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking in the operation of The Hague Preference to ensure that any fishing quota cuts are favourable to those countries which border the North Sea. [114886]

Mr. Morley: The effect of The Hague Preference, when it is operated in relation to North Sea fish stocks, is to reduce other member states' amounts of fishing quota for the year in question and to increase that of the UK. Only the UK and Ireland benefit from The Hague Preference.

Fuel Crops

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the CAP mid-term review on the growing of crops for alternative fuel production. [115311]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 22 May 2003]: CAP reform proposals introduced the concept of a decoupled single income payment with energy crops eligible for an additional 'carbon credit' aid of 45 per hectare, capped at 1.5 million hectares across the EU. Compulsory set-aside would have been retained, but the existing derogation to allow non-food, including energy, crops to be grown on it would be removed. We consider that the combination of decoupling together with a further cereals price cut removes the need for land to be taken out of production.

The European Commission have now indicated that they may be prepared to make some changes to their original proposal including allowing continued access for non-food crops to set-aside land. Our view is that if set-aside is to continue, it must be applied in a flexible way which maximises its potential benefits.

Detailed negotiations are continuing in Brussels, due to be concluded in June.

GM Crops

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make

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a statement on the procedures to be put in place for the forthcoming consultation on genetically modified organisms. [115288]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 22 May 2003]: The Government-sponsored public debate on wider GM issues, which is being managed by an independent Steering Board at arm's length from Government, will be launched on 3 June. The public will have the opportunity to debate the issues surrounding GMOs, either by attending a meeting or by accessing the website.

Regional public meetings will be held in Birmingham (3 June), Swansea (5 June), Taunton (7 June), Belfast (9 June), Glasgow (11 June) and Harrogate (13 June). Further regional or local events are being held across the country, run by local authorities and organisations, with debate toolkit materials being provided to facilitate debate. Further information on all the local and regional events can be found on the public debate website at www.gmnation.org.uk, due to go live on 27 May.

The Steering Board will submit their report on the outcome of the debate to Government in September. We have made a commitment to make a written response to their report, and to indicate what we have learned from the debate when making future policy announcements on GM.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the criteria to which the UK will have to adhere under the EU directive for commercial applications for licences for the planting of genetically modified organisms. [115289]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 22 May 2003]: The relevant EU Directive (Directive 2001/18/EC) sets out the criteria and time scale all member states must adhere to in assessing applications for licences for cultivation of GMOs. The criteria relate to the potential risk to human health and the environment. Each applicant is required to provide the information set out in Annexes III and IV of the Directive; an environmental risk assessment, the principles of which are outlined in Annex II, and a post market monitoring plan as required in Annex VII. Assessments are made by the member states based on all the information provided.

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on the payment of compensation to organic farms, recognised by the Soil Association, which are contaminated by neighbouring GM farms. [115476]

Mr. Meacher: The current position is that an organic farmer who has suffered economic loss as a result of activities on a neighbouring farm can make a claim for redress through the courts. The independent Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission is preparing a report to Government on the co-existence of GM, conventional and organic crops, and related issues of liability. We will develop our policy in the light of that report.

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Illegal Food Imports

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many prosecutions for illegal food imports into the UK there have been in the last five years. [114884]

Mr. Morley: Figures for prosecutions prior to the transfer on 11 April 2003 of all anti-smuggling controls to Customs, are not held centrally. We are aware of one successful prosecution brought by Crawley Borough Council in July 2002. In September 2001, Customs brought a prosecution for the illegal importation of bushmeat derived from endangered species. The offender was found not guilty of these offences, but was, however, found guilty of an offence under the Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (England) Regulations. The Corporation of London Port Health Authority issued six cautions in October 2002.

HM Customs and Excise, who took responsibility for anti-smuggling controls on meat from 11 April 2003, will prosecute in the most serious cases.

KPMG

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many contracts her Department has awarded to KPMG since 1997. [113683]

Alun Michael: Defra came into being on 8 June 2001. The information requested is not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Landfill Directive

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the effects upon the cost of (a) collection and (b) management of municipal waste stream in the UK of complying with the requirement of Article 5 of the Landfill Directive to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste to 75 per cent. of 1995 levels by 2010. [114971]

Mr. Meacher: The costs involved with meeting the Article 5 Landfill Directive targets and other waste strategy goals were addressed in the Regulatory Impact Assessment, published with Waste Strategy 2000.

A base case was established and various policy mixes were costed against that base case. The additional costs of the policy mixes that reflect the levels of recycling, composting and recovery needed to meet the waste strategy targets amounted to a range of between £3.4 billion and £7.7 billion (net present value) over the 20-year period 2000–20.

Waste Strategy 2000 stated that the proposed targets for the recovery and recycling of municipal waste may not impose net additional costs if it is expected that a broad mix of waste management options will be required to meet the Landfill Directive targets; and that reliance on incineration and composting is unlikely to be viable.


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