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Livestock Markets

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proposals she has for the protection and promotion of small-scale local livestock markets in England and Wales. [113374]

Mr. Morley: We are working with the Red Meat Industry Forum to improve the competitiveness of all the players in the red meat supply chain under the Forum's Ten Point Action Plan which includes the marketing of animals through the auction system. In recognition of the importance of auction markets in the marketing of livestock and their role in the rural economy we continue to liaise closely with industry representatives with a view to retaining a system in which operators of auction market enterprises can continue to make commercial judgments and decisions for the benefit of their businesses and the livestock industry.

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Local Food Chains

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what advice she gives to local authorities which wish to encourage local food chains by including local sourcing as part of their best value contracting. [116440]

Alun Michael: Defra has published guidance for public sector bodies on food procurement that covers issues such as removing obstacles to tendering by local and UK producers. This can be found on the internet at

The Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) is producing its own guidance on sustainable procurement for local authorities that I understand will reflect Defra's guidance on food procurement. IDeA is also actively working with Defra, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and other key Departments to take forward the Government's initiative on food procurement across the public sector in England.

Local authorities are responsible for sourcing a significant amount of food and this has brought with it increased interest, for example, in sourcing fresh produce and promoting healthy eating through their procurement policies. This is reflected in a number of initiatives that local authorities are already taking in this area.

MV Perintis

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of when the container of Lindane lost on 13 March 1989 in the sinking of MV Perintis will corrode; and what impact it will have on fish. [115894]

Mr. Morley: Annual monitoring for evidence of Lindane in the area of the English Channel where MV Perintis sunk was undertaken between 1989 and 1993. This found that Lindane concentrations in seawater were low. The conclusion was that the English Channel had not been contaminated as a result of the sinking and that the container of Lindane on MV Perintis had sunk intact.

The Lindane (a pure, crystalline material not formulated in a carrying solvent) was packed in plastic sacks within the container. Advice from Defra's Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science is that dissolution of the Lindane in seawater at the ambient seabed temperature, leaching from the sacks, and diffusion from within the container into the surrounding water, are all likely to be slow processes and the impact on marine life is therefore expected to be negligible.


Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what appraisal she has made of the scope for amending regulations on packaging to enable the packaging industry to minimise the packaging of goods. [113189]

Mr. Meacher: The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (as amended) and the Packaging (Essential Requirements)

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Regulations 1998 both include incentives for businesses to minimise packaging. However, I have asked the Advisory Committee on Packaging to consider what further measures might be needed to minimise packaging, and I expect to receive its recommendations later this year.

Parrett Catchment Project

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who the chairman of the Parrett catchment project is. [115611]

Mr. Morley: I understand that the new chair of the Parrett Catchment Project Management Group is Mr. Nigel Farrow, who I am informed took up this post on 7 May 2003 following the resignation of the previous incumbent, Mr. Humphrey Temperley.

Mr. Temperley resigned in order to avoid potential conflicts of interest following his appointment to the Chairmanship of the Regional Flood Defence Committee. Mr. Temperley continues to chair the Project's stakeholder group.

As explained in previous responses to Parliamentary Questions, the Parrett Catchment Project is an independent stakeholder forum and Defra has no role in the appointment of its officers or committee.

Public Service Agreements

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Department has taken to publicise its Public Service Agreement targets; and at what cost to public funds. [114442]

Alun Michael: Ministers and officials take every opportunity to explain and publicise Defra's Public Service Agreement targets and the way that Defra and its partners inside and outside Government can contribute to achieving these purposes which will contribute to sustainability and quality of life.

General information on PSA targets is published on the Defra website (–/busplan/busplan.htm) and progress towards meeting SR2002 targets can be viewed on the HM Treasury web-based reporting site ( Information is also included in routine publications such as departmental reports which involves no significant extra cost. Other publicity includes the Autumn Performance Report which specifically sets out progress on our PSA targets.

Rural Economy (Sefton)

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the development of the rural economy in Sefton. [116612]

Alun Michael: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs uses the agreed Office for National Statistics (ONS) definition of rural available at: asp?dsno=52. Using the ONS definition, Sefton is a predominantly urban district, with only 2 of its 23 wards defined as rural. Defra does not monitor economic

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performance at individual ward level but these wards benefit from the rural component of the Merseyside Objective 1 Programme.


Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she intends to take to increase sewerage disposal in the South East. [116219]

Mr. Morley: Under section 94 of the Water Industry Act 1991, sewerage undertakers have a duty to provide, improve and extend their public sewer network. It is a matter for each sewerage company to decide on its programme of work.

Companies are now in the process of drawing up draft business plans for 2005–10, and it is open for them to include costed proposals to extend their sewerage network. Ofwat will examine their plans, and decide the allowance for sewerage works when they set companies' price limits in 2004. Companies' draft business plans will be published in the autumn and there will be an opportunity for all interested parties to comment to Ofwat.

Small Farms

Albert Owen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures her Department will put in place under the CAP decoupling proposals to protect the future of (a) local authority owned and (b) other small farms following the proposal to pay a single subsidy payment to the tenant and to allow the tenant to retain the entitlement payments; and whether it is her policy that the subsidy remain with the farm rather than with the tenant. [114587]

Mr. Morley: The Government are not convinced of the need for such measures. In order to claim the proposed single payment, those holding entitlements would need to farm, or at least keep in good agricultural condition, an equivalent number of hectares to that which established the entitlement. This means there are likely to be many farmers, including tenants, with an entitlement who would need to find land to attach it to in order to generate payments. Consequently, our initial assessment is that, while we might expect a greater equalisation of agricultural land values, a marked change in average values seems unlikely. It follows that, while individual circumstances would vary, landowners, including local authorities and small farmers, would continue to experience a benefit from CAP subsidies. The Government supports the Commission proposal that entitlements should be allocated to active farmers, whether they be owner/occupiers or tenants.

Tree Planting

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what tree planting programmes are in existence; and what plans she has to increase forestland in the UK. [115153]

Mr. Morley: Forestry is a devolved matter and the forestry strategies for each country in the UK set out the priorities for woodland planting and management. An average of 17,600 hectares of new woodland has been planted annually in the UK over the past 10 years.

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In England, we give grants for planting new woodland under the Woodland Grant Scheme and the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme. We also provide support for initiatives such as the National Forest and the Community Forests.

The Forestry Commission and Defra published their response to the 'Policy Review of Woodland Creation in England Under the Woodland Grant Scheme and the Farm Woodland Premium Scheme' in April this year. This is available on the Forestry Commission's website ( It is planned to introduce revised measures in support of new planting in 2005. At the moment, our target is to create 30,000 hectares of new woodland over the seven year period, 2000–06, of the England Rural Development Programme.

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