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Flower Imports

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what was the total (a) volume and (b) value of flowers imported into the UK from Kenya for each year since 2001; what discussions her Department has had relating to the involvement of UK companies in the import or production of flowers produced overseas using chemicals banned in the EU; and if she will make a statement. [27831]

Mr. Morley: The total volume and value of imports of fresh cut flowers into the UK from Kenya since 2001 is set out in the given table.

The Department has had no discussions on the use of chemicals in the production of flowers overseas. However, my noble Friend, the Lord Bach, met with a major importer of cut flowers from Kenya on 13 July this year to discuss the impact of changes to plant health import regulations, the resulting increase in inspections of cut flowers to check for the presence of quarantine plant pests, and the charges which have been introduced to cover the cost of those inspections.
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0511k009: UK imports of cut flowers from Kenya 2001 to August 2005

January-August 2005
Fresh cut flowers: other2,3006,9463,93412,0125,54915,70510,30428,4166,35617,794
Fresh cut flowers: roses4,27314,3884,74616,0545,06816,2644,85514,0774,33311,535
Fresh cut flowers: carnations2,4706,6731,8314,8739612,2711,5812,8101,7514,911
Cut flowers: prepared1,0953,7865721,99845171831837
Fresh cut flowers: gladioli7121201561434852206462261
Fresh cut flowers: chrysanthemums31810662516621133318
Fresh cut flowers: orchids3735810017
Grand total10,18331,85911,22135,17111,79235,07816,98946,11212,47334,357

HM Revenue and Customs
Data prepared by Trade statistics, Food Chain Analysis 3, Defra
2005 data are subject to amendments.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what controls are placed on the import of flowers into the UK in relation to the use of (a) pesticides and (b) environmentally unsustainable practices; and if she will make a statement. [27832]

Mr. Morley: We do not monitor imported flowers for pesticides residues nor do we have any power to insist that the material is produced in an environmentally sustainable way. However, EU common quality standards require that marketed cut flowers must be free of pesticide residues that affect the visual quality of the product and the Plant Health Order requires that they must also be free from certain plant pests, which do not normally occur in the UK.

The Pesticides Safety Directorate is providing technical assistance to Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Uganda as part of the EC-funded Pesticides Initiative Programme, which covers the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of states. Activities include visits to assist the regulatory authorities with capacity building of their structures and processes, and delivering training programmes covering the technical, policy and procedural requirements of pesticides regulation.

Food Security

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her Department's policy is towards food security; what recent discussions she has had with the EU on food security; and if she will make a statement. [28030]

Jim Knight: Our food security policy ensures consumers have access to a stable and adequate supply of food. Our domestic agriculture industry has an important contribution to make to the continuity of food supply by improving its ability to produce what the market requires. The reformed CAP, in breaking the link between subsidy and production, is encouraging farmers to produce what the market requires, rather than what subsidies dictate. Our farmers are well placed to produce foodstuffs that Europe's climate is suited to, but we cannot grow all the agricultural products our consumers might want to buy.

However, the UK has long been a net importer of food and national and international food security is best facilitated through improved trading relationships based on more open international markets and reductions in trade distorting subsidies.
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The Secretary of State has had no recent discussions with the EU on the subject of food security.


Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to encourage more private sector ownership of forests by extending tax concessions to those purchasing forest land. [30992]

Jim Knight: I do not plan to make representations to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on tax concessions for private land purchases. The sector benefits from all income and profits from timber sales being free from corporation tax and income tax. Commercial woodlands continue to be able to attract relief on inheritance tax and there is no capital gains tax on the increase in value of standing timber. In addition, government continues to support sustainable forest management for the provision of public benefits through direct grants from the England woodland grant scheme.

Freedom of Information

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to her Department which have been passed to the FOI clearing house for evaluation, broken down by (a) subject and (b) date of request. [28943]

Jim Knight: Information about the handling of Freedom of Information requests is published in Freedom of Information Statistics on Implementation in Central Government". The most recently published report was 30 September 2005 and copies were placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Additional information about the role of the Clearing House can be found on the DCA website at Departments do not release information about the internal handling of requests, such as details of which requests were referred to the Clearing House for guidance.

Fuel Poverty

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to identify older people in fuel poverty who are not in receipt of benefits. [29015]

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Mr. Morley: The Warm Front Scheme is the Government's main tool for tackling fuel poverty in the private sector. Eligibility for the scheme is via the receipt of one of a number of qualifying benefits.

Those not in receipt of a qualifying benefit at the time of application are offered a benefit entitlement check, which is designed to provide both the potential of increasing household income and to establish eligibility of households to benefit from measures under Warm Front.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether hunts which purchase birds of prey are obliged to register the (a) purchase, (b) sale, (c) death and (d) loss of such birds; and if she will make a statement. [29841]

Jim Knight: The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 makes it a requirement that any bird listed on a Schedule to the Act that is kept in captivity must be ringed and registered with Defra. The list includes some, but not all, species of bird of prey that are likely to be used for hunting. The Act is a possession control, and does not regulate the purchase or sale of specimens. We request that registered keepers of birds notify the Department of the death or loss of a registered bird, but this is not a legal requirement.

The sale (or commercial use) of certain species of birds of prey is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), applied by EC Regulations, which requires the use of a certificate issued under Article 10 of Council Regulation. An individual or organisation which purchased or sold listed birds of prey without complying with the regulations would be committing an offence. However, the possession of such a certificate is sufficient. There is no requirement to register individual sales under that certificate with my Department.

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