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Single Farm Payments

Volume 447: debated on Thursday 15 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are in place to ensure the next round of single farm payments is made on time. (76188)

We are determined that the right lessons are learned from our experience this year with the Single Payment Scheme, first to prepare for the undoubted challenges that will exist in the delivery of the 2006 scheme, and secondly to move to a more stable position for the 2007 scheme year. Work has already started to this end with the measures set out on 29 March 2006, Official Report, column 305WH, by my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Mr. Bradshaw) and the subsequent appointment of Mr. Tony Cooper as interim chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency. But this is a long-term project with no quick or easy solutions.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken to ensure all maps used for the calculation of single farm payments are accurate. (76189)

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is responsible for the maintenance of the Rural Land Register (RLR), and information from the RLR is used to support claims to the Single Payment Scheme. The process of digitising land and amending existing land registrations has been amended recently, with activity brought back on to RPA's main computer system. This followed a period when an outsourced provider was used to digitise land during a period of exceptionally high demand.

The digitisation process itself includes a number of quality checks to ensure that the correct land parcel and area are digitised. Where errors are found they are corrected before maps are issued to customers. Further amendments are made where customers identify issues with the maps they receive. RPA is aware of a number of cases where there have been issues with maps sent to customers. The re-establishment of an in-house process will aid the cross-check of new and amended land areas to customer details.