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Grant Shapps: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how long the offices at 14 Tothill Street assigned to the House of Commons have been empty; what the cost of (a) rent and (b) business rates in respect of the property has been in this period; and when the offices are expected to be occupied by the House of Commons Service. 
Nick Harvey: The House of Commons' area of No. 14 Tothill Street has been empty since the building was leased in October 2007. Following completion of the lease, essential building work on the whole of the premises has been carried out at the expense of the landlord. Common areas shared between the Lords and Commons are presently in use and fit-out work is proceeding on the floors that are to be solely occupied by the House of Commons, for which the estimated completion date is October 2010.
The Commons share of the total rent paid to date, including the current quarter to 25 March 2010, amounts to some £4.8 million (including VAT); and the Commons share of business rates invoiced to 31 December 2009 has been £175,000.
Mr. Simon: Currently the Department has 34 agency staff and contractors working solely for DCMS. This figure does not include external consultants engaged to undertake coaching, training, and/or facilitation activities, who will work in a number of organisations in addition to DCMS.
Mr. McCartney: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 6 January 2010, Official Report, column 391W, on the Gambling Act 2005, if he will assess the merits of bringing forward proposals on the availability of higher prizes on gaming machines in commercial snooker and pool clubs for consideration separate from his Department's planned review of category B gaming machines; and if he will discuss that matter with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 
There is a range of issues relating to category B gaming machines which need to be considered together to ensure that the cumulative impact of any changes is fully taken into account. It is therefore right that we consider proposals on the availability of higher
prizes on gaming machines in commercial snooker and pool clubs as part of my Department's review of category B gaming machines.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make it his policy to have printed in the Official Report all letters sent by Arts Council England to hon. Members in response to parliamentary questions. 
Margaret Hodge: Copies of the letters sent by the chief executive of Arts Council England in response to parliamentary questions will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. There is no plan to publish them in the Official Report.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for High Peak (Tom Levitt) of 14 December 2009, Official Report, column 646W, on common land: property development, whether the planned consultation on registration of village greens will consider restrictions on the ability to register a village green. 
Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 14 January 2010]: Changes in the number of farmers are just one element of the structural changes that have taken place in the sector. The long-term trend in dairy production is towards fewer, larger and more productive herds. The following table provides the fuller picture on the structural changes in the sector and shows how the decline in the number of dairy farms and dairy farmers has been offset by an increase in average herd size and milk yields.
The number of principal farmers on dairy holdings is not yet available for 2009. The decrease in the numbers of dairy farmers in England between 1997 and 2008 (-34 per cent.) is less than the fall in the number of holdings with dairy cows between 2008 and 2009 (-48 per cent.). This reflects a rise in the average number of farmers per farm over the period as the average farm size has increased.
However, the numbers of dairy cows have decreased by less (-30 per cent.), reflecting a rise in the average herd size, and (at the UK level) milk yields have increased by 22 per cent. over the period, so that total UK milk production has fallen by 8 per cent. between 1997 and 2009.
|Number of dairy farms in England||Number of farmers on dairy holdings in England||Number of dairy cows in England (thousand)|
|(a)||(b)||(a)||(b)||(a)||(b)||UK milk production (million litres) (c)||Average UK milk yield (litres per cow per year)|
|n/a = Not yet available|
(a) Sourced from the Cattle Tracing System (CTS). Defined as the number of holdings on 1 June each year with more than 10 dairy cows in the milking herd. CTS became the main source of cattle data from 2006 onwards. Results prior to this were sourced from the June Survey of Agriculture but are not directly comparable.
(b) Sourced from the June Survey of Agriculture.
(c) Sourced from DEFRA and RPA statistics.
(d) Allows for the break in series in 2006 with the switch to the CTS. For the number of dairy farmers the change is between 1997 and 2008.
Mr. Cash: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance his Department has provided to dairy farmers in Staffordshire as a result of the entry into administration of Dairy Farmers of Britain. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: We worked closely with Dairy Farmers of Britain (DFoB) Members Council, the Receivers (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and others towards our common goal of minimising the impacts of those affected, particularly farmer members of DFoB including those in Staffordshire, following DFoB's entry into administration last June.
We ensured that all available assistance was given to those facing difficulties. This included advice from DFoB Members Council, the Receivers, the National Farmers Union and Regional Development Agencies. For example, there is the Business Link's Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme and HMRC's Business Payment Support Service, which might enable those affected to defer certain tax and national insurance payments. The Secretary of State also wrote to both the British Bankers' Association and the Agricultural Industries Confederation to ask their members to consider any short term cash flow problems faced by farmers sympathetically. In the succeeding weeks, 97 per cent. of the 1,813 active DFoB members found new contracts and buyers for their milk.
Dairy farmers, including those in Staffordshire, are eligible for payments under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). The Rural Payments Agency has made continued progress in making more timely SPS payments and this has helped farmers' cash flow, with around £1.5 billion (just under 78 per cent.) paid by the end of December under the 2009 scheme.
In addition, dairy farmers are eligible for funding under DEFRA's £600 million Rural Development Programme for England 2007-13. This includes over £107 million which is being targeted specifically at the livestock sector to help it meet the particular challenges that it faces. Through this, Advantage West Midlands are able to assist farmers through capital investments to increase competitiveness or diversification into other activities.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information the Environment Agency holds on the number of fixed-penalty notices issued by local authorities for household waste offences. 
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