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Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has invested in research on (a) genetic modification and (b) marker assisted selection technologies for use in agriculture since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
(i) to support the operation of the regulations and development of policy on the release of GMOs;
(ii) to identify, assess and mitigate the hazards and risks to the environment from the release of GMOs.
Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department's policy is when determining applications for (a) field testing and (b) commercial growing of a genetically modified crop containing terminator technology. 
Ian Pearson [holding answer 30 November 2006]: Decisions on the release of all genetically modified (GM) crops for either field testing or commercial use are governed by legislation adopted at EU level. This requires decisions to be based on a case-by-case assessment of potential risks to human health and the environment, in line with the scientific evidence. We take a precautionary approach and will only agree to a GM release if we are fully satisfied that it is safe.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received from Paul Lasok and Rebecca Haynes on behalf of the Soil Association on the proposals of the co-existence of GM conventional and organic crops in England. 
Ian Pearson: We have received a legal opinion by Paul Lasok and Rebecca Haynes in response to the recent consultation on proposed coexistence measures. We are now analysing all the consultation responses and will publish a summary of these on the DEFRA website in due course.
Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criteria his Department will use when assessing the effectiveness of the 2006 hosepipe ban in the South East. 
Ian Pearson: Water companies impose hosepipe bans under their own powers and in accordance with the trigger mechanisms in their drought plans which determine the appropriate time to take action to reduce demand. Drought plans exist to ensure that water companies can fulfil their statutory duties to supply adequate quantities of wholesome water during drought periods with as little recourse as possible to drought orders.
The Environment Agency has reported in Drought prospects 2006August update that restrictions on demand and appeals to save water this year resulted in demand between 5 and 15 per cent. lower than at the same time in 2005. It is reasonable to assume that this level of demand saving arose largely from the hosepipe bans imposed in much of south-east England.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will introduce legislation to amend the Hunting Act 2004 (a) to repeal provisions which allow mammals to be chased by dogs then (i) shot and (ii) hunted by a bird of prey and (b) to ban chasing mammals with dogs. 
Barry Gardiner: The Government have no plans to amend the Hunting Act 2004. We are satisfied with the operation of the Act, which bans all hunting of wild mammals with dogs, apart from in accordance with the tightly-drawn exemptions.
Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many jobs in his Department have been relocated (a) to Liverpool and (b) elsewhere as a result of the Lyons Review; and on how many occasions Liverpool has been considered for the relocation of staff under this programme. 
(a) No jobs from DEFRA have been relocated to Liverpool
(b) 134 posts were relocated from London and the South East by the end of the 2005-06 financial year, as reported in the 2006 annual departmental report. The breakdown of the locations to which these posts were relocated is as follows:
|Location||Number of posts|
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the chairman of the Office of Fair Trading to discuss the price paid by supermarkets for milk. 
Barry Gardiner: Competition concerns in the dairy sector and supermarkets relations with their suppliers were the subject of discussion when Lord Bach met with the chairman and chief executive of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) on 9 February this year. Competition concerns were also discussed when the chief executive of the OFT attended a meeting of the Dairy Supply Chain Forum, chaired by Lord Rooker, on 19 July.
Supermarkets' relations with their suppliers is one of the issues that the Competition Commission is looking at as part of its investigation into the grocery market. On 2 June, Lord Rooker wrote to the Commission to suggest that it also considers the impact of supermarket buyer power on the long term viability of suppliers.
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department funds projects to encourage people from ethnic minority groups to visit national parks. 
Barry Gardiner: The Department does not fund such projects directly. However, National Park Authorities will use part of the National Park Grant, which they receive from DEFRA, to take forward this work. In addition, Natural England have previously assisted the Council for National Parks Mosaic Project which aims to open up opportunities for ethnic minority communities to enjoy National Parks.
Barry Gardiner: We have not made a formal assessment but the UK Government is the single largest Government donor to the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP); we have contributed over £600,000 since 2001. GRASP aims to bring world-wide attention to the ape crisis, raise funds for conservation, and develop a global conservation strategy for all great ape populations.
In October, EU agriculture ministers finalised new legislation on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). This will allow the EU to enter into agreements with developing countries to provide them with assistance to tackle illegal logging. In the case of Borneo, FLEGT could play an important long-term role in helping to mitigate the impact of deforestation on the orang-utan population.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has a traffic light system in place for processing parliamentary questions, where questions are categorised using a colour code. 
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures he is putting in place in response to the Commission for Rural Communities' recent report on poverty in rural England and Wales. 
The recent report from the Commission for Rural Communities sets out the evidence base on rural disadvantage. This supports the priorities for action report published in June 2006. As I said at the launch of the main report, I welcome this first major output from the Commission for Rural
Communities. It demonstrates clear early action on its mandate to act as a watchdog and advocate for rural people and communities, especially those suffering disadvantage.
The reports consolidate a range of issues around income poverty, access to services and social capital that have been part of the rural policy agenda for some time. The Government as a whole are working to tackle disadvantage and promote equality of opportunity. It is now possible to analyse some of the Government's indicators of poverty in Opportunity for All, using the rural definition. I am pleased to see that poverty in rural areas is decreasing for all age groups and at rates that are comparable to, or better than, in urban areas.
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many successful prosecutions have been brought under the Protection of Animals Act 1911 in the last 30 years; and how many such prosecutions were in relation to the use of fireworks. 
The information requested, taken from the Court Proceedings Database held by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform showing the number of defendants found guilty at all courts for cruelty to animals under the Protection of Animals Act 1911, in England and Wales for the years 1980-2005 are provided in the following table. Data at this level of detail for years prior to 1980 are not available. It is not possible to identify which convictions were related to fireworks as the individual circumstances of these offences are not centrally collected.
|Number of defendants prosecuted at magistrates courts and convicted at all courts under the Protection of Animals Act, 1911 England and Wales, 1980-2005( 1)|
|(1) These data are provided on the principal offence basis|
Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
RDSOffice for Criminal Justice Reform.
The Code of Practice on how to prevent the spread of Ragwort and Guidance on disposal options for Common Ragwort, provide comprehensive guidance on how to develop a strategic and more cost-effective approach to weed control. It is intended for use by all landowners and occupiers, but is particularly relevant for large-scale organisations managing significant land areas, including local authorities and public bodies. Further information, including the Code of Practice, is available on the DEFRA website at
Under the Ragwort Control Act, the Code will be admissible in enforcement proceedings under the Weeds Act, which will make it easier to prosecute those who disregard the need to control Ragwort. Similarly, those who have followed the guidance laid down in the Code, would be able to use this in their defence in any court proceedings.
Barry Gardiner: Earlier this year, I wrote to the Highways Agency, Network Rail and the Local Government Association reminding them of the need to control injurious weeds on their land. I understand that Oxfordshire county council in particular is usually very active in the control of ragwort and takes its responsibilities for weed control seriously.
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