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Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Northern Ireland Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development on the upcoming fisheries negotiations in Brussels; and whether an agreed strategy has been drawn up. 
Jonathan Shaw: I have had a number of recent discussions with the Northern Ireland Minister and her Welsh and Scottish counterparts about the forthcoming negotiations and we have just agreed a series of UK priorities for them, reflecting our respective interests. We will revisit them in the light of the Commission proposals when these emerge.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will amend the guidance given in the Government's Code for Sustainable Procurement to give greater weight to the procurement of locally produced food and drink. 
The legal framework governing public procurement does not allow public bodies to give greater weight to locally produced food and drink when awarding contracts. This is because public bodies are required to ensure public procurement is fair, transparent and not used to discriminate by setting up barriers to free trade. It would also reduce competition contrary to UK public procurement policy that is designed to achieve value for money for the taxpayer.
The legal and policy framework does provide public bodies with plenty of flexibility to be innovative in their procurement and, for example, we are encouraging them through the PSFPI to increase tendering opportunities for small and local producers. How they can do this is explained in the advice on the PSFPI website, including our recently published guide Putting it into practice on the guidance page at:
Jonathan Shaw: Research to assess the impact of rising oil prices on farming and the wider food chain was published by the Sustainable Development Commission on 19 November and can be found on their website.
One of the illustrative findings of this study is that a rise in the oil price from $50 (the average price seen in 2005) to $100 a barrel (which is just above current levels) would lead to an increase in household food expenditure of around £3 billion. This equates to an increase of 4 per cent. within a total spend of
£79 billion, and presumes that all increased energy costs would be passed on to consumers. However, we might expect an increase in household expenditure of between roughly 5 per cent to 10 per cent. if all costs are passed on to consumers and secondary impacts are allowed for.
To further help put the impact of increasing fuel costs into context, it can be noted that oil prices more than tripled in the five years to October 2007 to over $80 a barrel, whereas retail food prices increased by 12.6 per cent. over the same period.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make it his policy to assess whether there is a requirement to amend (a) UK and (b) EU legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), to take account of genetic use restriction technologies and to ensure it is in compliance with the Convention on Biological Diversity decision V/5. 
Mr. Woolas: The provisions of the current EU regulatory regime are in compliance with decision V/5 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. This decision recommends that products incorporating gene use restriction technologies should not be approved for field testing until justified by appropriate scientific data. Such products for commercial use should not be approved until appropriate authorised and strictly controlled scientific assessments, with regard to ecological and socio-economic impacts and any adverse effects for biological diversity, food security and human health, have been carried out in a transparent manner and the conditions for their safe and beneficial use validated.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for how many acres of miscanthus grass (a) the South West and (b) Devon are currently in receipt of agricultural subsidies; and how much such subsidies amounted to in each of the last two years. 
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 19 November 2007]: Grant aid for the costs associated with establishing miscanthus is paid under the energy crops scheme (ECS). The areas of miscanthus receiving grant aid and the amounts paid under ECS in the south west as a whole and Devon specifically in 2006 and 2007 were as follows:
|Area (ha)||Amount (£)|
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was levied in fines by local authorities for incidences of pollution against (a) companies, (b) local authorities and (c) individuals for each type of pollution incidence in each financial year since 2000, broken down by (i) region and (ii) fine. 
Jonathan Shaw: The total value of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs), issued by local authorities, by English region for noise related offences in 2004-05 and 2005-06, is shown in the following table. FPNs issued for noise under the Noise Act 1996 can currently only be issued for night noise from domestic premises, which excludes companies.
The Department does not hold data for offences from 2000 to 2003. Information on the number of FPNs issued by local authorities to businesses and individuals for local environmental quality offences is published on the DEFRA website.
For contaminated land, Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 provides for fines, levied through the courts, where a person fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with any of the requirements of a remediation notice. Any convictions for such offences are contained on a register maintained by the enforcing authority. DEFRA does not collect these data centrally.
Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 20 November 2007]: DEFRA has 50 containerised gassing units available to cull poultry. Operationally the units are run in pairs. The capacity of each unit depends on the size and weight of the birds being culled and the speed they are caught at.
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