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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recently supported the Amazon Deforestation-Soya Certification Project aimed at the creation of a scheme to certify sustainably grown soybeans. This project developed forest-friendly criteria to ensure that soya does not come from illegally logged areas. Additionally, the FCO is supporting a capacity-building project to enable small farmers to benefit from carbon markets and recover degraded Atlantic Forest areas through reforestation. In total, the FCO has spent approximately £1.8 million between 2005 and 2009 in forest activities through its programme funding.

Regional Development Agencies

Question

Asked by Baroness Garden of Frognal

The Minister for Trade and Investment (Lord Davies of Abersoch): The number of individuals directly paid and employed by each regional development agency as of 31 October 2009 is shown in the table below. This does not include agency or temporary workers.



2 Dec 2009 : Column WA59

RDAEmployees

AWM

338

EEDA

226

Emda

264

LDA

388

NWDA

403

ONE

415

SEEDA

296

SWRDA

337

YF

437.5

Each regional development agency has a unique structure, designed to meet the specific needs of the region. This makes it difficult to draw comparisons between numbers of RDA staff working on particular issues as each agency will have different directorates, teams and job titles for roles relating to work on education, employment and skills. Often, staff activity will overlap on many issues in a way not conducive to disaggregation. For example, the primary role of RDAs is to facilitate economic growth. Therefore to some extent, all RDA staff will have some involvement in these drivers of productivity. In view of this, the table below only gives details of RDA staff who work specifically on these issues.

RDAFTEs working specifically on education and/or employment and/or skills issues

AWM

7.0

EEDA

6.5

Emda

6.2

LDA

30.0

NWDA

16.0

ONE

10.8

SEEDA

7.5

SWRDA

9.1

YF

25.0

Tax Credits

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): I refer the noble Lord to my Answer to his Question of 27 October 2009, at col. WA143.

Timber

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Davies of Oldham): The UK supports legislation to restrict the flow of illegal timber on the EU market-the due diligence regulation-and continues to discuss it

2 Dec 2009 : Column WA60

with EU partners in arguing that it should be strengthened by including a prohibition on the first placing of any illegal timber on the market in the EU. We are working to secure agreement at Agriculture Council in December, so that the proposal can be moved quickly to the European Parliament.

We want strong legislation that will be effective in the fight against illegal logging and its associated trade.

Asked by Lord Hylton

Lord Davies of Oldham: On 1 April, the UK Government's policy to procure timber and timber-derived products from independently verified legal and sustainable sources, or those licensed under a Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) agreement, was made mandatory for central government departments. We have also actively encouraged local authorities to adopt the UK timber procurement policy voluntarily. We are working closely with the UK Timber Trade Federation and WWF and are seeing that the policy is having positive repercussions throughout UK timber supply chains.

The UK Government are committed to better reporting on their timber purchases and in July Defra published a study looking at this aspect. The report is available on the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET) website.

Unemployment

Question

Asked by Lord Higgins

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Treasury uses an assumption for the level of the UK claimant count. This assumption is based on an average of independent external forecasts and is audited by the National Audit Office.

Details of the latest assumed level of claimant count unemployment can be found in Box C1, in Chapter C on the public finances, in Financial Statement and Budget Report 2009 (HC 407).

Universities: Research

Question

Asked by Lord Judd



2 Dec 2009 : Column WA61

The Minister for Trade and Investment (Lord Davies of Abersoch): Assessment of research in higher education should aim to identify research of the highest quality as well as recognising the impact of that research. The detailed approach to assessment is rightly a matter for the higher education funding bodies. The Higher Education Funding Council for England is currently consulting on proposals for a new research excellence framework on behalf of the four UK higher education funding bodies. The consultation proposals are available on their website (http://www.hefce.ac.uk/research/ref/) and HEFCE is seeking responses from research community and research users by a closing date of 16 December.



2 Dec 2009 : Column WA62

World War I: Debts to US

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): I refer the noble Lord to the Answer provided on 25 March 2009 (col. WA137).


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