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Consultation Documents

John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the consultation documents issued by her Department in each of the last four years; what the cost was of producing each of these; how many documents were issued in each consultation; and how many responses were received in each consultation. [124574]

Alun Michael: Defra believes that policy development should be carried out in close consultation with stakeholders. Formal consultation documents are only part of this process, which can also include, for example:

The specific information requested is not collated centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, a list of all written consultations exercises carried out by Defra since its formation, including copies of the documents, can be obtained from the Department's website at: in the section entitled "Consultations".

Entertainment Costs

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she has entertained Labour hon. Members at public expense in the last 12 months, and at what cost. [106387]

Margaret Beckett: I have not done so.

EU Committees

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the names, titles and grades of the officials who sit on the EU Committee on Statistics relating to the trading of goods with non-member countries, the number of times and the dates on which it has met since January 2002, the agenda items it has considered since January 2002, the decisions it has made since January 2002 and the means used to communicate these decisions to the House. [110496]

John Healey: The Committee on Statistics relating to the trading of goods with non-member countries does not have a fixed membership, but consists of delegates drawn from each of the 15 member states. Delegates from the 10 EU accession states attended the last meeting as active observers. The UK Government are represented by officials from HM Customs and Excise, occasionally accompanied by an official from the Office for National Statistics, depending on the agenda.

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Since January 2002, the Committee has met five times on:

Agenda items considered and decisions made by the Committee since January 2002 all relate to the implementation, interpretation and application of EC legislation dealing with the collection of extra EC trade statistics. The main items under discussion by the Committee during the period in question have been the impact of EU enlargement, actions relating to the collection, processing and dissemination of data and work programmes intended to improve data quality.

Accountability and transparency to Parliament is ensured by the regular EU scrutiny process: documents which fall within the Scrutiny Terms of Reference are deposited within Parliament along with an Explanatory Memorandum for examination by the Scrutiny Committees.

Together with member states, the Commission has been conducting a review to bring existing legislation on the conduct of comitology committees into line with Council Decision 1999/468/EC, to 'simplify the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission'. The Working Group on the Friends of Comitology is meeting later this month to discuss proposals for interim reform.

The Commission is obliged to publish an annual report on the workings of the Committees. The latest report (Com (2002) 733 final, dated 13/12/02) has been published and was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses on 10 January 2003.

The UK Government have also encouraged the Commission to produce and maintain an electronic database of every comitology committee, its agendas and recent actions, to be accessible through its website.

Information Technology

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much she spent on IT (a) maintenance, (b) licences, (c) software and (d) hardware in the last financial year. [125717]

Alun Michael: During the financial year 2002–03, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (excluding Agencies and NDPBs) spent £6,225,184 on IT maintenance, £308,342 on licences, £3,910,025 on proprietary software and £12,088,211 on hardware (including operating system software on PCs and servers and first year maintenance where appropriate). The software spend includes some licence costs, which cannot easily be identified without disproportionate cost.

These figures include payments to Fujitsu Services Ltd., with whom the Department has a framework contract, of approximately £4,090,033 on IT maintenance, £320,000 for licences, £1,500,000 for proprietary software and £11,866,000 for hardware purchases.

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Marketing Budgets

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to her answer of 2 April 2003, Official Report, column 767W, on marketing budgets, if she will place evaluations of the campaigns funded in the Library. [124722]

Mr. Bradshaw: Regarding general consumer information on organic food, no evaluation is available since the possibility of providing such information is still under consideration. As was said in the response to the question from the Member for Bridgwater, direct funding is not available from Defra to support advertising campaigns.

On the marketing of organic and other quality agricultural products under the Rural Enterprise Scheme, funding is offered to individual businesses or representative organisations to assist with marketing initiatives. These projects are commercial in nature and the information is treated as confidential. Expected outcomes from these, and all other Rural Enterprise Scheme projects, are considered as part of the scheme's application assessment process against published aims for the scheme and to ensure that the Government investment achieves good value for money. The performance of each project is monitored during its lifetime to ensure agreed output targets are achieved. The effectiveness of RES support will be evaluated as part of Defra's normal policy evaluation programme.

Certain information on individual awards made under the Rural Enterprise Scheme can be provided by Defra on request. More detailed information about projects which are likely to be of particular public interest are announced through Defra News Releases, available on the Government News Network website.

Ministerial Visits (Scotland)

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times she has visited Scotland on official duties each year since 2000; and what meetings were held on each occasion. [103616]

Margaret Beckett: I visit Scotland from time to time on official duties. In line with Exemptions 2 and 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, it is not the normal practice of Governments to release details of specific meetings or their content, as some of these discussions may have taken place on a confidential basis.

Overseas Trips

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the overseas trips made by (a) herself, (b) her ministerial team and (c) departmental staff in each month since 1 October 2002, broken down by (i) the participating Ministers, (ii) the destination of the trip, (iii) the purpose of the trip and (iv) the cost of the trip. [117534]

Margaret Beckett: I and members of my ministerial team make frequent overseas trips at EU and UN fora and more widely in pursuit of Defra business. The Government publish an annual report of ministerial travel overseas. All travel by Defra civil servants is

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conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Civil Service Management Code. The detailed information requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Rights of Way

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated cost in total is of completing the mapping exercise under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. [123406]

Alun Michael: The cost of implementing Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 in England was £13.5 million to the end of March 2003.

The Countryside Agency has estimated that the remainder of the mapping exercise including contractor costs, staff and publicity will require a further £22.1 million. This is an estimated cost and there are still large external factors to be taken into account, such as the number of comment forms received from the public which need to be determined and the number of appeals to be heard. These variables could have a large impact on the final costs of the mapping exercise.

The Planning Inspectorate has spent £1.5 million up to the end of March 2003 and has a budget of £2.5 million this year. It is not possible to give a total cost for the Planning Inspectorate as this will depend on the number of appeals received.

Information on costs in Wales is a matter for the National Assembly for Wales.

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