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6 Jul 2005 : Column 425W—continued

Fruit Growing

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) value and (b) weight of fruit grown in the UK was in the last year for which figures are available, broken down by type of fruit. [9599]

Jim Knight: Information on the value and weight of fruit grown in the UK for the calendar year 2004 is presented in the following table.
Value and weight of UK produced fruit for 2004

2004Output (000 tonnes)Value (£ million)
Dessert apples96.336.7
Culinary apples108.340.9
Other soft fruit (14)5.119.9

(14)includes gooseberries, red and blackcurrants, loganberries and blackberries

Gangmasters (Licensing) Act

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment has been made of the extent of (a) exploitation and (b) criminal activity by labour providers operating in second stage processing. [9571]

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Jim Knight: As indicated in the Consultation Document on the draft Gangmasters (Exclusions) Regulations 2005 published on 28 February 2005, Defra has commissioned research to assess the extent of worker exploitation or illegal activity involving labour providers who supply workers to undertake second stage processing. A draft report has been received and we intend to publish this once it has been finalised.

Jim Sheridan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what financial resources her Department plans to invest in enforcing the criminal offences of the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 (a) in the present financial year and (b) in the next three financial years; how many officers in her Department will have responsibilities for enforcing the criminal offences of the Act; how many of these enforcement officers will be existing staff; how many will be additional recruits; and what proportion of their time she estimates will be spent on enforcing the Act. [9572]

Jim Knight: The Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004 makes the Secretary of State responsible for appointing officers to enforce the criminal offences that the Act establishes. It is currently our intention to appoint officers of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to undertake enforcement activities on behalf of Defra. The Regulatory Impact assessment that accompanied the Act indicated that the cost of enforcing the new legislation would be £2 million in a full year. This would enable the creation of an enforcement team of some 20staff plus associated legal support. It is envisaged that the enforcement team will be additional to existingGovernment funded enforcement resources.
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Gangmaster Licensing Authority staff involved in enforcement work may have other duties. However in aggregate the resource available to undertake enforcement work should equate to some 20 full-time equivalents in a full year.

It is anticipated that the offences of operating as a gangmaster without a licence and using an unlicensed gangmaster will be triggered in summer 2006. Enforcement capabilities will be built up gradually over the intervening period with the intention that the enforcement team will be at full strength when the offences come into effect. A programme for recruiting and training enforcement officers is being developed and funding will be made available in the current and next financial year to support this programme. We anticipate that the enforcement team's first full year of operation will be 2007–08 and that from that year onwards, expenditure on enforcement activities will be some £2 million per annum. It is not intended to seek to recover the cost of enforcement activities through licence fee income.

GM Crops

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what position the Government took on each of the votes at the recent meeting of EU environment ministers on Commission proposals to require countries to lift national bans on specified GM crops. [8735]

Mr. Morley: The UK voted to support the Commission decisions calling for the member states to withdraw their safeguard actions invoked under Article 23 of Directive 2001/18 because the scientific evidence provided does not justify taking such action. While the UK is very willing to consider any evidence that restrictions on specified GM crops could be justified, no new evidence was submitted to back such a case.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how each EU country voted at the Environment Council in respect of the Commission proposal to rescind national bans on GM crops; and for what reasons the UK voted as it did. [9477]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 4 July 2005]: The majority of member states either voted against the Commission proposals to rescind national bans on certain specified GM crops, or abstained. The formal record of the Council meeting has not yet been published, so I cannot yet confirm how each member state voted . However once this information is available, I shall place a copy in the Library.

While the UK is always ready to consider new information relating to the risk assessment of approved GMOs, the UK voted to support the Commission decisions because in our view the actions taken by the member states to invoke safeguard actions are not justified by the scientific evidence and are not in compliance with the terms of Directive 2001/18. Under the terms of the Deliberate Release Directive safeguard action may only be taken if adequate scientific evidence is provided to justify the claim. In these cases the UK Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment
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agree with the European Food Safety Authority that no new evidence has been brought forward for consideration.

Household Water

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average amount spent by each household in England on water supplies was in the last period for which figures are available. [8996]

Mr. Morley: Average household bills are only available for England and Wales combined as the boundaries of water and sewerage companies do not follow national boundaries. In 2005–06 households will spend on average £134 on water supplies and the average amount households will spend on sewerage is £144. The total average household bill for water and sewerage in England and Wales is £278.

Nuclear Waste (Portsmouth)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead of 21 June 2005, Official Report, column 887W, on nuclear waste, what the location is of the radioactive waste in Portsmouth; how much material is stored; how long it has been stored in this location; from where the material originated; who is responsible for the security of the site; and if she will make a statement. [8630]

Mr. Morley: Information about the amount of intermediate (ILW) and low level (LLW) radioactive waste held in the UK, including that held at HM Naval Base Portsmouth, is regularly published in the UK Kingdom Radioactive Waste Inventory which provides periodic snapshots of waste stocks. The latest edition for 2001 was published in 2002. However, MOD has provided additional information to answer some of the hon. Member's questions.

At HM Naval Base Portsmouth solid LLW, very low-level (VLLW) and small quantities of ILW, are securely stored in a radioactive storehouse facility under the radiological control of the MOD Naval Base Radiation Safety Officer. The Inventory indicates that 3 cubic meters of LLW and less than 0.1 cubic meters of ILW are stored. ILW and LLW is stored for a maximum of three years before it is removal from the site, while VLLW is either disposed of immediately or stored for a period not exceeding 14 days.

The wastes primarily consists of naval equipment, such as dials, gauges, compasses and gaseous tritium light sources, which have been removed from naval vessels that have left service and are in the process of disposal. In addition, small quantities of LLW are also stored at the Naval Base on behalf of the Institute of Naval Medicine.

Security of the stored radioactive waste is maintained through the Captain of the Base.

Primates as Pets

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the timetable is for the consultation on primates as pets. [10601]

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Jim Knight: The question of keeping primates as pets will be considered as part of a wider consultation on the proposed use of the Government's powers under Article 8.2 of Council Regulation 338/97, which is planned for the end of July.

Under this power EU member states may take measures to prohibit the keeping of endangered species, including primates, although such action must be broadly consistent with the conservation objectives of the Regulation as a whole.

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