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Lord Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) regular teachers in the maintained sector in England rose from 394,000 in January 1992 to 419,600 in January 2002, an increase of 25,600. The provisional number of FTE regular teachers for January 2003 is 423,900. The supply of teachers in Northern Ireland is the responsibility of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Genetically Modified Crops

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): GM Nation?—the public debate on GM issues—is being managed by an independent steering board at arm's length from government and is not limited in the way described. A total of six (not four) public regional launch events have been held in Birmingham, Swansea, Taunton, Belfast, Glasgow and Harrogate. These events were open to all and signified the beginning of the debate programme. Participants were encouraged to register their interest in attending and tickets were made available on a first come, first served basis.

The steering board has also sent hundreds of letters to local authorities and other organisations, including all county councils, inviting them to organise their own events more locally, with the help of a debate toolkit. So far 15,000 feedback forms, 5,500 booklets, 1,700 CD-ROMs and 500 videos have been sent out.

In addition, anyone can get involved in the debate through the interactive debate website at Thousands of people have already done so.

Written Answers to Questions HL 2749 and HL 2824 were given to the noble Lord on 18 June 2003 and an Answer to HL 2983 was given on 24 June 2003.

Grey Squirrels

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will authorise the importation of a quantity of grey squirrels from North America with a view to their release into the wild to establish whether the bark-stripping behaviour of the grey squirrels currently in the United Kingdom could be suppressed by an infusion of new bloodlines.[HL3390]

Lord Whitty: The release of grey squirrels into the wild in Great Britain is prohibited under Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. In England the department (or in Scotland and Wales the relevant devolved administration) has the power to license an exception under the act. However, my department has not received an application for a licence to release grey squirrels for any such purpose. Any application would be considered on its merits but it is unlikely that we would consider granting a licence without compelling evidence that introducing new bloodlines would reduce, rather than add to, the environmental damage caused by grey squirrels currently living feral in Britain.


Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the tonnage of batteries disposed of annually in the United Kingdom, in general, and nickel cadmium in particular; what is the content of heavy metal involved; what recycling facilities are (a) available now and (b) planned for the next two years.[HL3429]

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Lord Whitty: A government-funded study from 2000 predicted that a total of 186,314 tonnes of batteries would arise as waste in 2002. Of these, 2,279 tonnes were predicted to be nickel-cadmium batteries and 162,993 automotive and industrial lead-acid batteries. This corresponds to 396 tonnes of cadmium and 104,044 tonnes of lead.

Ninety per cent of waste automotive and industrial lead acid batteries in the UK are recycled at one of two UK lead smelters, Britannia Refined Metals in Kent and H.J. Enthoven & Sons in Derbyshire. Button cells containing mercury are recycled in the UK at Odin Technology and Mercury Recycling. Spent silver oxide batteries are reprocessed by Engelhard Ltd. A scheme called Bat-Re-Back has been established to collect industrial nickel cadmium batteries. These are currently sent to France to be recycled. According to the European Batteries Recycling Association 424 tonnes of nickel-cadmium batteries, from the UK, were recycled in 2002.

In addition to these types of waste batteries, around 20,514 of waste primary consumer batteries were predicted to arise in 2002. A major pilot scheme for collecting consumer batteries is currently underway in Bristol which hopes to collect batteries from every household in the city. The scheme planned to send the batteries collected to Britannia Zinc for recycling, but due to the closure of the zinc smelter the batteries will now be recycled abroad.

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Agricultural Products: Export Subsidies

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What timetable they envisage for the phasing-out of export subsidies paid by the European Union on farm products.[HL3536]

Lord Whitty: The Doha declaration commits all WTO member countries to negotiations aimed at reductions of, with a view to phasing out, all forms of export subsidies for agricultural products. The Government fully supports this commitment.

The proposal which the EU submitted to the WTO in January suggested an average 45 per cent cut in the budgetary outlay on export subsidies over six years and a permanent phasing out of some export subsidies, especially where developing country markets were affected. This is a good start but falls short of the proposal made by the chairman of the Special Session of the Agriculture Committee, Stuart Harbinson, that developed countries should phase out all export subsidies over nine years.

The negotiations are to continue in Special Sessions of the Agriculture and the fifth WTO Ministerial Conference in Cancun in September. The Government will press for an outcome on export subsidies which properly reflects the commitment in the Doha declaration.

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