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Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the local authorities that responded to the consultation on the London Sewer Rat Joint Working Protocol. 
Mr. Morley: The Local Government Association (LGA) and Water UK published a joint protocol in 1999 which set out arrangements for a closer working relationship between local authorities and water companies in England and Wales on the issue of rat infestation of sewers. Department records list that the following authorities responded to the survey on the effectiveness of the Protocol:
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to establish closer working relationships between London boroughs and water companies in relation to the London Sewer Rat Joint Working Protocol; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: The Department is awaiting publication of the rodent element of the English House Condition Survey (EHCS) before deciding what further action is appropriate. This document is due for publication this summer.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 22 June 2005, Official Report, column 1041W, whether (a) Barnet council, (b) Thames Water and (c) Three Valleys Water submitted responses to the consultation on the London Sewer Rat Joint Working Protocol. 
Mr. Morley: The Department has no record of Barnet council providing a response. Responses were not sought from water companies.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take further steps to encourage companies to reduce the amount of packaging goods are sold in. 
There are currently two sets of Regulations which cover packaging in the UK; both of which encourage producers to minimise packaging. The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (as amended) are intended to increase the recovery and recycling of packaging waste. The amount of packaging waste producers have to recover and recycle is determined, in part, by the amount of packaging they handle. Producers can therefore save money if they use less packaging. The Packaging
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(Essential Requirements) Regulations 2003 (as amended) place a number of requirements on all packaging placed on the market in the UK, including a requirement that packaging should be manufactured so that the packaging volume and weight are limited to the minimum adequate amount to maintain the necessary level of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the packed product and for the consumer.
Both regulations have led to decreases in the amount of packaging used around products. However, more still needs to be done to reduce the amount of packaging thatis produced in the first place. The Government's Advisory Committee on Packaging is working with industry to find ways of encouraging businesses to further reduce the amount of packaging they use.
Although legislation is one way of reducing packaging consumers also have a part to play. For example, if consumers made a point of choosing goods that are not heavily packaged, or bought 'loose food' rather than pre-packaged, or used their own shopping bags or boxes, manufacturers would be more inclined to reduce the quantity of packaging on their products.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to make companies responsible for recycling and disposing of packaging from the goods they sell. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The management of packaging waste is already addressed in the UK through the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (as amended). As an extension of the 'polluter pays principle', the Regulations oblige businesses in the packaging chain, which have an annual turnover of more than £2 million and which handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year, to recover and recycle a specified amount of packaging waste each year which is determined, in part, by the amount of packaging they handle. These Regulations are intended to drive minimisation of packaging and packaging waste, encourage reuse of packaging and increase the recovery and recycling of packaging waste. They have succeeded so far in raising the recycling rate for packaging waste from around 27 per cent. in 1997 to 49.5 per cent. in 2004.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration has been given to requiring manufacturers to display information on all product packaging relating to the environmental impact of the packaging used, with particular reference to non-recyclable material. 
Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 30 June 2005]: Most, if not all packaging is recyclable. Commission Decision 97/129/EC provides for numbering and abbreviations to identify packaging materials. While the marking system is voluntary, we would encourage manufacturers to use the markings wherever possible to aid the process of sorting and recycling of packaging waste.
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