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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The countries in which the trees were logged and the timber produced could not be identified from the information provided by central government departments. To attempt to establish the countries of origin could be done only at disproportionate cost and there is no certainty that such an exercise would provide all the information sought.
The Government's timber procurement policy requires central government departments actively to seek to purchase their timber and timber products from legal and sustainable sources. To show that they have complied with this requirement suppliers would be expected to produce evidence that is, or can be, independently verified as credible. Forest management and chain of custody certification is likely to be the simplest way for many suppliers to demonstrate that their claims are credible. The fact that over 40 per cent of UK woodland is certified to standards that meet the Government's requirement should enhance the potential that UK-produced timber has for satisfying the needs of government departments. Encouraging the use of UK timber has to be balanced with provisions in the European treaty which prohibit public sector contracting authorities from defining their requirements with the objective or result that access to the contract is limited to domestic
In 1998 the Government published the UK Forestry Standard which was developed specifically for forests in the United Kingdom in consultation with all stakeholder groups. It sets out our requirements of sustainable forest management and how this is achieved through the regulatory framework, including the control of felling through the felling licence system. Timber felled under UK regulation and with documentary evidence of chain of custody can be shown to have been felled in accordance with the UKFS but will lack the value of an independent process for verification of sustainable forest management.
In order to satisfy the demand for a system of voluntary independent certification of sustainable production, the Government facilitated the development of the UK Woodland and Assurance Standard (UKWAS). This is a voluntary certification standard suitable for use by certifying bodies. UKWAS was developed, and is managed by, a broad partnership of forestry, environmental and social organisations. Woodlands that satisfy the requirements of UKWAS are being managed to a standard recognised by UK and international forestry, environmental and social organisations. Forest management and chain of custody audits have to be carried out by accredited certification agencies.
All Forestry Commission woodlands and increasing numbers of private woodlands are now certified. The Government estimate that 60 per cent of UK timber production now comes from independently certified woodlands. Wood processors, from sawmills to charcoal producers, were able to seek chain of custody certification and many now have this in place. This provides the highest level of proof that what is purchased is in fact material that has been sustainably grown. lynne
Lord Williams of Mostyn: Acts of Parliament are published on the HMSO website in the form in which they are enacted. The website makes clear that no amendments are incorporated and that users should check the status of any piece of legislation. A notice on the website also draws attention to the development of the statute law database, which for any piece of legislation will indicate whether it is in force and the amendments which have been made by subsequent
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The underspend was not transferred from 2001 to 2002. The money paid to the Ulster-Scots Agency from 1 January to 31 March 2002 formed part of the agency's provision for the year 2002.
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