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11 Dec 2008 : Column 210W—continued


Budget changes between the years
£ million
2007-08:2008-09 2008-09:2009-10

Resource Capital Total Resource Capital Total

Natural England

-5.5

0.4

-5.1

-4.0

0.0

-4.0

Carbon Trust

-12.0

10.4

-1.6

0.0

-3.4

-3.4

ENCAMS

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

0.0

RPA Operations

-37.5

-3.1

-40.6

-18.9

-2.4

-21.3

Marine and Fisheries Agency

-0.2

-1.0

-1.2

0.0

0.0

0.0


Pesticides: Crop Spraying

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department plans to take on regulation of pesticide spraying following the recent High Court ruling by Mr. Justice Collins on the matter. [241062]

Huw Irranca-Davies: This is a complex judgment and we need to consider it carefully.


11 Dec 2008 : Column 211W

The protection of human health is paramount. Pesticides used in this country are rigorously assessed to the same standards as the rest of the EU and use is only ever authorised after internationally approved tests. These explicitly include impacts on people who live next to fields, consumers who eat treated crops and farmers who do the spraying.

Culture, Media and Sport

Departmental Pay

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what bonuses were paid by his Department in 2007-08; to which members of staff; and for what purposes. [240795]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Department makes bonus payments to its staff for two purposes: (a) special bonuses to reward outstanding contributions in particularly demanding tasks or situations; and (b) performance bonuses linked to the end of year staff appraisal, which are awarded to staff who have had a highly successful performance over a whole year.

The following table shows the breakdown of the bonuses awarded:

Bonuses 2007-08

Number awarded Total amount (£)

Performance Bonuses (non-SCS)

196

225,350

Senior Civil Service Performance Bonuses

24

251,750

Special Bonuses

207

87,000

Total

427

564,100


Wales

Departmental Official Hospitality

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what records his Department maintains of its expenditure on (a) official hospitality and (b) alcohol for official hospitality. [240463]

Mr. Paul Murphy: My Department currently keeps records of expenditure on all official receptions held.

Electoral Commission Committee

Chairman’s Work Load

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission how many hours per week the proposed Chairman of the Electoral Commission will be expected to work; and if he will make a statement. [242322]

Sir Peter Viggers: The Speaker’s Committee decided in December 2007 that in future the post of Chairman of the Electoral Commission should be filled on a part-time basis. Accordingly, the panel appointed by
11 Dec 2008 : Column 212W
Mr. Speaker to select a candidate for the appointment advertised it in March 2008 on the basis of a time commitment of typically three days a week. The precise terms and conditions are to be agreed between the new Chairman and the Commission.

Police Authorities

Hugh Bayley: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what consideration the Electoral Commission has given to the arrangements which would be necessary to elect members of police authorities. [242328]

Sir Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it is aware of proposals in the July 2008 Policing Green Paper for directly elected crime and policing representatives in England and Wales. It plans to give further consideration to the administrative arrangements for such elections, including the time scales for implementing new elections and the funding provided for their administration, when more detailed proposals are published.

Transport

Dartford-Thurrock Crossing: Tolls

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment has been made of the effect on levels of congestion on the Dartford-Thurrock toll crossing consequent on the introduction of the revised tariff for a car from £1.00 to £1.50; and if he will make a statement. [241097]

Paul Clark: The Highways Agency is closely monitoring the impact of the new charging regime on traffic. It is too soon to draw firm conclusions as traffic levels on particular days can be influenced by other factors, for example incidents on neighbouring parts of the network and promotional days at nearby retail centres. However early indications are that there has been some switching of traffic from the charged period (6 am to 10 pm) into the free night-time period.

Official Cars

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the Written Ministerial Statement of 22 July 2008, Official Report, column 116WS, on the cost of Ministerial cars for 2007-08, which Ministers and senior civil servants had use of a Government Car and Despatch Agency vehicle in 2007-08. [242050]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Ministerial Code sets out who is entitled to use an official car provided by the Government Car and Despatch Agency.

Severn Bridge: Tolls

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the working group on the Severn Bridge is expected to present its findings. [240342]


11 Dec 2008 : Column 213W

Paul Clark: The working group presented its findings in early October to the Highways Agency’s chief executive.

The working group established that, in principle, it is feasible to accept credit/debit cards as a method of toll payment at Severn Crossings. A number of detailed operational, technical, financial and contractual issues need to be considered.

Negotiations with the Concessionaire began on 20 October and the Concessionaire has since commenced detailed financial discussions with the banks and equipment suppliers.

Transport: North-East

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the Government has spent on capital transport infrastructure projects in the north- east in each year since 1997. [242384]

Paul Clark: The funding allocation provided by the Department for Transport for capital transport infrastructure projects in the north-east in each year since 1997 is as follows.

£ million

Integrated transport block Highways maintenance Other funding( 1) Total funding for transport infrastructure projects

2007-08

33.920

42.181

17.023

93.124

2006-07

33.180

44.165

12.002

89.347

2005-06

33.400

44.170

20.316

97.886

2004-05

40.337

47.095

20.199

107.631

2003-04

36.500

35.878

31.420

103.798

2002-03

35.400

36.120

34.474

105.994

2001-02

34.940

34.195

25.792

94.927

2000-01

16.100

40.820

40.820

97.740

(1) Other funding comprises funding major schemes, capital de-trunking and capital road safety.

Funding allocations made prior to Local Transport Plan Funding.

Total allocation (£ million)

1999-2000

42.500

1998-99

31.981

1997-98

40.119


Since April 1997 the Government have also provided specific capital funding for the Tyne and Wear Metro amounting to £65.626 million. Up to and including 2004-05 this was provided solely as revenue support although Nexus were able to use this for capital spending on the Metro.

Work and Pensions

Directgov

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many unique visitors have used the Directgov website in each of the last five years. [242522]


11 Dec 2008 : Column 214W

Jonathan Shaw: Directgov's core usage measure is visits rather than unique users. Monthly visits for 2008 are shown as follows:


11 Dec 2008 : Column 215W
Month Visits (million)

2004

January

n/a

February

n/a

March

n/a

April

n/a

May

0.4

June

0.6

July

0.8

August

0.8

September

0.8

October

0.9

November

0.9

December

0.8

Total 2004

6.0

2005

January

1.3

February

1.2

March

1.2

April

1.4

May

1.4

June

1.2

July

1.3

August

1.5

September

1.8

October

2.0

November

2.0

December

1.4

Total 2005

17.7

2006

January

2.2

February

2.1

March

2.9

April

2.4

May

2.7

June

2.7

July

2.7

August

3.0

September

3.4

October

3.5

November

3.5

December

2.6

Total 2006

33.7

2007

January

4.1

February

4.1

March

5.3

April

4.6

May

5.2

June

5.5

July

5.5

August

5.4

September

5.6

October

6.1

November

6.1

December

4.4

Total 2007

61.9

2008

January

8.1

February

7.2

March

8.4

April

8.2

May

7.1

June

7.8

July

7.9

August

10.1

September

11.3

October

11.3

November

11.0

December

n/a

Total 2008 (up to November)

98.4

Note:
Figures for 2008 include an adjustment for electronic vehicle licensing (from August).

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