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Baroness Nicol: My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the ecological value of some of the old traditional orchards? Will she take all possible steps to ensure that the owners of those orchards are made aware of the support that is available to them?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, generous support is available--92 per cent of income forgone--because of the contribution that traditional orchards make to landscape, history and biodiversity; they can be havens for many bird species. As I said in my original Answer, there are over 700 stewardship agreements covering 1,000 hectares of traditional orchards. We expect more orchards to join the scheme during the year.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, is my memory correct? Was there not an agreement with other apple producing countries that they should export their apples to this country only during their own harvesting seasons and not during ours, thereby limiting the competition to our own domestic produce which is superb?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I do not wish to comment on the quality of the noble Baroness's memory! I shall consult the files and contact her later. The general point she makes about ensuring that we

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have available English apples at a time of year during which at present we rely on imports is important. That involves growing a variety of species of apples and considering such matters as staying quality.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, is it not the case that large numbers of apple orchards have been grubbed up over recent years thanks to the malign influence of the common agricultural policy? In the happy event that we were no longer subservient to that policy, would not this Government, and, indeed, any other British government, be able to do much more for English apples, both as to their quality and their variety?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I am glad to say that the orchard-grubbing schemes--they were introduced in 1990-92 and 1994-95--were revised by this Government to ensure that they are directed towards countering over-production. Support is available for traditional orchards. As I pointed out, there is 60 per cent EU funding of the £300,000 being spent on promoting cooking apples, including the Bramley and other varieties. The trade is not only one way.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, will the Government continue to support places such as Brogdale which is the centre of traditional production of the fruit trees which our growers can use? Does the noble Baroness accept that any future development is long term? Trees do not occur overnight. It is most important to have a long term project towards the survival of these trees.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, yes, the Government provide £180,000 a year to fund the conservation of a number of fruit and nut varieties through the national fruit collection at Brogdale. Some 2,000 distinct apple varieties form part of the collection.

With regard to institutions sponsored by MAFF, I visited Kew on Monday. At present it has a Fruitful Autumn Festival showing different varieties of apple. It has the connection with Queen Charlotte who gave her name to apple charlotte. Noble Lords may be interested to know that it is offering an apple identification service later this month.

Lord Colwyn: My Lords, leaving aside the dental benefits of eating many apples, is the Minister aware that the Refreshment Department provides a wide variety of apple dishes? They will continue to be available for the remainder of the day. Apples are also available in various outlets for Members to taste.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, as a dentist's daughter, I am always interested to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Colwyn, says on these matters. I am sure he will agree that as well as dental benefits there are advantages in terms of healthy eating and the avoidance of cardiovascular disease. The fruit industry has welcomed the Department of Health's announcement that it plans to introduce a national school fruit scheme which again will encourage healthy eating habits.

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3.22 p.m.

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the current rate of progress of peace negotiations in Sudan is satisfactory.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, there have been a number of positive developments during September. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) talks resumed on 21st September near Nairobi. The Sudanese President met the leader of the NDA Opposition grouping on 26th September in Asmara and further talks between the Sudanese and Ugandan Governments took place on 26th and 27th September in Kampala.

However, there is still a clear need to encourage and promote an acceleration of peace negotiations, not least because of the intense suffering that the war is causing to the civilian population in the Sudan.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her positive reply. I know of the considerable efforts that the Foreign Office is making in Sudan; and that it has increased its diplomatic representation. Nevertheless, does she agree that after several years the IGAD process of negotiations for peace in Sudan has yielded nothing for the people of Sudan? However positive it is as a round table conversation, it has not achieved positive results.

Will the noble Baroness confirm that the Foreign Office is accelerating its efforts to encourage IGAD to bring in other parties--the Egyptians, the Libyans and the Americans--to try to achieve what the churches on the ground are already achieving in local initiatives?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his remarks about the Foreign Office. As he knows, the ambassador returned to Khartoum last year. That has been of very great help.

I cannot accept that the IGAD process has been quite as negative as the noble Earl believes. In addition to what I said about developments only last month, the noble Earl will know that the Government in the Sudan last year set up a Committee for the Eradication of Abduction of Women and Children, there was the release of the 21 "Khartoum bombers", and they have agreed to review public order and other laws.

I understand that the noble Earl believes that matters are not progressing quickly enough. The process has to be allowed to develop further. Only two years ago, it received fresh impetus, in particular from the UK Government, and last year we saw the appointment of the special envoy, the Kenyan, Daniel Mboya, who commands great respect in the region. In the United Kingdom, we are helping to fund a secretariat to back up Mr Mboya's efforts.

The noble Earl may be interested to know that the UK Government will host a meeting in London next week to bring together key partners to see what else

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can be done to take this process forward. So we are engaged and we agree that we have to apply ourselves even more.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, are Her Majesty's Government supporting the move to get Sudan a seat in the Security Council this year?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, as I am sure the noble Baroness will know, voting for the General Council seats is and remains a matter which countries keep to themselves. As I understand it, unless I receive some further guidance from the Foreign Office, most governments keep their voting intentions on these matters to themselves. Given the difficulties in the Sudan, I think that that is probably in the best interests of the region at present.

Lord Harrison: My Lords, will the Minister say a little more about the initiatives which the Government will support outside the IGAD process?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I have been able to say what we are doing as part of the IGAD process with the core countries next week in London. The noble Lord will also know that, as a member of the EU, we are engaged in the EU critical dialogue. I believe that that is an important part of our efforts to help the peace process with Sudan. The noble Lord will also know that we engage with the United States Government who perhaps have heretofore taken a rather different attitude from the one that we have adopted. But we have noticed with considerable encouragement the appointment and work of the US Special Envoy, Mr Harry Johnston, who has also visited Khartoum in the recent past.

Within the country we engage with the NGOs, the churches and other organisations which we believe can make a contribution to the peace process.

The Lord Bishop of Salisbury: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the Archbishop of the Episcopal Church in the Sudan will meet shortly with other Church leaders, including those from the Islamic faith in Khartoum, in order to talk about the implications of peace among ordinary people in the Sudan? Can the noble Baroness indicate how the Government may be ready to support those initiatives to bring peace to ordinary people throughout the country, north and south? Not only are they in danger, but their property is also in danger.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the Government applaud the initiative taken by the Church in the Sudan. As I am sure the right reverend Prelate will know, we regularly meet with Church representatives and the Christian NGOs in the Sudan. We supported the visit of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Sudan for the inauguration of the Anglican bishop last year.

It is important that the religious, Muslim and animist groupings and others are recognised as having an important role to play in seeking peace in the

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Sudan. I am happy to say that our ambassador keeps very close contact with the Churches in the Sudan. I hope that they find that useful. We find it a useful channel of information about the condition of those whom the right reverend Prelate describes as the "ordinary people" in this unhappy conflict.

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