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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the environmental record of the Australian Forest Standard; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 19 December 2005, Official Report, column 2394W, about the remit of the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) and the Australian Forest Standard.
CPET checked the PEFC scheme in February 2006 to see how the endorsed national schemes were implementing the new requirements introduced by the PEFC Council in 2004 and 2005. CPET examined 14 national schemes, one of which was the Australian Forest Certification Scheme.
CPET did not assess the performance outcomes of the Australian Forest Standard. Instead the focus was on whether the PEFC system had been adopted at the national scheme level. The Government have decided to give further consideration to the PEFC scheme as part of a wider review of all the forest certification schemes assessed by CPET in 2004. This was announced in Defra News release 144/06 on 30 March 2006, see: http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2006/060330g.htm
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Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in what circumstances the Central Point of Expertise on Timber would remove the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification scheme from its approved list of certifiers of sustainable timber. 
Mr. Morley: The Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) may assess a forest certification scheme as no longer meeting the Government's criteria for robust assurance of sustainable timber sources but it would be for the Government to decide what advice CPET should give to central departments as a result.
The circumstances under which a forest certification scheme would fail the test for credible assurance are explained in the CPET document"Criteria for Evaluating Certification Schemes"see CPET website at http://www.proforest.net/cpet. In essence, if a scheme were assessed as scoring zero on any one of the relevant assessment criteria or scoring less than 75 per cent. of the total possible score on the relevant criteria then it would fail the test. Any such failure would cause the Government to consider changing the status of that scheme in respect of the level of assurance it would accept.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures the Government are taking to ensure that the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification scheme includes mandatory and enforceable minimum standards for all its national members. 
Mr. Morley: The Government currently accept certificates from the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) scheme as assurance of legal and sustainable timber sources. This acceptance is subject to the UK Government being satisfied that national forest certification schemes endorsed by PEFC are all applying the PEFC standard consistently in their own countries. A sample check has been undertaken to establish to position. The initial findings led the Government to conclude that further examination and consultation should be undertaken before reaching a decision and that the forthcoming review of PEFC and the other schemes assessed by the Central Point of Expertise on Timber would provide an appropriate opportunity to do that.
The Government cannot ensure that PEFC includes mandatory and enforceable minimum standards for all its national members. PEFC is an independent private sector organisation that sets its own standard and system requirements for implementation. However, the UK Government could choose not to accept PEFC certificates as assurance of responsible timber sources and that is why we are undertaking the assessments and reviews already mentioned.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what dates discussions have been held between representatives of the British and Australian governments regarding the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification scheme; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: Representatives of the UK and Australian Governments, including officials as well as Ministers of State, met with each other on the following dates to discuss the UK Government's timber procurement policy and within those discussions talked about the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes:
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the 'outstanding issues' were which were found by the review of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification scheme which caused the probation period to be extended. 
Mr. Morley: The outstanding issues relate to the decision making process for forest management standard setting as adopted by the national schemes that have been endorsed by the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). The PEFC Council's new requirement for standard setting is that
An initial examination of some of the national schemes showed that the various national decision making processes were not identical. Subsequent information supplied by the schemes indicated that the processes adopted may nevertheless result in compliance with the PEFC Council requirements but the situation was not at all clear-cut and called for more examination.
Another factor considered was the impending review of all the forest certification schemes assessed by CPET in 2004. The Government has decided that this review will, in addition to examining published scheme requirements, consider evidence of failure to adopt scheme system requirements. A decision now on PEFC's probationary status may be overturned following the review. That would create significant confusion in the market place and loss of credibility for the CPET assessment process.
The UK Government was mindful of the implications any ill judged decision would have on all the stakeholders involved and was anxious to be as objective and fair as possible. Consequently, the decision was to postpone making a decision on PEFC's probationary status until after the review of schemes scheduled for late spring 2006.
Jim Knight: The Civil Service Management Code sets out the requirements for Departments to have procedures in place to deal with grievances. The Defra Grievance Procedures are laid down on the Departmental intranet.
The central guidance lays down that where there have been less than five grievances raised in any one year that the information is suppressed on the grounds of confidentiality.
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Jim Knight: 75 of the 80 equine data supplier organisations are already providing the compulsory passport data and some voluntary data. It is in the voluntary data that the value of National Equine Database (NED), and its use to the public, liesto enable the combination of pedigree and performance data to inform the breeding and buying public so that they can purchase horses and make breeding decisions with a greater degree of confidence.
NED already holds over 673,000 records, however we do need more pedigree data in NED if the on-line services are to be launched on schedule later this year. The Industry/Government partnership delivering NED is in direct contact with the few breed societies yet to supply pedigree data, with a view to helping them come to a decision to provide this information this summer. Personal presentations on the benefit of NED to the industry and NED Newsletters have proved an excellent tool to promote NEDsee www.ned.uk.com for information.
We are planning an extensive marketing campaign to inform the equestrian public of the value of NED and its relevance to their particular interests. This will begin in August, leading to the launch of www.nedonline.co.uk, which is scheduled for end October.
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