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Marine Pollution (Sewerby)

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action (a) has been taken in the past two years and (b) is being taken to prevent bacterial discharge into the sea at Sewerby near Bridlington; and if she will make a statement. [224115]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 4 April 2005]: Since 2003 investigations have been under way into the impact of the discharge made by Munton's plc into the short sea outfall pipe at Sewerby. These have shown that there are no discharges of human sewage into the outfall, which is owned by the East Riding of Yorkshire council. The indicator organisms found in the discharge are present in the raw materials (grain) brought to the site and the malting process carried out there provides the humid, dark conditions which encourage multiplication.

Following discussions between the company, the Environment Agency and the council, it has been agreed that additional treatment, by way of a reed bed system, should be provided to reduce bacterial concentrations and provide storage to balance flows. Discharge of effluent would also be limited to when there is sufficient dilution at the outlet to prevent visual nuisance.

Meat and Dairy Imports

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which countries are refusing to allow British beef to be imported; and for what reasons. [216567]


 
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Mr. Bradshaw: Following is a list of 84 countries which we understand still impose a ban on the import of British beef. The situation in a further 27 countries has still to be confirmed. In addition there is continuing dialogue between the EU and Egypt on recently revised Egyptian import conditions. The reasons cited for the bans are animal and public health related.

However, we consider that these bans are not justified in the light of science and the BSE controls applied in the UK. Currently, beef exports can only take place under the stringent conditions of the Date-based Export Scheme, which complies fully with EU and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) rules and guidance.

We are currently working with the European Commission for recognition that, like most other EU member states, the UK is now a moderate (rather than high) risk country according to current OIE rules. We are also working with the Commission with a view to lifting the ban on the export of beef from UK cattle born after July 1996 as soon as possible after the over-30-month rule is replaced by testing and these cattle can be sold for human consumption in the UK.

Bans:


 
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To be confirmed:

Dr. Strang: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's policy is on the European Commission's proposal to increase to 275,000 tonnes the import into the EU of boneless poultry meat from non-EU countries. [220992]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 10 March 2005]: There are no restrictions on the quantity of imports into the European Union of poultry meat.

We are aware that the EU Commission has considered the possibility of a reduced rate import tariff quota for 275,000 tonnes of poultry meat as part of the proposed free trade agreement with the Mercosur countries of South America (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) but no such offer has yet been formally made.

The Government have raised with the Commission the points that have been made by the poultry industry, including the point that, as a result of higher EU welfare standards, it is not competing on a level playing-field with countries such as Brazil. We continue to press for recognition of increased animal welfare costs as a
 
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legitimate issue in the context of the World Trade Organisation's current round of trade liberalisation negotiations (the Doha Development Agenda).

Multiple Retailers

Mr. Bacon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions her Department has had with the Office of Fair Trading regarding the code of conduct for multiple retailers on the treatment of primary producers; and if she will make a statement. [223234]

Alun Michael: Responsibility for the Supermarkets' code of practice rests with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). However, as Defra is sponsor Department for the farming and food industries we have discussed the subject of the code with the OFT as and when the need has arisen.

The OFT has recently published the findings of an audit of the code, together with a paper that considers the implications of those findings and invites comments and evidence on a number of issues arising from them. These documents can be found on the OFT's website at http://www.oft.gov.uk/News/Press+releases/2005/52– 05.htm. We encourage all those who have views on the issues in question to respond to the OFT's invitation to comment.

The OFT's paper also makes reference to a proposal for a new voluntary code, known as the Buyers Charter, that is being developed by the National Farmers Union (NFU) in consultation with other industry bodies. We welcome this initiative and have encouraged all sections of the food chain, whether they be retailers, processors or manufacturers, to work positively with the NFU to develop the proposal.


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