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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 6 December 2004


Chief Executive (House of Commons Service)

Mr. Burns: To ask the honourable Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission what qualifications the Chief Executive of the House of Commons Service has to fulfil his duties as Chief Executive. [201811]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The Chief Executive of the House of Commons Service holds that post by virtue of his appointment as Clerk of the House of Commons. This arrangement was endorsed by the external reviews of the management of the House of Commons carried out in 1990 by Sir Robin Ibbs and in 1999 by Mr. Michael Braithwaite. I refer the hon. Member in particular to paragraphs 15.38 to 15.42 and Annex G of the Braithwaite Report (HC 745, 1998–99), which set out the rationale for that arrangement.


Arable Area Payment Scheme

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when Arable Area Payment Scheme payments are expected to be made. [200566]

Alun Michael: The payment window for the Arable Area Payment Scheme 2004 main payments opened on 16 November 2004 and closes on 31 January 2005. Payments commenced immediately the payment window opened and during the first two weeks 69 per cent. of claims were paid including 80 per cent. of claims from producers in those countries most affected by wet weather.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the future of the bee health programme. [200426]

Alun Michael: The Department's Activity Baseline Review has identified the bee health programme as an area where 20 per cent. savings (equivalent to £250,000 p.a.) could be realised from 2008. We expect to make these savings through a reduced programme of expenditure with the Central Science Laboratory's National Bee Unit, which implements the programme in England.

We have discussed these proposals with beekeeping organisations, who have registered a number of concerns. We will take these concerns into account in developing and implementing the proposals.
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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures her Department is taking to support beekeepers in the UK; and if she will make a statement. [200427]

Alun Michael: The Department assists the beekeeping sector in England through an integrated bee health programme administered by the National Bee Unit. The programme will cost £1.235 million in 2004–05. Measures include the provision of a free diagnostic and inspection service as well as training and technical advice to help beekeepers become more self-reliant in controlling pests and diseases through improved bee husbandry techniques.

This year, the Department also intends to spend some £240,000 on research and development to underpin our bee health policy in controlling endemic notifiable diseases in the UK and preventing the introduction of serious exotic pests.

Drinking Water

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) prosecutions, (b) cautions and (c) enforcement notices there have been in each year since 1995 brought by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (i) in total and (ii) broken down by region. [200709]

Mr. Morley: Since 1995 the Drinking Water Inspectorate has initiated proceedings for 35 prosecutions and issued 20 Cautions. The Inspectorate has also issued 8 Enforcement Notices under section 20 of the Water Industry Act 1991. The number of prosecutions, cautions and notices are summarised as follows, by year and by region.
Number of prosecutions

Total number
of prosecutions
Prosecutions by RegionNumber
West Midlands1
West Midlands1
South West1
19989Yorkshire and Humberside1
North East1
South East2
West Midlands1
North West1
19999East of England2
South West2
East Midlands1
South East2
North West2
20005South East1
East of England1
20013South East1
East of England1
20021Yorkshire and Humberside
2004 (To date)1East of England

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Number of cautions

Total number of cautionsCautions by RegionNumber
19982Yorkshire and Humberside1
South West1
20008South East2
North West4
North East1
South West1
20022Yorkshire and Humberside
20033Yorkshire and Humberside2
2004 (To date)1South East

Notices of intention to serve an Enforcement Order under s20 Water Industry Act 1991

Total number of Notices servedNotices served by RegionNumber
19966East of England1
West Midlands1
North East1
East/West Midlands1
South East2
19972Yorkshire and Humberside1
South East1
2004 (To date)0


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what further action she plans to reduce emissions of methane. [200690]

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Mr. Morley: There has been a 42.7 per cent. reduction in methane emissions in the UK between 1990 and 2002, the most recent year for which data is available.

Methane is one of the greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol. Following the decision of Russian to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol it is due to come into force on 16 February 2005. The UK remains on course to achieve its Kyoto target to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases by 12.5 per cent. below 1990 levels by 2008–12. Provisional estimates suggest that in 2003 greenhouse gas emissions were about 14 per cent. below the baseline.

A review of the Climate Change Programme was launched on 15 September. The review will evaluate the success of the existing policy measures in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and will examine the scope for further reductions in the future.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the volumes of methane likely to be released following the effects of climate change in polar regions; and what assessment she has made of the effect that the release of such methane will have on climate change. [200704]

Mr. Morley: There are currently large uncertainties in the estimates of present-day natural methane fluxes. There are also large uncertainties in the projections of changes in these fluxes under climate change, due both to the responses of methane emissions to warming and the changes in wetland area under climate change.

However, modelling studies performed by the Hadley Centre for the UK Climate Prediction programme funded by Defra indication that methane emissions from wetlands north of 45°N will approximately double by 2100 relative to the present day, from 50 to 95 Terragrams per year. It is estimated that this will contribute an additional 1 per cent. to global warming over the 21st Century.

It should be noted that this does not consider the potential release of methane from ocean hydrates, which has not yet been quantified, but is the subject of research within the Climate Prediction Programme.

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