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Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many areas of unanimity have become subject to qualified majority voting decisions since 1 May 1997; and in how many areas unanimity is still required. 
Mr. MacShane: As stated in the White Paper on the treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (CM 6309), qualified majority voting was extended to 16 new or existing areas by the Amsterdam treaty, which came into effect in May 1999, and further extended to 31 new or existing areas by the Nice treaty, which came into effect in February 2003. Unanimous agreement is still required for the most important decisions: for tax, social security, foreign policy, defence, and decisions on the financing of the EU affecting the British budget contribution. That remains true under the new constitutional treaty.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the Sudanese authorities concerning the attack by the Government of Sudan air force on three villages east of Nyala in Darfur on 9 to 10 December and on one village south of Nyala on 7 December. 
Mr. Mullin: We condemn the recent attacks by the Government of Sudan in Darfur, which are a clear breach of the Abuja Security Protocol and the Government of Sudan's commitment to abide by UN Security Council resolutions. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development raised this issue on Thursday 16 December with the Presidential Adviser for Political Affairs, and our Ambassador in Khartoum has also raised the matter with the Acting Foreign Minister.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the
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UK Government have received (a) from and (b) concerning whistleblowers in European Union institutions. 
On (b) , many members of the public, as well as hon. Members of this House, and Peers in the House of Lords, have over the years expressed concern about issues which whistleblowers have raised and about the manner of their treatment by the EU institutions. We do not. however, hold a central register of such expressions of concern.
The Government have responded to the issues involved in some whistleblowing cases by contributing actively to the development of the new (May 2004) European Communities Staff Regulations, which provide that an official shall not suffer any prejudicial effects from making a disclosure in accordance with the Regulations. This is a similar provision to provisions of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which protect UK Crown employees who make disclosures in good faith.
Margaret Beckett: The European Commission's preferred approach to sugar reform would involve price and quota cuts for beet growers in all member states. We are still awaiting detailed proposals, but have in the meantime published independent economic research illustrating some of the possible effects.
Margaret Beckett: The UK remains on course to achieve its Kyoto target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5 per cent. by 200812. The current review of the UK Climate Change Programme aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of the progress that the Government and the devolved Administrations have made towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions since the programme was published in 2000.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, Ross Finnie and I met UK industry leaders in October. Mr. Finnie and I worked closely with industry representatives in the run-up to and during the recent Fisheries Council.
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Mr. Morley: The Government are committed to reducing the UK's reliance on landfill, in order to reduce its environmental and potential public health impact and because landfilling is a missed opportunity to recover value from waste.
16. Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of Government building targets in the south-east on her policy for waste disposal. 
Mr. Morley: The Government's policy for sustainable waste management aims to break the link between economic growth and environmental degradation and resource usein particular by pushing waste management up the waste hierarchy. The Government's housing targets for the south-east will have no direct impact on that policy.
Mr. Bradshaw: There are 442 Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the west midlands region covering more than 26,000 hectares. Of these sites, 22 are also European sites under the Birds and Habitats Directives; 16 are National Nature Reserves and there are 92 Local Nature Reserves in the region.
Mr. Bradshaw: Defra funds a substantial research and development programme of benefit to horticulture. Growers are also eligible for assistance under the England rural development programme and many will benefit from the new single payment scheme.
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research has been commissioned by her Department on diseases affecting the economic viability of beekeeping. 
Since 2001, Defra has commissioned research on notifiable pests and diseases of bees worth about £760,000. Current projects include the development of biological control methods for varroa and rapid diagnostic tests for the small hive beetle. In addition, scientists at Defra's National Bee Unit have been developing the "shook swarm" treatment for European foul brood.
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Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will instruct the National Bee Unit to issue advice to beekeepers on the effects of formic acid, lactic acid and oxalic acid on tackling the parasite Varroa Destructor in honey bees. 
Alun Michael: All veterinary medicinal products are required to be authorised by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate before they can be marketed or administered in the UK. Currently, neither oxalic acid nor formic acid may be legally administered to treat honey bees. However, certain regulatory exemptions from the requirement for authorisation allow veterinary surgeons to prescribe lactic acid to be administered in the treatment of bees.
The National Bee Unit is currently updating its advisory literature on the management of Varroa Destructor, and is liaising with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate about the guidance that may be given to beekeepers on the use of acids and other chemicals to control infestations of this mite.
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