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1 Nov 2004 : Column 4W—continued

New Deal

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Solicitor-General how many personnel the Department has recruited under the New Deal in each of the past five years. [194028]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer given 26 October 2004]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office on 25 October 2004, Official Report, column 1052W.



Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the effects of magpies on the populations of song-birds in urban areas and the fringes of urban areas. [188547]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Magpie is known to take songbirds although the available evidence suggests that this does not have a significant adverse effect on their population levels. Defra issues a general licence allowing year round control of Magpies, and a small number of other species, to conserve wild birds. This licence may be used by authorised persons only and the landowner's permission must be obtained. This licence is among a number of general licences relating to birds that is currently the subject of a consultation exercise.
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There is no evidence to suggest that Magpies or birds of prey have played a major role in the declines of songbirds. The population status of songbird and farmland bird species is monitored and Defra is aware of declines in certain species.

By contrast a Mammal Society survey suggests that 275 million wild animals (including birds) are killed each year by Britain's estimated 8 million cats.

Public Perception Survey

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what surveys of public perceptions of her Department and of its areas of responsibility have taken place over the last 12 months; what the (a) title and (b) nature of these surveys was; what the findings of each survey were; where these findings have been published; what the cost of such surveys was; and if she will make a statement and place copies of the surveys in the Library; [176951]

(2) when she will reply to question 176951, tabled on 7 June, on surveys of public perceptions of her role. [188899]

Alun Michael: In April 2004 the Communications Directorate of Defra commissioned an omnibus tracking survey to measure public awareness of Defra, knowledge of its responsibilities and opinions on its performance.

The aim of the research was to provide a benchmark from which to track subsequent shifts in public awareness and opinion. The results will act as point of reference from which views on the Department's performance in the public arena and will help to identify where improvements need to be made.

I am placing a copy of the research in the Library of the House. The total cost of the omnibus tracking survey was £14,950 (excluding VAT). I apologise for the delay in answering these questions.

Supermarket Code of Practice

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the impact on farmers of the Supermarkets Code of Practice. [190125]

Alun Michael: The supermarkets Code of Practice seeks to regulate a limited number of practices engaged in by the major supermarkets in their dealings with their direct suppliers, relatively few of whom are farmers.

Responsibility for the Code rests with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). In February OFT published a report of their review of the operation of the code. This can be found on their website at

The review concluded that there was a widespread belief among suppliers that the Code was not working properly, but it found no hard evidence for this belief. Given the reluctance of suppliers to provide specific evidence of alleged breaches of the Code, the OFT has commissioned a focused audit of the four supermarkets bound by the Code. The purpose of the audit is to
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establish hard facts about compliance with the Code as a basis for any further action. The OFT hopes to publish a report of the audit by the end of the year.

Warm Front Programme

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many leaflets have been produced and sent this year relating to the Warm Front programme; and what the cost of this exercise has been; [192301]

(2) what criteria were used in deciding to which addresses leaflets relating to the Warm Front programme grants should be sent; [192302]

(3) how many leaflets relating to the Warm Front programme she estimates have been delivered to addresses which (a) do and (b) do not qualify for grant status in 2004. [192303]

Mr. Morley: The Warm Front scheme managers, Powergen Warm Front Ltd. and Eaga Partnership are responsible for all marketing to promote the scheme.

A range of marketing techniques are used to reach those who may be eligible for assistance. This includes direct marketing, local and national campaigns and advertising through leaflets in various facilities such as doctors surgeries, libraries and community centres. The Scheme Managers also use range of techniques to target those areas likely to contain a higher proportion of eligible households. The success rate of the various marketing strategies are monitored by the Scheme Managers to assess their impact.

Detailed information on the delivery of these activities is commercially sensitive.



Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many consultancy firms or companies have been retained by the Department since June 2001; what the projects are for which each has been retained; and what the total is of the fees paid or incurred in each case. [193426]

Mr. Touhig: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Secretary of State for Wales on 12 March 2003, Official Report, column 129W.

Since the beginning of financial year 2004–05 the Wales Office have used only one consultant firm to provide floor plans, at a cost of £569.

Ministers' Private Offices

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the running costs of Ministers' private offices in his Department have been in each year since 1997. [191375]

Mr. Hain: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my predecessor gave on 15 April 2002, Official Report, column 750W.
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The Wales Office annual report was published in April 2004 as Cm 6228, instead of a departmental report. It is available in the Library and gives information on Wales Office running costs.

Press Officers

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many press officers the Department has employed in each of the past five years. [195271]

Mr. Touhig: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 3 June 2003, Official Report, column 314.


Air Cargo

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what volume of cargo arriving at each British airport has been (a) inspected and (b) searched in each year since 2001; [194706]

(2) how many staff have been employed to inspect and search air cargo at each airport in each year since 2001. [194711]

Charlotte Atkins: Responsibility for the security of cargo flown to UK airports from outside the country rests with the relevant authorities in the country of export. Cargo that is to be carried on any commercial flight originating in the UK, whether being flown to a domestic destination or internationally, must be screened to a standard sufficient to ensure that it is safe. The screening processes can be carried out either by the airline, or by a regulated agent in the vicinity of the airport, or by exporters whose security arrangements have been approved by DfT-accredited independent validators.

The Department carries out regular visits to cargo agents and airlines to monitor compliance with the regulations.

Air Navigation Services

Mr. Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to change the basis for charging airlines for air navigation services; and if he will make a statement. [194537]

Charlotte Atkins: The Single European Sky (SES) regulations, which came into force on the 20 April 2004, require the development of a common charging scheme for the recovery of the costs of air navigation services provided to airlines and other airspace users. An implementing rule to specify the details of the new charging scheme is under development by the European Commission but has not yet been finalised.

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