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Departmental Staff

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of the staff of his Department are part-time employees. [47196]

Ruth Kelly [holding answer 10 April 2002]: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by my hon. friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office on 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 49W.

New Deal for Young People

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people employed by the non-departmental public bodies for which he is responsible under the new deal for young people in each of the last four years have subsequently (a) found unsubsidised employment for more than 13 weeks and (b) returned to jobseekers' allowance or other benefits. [49604]

Ruth Kelly: We do not have this information.

Government Commerce

Valerie Davey: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what information was gathered from the Office of Government Commerce e-tendering pilot scheme for a system for use across Government, with particular reference to the Department for Education and Skills. [49928]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The recently concluded pilot covered all the key aspects of an e-tendering system, including the procurement process, functionality and

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operational activity. It successfully addressed security issues, which had been a particular concern to both Departments and suppliers.

The Office of Government Commerce is working with Departments to use the information gathered from this pilot and other on-going e-pilots to develop the Government's overall approach to the effective and efficient use of e-tendering.

Although the Department for Education and Skills did not take part in the pilot, it will be able, together with all Government Departments and agencies, to use the knowledge gained when undertaking future e-tendering activity.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 26 March 2002, Official Report, column 862W, on PFI, what were the changing requirements which accounted for the difference in cost between preferred bidder stage and the final contract price. [50327]

Ruth Kelly: The changing requirements vary from the addition of new properties on the portfolio PFI (STEPS) to changes in the service specifications on the single site PFIs.


Mr. Gray: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many contracts HM Treasury has with consultants; what level of professional indemnity insurance is standard in contracts with small consultants; whether he can make exceptions to the level of professional indemnity insurance; and what recent discussions he has had with other Government departments about the level of professional indemnity insurance. [50836]

Ruth Kelly: The effort required to establish the current contracts the Treasury has with consultants would incur disproportionate costs.

The level of indemnity insurance is not fixed. The value and nature of the contract and the size of the company/ firm employed to carry out the work are taken into consideration when determining the level of indemnity insurance required.

There have been no recent discussions with other Government Departments about professional indemnity insurance.

Solar Panels

Ian Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what Government buildings owned by his Department have solar panels installed. [51189]

Ruth Kelly: None.


Plastic Bags

2. Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has for reducing the use of plastic bags; and if she will make a statement. [46510]

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Mr. Meacher: Packaging waste, including plastic bags, is covered by the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997, which include incentives both to reduce the amount of packaging handled by businesses and to increase the amount of packaging reused. I am aware that the Irish Government have recently introduced a levy on plastic bags from supermarkets and of the effectiveness of this approach.

Peak District (Access)

10. Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of progress in implementing the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 in the Peak District. [46519]

Alun Michael: On February 11, the Countryside Agency concluded consultation on a draft map of open country and registered common land in the lower north- west, including the Peak District. The Agency is now considering comments made on the draft map, and plans to issue a provisional map in September this year.


16. Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on steps she has taken to combat cruelty to badgers, with specific reference to the protection of setts. [46526]

Mr. Morley: It is an offence under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 to interfere with a badger sett without an appropriate licence. The maximum penalty for such an offence under the 1992 Act is a fine of £5,000 or six months' imprisonment, or both.

The protection provided under the 1992 Act, which is unique for an unendangered animals, reflects the concern which is felt by the Government about the gratuitous acts of cruelty to which badgers have been subjected to all too often in the past.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimates have been made of how many badgers there were in each constituency in each of the last 20 years. [48548]

Mr. Morley: No annual data on the number of badgers exist either at county, constituency or national level.

Based on two surveys the number of badgers in Great Britain is estimated to be between 300 and 400 thousand. The latest survey which was conducted in the mid-1990s revealed an increase in badgers numbers of around 70 per cent. compared with the first survey which was undertaken in the mid-1980s.

Veterinary Surgeons

17. Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many veterinary surgeons will be employed by the State Veterinary Service in 2002–03; and what the equivalent figures were in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02. [46527R]

Mr. Morley: As at February 2001, 301 veterinary surgeons were employed, of which 261 were field veterinary staff.

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As at 31 March 2002, 311 permanent veterinary surgeons were employed, of which 275 are field veterinary staff.

No further recruitment of veterinary surgeons is expected to take place in 2002–03.

Footpaths (Lincolnshire)

18. Gillian Merron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations she has received concerning the reopening of footpaths in Lincolnshire. [46528]

Alun Michael: We received a number of comments which suggested that Lincolnshire was slow or reluctant to reopen footpaths despite the fact that there were no cases of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the county. The amount of correspondence was low with four letters from members of the public in favour of reopening footpaths and one against. There was one letter from an hon. Member early in the outbreak, urging strict enforcement of access prohibitions. Lincolnshire county council wrote last July objecting to my decision to revoke remaining blanket rights-of-way closures. That decision was taken in the light of the veterinary risk assessment which showed that the risk of walkers spreading FMD was extremely small and the fact that a small number of local authorities were being over cautious without good reason. The FMD outbreak demonstrated the importance of rights of way to tourism in rural areas in England, and most local authorities were keen to reopen them as soon as it was safe to do so.

Farm Diversification

19. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assistance her Department is giving farmers to diversify their businesses. [46529]

Alun Michael: The Department provides grants for farmers in England seeking to pursue good diversification projects under the Rural Enterprise Scheme and the Vocational Training Scheme, which form part of the England Rural Development Programme. DEFRA also offers assistance in the form of free planning consultancy advice to farmers who intend to pursue an eligible RES diversification project. Funds are also available from the regional development agencies to renovate redundant farm buildings. Technical assistance is provided by the Rural Development Service and through the Farm Business Advice Service.

Llama Trekking

20. Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will ease the restrictions upon llama trekking businesses. [46530]

Alun Michael: A licensing scheme for llama trekking was introduced on 28 March 2002 which allows treks to take place, while minimising the risk of disease spread. Controls are needed over this activity, as llamas are susceptible to foot and mouth disease and could become infected or could infect other susceptible livestock by crossing grazing land.

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