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3 Nov 2004 : Column 252W—continued

Rail Security

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on security inspections undertaken across the British rail network. [194658]

Mr. McNulty: The Department for Transport's security inspectors regularly monitor the security at railway stations to ensure the requisite standards are being met.

Special Advisers

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many unpaid special advisers the Department has; what their names are; and which Government (a) bodies, (b) committees and (c) strategy groups each unpaid adviser (i) belongs to, (ii) advises and (iii) works alongside. [194062]

Charlotte Atkins: For information relating to numbers and names of unpaid advisors I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 22 July 2004, Official Report, columns 466–70W.

Special advisors, whether paid or unpaid, are employed under the terms and conditions set out in the model contract for special advisors. Unpaid advisors are appointed in accordance with the requirements of paragraph 51 of the Ministerial Code.


Deferred Divisions

Bob Spink: To ask the Leader of the House since its introduction, how many deferred divisions have been held in each parliamentary Session since they were introduced. [194916]

Mr. Hain: The number of deferred divisions held in each parliamentary Session since they were introduced is as follows:
Number of deferred divisions
2003–045 so far

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Departmental Publications

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the Department's target is for the interval between publication of (a) departmental announcements and documents and (b) material published by public bodies for which his Department has oversight and their posting online; and what the average interval was in the latest year for which figures are available. [195395]

Mr. Timms: No figures are currently available for the average interval in the latest year between the publication of a document or announcement by any of the Chancellor's departments and its posting on their website.

The Debt Management office has targets to publish the results of gilt auctions within 40 minutes, the results of Treasury bill tenders within 30 minutes and the results of ad hoc or other tenders within 15 minutes. In 2003–04 the intervals met these targets.

The Chancellor's other departments do not have interval targets. For scheduled releases, documents and announcements are in general uploaded at the same time as publication. For unscheduled releases, the departments and public bodies aim to upload documents and announcements as soon as possible after publication.

Independent Savings Accounts

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to change the amount of tax-free savings it is possible to deposit in independent savings accounts. [195582]

Mr. Timms: The Government regularly keep under review incentives for saving, including Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs). Decisions on these issues are a matter for the Chancellor as part of the normal Budget process.
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Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 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. [193418]

Alun Michael: The information requested is not held centrally and cannot be provided at proportionate cost.


Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent on the implementation of recommendations of the Curry Report. [190108]

Alun Michael: Implementation of recommendations in the report of the Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food, chaired by Sir Donald Curry, is being taken forward through the Government's Strategy for Sustainable Farming and Food (SSFF), which was launched in December 2002. As part of the 2002 Spending Review, the Government announced a sum of £500 million to implement the strategy. This is in addition to existing spending by Defra and other Government Departments which is already being used to deliver aspects of the strategy.

The additional funding provided covers a number of major aspects of the strategy. These include the new Environmental Stewardship Scheme (Entry Level and Higher Level) and the IT system to underpin all the England Rural Develop Programme (ERDP) schemes; improvements in livestock traceability and other major animal health and welfare measures; and new food chain initiatives such as the Food Chain Centre and English Farming and Food Partnerships.

The table shows the actual spending in 2003–04 and the broad breakdown over the remainder of the Spending Review period.
£ million

Additional money to be made available via grant schemes9111131
Investment into research and new technology1.
Development and implementation of new agri-environment and rural development schemes, including IT development costs3354151238
Development and implementation of new Whole Farm Approach to reduce bureaucracy and burden on farmers2.77817.7
IT systems to support livestock identification and tracing36568136
Investment to reduce the likelihood and impact of an animal disease outbreak214945115

Delivery of the strategy in the English regions is being facilitated by many public body and industry representatives and these organisations are working together with both resource and funding support to deliver the vision set out in the strategy. They are making use of Government grants, industry support and the resources of Government Offices and Regional Development Agencies, as well as other Government bodies participating in regional steering groups. Existing support programmes, including the ERDP have been targeted to deliver SSFF regional action plans. Given the number of public and industry bodies contributing to regional delivery, it is not possible to quantify precisely the level of support being made available to fund delivery of the strategy.
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Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs between what ranges she estimates the fox population has fluctuated in the last five years; what estimate she has made of how many foxes died in each of those years, broken down by cause; and what estimate she has made of those figures in future years if hunting with hounds is ended. [189814]

Alun Michael: Lord Burns reported that the pre-breeding fox population of England and Wales was estimated to total some 217,000. He noted that this almost trebled during the breeding season, but that the pre-breeding population was roughly stable, suggesting that some 400,000 foxes died each year. He also noted that hunts were estimated to kill some 21,000 to 25,000 foxes annually, which equated to approximately 6 per cent. of fox deaths per year. This does not suggest that a ban on hunting will have a significant impact on overall fox numbers in future years. Defra does not itself make estimates of the fox population nor provide a year by year comparison.

Grey Squirrel

Diana Organ: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the cost of the destruction of trees in (a) community forests and (b) other planting schemes by the grey squirrel. [192516]

Mr. Bradshaw: No specific estimate has been made of the likely cost of grey squirrel damage to woodland planted under the community forest programme or any other support mechanism. However, it is accepted that grey squirrels can cause serious damage to woodlands.

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