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Defra: Budget

Volume 686: debated on Wednesday 8 November 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Answer by the Lord Rooker on 30 October (HL Deb, col. 9), whether other sections of service have also been affected by “a switch of funding” within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.[HL8096]

Other sections of Defra service have been affected by switches of funding between budget categories. Like all large organisations, Defra faces new financial pressures each year which require us constantly to review and adjust our spending plans. We conducted a rigorous review of financial allocations during the summer of 2006 which included detailed discussions with our agencies and other external bodies to agree where spending might best be reduced. This review was comprehensive in nature and has ensured that Defra's funding for the current year is placed where it can have the greatest impact. Switches of funding between budget categories result where the review identifies that priorities are best served by transferring allocation between them and estimate and budgetary rules allow.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Answer by the Lord Rooker on 30 October—Official Report, col. 9—on Natural England, what cuts in the resource area were made in terms of the amount of money involved and the projects affected.[HL8097]

We are working with Natural England to ensure that the impacts on key areas are minimised. David Miliband has advised the chair of Natural England of the department’s priorities—for example, to minimise impact on delivery of the SSSI and farmland birds PSA targets. It is the responsibility of Natural England’s board to ensure that the organisation fulfils the aims and objectives set by the Secretary of State, including the efficient and effective use of its staff and resources. Natural England chooses how best to deploy its available resources to those ends. My department is not involved in setting budgets for individual projects.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Answer by the Lord Rooker on 30 October (HL Deb, cols. 5–6), whether the budgets for flood defences will not be cut in view of the evidence from the Environment Agency that the reduction of £23.7 million in its budget would increase the risk of flooding.[HL8104]

The capital budget, which delivers improved flood defences, has not been cut and we believe that the programme to deliver schemes should be unaffected.

We remain on course to meet our spending review 2004 target of better protecting 100,000 households in the period 2005-08.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the answer by the Lord Rooker on30 October—Official Report, col. 6—on Natural England, to which budget category the remaining £7 million of the total of £200 million has been allocated.[HL8105]

The pressures facing Defra have always been described as being more than£200 million.

In addition to those I identified to the House on30 October are a range of other pressures, with varying probabilities that they will impact on Defra in 2006-07. These are part of the normal in-year monitoring of budgets that Defra has and continues to successfully manage against the estimate and budgetary controls. Given the uncertainty of the scope and likelihood of these other pressures actually crystallising, it would not be appropriate for me to provide details other than that these are current pressures in 2006-07.