|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the cost has been to (a) his Department and (b) IT companies supplying his Department of the IT problems associated with late payments of single farm payments. 
Barry Gardiner: The core IT system to enable the processing of the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) was developed in conjunction with Accenture, the prime contractor, and deployed in phased releases throughout 2005, with the final element being delivered in October 2005. The system is used by Rural Payments Agency (RPA) staff in the processing of SPS claims and is available to them from 6am to 9pm weekdays and 8am to 6pm at weekends. In 2005 RPA implemented a three-shift work pattern to maximise the utilisation of the system and thereby help address the demands of processing the first year of SPS claims.
The overall cost of the Accenture contract is£53.8 million. This includes not only the development of the core SPS processing system but also a Rural Land Register, Customer Register, Customer Service (Call) Centre and Document Management Unit.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the timetable is for making interim single farm payments; and what the latest estimated time scale is for completing all payments. 
Barry Gardiner: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced on 9 May that some £730 million in the form of a substantial partial payment would be paid within a week of that announcement. Once this sum has been paid there will remain around 31,000 claimants who will not have received a payment. Some 26,000 of these claimants are due to receive a payment amounting to less than €1,000. Making full payments to the 5,000 farmers due to receive more than €1,000 will be given the highest priority by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many information leaflets have been received by each common agricultural policy farmer in (a) England and (b) Northern Ireland regarding the Single Payment Scheme since the mid-term common agricultural policy reform proposals were agreed in 2003; and what the total estimated cost was of compiling, printing and posting these booklets in each country. 
Barry Gardiner: Eighteen information leaflets regarding the Single Payment Scheme have been sent to English farmers since the mid-term common agricultural policy reform proposals were agreed in 2003. Because of the importance of the scheme and the need to register entitlements in the first year, all publications were mailed to every customer on the Defra database.
Subsequent to the development of the Rural Payments Agency's (RPA) own customer data it was not necessary to send all publications to the same circulation. Copies have been available on call off from Defra Publications and RPA's Customer Service Centre.
James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of Statefor Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) lowest, (b) highest, (c) median and (d) mean value was of the claims for the 2005 Single Payment Scheme within each of the three designated payment areas. 
Barry Gardiner: The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is in the process of paying claims to the 2005 Single Payment Scheme. As such final figures are not available. Based on payments made up to 3 May the information requested is as follows:
The SPS is administered nationally with claims submitted in respect of land held in one or more English regions. It is not possible to provide the number of claims supporting land in each of the three English regions.
James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many claims for the 2005 Single Payment Scheme were (a) expected and (b) received in each of the three designated payment areas, broken down by value. 
The SPS is administered nationally with claims submitted in respect of land held in one or more English regions. It is not possible to provide the number of claims supporting land in each of the three English regions. However the amount of land claimed in each of the three regions is as follows:
Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made towards a fully worked up contingency plan to pay partial single farm payments before30 June 2006. 
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 11 May 2006]: As announced in a written statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, on 9 May, after testing the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has immediately moved to making partial payments.
Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what definition of the middle range of historical claimants is being used for the prioritisation of single farm payments. 
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 24 April 2006]: The intention is for all eligible Single Payment Scheme (SPS) claimants to receive a payment, either in full or substantial part, by the end of June. With respect to the validation of claims leading to full payment by the Rural Payments Agency, the highest priority is being placed on claims of a value of between €50,000 and €100,000, reflecting a wish to disburse the maximum amount of funds to the maximum number of farmers within the shortest possible time frame. Work to validate claims of a value outside this band is also continuing as far as practicable.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of Statefor Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms were put in place by the Rural Payments Agency to ensure that the despatch of the Customer Registration booklet to farmers for the new financial year did not affect the finalising of 2005 payments; what assessment her Department made of the merits of delaying the despatch of these booklets until after the 2005 payments had been completed; and if she will make a statement. 
However, RPA also needs to ensure that 2006 scheme year claims are issued to enable return within the statutory requirements set by the scheme legislation. EU regulations specify that SPS claim forms must be lodged with the Paying Agency by May 15 each year, so delaying the issue of these forms until all 2005 payments had been processed was not an option.
To assist our customers the 2006 claim forms have been prepopulated where possible with all available customer information such as customer registration, scheme entitlements and land registration details.
Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what start-up funding is available for new warm home zones; how much such funding is available in North Staffordshire; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: An independent evaluation of the three-year Warm Zones pilot period was published earlier this year. The Government are considering the full range of conclusions from the pilot and will continue to work with Warm Zones Ltd. in its ongoing development.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what progress the Government have made during 2006 in meeting the targets of the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) if he will make a statement on the operation of (a) section 1 and (b) section 2 of the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000; what recent representations he has received on the operation of the Act; if he will place in the Library copies of such representations; and whether he plans (i) to amend and (ii) to repeal this Act. 
Ian Pearson: The UK Fuel Poverty Strategy, published in November 2001, defines fuel poverty as a household that needs to spend more than 10 per cent. of its income on fuel to maintain an adequate standard of warmth (21 degrees in the main living area, and 18 degrees in all other rooms). A comprehensive range
of measures has been put in place to tackle the underlying causes of fuel poverty, which are poor, energy inefficient housing, high fuel costs and low incomes. The UK Fuel Poverty Strategy also specifies interim targets to be achieved and target dates for eradicating fuel poverty in the UK.
The Government report annually on fuel poverty targets. The most recent report was published in July 2005 and showed that, in 2003, there were 1.2 million households in fuel poverty in England, 1.0 million of which were vulnerable households. This report, and further information on the UK Fuel Poverty Strategy, is available at: http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/fuel-poverty/strategy/index.html.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to persuade those states within the International Whaling Commission sympathetic to Japan to vote in favour of whale conservation. 
Mr. Bradshaw: We regularly send lobbying instructions to our posts abroad to seek support from their host countries for the UKs position on whaling. The prominent role we play within the Commission ensures no country can be in any doubt as to the importance we attach to whale conservation.
I have written to new members of the IWC refuting the spurious claims that whales have a detrimental effect on fish stocks an argument often advanced by whaling countries in support of whaling operations. I personally raise the issue of whaling with my international counterparts at every appropriate opportunity. I have also written to fellow UK Ministers with international contact urging them and their officials to take such opportunities as arise to raise the issue of the conservation of cetaceans in appropriate bilateral meetings, or in the margins of meetings.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to encourage all those members of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in favour of conservation measures to attend the IWC meetingin June. 
Mr. Bradshaw: In January together with Ministers from Australia and New Zealand I wrote to Ministers in all IWC member countries to encourage their participation in the 58(th) annual IWC meeting in June. Our posts abroad will be lobbying the Governments of anti-whaling IWC members to encourage attendance and to stress the need to ensure that Commissioners credentials are in proper order.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has made to the EU Competition Commissioner about individual EU members introducing unilateral legislation to prevent corporate takeovers. 
Mr. McCartney: Ministers have made no specific representations. We are confident that the European Commission will deal with breaches of Single Market rules and will consider carefully mergers where the purpose may be to block foreign takeovers. The Commission is well aware of the UK position on these issues and knows that it has our support to enforce Single Market rules and merger regulations to the full.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the answer of 15 November 2005, Official Report, column 1105W, on employment status review, when he will publish the conclusions of the Employment Act 1999 section 23 Consultations (Employment Status Review). 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government published their response to the consultation on the current framework and coverage of employment rights (Employment Status Review) at the end of March as part of the policy statement Success at Work; Protecting Vulnerable Workers, Supporting Good Employers. Copies of this document have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Observatorio Roque de los Muchachos (ORM) La Palma, Canaries
Paranal in the Atacama Desert, Northern Chile
Izafiain the Moroccan Atlas Mountains
Northwest Argentinaa number of sites
Dome Cin the Australian Antarctica Territory
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which statutory instruments were introduced by his Department to implement the European Social Chapter in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement on the operation of the Chapter. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: In 1991, in what was then the Social Chapter, the EU provided for member states to reach agreement on certain aspects of social policy. The UK exercised its right to opt out from the Social Chapter. In 1997 the UK Government decided it no longer wished to opt-out of provisions in the Social Chapter. As a result the contents of the Social Chapter were incorporated into the Amsterdam treaty, coming into force in May 1999. The Statutory Instruments introduced by the DTI, implementing the four Social Chapter measures already agreed by the other member states prior to the UK ending its opt-out, are as follows:
Sex Discrimination (Indirect Discrimination and Burden of Proof) Regulations 2001 (implementing Directive 98/52 which extended to the UK Directive 97/80 on the burden of proof in cases of discrimination based on sex). These provide that once a prima facie case of sex discrimination has been made in an employment tribunal claim, the burden of proof is placed on the defendant (usually the employer) who will need to demonstrate that sex discrimination has not occurred;
The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (implementing Directive 98/23 which extended to the UK Directive 97/81 on the framework agreement on part-time work). These provide for entitlement of part-time workers to the same pro-rata terms and conditions of employment as full-time workers;
The Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999 (implementing Directive 97/75 which extended to the UK Directive 96/34 on the framework agreement on parental leave). These provide for parents to have the right to 13 weeks unpaid leave for the purposes of caring for a child. The leave must be taken by the child's fifth birthday, or within 5 years of the child's placement for adoption;
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|