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29 Jan 2003 : Column 873W—continued

Equine Passports

Mr. David Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimates she has made of the costs of administrating equine passports. [93363]

Alun Michael: At present there are 56 organisations approved in the UK to issue horse passports. The administration costs to them will vary according to their own requirements and the number of passports they each issue. We have not therefore made any estimate of the costs of administering horse passports.

Current costs to horseowners of buying horse passports is expected to decreasedue to economies of scale which will occur when every horse is required to have a passport.

29 Jan 2003 : Column 874W


Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which (a) agencies and (b) authorities are responsible for (i) flood prevention, (ii) flood management and (iii) remedial action in respect of the village of Pitton in Wiltshire; what their functions are; and if she will make a statement. [92758]

Mr. Morley: The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has policy responsibility for flood defence in England while operational responsibility for delivering the service falls to the 'operating authorities': the Environment Agency, local authorities and Internal Drainage Boards. The Environment Agency has a general supervisory duty over all matters relating to flood defence and they are also responsible for flood forecasting and flood warning arrangements. In respect of Pitton, Salisbury district council and Wiltshire county council have responsibilities as flood defence and highways authorities respectively.

I understand that flooding in Pitton is due to a combination of high groundwater and springflows. The Agency has exercised its supervisory power by producing reports into the flooding that occurred in 1995 and 2000. Following the 1995 report, Salisbury district council undertook some works with Defra grant aid. I understand that all the authorities have signed up to an action plan following the 2000 report.

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total estimated financial cost of flood damage in Nottinghamshire was for 2002–03 [92856]

Mr Morley: The Environment Agency does not hold data for total financial cost of flood damage for all flooding events in all locations.

Fraud and Theft

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much money has been lost by her Department and its agencies and non-departmental public bodies through (a) fraud and (b) theft for each year since 1996–97. [92461]

Alun Michael: The Department has only been in existence since June 2001. Information covering earlier periods is therefore not available, and could be constructed retrospectively only at disproportionate cost. Annual reports, which the Treasury prepares on fraud, covering returns from both the former MAFF and DETR, are deposited in the House of Commons Library.

However, annual returns of fraud submitted by DEFRA, including its Agencies to HMT covering the financial years 2001/2002 show the total cost of theft and fraud to the department to be as follows:

Fraud (£)Theft (£)
Non-departmental bodiesN/aN/a

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Horticulture Research International

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much the mailshot on the Horticulture Research International, dated 20 January 2003, cost broken down into (a) postage, (b) publication and (c) envelopes. [93018]

Mr Morley: The Government announced its response to the Quinquennial Review of Horticulture Research International to Parliament on 20 January 2003. A copy of the statement has been made available on DEFRA's website: reference: News Release 24/03 of 20 January. The Department has also written to more than 150 individuals or organisations who made representations about the Review to alert them to the statement. The cost of this exercise has not been identified separately but is estimated to be less than £50.

In-farm Slaughter

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what discussions she has had with the Food Standards Agency about in-farm slaughter; [93873]

Mr. Morley: There have been no recent discussions with the Food Standards Agency regarding on-farm slaughter. The on-farm slaughter of animals is permitted under the 'Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995'. The hygiene regulations covering the on-farm slaughter of animals are a matter for the Food Standards Agency.


Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many hazardous waste landfill sites operate in the United Kingdom; how many of these are in-house sites; and if she will make a statement; [89753]

29 Jan 2003 : Column 876W

Margaret Beckett: The information that is available on landfill sites relates to England and Wales and comes from a conditioning plan exercise conducted by the Environment Agency. The figures requested are set out in the table, broken down by region:

RegionHazardous (post 2002)Of which in-house(5)Hazardous (post 2004)Of which in-house(5)
North East3910116
North West27685
South West16121

(5) In-house is defined as those landfill sites owned and operated by a company for disposal of its own waste.

Minimum Wage

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will estimate the impact of increasing the minimum wage (a) in line with average earnings, (b) to £4.17 per hour, (c) to £4.87 per hour, (d) to £5.00 per hour and (e) to £5.30 per hour, on the cost of salaries of departmental employees (i) in total and (ii) for each nation of the United Kingdom in the next financial year. [90604]

Alun Michael: There would be no impact to the cost of salaries to core Defra employees by increasing the national minimum wage by the amounts quoted, either nationally or across the Department in total. The minimum salary for a Defra employee is already above the rates quoted. This is a national salary payable to Defra employees across the United Kingdom.

Special Projects

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent on special project schemes in each region in each of the last 10 years. [93743]

Alun Michael: The amount of Government funding for Countryside Stewardship Special Projects 1 , in each Government Office region over the last 10 years has been as follows:

Government funding per year (£1,000s)

East Midlands444982907210967120154109894
Greater London11102126117152
North East318918132615693192
North West17164241842312572170437
South East17624252572341961592845461,648
South West1551147811733333603903955952,541
West Midlands22316793577465120212670

(6) These figures include two types of Countryside Stewardship special projects: projects for land management (e.g. overwintered stubbles for cirl buntings) where the payment is made annually for 10 years and capital works projects (e.g. restoration of traditional buildings) where the payment is made in one year only.

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Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to rationalise the special projects scheme; and if she will make a statement about her plans for its future. [93745]

Alun Michael: We are carrying out a wide-ranging review of English agri-environment schemes, including the Countryside Stewardship scheme, under which

special projects are available.

The review has now reached the second consultation stage, within which views have been invited regarding the Agri-environment Framework document. This document contains a proposal that a higher tier scheme should:

Responses to this consultation should be received by 28 February 2003.

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