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Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to the answer of 8 January 2002, Official Report, column 764W, what information she collates on rural pubs; and if she will make it available. 
Alun Michael: The Countryside Agency collates data on rural pubs through its Rural Services Survey. The last survey undertaken in 2000 collected information on pubs, differentiating between those serving meals and those not serving meals, and between those independently owned and those which are part of a national chain. The headline
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results by parish and settlement size have been published in the Countryside Agency report entitled Rural Services in 2000.
For the 6,103 parishes recorded in the survey, data are available on the total number of pubs in the parish.
Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Henley of 4 September 2001 (Defra ref. 159940), 28 September 2001 (Defra ref. 160862), 18 July 2001 (Defra ref. 158115), 16 July 2001 (Defra ref. 157925) and 10 July 2001 (Defra ref. 157840); and what the reasons are for the delay in replying. 
Hon. Members are aware of the difficulties DEFRA faced last year in processing correspondence, following the foot and mouth disease outbreak, and the creation of the new Department. Steady progress is being made towards eliminating the backlog of cases, and performance on incoming letters has considerably improved. I can assure you that all efforts will continue to be devoted to this area until the problems have been fully resolved.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she will reply to the letter of 14 December 2001 from the hon. Member for Christchurch to the Minister of State on the Biocidal Regulations 2001. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 5 February 2002]: I am sorry for the long delay in replying to the hon. Member's letter. The Department transferred the hon. Member's correspondence to the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions on 10 April, as they have responsibility for the Biocidal Regulations.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what factors caused the delay between 23 October 2001 and 24 February 2002 in responding to the letter from the hon. Member for Christchurch about refrigerants. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 6 March 2002]: The hon. Member's letter of 23 October was faxed to the Department on 15 January following an inquiry about the length of time the response was taking. There was no trace of the original letter in the Department.
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Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what is the total establishment of her Department; and how many of these posts relate to functions of the former MAFF. 
Mr. Morley: The number of staff in DEFRA and its executive agencies on 1 March 2002 was 13,658 full-time equivalents. The number of staff in MAFF and its executive agencies at the time of the transfer was 11,038 full-time equivalents. Due to reorganisations within the Department, current posts in DEFRA relating to the former MAFF cannot easily be identified and the number of such posts could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many posts with environmental protection responsibilities were transferred to her Department from the former DETR; and how many of those posts have become vacant since the transfer. 
Mr. Morley: Approximately 500 posts with environmental protection responsibilities were transferred from the former DETR to DEFRA. Due to reorganisations within the Department, the number of those posts that have become vacant since the transfer could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times Ministers in her Department have travelled abroad at taxpayers' expense since March 2001; what countries they visited; and what the total cost of each visit was. 
Mr. Morley [holding answer 10 April 2002]: Since 1999 this Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House. The 1999 list contained information on all such visits undertaken from 2 May 1997 to 31 April 1999. Details for travel undertaken in the period 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002 will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the use of smart card technology in her Department and in the areas for which it is responsible; and what discussions she has had with private companies about the use of smart card technology within her Department. 
Alun Michael: DEFRA's e-business strategy does not currently propose the use of smart cards but as smart card technology matures and becomes more pervasive, DEFRA will consider its use as an authentication mechanism for
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e-business systems. While the Department has not had discussions with private companies about the use of smart cards, DEFRA receives information from the Office of the e-Envoy on this topic and has participated in the OeE's Smart Card Working Party which produced the Smart Card Framework document.
Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 8 January 2002, Official Report, column 736W, on fair trade goods, if she will review and increase the amount of fairly traded goods purchased by her Department during Fair Trade Fortnight. 
Mr. Morley [pursuant to the reply, 8 January 2002, c. 736W]: Support for fair trade initiatives both in developing countries and the UK has been given by the Department for International Development. This support forms part of a wider dialogue with the private sector to encourage them to adopt more socially responsible and ethical business practises.
Within DEFRA, the management of catering is outsourced and the use or promotion of particular goods is not yet a specific requirement under these arrangements though we will look seriously into making this a choice available for staff.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contracts her Department has had since 1997 with (a) Arthur Andersen and (b) Accenture for (i) accountancy, (ii) audit and (iii) consultancy work; and what staff have been seconded (A) to her Department from and (B) from her Department to these firms. 
Mr. Morley: Since DEFRA came into being on 8 June, 2001, the Department has let no contracts with Arthur Andersen or Accenture for accounting, audit and consultancy work. From records held centrally no staff have been seconded to the Department from these firms or from the Department to these firms.
Mr. Morley: Following publication, in 1998, of the Cabinet Office report 'Working Well TogetherManaging Attendance in the Public Sector' and the subsequent setting of targets for the reduction of sickness absence in the civil service this Department compiled comprehensive guidance on managing sickness absence which it successfully piloted in selected areas. Those arrangements were ready to be rolled out across the Department, when the outbreak of foot and mouth disease concentrated resources elsewhere.
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re-started, but as yet no assessment has been made as to whether the sickness absence target for 200102 will be met.
Responsibility for attendance matters within the Central Science Laboratory Agency (CSL), the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) and the Centre for Environmental Fisheries and Aquaculture Science Agency (CEFAS)all former MAFF agencieshas been delegated to the agency Chief Executives.
CEFAS has been developing a robust attendance management system incorporating return to work interviews and closer monitoring of short term absences. They are confident they are on track to meet the 2001 target and with the imminent introduction of the new arrangements they should be well placed to monitor absence levels which in turn will provide them with the best opportunity of meeting their 2003 target.
Responses from CSL and VLA have been included by letter. The Pesticides Safety Directorate, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate Agencies and the Rural Payments Agency are covered by the departmental response.
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