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12 Nov 2008 : Column 1227W—continued

Departmental Ministerial Policy Advisers

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost of provision of Government cars to special advisers in his Department has been in the last 12 months. [233242]

Huw Irranca-Davies: On most occasions, special advisers travel in the same cars as Ministers or departmental officials, and it is not possible to disaggregate the costs of their car travel, since records are not kept of who travelled in which car. The total cost of provision of government cars to special advisers when travelling on official business on their own was £387.08 in the past 12 months.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost to his Department of provision of office facilities to (a) special advisers and (b) press officers (i) was in the last 12 months and (ii) has been since 1997-98. [233251]

Huw Irranca-Davies: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However I can confirm that all ministerial advisers
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and press officers work within the provisions set out in the code of conduct for special advisers and the civil service code respectively.

Departmental Recruitment

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) its executive agencies spent on (i) recruitment consultants and (ii) external recruitment advertising to recruit staff in each of the last five financial years; which recruitment consultants were employed for those purposes in each of those years; and if he will make a statement. [226801]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Any expenditure on recruitment consultants and on external recruitment advertising is subject to value for money considerations and the requirements of Managing Public Money. The central rules on recruitment are set out in Chapter 1.1 of the Civil Service Management Code. There is a central framework of executive search services owned by the Cabinet Office. This framework provides access to the most effective recruitment agencies and provides value for money through a single Government wide contract.

Work is currently under way to improve further the efficiency of civil service recruitment through better use of online advertising; reductions in recruitment advertising costs for the whole civil service; improving value for money from head-hunters and recruitment consultants; and a professional development programme to improve further the skills and knowledge of HR recruiters.

Emerge Recycling

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding his Department and its agencies has given to Emerge Recycling in the last 24 months. [233257]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 4 November 2008]: In the last 24 months Emerge recycling have received approximately £30,000 under the WRAP Batteries Programme which ran from April 2006 to April 2008.

Flood Control: Finance

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent on flood defences in each of the last five years. [233933]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 6 November 2008]: DEFRA provides funding to operating authorities for flood defences from the allocation of funding for Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management. Over the past five financial years this allocation totalled:

Financial year DEFRA funding (£ million)











12 Nov 2008 : Column 1229W


Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of light bulbs used in his Department are energy-saving models. [233357]

Huw Irranca-Davies [holding answer 5 November 2008]: The Department is continually improving the energy saving measures employed within its departmental buildings. Across the Department’s London offices it is estimated that in excess of 95 per cent. of lighting is of an energy saving design. In our principal office locations in York and Alnwick, all internal office lighting is of an energy saving design. As to the wider provincial offices, the exact percentage of energy saving lighting is unknown.

Religious Buildings: Fees and Charges

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Warley of 9 October 2008, Official Report, column 760W, on waste charges: religious buildings, (1) whether an impact assessment was undertaken to assess the effect of the new water charges on places of worship and other voluntary group’s premises; [232585]

(2) what the average increase to the water bill for churches and other places of worship is. [232593]

Jane Kennedy: Neither DEFRA nor Ofwat, the independent economic regulator of the water industry, collects information on the increases in water bills for groups of customers of a particular funding or charitable status. Where a company makes a change to the way it charges for water or sewerage services, Ofwat challenges the company’s proposals to make sure charges are not unduly preferential to one customer group over another. Groups of customers are defined by the costs they are likely to impose and are independent of the financial or charitable status of individual non-household customers. Ofwat’s checks also ensure that the company gains no additional revenue from the new method of charging.

Waste Management

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many deregistrations there were under the provisions of the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 following offences under regulation 19 in each of the last 15 years. [233354]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 5 November 2008]: The Environment Agency has de-registered 2,188 exemptions concerning paragraph 19 (waste for construction) of the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 over the period requested. Exemptions may be de-registered for a number of reasons including where the commission of an offence means that the operation is no longer exempt.

12 Nov 2008 : Column 1230W
From To De-registered

1April 2008

31 October 2008


1 April 2007

31 March 2008


1 April 2006

31 March 2007


1 April 2005

31 March 2006


1 April 2004

31 March 2005


1 April 2003

31 March 2004


1 April 2002

31 March 2003


1 April 2001

31 March 2002


1 April 2000

31 March 2001


1 April 1999

31 March 2000


1 April 1998

31 March 1999


1 April 1997

31 March 1998


1 April 1996

31 March 1997


1 April 1995

31 March 1996


1 April 1994

31 March 1995




Water: Fees and Charges

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average percentage change in domestic water bills has been in each local authority area in the East of England since May 1997. [232619]

Jane Kennedy: Average bill information is not available at local authority level.

Wetlands: Flood Control

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent work his Department has undertaken on the role of wetlands in flood defence. [232686]

Jane Kennedy: DEFRA and the Environment Agency operate a joint R and D programme. Within this programme various studies have been made of the role of land management, including wetlands, on flood risk management. Most notably, my Department published the finding of a major review of the impacts of rural land use and management on flood generation in November 2004. Subsequently, further work was commissioned on the analysis of historical data sets to look for the impacts of land use and management change on flood generation. The final report will be published in the near future. The Environment Agency takes into account the role that washlands or wetlands may play in flood management when it is considering specific flood management problems.

International Development

Africa: Economic Growth

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effects of African revenue authorities' administration on business and economic growth. [233803]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: During 2005 to 2007, DFID and the World Bank group’s Foreign Investment Advisory Service (FIAS) evaluated how tax policy and its administration shaped the investment climate in 13 countries in Africa
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and the middle east. This indicated that tax policy and administration do not enable business and promote growth in most developing countries. Even in the countries which have in place appropriate taxes at appropriate rates, weak tax administration results in a heavy financial and time burden for businesses, especially for small and medium enterprises.

The studies, which were endorsed by a DFID/FIAS supported conference in Zambia in February 2007 of senior officials from Africa, showed that past donor assistance on tax had too often been fragmented between policy and administration. Tax reform had tended to focus on short-term revenue generation rather than structuring the tax system to promote economic efficiency and growth (and therefore longer-term revenue generation). This requires promoting investment, private sector development and the creation of a culture of compliance. DFID and FIAS have now initiated a project to help address such problems, by developing and piloting best practice policy guidance and support for implementation.

Africa: International Assistance

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Africa Investment Climate Facility. [233796]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Investment Climate Facility (ICF) is a novel partnership between private companies, development partners and Governments to improve the investment climate in African countries. An independent review of ICF will be conducted in 2009.

The Department for International Development (DFID) has closely followed the development of the organisation through the Technical Advisory Committee and Annual Meetings. DFID has also seconded a senior official to work in the ICF Secretariat. ICF has quickly become effective in building up its project portfolio. The Board has approved 20 projects but it is too early to assess effectiveness fully. Recently, the ICF published its first Project Completion Report. The project created a productive dialogue between businesses, the East African Community and customs authorities in East Africa. Many of the project’s recommendations for customs reforms have been implemented, leading to significant reductions in delays and costs to businesses in importing and exporting goods.

Bangladesh: Overseas Aid

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department has taken to improve the competitiveness of businesses in Bangladesh. [233792]

Mr. Michael Foster: The UK Government are providing £20 million to the Bangladesh Investment Climate Facility (BICF) to assist the Government's Regulatory Reforms Commission and Better Business Forum, to improve this business environment and reduce costs. For example, there has recently been a 50 per cent. reduction to the costs of registering a business due to BICF inputs. We are also working with the Government of Bangladesh
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and the World Bank to help set up large economic zones that will provide businesses with cheaper access to land serviced with a constant supply of utilities such as electricity.

In the export sector, Bangladesh needs to remain competitive with other producers in the Asia region. Therefore, the UK has been promoting social compliance standards, like health and safety concerns in the garments sector, to enable Bangladesh businesses to meet the standards required by U.S. and European buyers.

Finally, the UK is providing £11.8 million to Katalyst (Phase I), an organisation whose purpose is to increase the competitiveness of local micro, small, and medium enterprises in key urban and rural sectors in Bangladesh. By 2009, the Katalyst project will have contributed to the creation of 180,000 jobs through its work on making 800,000 farms and businesses more competitive. By 2015, Phase 2 of the project is projected to benefit 1.2 million enterprises and commercial farms—employing three million people in 26 sectors.


John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the public financial management reform programme in Cambodia. [233802]

Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) participates annually in the joint Government-donor review of the public financial management reform programme, with the most recent taking place in May 2008. Issues relating to public financial management also form part of the IMF's Article IV consultations and are a central feature of policy dialogue with budget support donors. These require regular reporting from Government and ongoing monitoring by development partners, including DFID.

Since 2005, reform of public financial management has already delivered significant improvements in terms of revenue management and budget credibility. Tax revenues continue to grow, with a 37 per cent. increase during the first three quarters of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007; revenue out-turn up to September 2008 is 99 per cent. of budget forecast (compared to 85 per cent. in 2007); and Government have spent 72 per cent. of their budget in the first three quarters of 2008 (compared to 62 per cent. in 2007). In December, the Government will launch a second phase of the programme. This will build on these successes and provide additional focus to financial management in line ministries. It will also address outstanding issues from the first phase, including the integration of recurrent and capital budgets, and strengthen the links between planning, budgeting and expenditure.

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