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Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the inclusion of recreational sea angling catches in national quota derives from recommendations of the Quota Management Change Programme. [253428]

Huw Irranca-Davies: No. The proposal to count recreational sea angling catches, in certain circumstances, against a member state’s quota forms part of the recently published Commission proposal for a Council regulation establishing a community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy. The UK Government had no discussions with the Commission prior to the publication of the proposal.

Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to his Department's Marine Programme Plan for 2008-09, when he plans to consult on the principles of quota separation; and if he will make a statement. [253431]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Last year, the Scottish Executive put forward a number of proposals to amend the existing quota management arrangements. We have yet to see any firm proposals following their consultation last year. The current quota management and licensing rules and management arrangements remain in place.

It is my strong preference to take forward discussions on quota management and licensing arrangements reform through the wider discussions on common fisheries policy (CFP) reform, now under way. This is the best way to make sure we end up with a workable approach that reflects the needs of all four Administrations and ensures we engage with the Commission and other member states productively throughout the negotiation, and that the wishes of the UK are fully reflected in the final outcome.

Floods: Motorways

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the Answer of 14 July 2008, Official Report, columns 29-30W, on floods, which stretches of motorway have a significant flood risk probability according to the Environment Agency’s flood vulnerability database. [252491]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The flood vulnerability database draws heavily on information held by other parties, and provides a summary of vulnerability to flooding in each 100 metres of land in England and Wales.

Information on motorways at risk of flooding was provided by publicly available ordinance survey data. However to geographically identify and describe each section of motorway at significant flood risk would incur disproportionate cost.

In response to the floods of 2007 and Sir Michael Pitt’s recommendations the Highways Agency has been investigating the resilience of the strategic road network to flooding. The Highways Agency is currently reviewing the Environment Agency’s fluvial flood risk maps and information on ‘Areas Susceptible to Surface Water Flooding’ to identify vulnerable locations and develop appropriate contingency measures. This work is ongoing.

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Food: Procurement

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to announce a review of the public sector food procurement initiative. [252686]

Jane Kennedy [h olding answer 29 January 2009] : DEFRA commissioned an evaluation of the public sector food procurement initiative (PSFPI) in October 2008. The evaluation is looking at what has worked well, what could be improved and will provide recommendations for the future. The final report of the evaluation is due in early February, after which we intend to publish the key findings and our response to its recommendations.

Food: Public Sector

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the Answer of 11 November 2008, Official Report, column 1130W, on 10 Downing Street: catering, what the remit of the public sector food procurement initiative is; and whether the initiative has adopted a policy on using genetically-modified food and ingredients. [250041]

Jane Kennedy: The PSFPI’s remit is explained in the guide “Putting it into practice” that can be seen at

The primary aim is to support the Government’s Sustainable Farming and Food Strategy for England, which aims to deliver a world class sustainable farming and food sector that contributes to a better environment and healthier, prosperous communities.

DEFRA’s catering toolkit asks public bodies to specify in contracts that suppliers: “Clearly label any genetically modified products used, including the presence of any genetically modified ingredients used in the preparation of the food”.

This is consistent with the Food Standard Agency’s advice on EC Regulation 1829/2003 (GM Food and Feed Regulation) that requires all foods that either consist of or contain live GMOs or foods or ingredients derived from GMOs to be labelled and traceable throughout the food supply chain.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the operation of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme by the Rural Payments Agency, with particular reference to the administration of its operational programmes. [252582]

Jane Kennedy: No such assessment has been made.

Noise: Pollution

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance his Department has issued on how local authorities should deal with noise complaints. [252631]

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Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA has issued the following guidance on how local authorities should deal with noise complaints:

These can all be found on the DEFRA website.

Pet Travel Scheme

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many pets have entered the UK from abroad in each of the last three years. [241469]

Jane Kennedy: The total number of pets entering the UK through quarantine or under the PETS scheme is as follows.









Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with pork retailers and processors on proposals for a fully integrated supply chain for pork products. [252105]

Jane Kennedy: Ministers in DEFRA have for several years promoted with retailers and processors the benefits of strong supply chain relationships for agricultural products including pork. I met with pork processors on 11 December 2008 and meet regularly with retailers to discuss a range of issues including supply chain. I welcome the recent report of the EFRA Committee into the State of the English Pig Industry and I am studying its recommendations carefully.


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of trained local authority recycling officers. [252921]

Jane Kennedy: It is the local authorities’ responsibility to recruit and train their staff, including recycling officers. However, the Waste and Resources Action Programme under its Local Authority Support Programme can provide support and guidance to officers on operational, communications and waste prevention activities.

Recycling: Standards

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department plans to introduce statutory targets for levels of recycling by local authorities. [252922]

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Jane Kennedy: Statutory Best Value Performance Indicator (BVPI) targets for levels of recycling by local authorities were last set for 2007-08.

These were replaced in April 2008 by the new National Indicators. These are now the only measures on which central Government will manage outcomes delivered by local government working alone or in partnership.

DEFRA has no plans to reintroduce any additional targets for levels of recycling by local authorities.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of changes to the rat population in each of the last four years; what provision his Department makes for the removal of (a) rats and (b) other vermin by local authorities; and what information his Department holds on the charges applicable. [253200]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The latest report on rodent presence in domestic properties as revealed by the English House Condition Survey data for 2002-03 and 2003-04 is available on DEFRA’s website. Key findings are that the occurrences of rats inside and outside properties in these years are not significantly different from those observed in 2001.

Under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949, local authorities are responsible for ensuring that their districts are kept so far as practicable free from rats and mice. Should local authorities fail to discharge their responsibilities under the 1949 Act, DEFRA has certain default powers to initiate action.

Sewers: Fats

Mr. David Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the percentage of sewer blockages caused by used cooking oil, fat, soils and greases in the last 12 months. [253712]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Water UK, the representative body for the water industry, estimates that there are on average around 200,000 sewer blockages in England and Wales each year, of which fats, oils and greases are responsible for up to 75 per cent.

Soil: EU Action

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions are planned with his European Union counterparts on the draft Soil Framework Directive. [253922]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Discussions on the draft Soil Framework Directive have been ongoing at official level since the German presidency of the European Union in the first half of 2007. DEFRA officials have taken part in bilateral meetings with like-minded and other member states to explain UK concerns. Discussions have also been held at ministerial level with a number of member states, including the Czech Republic, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Member states were unable to reach a common position at the Environment Council in December 2007. Since then, the UK has continued to engage in discussions
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both officially and at ministerial level, and will continue actively to do so in the light of the Czech presidency’s indication that it intends to seek political agreement at the June 2009 Environment Council.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan: Reconstruction

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which organisation has managed each project funded by his Department in Helmand province since 2005; what the budget of each was; how much has been spent in each case; what monitoring, impact assessments and evaluations have been undertaken; and if he will make a statement. [245776]

Bill Rammell: The UK took responsibility for Helmand province through the establishment of a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in 2006. The PRT combines the efforts of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in a comprehensive approach to development. Accordingly, the PRT delivers reconstruction and development projects from a tri-departmental budget managed jointly by FCO, DflD and MoD. £7.04 million was spent in 2006-07 and £9.99 million in 2007-08 from the Global Conflict Prevention Pool. To date, £14.08 million (of a Stabilisation Aid Fund budget of £34.41 million) has been spent in 2008-09. Prior to the establishment of the PRT in 2006 there was no specific allocation of funding to Helmand province.

The tri-departmental funding facilitates a range of projects in Counter Narcotics, Rule of Law, Strategic Communications, Governance, Political activities and Area Based Stabilisation. These projects are administered in Lashkar Gah or London dependent on the implementing agent. Projects are managed through a range of partners including the Afghan government, local community organisations, international or local non-governmental organisations or external contractors. Programmes are reviewed and updated monthly by an official in our Embassy in Kabul and the PRT in Lashkar Gah. Projects are evaluated at six-monthly intervals.

In addition to this tri-departmental budget the FCO spent £17,000 in 2007-08 from its bilateral programme fund, on Helmand specific projects.

Burma: Religious Freedom

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the State Peace and Development Council in Burma on its recent order to close churches in Rangoon. [253435]

Bill Rammell: We are concerned that the Burmese regime has imposed restrictions on churches and other places of worship for religious minorities in Rangoon. We condemn the marginalisation or persecution of any community based on their religious beliefs. The regime’s actions are part of a wider deterioration of the human rights situation in Burma and the UK will continue to
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ask the UN Secretary-General’s Good Offices mission and representatives of the UN human rights bodies to raise our concerns with the State Peace and Development Council.

China: Human Rights

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcome of the UK-China Human Rights Dialogue meeting of 12 to 13 January was, with specific reference to Tibet; and if he will make a statement. [249326]

Bill Rammell: Issues discussed at the recent human rights dialogue included China’s co-operation with international human rights mechanisms, the death penalty, reform of the administrative detention system, religious freedom in Xinjiang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea border-crossers and freedom of expression. We held detailed discussions on disability and mental health issues, and the role of the prosecutor in the UK and China in upholding defendants’ rights. We welcomed the decision to make permanent more liberal regulations on foreign journalists, but also raised our concerns about the continued detention of a signatory of charter 08. We handed over a list of 50 other individual cases and asked for further information about these. We urged China to implement the recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture and to issue open invitations to UN Special Rapporteurs to visit China. With reference to Tibet, we made clear that we remain concerned about the apparent lack of due process for those in detention in Tibet, restrictions on freedom of religion and lack of transparency. We urged renewed dialogue between the Chinese Government and representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve the underlying issues, and pressed for agreements on visits by foreign journalists and diplomats.

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