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Rural Payments Agency

Volume 453: debated on Monday 27 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the employment position is of Johnston McNeill. (100674)

Johnston McNeill is currently on paid leave of absence and we are in the process of taking the appropriate action to bring his employment to an end. We are actively taking steps to conclude this as a matter of urgency.

Clearly, the details of this are part of Johnston McNeill’s employment with DEFRA and it is therefore not appropriate to disclose details.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many complaints were received against (a) the Rural Payments Agency and (b) its (i) permanent and (ii) agency staff in each year since 2001-02, broken down by nature of complaint. (100743)

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) does not monitor separately official complaints made to its customer relations unit broken down by the nature of complaint.

Since the establishment of RPA in October 2001 1,565 official complaints have been received covering all areas of its business. The following table shows these broken down by calendar year.

Number

2001

3

2002

212

2003

197

2004

206

2005

424

2006

523

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of total rural payments are outstanding; what the average delay in such cases has been; how many cases are delayed; and what compensation is being offered. (100882)

Latest Single Payment Scheme figures show 98.81 per cent. of the estimated £1.528 billion fund has now been paid out, leaving 1.19 per cent. to pay.

As the regulatory payment window closed on 30 June, all remaining payments are nearly five months late.

Those still awaiting a payment now number 1,773, of which 40 are priority one claimants owed over €1,000 these include 30 probate cases and 10 that are difficult to resolve with issues such as business partnership disputes, liquidation and divorce.

Compensation is being paid to customers as interest, under conditions announced by the Secretary of State for the Environment on 22 June. The interest payments are at the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) +1 per cent., calculated from 1 July, subject to a minimum interest payment level of £50, to customers who have received SPS 2005 moneys after the 30 June regulatory payment window.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many appeals have been made against reductions in single payment scheme payments as a result of cross-compliance. (100897)

As at 16 November 2006 the Rural Payments Agency have received a total of eight formal single payment scheme appeals that concern cross-compliance issues.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many claimants in the Forest of Dean have received (a) full payment, (b) an 80 per cent. partial payment and (c) no payment under the 2005 Single Payment Scheme. (101072)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what amount of payments under the Single Farm Payment Scheme in North Yorkshire has been paid in full; and what amount remains outstanding. (101664)

Analysis by constituency of claimants or payments made under the Single Payment Scheme is not available at this present time but will be published in due course.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether he plans to change the IT supplier for the single farm payment scheme. (101888)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will visit the new livestock market in Shrewsbury to discuss problems with single farm payment provisions with local farmers. (101889)

The Secretary of State has no plans to visit the livestock market in Shrewsbury, however, Lord Rooker, will be visiting the hon. Gentleman's constituency on 1 February to discuss agriculture issues, including the Single Payment Scheme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to ensure that the Rural Payments Agency will make a substantial part payment of the 2006 payments due before the end of 2006 under the single payment scheme. (102016)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 715.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) formal and (b) informal discussions have taken place between his Department and European Commission staff on the potential disallowance for administration of the 2005 single payment scheme. (102145)

A number of discussions have taken place with the European Commission on the Rural Payments Agency's progress in administering the 2005 Single Payment Scheme. Formal discussions on disallowance take place in the context of the EU regulatory clearance of accounts procedure, which is still at an early stage in respect of 2005 scheme year payments.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to his intervention of 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 721, on what basis the figure of £25 million of his Department's budget deficit was allocated to the Rural Payments Agency. (102147)

In fact, £23 million extra has been allocated for RPA's running costs recognising that efficiency savings have been delayed and to support making timely payments to farmers.