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Ammonium Nitrate Fertiliser

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what records are held by the Government on the commercial sale of ammonium nitrate fertiliser. [65279]

Mr. Morley: The Government do not hold records on the commercial sale of ammonium nitrate fertiliser. I understand that records of commercial sales are kept by Industry (the Agricultural Industries Confederation).

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the Government plans to introduce restrictions on (a) the commercial sale of and (b) the levels of nitrate in ammonium nitrate fertiliser. [65280]

Mr. Morley: The Government have no immediate plans to restrict either the commercial sale of, nor the levels of nitrate in, ammonium nitrate (AN) fertiliser.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend, the then Minister for Rural Affairs of 25 May 2004, Official Report, column 1493W, which outlined the measures taken at the time to control the supply of AN fertilisers. Subsequent to that response, the Government invited the Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) to develop a voluntary fertiliser assurance scheme, to ensure robust safety, security and traceability of all inorganic agricultural and horticultural fertilisers throughout the supply chain up to the farm gate. The resulting Fertiliser Industry Assurance Scheme, (FIAS), was launched on 9 January 2006. Details of the Scheme can be found on the AIC website at www.agindustries.org.uk.
 
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The voluntary and statutory measures governing the manufacture and supply of AN fertilisers are kept under continuous review and further measures will be taken if necessary.

Beef Exports

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what Government support has been given to the farming industry to assist the resumption of beef exports. [65059]

Jim Knight: Ministers and officials are working closely with industry representatives to ensure that the appropriate mechanisms are in place to ensure that beef exports can resume as soon as possible.

On 3 May, my noble Friend Lord Bach, the Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food, is hosting a further high level meeting with the those involved in the beef supply chain to consider the issues of interest to the beef sector, including the resumption of exports. On 4 May, he will be visiting the major Italian food fair (CIBUS) to help promote our beef exports.

The Government are also providing financial assistance for exports as part of the £5.5 million funding for a Beef Market Restoration Programme announced last October.

Biofuels

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on the threat to biodiversity if biofuels are produced as a single crop. [66625]

Mr. Morley: The Department is in regular contact with the Department of Trade and Industry to discuss a whole range of issues related to bio-energy, including the impacts on biodiversity. Most transport biofuel feedstocks will be grown in rotation as part of a mix of several crops on the farm. Production from a mix of feedstocks and replacing crops for food would have a neutral effect on biodiversity. Any replacement of spring sown break crops with winter oilseed rape would have a negative effect on crop diversity and farmland birds. If arable crops replaced natural-regeneration set-aside, this would reduce habitat diversity. In the longer term, as technology improves, straw and wood could be used for bioethanol production without significantly affecting biodiversity.

Research suggests that, in comparison with arable crops, energy crops such as short rotation coppice grown for heat and power generation can encourage biodiversity, particularly for birds and insects.

Correspondence

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Minister for Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity will respond to the letter from the hon. Member for North Essex dated 17 November 2005 concerning the Chappel Memorial Green Trust; and if she will make a statement. [64886]


 
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Jim Knight: I apologise for the delay in replying to the hon. Member's letter. A response was issued on 25 April 2006.

Departmental Websites

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list (a) the websites operated by her Department and (b) the reports placed on the internet in March 2006, indicating in each case whether paper copies were also made available. [65212]

Jim Knight: DEFRA directly operates a number of websites, including the main DEFRA website (http://www.defra.gov.uk/) and the Government's sustainable development website (http://www.sustainable-development.gov.uk/). A number of other websites are operated by or on behalf of the Department, its agencies and non-departmental public bodies, but detailed information is not held centrally for these, and an accurate, comprehensive list could not be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost.

Several thousand pages of documents on the DEFRA website were updated or published during March 2006. As such it would be difficult to identify those which might be regarded as reports". Specific information about the availability of paper copies of these documents is not readily available.

DEFRA ensures that reports are, where appropriate, made available as printed copies as well as online. If a report is published only via the website (and not in printed form), this is based on an assessment of factors such as the audience for the document (general or specialist), the nature of the material and its anticipated lifetime, whether speed of distribution electronically is particularly important, and cost-efficiency issues.

Disabled People

Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department's progress in fulfilling its statutory obligation as a public body to promote the rights of disabled people. [65817]

Jim Knight: I am replying in my new role as Minister responsible for Diversity and Equality in DEFRA.

Disability Equality Duty

The Disability Discrimination Act 2005 placed new duties on public authorities to promote equality for disabled people, the Disability Equality Duty.

The legislation requires DEFRA to publish a departmental disability equality scheme outlining how it will meet the duty. In order to reflect the creation of the single equality body the Commission for Equality and Human Rights and also reduce the burden to the business DEFRA has decided to do this as a joint equality scheme (JES) that will fully address both race and disability issues. The JES can be adapted to include other legislation as it comes on line, for instance gender and age.

DEFRA's diversity and equality unit (DEU) wrote to all business units earlier this year seeking information on the impact of the equalities legislation on their areas
 
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of work and the actions they would take to address this. The information provided has been used to develop a draft JES, including a departmental action plan covering a three-year period from 2006–09. At the end of the three year period, DEU will have responsibility for reviewing the scheme. As a result of the review the DEU will launch a revised scheme, which will run for a further three years.

In addition, the Secretary of State will report annually on progress for the JES covering core DEFRA and all its Executive Agencies and NDPBs. It will also set out actions for the future.

Other Issues That Promote Equality For Disabled People

DEFRA has a staff network for employees with disabilities that provides advice for policy makers on disability issues. The Department is a member of the Inter-Departmental Disability Group sharing best practice between Government Departments and is also a member of the Employers' Forum for Disability.

DEFA has good relations with its Executive Agencies and NDPBs and is working with them on promoting the service delivery aspects of disability such as access to the countryside and how disabled people are consulted about new rural and environmental initiatives.

EU INSPIRE Directive

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will place in the Library a copy of (a) the Regulatory Impact Assessment and (b) the supplementary explanatory memorandum on the implementation of the EU INSPIRE directive. [66272]

Mr. Morley: Copies of the Regulatory Impact Assessment and the supplementary explanatory memorandum on the implementation of the EU INSPIRE directive were sent to the International Affairs Section of the House of Commons Library in 2005 via a Cabinet Office circulation list for explanatory memoranda. Copies of both documents are available in the Library.

In addition, the Regulatory Impact Assessment will soon be available on the Intra-governmental Group on Geographic Information website <http://www.iggi.gov.uk>.


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