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Written Question
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Departmental Responsibilities
Thursday 19th May 2022

Asked by: Jim McMahon (Labour (Co-op) - Oldham West and Royton)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure (a) value for money from his Department's projects and (b) that those projects are completed (i) on time and (ii) within budget.

Answered by Victoria Prentis - Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

The department is strongly committed to delivering value for money and, wherever possible, completing projects as expected. To do so we work through the Defra Board, where ministers, senior officials and non-executive directors maintain oversight of the department's work, and through specific Delivery and Investment committees acting on delegated authority from the main board, that provide targeted scrutiny and oversight.


Written Question
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Information Officers
Thursday 28th April 2022

Asked by: Deidre Brock (Scottish National Party - Edinburgh North and Leith)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many communications staff his Department employs (a) full time (b) part time and (c) on flexible working arrangements.

Answered by Victoria Prentis - Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Defra Group Communications is the first single employer shared service communications team in Whitehall, working for six organisations. Alongside the core department it also provides communications support for five of the department’s largest Arm’s Length Bodies including the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Forestry Commission and the Rural Payments Agency. Defra Group Communications staff work to different organisations across policy and operational areas so it is not possible to provide details of number of full time and part time colleagues working to one organisation. The departmental communications team is approximately 98 FTE.


Written Question
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Information Officers
Thursday 28th April 2022

Asked by: Deidre Brock (Scottish National Party - Edinburgh North and Leith)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much his Department spent on communications staff in (a) 2019-20, (b) 2020-21 and (c) 2021-22.

Answered by Victoria Prentis - Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Defra Group Communications is the first single employer shared service communications team in Whitehall, working for six organisations. Alongside the core department it also provides communications support for five of the department’s largest Arm’s Length Bodies including the Environment Agency, Natural England, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Forestry Commission and the Rural Payments Agency. Defra Group Communications staff work to different organisations across policy and operational areas and the communications spend covers six organisations. The department communications budget for the last three years has been £15.3 million for 2019-20, £14.5million for 2020-21 and £14.1 million for 2021-22.


Written Question
Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership
Monday 25th April 2022

Asked by: Ruth Cadbury (Labour - Brentford and Isleworth)

Question to the Department for International Trade:

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, how many meetings with (a) Ministers and (b) officials in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (i) she and (ii) officials in her Department have had in relation to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in the last 12 months.

Answered by Penny Mordaunt - Minister of State (Department for International Trade)

Regular meetings take place between officials from the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to discuss the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership at all levels. DIT is in frequent contact with other government departments about issues pertinent to its programme of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). This ensures close coordination on issues of shared interest and consistency in positions across Whitehall.


Written Question
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Aviation
Monday 25th April 2022

Asked by: Sarah Olney (Liberal Democrat - Richmond Park)

Question to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, with reference to Greening Government Commitments Annual Report, April 2019 to March 2020, published in October 2021 by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, for what reason there was an increase in the number of domestic flights taken by her Department between 2009-10 and 2019-20; and if she will provide a breakdown by (a) origin and (b) destination of those flights in 2019-20.

Answered by Julia Lopez - Minister of State (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

The increase in domestic flights taken by DCMS officials in 2019/20 compared to 2009/10 can be explained by the following:

  • The department is less London centric, increasing its presence across the UK.

  • The department has increased in size from 454 FTE in 2009/10 to 1,304 FTE in 2019/20, a 187% increase. The increase in FTE is contributed to by the increased remit of the department, specifically within digital and international policy.

A total of 246 domestic flights were taken by DCMS officials between April 2019 and March 2020, to attend external meetings and conferences.

A breakdown of the flight data, detailing the origin and destination of flights taken in 2019/20 can be found in the attached PDF.


Written Question
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Statistics
Wednesday 20th April 2022

Asked by: Geraint Davies (Labour (Co-op) - Swansea West)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what assessment he has made of the 35 breaches by his Department of the Code of Practice for Statistics between January 2009 and July 2021.

Answered by Victoria Prentis - Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

There have been 35 breaches of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics by Defra (24) and associated bodies (11) since January 2009. The most common reasons for breaches of the Code have been timing (i.e. publications not released at 9.30am) and pre-release access (i.e. publication shared with ineligible individuals before publication).

The Head of Profession for Statistics is responsible for the release and content of statistics in the Department. All breaches are individually reviewed and reported to the UK Statistics Authority, including the impact of the breach and corrective actions to prevent re-occurrence. Details of Defra group breaches can be found at:

Defra group breaches of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Number of breaches

2009

1

2010

1

2011

1

2012

1

2013

5

2014

4

2015

3

2016

4

2017

3

2018

4

2019

3

2020

2

2021

3


Written Question
Air Pollution: Health
Wednesday 20th April 2022

Asked by: Geraint Davies (Labour (Co-op) - Swansea West)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent discussions he has had with the Chief Medical Officer on bringing forward legislative proposals to help tackle air pollution and its associated illnesses.

Answered by Maggie Throup - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)

While the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs lead on legislative proposals regarding air pollution, the Department of Health and Social Care continues to engage across Government on this issue. This includes discussions with the Chief Medical Officer for England.


Written Question
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Statistics
Wednesday 20th April 2022

Asked by: Geraint Davies (Labour (Co-op) - Swansea West)

Question to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs:

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to Defra group breaches of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics between January 2009 and February 2018, what steps he is taking to avoid future breaches of that code.

Answered by Victoria Prentis - Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

There have been 35 breaches of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics by Defra (24) and associated bodies (11) since January 2009. The most common reasons for breaches of the Code have been timing (i.e. publications not released at 9.30am) and pre-release access (i.e. publication shared with ineligible individuals before publication).

The Head of Profession for Statistics is responsible for the release and content of statistics in the Department. All breaches are individually reviewed and reported to the UK Statistics Authority, including the impact of the breach and corrective actions to prevent re-occurrence. Details of Defra group breaches can be found at:

Defra group breaches of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Number of breaches

2009

1

2010

1

2011

1

2012

1

2013

5

2014

4

2015

3

2016

4

2017

3

2018

4

2019

3

2020

2

2021

3


Written Question
Firearms: Licensing
Tuesday 19th April 2022

Asked by: Holly Lynch (Labour - Halifax)

Question to the Home Office:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will publish the membership of the firearms licensing fees working group.

Answered by Kit Malthouse - Minister of State (Ministry of Justice) (jointly with Home Office)

The Government is committed to ensuring an efficient and effective firearms licensing system and to achieving full cost recovery for the police. We have commenced a review of firearms licensing fees for police issued certificates, which will be informed by the work of a Firearms Fees Working Group. The Working Group will carry out a detailed review of the cost to the police of administering firearms licensing and develop proposals for revised fees, in accordance with HM Treasury Guidance.

The Firearms Fees Working Group will be chaired by the Home Office, and comprise representatives of the following organisations:

  • National Police Chiefs’ Council;
  • Police Scotland;
  • Association of Police and Crime Commissioners;
  • British Shooting Sports Council;
  • British Association for Shooting and Conservation;
  • Gun Trade Association;
  • National Gamekeepers Organisation;
  • Countryside Alliance;
  • Scottish Association for Country Sports;
  • Scottish Government; and
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The proposals for new fees for police issued certificates will be subject to public consultation in due course.


Written Question
Free School Meals
Monday 11th April 2022

Asked by: Lord Taylor of Warwick (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to raise the income threshold at which households become eligible for free school meals to £20,000 a year.

Answered by Baroness Barran - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

Eligibility for free school meals (FSM) has been extended several times and to more groups of children than any other government over the past half a century, including the introduction of universal infant free school meals, and further education free meals.

The department is also permanently extending FSM eligibility to children from all groups with no recourse to public funds. This will come into effect for the start of the summer term.

In 2018, the government introduced new eligibility criteria for families on Universal Credit, following a consultation in 2017. It was estimated that this will be more generous in its reach by 2022, in comparison to the legacy benefit system. The government included generous protections, which mean any family eligible for FSM transitioning to Universal Credit from a legacy benefit will continue to have access to FSM even if they move above the earnings threshold.

The department continues to work closely with other departments across government in considering eligibility for FSM. This has included working closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to consider all the evidence and recommendations of the National Food Strategy. The Government Food Strategy White Paper will be published in due course.