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27 Oct 2003 : Column 28Wcontinued
Mr. Morley: Local authority responsibilities for flood defence measures on ordinary watercourses generally fall to district and unitary authorities rather than parish councils. Defra currently grant aids local authorities at a rate of 45 per cent. for flood defence capital works that meet specified criteria.
levies paid to the Environment Agency, and
special levies paid to internal drainage boards.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in how many cases her Department is withholding and offsetting the payment of fees to valuers because of disputes over valuations that took place during the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease; what the total sum withheld and offset is; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many contractors have outstanding claims against her Department for invoices relating to work done and claimed to have been done in respect of the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease and the subsequent clean up; what the total sum is of these claims; and if she will make a statement. 
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Margaret Beckett: My Department is pursuing those cases where it believes it was overcharged for goods, services and works during the FMD outbreak. Irregularities in contractors' claims have been and continue to be investigated. Defra will take all steps necessary to safeguard the public purse.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in how many cases her Department has refused to pay to livestock owners all or part of the sums due as compensation in accordance with assessments made of her Department's valuers in valuing stock to be slaughtered during the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease. 
Margaret Beckett: Under the Animal Health Act 1981, the compensation payable for animals slaughtered for disease control purposes is taken to mean their market value immediately before they were slaughtered or affected. A valuer appointed by Defra makes an assessment to determine a figure that represents the market value, and in the normal course, this is the amount of compensation Defra would pay. In a few cases during 2001, where it was apparent that the valuation and/or the figure was incorrect or flawed in some material way, Defra made an adjustment to ensure that the compensation paid to the owner properly represented the value of the slaughtered animals within the meaning of the legislation. Information on the number of cases where this occurred can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what arrangements she intends to put in place to ensure co-existence between genetically modified crops and those produced by conventional or organic production methods. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 22 October 2003]: We will consider possible co-existence arrangements for GM and non-GM crops when we have a report on this issue from the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission. Our current expectation is that this will be published next month. At this stage no GM crop has all the necessary approvals for commercial cultivation in the UK. The Government has not reached a final view on whether any specific GM crops should be approved for cultivation.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her European counterparts on the introduction of genetically modified crops in EU member states. 
Mr. Morley: Ministers from the Department have regular discussions with their EU counterparts on issues relating to genetically modified (GM) crops. The issue has, in particular, featured on the agenda for several meetings of Councils of Agriculture and of Environment Ministers in recent years. Most recently, at a meeting of the Agriculture Council on 29 September there was a discussion on the European Commission's
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guidelines on the co-existence of GM and non-GM crops. Final EU decisions on pending applications for consent to grow GM crops are not expected until next year.
Mr. Morley: Since the late 1980s, the UK has played a full and active role in the development of EU policy on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), including GM crops. This has resulted in a strong, transparent and accountable regulatory framework, including the adoption in 2001 of an enhanced generic Directive (2001/18/EC) on the safety assessment of GMOs and in 2003 of specific measures on the traceability and labelling of GMOs, on genetically modified food and feed, and on exports of GMOs from the Community. Throughout, we have argued for an approach which is precautionary, evidence-based and proportionate, and which takes due account of international obligations under agreements such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. The Government has also paid particular attention to the practical aspects of implementation, with the UK, for example, being one of only four member states so far to have completed implementation of Directive 2001/18/EC.
Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Department is taking to protect the interests of businesses from contamination by GM crops, with particular reference to organic farmers. 
Mr. Morley: We will consider possible co-existence arrangements for GM and non-GM crops when we have a report on this issue from the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission. Our current expectation is that this will be published next month. At this stage no GM crop has all the necessary approvals for commercial cultivation in the UK. The Government has not reached a final view on whether any specific GM crops should be approved for cultivation.
Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the field scale evaluation GM crop trials in the management of individual crops. 
Mr. Morley: The results of the spring-sown GM crop farm-scale evaluations were published on 16 October 2003. The results have now been passed to the Government's statutory advisory bodythe Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE)who will advise on their implications. In the light of ACRE'S advice Ministers will decide the UK's position on whether these specific crops should be approved for commercial cultivation in the EU.
There are currently no GM crops being grown in the UK and none have all the approvals required for commercial cultivation. No GM crops can be sown without further regulatory approval which cannot take place until next spring at the earliest. We expect to receive ACRE'S advice in December or early January.
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Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to ensure that there will be no resumption of live exports of horses, ponies and donkeys for the meat trade from the United Kingdom. 
Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the Government spent in 200203 on (a) research into and (b) support for (i) organic farming and (ii) GM crops. 
|Organic farming||GM crops|
|Support||£12,567,000 + £301,000 for the organic conversion information service||£0|
|Research for development purposes||£1,809,000||£0|
|Research for the purpose of environmental risk assessment||£0||£4,522,000|
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