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Departmental Travel

Volume 471: debated on Monday 28 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many miles (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department travelled by (i) car, (ii) rail and (iii) air on Government business in each year since 1997. (181876)

[holding answer given 24 January 2008]: DEFRA came into being in June 2001. The information requested for each year since 1997 could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Since 1999, the Government have published a list of all overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers costing over £500. Information for the last financial year was published on 25 July 2007. Details for the current financial year will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year. From next year, the list will include details of overseas visits undertaken by all Ministers. All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the Ministerial code.

All central Government ministerial and official air travel has been offset from 1 April 2006. Departmental aviation emissions are calculated on an annual basis and subsequently offset through payments to a central fund. The fund purchases certified emissions reductions credits from energy efficiency and renewable energy projects with sustainable development benefits, located in developing countries. In addition, offsetting the flights of DEFRA, the FCO, the DfID and the Prime Minister has been backdated to 1 April 2005. DEFRA has offset rail and vehicle travel since 2006 and 2007 respectively.

For the period April 2006 to December 2007 inclusive from information held centrally, the miles officials travelled by rail and air are:

Officials’ miles

Rail

Air

2007

October to December

821,091

1,369,877

July to September

324,962

579,196

April to June

153,808

156,506

January to March

846,942

1,202,971

2006

October to December 2006

711,689

946,247

July to September 2006

685,881

1,303,289

April to June 2006

794,269

1,314,444

From information held centrally, the car mileage travelled by officials since financial year 2002-03 is:

Miles

2006-07

19,717,612

2005-06

22,618,001

2004-05

20,726,000

2003-04

20,381,000

2002-03

20,510,000

These figures include 50,522 miles for ministerial cars in 2006-07 and taxi mileages of 137,005 and 47,000 in 2006-07 and 2005-06 respectively. Information on car mileage includes where known data for core-DEFRA, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aqua-cultural Science, the Government Decontamination Service, the State Veterinary Service, the Marine Fisheries Agency, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the Central Science Laboratory, the Rural Payments Agency and the Pentacles Safety Directorate. Year-on-year figures are not strictly comparable due to the machinery of government changes that have affected DEFRA since its creation in June 2001, and from changes to departmental financial systems.