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Albatrosses and Petrels

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures have so far been taken to implement the Action Plan contained in the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels; and if she will make a statement. [141074]

Mr. Morley: The Agreement and its associated Action Plan formally come into effect three months after the fifth range state has ratified the Agreement. South Africa became that fifth state in November. The Agreement will therefore enter into force on 1 February 2004.

However, a number of measures in the Action Plan are already being taken forward. For example, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has agreed international action plans which seek to reduce the threat to the birds from longline fishing. The Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) also has such measures. Data are now being collected on foraging areas and migration routes using satellite tracking and "at sea" observations, which will help target the conservation effort—British scientists are involved in this. The Falkland Islands are also already monitoring their colonies, preventing tourist disturbance and looking to tackle the threat from rats.

Animal Husbandry

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what

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representations she has received on (a) the fact that the slaughter premium is not payable on animals slaughtered on farm and (b) that it remains a fineable offence for farmers to move the animal from farms receiving no compensation under the rules of the slaughter premium. [141440]

Alun Michael: No representations have been received about the ineligibility for slaughter premium of animals slaughtered on farm. It is not a fineable offence for farmers to remove these animals from farms provided they are disposed of in accordance with the relevant legislation.

Departmental Recruits (Apprenticeships)

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will establish a three-month apprenticeship to be spent on farms, at an auction mart and in other rural situations for every new recruit to her Department. [141443]

Alun Michael: New recruits attend a 'Welcome to Defra' event, which outlines Defra's aims and objectives, but, most induction training takes place in the workplace, where staff are encouraged to make outside visits to raise awareness of specific issues and to meet those involved. Resource restraints and equal opportunities policies do not make a three-month apprenticeship viable. It should be remembered that Defra's responsibilities are wide ranging and include local environmental issues in towns and cities as well as an interest in all matters effecting rural communities, food issues and environmental issues that range from the local to the global. A full indication of Defra's work is given at

Flood Defence (Hereford)

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when funding promised for flood defence in the City of Hereford will be delivered by (a) the Welsh Assembly and (b) the Government. [140817]

Mr. Morley: Defra provides funding for capital flood defence schemes in England which meet set criteria and achieve an appropriate priority score. The Welsh Assembly does not provide funding for flood defence work in England. However the responsibility for deciding on which projects to promote and their timing rests with local operating authorities, such as the Environment Agency. I understand that the Agency's Wye Local Flood Defence Committee gave priority to

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constructing defences for Hampton Bishop rather than Hereford, but have engaged consultants to determine the viability of flood defence measures for Hereford. I understand that the consultants are due to complete a project appraisal report by June 2004 and the Agency plans to start work on a scheme at Hereford in 2005, if it qualifies for funding.

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reason £700,000 has been paid to W. S. Atkins for a design for the flood defences in Hereford City. [140818]

Mr. Morley: I understand that to date, the Environment Agency has paid Atkins Water fees totalling £145,000 in relation to the Hereford Flood Alleviation Scheme. The work carried out includes feasibility studies, environmental investigations, hydraulic river modelling, design, public consultation and liaison with other public bodies. A further £155,000 will be paid to Atkins Water by the Agency for completion of the project appraisal report. Detailed design of the scheme will cost an estimated £200,000 which will bring the total expenditure on fees to Atkins Water to approximately £500,000, a sum that the Agency believes reflects the particular complexities associated with the scheme, which is currently forecast to cost some £4.2 million.

Genetic Nation Debate

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission report on issues of liability and coexistence in respect of GM crops; [140846]

Mr. Morley: The report by the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission was published on 25 November. We are now assessing this and will give our considered response in due course.

GM Maize

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the (a) dose, (b) timing, (c) formulation and (d) method of application of the herbicide selected for use on GM maize in the farm scale evaluations was modelled upon the standard commercially adopted herbicide regimes used on Liberty Link GM maize varieties in (i) the USA and (ii) Hungary. [140770]

Mr. Morley: No. The dose, timing, formulation and method of application of glufosinate ammonium ('Liberty') herbicide on fodder maize in the UK farm-scale evaluations was based on the terms of the draft product label in line with the experimental approval for use in UK conditions.

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Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many pages of (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation her Department put through Parliament in 2002–03. [141171]

Alun Michael: Two of the Bills sponsored by the Department during the 2002–03 session were enacted, amounting to a total of 270 pages.

In the case of secondary legislation the Department was responsible for the making of 120 General Statutory Instruments which were subject to consideration by either the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments or the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments. The total number of pages can be calculated only at disproportionate cost.

Recycled Paper

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are in place to ensure Government Departments buy recycled paper. [140595]

Mr. Morley: On 30 October the Government accepted the Sustainable Procurement Group recommendation for the immediate purchase of:

Central Government already buys a considerable amount of recycled paper, through, for example the DfT Recycled Printing Papers Framework and the catalogues. Defra and the Office of Government Commerce recently published the revised "Joint Note on Environmental Issues in Purchasing", which provides guidance on sustainable procurement for non-specialists and guides them towards more sustainable purchases.

Government are currently developing sustainable procurement targets under the "Framework for Sustainable Development on the Government Estate". The targets and online guidance will be published by spring next year.

Rural Payments (Mapping)

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received from farmers on the way their land is designated in the process of digitalisation of mapping of the land for the purposes of assessing rural payments. [141439]

Alun Michael: The Rural Land Register digitisation project does not change the designation of land parcels but it is intended to increase the certainty and accuracy of Defra's records. A small number of farmers have queried changes to the eligible area of their land made as a result of a change to the gross field size. These have been dealt with on an individual basis.

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