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Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she has taken since 20 July on best practice guidelines for labelling foods that contain allergies. 
The Food Standards Agency met with consumers and enforcement officers and with representatives of the food manufacturing industry and the catering industry during July to discuss the development of best practice guidelines on the provision of allergen information on non-prepacked foods. A further meeting with all stakeholders has been arranged for 1 December with the intention of subsequently producing draft guidance, which will be the subject of a public consultation.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many freedom of information applications her Department has received since 2000; how many have taken more than 20 days to process; and how many of these gave rise to complaints about the time taken. 
Jim Knight: As is shown in the monitoring reportspublished by the Department for Constitutional Affairs (http://www.foi.gov.uk/statsapr-jun05.htm), the Department logged 520 requests for information since the Freedom of Information Act came into force on 1 January 2005 to 30 June 2005. Of these requests, 187 took longer than 20 working days, although the majority (101) were subject to formal extensions. The Department has received four formal requests for internal review of the length of time taken to respond.
The Department for Constitutional Affairs is committed to publishing quarterly updates in relation to departmental performance under FOI, including information on both the volume and outcomes of requests. The bulletin for the second quarter was published on 30 September 2005 and can be found, together with the bulletin for the first quarter, on
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the DCA website at http://www.foi.gov.uk/statsapr-jun05.htm and in the Libraries of both Houses. The next bulletin will be published before Christmas, while an annual report will be published in early 2006.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many of the IT projects costing over £1 million in use in her Department and introduced since 1997 have been scrutinised by the Public Accounts Committee; and if she will list them. 
Jim Knight: There have been 15 IT projects costing in excess of £1 million that have been developed within and introduced into the core Department since 2001 and are currently still in use. None of these has been scrutinised by the Public Accounts Committee, although there have been some comments on the overarching programmes or schemes requiring the IT projects.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many payments for maladministration have been made by (a) her Department, (b) its agencies, (c) its non-departmental public bodies and (d) other bodies for which her Department has responsibility in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. 
Jim Knight: It is the policy of DEFRA, its agencies, non-departmental public bodies and, where appropriate, its sponsored organisations to make financial redress in accordance with the guidance set out in Chapter 18.7 and Annexes 18.1 and 18.2 of Government Accounting".
However, the information you requested relating to DEFRA's agencies, NDPB's and other bodies sponsored by Defra is not held centrally by the Department and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
|Number of payments made for maladministration|
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many rivers in England are navigable by unpowered craft; whether she plans to increase that number; and whether she plans to improve access to those waters for canoeists. 
Jim Knight: The lengths of water for canoeing on canals, rivers with public navigation rights, and rivers with formal access agreements in England total some 5,000 km (34 per cent. of the major river and canal network.
Following a study commissioned from the Countryside Agency into the feasibility of improving recreational access to water, DEFRA has asked the Environment Agency to complete agreements in four pilot areas; the Teme, Waveney, Wear, and Mersey. In addition, we are supporting the Agency in its proposals to work with other stakeholders in developing regional strategies to identify new opportunities for access to rivers and canals.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many negotiated access agreements the Environment Agency has concluded for access to waterways for users of unpowered craft. 
The National Wildlife Crime Intelligence Unit based at the National Criminal Intelligence Service has been working with internet service providers in the UK, advising them on the controls affecting the trade in wildlife items, and these providers have responded positively. Ebay, in particular, have recently revised the information given to sellers about the controls relating to the trade in endangered species.
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David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many of her Department's employees who are within one year of the official retirement age are on extended sick leave. 
Jim Knight: Ministers regularly assess the likely timing of Single Payment Scheme awards with officials at the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), which is responsible for the administration of the scheme in England. RPA is still targeting commencing payments in February 2006 and completing 96 per cent. of payments by the end of March, in line with announcements made at the start of the year.
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