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Flood Control: Training

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the foundation degree training programme in flood risk management; how many people (a) have completed the course and (b) are currently enrolled; what the cost to the taxpayer per participant is; and how many graduates were offered and (i) accepted and (ii) turned down relevant positions in the public sector in each year since the programme's inception. [205607]

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Mr. Woolas: The Environment Agency assesses the foundation degree training programme each year and in 2007 indicated a very high standard of readiness in graduates who demonstrated the necessary skills, training and knowledge to undertake their role in flood and coastal risk management. Of the first intake of graduates, 67 per cent. had the potential to progress further through the organisation. The 2007 review resulted in continued support for the foundation degree and business support for the provision of mentors for students.

56 foundation degree trainees (FDTs) have graduated FdSc Rivers and Coastal Engineering and 31 FDTs are currently enrolled. The average cost per trainee (including all costs) is £34,000. 54 FDTs have been offered employment of which 52 accepted.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Crops

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the status is of the GM crops (a) hybrid maize (i) MON863 x MON810, (ii) MON863 x NK603 and (iii) MON863 x MON810 x NK603, (b) GM maize (i) Bt11 and (ii) ISO7, (c) GM rice LL62 and (d) GM potato Amflora. [206015]

Mr. Woolas: At a College of Commissioners orientation debate on GMOs on 7 May the European Commission decided to refer all of these applications back to the European Food Safety Authority for further scientific advice.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Trees

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what releases of genetically modified (GM) eucalyptus trees were made under release consents 93/R6/1 and 93/R6/2 by Shell Forestry; what areas were planted in each case; how many trees planted released GM materials under each consent; what the duration was of each release made; and whether Shell Forestry submitted a post-release monitoring report for each consent. [205749]

Mr. Woolas: The trial under consent 93/R6/1 involved the cultivation of 48 GM Eucalyptus plants and 132 non-GM control plants between June and November 1993. Consent 95/R6/2 involved the trial cultivation of 48 GM Eucalyptus plants and 142 non-GM control plants between July and November 1995, within an area of 400 square metres. The precise area of the 1993 trial is not recorded, but as a similar number of plants was involved as in the 1995 trial, it can be assumed that the area planted was broadly the same.

In both cases, Shell Research Ltd submitted post-release monitoring reports which are available in the GM Public Register, held by DEFRA. The reports confirm that no persistence or spread of the genetically modified organisms was detected. This is consistent with the fact that these trials were of young Eucalyptus plants (Eucalyptus grandis) that would not produce pollen or seed. At the end of the trials the plants were killed with a herbicide, dug up and incinerated.

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Ground Water: Pollution

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) assessment he has made of risks and (b) estimate he has made of levels of contamination of groundwater; which 10 sites had the highest level of groundwater contamination in the most recent period for which figures are available; what the sources of contamination were in each case; what factors influence decisions relating to remedial action; and what remedial action has been undertaken at each site. [205604]

Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the earlier responses given to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock) on 17 March and 31 March 2008, Official Report, column 736W and column 499W respectively regarding groundwater contamination and contaminated land.

Further to those responses, the highest levels of contamination at a particular site do not necessarily reflect the most serious risks to people or the environment. This usually depends on many factors which control the likelihood that pollutants might enter a “receptor” (e.g. a person or ecosystem) with harmful effect. Any remedial action will depend on the nature of these source-pathway-receptor relationships and the outcome of a risk assessment, as well as considerations of technical feasibility, costs and benefits. These are site-specific matters.


Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to assess the effectiveness of reservoir safety legislation; and if he will make a statement. [206291]

Mr. Woolas: There have been no fatalities resulting from reservoir breaches since the 1920s. The current regulatory regime has played its part in this good record. Nevertheless, there have been incidents at reservoirs, for example at Ulley Reservoir last summer. The Government will carefully consider any recommendations on reservoir safety from Sir Michael Pitt's review of the summer floods.

We are undertaking a check of critical infrastructure as a result of the 2007 summer floods.

Seas and Oceans: EU Law

Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by what means his Department plans to transpose the EU Marine Strategy Directive into UK law; what timetable has been set for the transposition; and if he will make a statement. [206397]

Jonathan Shaw: The marine strategy directive sets the overall goal of achieving good environmental status for Europe's seas by 2020.

The directive was adopted by the European Council on 14 May 2008 and will enter into force 20 days after it appears in the Official Journal of the European Union. Member states are required to transpose the directive two years after it enters into force and the UK
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will transpose the directive to this timetable using regulations under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972.

The Marine Bill will also include new powers which will help achieve the goal of the directive. It includes a range of specific measures to better manage marine activities and protect UK waters which will contribute to achieving good environmental status.

Tobacco: EU Grants and Loans

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 12 May 2008, Official Report, columns 1341-2W, on tobacco: EU grants and loans, what steps he is taking to persuade other EU member states to reduce levels of subsidy to tobacco producers. [206086]

Jonathan Shaw: As a non-producer, the UK has concerns about the cost and health implications of the tobacco regime. Subsidies are at odds with the European Community sponsored Europe Against Cancer programme and UK health objectives. The UK has always been critical of the regime.

Ideally the UK would prefer to see it abolished, and so favour progressive disengagement from the sector. Following the 2004 reform, direct support for tobacco production will be progressively brought to an end by 2010. As the majority of member states are tobacco producers it was extremely difficult to secure earlier reform of the regime however the UK is pleased that the link between production and subsidy will finally be brought to an end.

Subsidies in 2007 were €335.5 million, a reduction from the €810.9 million granted in 2006.



Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the average fine imposed on persons under 18 years convicted of purchasing or hiring an air weapon under the Firearms Act 1968 was in each of the last five years. [206164]

Mr. Hanson: Person under 18 acquiring a firearm became an offence under the Firearms Act 1968, as amended by Section 33 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006.

This Section of the Act came into effect on 1 October 2007.

Statistics for 2007 will be published in the autumn.

According to data recorded in the courts proceedings database for the offence of person under 17 acquiring an air weapon there have been no convictions over the period 2002 to 2006.

These figures have been taken from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

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Appeals: Central Government

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many times the Government have sought leave to appeal to the House of Lords from (a) the Court of Appeal and (b) the House of Lords itself in each of the last 10 years; and which of those applications were rejected. [205352]

The Solicitor-General: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. While the Treasury Solicitor's Department represents most Government departments making applications for leave to appeal to the House of Lords, it does not represent all departments. Applications for leave to appeal to the House of Lords are made on behalf of client departments by the Treasury Solicitor on instructions and the decisions on these applications are communicated to the client departments accordingly. As there has been no call from client departments to produce the figures, the Treasury Solicitor has not been able to justify the commitment of public funds to collate and record these applications from its own records, and from the records of other Government departments that have made such applications, in the form requested.

Departmental Orders and Regulations

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many statutory instruments have been (a) made and (b) revoked by Ministers in his Department and its predecessor since 1997. [204771]

Maria Eagle: In response to (a) the Department for Constitutional Affairs made 440 statutory instruments from 1997. Since 9 May 2007 the Ministry of Justice has made 118 statutory instruments. This information has been supplied by the Office of Public Sector Information from data recorded on their registration database which does not hold details of any statutory instruments made in 1997 and may hold only partial details of those made in 1998. In response to (b) this information can be supplied only at disproportionate cost. No central record is maintained of this information. Revocations will have been made by new Acts of Parliament or new statutory instruments.


James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether any officials in his Department were disciplined or dismissed for illicit drug taking in each of the last five years. [205935]

Bridget Prentice: According to centrally held records for former DCA there have been no recorded cases of discipline or dismissal for illicit drug taking.

In the public sector Prison Service, centrally held records indicate that two members of staff have been disciplined for illicit drug taking. In each case, the member of staff was dismissed from service.

According to centrally held records for former NOMS and OCJR there have been no recorded cases of discipline or dismissal for illicit drug taking.

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Electoral Register: Fraud

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people were convicted of falsifying information given on an electoral registration form in the most recent 24 month period for which figures are available. [206300]

Bridget Prentice: Unfortunately this information is not recorded in this form and to identify it would involve a relevant authority going through individual case records.

However, the Electoral Commission is working with the Association of Chief Police Officers and police forces to collect information about electoral offences so that there is a more comprehensive record for the future.

Judges: Public Appointments

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation regulates the appointment of judges; what changes have been made since enactment; what further changes are planned; what discussions he has had with (i) the Bar Council and (ii) Law Society about such legislation; and if he will make a statement. [206134]

Mr. Straw: The main legislation regulating the appointment of judges is the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 (CRA). Schedule 14 to the CRA sets out the primary and secondary legislation relating to those judicial posts where selection by the Judicial Appointments Commission is required, covering the great majority of appointments to courts and tribunals.

Amendments to the CRA are contained in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

Further planned changes to the judicial appointments process are included in the draft Constitutional Renewal Bill (March 2008).

The Bar Council and the Law Society were included in full discussions about this legislation and continue to be consulted regularly about the judicial appointments process.

London Airport

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many times his Department hired VIP facilities at (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick, (c) Luton and (d) Stansted airports in each month since May 2006; and what the expenditure on VIP facilities at each was in each of those months. [205148]

Maria Eagle: VIP facilities are usually booked through BAA Business Support Centre Ltd. The bookings through this supplier since May 2006 are as follows:

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Year/month Number of hires Cost inc. VAT (£)























































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