§ Mr. Gardiner
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many employees of his Department took early retirement packages, and at what total cost, in the financial year 1996–97. 
§ Ms Beverley Hughes
In the financial year 1996–97, 462 employees of the Department of the Environment and the Department of Transport took early retirement. In addition, some 228 employees took early severance. It would not be possible to separate retirement and severance costs without disproportionate cost and effort, but the total costs of early retirements and severance in the year concerned was £23,322,610. This includes ongoing costs of departures from previous years.