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Agency Budgets

Volume 450: debated on Monday 23 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what change in the budget during 2006-07 has been requested of the (a) Veterinary Laboratories Agency, (b) Pesticides Safety Directorate, (c) Veterinary Medicines Directorate and (d) Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science; and what the likely staffing implications of such a change are in each case. (92689)

Each of these bodies is required to cover its full economic costs within a permitted tolerance through charging for its services to Defra and other public and private sector customers. As such Defra does not set specific cost budgets in the same way as for other delivery bodies such as non-departmental public bodies. Rather it enters into negotiated contracts for services, some of which are demand led. Defra regularly reviews the expected levels of demand for these services and signals to agencies where throughput is lower than originally planned. The staffing implications of such changes are the responsibility of the agency’s own accounting officer taking into account all of their business.

So far during 2006-07 the only changes to the level of Defra’s forecast business with these agencies was as follows:

1. A £2.35 million reduction in the expected volume of animal surveillance and post-mortem testing work purchased from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

2. A £839,000 reduction in the environmental policy and research services purchased from the Pesticides Safety Directorate.

3. A £900,000 reduction in expected volume of fish health surveillance work purchased from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.

4. A £283,000 reduction in non-statutory residues testing programme purchased from the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.