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5 Jun 2003 : Column 511W—continued

ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS

Civil Servants

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 14 May 2003, Official Report, column 265W, on civil servants, what the criteria are for recognition within the Special Bonus Scheme; what the performance indicators are that are assessed when considering staff for one-off bonuses; and whether the reduction of financial payments to farmers is a performance indicator for the purposes of the scheme. [114993]

Alun Michael: The Special Bonus Scheme is designed to recognise special achievement and contribution additional to the normal demands of the job. The criteria for an award include:


The reduction of financial payments to farmers is not a performance indicator for the purposes of the scheme.

Deer

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance she has issued to the State Veterinary Service on whether a deer missing a hind foot should be classified as exhibiting signs of ill treatment or suffering. [115253]

Mr. Morley: No guidance has been issued to the State Veterinary Service. A veterinary inspector would be expected to use his experience and clinical judgment to assess such injuries and the degree to which an animal may be suffering or exhibiting signs of ill treatment.

GM Crops

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions her Department has had with (a) biotechnology companies and (b) health and environmental campaign and voluntary groups regarding the future licensing of GM crops. [114024]

Mr. Meacher: Ministers and officials have regular face-to-face, telephone and written communications with relevant stakeholders on GM crop issues. No central record is kept of these communications.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessments have been made of applications for marketing consents to the EU of GM crops by (a) her Department and (b) other member states; and what evidence was used in the assessments. [114027]

Mr. Meacher: To date, 19 applications have been made under EU Directive 2001/18 for consent to place GMOs on the European single market. 10 of these are for GM crops intended for cultivation in the EU, and the other nine are for "import only"—i.e. of GM grain grown outside the EU intended for import into the EU

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for processing into products. In all 19 cases, the process of assessment is ongoing and no collective EU decisions have yet been made.

EU Directive 2001/18 requires that applications to place GMOs on the market consist of a substantial dossier of information about the particular GMO and scientific evidence concerned with potential risks associated with the intended use. Summaries of these dossiers are published on a European Commission website at http://gmoinfo.jrc.it/default.asp.

Each application must first be made to the authorities in one of the 15 EU member states, which must make an initial assessment of compliance with the safety standards required by the Directive. If the assessment is positive the application is referred to the European Commission, which then disseminates the assessment and its supporting evidence to other member states for EU-wide scrutiny and public consultation, leading to a collective decision by the European Commission and all 15 member states on whether or not a consent should be granted.

Two of the 19 applications have been made in the UK. They both concern GMOs intended for "import only", and in both cases the UK authority is awaiting further information requested from the applicants before it makes its initial assessment.

Of the remaining 17 applications made in other member states, three have received positive initial assessments and are being scrutinised at EU-level. The UK has forwarded opinions on two of these dossiers (published at http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/gm/euconsent.htm), and will deliver its opinion on the other in due course. In both opinions, the UK asked the lead member state for further information to be required from the applicant before a final assessment can be made. The other 14 applications made in other member states have not yet received initial assessments.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) of 1 May 2003, Official Report, column 465W, on GM crop trials, what plans she has for public consultation on the future licensing of GM crops after the results of all of the Government's current GM farm-scale evaluations are published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. [114161]

Mr. Meacher: Currently we have no plans for a specific consultation exercise on the future licensing of GM crops after the publication of the results of the farm scale evaluations. Once published, the results of the crop trials will be in the public domain and people will be able to comment on them then.

In addition, as each individual crop in the farm scale evaluations comes forward for licensing, the public has the opportunity to comment on every application during the two consultation periods specified in Directive 2001/18/EC, before decisions are taken on a case-by-case basis at EU level.

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Poultry Regulations

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations her Department has received about planned restrictions on travelling hours for chickens; whether these will apply to free-range birds; and if she will make a statement. [117142]

Mr. Morley: Unless suitable food and liquid is available, the maximum permitted journey time for all poultry and domestic birds is 12 hours, disregarding loading and unloading times. This Department has received representations proposing that loading and unloading times should be included within the maximum journey time and the views of industry representatives have been sought. These limits are set down in European Union Directive 91/628, as amended, on the welfare of animals during transport. The European Commission is expected to publish proposals to update and improve this directive later this year.

Water Extraction

Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many licences have been granted by the Environment Agency to extract water from rivers in 2003; what average length of time it has taken to grant a licence to extract water from a river; what the average length of time a licence for which is issued; and how many such licences have been granted covering the River Aire in the Elmet constituency in 2003. [115677]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 3 June 2003]: The information is as follows:

Number of Licences to abstract water from rivers granted so far in 2003

Between 1 January and 22 May 2003 the Environment Agency granted 86 licences for abstraction from surface waters, including canals, minor watercourses and rivers.

Length of time to grant a licence to abstract water

During the period April 2002-March 2003 the Environment Agency granted 984 abstraction licences for surface and groundwater, of which 97 per cent. were granted within the statutory three months, or such longer period as had been agreed with the applicant. The agency does not collect information on the average length of time it takes to determine applications.

Length of time licences issued for

With the introduction of Catchment Abstraction Management Strategies (CAMS), new licences are initially granted to a 'Common End Date' according to the CAMS area in which they lie. There is a presumption of renewal. Following the initial term of the licence the Environment Agency will normally renew the licence for a period of 12 years, again with a presumption of renewal.

Abstraction Licences on the River Aire granted in 2003

No licences have been granted for abstraction from the River Aire in the Elmet constituency during 2003.

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INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Minister of State, Department for International Development when the World Bank will publish its periodical report for the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project. [116775]

Hilary Benn: Regular reports are published by the External Compliance Monitoring Group (ECMG) and the International Advisory Group (IAG), which were established by the World Bank, monitor the project implementation. The IAG has just made a visit to the project and we expect the report to be issued on 17 June. The last report from the ECMG was published in February 2003. We do not yet have a date for publication of its next report. The reports are available on the World Bank website www.worldbank.org/afr/ccproi


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