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House of Commons Debates, Written Answers & Written Statements

Week Ending Friday 29 April 2011

 

Written Answers 27 April 2011

 

Housing: Planning Permission

Fiona Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) whom his Department consulted on proposals to change requirements for planning permission to convert premises from commercial to residential use; [52675]

(2) what the timetable is for the consultation on the proposed changes to the planning process in relation to permission for conversions from commercial to residential use; [52676]

(3) what representations he has received on the proposed changes on the conversion of premises from commercial to residential use. [52747]

Robert Neill: The consultation on the relaxation of the planning rules for change of use from commercial to residential was published on the 8 April 2011. The consultation ends on the 30 June 2011.

It is a public consultation and it is therefore open to anyone to respond. The consultation document can be found on the Department's website at:

www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/relaxationchangeconsultation

A summary of representations received will be published after the consultation has closed.

Local Government: Bye Laws

Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans he has to allow local authorities to create or abolish bylaws without requiring his Department's approval; and if he will make a statement. [52088]

Grant Shapps: We intend to take forward proposals to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy associated with byelaws, and will make a further announcement in due course.

 

 

Written Answers 26 April 2011

Departmental Public Bodies

Tessa Jowell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the level of savings which will accrue from the (1) abolition of the Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees; [48623]

(2) abolition of the Advisory Committee on Organic Standards; [48624]

(3) abolition of the Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances; [48625]

(4) abolition of the Zoos Forum; [48709]

(5) abolition of the Veterinary Residues Committee; [48710]

(6) abolition of the Sustainable Development Commission; [48711]

(7) abolition of the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee; [48712]

(8) abolition of the Plant Varieties and Seeds Tribunal; [48713]

(9) abolition of the Pesticide Residues Committee; [48714]

(10) abolition of the National Standing Committee on Farm Animal Genetic Resources; [48715]

(11) abolition of the Independent Agricultural Appeals Panel; [48716]

(12) abolition of Food from Britain. [48717]

(13) abolition of the Farm Animal Welfare Council; [48718]

(14) abolition of the Darwin Advisory Committee; [48719]

(15) abolition of Commons Commissioners; [48720]

(16) abolition of the Committee on Agricultural Valuation; [48721]

(17) abolition of the British Waterways Board; [48722]

(18) abolition of the Air Quality Expert Group; [48723]

(19) abolition of the Agricultural Wages Committees; [48724]

(20) abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales; [48725]

(21) change in function of the Agricultural Land Tribunal; [48738]

(22) change in function of the Science Advisory Council; [48773]

(23) change in function of Natural England; [48774]

(24) change in function of the National Park Authorities; [48775]

(25) change in function of the Internal Drainage Boards; [48776]

(26) change in function of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority; [48777]

(27) change in function of the Environment Agency. [48778]

Richard Benyon: On 16 March 2011, Official Report, columns 9-10WS, the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, the right hon. Member for Horsham (Mr Maude), issued a written ministerial statement updating Parliament on progress on public bodies reform. That statement also announced that Departments estimate that cumulative administrative savings of at least 2.6 billion will flow from public bodies over the spending review period.

DEFRA anticipates minimum net cumulative administrative savings resulting from abolitions or changes in functions of our public bodies over the spending review period of approximately 18.58 million which is broken down as follows:

Public body

Savings ( million)

Internal Drainage Boards

0.225

Inland Waterways Advisory Committee

0.051

Agricultural Wages Boards

0.650

Commission for Rural Communities

17.654

 

In addition we estimate that the withdrawal of funding to the Sustainable Development Commission (which pre-dates the spending review public bodies reform process) and its abolition will save approximately 2 million per annum.

These are our best current estimates of planned net savings to emerge from these reforms and are dependent upon the individual timetables for implementation-many of which require the Public Bodies Bill and subsequent secondary legislation or discussions with the devolved administrations. Consequently, not all savings figures can be determined precisely at this stage. The following table summarises the position for each of the bodies asked about.

In addition to the savings expected from abolitions or changes in function, we anticipate that cumulative planned administrative reductions from all DEFRA's public bodies will be approximately 250.93 million over the spending review period in real terms. DEFRA published spending review allocations for its arm's length bodies alongside current baselines on our external website on 20 December 2010. These are available at:

http://ww2.defra.gov.uk/news/2010/12/20/budget-allocations-101220/

Net savings from abolition or change in function of

 

Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees

Expected to be less than 100,000

Advisory Committee on Organic Standards

Expected to be cost neutral

Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances

Expected to be cost neutral-body to be reconstituted

Zoos Forum

Expected to be cost neutral-body to be reconstituted

Veterinary Residues Committee

Expected to be cost neutral-body to be reconstituted

Sustainable Development Commission

Estimated at about 2 million per annum-but predates the spending review public bodies reform process.

Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee

Expected to be cost neutral-function transferring to Department of Health

Plant Varieties and Seeds Tribunal

Expected to be cost neutral-function transferring to Ministry of Justice

Pesticide Residues Committee

Expected to be cost neutral-body to be reconstituted

National Standing Committee on Farm Animal Genetic Resources

Expected to be cost neutral-body to be reconstituted

Independent Agricultural Appeals Panel

IAAP is being retained.

Food from Britain

Expected to be less than 100,000

Farm Animal Welfare Council

Expected to be cost neutral-body to be reconstituted

Darwin Advisory Committee

Expected to be cost neutral-body to be reconstituted

Commons Commissioners

Expected to be less than 100,000

Committee on Agricultural Valuation

0-Body is inactive

British Waterways Board

To be determined

Air Quality Expert Group

Expected to be cost neutral-body to be reconstituted

Agricultural Wages Committees

Expected to be less than 100,000

Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales

650,000

Agricultural Land Tribunal

Expected to be cost neutral-function transferring to Ministry of Justice

Science Advisory Council

Expected to be cost neutral

Natural England

Savings through spending review

National Park Authorities

Savings through spending review

Internal Drainage Boards

225,000

Gangmasters Licensing Authority

Savings through spending review

Environment Agency

Savings through spending review


Forests

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how the composition of her Department's Independent Panel on Forestry was determined. [51709]

Mr Paice: The Panel and Chair were chosen by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who considered a wide range of names. In deciding on the membership of the Panel, the Secretary of State felt that the Panel should be small so that it can operate effectively in a focussed manner. The individuals were chosen for the knowledge and experience they could bring to the Panel, not for the organisations to which they may belong. The terms of reference make it clear that we expect the Panel to engage the widest possible range of views.

Forests: Dogs

Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what consideration she gave to appointing a representative of dog walkers to the Independent Panel on Forestry Policy. [51299]

Mr Paice: The panel and chair were chosen by the Secretary of State who considered a wide range of names. It is important that the panel has a broad range of experience and expertise. In deciding on the membership of the panel, the Secretary of State felt that the panel should be small so that it can operate effectively in a focused manner. It is not a panel of delegates from interested organisations but of individuals bringing their own knowledge and experience. The terms of reference make it clear that we expect the panel to engage the widest possible range of views.



Forests: Kent

Michael Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has for the sale of publicly-owned forests in Kent. [51311]

Mr Paice: All new sales of public forest estate were suspended from 17 February 2011. We will decide on the level of any future sales and the conditions to be attached to them only once we have received and considered the advice from the Independent Panel on Forestry.

Horse Passports

Mr Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what regulations implemented arrangements for horse passports; and what objectives were set for the effects of the introduction of such passports at the time of their implementation. [49373]

Mr Paice: The Horse Passports Regulations 2009 apply in England and implement the requirements of Commission Regulation (EC) No 504/2008. These regulations are intended to assure the safety of horse meat for human consumption.

Hunting

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the policy of her Department is on the introduction of a ban on snares. [47835]

Mr Paice: The DEFRA Code of Practice on the Use of Snares in Fox and Rabbit Control in England gives guidance on the responsible use of snares. DEFRA has no plans to introduce a ban on snares.

Independent Panel on Forestry

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) on what date she expects the Independent Panel on Forestry to hold its first meeting; and on what dates the panel's subsequent meetings are scheduled to take place; [51170]

(2) if she will require the forestry panel to publish agendas in advance of its meetings. [51331]

Mr Paice: The panel had its first meeting on 31 March and is making arrangements for subsequent meetings. All dates will be published on the panel's web pages which can be found on DEFRA's website.

The terms of reference are clear that we expect the panel to engage and take evidence from the widest range of views and interests. It is for the panel to decide what information it publishes as part of this engagement.

Local Government

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on that Department's review of statutory duties placed on local government. [50378]

Richard Benyon: DEFRA and DCLG Secretaries of State meet regularly to discuss issues of common interest to their Departments. Discussions would include the work that Departments are doing to promote the devolution of power to local government and remove unnecessary burdens and restrictions. There have been no meetings specifically on the review of statutory duties placed on local government.

All Government Departments, which place responsibilities on local government, have agreed to contribute to the review and officials have been working closely together as a first step towards identifying these statutory duties. An initial draft list, including the duties identified so far by DEFRA, was published and a copy placed in the Library of the House on 7 March 2011.

National Forest

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how many hectares of woodland have been created by the National Forest Company in each of the last four years; [51838]

(2) what estimate she has made of the number of hectares of woodland which will be created by the National Forest Company in each of the next four years. [51839]

Mr Paice: The National Forest Company has created the following amounts of woodland over the last four years:

 

Hectares

2010-11

195

2009-10

204

2008-09

121

2007-08

119

 

In 2011-12 the National Forest Company estimates that it will create 150 hectares of woodland, and in the three years following it expects to plant in the range of 150 to 175 hectares.

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent progress has been made on the potential merger between the National Forest Company and Heart of the National Forest Foundation. [51840]

Mr Paice: DEFRA has no plans for a merger between the National Forest Company and the National Forest Charitable Trust (the renamed Heart of the National Forest Foundation). There is, however, strengthened joint working on fundraising which will continue into the future. The National Forest Company continues to be the body which creates the National Forest.

National Parks

Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on the ownership and management of National Park land in England. [43419]

Richard Benyon: Each National Park has a management plan which sets out the long-term goals for that National Park. However, management of individual areas of land is a matter for the individual land owner or manager, complying with grant conditions where they have chosen to enter into an agri-environment agreement. National Park authorities only exceptionally own land themselves.

 

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