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World Trade

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to ensure that the December World Trade Organisation talks will produce an outcome which is beneficial to (a) the development of less developed countries, (b) poverty eradication in those countries and (c) capacity to meet the millennium development goals. [27664]

Mr. Thomas: Working with the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI) and other Government Departments, and in line with the aims and objectives set out in the 2004 Trade and Investment White Paper,
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DFID is actively pursuing an outcome to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks which delivers real development gains for developing countries.

DFID works with the poorest group of developing countries, the G90, to ensure their views are represented in the WTO through technical assistance where we provide considerable support to help developing countries participate in the negotiations, through policy research on issues of key concern for developing countries such as special products and through direct engagement with key WTO members such as the least developed country (LDC) chair. We try to ensure that developing country views are heard loud and clear, and that policy proposals in Geneva and elsewhere are based on sound evidence and with development at their core.

Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the Government's policy is on encouraging countries to privatise public services in return for other changes to world trade rules which would benefit the countries concerned. [27668]

Mr. Thomas: Increasing the access, coverage and quality of water, education and health services is vital if countries are to reach the Millennium Development Goals. In March 2005, DFID published a policy paper entitled Partnerships for Poverty Reduction: changing aid 'conditionally'". The policy commits us to only using conditionality to ensure that aid is used effectively for the purposes intended and can be accounted for to the UK Parliament.

We are committed to supporting governments in developing countries to make their own decisions about how to develop their economies and provide services to their people, based on evidence of what works best to reduce poverty. DFID will not make aid conditional on specific policy decisions by partner governments or attempt to impose policy choices on them, including in sensitive economic areas such as privatisation or trade liberalisation.

DFID also encourages developing countries to make their own decisions about service delivery, including whether or not to open their service sectors to foreign providers. However, developing countries are not obliged to accept any request or to open up their services sectors. It all comes down to which option is the most effective in reducing poverty, a decision for governments of developing countries to make through their own political process. Nothing in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) forces them to privatise or prevents them from establishing appropriate regulation.

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will assess the impact on poor countries were they to be enabled to provide 1 per cent. of world trade by value. [26985]

Mr. Thomas: Based on data from the World Trade Organisation for 2004, the value of total world trade in both goods and services was $11 trillion. Therefore any group of countries, whether they are the least developed countries or the wider group of developing countries, would capture an extra $110 billion of exports by value if they increased their share of world trade by 1 per cent.
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Avian Influenza

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether a flock will be slaughtered if it is (a) found to be positive to avian influenza (i) High Path and (ii) Low Path and (b) not positive but in (A) a slaughter zone and (B) a movement restriction zone. [26889]

Mr. Bradshaw: Powers to slaughter in the event of an outbreak of avian influenza are contained in Section 16A and Schedule 3 of the Animal Health Act 1981 (as amended).

This allows the slaughter of:

These powers apply to both poultry with HPAI and LPAI.

Any action taken to control avian influenza would be proportionate and decided upon in the light of an overall assessment of the risks, costs and benefits in a particular situation. However, it is a requirement under EU obligations that poultry on an infected premises must be slaughtered.

Biomass Industry

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations the Government have received on possible regulatory barriers to the development of the biomass industry; and if she will make a statement. [22079]

Margaret Beckett: The Department has received a number of representations on possible regulatory barriers. The Biomass Task Force, led by Sir Ben Gill, was set up a year ago to identify the barriers to developing biomass energy and to recommend ways to overcome the problems. Their report was published on 25 October and copies have been placed in the House Library. The Government have committed themselves to publishing a full response to the report within the next six months.

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which biomass (a) products and (b) by-products have been reclassified as waste since 1997. [22080]

Margaret Beckett: No biomass products or biomass by-products have been reclassified as waste since 1997.

The definition of waste" in force in Great Britain since May 1994 is the definition in Article 1(a) of the Waste Framework Directive (as amended) which provides that waste is

Whether or not a substance is discarded as waste is a matter which must be determined on the facts of the case and the interpretation of the law is a matter for the
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courts. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has issued several judgments on the interpretation of the definition of waste and the meaning of discard". ECJ judgments are binding on member states and their competent authorities".

It rests in the first place with the producer or holder of a substance to decide whether it is being discarded as waste. However, the Environment Agency is designated as a competent authority for the purposes of implementing the directive in England and Wales. It is the agency's view that residues from the incineration or co-incineration of biomass (e.g. poultry litter) disposed of as waste in compliance with the EU Animal By-products Regulation are waste within the meaning of the directive.

The classification of a substance as waste does not preclude its use. For example, waste ash from the incineration or co-incineration of biomass may be used as a fertiliser and spread to land for benefit to agriculture. The Government continue to encourage the recovery of waste by means of recycling, re-use and reclamation. This encouragement includes the use of the Government's discretion under Article 11 of the waste framework directive to provide exemptions from waste management licensing. Licensing exemptions for the recovery of certain kinds of waste ash are provided in paragraphs 9A, 13 and 19A of Schedule 3 to the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 (as amended).

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which Government body is the main source of advice for the biomass industry. [22081]

Margaret Beckett: In common with other policies and issues which are wide-ranging in their impact on the UK, there are a number of Government bodies which offer advice to the biomass industry. Defra and the Department of Trade and Industry advise on Government policy and the grants available to farmers and biomass developers. Defra also issues best practice guidance on growing energy crops and the Forestry Commission provides advice on woodfuel production and management. The Environment Agency advises on pollution control. Advice on developing local biomass projects is available from the Regional Development Agencies. Advice is also available from private bodies which received Government funding, such as the Community Renewables Initiative local support teams, which help to promote local biomass projects, and the Carbon Trust, which advises on the development of low carbon technologies and businesses.

The Biomass Task Force report, published on 25 October, recommends that the Carbon Trust should be the national focus of knowledge and analysis on biomass energy, with dissemination by the Regional Development Agencies. The report also recommends that technical, economic and best practice information is brought together and made available to stakeholders. The Government have committed themselves to publishing a full response to the report within the next six months.

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what was the average size of grants made for biomass energy projects in each year since 1997. [22208]

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Margaret Beckett: The average size of grants for Defra and Forestry Commission biomass energy grant schemes are as follows:
Grant scheme

Energy crops scheme
Establishment grantsProducer groupsWoodland grant schemeCommunity energy programme

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much government funding was allocated to biomass crop breeding programmes in 2004–05; and how much has been allocated for 2005–06. [22336]

Margaret Beckett: Defra allocated £841,000 in 2004–05 and £732,000 in 2005–06 to R and D in support of the genetic improvement of dedicated bio-energy crops.

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