Previous Section Index Home Page

4 Mar 2008 : Column 2276W—continued

Dredging: Gravel

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what price per tonne HM Treasury receives for the gravel excavated by marine dredging; and if he will make a statement. [190813]

Jonathan Shaw: HM Treasury currently receives 1.60 per tonne of dredged marine aggregates. This will be rising to 1.95 per tonne from 1 April 2008.

Drinking Water

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the House authorities on ceasing the use of bottled water on the Parliamentary Estate and providing tap water instead; and if he will make a statement. [187969]

Mr. Woolas: This is a matter for the House.


4 Mar 2008 : Column 2277W

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Department’s policy is on the use of (a) tap water and (b) bottled water; and if he will make a statement. [187970]

Mr. Woolas: DEFRA’s policy on tap and bottled water was set out in a notice to staff published on 9 February 2007:

DEFRA’s caterers will also remove bottled water from the hospitality menu.

Energy Conservation: Heating

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government is taking to ensure that the energy-using products directive maximises carbon savings from heating controls. [189853]

Joan Ruddock: The Government are committed to raising product efficiency and we are working with key stakeholders from the boiler and water heater industry and the European Commission to develop proposals which will maximise the standards and efficiency of products covered under the energy-using products directive.

Heating controls play an important role in improving the efficiency of heating systems and the Government have recently published a consultation paper setting out indicative standards for better use of existing controls and advanced controls for domestic heating.

Environment Protection: EU Law

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects of the operation of the comitology procedure for the delegation of powers from European legislation on the (a) development and (b) implementation of (i) proposed and (ii) effective directives on environmental issues; whether the Government is seeking changes to the procedure; and if he will make a statement. [189733]

Jonathan Shaw: The Government supported the changes to the revised comitology procedure for the delegation of powers and which culminated in Council Decision 2006/512/EC. While it is recognised that the revised procedure is likely to extend the process for adopting individual implementing measures, the Government consider that any adverse consequences will be outweighed by the greater accountability
4 Mar 2008 : Column 2278W
introduced into the scrutiny process as a result of this change and are not, currently, seeking changes to the system.

The European Commission has committed itself to examine all existing Acts in force adopted under co-decision with a view to adapting them to the new procedure and making appropriate proposals. The Council has not however made any commitment to adopt these proposals and all such proposals are being considered on a case-by-case basis.

Fisheries

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 24 January 2008, Official Report, columns 2123-24W, on fisheries, (1) whether he intends to re-apply to the European Commission; whether he has had further discussions with (a) the Commission and (b) other EU member states about pelagic pair trawling; and if he will make a statement; [190466]

(2) what his estimate is of the (a) damage to marine life and (b) the numbers of cetaceans killed as a result of the European Commission turning down the request made under Article 9 of Council Regulation 2371/2002; and if he will make a statement. [190467]

Jonathan Shaw: Council Regulation (EC) 812/2004 requires member states to set up by-catch observer programmes in certain fisheries and present an annual report to the European Commission. The latest report submitted to the European Commission for 2006 by France reported that no by-catch was observed in the 26 tows monitored in the bass fishery in International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) areas VII and VIII.

ICES has been asked by the European Commission to look at all member states’ annual reports and they are currently in the process of doing so. When ICES advice becomes available we will consider whether further representation needs to be made to the Commission in respect of pelagic pair-trawling.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the Special Report No. 7/2007 of the European Court of Auditors on the control, inspection and sanction systems relating to the rules on conservation of Community fisheries resources; and if he will make a statement. [190470]

Jonathan Shaw: The European Court of Auditors report has highlighted a number of weaknesses in the control regime applicable within the European Community. Those weakness undermine the overall effectiveness of the common fisheries policy and the achievement of its objective of sustainable fisheries. We therefore welcome its publication. We also welcome the positive stance taken by the Commission in response to the report and the measures that it has already announced to simplify and harmonise the control regime. Those measures include, in the short term, improving the vessel monitoring system, introducing electronic logbooks and sales notes, improving member states’ and the Commission’s databases, enhanced cross-checking of data and the application of more
4 Mar 2008 : Column 2279W
effective and consistent sanctions throughout the Community. In the medium term, the Commission is working towards the publication, in October 2008, of a proposal to replace the existing Control Regulation with one designed to rationalise and standardise rules, strengthen cooperation and collaboration between member states and help to develop a culture of compliance among the industry. We intend to play an active part in the discussions to ensure that these objectives are met.

Fisheries: Enforcement

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will place in the Library copies of the correspondence his Department has had with the Marine and Fisheries Agency on the number of annual (a) patrol days and (b) hours of aerial surveillance coverage required for the purposes of fisheries enforcement and protection; and if he will make a statement. [190471]

Jonathan Shaw: DEFRA has had no such correspondence with the Marine and Fisheries Agency. Arrangements for the provision of aerial and surface surveillance coverage are an operational matter for the Marine and Fisheries Agency to decide upon, in order to ensure the effective tasking and deployment of patrol vessels and surveillance aircraft.

Flood Control: Finance

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent on flood defences in each constituency over the last five years for which figures are available. [189735]

Mr. Woolas: Figures for spend on flood defences by constituency are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Environment Agency is the principal operating authority with responsibility for flood risk management in England and is responsible for the vast majority of spend. The Agency’s annual report and accounts are laid before Parliament each year and contain detailed information about their spend.

Food: Procurement

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2008, Official Report, column 1340W, on food: procurement, what advice he has provided to other Government Departments and public bodies to encourage purchasing of food from local sources. [190911]

Jonathan Shaw [holding answer 29 February 2008]: The Government continue to take steps through their Public Sector Food Procurement Initiative (PSFPI) to encourage and help public bodies to increase opportunities for small and local food producers.

Further guidance, tools, case studies and other information is available on the DEFRA website. An updated procurement toolkit on the website explains how public sector bodies can break their catering
4 Mar 2008 : Column 2280W
contracts into lots and sets out how to specify seasonal and fresh food. This approach can create opportunities for small and local producers to do business with the public sector.

Industrial Wastes: Recycling

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of business waste was recycled by each local authority in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [190529]

Joan Ruddock: DEFRA does not hold data on the proportion of business waste recycled by individual local authorities.

The most recent survey on industrial and commercial waste was carried out in 2002-03 by the Environment Agency. Information was collected from approximately 4,500 businesses and included the type, quantity and form of the waste, as well as the disposal or recovery method used. Data collection was limited to controlled waste and related to England only. The information is available, broken down by region, from the Environment Agency’s website.

Marine and Fisheries Agency: Finance

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for what reasons he decided to reduce the budget for the Marine and Fisheries Agency from 2007-08 to 2008-09; and if he will make a statement. [190461]

Jonathan Shaw: The operational budget has not been reduced. The Marine and Fisheries Agency initial budget for 2008-09 is based on 2007-08 operational responsibilities. Additional resources for any other activities that the MFA may be asked to undertake in 2008-09 will be provided accordingly.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will place in the Library copies of correspondence between his Department and the Marine and Fisheries Agency on the setting of the agency's budget for 2008-09; and if he will make a statement. [190462]

Jonathan Shaw: Information about the Marine and Fisheries Agency's resources, budget, priorities and activities is set out in their business plan for 2008-09, copies of which I will arrange to be placed in the Library of the House.

However, I do not plan to place in the Library, copies of correspondence between DEFRA and the Marine and Fisheries Agency on the setting of the Agency's budget for 2008-09. It would not be conducive to setting a responsible and balanced budget for the Department and its delivery bodies, and would be to the detriment of public service provision.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what grant in aid he plans to provide to the Marine and Fisheries Agency in each of the next five years; and if he will make a statement. [190463]


4 Mar 2008 : Column 2281W

Jonathan Shaw: As an Executive Agency, the Marine and Fisheries Agency receives an allocation from DEFRA not grant in aid.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he informed the Marine and Fisheries Agency of its budget for 2008-09; and if he will make a statement. [190464]

Jonathan Shaw: The MFA received formal confirmation of its initial allocation shortly before the public announcement in DEFRA’s press release of 21 February 2008.

Mauve Stingers

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to protect fisheries and the UK aquaculture sector from mauve stingers; and if he will make a statement. [188415]

Jonathan Shaw: Last year, the mauve stinger jellyfish Pelagia nocticula engulfed the cages of a private company's sites in Glenarm Bay and Red Bay, Northern Ireland. Some 260,000 salmon were destroyed.

Jellyfish blooms are not rare, although there is little science on Pelagia nocticula, an oceanic species widely distributed in warm and temperate waters. Losses through jellyfish on this scale are not unknown in the industry and there are current reports of similar incidents in both the Republic of Ireland and Scotland.

Aquaculturists on marine sites have to recognise that they are operating in a highly mobile environment and that it is impossible to protect their operations against every conceivable risk of invasion by unwanted species. I see no case for Government assuming this risk.

Nature Conservation: EU Action

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to propose conservation measures under Article 9 of Council Regulation 2371/2002; and if he will make a statement. [190468]

Jonathan Shaw: I have no plans to do so at present.

Noise

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to publish a combined national noise strategy for England covering ambient and neighbourhood noise. [191599]

Jonathan Shaw: The Government plan to publish for consultation, a combined National Noise Strategy for England, covering ambient and neighbourhood noise, later this year.

Rural Areas: Housing

Mr. Binley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when a decision is expected to be announced by the Housing Corporation on the proposed Rural Housing Challenge Fund. [189834]


4 Mar 2008 : Column 2282W

Jonathan Shaw: As part of our preparations for the comprehensive spending review (CSR) during the summer of 2007, DEFRA asked the Housing Corporation to provide advice on the feasibility of a potential revenue funding programme to support activity to improve the delivery of affordable rural housing at local level. We always made it clear that this would be considered in the light of the CSR settlement.

That advice has now been carefully considered. However, given the Government’s undertaking on increases in housing supply generally—which will benefit rural as well as urban areas—we have concluded that the value of a small challenge fund would not be enough to merit a switching of resources away from other priority areas of DEFRA’s business.

The Government have already set out proposals to increase the supply of housing and will be allocating £8.4 billion across the regions over the next three years. The Housing Corporation will be tasked with spending this money most effectively. The Government’s long-term housing supply and affordability public service agreement (PSA) target specifically covers rural as well as urban affordability.

In addition, the Housing Green Paper sets out the Government’s intention to establish a national target for rural affordable housing. The Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) is in the process of developing this target, based on advice from the Regional Assemblies and the Housing Corporation. It is much more important to ensure that these measures work for rural areas, rather than to focus attention on small packets of funding from DEFRA.

Together with CLG, we remain committed to addressing the affordable rural housing problem. At a national level, the policies and funding to deliver are largely in place, but we want to ensure that they feed through into delivery. That is why my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has asked the hon. Member for Truro and St. Austell (Matthew Taylor) to carry out a review to find out how land use and planning can better support business and deliver affordable housing in rural areas. The hon. member will report to both DEFRA and CLG in the summer.


Next Section Index Home Page