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Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the 10 largest amounts of damages paid out by her Department in the last year for which figures are available, indicating in each case the nature of the claim. 
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions her Department has had with the European Commission regarding the lifting of the date-based export scheme; and when the scheme will be lifted. 
[holding answer 22 November 2005]: Defra officials and Ministers have maintained regular contacts with the European Commission to seek the end of the beef .export ban at the earliest possible time.
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EU Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) inspectors visited the UK in June 2005 to assess the state of our BSE controls. Their report was published on 28 September 2005 and was discussed at a meeting of the Commission's TSE Working Group on the same day. The Commission issued a press release stating that the pre-conditions for discussions to begin with member states on lifting the embargo have been met.
The next step is for the Commission to submit to member states a proposal to lift the ban on the export from the UK of cattle, beef and other bovine products and we expect discussions with member states to commence this month. Due to the need to observe EU legal procedures and to gain member states' agreement, it is unlikely that legislation to lift the ban will come into force until early 2006. The Government are continuing to work in Brussels to ensure that the export ban is lifted as soon as possible.
If EU legislation to lift the export ban is adopted, we will need to amend our existing domestic legislation, the Bovines and Bovine Products (Trade) Regulations 1999, to bring UK law into line with EU law. We have already launched a public consultation on the lifting of the ban and related issues, with the aim of ensuring that changes to EU and UK law can, as far as possible, enter into force at the same time so as to enable exports to resume at the earliest possible opportunity.
Jim Knight: The 10 most valuable moveable and immovable assets owned by the Department, including its sponsored bodies, are shown in the tables. In the main, the monetary values reflect the value of the assets as at the end of the 2004/05 financial year. The lists do not include IT systems still in the process of development.
The Forestry Commission and British Waterways are both part of the Defra group, and each has considerable property holdings. For clarity, and to avoid these property holdings masking other major assets held by the rest of the Department, the 10 most valuable immoveable assets for the Forestry Commission and British Waterways are shown separately.
|Research vessel (Endeavour)||Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)||25,963,000|
|IT SoftwareRPA Change Programme||Rural Payments Agency||10,093,135|
|RIMNET IT software||Core Defra||7,733,333|
|Animal Movement Licensing Scheme (AMLS) Database IT software||Core Defra||5,179,815|
|AATSR Environmental Satellite||Core Defra||5,143,399|
|National Scrapie Plan IT software||Core Defra||5,132,416|
|Emissions Trading Register IT software||Core Defra||2,243,856|
|CTS Platform IT software||Core Defra||1,770,128|
|LVI E-Business IT software||Core Defra||1,704,565|
|Plant and Equipment (Pumps etc)SCADA Phase 3||British Waterways||1,482,966|
|Thames Barrier||Environment Agency||1,120,905,685|
|Land, buildings and laboratories at Woodham lane, Weybridge||Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA)||157,900,000|
|Land, buildings and laboratories at Sand Mutton, York||Central Science Laboratory (CSL)||134,721,000|
|Land and buildings at Kew(31)||Royal Botanic Gardens||54,000,000|
|Land and buildings at Wakehurst(31)||Royal Botanic Gardens||27,000,000|
|Drayton Experimental Husbandry Farm, Stratford||Core Defra||24,945,000|
|Barking Barrier||Environment Agency||16,625,154|
|Land and buildings at Epsom Road, Guildford||Core Defra||15,000,000|
|Holehaven Barrier and Plant||Environment Agency||14,417,169|
|New Forest East||13,469,775|
|Forest of Dean||13,027,350|
|New Forest North||12,030,747|
|New Forest West||10,389,039|
|New Forest South||7,075,221|
|North Wharf Road, Paddington Basin, London [offices, residential]||40,700,000|
|Wood Wharf Business Park, London Docklands||38,200,000|
|The Interchange, Camden Town, London [warehouse]||21,500,000|
|Commerce Road, Brentford [warehouses and offices]||12,000,000|
|Cavendish House, Stockton-on-Tees||10,900,000|
|West Ferry Printers Site, London Docklands||9,900,000|
|Industrial premises at Rotton Park Street, Birmingham||9,500,000|
|Willow Grange, Watford [office building]||8,200,000|
|Gloucester Quays Re-Development site, Gloucester||7,200,000|
|Castle Wharf, Nottingham [city centre waterside property]||7,000,000|
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will discuss with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry referring the difference between the retail and farm-gate price of milk to the Office of Fair Trading; and if she will make a statement. 
As I noted in my oral answer to the hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr. Cox) on 20 October 2005, Official Report, column 977, I have
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been discussing issues relating to competition in the dairy sector and the concerns of dairy farmers with the Department of Trade and Industry. My noble Friend Lord Bach, the Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food, and I will be continuing those discussions when we meet with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs later in the year. However, except in limited exceptional circumstances, responsibility for deciding whether to carry out market studies or investigations, or to investigate alleged breaches of competition law, rests with the Office of Fair Trading, which is an independent statutory body.
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