Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 12 November 2009

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Welfare

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) funded into the relationship between standards in animal welfare and farm profitability. [298902]

Jim Fitzpatrick: DEFRA's approach to determining the relationship between standards in welfare and farm profitability is to include cost-benefit analysis within research projects. This approach allows any cost to business resulting from a change in management to be assessed against the benefit to the business and the animals concerned.

For example, a current research project aims to re-design the farrowing environment for pigs. The research team will explore how the welfare of the sow might be improved while maintaining good piglet survival. Farm practicality, including acceptable capital and running costs and ease of daily management, are key considerations in the project.

By making economics an integral part of research, DEFRA aims to provide evidence on how welfare standards may be raised while maintaining farm profitability.

Christmas

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have spent on Christmas (i) cards, (ii) parties and (iii) decorations in the last 12 months. [299269]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many Christmas functions arranged by his Department and its agencies (a) he, (b) officials of his Department and (c) officials of its agencies (i) hosted and (ii) attended in 2008; what the cost to the public purse was; and if he will make a statement. [295450]

Dan Norris: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. DEFRA's policy is that official funds should not be used for departmental Christmas parties. Departmental expenditure has to be incurred in accordance with principles set out in Managing Public Money and the HM Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.


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Council Housing: Property Transfers

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much local authority housing debt has been removed following large-scale voluntary transfers since 1997. [299822]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to reply to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Departmental Billing

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of invoices from suppliers his Department paid within 10 days of receipt in (a) September and (b) October 2009. [299547]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Departmental Data Protection

Mrs. Laing: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department's information assurance procedures have been subject to an independent audit. [299375]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Departmental Official Cars

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 was in the last 12 months. [299587]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Departmental Pay

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was claimed in reimbursable expenses by press officers in his Department and its agencies in 2008-09. [299285]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Departmental Postal Services

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with which providers (a) his Department and (b) its agencies had a contract to provide postal services in (i) 2007, (ii) 2008, (iii) between 1 January 2009 and 1 July 2009 and (iv) since 1 July 2009. [299428]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.


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Departmental Procurement

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether there has been any nugatory cost to his Department and its agencies on procurement under tender because the tender process has been cancelled prior to the award of the contract in the last 12 months. [299350]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Departmental Statistics

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of the statistical datasets collected by his Department are published. [299668]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to respond to my hon. Friend in the time available before Prorogation.

Departmental Travel

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many miles (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department travelled by (i) car, (ii) rail and (iii) air on Government business in each year since 2007. [298553]

Dan Norris: From information held centrally, mileage travelled by Ministers and officials in the core-Department by car, rail and air on Government business in each year since 2007 is:

Mileage

(i) Cars (ii) Rail (iii) Air

April 2006-March 2007

4,264,002

(1)3,038,781

(1)3,583,951

April 2007-March 2008

1,686,006

2,403,478

2,947,395

April 2008-March 2009

1,287,980

2,746,880

1,817,558

April 2009-October 2009

(2)149,932

958,847

1,137,382

(1) July 2006-March 2007
(2) April 2009-August 2009

Information on the split of mileage travelled by Ministers and officials could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Travel by Ministers and civil servants is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial Code and the Civil Service Management Code respectively. The Government Car and Despatch Agency is responsible for providing official cars and drivers to Ministers and senior officials. It does not record the mileage of individual journeys for any of the Ministers or senior officials to whom it provides its service. This could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Dogs: Research

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects the research project commissioned by his Department on the effects of electronic training aids on the welfare of dogs to be completed; how much the research has
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cost; when he expects to announce his decision on the regulation of the use of electric shock collars; and if he will make a statement. [299546]

Jim Fitzpatrick: It has not been possible to respond to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Crops

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps his Department is taking to assess the environmental impact of genetically modified crops in England; which research projects have been commissioned or completed since the conclusion of the Government-funded farm scale evaluations, that are designed to repeat or build on the research on the environmental impacts of those trials; and what scientific conclusions were reached; [299814]

(2) if he will assess the implications for his Department's policies on genetically modified foods of the editorial in the Scientific American in July 2009 which asserts that it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised because agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers. [299815]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to reply to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Genetically Modified Organisms: Food

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research projects funded by (a) his Department and (b) the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council in the last 10 years on which he relies on to fulfil his responsibility to ensure that genetically modified food is safe to eat have been designed specifically to show whether there are risks of adverse health effects for people from the consumption of genetically modified food. [299813]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to reply to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many genetically modified food trials the Government have licensed (a) in each region and (b) for each species in each of the last five years; how much his Department has spent on genetically modified food trials in each of those years; and if he will make a statement. [299853]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to reply to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Inland Waterways: Ports

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) whether his Department has issued guidance on the development of marinas on canals; [300070]

(2) what recent discussions he has had with British Waterways on the development of marinas on canals. [300071]


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Huw Irranca-Davies: It has not been possible to reply to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Marketing

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have spent on advertising in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. [299846]

Dan Norris: It has not been possible to reply to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Medway-Canvey Island Crossing Scheme

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received on the proposed Medway-Canvey Island Crossing scheme in relation to a (a) tidal surge barrier, (b) tidal power plant, (c) lagoon off Canvey Island and (d) other matters; and if he will make a statement. [299569]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Environment Agency recently consulted on its Thames estuary 2100 tidal flood risk management plan. As part of that consultation a number of comments from stakeholders were received on the possibility of an outer estuary tidal barrage which could incorporate a lower estuary crossing.

One representation was made by a private consortium named Metrotidal. This made specific reference to its own proposals for a crossing, tidal barrage, tidal power plant and flood storage areas. The crossing location it proposed was between Canvey Island in Essex and the Hoo Peninsula in the Medway area. The transcript of its response has been placed in the Library of the House.

Members: Correspondence

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire, dated 7 October 2009, on cats; [299912]

(2) when he plans to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire, dated 3 August 2009, transferred from the Treasury PO ref 1/74240/2009, on surface water charges. [299913]

Huw Irranca-Davies: It has not been possible to reply to the hon. Member in the time available before Prorogation.

Oil: Pollution

Mr. Horam: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the average cost of clearing up an oil spill in England in the last 12 month period for which the information is available; [298258]

(2) what estimate he has made of the cost of the damage, including damage to the environment, caused by oil spills in England in the last 12 month period for which the information is available. [298259]


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Huw Irranca-Davies: No estimate has been made by DEFRA of the average cost of clearing up an oil spill in England, or the cost of the damage caused by oil spills. The Environment Agency adopts the "Polluter Pays Principle" which means that polluters employ contractors directly to clean up pollution. The Environment Agency is not involved with the invoicing and payment between polluter and contractor, and so keeps no record of this activity.

Mr. Horam: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the proportion of oil spills at (a) residential and (b) commercial properties that are not officially recorded by his Department; [298260]

(2) how many oil spills at (a) residential and (b) commercial premises were recorded by his Department in each of the English regions in the last five years for which figures are available. [298261]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The numbers of oil spills at both residential and commercial premises are set out in the following table. These figures are from the Environment Agency's National Incident Recording System and as such are split into Environment Agency regions.

The Environment Agency cannot estimate the number of oil spills that are not reported. As soon as they are aware of an oil spill, it is officially reported.

2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

Oil pollution incidents-residential

EA Wales

32

40

43

36

34

36

Anglian

73

76

68

80

78

59

Midlands

49

49

56

64

51

35

North East

19

26

25

19

22

13

North West

9

21

15

16

16

11

Southern

87

76

73

53

63

38

South West

116

114

108

93

92

83

Thames

39

53

37

49

32

41

Oil pollution incidents-commercial

EA Wales

97

120

84

69

73

59

Anglian

240

222

177

155

134

90

Midlands

335

220

274

207

255

141

North East

178

161

105

112

113

103

North West

113

108

94

72

56

53

Southern

149

116

96

94

80

85

South West

206

200

190

169

136

100

Thames

164

145

134

97

117

78


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