Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to assist the dairy farming sector; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Government are helping the industry to help itself, for example by establishing the Dairy Supply Chain Forum, chaired by my noble Friend, Lord Rooker. The dairy farming sector is well represented on the Forum. We believe that the Dairy Supply Chain Forum has had a positive effect on bringing together all sectors of the dairy industry to discuss the challenges and develop collective solutions.
The dairy farming sector has also benefited directly from grants under the Agriculture Development Scheme, for example to help fund benchmarking and the creation of a network of dairy best practice groups.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent steps he has taken (a) to strengthen the selling systems for milk and (b) to improve the dairy industry structure. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Dairy Supply Chain Forum, chaired by my noble Friend, Lord Rooker, has had constructive discussions regarding the National Farmers Union's 'Vision for the Dairy Industry' and the Milk Development Council's paper, 'Raw Milk Contracts and Relationships'. Ultimately however, decisions on selling systems are private commercial matters in which Government cannot get involved.
Decisions on the future structure of the dairy industry are also for the industry rather than Government. Through the Dairy Supply Chain Forum, a considerable amount of research has been commissioned and published, which has helped provide information to help the industry make informed decisions about the future.
Ian Pearson: Crown Copyright applies to Crown and Government Departments. As the Environment Agency is a non-departmental public body (NDPB), Crown copyright does not apply to Environment Agency data.
Ian Pearson: UK Ministers and officials regularly discuss EU support for environmental industries with the European Commission. Under the UK presidency of the EU, my predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Scunthorpe (Mr. Morley), hosted a stakeholder forum on environmental technologies alongside Environment Commissioner Dimas on 1 December 2005 in Brussels. In addition, the UK has played an active role in the implementation of the environmental technologies action plan since its adoption. We continue to promote ways of facilitating the uptake of environmental technologies, including through Community research programmes and financial instruments.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the recent announcement by the EU Food Safety Authority on the long-term safety of GM crops. 
Ian Pearson: I understand the hon. gentleman to be referring to the press release issued by the European Commission on 12 April. This document did not make any new claims or provide any new evidence relating to the issue of the long term safety of GM crops. Its purpose was instead to give details of certain proposed measures which provide reassurance that Community decisions on genetically modified organisms are based on high quality scientific assessments which deliver a high level of protection for human health and the environment.
The Government believe that Community decisions on GMOs are already taken on the basis of high quality scientific assessments which provide a high level of protection for human health and the environment. However, we support this initiative from the Commission which aims to improve the transparency of the procedures in place.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) grants are available and (b) assistance is offered by (i) his Department and (ii) its agencies for the promotion of education about recycling; and if he will make a statement. 
Each local authority in England is receiving a share of the £105 million Waste Performance and Efficiency Grant (WPEG) this year. This grant allocation is not ring-fenced and local authorities are encouraged to use it to support further improvements in recycling performance, including education initiatives.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) is taking forward, on behalf of the Government, a waste awareness and education programme. WRAP has a budget of nearly £16 million for this programme this financial year. Nearly £10 million of this budget will be spent on the national "Recycle Now" campaign, which includes television and news media campaigns. The remainder of the budget of around £7 million will be used to support local authority communications campaigns. The campaign also involves work with schools.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had about plans for responding to oil spills in winter ice conditions in relation to possible European Bank for Reconstruction and Development funding for Shell's proposed Sakhalin II development. 
Ian Pearson: My predecessor, and Ministerial colleagues from other Departments, have held a number of meetings, both with Shell and representatives from NGOs, relating to the Sakhalin II project. A range of issues, including the environmental impacts of the project, and specifically the question of plans for responding to oil spills in winter ice conditions, have been discussed.
Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of farmers waiting to receive payments under the single farm payment scheme in Suffolk. 
Barry Gardiner: 120,367 applications were received for the single payment scheme (SPS). By the end of 4 May 2006 over 58,000 claims (48.5 per cent.) had been paid, a total of £552 million in full payment.
31,000 claimants were not included in the partial payments system, 26,000 because their claim amounted to less than €1,000, and 5,000 because of a diverse range of other factors which made their cases particularly complex. Making full payments to this group of 5,000 will now be given the highest priority by the Rural Payments Agency.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who signed the letter from his Department to the Commission for Agriculture dated 12 April requesting an extension of the payment window for the single farm payment until October 2006. 
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of the March meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and its implications for the Government's policy on terminator seeds. 
Ian Pearson: At the eighth meeting of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Curitiba, Brazil 20-31 March 2006, Governments decided to reaffirm the decision which had been taken in 2000 that there should be a precautionary approach in field testing and commercial development of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs).
This decision states that products incorporating GURTs should not be approved for field testing until appropriate scientific data can justify such testing and for commercial use until appropriate scientific assessments with regard to ecological and socio-economic impacts have been carried out and the conditions for their safe and beneficial use validated. In addition to reaffirming the precautionary approach in the 2000 decision, the 2006 decision calls for the respect of farmers' rights to the preservation of seed and for further research on the ecological, economic, social and cultural impacts of GURTs.
The UK Government have pursued a consistent policy on this issue, supporting both the decision taken by the CBD in 2000 and the reaffirmation of this decision in 2006. As far as we are aware, no crops involving terminator technology are in use anywhere in the world, and none are under active commercial development.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it his policy to ban the importation of veal which has been reared in crates; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Under both EU and international trade rules it would be illegal to ban the import of veal reared in crates. However, the UK opposes the use of veal crates, and banned them in this country in 1990. From 1 January 2007, veal crates will be banned throughout the EU.
Many producers on the continent have already moved to other production methods and the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark have also banned their use. Finland has banned veal production altogether and Sweden and Greece have no veal industry.
David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letter of 23 December 2005, from the hon. Member for North West Leicestershire on the reprocessed fuel oil, the Waste Incineration Directive and the draft Waste Framework Directive. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of households in each water company area has water meters; and what percentage of all households was metered in (a) 1990, (b) 2000 and (c) the latest year for which figures are available. 
Ian Pearson: Ofwat is the economic regulator of the water and sewerage industry in England and Wales. Each year it records the percentage of household customers with meters on an individual company and industry wide basis. This information is published by Ofwat in its 'Security of supply, leakage and the efficient use of water' report.
Ofwat holds reliable figures on the percentage of metered properties from 1992-93 onwards. Figures for the period 1990-92 are not available. The latest reporting year for which figures are available is 2004-05. Household metering projections
|Household metering projections
|Measured Household Properties