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Lord Norrie asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: The rules of the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) require farmers to provide very detailed information on the use of their land. As part of our commitment to farmers, the Ministry seeks to ensure that the guidance explains the procedures for making an area aid application under IACS in full. Mistakes may lead to the loss of all or part of the farmer's entitlement to subsidy both under the Arable Area Payments Scheme (AAPS) and the various livestock schemes.

We do not currenlty have copies of the IACS guidance available in all other member states. I will write to the noble Lord with copies of the guidance we have been able to obtain. It should be borne in mind that shorter forms and guidance are not necessarily helpful to claimants, since they may not contain all the information needed to complete an application in full.

Milk Consumption in Schools

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Hayman: The structure of the generic liquid milk promotion campaign has yet to be decided by the dairy industry. The Government have, however, already taken action via the Intervention Board to draw the attention of schools to the existence of the EU school milk subsidy scheme, and to simplify its operations.

Intervention Board: Performance

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the Intervention Board performed against its key targets for 1998-99.[HL4687]

Baroness Hayman: The Intervention Board's performance against its key targets in 1998-99 was as follows:

Percentage of claims processed within deadlines99.0%99.4%
Percentage of claims processed correctly98.5%98.9%
Cumulative running cost efficiency gains2.5%5.3%
Improvement in index of productivity4.0%5.9%
Ratio of disallowance to EAGGF funds handled0.40%0.03%
To maintain expenditure within vote provision, cash and running cost limitsAchieved
New value for money savings in procurement of goods and services7.0%9.3%
Yield: cost ratio of anti-fraud acitivites3.0:1.02.9:1.0

Floods Action Plan

Viscount Hanworth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress the Environment Agency has made in implementing its action plan in response to the independent report on the Easter 1998 floods.[HL4690]

Baroness Hayman: The Chairman of the Environment Agency has provided a report of progress up to the end of September 1999. Copies are being placed in the House Libraries.

We are pleased to note that the agency remains on course for completing the substantial work programme set out in the action plan to the agreed timetable.

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Key developments since the agency's last report, which covered the period to end of June 1999, are as follows:

Indicative flood plain maps for all watercourses with a catchment greater than 10 square kilometres in England and Wales have been delivered to over 450 local authorities.

Pilot work on flood warning awareness has been analysed and brought together to form the basis of the 1999 public awareness campaign which commenced on 18 October and to which my honourable friend, the Parliamentary Secretary (Mr Morley) was pleased to lend his support. The first phase of the campaign focused on raising awareness of flood risk and self help measures to reduce flood damage. Future elements will repeat and reinforce these basic messages and introduce new and additional information to improve public understanding.

The head of the agency's National Flood Warning Centre has been recruited and the programme is in place for the centre to be operational by the end of the year.

The results of a review of the agency's internal management have been translated into a project plan which will see the core flood defence roles and responsibilities harmonised across the agency by the end of December 1999, with full implementation by April 2000.

Work continues in other important areas such as the project to implement the operational changes to the colour coded flood warning messages by September 2000.

The agency continues to work with local authorities in inspecting and recording the condition of all flood defences. Details of defences owned and/or operated by the agency and local authorities are being collated. However, one area of uncertainty is the inspection of flood defences owned and/or operated by third parties. The question of how to identify such defences, and the scale of the inspection exercise that will be required, is currently being considered by the agency in partnership with other operating authorities.

The agency continues to make good progress in implementing the Easter floods report and we will ensure that the House is updated on future progress.

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food/Scottish Executive Concordat

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the bilateral concordat between the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Scottish Executive will come into force.[HL4688]

Baroness Hayman: We are pleased to say that letters for formalising the bilateral concordat between this Department and the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department (SERAD) were exchanged on

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3 November. The concordat, which is in the form of an agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Scottish Executive, establishes for all matters relating to the Scottish Parliament's responsibilities for agriculture, fisheries and food an agreed framework for co-operation between the administrations.

The bilateral concordat will be complemented by a series of subject-specific concordats. The first of these, covering fisheries, has been agreed.

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We look forward to continuing the close and constructive relationship that our department has developed with SEARD following the introduction of devolution on 1 July.

The texts of the bilateral concordat and the subject-specific fisheries concordat have been placed in the Library of the House and are available on the Internet at The Scottish Executive is placing copies in the library of the Scottish Parliament.

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