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9 Feb 2006 : Column 1361W—continued

Severn Trent Water

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to ensure a good service for customers of Severn Trent Water. [49036]

Mr. Morley: Customers of water and sewerage companies are entitled to guaranteed standards of service, as laid down in the Water Supply and Sewerage Services (Customer Service Standards) Regulations. These regulations, known as the guaranteed standards scheme, set minimum standards of services to be met for all customers and prescribe minimum payments where service is below these standards.

The economic regulator Ofwat monitors the level of service provided to customers by water companies. Each company's performance against a number of measures is included in Levels of service for the water industry in England and Wales report 2004–05". Performance is measured against a number of indicators. Severn Trent's performance is acceptable or better for each of these measures. At reviews of price limits companies are rewarded for good performance and penalised for poor performance in delivering services to customers.

Fair comparisons between companies depend on Ofwat receiving accurate information of a comparable nature from the companies. Following allegations by a member of Severn Trent's staff Ofwat is undertaking an investigation into the accuracy of information submitted by Severn Trent. The Serious Fraud Office is also investigating matters referred to it by Ofwat. Ofwat will shortly be publishing a report on its findings. The company has agreed that if it were found that customers had been overcharged any necessary corrections would be effected in a prompt manner to be agreed with Ofwat.
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Social Exclusion

Mr. Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Government have to provide core funding for (a) wheels to work and (b) wheels to learning schemes in rural areas. [50069]

Jim Knight: Across England there are 69 'wheels to work' and 'wheels to learning' schemes, providing short term transport solutions for young people who have difficulties accessing training, employment and educational opportunities. Many of the schemes have operated successfully for a number of years, supported by funding from a range of different sources.

It is up to each RDA to determine the priorities for its region and, through its corporate plan, how they will achieve their agreed outcomes. A number of RDAs are planning ongoing support for 'wheels to work' schemes in their regions. For example, following a successful evaluation of the region's wheels to work schemes, Advantage West Midlands have determined to ensure a consistent region wide service is in place from the beginning of the 2006–07 financial year. The Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) has commissioned a region-wide proposal to deliver a 'wheels to work' scheme across rural areas. This will draw on good practice from the ex-Countryside Agency schemes, which will come to an end on 31 March.

Local authorities continue to be the main funders of transport in rural areas. And guidance for those who are seeking funding is available in the Countryside Agency's publication A guide to finding funding for Rural Transport Partnership projects", which is available at:–20283.asp?bMultiplePDFs=true
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Spent Nuclear Fuel

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much spent nuclear fuel has been stored in Wales in each year since 1997, (a) in total and (b) broken down by (i) low level waste, (ii) intermediate level waste and (iii) high level waste; and if she will make a statement. [43330]

Mr. Morley: Currently around 400 tonnes of spent fuel is stored in Wales. Spent fuel from Welsh reactors is of the Magnox type and is not regarded as waste and is routinely reprocessed at Sellafield. Reprocessing spent fuel there does create high level waste but there is no high level waste in Wales. More detailed information on the location of spent fuel at specific locations at specific times is not normally made public for security reasons.

Data are not separately recorded for the wastes produced at Sellafield as a result of reprocessing spent fuel from Welsh reactors. However, there has been and still is intermediate and low level waste in Wales which arises from both reactor operations and radio-pharmaceutical production. Data from the 1998, 2001 and 2004 UK radioactive waste inventories have been used to generate the following table of wastes in Wales. The cost of obtaining annual figures exceeds the normal threshold.
Waste type199820012004

1. Units: cubic meters of waste in stock.
2. Aggregated conditioned and not-yet conditioned volume fractions.


Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the occasions on which she met representatives of Syngenta during (a) 2004 and (b) 2005. [50176]

Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, did not meet with representatives of Syngenta during 2004 and 2005.

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when (a) she and (b) her officials last met representatives of Syngenta. [50177]

Mr. Morley: According to records dating back to 2002, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, has not met with representatives of Syngenta during this time.

Officials in the Department dealing with GM policy have met with representatives of Syngenta as part of their regular engagement with industry and other key stakeholders. The last such meeting involving Syngenta was on 26 August 2005.


Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment the Government have made of the compatibility of
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further legislative options for prohibiting the import of illegal timber into the EU with World Trade Organisation rules; and when she expects to make a decision on the compatibility of such options. [49632]

Mr. Morley: The European Commission's proposal to tackle illegal logging, the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan, was adopted by Council Conclusions in October 2003. This included proposals for bilateral agreements with timber producing countries and a commitment that the Commission would investigate 'additional options' to tackle illegal logging. Government is frustrated at the time it has taken the European Commission to produce this additional options report.

One of these 'additional options' could be measures to prohibit the import of all illegal timber into the EU. This option was raised at a European stakeholder consultation meeting held by the European Commission and the UK's Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs) in Brussels on 31 January 2006. Some support for the proposal was voiced as well as concern that the effective enforcement of such a ban would demand additional evidence on all imports of timber to the EU. As such demands would be unlikely to be required of domestic producers, this could raise the likelihood of a challenge in the World Trade Organisation.

The European Commission will consider all the options and issues raised at the stakeholder consultation meeting and produce the delayed report on addition options by early summer 2006.

Once the Report is published, Government will review the applicability of the options presented, including compatibility with the World Trade Organisation, before deciding what, if any, additional measures the UK Government will pursue at a national or EU level.


Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects a reply to be sent to the letters of 12 July 2005 and 20 November 2005 to the Fisheries Minister on behalf of Mr Tom Purborough. [50280]

Mr. Bradshaw: My reply to the hon. Member's letter of 12 July 2005 was sent on 17 October 2005. I will arrange for a further copy to be sent.

We have no record of having received the hon. Member's letter of 20 November 2005.

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