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22 Nov 2005 : Column 1847W—continued

Litter Abatement Orders

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many litter abatement orders have been served in Hertfordshire in each of the last five years. [26356]

Mr. Bradshaw: None.

Milk Price

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what encouragement she is giving to ensure that a competitive market exists for the price of milk paid to farmers. [23703]

Jim Knight: Competition issues are a matter for the Office of Fair Trading. The Government believe that as long as competition rules are respected, it should not seek to intervene in matters of pricing.

My noble Friend Lord Bach and I will nevertheless be discussing a range of competition issues with colleagues in the Department of Trade and Industry next month. And, through the Dairy Supply Chain Forum, which
 
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my noble Friend chairs, we are working with the industry to help it secure a competitive and sustainable future.

Ministerial Travel

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list, for each year since 1995, the number of flights, including helicopter flights, taken by Ministers within her Department for UK and overseas visits; on how many occasions (a) charter flights were used and (b) first and club class tickets were obtained; and if she will indicate who accompanied the Ministers on each trip. [27801]

Jim Knight: All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House. In respect of overseas travel by Ministers, since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The list indicates when non-scheduled flights were used. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Library of the House. These report information reaching back to 1995–96. Information for 2005–06 will be published after the end of the financial year.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent in each year from 1 May 1997 on ministerial travel, broken down by (a) provision and running costs of vehicular transport, (b) first class travel by rail, (c) standard class travel by rail, (d) first class travel by air, (e) club or equivalent class travel by air and (f) economy class travel by air. [27894]

Jim Knight: All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code" and Travel by Ministers", copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House. In respect of overseas travel by Ministers, since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The list indicates when non-scheduled flights were used. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Library of the House. These report information reaching back to 1995–96. Information for 2005–06 will be published after the end of the financial year.

Nappies

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much money the Department has spent on encouraging the use of washable nappies; and if she will make a statement. [25453]

Mr. Bradshaw: The cost of the reusable nappy programme managed by the Waste and Resources Action Programme is £2.8 million for the three years from 2003–06.
 
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Nuclear Waste

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what volume of (a) low level, (b) intermediate level and (c) high level nuclear waste went missing in 2004; and what percentage was recovered. [29144]

Mr. Morley: Further to my previous reply to the hon. Member on 22 June 2005, Official Report, column 1040W, the Department is not aware of any radioactive waste that has gone missing.

Palm Oil

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy to discuss new regulations with EU colleagues on preventing the importation of palm oil for food production whose production has damaged the habitat of the orangutan. [29029]

Mr. Morley: There have not been any specific discussions concerning the destruction of orangutan habitats for palm oil plantations to date.

DEFRA are commissioning research work into the impacts of internationally sourced commodity production on biodiversity. This work will seek to identify the range of commodities with the largest effects on global biodiversity; palm oil will be one of the commodities investigated. The outcomes of this work will inform future policy development in the UK and abroad. Further research is also being undertaken under the auspices of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. This was established in 2004 and is running a pilot programme in sustainable palm oil production in Malaysia.

Single Payment Scheme

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the timing of payments being made under the Single Payment Scheme. [23166]

Jim Knight: Ministers regularly assess the likely timing of Single Payment Scheme awards with officials at the Rural Payments Agency, which is responsible for the administration of the scheme in England. RPA remains on course to commence payments in February 2006 and complete 96 per cent. of payments by the end of March, in line with announcements made at the start of the year.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what public service agreements are in place with local authorities in England for the management of sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) in their areas; and what funding has been allocated to each relevant local authority in relation to the management of SSSIs in 2005–06. [30638]


 
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Jim Knight [holding answer 21 November 2005]: Currently two councils, Cornwall and Essex, have in place local public service agreements (LPSAs) which cover progress towards meeting agreed biodiversity objectives, which can include the management of SSSIs. To the extent that these are met, the councils will receive the standard funding awards that are open to all councils for LPSAs.

English Nature estimate that overall local authorities own or manage about 4.88 per cent. of England's SSSI land. SSSI landowners and managers, such as local authorities, are able to access, subject to condition, a variety of funding streams which can benefit SSSIs, including from English Nature, agri-environment schemes and from lottery or EU sources. The overall funding requirements of local authorities is a matter for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

Special Advisers

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) consultants and (b) special advisers were employed by her Department in each year since 1997; what the cost of each was in each year; and if she will make a statement. [27408]

Jim Knight: DEFRA was created in 2001. In respect of consultants I refer the hon. Member to the answers given to the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) on 13 June 2005, Official Report, columns 35–36W, and on 21 July 2005, Official Report, columns 1962–63W.

Since 2003, the Government have published on an annual basis the names and overall cost of special advisers and the number in each pay band. For the most recent information I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by the Prime Minister on 21 July 2005, Official Report, columns 158–62WS.

Information on the numbers of special advisers prior to 2003 was provided at regular intervals and this information will be available in the Library of the House. Information relating to costs for 2005–06 will be published after the end of the current financial year.


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