|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
6 Nov 2006 : Column 729Wcontinued
The Rural Payments Agency will endeavour to pay outstanding cases as soon as possible, although it is not possible to suggest a timeframe to clear all cases.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the estimated cost was to (a) his Department and (b) farmers of delays in administering the single payment to farmers in Suffolk. 
Barry Gardiner: Additional costs, in the form of reduced EU funding, may arise in relation to payments under the 2005 single payment scheme (SPS) which are made after the end of the regulatory payment window on 30 June 2006. However, it is not yet possible to say what if any costs will arise in practice as that depends on the outcome of ongoing discussions with the European Commission and the amount and timing of outstanding payments across the UK.
As announced on 22 June 2006, Official Report, column 1478, the RPA is also paying interest payments to those claimants who had not received their full SPS payment by 30 June 2006 subject to a £50 de minimis. As at 11 October 2006, £318,201 in interest payments had been made.
Drawing on the advice received from the British Banking Association, the NAO has estimated that payments beyond February or March could have cost farmers between £18 million and £22.5 million in interest and arrangement fees on additional bank loans and increased short-term borrowings on overdrafts.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of his Departments proposed budget reduction is the result of (a) changes in Treasury accounting rules, (b) the administration of the 2005 single payment scheme and (c) underspending in previous years. 
Barry Gardiner: Like all large organisations, DEFRA faces new financial pressures each year which require us to constantly review and adjust our spending plans. The current financial year (2006-07) brought several such pressures that meant the Department had to reduce its original resource budgets by around £200 million (about 7 per cent. of our resource budget baseline funding). These pressures stemmed from:
surplus capital charge budget no longer being available to fund programme expenditure due to new tighter rules governing public expenditure (around 30 per cent.);
costs deferred from 2005-06, not as a result of underspending but arising from pressure on the budget that year (around 45 per cent.);
with the balance relating to pressures identified since the beginning of this year. This included cover for RPAs running costs (around 11 per cent.), including administration of the single payment scheme for both 2005 and 2006.
Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much farmers in (a) the Wantage constituency, (b) Oxfordshire and (c) the south east have received payments from the single farm payment scheme in each year since it was introduced. 
Barry Gardiner: A breakdown of payments made under the English 2005 single payment scheme is not currently available but will be published in due course.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of the re-prioritisation of his Departments spending for 2006-07 to meet unavoidable extra costs was due to (a) additional resources for the single farm payment scheme, (b) the response to avian influenza and (c) other reasons; what other reasons there were; and if he will make a statement. 
Barry Gardiner: As with other large organisations, DEFRA faces new financial pressures each year which require constant review and re-adjustment to our spending plans. The current financial year (2006-07) brought several such pressures that meant the Department had to reduce its original resource budgets by around £200 million (about 7 per cent. of the Departments resource baseline funding and about 5 per cent. of the overall budget). These pressures stemmed from:
RPAs running costs (about 11 per cent.), including administration of the single payment scheme for both 2005 and 2006;
Avian influenza (about 5 per cent.);
surplus capital charge budget no longer being available to fund programme expenditure due to new tighter rules governing public expenditure (around 30 per cent.);
costs deferred from 2005-06 (around 45 per cent.);
other miscellaneous pressures (about 9 per cent.).
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much contingency funding has been set aside for the payment of EU penalties in relation to the single farm payment scheme in 2005-06 and 2006-07; and if he will make a statement. 
Barry Gardiner: There is a well established process for discussion on, and refinement of, any proposals for financial corrections that the European Commission may decide to make in due course. Experience of such proposals under the old CAP regime would suggest that that process would then take some time to reach a conclusion. However, in line with normal Government accounting arrangements, provisions and contingent liabilities totalling some £131 million have been shown in the 2005-06 Departmental accounts, this being a prudent estimate based on the limited knowledge to date.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the present position is regarding the possible creation of a South Downs National Park; and if he will make a statement. 
The designation process for the proposed South Downs National Park has been put on hold while DEFRA appeals against a High Court judgment in respect of the New Forest National Park designation. Known as the Meyrick judgment, it has implications for any future National Park designations
or boundary variations as it potentially changes the way in which the criteria for National Parks have generally been understood and interpreted since the first National Parks in England were designated.
DEFRA's appeal was heard by the Court of Appeal on 1 November and the outcome is now awaited. Only when that is resolved will the Secretary of State be able to decide how to re-start the South Downs process, including whether or not to invite further representations.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what reforms have now been introduced as part of the tenancy reform industry group proposals. 
Barry Gardiner: The proposals of the Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG) for legislative change have now been incorporated into the Regulatory Reform Order (Agricultural Tenancies) (England and Wales) Order 2006 which amends the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 and the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995. The Order was first laid before Parliament on 30 March and came into force on 19 October. The Order will promote a healthy and competitive tenanted sector without removing tenant protection, or disrupting the landlord and tenant balance. In particular, the Order will:
(a) Enable a successor to a tenancy to earn income from diversified activities without losing the right to succession, where the landlord consents,
(b) Enable landlords and tenants to reach their own agreements on rent reviews and end of tenancy compensation,
(c) Make it easier for landlords and tenants to restructure holdings held under a 1986 Act tenancy,
(d) Remove the need for unnecessary applications to the Agricultural Land Tribunal where a landlord agrees on the successor to the tenancy,
(e) Enable landlords and tenants to agree the length of a notice period to suit their particular circumstances, providing it is longer than the minimum period of 12 months.
These changes will foster tenant farmer diversification and enable landlords and tenants to adapt to the modern agricultural climate.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when and why the decision was taken to choose a small number for the tuberculosis advisory group; and whether any of the members chosen were co-opted. 
Mr. Bradshaw: As part of their role, the TB advisory group will be asked to consider specific issues raised by Ministers and the chief veterinary officer. On 19 July, Ministers agreed to keep membership of the group small to allow the chairman to bring in further expertise depending on the task and/or discussions.
The chairman considered applicants for the group and made his recommendations to the chief veterinary officer. All members will serve in a personal capacity and bring a balance of experience across farming, veterinary, conservation and welfare issues.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were interviewed for the post of chair of the tuberculosis advisory group. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Five people were interviewed forthe post of chairman of the TB advisory group. The application and appointment process was conducted in line with Nolan procedures and the guidance laid down by the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will publish the terms of reference for the tuberculosis advisory group. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The TB advisory groups terms of reference were published on 20 July 2006 when the chairman, Peter Jinman, was appointed. Further information is available on the DEFRA website at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/tb/partnership/advisorygroup.htm.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his Departments policy is on increased mass-burn incineration of Londons waste. 
Mr. Bradshaw: London, in common with every other region in the UK, must achieve massive reductions in the extent to which it relies on landfilling its waste. We would prefer this to be achieved as far as possible by minimisation, reuse and recycling, but where this is not practicable, energy from waste (including mass burn incineration with energy recovery) offers substantial greenhouse gas emission savings over landfill.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the likely cost to the Greater London Authority of the proposed new duty on waste authorities to undertake their functions in general conformity with the Mayors Municipal Waste Management Strategy. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The proposed duty on waste authorities to undertake their functions in general conformity with the Mayors Municipal Waste Management Strategy will not impose additional costs on the Greater London Authority. The new duty, along with the Mayors existing power of direction, will help ensure the strategic vision the Mayor sets out for London is delivered on the ground.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps he is taking to deliver efficiency savings in waste management in London; 
(2) what estimate he has made of the projected savings in waste management in London over the next 10 years; and what other estimates of such savings he has examined. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Mott MacDonald carried out work, jointly commissioned by DEFRA and the Greater London Authority (GLA), on opportunities for efficiency gains in waste management services in London. The report estimates that London authorities would need to generate efficiency savings of £45 million in 2007-08 and £145 million in 2009-10. The report considers efficiency savings that are achievable in Londons waste and identifies a number of areas where efficiency savings are possible. The report is published on the GLA website at:http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/environment/waste/lswa/index.isp
The Greater London authority: The Governments Final Proposals for Additional Powers and Responsibilities for the Mayor and Assembly, concluded that the creation of a Single London Waste Authority responsible for waste disposal would not generate significant cost savings, and could even increase the costs of dealing with Londons waste. Further information is available on the Department for Communities and Local Governments website at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1501733.
We are making good progress towards achieving our Gershon efficiency savings on waste. Provisional figures for environmental services indicate that £245 million per annum of efficiency gains are expected to be achieved in 2006-07 (£55 million of which is expected to be achieved within London). This puts us well ahead of schedule to meet the £299 million per annum target for environmental services in 2007-08.
DEFRA will continue to facilitate efficiencies across England (including London) through:
(i) The Waste Implementation Programme which includes work-streams providing standard documentation, toolkits, best practice case studies, funding to local authorities for consultancy work, advice on technology choices, good quality data and help with Private Finance Initiatives and other funding arrangements.
(ii) The new Waste Infrastructure Development Programme (WIDP). WIDP aims to complement and expand on DEFRA's current efforts to comply with European Union Landfill Directive targets by:
(a) establishing the scale of residual waste treatment infrastructure required to meet the landfill Directive targets in 2010, 2013 and beyond and accurately monitoring the ongoing delivery of projects in order to stay abreast of continuing requirements; and
(b) developing and implementing measures which will accelerate the delivery of the necessary residual waste treatment infrastructure in a timely, value-for-money and affordable manner.
(iii) Support to the Regional Centres of Excellencewhich have been drafting a national action plan on Environmental Services efficiency, supported by regional action plans;
(iv) The Waste and Resources Action Programme, which is funded by DEFRA and provides a wide range of support and best practice to local authorities on reducing and recycling waste;
(v) Other enablers, such as the Office of Government Commerce on procurement, and local authorities sharing best practice including through the Beacon council scheme.
Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what representations he has received on Merseyside Waste Disposal Authoritys submission for the project to deliver recycling, treatment and disposal services. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Secretary of State received a letter, dated 18 May 2006, from Councillor Steve Foulkes in his capacity as chairman of the Merseyside Leaders Group. The letter covered a number of issues including Merseyside Waste Disposal Authoritys proposed waste private finance initiative project and generic waste issues faced by councils nationally.
Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with (a) ministerial colleagues and (b) local authorities about the level of support available to Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority to meet its statutory obligations. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Secretary of State has had no discussions with ministerial colleagues or local authorities regarding the level of support available to Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority. However, my officials have been in productive discussion with officers from the Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority, since the start of this calendar year, regarding their long-term procurement for delivering recycling, treatment and disposal services.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the (a) salary and (b) other costs were of the Director of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee in each of the last five years. 
Ian Pearson: The current salary of the Chairman of the Wessex Regional Flood Defence Committee is £16,397. It is anticipated that the Chairmans salary and other costs (£5,212 in 2005-06) will continue to rise in line with inflation during the next five years.
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many overseas visits on official business the Chairman of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee made in each of the last five years. 
Ian Pearson: The Chairman of the Wessex Flood Defence Committee attended a conference in the Netherlands in June, marking the closure of a large European project, the Joint Approach for Managing Flooding.
No further overseas trips on official business are anticipated.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|