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Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the average pay per hour worked by (a) permanent and (b) temporary staff in his Department in the last period for which figures are available, broken down by pay band. 
|(a) Average hourly rates of pay for permanent staff (includes fixed-term appointees)|
|Grade/grade equivalents||London (hourly rate)||National (hourly rate)|
|(b) Average hourly rates of pay for temporary staff (relates to casual staff only, and not those who are being employed through an agency)|
|Grade/Grade Equivalents||London (hourly rate)||National (hourly rate)|
The data cover all staff in core-DEFRA and the Executive Agencies covered by the core-Department's pay arrangements (Animal Health, Veterinary Medicines Directorate, Government Decontamination Service and Marine and Fisheries Agency).
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will review salary negotiations for public-sector employees in organisations within his Department's responsibility to reflect the rise in the consumer price index to a point above 3 per cent. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Government's pay policy is guided by the following principles: public-sector pay settlements should be consistent with maintaining the necessary levels of recruitment, retention and staff engagement needed to support service delivery, ensuring that total pay bills represent value for money and are affordable within the Departments' overall expenditure plans; and consistent with the achievement of the inflation target. Timing of pay decisions for a particular work force depends on pay-setting arrangements for that work force.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many reviews of regulation (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have conducted or commenced since July 2007; and in which areas. 
|Area of activity:||Number of consultations|
These public consultations, which often include impact assessments, review the effect of regulation and related issues, and make proposals for amendment based on policy objectives and representations received. More detail is available from the DEFRA consultation site at
In the main, DEFRA agencies do not have direct policy responsibility for general statutory instruments. However, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate also consults on proposals to amend legislation, including changes to fees levels. More information on current and completed consultations is available from the VMD website at
The Department's annual simplification plans provide detailed information on ongoing simplification initiatives, including those involving reviews of, or amendments to, regulation, and on measures being pursued by DEFRA agencies.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what procedures his Department follows for checking the criminal records of employees; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: A baseline personnel security standard check is carried out, in accordance with Cabinet Office guidelines, on staff in DEFRA at the point of recruitment. Contract staff, consultants and agency temps employed by the Department are also screened to the same standard.
Checking the unspent criminal records of employees is an integral part of that process. Recruits are required to complete a criminal records declaration form which, in accordance with the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, does not require them to reveal spent convictions. At present, one in every five declarations is checked, but from October 2008, and in line with Cabinet Office recommendations, all declarations will be checked for unspent convictions through Disclosure Scotland.
When national security vetting is necessary for a particular post, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975, the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 and the Rehabilitation of Offenders (Exceptions) Order (Northern Ireland) 1979 provide for a check of both spent and unspent criminal convictions.
Depending on the outcome of these checks and the satisfactory completion of the other elements of the baseline personnel security standard process, recruits can take up post and be given access to DEFRA buildings and IT systems.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of successful applicants for jobs in his Department are subjected to a criminal records check; how many (a) successful applicants and (b) criminal records checks there were in each of the last 10 years; how many successful applicants were found to have a criminal record after a criminal records check took place in each of the last 10 years; whether the selection of successful candidates to be subjected to a criminal records check is random or targeted; and if he will make a statement. 
Jonathan Shaw: At present, and in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance, one in five applicants are selected at random and checked for unspent criminal convictions. In accordance with the provisions of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, applicants are not required to declare spent convictions, and therefore no checks are made in that respect. Unfortunately, figures are not readily available for each of the listed categories and periods concerned and could not be produced without our incurring disproportionate cost.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what date the euro changeover plan of (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies was last updated; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the most recent version of each. 
Jonathan Shaw: The DEFRA euro changeover plan was last updated in November 2005. The changeover plan covers all organisations within the departmental boundary, including executive agencies. A copy of this plan will be placed in the Library.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made by local resilience forums in incorporating Environment Agency data on areas at risk of surface water flooding into their emergency plans; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) how many local resilience forums have received information from the Environment Agency on the probability of flooding to critical infrastructure in their area; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: Local resilience forums have set up sub-groups to consider the impacts of extreme weather and flooding. DEFRA has asked the Environment Agency to identify locations which are susceptible to surface water flooding, and to provide that information to the local resilience forums. This work is nearing completion, and the Environment Agency expects to have this information available for the local resilience forums from August 2008.
Most local resilience forums have received information from the Environment Agency on flood risk to infrastructure. The Agency is also providing information directly to infrastructure owners. The Cabinet Office has established a process for local resilience forums to be briefed on critical national infrastructure in their areas, so that its vulnerability to flooding can be assessed.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to protect the native fauna of natural woodland, with particular reference to the red squirrel, under the terms of the Bern Convention. 
In England, Bern Convention obligations are implemented through the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The red squirrel is listed in Schedule 5 to the WCA and as such is protected from intentional killing, injury, taking, possession, sale or intentional destruction of any structure or place used for shelter.
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan also includes a Species Action Plan for the red squirrel which primarily aims to maintain self-sustaining populations of red squirrels, and wherever practicable expand red squirrel populations where their sustainability is threatened. This action plan is being implemented through a broad partnership of Government, statutory conservation agencies and the private and voluntary sectors.
The Isle of Wight remains a haven for red squirrels in the south of England. Forestry Commission grants have resulted in 210 hectares of new woodland planting to link fragmented habitat. The Forestry Commission woods, which are managed for red squirrel conservation, have benefited from this linking.
The Red Alert North England partners have designated 16 reserves and associated buffer zones where long-term survival of the red squirrel is considered most likely. The partners Save our Squirrels project is delivering advice to landowners, co-ordinating squirrel control in the buffers, promoting Forestry Commission grants, raising public awareness and gaining further funding for squirrel conservation work.
The Red Squirrel Protection Partnership led by Lord Redesdale was awarded a three year £148,000 grant in June 2006 from the Rural Enterprise Scheme to support the control of grey squirrels in Northumberland to help protect the red squirrel reserves.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress the Forestry Commission for England has made in developing a policy for the restoration of priority biodiversity habitats from woods and forests; and if he will make a statement. 
The Forestry Commission held workshops in 2007, which generated constructive engagement by stakeholders and gathered information on the context for the policy. The Forestry Commission, working closely with DEFRA and Natural England, has now established
a process and timetable for completing development of the policy. This policy will set out how priority open habitats may be restored from woods and forests to help deliver objectives for biodiversity, landscape and cultural heritage, taking into account all of our aims for Englands trees, woods and forests. The process will include a public consultation beginning in October 2008, and the Forestry Commission aims for completion of a policy by spring 2009.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff in (a) his Department and (b) its agencies (i) are classified as Government communicators and (ii) have access to the Government Communication Network. 
Jonathan Shaw: There are currently 85 staff in my Department engaged in a range of communication related work, who can choose to have access to the Government Communications network (GCN). Staff working in the Department's Agencies do not generally have access to the GCN, but precise details could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Morley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what areas of (a) lowland dry acid grassland, (b) lowland raised bog and (c) lowland heathland have been (i) restored or (ii) re-created in England since the publication of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan; and what the targets under the England Biodiversity Strategy are for the restoration and expansion of these habitats by 2015. 
(a) The Higher Level Scheme of Environmental Stewardship is funding the restoration or re-creation of 744 ha of lowland dry acid grassland.
(b) An estimated 3,500 ha of lowland raised bog is under restoration. It is not possible to re-create lowland raised bog except over very long time scales.
(c) An estimated 35,555 ha of lowland heathland has been restored and 6,244 ha has been re-created.
New estimates of progress, incorporating information from a range of sources and stakeholders, will be available in early 2009 following completion of the next triennial UK Biodiversity Action Plan reporting round.
|Habitat||Restoration target (ha)||Expansion target (ha)|
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