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25 Feb 2004 : Column 429W—continued

Child Poverty

Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to achieve the Government's targets of (a) ending child poverty by 2020, (b) halving it by 2010 and (c) reducing it by a quarter by 2004–05; and if she will make a statement. [154368]

Alun Michael: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. Pond) on 12 February 2004, Official Report, column 1590W.

Common Agricultural Policy

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on Common Agricultural Policy reform and help provided to poorer farmers under the policy. [153439]

Alun Michael: The EU agreed on 26 June 2003 to a radical shift in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). In future, the bulk of subsidies will no longer be linked to production, freeing farmers to produce the safe, high quality food which people want and bringing environmental improvements.

On 12 February my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, announced how she proposed to implement key features of that groundbreaking reform in England. We will decouple fully in 2005 and move over an eight year

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transition period towards a flat rate Single Farm Payment to farmers. England will be split into two regions—land in the severely disadvantaged areas (SDAs) of the less favoured areas (LFAs) and all other eligible land. Different rates will apply in these regions. This represents a decisive irreversible and forward-looking shift consistent with the direction that we have already set in the Sustainable Farming and Food Strategy (SFFS) and in the June 2003 CAP reform negotiations.

If farmers seize the market opportunities offered by these reforms, it is estimated that UK farm incomes could increase by around 5 per cent. relative to the 2003 Total Income from Farming, and farmers will be freed from some of the bureaucracy associated with the old subsidy schemes. For some of the poorer farms this change in support represents a chance to get off the treadmill of small scale and unprofitable commodity production.

There are also Defra led initiatives already available to help poorer farmers. These include the Farm Business Advice Service to help farmers adjust and respond to the difficult trading conditions of recent years and a number of benchmarking initiatives to help struggling farmers see how they can bring their performance up to the level of more successful businesses.


Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Spelthorne of 6 January 2004 regarding Mr. M. Gillard of Staines. [154345]

Alun Michael: My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State responded on 16 February 2004.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to her reply to the hon. Member for Pendle of 6 November 2003 on the dedication of land under section 16 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, how she followed up correspondence to Government Departments; what has been the response; what further steps will be taken to promote dedication to public and private landowners; and whether incentives will be made available. [155557]

Alun Michael: I was pleased to issue non-statutory guidance to accompany the regulations on dedication in January this year. The Forestry Commission is currently in the process of using the guidance to make the first few dedications across its freehold estate.

I will be writing to a number of other large landowners in the public and private sectors soon to ask them to confirm their plans for dedicating land and am optimistic that this will lead to further successes. My officials are also considering ways to encourage dedications more widely.

Endangered Species

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will

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make a statement on the Government's policy on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. [154617]

Mr. Morley: We will maintain the UK's position as a leading supporter of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in co-operation with EU member states and other contracting parties. CITES aims to ensure that where trade is carried out, it is done in a sustainable way that ensures the long-term survival of all species. It has been very successful in this respect and is widely respected for its ability to produce effective regulatory measures that are based on sound science. We will, therefore, continue to support CITES both practically and financially.

English Meat

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps her Department is taking to promote English (a) beef and (b) lamb. [153441]

Alun Michael: The promotion of English beef and lamb is a matter for the industry. The Meat and Livestock Commission's English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) is considering whether to introduce an English brand for beef and lamb produced in England, but any promotion of this would need to be in accordance with the EU's rules on state aids.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the spend of her Department is on the promotion of English (a) beef and (b) lamb in the current financial year. [153890]

Alun Michael: EU co-funding is available for promotion and information campaigns carried out by industry bodies such as the Meat and Livestock Commission. We work closely with such bodies and the EU Commission with a view to maximising the benefit to the UK industry. We also encourage the marketing and branding of local and regional produce. A processing and marketing grant is also available within the England Rural Development Programme. Our approach, in keeping with the Treaty of Rome and our policy to help create a sustainable future for farming and food, is about helping the farming industry to move away from dependency on subsidies. This also fits well with our policy for reforming the Common Agricultural Policy.

Equine Passports

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment she has made of the impact of the proposal that veterinary surgeons complete silhouettes for equine passports on the practice of commoning in the New Forest; and if she will make a statement; [155267]

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Alun Michael: We have never said that only veterinary surgeons can complete and sign the silhouette in horse passports. The passport must be signed either by a vet or the competent authority—which is the passport-issuing organisation—in accordance with European rules.

When concerns were expressed to Defra that in some cases the person completing some silhouettes on behalf of the competent authority had no proven competency and that there was no independent verification of the details, I agreed to provide further guidance to all passport-issuing organisations. I explained this to a meting of all passport issuing organisations on 4 November 2003. The New Forest Verderers have informed Defra officials how they intend to meet the requirements in respect of silhouettes for animals in the New Forest, and officials have confirmed that these are within the guidelines issued.


Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect on farm diversification of pre-1983 agricultural tenancy conditions which refer to earnings from agriculture. [150885]

Alun Michael: Ministers have become increasingly concerned that agricultural tenancy legislation, together with the terms contained in agricultural tenancy agreements, combine to prevent some tenant farmers from participating in diversification and agri-environment activities. Income from diversified activities might also affect succession rights under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986. In view of these concerns, we reconvened the Tenancy Reform Industry Group in November 2002. The Group was asked to make recommendations to improve the health of the tenancy sector, and in particular, to encourage greater participation in farm diversification among tenant farmers.

The Tenancy Reform Industry Group presented its report to Government in June 2003. The report, which has the support of all Group members, made a number of wide ranging recommendations for increasing flexibility within agricultural tenancies. These include updating the statutory succession provisions in the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 to allow income derived from farm diversification projects undertaken with the consent of the landlord to be taken into account in assessing eligibility for succession to an agricultural tenancy. The Group also recommended a code of practice on diversification within agricultural tenancies, backed up by an independent adjudication scheme to which disputes can be referred when they cannot be settled between parties.

The Government responded to the Report of the Tenancy Reform Industry Group shortly before Christmas. The Government accepted all of the Group's recommendations for amendments to the existing tenancy legislation and the proposed code of practice. It is anticipated that changes to the legislation will be effected by means of an Order under the Regulatory Reform Act. It is hoped that a formal consultation document on the Regulatory Reform Order will be issued later in the year.

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Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the total amount of Common Agricultural Policy subsidy paid to English farms in 2003, broken down by county; and what the (a) highest, (b) lowest and (c) average individual payment in each county were. [151352]

Alun Michael: The following table shows the total amount and average individual payments made for each county 1 in England. However, we are unable to supply

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information on individual payments under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998 unless such details are allowed by any of the exemptions to the Act. If such exemptions can be identified then further consideration can be given to the request.

Financial figures represent the European Agriculture Guidance and Guarantee Fund 2003 accounting year which runs from 16 October 2002 to 15 October 2003.

CountyTotal amount (£)Number of claimsAverage payment (£)
Tees Valley and Durham33,823,029.861,76319,184.92
Northumberland and Tyne & Wear66,327,723.891,87235,431.48
Greater Manchester4,320,959.335607,715.99
East Riding and North Lincolnshire56,488,361.312,16626,079.58
North Yorkshire111,619,984.916,10818,274.39
South Yorkshire14,762,236.3980918,247.51
West Yorkshire14,179,485.691,4699,652.47
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire55,531,457.943,59615,442.56
Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire78,391,446.463,23224,254.78
Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire74,282,940.975,15814,401.50
Shropshire and Staffordshire78,969,277.496,22212,691.94
West Midlands2,380,209.5521011,334.33
East Anglia186,325,648.488,09723,011.69
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire35,191,734.371,24328,311.93
Inner London1,482,857.4510014,828.57
Outer London1,964,304.6914513,546.93
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire77,024,191.942,98725,786.47
Surrey, East and West Sussex48,432,661.982,61518,521.09
Hampshire and Isle of Wight38,625,646.001,74722,109.70
Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and North Somerset88,933,774.975,31516,732.60
Dorset and Somerset65,335,288.745,57011,729.85
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly45,469,578.913,89211,682.83

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many Common Agricultural Policy payments were made to farmers in each English county in 2003; and what the total area was that the subsidy related to, broken down by county. [151353]

Alun Michael: The number of Common Agriculture Policy payments made to farmers in each English county and the areas the subsidy related to are set out in the following tables. The county split for the number of claims paid is in line with NUTS 2 (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) regional analysis.

CountyClaims paid
Tees Valley and Durham1,763
Northumberland and Tyne and Wear1,872
Greater Manchester560
East Riding and North Lincolnshire2,166
North Yorkshire6,108
South Yorkshire809
West Yorkshire1,469
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire3,596
Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire3,232
Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire5,158
Shropshire and Staffordshire6,222
West Midlands210
East Anglia8,097
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire1,243
Inner London100
Outer London145
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire2,987
Surrey, East and West Sussex2,615
Hampshire and Isle of Wight1,747
Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and North Somerset5,315
Dorset and Somerset5,570
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly3,892

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CountyArea (ha)
Isle of Wight18,562
Hereford and Worcester225,024
Greater London (ER)3,223
Tyne and Wear13,370
Isles of Scilly49
East Sussex71,501
West Sussex79,980
Greater Manchester24,769
West Midlands11,518
South Yorkshire70,288
North Yorkshire483,462
North Yorkshire46,076

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