HC Deb 11 February 1981 vol 998 c337W
Mr. Watson

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the principal responsibilities of the Directorate of Rural Affairs; what is its anticipated annual budget for 1981–82; what will be the total basic staff cost of the directorate in 1980–81; and how many people are currently employed by the directorate and how this figure has changed since February 1979.

Mr. Heseltine

An outline of the detailed costings and activities of this directorate may be found in the relevant MINIS document which has been placed in the Library of the House. The principal responsibilities of the directorate are the promotion of landscape and nature conservation and the economic and social well-being of rural areas. Close contact is maintained with the Government agencies concerned and other Departments having countryside interests. Touring caravans and camping, trees and public rights of way, zoos, common lands and allotments are amongst other directorate responsibilities.

The directorate does not have a separate budget. Its total costs are borne on the votes of the Department of the Environment. Staff costs in 1980–81 are estimated at about £700,000. At present there are 58 staff in post, compared with a complement of 63 in February 1979.