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Dan Norris [holding answer 10 December 2009]: The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has no specific Christmas tree budget in 2009. Provision is included within the fixed cost of providing grounds maintenance services to the Department delivered by the workplace support contract.
Dan Norris: From information held centrally, the core-Department had no expenditure on artworks in the last 12 months. As a general rule, all works of art displayed are from the Government Art Collection (GAC), which publishes an annual list of acquisitions. The most recent details of acquisition made by the GAC were published on 5 October 2009 and are available on the GAC website:
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assets of his Department are planned to be sold in each year from 2009-10 to 2013-14; what the (a) description and (b) book value of each such asset is; what the expected revenue from each such sale is; and if he will make a statement. 
Dan Norris: The Government have stated their intention to realise £16 billion in asset disposals over the period 2011-14 and they published further details of opportunities to commercialise business assets in the Operational Efficiency Programme: Asset Prospectus on 7 December 2009. This presented different options for ownership on a number of public sectors assets. British Waterways and the Public Forest Estate in England were the two DEFRA assets included in the prospectus-the Government do not currently have plans to sell either asset.
The Department has approximately £6.9 million (book value £10.2 million) of surplus properties for disposal this year arising from the sale of land, residential and office premises. Anticipated disposals from land and laboratory premises are expected to realise £9 million in 2010-11 (book value £8 million) and £2 million in 2011-12 (book value £10 million). There are currently no identified disposals for years beyond 2011-12.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many and what proportion of invoices submitted to his Department have been paid within 10 days in each month since October 2008; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on works and refurbishment to offices allocated to Ministers in his Department's buildings in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost to his Department was of holding the Waste and Resources Action Programme exhibition in the Palace of Westminster in November 2009. 
Dan Norris: The exhibition space in the Upper Waiting Hall in Parliament is provided free of charge for one week to not-for-profit organisations that wish to inform parliamentarians of their work. Such organisations must be supported by their local Member of Parliament, who applies for the space on their behalf. Government-funded organisations such as the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) must also gain the approval of their sponsoring Department.
The cost of designing and constructing the exhibition stand and display materials used by WRAP in Parliament was £8,200. These will be used at future exhibitions and events, with almost all elements of the stand and its display materials being reusable. In line with WRAP's remit to promote resource efficiency, the stand is made from cardboard containing 75 per cent. recycled content, and is fully recyclable at the end of its life, unlike traditional exhibition stands.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was spent by his Department and its agencies on conferences they organised which were subsequently cancelled in each of the last three years; and what the title was of each such conference. 
The Department and its agencies run conferences on specific issues where will feel benefit will
be had. Where appropriate we send delegates to other organisations' conferences whose work is relevant to our own.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will reply to the letter from Derf Paton of Ramley Road, Lymington on Wightlink and the Lymington River, dated 8 November 2009. 
Dan Norris: In April 2009 the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs employed 16.5 full-time equivalent press officers, and two full-time equivalent press officers worked for the Department on temporary contracts.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what redesigns of websites operated by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have taken place since 27 June 2007; and what the (i) cost to the public purse and (ii) date of completion of each such redesign was. 
Dan Norris: The DEFRA website has undergone a single redesign since the creation of the Department in 2001. This went live on 17 September 2009 and external costs for this (for audience research, web structure analysis, design and accessibility auditing) totalled £181,378. It is not possible to separate out the internal staff costs for this work.
The Food and Environment Research Agency website design was completed in 31 March 2009. The cost of external website design company work was £11,643.75. Of this cost, approximately £2,250 would come under the heading of 'Strategy and planning', the remainder would come under the heading 'Design and build'. The website is hosted on FERA's own IT infrastructure and it is not possible to disaggregate the costs associated with hosting the website. 'Content provision' and 'Testing and evaluation' were all carried out in house. It is not possible to separate out the internal staff costs for this work.
The Marine and Fisheries Agency website did have a redesign to apply the then-DEFRA design templates.
This went live on 1 December 2007 and this design is still live today. There were no specific "redesign costs" for this.
The RPA Website has not been redesigned during this period. The Cattle Tracing System Online transactional website, which enables farmers to submit cattle birth and movement data directly to RPA's central tracing system was completely rebuilt during 2008 and 2009 on new hardware and software. This has provided enhanced functionality and improved security through the Government Gateway at a total project cost of £3,959,270. The vast majority of the cost was on developing and testing hardware and software to support the interactive transactional services to customers and the spend on web design, which cannot be separated from the total spend, was a small proportion of the overall cost.
The Veterinary Laboratories Agency website was redesigned during 2007-08 to improve its template design, navigation and accessibility. The new site went live on 29 April 2008 and external costs totalled £9,394.13.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what criminal offences have been (a) created and (b) abolished by secondary legislation sponsored by his Department since 1 May 2008. 
Dan Norris: The Department has made over 130 statutory instruments since 1 May 2008. These instruments would need to be assessed manually to establish the number of offences they contain. I consider therefore that the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) his Department and (b) its agencies spent on (i) alcohol and (ii) entertainment in the last 12 months. 
Dan Norris: The core-Department's financial system does not have expenditure categories for alcohol and entertainment. All expenditure has to be incurred in accordance with the principles of Managing Public Money and the HM Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether there has been any nugatory cost to (a) his Department and (b) its agencies arising from tendered procurement in circumstances where the tender process has been cancelled prior to the award of the contract in the last five years. 
Dan Norris: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has a chief scientific adviser, Professor Robert Watson. DEFRA does not hold data on the number of scientific posts it has in the department and these data could be collated only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many security passes his Department has issued to contractors providing consultancy services in the last 12 months. 
Dan Norris: All contractors providing consultancy or other services who require access to a DEFRA building are issued with appropriate security passes, subject to security clearance procedures. When access is no longer required, the passes are withdrawn. Disaggregating the number of security passes issued to contractors providing consultancy services in the last 12 months would incur disproportionate costs.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many days sickness absence were taken by staff in his Department and its agencies in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what the cost to his Department was of such absence. 
Dan Norris: DEFRA manages sickness absences in line with its sickness absence policy. This includes facilitating timely employee access to occupational health advice, medical or wellbeing interventions. Long-term sick employees are encouraged to return to work on a programme of recuperative duties where appropriate. All individuals returning to work from sickness absence will have a "welcome back" meeting with their manager. This is to discuss their reasons for absence and, where necessary, work-related issues connected with their absence including provision of workplace adjustments.
The number of days of sickness absence taken by staff in DEFRA and its agencies in each of the last 12 months could be calculated only by incurring disproportionate cost. However, the total number of working days lost due to sickness in the year to 30 September 2009 (the latest available figure) in DEFRA and its agencies was 80,900, an average of 8.1 days per employee. The estimated cost of sickness absence in 2008-09 was £9.6 million.
There is no agreed method of calculating the cost of sickness absences in the civil service. DEFRA has calculated the annual cost by multiplying the number of working days lost due to sickness in each grade by the average salary for that grade. No account has been taken of staff on long-term sick who are on reduced or no pay, which would reduce the total.
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