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David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total cost was of overnight accommodation for (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in his Department staying overnight in (i) mainland Great Britain, (ii) Northern Ireland, (iii) the Republic of Ireland and (iv) other countries in each of the last three years. 
Barry Gardiner: The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The Department records expenditure as either for the UK or other countries. The core Department and most of its agencies differentiate between overnight accommodation costs and other travel expenses.
|(a) Civil Servants||2003-04||2004-05||2005-06|
| Note: These figures exclude the Rural Payments Agency and the Central Science Laboratory.|
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many claims for the Single Payment Scheme were submitted by 31 May; and what proportion this represents of claims for entitlements made in 2005. 
103,005 applications were received by 31 May.
120,367 applications were received for 2005 (this is up to the final deadline on 10 June 2005).
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what budget sum he has allocated for payments under (a) Entry Level Stewardship, (b) Higher Level Stewardship, (c) Hill Farm Allowance and (d) all other environmental and rural development policies for 2006-07. 
Barry Gardiner [holding answer 12 June 2006]: The current planned budget sum to cover payments for these schemes, which form part of the England Rural Development Programme (including domestic and European funds) during 2006-07, is:
|(1) Includes Countryside Stewardship Scheme, Environmentally Sensitive Areas Scheme, Energy Crops Scheme, Organic Farming Scheme, Woodland Grant Scheme, Farm Woodland and Farm Woodland Premium Scheme Rural Enterprise Scheme, Vocational Training Scheme and Processing and Marketing Grant.|
Due to the nature of Entry and Higher Level Stewardship, payments commence some time after agreements are entered into. Consequently, the value of payments shown above for 2006-07 reflects scheme uptake activity from the previous financial year (2005-06).
The transition between the current and new England Rural Development Programme takes place on 1 January 2007. Funding arrangements from 2007 onwards are currently being discussed within government. The above figures should be seen as indicative only until these discussions have concluded.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many claimants have received interim payments of less than 80 per cent. under the Single Farm Payment arrangements since April 2005. 
Barry Gardiner: All partial payments under the Single Payment scheme have been calculated at a rate of 80 per cent. However, the calculation took account of data held in RPA's validation system at a specific point in time, which in some cases meant payment was reduced to reflect late claim penalties.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 22 May 2006, Official Report, column 1311W, to the hon. Member for North-East Milton Keynes (Mr. Lancaster), on single farm payments, (a) on what basis and (b) in what form data on regional farm payments is held. 
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the agreed levels of poultry culling capability are; when these levels were agreed; what methods of poultry culling have been agreed; and what the poultry culling capacity was in each month since January 2001. 
There are no formally agreed levels of poultry culling capability. However, there are a range of culling methods available to the state veterinary service.
These include maceration (for day old chicks only), lethal injection, neck dislocation, percussion killers, gassing in containers, whole-house gassing and, as a last resort when no other method is practicable, ventilation shutdown.
Killing capacity has been progressively increased over the last two years through the establishment of contingency contracts with catchers and equipment suppliers. Capacity has been further increased since January 2006 through the development of a system based on the gassing of poultry in containers using a mixture of argon and carbon dioxide; the Department has commissioned 50 of these units, each capable of killing 2,000 chickens per hour. In addition, we have purchased a number of percussion killers for use on larger birds and plan to further increase our capability to gas poultry in their sheds.
However, it is not possible to state the total killing capacity per month because this figure depends on a variety of factors. These include the age and species of poultry, the housing system, the size, location, quantity and geographic spread of the affected holdings, and the availability of catchers, gas and resources.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) the Rural Payments Agency, (b) farmers' unions and (c) the European Commission on the use of partial payments to farmers in England for the Single Payment Scheme for 2006. 
Barry Gardiner: Arrangements for the 2006 Single Payment Scheme, including the possible use of partial payments, are discussed regularly at the fortnightly meetings that my noble Friend Lord Rooker, and the Interim Chief Executive of the Rural Payments Agency have with industry leaders. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has also had a useful discussion on the issue with the Agriculture and Rural Development Commissioner, Mariann Fischer Boel.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) permanent staff and (b) temporary staff were employed by the Rural Payments Agency in each month since October 2001 expressed in terms of (i) actual staff numbers and (ii) full-time equivalent staff; and if he will make a statement. 
|Staff Employed by RPA in each month since October 2001|
During this period the Intervention Board (IBEA) amalgamated with the Rural Development Service (RDS)
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