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7 Jan 2004 : Column 358Wcontinued
Mr. Blunt: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission when the Speaker's Committee last made a report to the House on the exercise by it of its functions. 
Mr. Viggers: The Speaker's Committee has a statutory obligation to make a report to the House on the exercise by it of its functions at least once in each year. Its most recent report, the First Report, 2003, was laid before the House and published on 18 December 2003 as House of Commons Paper 140. Copies have been placed in the Library and the Vote Office.
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Mr. Morley: The UK's position at the recent negotiations on the use of sinks (afforestation and reforestation projects) in the Clean Development Mechanism at the Conference of the Parties negotiations held in Milan was that any proposal to use GMO trees should be consistent with the objective and provisions of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, under the Convention on Biological Diversity. This includes a risk assessment and an advanced informed agreement procedure for GMOs intended for intentional introduction into the environment (such as seeds for planting). This was the position agreed by consensus.
Mr. Wills: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the cost per person per week of the Common Agricultural Policy in the United Kingdom in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The consumer cost of the CAP can be estimated by examining the difference between UK and world prices for agricultural food products. The notional taxpayer contribution to CAP expenditure can also be estimated though, in practice, UK taxpayers contribute to the whole EU budget rather than to specific components. Our provisional estimates for 2002 show an average cost of the CAP per person of just over £2 per week.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will make a substantive reply to the letter from the hon. Member for North-East Bedfordshire of 23 October, and his fax of 16 November to the hon. Member for Scunthorpe in relation to his constituent Mr. Ross Donovan. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where the UK ranks in the Environmental Sustainability Index; and if she will list the rankings of other EU countries. 
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Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 January 2004]: The UK ranks 91st internationally in the 2002 Environmental Sustainability Index compiled by the Global Leaders of Tomorrow Task Force of the World Economic Forum in association with the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia University. The rankings of other EU member states are shown in the following table. However, the UK and other countries believe this index is profoundly flawed and therefore potentially misleading, for the following reasons. It is an aggregated indicator which aims to weight together many components into a single overall measure of 'environmental Sustainability', an approach which as yet is not scientifically robust. The choice of components, and the way in which they are weighted together, is largely subjective. A different choice of components or weights would give different results, amply illustrated by the fact that the previous edition of this index, based on a different selection of components, placed the UK 16th.
Furthermore, there are still many areas where data are not sufficiently comparable between countries, or are simply not available. The values of many of the variables used to compile this index are imputed. It should also be noted that the variables used in this index tend to measure circumstances at a single point in time rather than trends or changes, therefore to the extent the index measures anything at all, it measures the environmental situation which a country faces rather than its progress or performance in improving environmental sustainability.
Luxemburg is not ranked
Global Leaders of Tomorrow Task Force of the World Economic Forum in association with Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and Columbia University
Mr. Peter Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects to receive the report from the Forestry Commission England on the control of grey squirrels. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 18 December 2003]: The Forestry Commission has not been asked to prepare a report on the control of grey squirrels. They are however currently engaged in the preparation of a policy statement on this subject. This is one of the commitments
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Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the implications of the introduction of compulsory identity cards for her Department. 
Alun Michael: The introduction of compulsory identity cards is a long-term undertaking on which inter-departmental discussions are led by the Home Office. This Department has an interest in tackling illegal working at an acceptable compliance cost to business (for example, in the agriculture and fresh produce sectors) and in providing a means to encourage legal routes of migration to the UK.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it was known by Ministers in her Department that Katherine Bryan had applied for the post of Chief Executive of Water Services at the Northern Ireland Department for Regional Development at the time when she was appointed to chair the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM); on what date she tendered her resignation as CoRWM chair; what considerations was given to the other shortlisted candidates for the Chair of CoRWM in the appointment of her replacement; and who has been chosen as a replacement for Katherine Bryan on the Committee. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 10 December 2003]: No. Ministers knew of Mrs. Bryan's intention to resign on 26 November 2003. With the agreement of the Environment Ministers for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and after consultation with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments, an announcement was made on 5 December that Gordon MacKerron, an existing member of CoRWM, was to be appointed as the new Chair. Among those candidates originally interviewed for the post of Chair, he was considered the most suitable replacement for Mrs. Bryan. No other appointment to CoRWM has been made.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) sources and (b) methodology was used to calculate (i) buffer zone sizes, (ii) grassland area affected and (iii) arable area affected in the Pesticides Safety Directorate discussion paper proposals for the Introduction of No-Spray Buffer Zones Around Residential Properties in England and Wales. 
Alun Michael: The consultation document included four possible buffer zone sizes. These were 6 metres (reflecting a quarter section of a typical spray boom), 1.0 metres (the minimum set-aside width); 100 metres; and 300 metres.
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For the purpose of the consultation comparisons of the economic effects of introducing these various sizes of buffer zones were made. Information was sought from the Rural Development Service's Geographic Information Unit. The Unit estimated the area of both arable and improved grassland adjacent to built-up areas in five selected areas. This was done utilising the Land Cover Map 2000 which is derived from the analysis of Earth observational satellite imagery. The resulting data was then extrapolated to provide a total figure for England and Wales.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from how many of the organisations and individuals invited by the Pesticide Safety Directorate to the stakeholder meeting on 13 October about the consultation on plans for greater access to information about crop spraying written responses were received (a) by the official deadline and (b) after the deadline. 
Alun Michael: The meeting on 13 October was held with rural residents' interest groups to discuss the issues raised by the informal consultation exercise on public access to information on pesticide use and to identify how practical measures might be introduced.
Those who attended were invited because it was felt they would be in a position to address the practical issues raised, rather than solely on the basis of having submitted a written response to the informal consultation.
Of the 33 representative organisations and individuals who were invited, five attended, 10 submitted written responses to the informal consultation by the official deadline; the remaining 23 did not submit a response. The official deadline was extended from 31 August to 30 September to take account of the summer holiday period.
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