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Mr. Morley: Information is only readily available in relation to schemes undertaken by the Environment Agency, local authorities and internal drainage boards, for which the Ministry is providing grant aid.
Mr. Gill: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he was first informed of the risk to animal health arising from (a) legitimate and (b) smuggled meat from Africa; and what action was taken. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 9 March 2001]: The importation into the Community of fresh meat from third countries is governed by harmonised Community legislation. Under these rules, imports are only permitted from those countries or parts thereof where there is not considered to be a risk to human and animal health.
All meat imported directly into the UK from third countries must enter, and is subject to veterinary inspections, at designated UK border inspection posts (BIP). All consignments are subject to documentary and identity checks and at least 20 per cent. of consignments are subject to physical checks in accordance. These checks are to ensure that conditions of import have been complied with and that the products have remained in a satisfactory condition during transport. They are carried out by official veterinary surgeons employed by the local authority in which the BIP is located.
With regard to illegal imports of meat we are aware of continuing risk that meat could be brought into the UK either from third countries or via other Member States which do not comply with UK import conditions. Both MAFF and Customs officials take immediate action and as soon as such consignments are identified. Any meat identified as illegal is seized and destroyed.
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Mr. Morley [holding answer 9 March 2001]: Given the prevalence of juvenile haddock in the northern North Sea urgent consideration is being given to improved technical conservation measures. These are necessary whether or not there has been diversion of effort from cod to haddock.
Ms Quin: We have had a number of inquiries from businesses concerning the export of hides and skins. They have been advised that such exports can take place so long as they meet the requirements of Commission Decision 2001/172/EC.
Under Commission Decision 98/256/EC (as amended), however, bovine hides may not be exported to a destination outside the UK if they are intended for use in human food, animal feed, cosmetic, pharmaceutical and medical products.
Mr. Flynn: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what his estimate is of the number of people employed in agriculture in each of the past 15 years; and what the percentage change was in each year. 
|Year||Number (Thousand)||Percentage change|
In 1998, fundamental changes were made to the June Census labour questions which may have affected response. Therefore, figures from 1998 onwards are not strictly comparable with those for earlier years.
June Agricultural and Horticultural Census
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Ms Quin: The level of compensation is set out in Schedule 3 of the Animal Health Act 1981. Where the animal slaughtered was affected with foot and mouth disease, compensation shall be the value of the animal immediately before it became affected. In every other case, (eg animals exposed to infection but not affected) compensation shall be the value of the animal immediately before slaughter.
Ms Quin [holding answer 6 March 2001]: The level of compensation is set out in Schedule 3 of the Animal Health Act 1981. Where the animal slaughtered was affected with foot and mouth disease, compensation shall be the value of the animal immediately before it became affected. In every other case, (eg animals exposed to infection but not affected) compensation shall be the value of the animal immediately before slaughter.
Ms Quin [holding answer 5 March 2001]: Young people can most effectively be helped through policies, such as those under the Action Plan for Farming, that support an efficient, competitive and environmentally aware agricultural industry that will be sustainable in the future. Further measures under the England Rural Development Programme will be targeted at young entrants where appropriate.
(3) what discussions he has had with the European Commission on its decision to restrict refunds on processed goods by introducing the export refund certificate system; 
(4) if he will make a statement on the mechanism recently introduced by the European Union to split the year into six application periods for the operation of export refund certificates; 
(5) if he will make a statement on the policy of the EU to apply reducing co-efficients to exports and on the impact this will have upon (a) the exporting agents and (b) the principal's budgets. 
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Ms Quin [holding answer 6 March 2001]: The EU is committed under the WTO Uruguay Round agreement to reducing expenditure on export refunds. This applies to export refunds for both agricultural raw materials and to processed agricultural products. These refunds are provided to compensate for the higher price of EU raw agricultural materials which is supported under the CAP and is higher than prices on the world market.
The UK's long-term aim is the reform of CAP to lower EU prices and to remove the need for export refunds--but this will take time. Meanwhile our priority is to ensure that WTO and CAP budgetary commitments are honoured with minimum damage to export competitiveness of UK industry. In consultation and with the support of our industry my Department has been active in developing these arrangements with the Commission.
A system of refund certificates was introduced last year with the agreement of member states to keep expenditure within WTO limits. Under this system there are six tranches available in which traders may obtain time- limited refund certificates. These tranches are intended to facilitate planned access to refunds by traders throughout the year. If demand for certificates exceeds funds allocated within a tranche, access to refunds is adjusted by means of a reducing coefficient. The intention at times of such shortfall is to provide increased flexibility to enable processors to access raw materials at (cheaper) prices from the world market.
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