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Proper design of an alternate weekly collection (AWC) service should avoid any increase in nuisance to householders. The Waste and Resources Action Programme has published guidance for local authorities on the design and implementation of alternate weekly collection services, in order to minimise nuisance and health risks. This includes, for example, hygiene measures for bins.
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of (a) the willingness of local authorities to pay recycling and reuse credits to third parties and (b) the proportion of such applications for credits which are refused by local authorities. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The updated guidance on the recycling credits scheme, issued in April 2006, reinforced that the Government expect all waste authorities to be predisposed to the payment of credits to third parties for recycling and reuse activity. The guidance was updated following a review of the existing arrangements and consultation on future options.
No formal assessment has been made by my Department of the willingness of local authorities to pay recycling credits to third parties, or the proportion of such applications which are refused by local authorities. The revised guidance for the scheme made clear that all waste authorities should properly assess applications they receive, considering the social, environmental and economic benefits of the recycling/reuse activity. In addition, the guidance set out the circumstances whereby an application for credits may reasonably be refused. Under best practice guidelines, the local authority should also provide an explanation if an application for credits is refused.
Ian Pearson: In England and Wales, overall reservoir storage is now normal or above normal for the time of year in the majority of the Environment Agencys regions. In the south west and Midlands regions, levels are slightly below normal. Many reservoirs are now full.
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Reservoirs, however, provide only around 30 per cent. of water supply in the south east: around 70 per cent. is from groundwater. Groundwater levels are showing a more variable response to recent rainfall and are generally below those expected for the time of year; continued rain will be needed to restore groundwater to normal levels across the south east.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which elements of state aid in support of the Shetlands fisheries are being challenged in the European Court of Justice; and what the total liability is. 
Modernisation of Fishing Vessels;
Fish Factory Improvement;
First Time Shareholders (in fishing vessel ownership); and
Loan Assistance (for salmon farming and fish processing).
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action he is taking to ensure that the South East Plan will be consistent with the assessment of resources under the River Basin Management Plan. 
Ian Pearson: The first River Basin Management Plans will not be published until December 2009. The significant issues reports for the south east and Thames River Basin Districts, which precede these plans, are due to go out to consultation in July 2007. These reports will identify the main pressures, risks and impacts in the river basin and will include the consideration of water resources.
In assessing available water resources and future demands, the Environment Agency, as the competent authority for the implementation of the directive, will be using the same data source (with some updating) that was used for the South East Plan exercise.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on how many occasions in the last five years the publication date of statistics produced by his Department has been changed; what the (a) subject of the statistics, (b) (i) original and (ii) final date of publication and (c) reason for the delay was in each case; and who took the decision to delay the publication in each case. 
Barry Gardiner: In accordance with the National Statistics code of practice (2002), the head of profession for statistics in DEFRA has sole responsibility for determining, pre-announcing and, if necessary, altering the dates of publication of National Statistics and other relevant statistics produced by the Department.
Any decision to change a pre-announced publication date will be based on a range of professional considerations such as the completeness of the underlying data, their fitness for purpose, the need for consistency and coherence, the need to promote widespread access and informed debate, or any earlier accidental or wrongful release. In reaching their decision, the head of profession will also take into consideration the detailed procedural guidance given in the National Statistics Protocol on Release Practices. The code and its 12 supporting protocols are available in the Library of the House, and can also be accessed using the following address:
David Lepper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what target was set by the Waste Resources Action Programme for diverting nappy waste from landfill (a) through the 25 local authorities schemes taking part in the Real Nappy Programme and (b) the Real Nappy Programme as a whole including the awareness-raising initiatives; 
(2) what volume of nappy waste was diverted from landfill (a) by the 25 local authorities schemes taking part in the Real Nappy Programme and (b) the Real Nappy Programme as a whole including the awareness-raising initiatives. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The target of the Waste and Resources Action Programme's (WRAP) Real Nappy Programme, set out in its business plan 2003-06, was to divert 35,000 tonnes of disposable nappy waste from landfill. No separate target was set for the 25 local authority schemes.
WRAP'S Achievement Report, published on 4 October 2006, states that the programme diverted 23,000 tonnes of biodegradable nappy waste from landfill in England. This figure related to directly funded diversion schemes. No estimate was made for the amount that may have been diverted by the awareness raising and promotional aspects of the scheme.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to ensure that sales of energy-saving light bulbs are not reduced by the exemption from the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive of traditional incandescent bulbs. 
We do not anticipate that the introduction of the WEEE regulations will have a negative impact on the sales of energy efficient light bulbs. Ultimately however it will be for the lamp industry to ensure that they remain priced at a level which does not adversely affect sales.
In November 2006, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade (Mr. McCartney) visited a UK-supported centre in Calcutta which supports the rehabilitation of women and trafficked children from South Asia.
12. Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she is taking to support the development of an effective constitutional role for the Opposition and Parliament following elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 
Mr. Hoon: We have worked closely with Congolese leaders throughout the peace process leading to last years elections. We have been clear that Opposition politicians and Parliament have a vital role to play in the Democratic Republic of Congos (DRC) democratic future. President Kabila has promised to create the political and legal space for the democratic opposition. We are offering UK advice and expertise to help build that capacity.
It is important that we stay involved in the DRC. Getting the DRC right will have a huge impact on not only its 60 million inhabitants but also on the peace and security of the whole central African region. Thats why we supported the election process to the tune of £35 million. We were the biggest bilateral donorsupporting the massive logistics effort, Congolese policing, the voter education and a free media.
Mr. Hoon: The Government believe that Turkeys accession is of strategic importance to the UK and to the EU. We were therefore pleased that the December 2006 General Affairs and External Relations Council agreed that the accession negotiations should continue and the chapters for which technical preparations have been completed will be opened.
14. Colin Burgon: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans she has to improve UK-Venezuelan relations following the recent election victory of Hugo Chavez. 
Mr. Hoon: We continue to engage actively with the Government of Venezuela. It is in the interests of both our Governments to work together on issues such as police reform and combating the illegal drugs trade. The UK also continues to highlight the importance we accord to issues such as media freedom.
During his recent inauguration speech, President Chavez set out plans to do more to tackle corruption in Venezuela. Any such effort would provide a good basis for strengthening our cooperation on counter-narcotics.
Dr. Howells: UK relations with Syria have not changed recently. Through our embassy in Damascus, and with the Syrian embassy in London, we continue to urge Syria to play a constructive role in the Middle East. The visit to Syria by my right hon. Friend the Prime Ministers foreign policy adviser, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, in October 2006, was part of this.
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