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Genetically Modified Organisms: Hedon

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the proposed site for BASF’s GM potatoes in Hedon, East Yorkshire; [133985]

(2) whether he plans to approve the proposed site for BASF’s experimental trials of GM potatoes in Hedon, East Yorkshire. [133986]

Ian Pearson: The Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment has considered relevant information on the proposed site and is satisfied that the trials will not have any adverse effect on human health or the environment. In the light of this we have granted a statutory consent to BASF, valid until 2011. BASF will not use the East Yorkshire site for trials this year, but may do so in future years.


Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will use his vote at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora conference in the Netherlands in June this year to support the 20 year moratorium proposal relating to elephant conservation; and if he will make it his policy to oppose further calls to trade in ivory. [138073]

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Barry Gardiner: No decision has yet been made on whether a one-off ivory sale should go ahead. The UK will only support this if all conditions previously agreed by the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 2002 have been met. The UK is currently considering the evidence to decide whether those criteria have been met and will also look to be informed by the African Elephant Dialogue meeting that will take place between 30 May-1 June, immediately prior to the CITES Standing Committee.

Nevertheless, the UK continues to support the global ban on any general commercial trade in ivory, a ban which has been in place since 1989. If any one-off sale is agreed, we would not expect to agree any further sales or annual quotas until the effects of such an event have been assessed. However, the concept of a fixed period moratorium is not in keeping with the way that CITES operates, where decisions are taken on the best scientific and trade data available at any time.

Livestock: Exports

Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will end the practice of live calf exports to continental veal units. [138077]

Mr. Bradshaw: The UK cannot place a unilateral ban on the export of calves as this would contravene free trade rules and be illegal under EU law.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many sites of special scientific interest have been identified by Natural England as requiring a (a) management notice and (b) management scheme to secure their condition. [137527]

Barry Gardiner: To date, one management scheme has been served. Natural England is currently identifying and assessing the appropriateness of a number of other potential management schemes. It is envisaged that two further schemes will be served before March 2008. It is not possible, at this time, to predict how many management schemes might require subsequent enforcement by way of a management notice. A management notice can be considered only where an owner or occupier has not given effect to a management scheme.

Sustainable Development: Government Departments

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps are being taken to ensure that buildings on the Government Estate meet green building targets; and what steps have been taken in response to the National Audit Office’s Report “Building for the Future: Sustainable Construction and Refurbishment on the Government Estate”. [137356]

Ian Pearson: The UK Government Sustainable Procurement Action Plan which was published on 5 March 2007, sets out detailed plans about how the
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Government will move towards a sustainably built and managed central government estate. This includes using sustainable procurement to make rapid progress against the cross-government sustainable operations targets announced in June 2006.

The Government welcome the publication of the National Audit Office’s Report on Sustainable Construction and Refurbishment on the Government Estate. Officials from the Office of Government Commerce and DEFRA will be providing further evidence in response to the Report at a Public Accounts Committee hearing in late June. I cannot go into detail in terms of next steps for responding to the NAO’s report before the hearing date, as this would pre-empt the Committee hearing.

Warm Front Scheme

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what account he expects the review of Warm Front prices will take of regional variations in the capacity to deliver warm front scheme projects. [135812]

Ian Pearson: The Warm Front price review considers the cost of the purchase and installation of measures under the scheme against national average prices, which can be broken down by region.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Alan Johnston

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department is taking to secure the safe return of the BBC journalist Alan Johnston; and if she will make a statement. [138242]

Mr. Hoon: We are extremely concerned by the kidnap of Alan Johnston and remain actively engaged in efforts to secure his safe release. We are in close touch with the Palestinian Authority, BBC and Alan’s family. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

We have called for his unconditional release and continue to do so.

The hon. Member will understand that we are not able to go into more detail at this stage.

Australia: Prince Charles

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when HRH the Prince of Wales last visited (a) Australia and (b) New Zealand. [138211]

Mr. McCartney: His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales last visited Australia and New Zealand in 2005. The exact dates are Australia from 25 February to 6 March and New Zealand from 6 to 10 March.

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Australia: Queen Elizabeth II

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether HM the Queen has visited New Zealand in the last five years. [138214]

Mr. McCartney: Her Majesty the Queen visited New Zealand from 22 to 27 February 2002.

Departments: Manpower

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff were employed by each (a) team and (b) programme within the Europe Directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in each year since 1990. [137581]

Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) does not record or compile annual data on the number of staff working in individual teams or programmes within FCO directorates. To carry out the research to collate this information would incur disproportionate cost.

EU Emissions Trading Scheme

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the administration costs were to the UK of phase one of the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme; what the projected administration costs are of phase two of the scheme; and what proportion of these costs will be borne by the smaller 50 per cent. of UK businesses. [137522]

Ian Pearson: I have been asked to reply.

An exercise carried out last year, looking at the regulations in force as at May 2005, estimated that the administrative cost to businesses in Phase I of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme was around £175,000 for all 511 installations in England and Wales.

For Phase II, the total administrative cost (including Scotland and Northern Ireland) is estimated to be around £125,000. This is lower than in Phase I as all installations already have Greenhouse Gas (GHG) permits.

Further estimates of the costs to the UK of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme are available in the regulatory impact assessments published by DEFRA. Copies of these are available in the Library of the House.

A tiered approach to subsistence charges and permit application fees has been adopted, where the charges reflect the scale of emissions from the installation. This is consistent with cost-reflectivity principles.

Following lessons learnt from Phase I of the scheme, the Government have introduced a de minim i s threshold and revised the interpretation of the definition of a ceramics site. 10 per cent of installations have been removed from Phase II of the scheme covering less than 0.3 per cent. of scheme emissions. The revision of the ceramics definition is expected to remove around 30 installations, representing 0.08 per cent. of total emissions within the scheme.

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The Environment Agency commissioned a study that looked at the cost of compliance in the EU ETS. It found that in the first year of the scheme the costs for smaller emitters (emitting less than 10KtCO2 a year) were between 1.08 and 2.77 per tonne of CO2.

It is difficult to get an accurate picture of the actual cost of compliance as Government do not have access to the prices businesses pay for allowances. The regulatory impact assessment (RIA) for Phase II of the scheme estimates that the cost of the scheme to the UK economy could be between £80 million and £640 million per year. This cost assumes a certain level of abatement will take place within the UK and also that the UK will purchase some allowances from the market. The final cost will therefore depend on the market price of carbon.

Galileo Project

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what financial contribution the UK is making to the EU Galileo satellite project; what further requests for funding are anticipated; what steps she is taking to ensure that Galileo is not used for military purposes; and if she will make a statement. [136602]

Mr. Hoon: The Galileo programme is jointly funded by the European Commission and the European Space Agency (ESA). The UK has contributed €142 million through ESA and, through contributions to the EU budget, approximately 17 per cent. of the estimated €790 million that the Commission has invested in the programme. The Commission is currently considering funding options for 2007-13, which will require agreement by the Council and the European Parliament. As my hon. Friend the Minister of State for Transport, Dr. Ladyman, set out in his written ministerial statement on the EU Transport Council on 18 October 2006, Official Report, columns 54-56WS, the UK will continue to maintain that Galileo is a civil programme under civil control.

Iraq: Armed Forces

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice Ministers, her officials and ambassadors gave to their counterparts in the United States prior to the disbandment of the Iraqi army and the de-Ba'athification programme in May 2003. [137129]

Dr. Howells: The detail of exchanges between the Government and the US Administration in 2003 remains confidential. Events moved very quickly in the aftermath of the removal of Saddam Hussein and it should be remembered that by the end of the initial hostilities the Iraqi army had effectively dissolved itself—there were no formed units, no equipment and all barracks had been comprehensively looted. At the same time throughout Iraq there was overwhelming popular pressure for de-Ba'athification to begin, reflecting the suffering and resentment among ordinary Iraqis as a consequence of three decades of repression by Saddam Hussein's regime.

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Middle East

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the implications for British policy in the Middle East of the recently published World Bank report “Movement and Access Restrictions in the West Bank: Uncertainty and Inefficiency in the Palestinian Economy”. [136887]

Hilary Benn: I have been asked to reply.

I welcome the recent World Bank report, the preparation of which was financed by DFID, and I broadly agree with its conclusions. Free movement and access are essential for Palestinians to be able to trade goods and services. The UK has repeatedly called on both parties to implement their obligations as set out in the November 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access. We have also regularly raised concerns with the government of Israel concerning their policies in Jerusalem, which threaten to cut off east Jerusalem from the west bank.

The best prospect for lasting improvements in movement and access is through the peace process. DFID's programme therefore aims to work with partners to help end the conflict and create a viable Palestinian state. As part of this, we help develop Palestinian institutions where possible, and support Palestinian negotiators to move towards and prepare for a negotiated just peace. The UK also funds work to generate media awareness of movement and access restrictions, and to petition the Israeli High Court of Justice on such issues.

Papua: Politics and Government

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans she has to appoint an honorary consul to Papua and West Papua. [137102]

Mr. McCartney: There are no plans to appoint an honorary consul to either Papua or West Papua provinces, consular cover for these provinces is provided by our embassy in Jakarta. In addition, officials from the embassy visit regularly to assess the situation and to identify areas where we can help the people of Papua and West Papua.

The UK’s policy on Papua is that we support the territorial integrity of Indonesia and therefore do not support independence for the province of Papua. We believe that the best way to resolve the complex issues in Papua is through promoting peaceful dialogue between Papuan groups and the Indonesian Government. We believe that full implementation of existing special autonomy legislation is the best way to proceed towards a peaceful, stable and prosperous Papua province.

Treaty of Rome: Anniversaries

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much was spent by (a) the UK Government and (b) the EU institutions on celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome in the UK. [137520]

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Mr. Hoon: To celebrate this anniversary, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Education and Skills and the British Council launched a year-long initiative in March called “Learning Together”. This initiative will make information available to UK schools about the range of opportunities to develop partnerships with schools across Europe and help schools that have not previously taken part in international activities to get involved.

£16,618 has been spent so far on “Learning Together”. The total budget is £102,418.

Requests for information on funding by the EU institutions can be made directly to the European Commission Representation and the European Parliament Representation in the United Kingdom.

Uganda: Royal Visits

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contingency plans her Department has made for the anti-government demonstrations planned during the Queen's visit to Uganda; and if she will make a statement. [137530]

Mr. McCartney: We have seen media reports about threatened anti-government demonstrations to be held during Her Majesty The Queen's visit to Uganda in November. It is not clear at this stage if any demonstrations will actually take place, but we continue to impress upon the Ugandan opposition the importance of respecting the rule of law and conducting peaceful political protest

The Ugandan authorities would be responsible for ensuring the security arrangements during any such protest, As with any state visit, we will work closely with the Ugandan authorities and keep those security arrangements under close review. Following the recent violent demonstrations in Kampala, we are also talking to the Ugandan government and to the opposition about developing a ‘code of conduct’ for running and policing demonstrations.

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