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26 Feb 2007 : Column 986W—continued

Prior to 2002-03, BVPI 91a measured the percentage of households served by any collection of recyclables (including bring sites within one kilometre). Data collected before this year, therefore, do not necessarily indicate provision of a kerbside collection service.

The total tonnage of material collected by local authorities for recycling or composting from household sources in England since l996-97 is shown in the following table.

Tonnage of recyclate collected kerbside from household sources by local authorities
Thousand tonnes





















n/a = not available.
DETR/Defra Municipal Waste Management Survey, WasteDataFlow

Retail Consortium

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have met representatives from the British Retail Consortium in the last 12 months. [117938]

Barry Gardiner: My hon. Friend, the Minister for Climate Change and the Environment (Ian Pearson) attended a retailer summit meeting with my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary on 19 October that included two representatives from the British Retail Consortium, and my noble Friend Lord Rooker met Kevin Hawkins of the British Retail Consortium on the 28 November 2006.

Rights of Way

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of the Discovering Lost Ways project. [122844]

Barry Gardiner: Work on the demonstration phase of Discovering Lost Ways is progressing well with research work in Cheshire nearing completion and work in Shropshire well advanced. During 2007, the project team will assess the results of this early work with the aim of improving the efficiency of the research
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process and working with others to identify how this might be used most effectively to get valuable routes on the ground. This will inform how and when further rollout to other counties takes place (preparatory work has already taken place in Dorset, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire as well as Merseyside and Greater Manchester authorities).

Waste Management: Clinical Wastes

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what investigations he has commissioned or supported into methods of disposal of medical waste. [122332]

Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA, the Department of Health, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and the Health Protection Agency have worked closely with interested parties from the public and private sectors to develop comprehensive guidance on the safe management of healthcare waste. This guidance promotes the segregation of the various types of healthcare waste and includes details of the types of technology that are suitable for their safe disposal. These include high temperature incineration, pyrolysis, plasma technology, gasification, thermal heat disinfection, chemical disinfection and other chemical systems. In fact, evidence suggests that much healthcare waste is non-hazardous and can be landfilled or sent for recovery at facilities for non-hazardous waste.

Waste Management: EC Law

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to be able to introduce fully the EU directive on individual producer responsibility into UK waste regulations. [122374]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I have been asked to reply.

The WEEE Directive introduces the concept of individual producer responsibility for electrical and electronic equipment put on the EU market. The UK Government will be working with relevant parties to determine when and how best the UK can move to IPR for WEEE in the future. As part of this process, the WEEE Regulations require producer compliance schemes to report by the end of 2007 on how producers could move towards IPR.

Waste Management: Hazardous Substances

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to increase visibility in the waste chain following the introduction of Hazardous Waste Regulations in 2005. [122330]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 require that all movements of hazardous waste are tracked from the point of production to the final point of disposal or recovery.

Tracking is achieved by a consignment note, which must accompany the waste and include details of the producer, carrier and consignee as well as details on the type, amount and properties of the hazardous waste.
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Copies of the note must be kept by all in the management chain (that is, the producer, holder, consignor, carrier and consignee). Those receiving hazardous waste must submit quarterly returns to the Environment Agency (EA), summarising the consignments received. They must also send a return to the producer confirming receipt of the waste.

In addition, subject to a few exceptions for small and low risk premises, all premises producing hazardous waste must be notified to the EA annually and are subject to appropriate EA inspection.

Waste Management: Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs why his Department is adopting a new private finance initiative proposal for waste credits; which local authorities will be eligible; and how bids will be prioritised. [122350]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) system has a key role in helping local authorities (LAs) to finance the estimated £11 billion of infrastructure required for the UK to meet its targets for reducing dependence on landfill.

The previous waste PFI system allowed local authorities to apply for credits at any time of the year. The introduction of Awards Rounds in the new system means that the relative contribution of each case to the overall PFI programme can be properly assessed and that PFI credits will no longer be awarded on a “first come, first served” basis.

These new arrangements, similar to those used by other Departments, will allow us to match the flow of procurement to the capacity of the market as it expands. By giving greater certainty to the market, the new approach should in itself encourage new bidders into the market and thereby relieve any supply side constraints. The new system also encourages a partnership approach, which should offer increased value for money as well as other delivery benefits.

LAs with a waste disposal function that bring forward relevant projects can qualify for credits. Eligibility will be based, in part, on compliance with the published waste PFI criteria, and partly on additional criteria to be published in May 2007 focusing on scale, deliverability, readiness as well as environmental objectives.

Wildlife: Smuggling

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what co-funding partners have been found to establish a workshop on internet wildlife trade at the forthcoming Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in June 2007; and if he will make a statement. [122539]

Barry Gardiner: The EU has submitted a proposal (originally prepared by the UK) to consider the issue of illegal trade in wildlife resulting from the use of the internet. Part of this proposal is to convene a workshop to consider this subject. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of Parties,
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which takes place in the Hague in June this year, will consider this proposal along with many others. If the proposal is accepted by CITES Parties, a request for voluntary funding to support the workshop will be made by the CITES Secretariat.

International Development

British Petroleum

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) correspondence and (b) discussions he has had with British Petroleum plc in the last 12 months. [122326]

Hilary Benn: I have written to British Petroleum plc once in the last year enclosing a copy of DFID White Paper “Eliminating World Poverty: Making Governance Work for the Poor”. I have not met with them in the last year.

Burundi: Floods

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support his Department has made available to help those affected by the flood in Burundi. [122212]

Hilary Benn: Parts of Karuzi, Gitega, Rutana, Ruyigi, Cankuzo and Kayanza provinces of Burundi have been affected by torrential rain and flooding, destroying more than 2,400 houses and affecting an estimated 10,000 people. Overall, the World Food Programme has estimated that as many as two million people, including those affected by the flooding, may need humanitarian assistance. The Government of Burundi have requested the United Nations Office of Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Burundi to co-ordinate a response.

DFID is monitoring the situation closely and our humanitarian adviser will visit the country next week. In the meantime, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other NGOs have been supporting flood relief. DFID gave a £500,000 contribution to the ICRC's appeal for its operations in Burundi in November last year. We have also contributed £6,000,000 to the Government of Burundi's emergency rehabilitation plan, and are working with Government and other partners to approve an urgent allocation to flood relief from these funds. We await a final needs assessment on 26 February and are ready to respond further and quickly once precise needs are known.

Departments: Consultants

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which external consultants were used by (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies in relation to private finance initiatives in 2005-06; and what the (i) nature and (ii) cost of the work was in each case. [123015]

Mr. Thomas: DFID did not use any external consultants in relation to private finance initiatives in 2005-06.

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Departments: Retirement

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many employees from his Department have been asked to retire upon reaching 65 years of age as a result of the Department's mandatory retirement policy in each year since 1997. [121735]

Mr. Thomas: According to our records, DFID has asked two staff to retire at age 65 since 1997, one each in 2005 and 2006.

DFID operates, with effect from 1 October 2006, a default retirement age of 65 for staff. We also operate a ‘right to request’ procedure for staff who want to work beyond 65. This arrangement also applies to senior civil servants, but decisions about their retirement age rest with the Cabinet Office. DFID's default retirement age until September 2002 was 60, and staff normally retired at that age. From September 2002, we introduced for staff below the senior civil service the option to work until age 65.

Current staff can continue to choose to retire at age 60, which is pension age under the civil service pension scheme, or work on up to age 65. New staff from 1 July 2007 will have to work until age 65 following changes in the pension scheme.

We currently have three staff working beyond age 65. DFID is keeping its default retirement age of 65 under review. If experience and evidence shows that we are able to remove the default retirement age without negative impact on performance and workforce planning, we will consider this in advance of the Government's review of the Equality Employment (Age) Regulations in 2011.

Developing Countries: Bank Services

Jon Cruddas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what projects his Department is funding on mobile banking in developing countries. [122562]

Mr. Thomas: DFID believes that mobile phone banking can help achieve the UK Government’s White Paper commitment to tackle the barriers that prevent poor people from gaining access to financial services. Mobile phone banking has the potential to reach poor people in developing countries who are currently not served by banks or other providers of formal financial services.

DFID is working, in collaboration with other donors and partner Governments, to support projects in three main areas:


Jon Cruddas: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate he has made of the total amounts paid in remittances from the UK to developing countries in each of the last five years. [122560]

Hilary Benn: Sending money home to families in developing countries plays a vital role in helping to tackle poverty at household level and also has significant benefits to the economy.

There is a lack of reliable and accurate data to quantify remittances from the UK and other parts of the world. DFID established a Remittances Working Group in 2004, both to work on reducing the cost of sending remittances to developing countries, and to improve the quality and availability of data on the UK remittances market. According to the Working Group, estimates for total remittances sent from the UK to developing countries range from £463 million to £2.8 billion. The World Bank estimated remittance outflows from the U.K. in 2001 as approximately £900 million.

The five largest recipients of remittances from the UK to developing countries are India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Jamaica and Ghana. While there are still no accurate data on remittance flows from the UK to Africa, the available data and estimates suggest that around £0.5 billion flows from the UK to that continent each year in the form of remittances. In Africa, the majority of remittances from the UK go to Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya and Somalia.

DFID commissioned an in depth household survey of ethnic minority groups in the UK and their remittance patterns to further improve data and understanding, which was the first survey to provide reliable household data on remittance outflows from the UK.

The survey results were launched in July 2006, and showed that one-third of people of ethnic minority origins in the UK sent money abroad in the last year. On average, people sent £874 per year, and almost a third of senders said the money would be used to buy food, a fifth said it would help with medical bills and one in six reported that the funds would help pay for schooling. 80 per cent. said the money would make a real difference to the lives of their relatives back home.

It is clear that remittance flows from the UK are large and growing. DFID recognises the positive impact that remittances can make on peoples' lives in developing countries, and has an active agenda to improve the developmental impact of these individual money transfers, seeking to help make remittances cheaper, safer and more accessible. DFID also supports the development of the financial sector in low income countries so that people receiving remittances have access to some form of savings account or other financial services.

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The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) is a member of the IMF's Balance of Payments Statistics Committee, which has the responsibility for improving remittances data from Balance of Payments figures. The last update of the UK Balance of Payments framework was in 1995. The next is due in 2008, and the ONS are consulting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to ensure a coherent and useful definition of remittances is included.

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