§ Mr. Miller
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her best available estimate is of the cost of answering the questions on badgers and bovine TB asked by the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) in session 2003–04. 
§ Mr. Bradshaw
The last estimate made of the average cost of answering a parliamentary question (April 2002) was £135.
The hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) has tabled 450 questions on badgers and bovine tuberculosis during this parliamentary session. Thus the estimated total cost involved in answering these questions is £60,750.
This cost has been met by the diversion of resources from the development of policy and from scientific research in relation to both wildlife and to bovine TB. It has resulted in delays in responding to public correspondence and has held up work on areas such as the review of badger licensing, consultation on deer management, the review of the TB website and updating the advice to farmers in the booklet "Dealing with TB in Your Herd".