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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 18 June 2009

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Demos

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) private meetings and (b) public engagements Ministers in his Department have attended at which representatives from the think-tank Demos were present in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [279506]

Dan Norris: No DEFRA Ministers have had private meetings with representatives of Demos in the past 12 months. The Department does not keep a central record of everyone who may attend a public engagement attended by DEFRA Ministers.

Departmental Procurement

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much expenditure his Department incurred in respect of (a) Creative Cooking (London) Ltd., (b) Leith’s, (c) Alliance Fran├žaise de Londres Ltd, (d) Tinklertastic and (e) Canine Behaviour Centre in 2007-08; and for what purpose in each case. [278991]

Dan Norris: The core-Department’s financial system records the following expenditure in 2009-08 for the organisations listed:

Organisation Purpose Value (£)

Alliance Fran├žaise de Londres Ltd.

Language Tuition

882

Canine Behaviour Centre

Skills Training

217.50

Creative Cooking (London) Ltd.

Catering Services

1535.73

Leith’s

Conference and Events Services

9913.33

Tinklertastic

Communications and Marketing Services

10,490.00


Fisheries

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will meet a delegation of inshore fishermen and fish merchants to discuss ways to enable fishing to continue when fish merchants are unable to report landing details within the required time. [280656]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The provisions to which the hon. Member refers form part of a proposal from the European Commission for a new control regulation which was published last November. The original proposal was for sales notes to be submitted electronically by all
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buyers within two hours of sale. We have sought stakeholders’ views on this and all other aspects of the proposal. In a revised proposal, recently published by the Commission after discussions with member states, the time limit for the submission of sales notes has been increased to six hours and an exemption has been provided from the need to submit sales notes electronically for businesses with an annual financial turnover in fisheries products of less than 200,000 euros. This revised proposal will be subject to further negotiation with member states and will not be adopted before October at the earliest. I would point out that failure by a buyer to comply with requirements relating to the submission of sales notes would not result in vessels being required to stop fishing.

Flood Control

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of people who have made up a flood kit; and what steps he is taking to encourage people to make up kits. [280481]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Environment Agency has made no estimate of the number of people who have made up flood kits; however, their ‘Preparing for a flood’ guide encourages people to produce flood kits. This is available on the Environment Agency’s website or from its Floodline call centre. Since March 2008, a copy has been sent to everyone who registers for the Environment Agency’s free flood warning service.

Since December 2007, the Environment Agency has distributed over 260,000 ‘Preparing for a flood’ guides.

Olympic Games 2012

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many full-time equivalent members of staff in (a) his Department and (b) its associated public bodies are working on projects relating to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games; how many of them are working on (i) project management, (ii) legacy planning, (iii) project oversight and (iv) financial oversight; and what plans he has for future staffing levels in each case. [279821]

Dan Norris: The Department is currently applying 1.5 full-time equivalent members of staff to work on project management and on legacy planning for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This input is expected to rise over the coming years. Staff at the Environment Agency and Natural England are also involved in work related to the Games.

Tigers

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to seek to ensure compliance with the decision taken at the last Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species conference in respect of the closing down of tiger farms. [280155]

Huw Irranca-Davies: At the 14(th) Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Decision 14.69 was adopted calling
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on CITES Parties with intensive, commercial-scale tiger breeding operations (i) to implement measures to restrict their captive populations to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers, and (ii) not to breed tigers for trade in their parts and derivatives.

While Decision 14.69 does not set any deadlines, the 57(th) CITES Standing Committee meeting in July 2008 called for relevant Parties to submit progress reports for review by the Committee at its 58(th) meeting in July 2009. My Department subsequently participated in a working group established to provide guidance on Decision 14.69. CITES Notification 2008/059, issued in October 2008, clarified aspects of the Decision and requested that relevant Parties submit reports on progress by 28 February 2009. The subject will next be discussed at the 58(th) meeting of the CITES Standing Committee, of which the UK is a member, representing the European region.

Water Charges

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will publish a summary of representations he has received from members of the public on water rates in the last five years. [281239]

Huw Irranca-Davies: My Department has received a range of representations on water charges in the last five years. However, a substantive summary of these representations could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Water Companies: Carbon Emissions

Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment Ofwat has made of the performance of water companies in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. [280792]

Huw Irranca-Davies: Ofwat published details of the water companies’ greenhouse gas emissions in its report ‘Service and delivery—performance of water companies in England and Wales 2007-08’.

A copy of the report has been placed in the House of Commons Library.

Electoral Commission Committee

Electoral Registration

8. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what steps the Electoral Commission is taking to increase levels of electoral registration in constituencies in which such levels are disproportionately low. [280578]

Mr. Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that, following its first annual assessment of electoral registration officers’ performance, the Commission will meet with the EROs from the 56 local authorities who did not meet one or more of the standards relating to the accuracy and completeness of electoral registers, to agree plans for improvement.


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The Commission further informs me that these plans will set out specific actions to be taken to improve performance at the 2009 annual canvass, covering such areas as house-to-house inquiries, ensuring appropriate project management, and staff training.

Leader of the House

Members: Pensions

Mr. Laws: To ask the Leader of the House if she will estimate the effect on future expenditure from the public purse of amending the parliamentary contributory pensions scheme to (a) cap the Exchequer contribution at (i) 20 per cent. and (ii) 15 per cent. of payroll, (b) move to a career average salary scheme, (c) raise the pension age and time in line with the increase in the age of entitlement to the basic state pension, (d) change accrual rate from 1/40th to 1/50th and (e) raise the employee contribution by 1 per cent.; and if she will make a statement. [280167]

Barbara Keeley: When the Prime Minister asked the Review Body on Senior Salaries (SSRB) to conduct a review of the parliamentary pension arrangements, he asked it to consider the full range of options for reducing the Exchequer contribution. The SSRB launched its consultation on 8 June, inviting evidence from interested parties by 31 July. The Government are considering its evidence and will make an announcement in due course.

Transport

Biofuels

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Lewes of 22 May 2008, Official Report, column 426W, on biofuels, whether he has had discussions with (a) the European Commission and (b) his counterparts in other EU member states on (i) the sustainability criteria for biofuels in (A) the renewable energy directive and (B) the fuel quality directive and (ii) the volume of biofuels required to meet (1) the renewable energy directive target and (2) the greenhouse gas savings of the fuel quality directive. [280072]

Mr. Khan: The Department for Transport is exploring, in conjunction with UK stakeholders, a range of options for the treatment of biofuels with differing carbon savings, under both directives. We will also be setting out the projected volume of biofuel required to meet these directives, following consultation, in a National Action Plan by June 2010. As part of these processes my officials are in regular dialogue with the European Commission and other member states.

Bus Services: Concessions

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what estimate he has made of changes in levels of usage of bus services since the introduction of concessionary fares schemes in (a) 2002 and (b) 2008. [279707]


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Mr. Khan [holding answer 16 June 2009]: Table A is based on figures published today by the Department for Transport in Bus and Light Rail Statistics: Q1 2009, and shows the current estimates for bus journeys in England for each financial year since 2000-01.

Over the period covered by the table there were three major changes in the concessionary fares scheme:

Table A: Bus journeys—England, 2000-01 to 2008-09

Local bus journeys (million) Year-on-year percentage change

2000-01

3,842

2001-02

3,881

1.0

2002-03

3,964

2.1

2003-04

4,087

3.1

2004-05

4,140

1.3

2005-06

4,196

1.3

2006-07

4,470

6.5

2007-08

4,530

1.3

2008-09(1)

4,674

3.2

(1) Provisional.
Source:
Bus and Light Rail Statistics: Q1 2009

Carbon Sequestration: Finance

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport from which of his Department's budgets the £60 million reallocated to carbon capture and storage in the Budget 2009 Red Book will be drawn. [278932]

Mr. Khan: The Department for Transport's contribution to the cost of carbon capture and storage will be funded from accumulated underspends, across our programmes as a whole, from prior years.

Channel Tunnel Railway Line

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the effect of track access charges applicable to the track through the Channel Tunnel on the potential for growth in international rail freight; and if he will make a statement. [279347]

Chris Mole [holding answer 12 June 2009]: No recent assessment of the impact of track access charges on the potential growth of international freight through the Channel Tunnel has been made.

Diesel Fuel: EU Action

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether a mechanism exists for EU member states to seek a temporary derogation from the EU sulphur specification for diesel fuel; and if he will make a statement. [280156]


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Mr. Khan: EU requirements on the quality of petrol and diesel are defined in the Fuel Quality Directive 98/70/EC as amended. Article 7 of this directive permits member states to apply for a derogation from these requirements for up to 6 months in the event that a sudden change to the supply of crude oil or petroleum products makes it difficult for refineries to comply.

We understand this derogation to be intended to accommodate major, unexpected disruptions to oil supplies only. The directive does not contain any other derogations which could be applied in respect of the supply of sulphur-free diesel in the UK.


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