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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 17 March 2003


Advertising Expenditure (Scotland)

Pete Wishart: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much the Department spent on advertising in Scotland in each year since 1999 on (a) television, (b) newspapers, (c) radio, (d) magazines, (e) billboards and (f) sporting events. [102325]

Mr. Alexander: Due to the format in which advertising information is held, to provide the information as requested would result in disproportionate costs.

Public and Advisory Bodies

Tony Wright: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the criteria are for classifying public and advisory bodies as (a) executive non-departmental public bodies, (b) advisory non-departmental public bodies, (c) task forces, (d) ad hoc advisory groups and (e) reviews; and what particular qualities or characteristics distinguish these bodies from each other. [102521]

Mr. Alexander: Generally, executive non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) operate under statutory provisions and are legally incorporated; their functions cover a national remit (including the devolved assemblies); appointments to the Board of the NDPB are made by Ministers, or by the Queen on ministerial advice; such appointments must be made in accordance with the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Administration (OCPA); the chief executive is accountable to the Board; the NDPB has its own budget; staff are employed directly by the body itself (and are not civil servants); and Ministers are answerable to Parliament for the NDPB and have the powers to wind it up subject to, where appropriate, the approval of Parliament or, where a Royal Charter has previously been granted, of the Queen.

Advisory NDPBs are usually set up administratively by Ministers, or by the Queen on ministerial advice, without the need for legislation; those appointed to the Board are independent of Government and drawn from outside the public sector; the NDPB should be a standing body existing for more than one year and meeting at least annually; the Board has a defined membership and clear terms of reference; as with executive NDPBs, appointments are subject to the OCPA Code of Practice and the remit tends to have a national focus; the Board is usually supported by staff from within the sponsoring department but is not part of a department or agency; generally the NDPB does not prepare its own accounts and instead is accounted for through the books of the sponsoring department; and Ministers are answerable to Parliament for the body and may wind it up.

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There is little to distinguish between task forces, ad hoc advisory groups and reviews. These bodies can be defined in various ways. However, the Government's response to the Sixth 'Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life' gave 3 criteria as a definition:

Some of these bodies may go on to become classified as NDPBs where the need for the body's advice continues beyond its original life span e.g. the Better Regulation Task Force, Skills Task Force and the New Deal Task Force.

Finally, as their name indicates executive NDPBs will be largely concerned with an operational or executive function while an advisory NDPB would be more likely to provide specific advice in a specialised field. Both executive and advisory NDPBs tend to be more formal and likely to run for longer than task forces, ad hoc advisory groups and reviews. The choice of the most appropriate body to be set up in a given situation will depend upon all of the criteria described here, and ministerial judgment about what would be most suitable for the intended purpose.



Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures she is taking to raise public understanding of agriculture and horticulture in the UK; and how much her Department has spent, broken down by category, on such measures since 1997. [102439]

Alun Michael: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is responsible for policies on sustainable farming and food, including plant health, plant variety rights and all aspects of horticulture. The activities and actions of the Department and its Ministers are aimed at developing and promoting these policies as cost-effectively and efficiently as possible. Defra aims to promote sustainable, diverse, modern and adaptable farming through domestic and international actions and to promote a sustainable and safe food supply chain which meets consumers' requirements.

Defra produces a number of agricultural publications, including "Agriculture in the United Kingdom", which is published annually in association with the devolved administrations. In response to a recommendation of the EFRA Select Committee in its recent report "The Future of UK Agriculture in a Changing World", Defra will publish an annual assessment of the state of the agriculture industry and its future prospects in an international context.

Defra was formed in June 2001. The Department does not maintain records of its publicity expenditure in the categories set out in the hon. Gentleman's question. To undertake attempts to identify the closest equivalents to them would incur disproportionate cost.

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Mr. Paul Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the reply of 20 February, Official Report, column 83W, on Capita, if she will list for each of the contracts awarded by her Department to Capita since 8th June 2001 (a) start and finish date of contract, (b) value of contract, (c) evaluation mechanism for successful delivery of contract, (d) penalty charges for failure to deliver, (e) penalty charges incurred, (f) service level agreements and (g) contract numbers; and if she will make a statement. [100458]

Alun Michael: Between June 2001 and December 2002 the Department made payments of £1,551,203 to the Capita Group in connection with the services identified in the Official Report, column 83W of 20 February. From information held centrally the Department is not aware that any contractual or legal remedies for specific non-performance have needed to be invoked and considers that the Capita Group has delivered the contracted services to the standards required.

The terms of contracts between the Department and its suppliers are commercially confidential.

Further information can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Chewing Gum

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans her Department has to tackle discarded chewing gum. [102598]

Alun Michael: Defra's consultation document "Living Places—Powers, Rights, Responsibilities", includes two options relating to chewing gum: R8—to include discarded chewing gum as litter to which existing litter

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duties and powers apply, and; F3—restricting the availability of chewing gum in areas degraded by persistent littering. The consultation closed on 14 February 2003. We are now in the process of assessing all the comments and considering, with other Government Departments and stakeholders as necessary, how best to take matters forward, including, where appropriate, proposals for legislation.

English Rural Development Programme

Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will publish her proposed expenditure for each of the next three years under the English rural development programme, broken down by scheme. [103146]

Alun Michael: The proposed expenditure on schemes under the England rural development programme is:

£ million

Countryside Stewardship Scheme8196111
Environmentally Sensitive Area Scheme484848
Organic Farming Scheme222323
Farm Woodland Premium Scheme111213
Woodland Grant Scheme212222
Hill Farming Allowance352727
Rural Enterprise Scheme243636
Processing and Marketing Grant888
Vocational Training Scheme444
Energy Crops Scheme555

The table does not include possible new schemes that would require modification of the ERDP and are subject to Commission approval. For example, we recently launched a pilot entry level agri-environment scheme and we have said that if this pilot is successful we intend to introduce the full scheme in England in 2005. Additional funding would have to be made available in 2005–06 to operate the scheme.

SchemeTotal Number of agreements approvedNumber of agreements approved between 2000–02(1),(2)Scheme budget 2000–06(£ million)
Countryside Stewardship Scheme13,8586,290481
Environmentally Sensitive Areas12,3001,677330
Organic Farming SchemeN/a1,085141
Woodland Grant Scheme32,7487,058139
Farm Woodland Premium Scheme/Farm Woodland Scheme10,0592,38977
Energy Crops SchemeN/a3132
Hill Farm Allowance(2)N/a9,953254


Figures for number of approved agreements are provisional as some agreements for 2002 remain to be processed. Agreements entered into before 2000 are excluded.

For Hill Farm Allowance, figure relates to number of payments made on claims received in 2002 rather than agreements approved over the years 2000 to 2002.

It is not possible directly to compare the value of approved agreements in a givenyear with the budget for that year, because (a) the majority of agreements under the land-based schemes are for commitments lasting ten years or more and with payments made annually; (b) first payments under individual agreements may not always be made in the same year as the agreement is approved; and (c) much of the current budget for land- based schemes is expended on commitments entered into before the ERDP began in 2000.

In financial year 2000–01, 83 per cent. of the total budget available for the ERDP land-based schemes was spent, and in financial year 2001–02, 89 per cent. of the total budget available for the ERDP land-based schemes was spent.

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