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8 Mar 2007 : Column 2180W—continued

Environmental Stewardship Scheme

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) number, (b) area and (c) value is of new (i) entry-level and (ii) higher-level environmental stewardship schemes that have been offered since 1 January. [125037]

Ian Pearson: The following table confirms the position as at 28 February 2007:

Entry-level stewardship (ELS) Higher-level stewardship (HLS)

Number of agreements

1,106

98

Area under agreement (ha)

205,234

14,976

Expected total value of agreements (£)

29,714,460

13,639,102


The financial figures represent the agreement value over the five-year life span for ELS and the 10 year life span for HLS.

Tenants Farmers

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many tenant farmers will be affected by the closure of the adjudication scheme; and if he will make a statement. [123861]

Ian Pearson: We believe, that few, if any, tenant farmers will be directly affected by the decision to withdraw funding for the adjudication scheme to support the Code of Good Practice on tenant farmer diversification.

However, this decision was not taken lightly. It was always expected that the Code of Good Practice would be the primary tool for the majority of landlords and tenants to assist them in reaching agreement on
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proposals for diversification. Parties would only have referred to the adjudication scheme where agreement was not possible. The scheme would have provided an independent view of the merits or otherwise of the diversification proposal, but would not have imposed any obligation on either landlords or tenants to comply with the decision. Whilst funding for the scheme has now been withdrawn, the Code continues to be available to provide useful and informative advice to farm tenants and their landlords on how to deal with proposals for diversification.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether tenant farmers who took up the adjudication scheme in 2006 will be able to continue to receive money from it; whether those who were engaged in diversification negotiations with landlords before the scheme closed will be able to claim; and if he will make a statement. [123862]

Ian Pearson: There were no applications for the adjudication scheme to support the Code of Good Practice on tenant farmer diversification in 2006, either from tenant farmers or landlords.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department expects to save by closing the adjudication scheme; how those savings will be used; and if he will make a statement. [123863]

Ian Pearson: The budget for the adjudication scheme to support the Code of Good Practice on tenant farmer diversification was £240,000 over a period of four years. As there were no applications for the adjudication scheme in the first year, and given the pressures on DEFRA’s budget, the decision was taken to end the scheme. This decision was not taken lightly. The withdrawal of funding for the scheme will contribute generally to savings across the Department.

Floods: Property

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many properties his Department purchased in high-risk flood plains in each of the last three years for which records are available. [124945]

Ian Pearson: The Department has not purchased any properties in high-risk flood plains in the last three years for which records are available.

Internet

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department has amended its communications (a) strategy and (b) budget in response to the recommendations of the Transformational Government strategy, with particular reference to environmental communications websites. [120414]

Ian Pearson: DEFRA fully supports Transformational Government. The Department’s web communications strategy reflects the need to provide
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more customer-focused information and services via Directgov and Business Link, the Government’s primary websites for citizen and business engagement. DEFRA has established an environment and greener living section on Directgov. This provides practical advice and guidance for citizens at home and at work to help tackle climate change and other environmental issues. It includes sections on shopping, travel, food and drink, waste and recycling, energy and water saving, gardening, and ideas on how to be greener in the workplace, school or community. DEFRA will continue to work closely with other Government Departments and delivery partners to offer a broader range of environmental information via this service.

DEFRA is in the process of reviewing the budgets available for web communications for the next financial year to ensure the Department can deliver the Transformational Government agenda.

Pesticides: Orders and Regulations

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the (a) one-off and (b) recurring cost of implementing the Pesticides (Maximum Residue Levels in Crops, Food and Feeding Stuffs) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2000 to (i) businesses and (ii) the regulators. [125606]

Ian Pearson: No such amending regulations were made in 2000.

However, costs to both businesses and regulators were estimated when the latest consolidated regulations were drawn up. These came into force as the Pesticides (Maximum Residue Levels in Crops, Food and Feeding Stuffs) (England and Wales) Regulations 2005.

Copies of the regulatory impact assessment prepared in respect of these regulations are available in the Library of each House of Parliament.

These regulations on maximum residue levels provide standards for trade in crops and animal produce and also ensure a high standard of consumer protection in relation to pesticide residues in food.

Processed Animal Proteins (England) Regulations 2001

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the (a) one-off and (b) recurring cost of implementing the Processed Animal Proteins (England) Regulations 2001 to (i) businesses and (ii) the regulators. [125604]

Mr. Bradshaw: A full regulatory impact assessment was published alongside the Processed Animal Proteins (England) Regulations 2001. Copies were made available in the Library of the House.

The successful application of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) feed controls has brought about a year-on-year reduction in the incidence of BSE. This, along with the Government’s other BSE controls, has enabled the over-30-month scheme to be replaced, at an annual saving to the taxpayer of £300 million, and paved the way for the beef export ban to be lifted.


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Deputy Prime Minister

Departments: Equal Opportunities

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps his Department (a) has taken and (b) will be taking to ensure that it is in compliance with the gender equality duty in the Equality Act 2006 by the April 2007 deadline. [120994]

The Deputy Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 9 January 2007, Official Report, column 510W.

Official Engagements

Mrs. May: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his (a) external and (b) internal diary appointments were for each week of January 2007. [122390]

The Deputy Prime Minister: In addition to business in the House, I chaired a number of Cabinet Committee meetings and also participated in Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings chaired by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I also had a number of meetings with ministerial colleagues and officials. As has been the practice of successive administrations, information relating to internal meetings, including the proceedings of Cabinet and its committees, is generally not disclosed as to do so could harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion.

On behalf of the Prime Minister, I travelled to Bulgaria and Romania and met the Presidents and Prime Ministers of both countries to congratulate them on their accession to the European Union, as well as holding a range of meetings with other senior ministers and politicians on issues of mutual concern.

I attended a reception hosted by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at Downing street to launch the Government’s plans for the commemoration of the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade. Prior to this, I met the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Hague) and the right hon. Member for Gordon (Malcolm Bruce) to discuss arrangements for the bicentenary. I held a working lunch with chief executives and representatives of key local authorities to discuss the commemorations being planned around the country. I also chaired a meeting with the high commissioners and ambassadors of a number of Caribbean and African countries to discuss the international aspects of this anniversary year.

Also in January, I gave a speech on the future of local government at the New Local Government Network conference and addressed the Opportunity Age Strategy Partnership Group on the challenges and opportunities of an ageing society.

I hosted a reception for the Indonesian-UK Islamic Advisory Group, which was established by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President Yudhoyono of Indonesia to bring together Islamic representatives from both countries to advise on countering radicalism and promoting mutual understanding and tolerance between Islam and the West.


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I also chaired a meeting of key stakeholders to discuss the UK contribution to the Shanghai Expo and hosted a meeting for the chairs of the Regional Development Agencies.

10 Downing Street: Official Hospitality

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what the estimated cost to the public purse was of the event held at 10 Downing street on 3 March involving 60 members of the public; [126063]

(2) if she will place in the Library a transcript of the event held at 10 Downing street on 3 March involving 60 members of the public. [126064]

Hilary Armstrong: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 26 January 2006, Official Report, column 2127W, as this refers to the whole citizens forum process. A comprehensive report of the Citizens Summit event held at Downing street on 3 March will be published later in the month and a copy will be placed in the Library for the reference of Members.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if she will invite 60 randomly selected members of the Labour Party into Downing street to discuss the issues raised in the Government’s policy review. [126065]

Hilary Armstrong: Any event specifically involving Labour party members would be a matter for the Labour party.

Project George

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 1016W, on Project George, what estimate of costs has been budgeted for within the Cabinet Office estates budget; what the remit and purpose are of Project George; what the timetable is for the works; whether the works will require planning permission; whether (a) the Chancellor of the Exchequer and (b) HM Treasury have been consulted on the (i) planning and (ii) implementation of the project; and if she will place in the Library the architect's plans for the project. [124749]

Hilary Armstrong [holding answer 2 March 2007]: No significant refurbishment works have been undertaken at 70 Whitehall and the Downing street complex since the large-scale rebuilding works that took place between 1960 and 1963. Much of the infrastructure at 70 Whitehall now needs to be renewed and/or upgraded, including ventilation and cooling systems, electrical transformers, and IT and telecommunications cabling, and we are also seeking to improve access and reception arrangements and other essential maintenance works. A decision has been taken to pursue necessary improvements through ongoing annual maintenance works. Planning permission and/or listed building consent will be sought where required. Any costs involved in the maintenance and improvement of the Cabinet Office estate will be included in the Cabinet Office accounts.


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Northern Ireland

Belfast Festival

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what funding his Department has made available to the Belfast Festival at Queen's in each year since 1997; and what steps he is taking to increase the funding made available by his Department to the Festival. [125042]

Maria Eagle: The following table shows the total funding made available from Government Departments and agencies (including National Lottery funding) in each year since 1997 to the Belfast Festival at Queen's.

£
Total

1997-98

290,911

1998-99

277,167

1999-2000

371,707

2000-01

294,000

2001-02

479,915

2002-03

316,084

2003-04

325,000

2004-05

364,350

2005-06

275,355

2006-07

234,500


On 16 February 2007, I announced a one-off, exceptional grant of £150,000 from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure towards costs for the 2007 Festival.

Conservation Areas

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what public consultation the Department of Environment has undertaken on the plans for the Malone conservation area. [125541]

David Cairns: All new policy and guidance affecting the Malone conservation area is subject to public consultation. This has included interim supplementary guidance published in August 2006 and specific policies for the area published as part of the draft Belfast metropolitan area plan. In addition, all planning applications within the area are subject to public consultation through press advertisements and neighbour notification.

At this point in time, my Department has no other proposals for public consultation for the area.


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