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Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for North-East Derbyshire which was acknowledged on 11 December, reference 162918. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 14 February 2002]: I am sorry for the delay in replying to my hon. Friend. His letter raised issues that are for the Treasury to answer and it has been passed to them for reply.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects to reply to the letter of 20 December 2001 from the hon. Member for Totnes regarding constituent Mr. Trevor Pennington and a declaration by Devon county council on 27 February 2001. 
Mr. Morley: A reply to the hon. Member's letter was sent on 6 March 2002.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what was the (a) percentage and number of rail journeys undertaken on first class tickets, (b) average cost of a first class journey by rail and (c) total cost of rail travel in each of the past four years broken down by grade of civil servant. 
Mr. Morley: Unfortunately it is not possible to provide this detailed information without incurring disproportionate costs.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy that rail journeys undertaken by staff in her Department should ordinarily be on standard class tickets. 
Mr. Morley: Section 8 paragraph 8.2.1 of the Civil Service Management Code requires Departments and agencies to ensure staff use the most efficient and economic means of travel in the circumstances, taking account of any management benefit or the needs of staff with disabilities. These central principles are repeated in departmental and agency staff handbooks which also stress that official journeys may be taken only after other options of conducting official business (such as via telephone, email or video conferencing) have been considered unsuitable. These rules ensure that any official journey is undertaken only when appropriate and by the most appropriate means.
Following the creation of DEFRA my officials are reviewing a wide range of travel policies and procedures to take account of our responsibilities towards the environment. Indeed, the Department is developing a new framework, provisionally titled "Framework for Sustainable Development on the Government Estate", that
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will cover key operational areas across Government and, among other things, require Departments to promote greener modes of travel.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the extent of the gender pay gap among staff in her Department. 
Mr. Morley: As part of a review of its pay system, DEFRA commissioned two pay equality audits by independent consultants (the Institute for Employment Studies). These were carried out between July and October 2001. The consultants were aware that the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) Task Force "Just Pay" report had been issued. They were provided with a copy of that report and a draft version of the Cabinet Office's Equal Pay guidance (which was subsequently finalised and issued in January 2002).
The purpose of the two audits was to assess existing and any continuing pay equality issues "before and after" implementation of proposed changes to the pay system. The reports provided a range of statistical studies, including pay level analysis by gender.
The first audit provided baseline information by assessing DEFRA's current pay system and staff pay levels. The second audit then reviewed pay levels (projected through three years) following assumed implementation of pay system proposals. The results indicated that the changes proposed to the pay system would bring about improvements.
DEFRA is aware that the Government have committed Departments and agencies to review their pay systems by April 2003 and prepare action plans to close any equal pay gaps. The information from these earlier audits will provide essential background for a more comprehensive equal pay audit.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent discussions she has had with EU (a) member and (b) applicant states on CAP reform; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 March 2002]: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has had discussions on CAP reform with colleagues from Spain, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and Poland since 1 January 2002.
Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent on the campaign to eradicate the ruddy duck in Britain; how much is expected to be spent by the conclusion of the campaign; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: The Government are undertaking a control trial to test the feasibility of eradicating the UK's population of ruddy duck within 10 years, determining
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the financial cost of such a programme and indicating the number of birds needed to be culled each year to achieve this.
The control trial is being undertaken to investigate the best possible way for the UK to conserve the globally threatened white-headed duck which is threatened by the ruddy duck. The control trial has not yet concluded and no decision has yet been taken on whether to proceed on a campaign to eradicate the ruddy duck.
The total cost of the control trial is approximately £900,000 (this has increased slightly as a result of disruption to the work programme caused by foot and mouth disease). Payments of approximately £140,000 remain before the control trial concludes on 30 June 2002.
Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated population of the ruddy duck in Britain was at the start of the campaign for their eradication; what the population is; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Meacher: No decision has yet been taken on whether to undertake a campaign to eradicate the ruddy duck in the United Kingdom. Figures are given in relation to the Government's control trial.
The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBs) data are the best source of information for ruddy duck numbers. During the winter of 199899, prior to commencement of the control trial, these counts identified a minimum of 3,641 birds (although this does not include information from one important site). The most recently published WeBs counts are for 19992000. These found a minimum of 4,565 birds.
The Government consider that action needs to be taken to ensure that the globally endangered white-headed duck, the only native European species of stiff-tailed duck, does not become extinct. The success of the control trial however should not be judged simply on the number of ruddy ducks controlled. The contractors must design a population model to establish the feasibility of eradication, estimate the cost of such a strategy, carry out population counts at various sites and test methods of control at various habitats and during various seasons, including the examination of trapping as an alternative to shooting at sites where shooting is not feasible.
Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received from the Blackrock Lave Net Salmon Fishermen's Association about the future of salmon fishing in the Severn estuary; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Morley: We have received a number of representations on behalf of the Blackrock Lave Net Salmon Fishermen's Association in connection with the Environment Agency consultation on a Salmon Action Plan for the Severn estuary. The plan seeks to ensure the long-term sustainability of salmon stocks and the fisheries it supports. Views have been sought on several options to reduce the numbers of salmon caught and so protect stocks. The agency will take into account all comments received and aims to publish the final plan in the summer.
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Should this recommend fishing restrictions these would be subject to a further public consultation and require DEFRA approval.
Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will issue her draft combined heat and power strategy for consultation. 
Mr. Meacher: We will issue the draft strategy for consultation shortly.
Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action her Department plans to take to achieve the Government's target to double the UK use of CHP by 2010. 
Mr. Meacher: The Department is developing a CHP strategy in close collaboration with other Government Departments. This will set out the measures needed to achieve the target to double installed Good Quality CHP electrical capacity to at least 10,000 MW by 2010. We will issue the draft strategy for consultation shortly.
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