Previous Section Index Home Page

27 Oct 2003 : Column 20W—continued


Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many telephone exchanges in (a) the UK and (b) Scotland are broadband-enabled; what percentage this is of the total of telephone exchanges in each case; and which constituencies have less than 10 per cent. of their telephone exchanges broadband-enabled. [133856]

Mr. Timms: Broadband is provided over the telephone system by DSL technology, most commonly by ADSL. However, ADSL is not the only means of accessing broadband. According to BT the statistics for the UK and Scotland are as follows:

(a) 1827 telephone exchanges are broadband-enabled in the UK. This represents 32.65 per cent. of the total of telephone exchanges. 81 per cent of the UK population are served by telephone exchanges that have been upgraded for ADSL broadband;

(b) 148 telephone exchanges are broadband-enabled in Scotland. This represents 13.84 per cent of the total of telephone exchanges. 60.9 per cent of the population in Scotland are served by telephone exchanges that have been upgraded for ADSL broadband.

Information about which constituencies have less than ten per cent of their telephone exchanges broadband-enabled is not held within Government.

Retail Pharmacy Services

John Cryer: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the proposed exemption of large shopping developments from the control of entry requirements for retail pharmacy services will be restricted to bespoke shopping developments. [133276]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I have been asked to reply.

As part of the balanced package of measures, announced on 17 July 2003, the Government proposed that shopping developments over 15,000 square metres would be exempt from the control of entry requirements for national health service pharmaceutical services. Such developments include purpose-built named shopping developments in town centres, on edge-of-centre and out-of-centre sites, major regional shopping

27 Oct 2003 : Column 21W

centres, retail warehouse parks and factory outlet centres. We are currently consulting on these proposals and would welcome views.


River Pollution

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to reduce nitrate concentrations in English rivers. [132114]

Mr. Morley: The Government has taken, and is taking, a range of action to address nitrate pollution of English rivers.

The EC's Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive contains provisions designed to reduce the adverse impact of sewage discharges on the water environment. The Directive, and Government policy building on the Directive's requirements, establishes that all discharges from sewage treatment plants serving populations greater than 2,000 have secondary treatment by the end of 2005.

Secondary treatment reduces the total nitrogen present in sewage. The amount of this reduction is dependant upon the type of secondary treatment process applied, but reduction of total nitrogen achieved through secondary treatment is of the order of 20 per cent. on average.

The Directive also contains provisions that require further treatment of nitrates from sewage discharges to reduce the impact on freshwaters intended for abstraction for use as drinking water. These provisions require that where nitrate concentration levels in these waters exceed or could exceed 50mg/l, if no protective action is taken, then nitrate reduction is to be achieved through further treatment processes.

Between February 1997 and June 2002 eight water bodies in need of protection from excessive nitrates levels were identified as Sensitive Areas (Nitrate) in England. Relevant sewage works have been, or are being, built to provide the treatment needed to reduce nitrate levels in their discharges.

Action has also been taken to reduce nitrates in sewage discharges to estuaries in a number of Sensitive Areas (Eutrophic) where it is considered that these discharges contribute, or are likely to contribute, to the eutrophication of coastal waters.

Additionally the EU Nitrates Directive, an environmental measure designed to reduce current and prevent future water pollution by nitrate from agricultural sources, requires all known areas of land draining into nitrate-polluted waters to be designated as Nitrate Vulnerable Zones. The Nitrates Directive requires the identification of polluted waters using the following criteria: (a) surface and groundwaters which contain or could contain, if preventative action is not taken, nitrate concentrations greater than 50 mg/l; (b) surface waters which are eutrophic or could become eutrophic if preventative action is not taken. Around 55 per cent. of England has been designated as NVZs on the basis that it drains into these waters.

27 Oct 2003 : Column 22W

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if she will make a statement on (a) the process of establishing area of outstanding natural beauty conservation boards and (b) selecting Secretary of State nominees to area of outstanding natural beauty conservation boards; [133431]

Mr. Bradshaw: The process of establishing AONB Conservation Boards is laid down in section 86 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The Chilterns and Cotswolds AONBs are well advanced in the process. I intend to write to the Countryside Agency and the constituent local authorities of each AONB seeking their formal consent for the Establishment Orders to create the two Boards. In addition, we have just begun the same process for the High Weald AONB.

Secretary of State appointees will represent the national perspective on Conservation Boards. When the vacancies are advertised, I hope a variety of people will apply. To encourage this, Defra asked the Countryside Agency to organise a 'test day' to research the best ways of reaching a diverse range of people with the necessary skills. The results are now being considered. Appointments will follow the process of fair and open competition as described in Cabinet Office Guidance on public appointments.

The process for appointing parish members will be included in the Establishment Order for each Conservation Board. It will provide a democratic process for parishes to elect their appointees.

Each constituent local authority will be able to appoint a member to the two proposed Boards. How these appointees are selected will be a matter for each authority to decide but the appointee must be an elected member of the appointing authority.

Secretary of State appointees will be selected with a range of skills and experience in mind, including in land management, conservation, business and the community. Although it is for local authorities and parishes to chose who they want to represent them, I would expect them to appreciate the need for spread of skills and experience.


Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in which EU countries atrazine is banned. [134100]

Alun Michael: As I said in my reply to my right hon. Friend on 20 October 2003, Official Report, column 396W, Atrazine will be withdrawn in all member states over an 18 month period that will begin on final adoption of the relevant European Commission Decision, which we expect in the next few months. Certain "essential cases" will be allowed until the end of 2007 in respect of sweetcorn and forestry.

27 Oct 2003 : Column 23W

In advance of this, the most recent information from the European Commission indicates that Atrazine is currently not approved in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Beef Exports

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the earliest possible date is on which the beef export market could be opened; and if she will make a statement. [132390]

Mr. Bradshaw: It has been possible since 1 August 1999 to export cattle but only under the stringent rules of the Date-based Export Scheme (DBES).

The FSA have advised that we could replace the Over Thirty Months Rule by testing for cattle born after 1 August 1996 which could then enter the food chain from January 2004. Ministers are considering this advice.

If there were to be a change in OTM rule for domestic consumption the UK would wish to see a similar change in export controls. However it is not possible to give a precise date for any such relaxation of current beef export controls. An EFSA opinion is expected in early 2004. In addition an inspection by the EU FVO is likely to be required. We would then need agreement of other member states and changes to EU regulations. Export controls are therefore unlikely to change before mid 2004.

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much UK-produced beef was exported by (a) weight and (b) value in 2002; and what percentage of this was (i) beef of UK origin and (ii) beef of foreign origin. [132983]

Mr. Bradshaw: Data relating to the national origin of beef and veal exported from the UK are not available. However, it is possible to calculate the total UK exports as a percentage of the home fed production.

Data are provided as follows for UK beef and veal production and exports for the 2002 calendar year.

UK exports as a percentage of the home fed production

UK Home fed production (thousand tonnes, dcw(3))692
UK exports to the EU(4)11
UK exports to the rest of the world(4)0
Total UK exports(4)11
UK exports as percentage of UK home fed production(4)1.6%
Total value of UK home fed production£1,117 million
Total value of UK exports£18 million

(3)dcw = dressed carcase weight

(4) Includes exports of non UK origin

Next Section Index Home Page