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9 Feb 2005 : Column 1498W—continued

EC Committees

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times during the (a) Italian, (b) Irish and (c) Dutch Presidency of the EU the Committee for the fisheries and aquaculture sector met; when and where these meetings took place; what UK Government expert was present; and if she will make a statement. [214317]

Mr. Bradshaw: The EU Committee for the fisheries and aquaculture sector routinely meets in Brussels at one of the Commission's meeting facilities. The dates of the meetings during the Italian, Irish and Dutch Presidencies of the EU are as in the following list. Representatives from the UK Fisheries Departments were present at all of these meetings. The exact nature and number of representatives depended on the subjects under discussion, with experts on control and enforcement, fleet policy and statistics being present as necessary.

Italian Presidency

Irish Presidency

Dutch Presidency

European Food Safety Authority

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the activity of the European Food Safety Authority in the UK in the last 12 months; and if she will list the publications and newsletters published by the authority over that period. [215275]

Mr. Bradshaw: The European Food Safety Authority has not undertaken any activity in the UK in the last 12 months in the fields of animal health and welfare or
 
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plant health. Any activity it may have undertaken in the field of food safety is a matter for the Food Standards Agency.

A list of its publications can be found on its website http://www.efsa.eu.int/.

Farmers Markets

Helen Southworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she plans to take to support the development of farmers markets (a) in the North West region and (b) elsewhere in England. [213101]

Alun Michael: The information is as follows:

(a) In the North West region support for the development of farmers markets is being taken forward by the North West Fantastic Food Partnership. This partnership is made up of a group of organisations from across the region whose role is to assist food producers to develop their business and market their products. The partnership is pursuing a five-year project (from November 2002 to March 2007) covering a range of activities including support for farmers markets. Funding for these activities (totalling some £5.3 million) comes from the North West Regional Development Agency, Defra's Rural Enterprise Scheme and from the Merseyside Objective One programme. Specific initiatives relating to farmers' markets include the improvement of existing farmers' markets, the creation of new markets and the promotion of the markets to consumers.

(b) More generally, the Government welcome the establishment of farmers markets. They offer an excellent outlet for farmers to sell their produce direct to consumers and the Department is keen to encourage their development. That is why we have made provision under the England Rural Development Programme for grants to projects promoting farmers markets.

Defra officials met representatives from the National Farmers Retail and Markets Association (FARMA) last July to explore how Defra could work with FARMA on the common goals of reconnecting farmers to their markets and helping them to add value. The meeting included a discussion on FARMA's priorities and how these might be supported under various grant schemes—in particular the Rural Enterprise Scheme (RES) and the Agriculture Development Scheme (ADS). Farmers markets at both regional and national level have received funding under those schemes in the past. The meeting also covered how FARMA could raise its profile with the regional development agencies (RDAs). As a result, representatives from FARMA gave a presentation to Defra's Regional Food Cross-Cutting Group, which includes representatives from the RDAs, the Countryside Agency and the Food Standards Agency, in September 2004.

In-house Magazines

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent on the production of in-house magazines in the Department and its predecessors in each year since 1997. [213637]


 
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Alun Michael: Since Defra was formed in June 2001 the costs of producing the in-house magazine are as follows:
Number of issuesTotal cost (£) (excl. VAT)
June 2001 to March 200210186,000
April 2002 to March 200312223,800
April 2003 to March 200412283,200
April 2004 to February 200511259,600

IT Projects

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list her Department's IT projects in each year since 1997, broken down by (a) amount spent, (b) purpose, (c) cost of overrun and (d) time of overrun. [205780]

Alun Michael: Providing the level of detail the hon. Member has requested would breach the disproportionate cost threshold. However, lists of IT projects undertaken by the Department between 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003 October 2004 (when Defra's IT services were outsourced to IBM) and a separate list of projects undertaken since October 2004 are attached. These lists will be made available in the library of the House.

Lists of IT projects undertaken by the Department for the period June 2001 to July 2003 were made available in response in the answer given on 21 July 2004, Official Report, column 239W. These lists will be made available in the Library of the House.

Livestock Movements (Animal Abuse)

Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many prosecutions have been brought by her Department for animal abuse in the course of movement of animals to member states of the European Union. [214371]

Mr. Bradshaw: Prosecution action is usually taken by local authorities as primary enforcement agents for animal welfare in transport rules. Information on the number of prosecutions is published in the annual Return of Expenditure Incurred and Prosecutions taken under the Animal Health Act 1981, and Incidences of Disease in Imported Animals" which are available in the Library of the House. This information does not distinguish action taken in respect of animals intended for export.

Information on checks carried out by this Department on the welfare of animals for export is made available each month on the Defra website.

Radioactive Waste

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the installations within England and Wales where materials contaminated with radioactivity may be incinerated; and what quantities of (a) materials and (b) radioactivity are involved. [215187]


 
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Mr. Morley: The premises in England and Wales which are authorised under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 to dispose of radioactive wastes by incineration are listed. Each authorisation includes limits on the quantity of radioactivity that can be incinerated, as this determines the public radiological impact. Copies of the authorisations are placed on the Environment Agency's public registers and are sent to local authorities so that they may be made available for public access. The authorisations generally do not specify the associated quantities of material (in terms of the volume or weight of the waste), and records of those quantities are not collated centrally. Details of releases of radioactivity from authorised premises in England and Wales, including sites where radioactive waste may be incinerated, are published in the Pollution Inventory section of the Environment Agency's website, www.environment-agency.gov.uk.

List of premises in England and Wales which are authorised to incinerate radioactive wastes

Nuclear sites

Non-nuclear premises


 
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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the relationship between the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management and Nirex. [212136]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 31 January 2005]: The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM) is the independent advisory committee set up by UK Government and the devolved Administrations under the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely programme to provide recommendations on the best option, or combination of options, for the long-term management of the UK's higher activity radioactive waste. CoRWM has been asked to deliver its recommendations by July 2006.

Nirex is a company originally set up by the UK nuclear industry in 1982 to provide radioactive waste disposal services to the industry and others. Current work includes: scientific, engineering and social science research into options for dealing with radioactive waste in the long term; specifications and standards for the treatment and packaging of radioactive waste; and compiling the UK Radioactive Waste Inventory in conjunction with Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

CoRWM and Nirex are separate and distinct bodies. Nirex will contribute to the CoRWM review as part of its work. Nirex is to be made independent of the nuclear industry and under greater Government control, through a Defra/DTI holding company, from 1 April 2005 for the period of CoRWM's work, following which these arrangements will be reviewed and a decision made on the future.


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