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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with farming organisations on the impact on farmers of the introduction of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. 
However, as part of the Governments commitment in the UK Climate Change Programme 2006, we will examine the scope and feasibility of a market-based mechanism. This will need to be compatible with our aspirations for the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, to facilitate trading of greenhouse gas reductions from agriculture and other land management sectors.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance has been given by the Department to farming food collaboration partnerships over the last financial year, broken down by partnership. 
Barry Gardiner: Farming and food enterprises are eligible for various types of assistance from DEFRA. For the most part, it is not possible to distinguish between those enterprises in receipt of assistance which have a collaborative or co-operative business structure, and other business types.
DEFRA also provides indirect assistance to collaborative enterprises through its support for English Farming and Food Partnerships (EFFP). The aim of EFFPs is to make collaboration work through the growth of market-focused and professionally run farmer-controlled businesses. They also develop co-operation and partnership activities between farmers and the rest of the supply chain.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to grant a trial for genetically modified potatoes in England; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: We have recently granted a consent, to the company BASF, to conduct research trials of a genetically modified blight-resistant potato. The trials will start in 2007 and take place at two sites in England; one in Derbyshire and one in Cambridgeshire. The independent Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment (ACRE) has confirmed that these trials do not give rise to any health or environmental concerns. The statutory consent details and ACREs advice are available on the DEFRA website at:
Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the European Commission on the protection of harbour porpoises under the Habitation Directive in 2006; and if he will make a statement. 
Barry Gardiner: The Department has had no direct discussions with the European Commission regarding protection of harbour porpoises. However, harbour porpoises are a European Protected Species and we are committed to their conservation.
We consider the impacts of all marine developments on harbour porpoise. For example, my Departments Marine Consents and Environment Unit is currently assessing the potential risk to porpoises in relation to an application for a licence pertaining to the construction of an offshore wind-farm in Swansea Bay.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many of the inspectors employed by his Department on animal welfare and animal aspects of cross-compliance are (a) qualified and (b) not qualified as veterinary surgeons; 
The RPA employs over 260 multi-skilled farm inspectors who carry out livestock identification checks which involve physical ear-tag reading in the presence of the livestock handler. Veterinary training is not required. However, all RPA inspectors have had training and experience in working safely with livestock, and animal welfare issues form part of their training.
The SVS has over 200 qualified veterinary surgeons and a similar number of technical staff. Technical staff carry out cross-compliance inspections regarding restrictions on the use of substances that have a hormonal or thyrostatic action and beta-agonists on farm animals. Responsibility for cross-compliance inspections on the control of animal diseases lies mainly with veterinary staff, although they are assisted by technical staff. Inspections for animal welfare requirements, which come into force in 2007, will be carried out by veterinary staff.
The Environment Agency is responsible for carrying out inspections in relation to groundwater, sewage sludge and nitrate vulnerable zones. Approximately 170 appropriately trained inspectors have undertaken work on cross-compliance as part of their duties.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the 10 top performing councils have spent on external (a) advisers, (b) lawyers and (c) consultants in each of the last five years. 
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will investigate the extent to which fines levied on county councils in two-tier authority areas are passed on to and paid by district councils; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Assuming the hon. Members question relates to the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme, no penalties have been imposed to date under this scheme. All waste disposal authorities in England met their obligations in 2005-06 to landfill, and were within the limits of the allowances they held.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effect of central and eastern European migrant workers on UK agriculture. 
Barry Gardiner: Migrant workers from countries which acceded to the EU in May 2004 have made a significant contribution to UK agriculture. According to the Governments Accession Monitoring Report, between May 2004 and September 2006, 56,230 workers from the new member states registered under the Workers Registration Scheme to work in agriculture. Many of these took up jobs which UK farmers and growers have traditionally found hard to fill.
Bulgaria and Romania accede to the EU on 1 January 2007. From that date preference for places on the two low-skilled migration schemes for non-EU workers (the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme and the Sectors Based Scheme) will be given to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, subject to a cap on the combined existing quota of 20,000. It is anticipated that Bulgarian and Romanian workers will also play an important role in addressing the recruitment difficulties experienced by farmers and growers.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) has been
formally notified of cases of illegal trade in plant protection products in each of the last three years; and on how many occasions such notification led to enforcement action being taken by the PSD. 
Ian Pearson: There is no formal procedure for notifying cases of illegal parallel imports of plant protection products. However, PSD has, since November 2003, been informed of and investigated 23 cases involving parallel imports as shown:
|Number of cases||Number of cases where enforcement action taken||Notes|
Enforcement action has or is being taken in eight cases and a further six cases are still under investigation pending possible enforcement action. Enforcement action has not been taken in nine cases because of lack of evidence of an offence basis.
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how much his Department plans to spend on an additional two prototype boats to skim River Thames sewage; and if he will make a statement; 
Ian Pearson [holding answer 4 December 2006]: DEFRA does not hold this information. Thames Water is in the process of developing prototype boats to skim off in-river sewagederived litter. Therefore, the cost and maximum capacity of the vessels is a matter for Thames Water.
Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding was allocated to the Rural Stress Information Network in 2005-06; and how much it will receive in 2006-07. 
Barry Gardiner: The Rural Stress Information Network (RSIN) acts as DEFRAs agent in administering the Rural Stress Action Plan. Separately, they receive funding for projects under the plan. The following table sets out the amounts in 2005-07.
|Project (£)||Administration (£)|
In addition, RSIN received £20,000 in extra funds from DEFRA in early 2006 to boost rural support organisations in their capacity to deal with issues arising from the delays in payment to farmers under the Single Payment Scheme.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the process is for considering payments under the single farm payment regime to farmers who have holdings in England and Scotland; and when such farmers will receive their payment awards. 
Barry Gardiner: Farmers are advised to complete an English SPS application in respect of their English land details, and the relevant devolved paying agency SPS application form in respect of any land that lies in another region. Guidance also states that both claims should be sent together to the paying agency where most of the land lies. This paying agency will also be responsible for making the single payment.
Once the application forms have been received by the paying agency they enter all the land parcel details on the system, and then forward the non-English application to the other UK paying agency so the details can be validated. This agency will then validate the application and inform the processing Department/agency of the results.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how his Department calculated the figure of £131 million for contingent liabilities in its 2005-06 accounts for errors and procedural mistakes in administering the single payment scheme. 
Barry Gardiner: A full disclosure of the potential financial risk attached to any errors and procedural mistakes in administering the Single Payment Scheme are set out in DEFRAs resource accounts for 2005-06 as laid before Parliament on 30 October 2006.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what EU guidance his Department bases its policy for managing breaches of the 5 per cent. heifer rule under the Suckler Cow Scheme 2003. 
Barry Gardiner: The requirement to maintain a minimum of 5 per cent. heifers within a claim under the Suckler Cow Premium Scheme (SCPS) is contained within Council Regulation (EC) No. 1512/2001 which amends Council Regulation No. 1254/1999.
"However, for the years 2002 and 2003, the number of heifers to be kept shall be equal to at least 15 per cent. of the total number of animals for which the premium is requested.
In the United Kingdom, the obligation to keep a minimum number of heifers is not applicable in 2002 and is limited to 5 per cent. in 2003."
If a claimant fails to meet the minimum heifer percentage, then the number of animals on which premium can be paid is reduced. This is in accordance with Article 36 (1) of Commission Regulation (EC) 2419/2001, which states that
Where an individual limit or individual ceiling is applicable, the number of animals shown in the aid applications shall be reduced to the limit or ceiling set for the farmer concerned.
In order to ensure uniform implementation of Commission Regulation (EC) No 2419/2001, working document AGRI 49530/2002 and its accompanying Additional Information Notes (AIN) 1 to 6 were issued by Commission Services. AIN 6 describes how to manage cases where the foreseen split between cows and heifers is not respected.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on which date his Department first received guidance from (a) the European Commission and (b) other EU agencies on how to manage breaches of the 5 per cent. heifer rule under the Suckler Cow Scheme 2003. 
Working document AGRI 49530/2002 and its accompanying additional information notes were distributed at the IACS experts group meeting held in Brussels on 2 May 2002. Commission services later issued a slightly amended revision; AGRI 49530/2002-Rev.1 is dated 21 November 2002.
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