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9 May 2007 : Column 222W—continued


9 May 2007 : Column 223W

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Productivity

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to help improve the productivity of farming. [136075]

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 8 May 2007]: Total factor productivity for UK farming, which shows the volume of output leaving the industry per unit of all inputs including fixed capital and labour, rose by 2.1 per cent. in 2006. More information about the productivity levels of UK farming can be found in the DEFRA publication ‘Agriculture in the United Kingdom’.

DEFRA continues to conduct research, at both the farm level and through aggregate comparisons with other countries, into what influences the productivity of UK farming.

Improving productivity is a key element for our vision for farming, which identifies an industry that is profitable in the market place, makes a positive net environmental contribution and manages the landscape and the natural assets that underlie it.

We are undertaking a range of actions to improve the competitive position of farming in England. These include:


9 May 2007 : Column 224W

Black Environment Network: Finance

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have provided to the Black Environment Network; for what purpose the funding was provided; and what the outcome of such funding has been, broken down by project. [135406]

Barry Gardiner: The following table shows funding contributions to the Black Environment Network (BEN) over recent years from English Nature and the Countryside Agency (CA), as founding bodies for Natural England.

£
Countryside Agency English Nature Natural England

2002-03

13,300

3,000

2003-04

7,700

3,000

2004-05

7,800

7,000

2005-06

5,200

3,000

2006-07

0

0

0

Totals

34,000

16,000


No payments have been made to BEN after 1 October 2006 from any of the founding bodies, or Natural England.

English Nature (EN) had a long standing relationship with BEN and recognised the valuable work done to support and develop the involvement of ethnic minority groups and individuals with the natural environment. The payments in 2004-05 and 2005-06 were to further develop their national and regional networks, and to provide English Nature staff with awareness training, advice and guidance with projects involving ethnic communities.

Through our support, BEN was able to improve its network administration and support, further develop its website, and share good practice. An English Nature staff training event was very successful and well attended. Staff gained confidence and understanding, and were able to follow up and seek specific advice on their projects.


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Additionally, the CA provided a three year grant to fund specific posts within BEN from January 2002 to March 2005.

BEN received funding of £98,473 over three years for their project ‘Core Strategic Programme’ under the Environmental Action Fund (EAF) 2002-05.

The project aim was to support and enable ethnic participation in sustainable development through developing the knowledge, skills and values needed to make decisions about how they do things, individually and collectively, locally and globally.

Key project activities and outcomes included:

Departments: Expenditure

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on (a) temporary staff accommodation and (b) travel expenses in each year since 2001. [134676]

Barry Gardiner: The Department does not maintain a discrete record of expenditure on temporary staff accommodation.

Details of travel expenses can be found under other administration costs in the notes to the Department’s resource accounts.

Departments: Manpower

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff were employed in the press offices of (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies in each year since 2001. [135243]

Barry Gardiner: The number of press officers in Core DEFRA is tabulated as follows, with the census point for the number of press officers taken as June for each year. The staffing numbers for the Press Office fluctuate during the course of any one year.

Staff number as at June
Press officers

2001

22

2002

22

2003

22

2004

18

2005

24

2006

24


9 May 2007 : Column 226W

The DEFRA Press Office provides services for the Central Science Laboratory, Government Decontamination Service, Marine and Fisheries Agency, Pesticide Safety Directorate, Veterinary Laboratory Agency, and Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

The number of staff employed in the press offices of each of the remaining DEFRA agencies of CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences) and the Rural Payments Agency, in each year since 2001 is tabulated as follows:

Agency
CEFAS RPA

2001

0.02

0.2

2002

0.03

0.2

2003

0.03

0.2

2004

0.68

0.2

2005

1.0

0.2

2006

1.0

1.0


Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies spent on staff employed in press agencies in each year since 2001. [135244]

Barry Gardiner: The salary and directly related costs for all permanent and temporary staff for both Press Officers and support staff were as follows:

Financial year £ million

2001-02

1.3

2002-03

1.2

2003-04

1.1

2004-05

1.3

2005-06

1.8

2006-07

1.5


The DEFRA Press Office provides press office services for the Central Science Laboratory, Government Decontamination Service, Marine and Fisheries Agency, Pesticide Safety Directorate, Veterinary Laboratory Agency, and Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

The costs for Press Officers and support staff in each of the remaining DEFRA agencies of CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences) and the Rural Payments Agency, in each year since 2001 were as follows:

£
Agency 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07

CEFAS

900

936

18,140

41,222

50,201

43,553

RPA

6,000

6,000

6,000

6,000

40,000

132,000


Departments: Orders and Regulations

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many regulations were implemented by his Department in each year since 2001. [136338]


9 May 2007 : Column 227W

Barry Gardiner [holding answer 8 May 2007]: The number of Statutory Instruments implemented by the Department for the years 2001-06 are: 2001—133 (includes those implemented by MAFF up to June 2001); 2002—120; 2003—106; 2004—125; 2005—144; 2006—150; The figure to date for 2007 is 59.

DEFRA is committed to a comprehensive programme of regulating better. Our December 2006 simplification plan, maximising outcomes, minimising burdens, explains the action that is being taken across DEFRA and its agencies to reduce administrative burdens and to improve regulations, and identifies over 130 separate initiatives that will contribute to meeting our target of reducing the administrative burden we impose on business by 25 per cent. by 2010. Those initiatives are scheduled to deliver an annual administrative burden reduction of around £159 million. That includes removing redundant legislation, without compromising environmental standards, seeking alternatives to traditional regulation and taking a risk-based approach to enforcement and inspection. A copy of the simplification plan is available from the Library of the House.


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