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Barry Gardiner: 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.
Mr. Paice: 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. 
Mr. Hayes: 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. 
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.
Mr. Roger Williams: 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. 
Mr. Harper: 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. 
Miss McIntosh: 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. 
Daniel Kawczynski: 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. 
Barry Gardiner: 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.
Mr. Lansley: 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. 
Mr. Laws: 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. 
Barry Gardiner: 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.
Mr. Laws: 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. 
Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on how many occasions untreated sewage was discharged into the (a) Hampshire Avon, (b) River Nadder, (c) River Ebble, (d) River Wylye and (e) River Bourne in Wiltshire in (i) 2005 and (ii) 2006. 
Ian Pearson: The Environment Agency's National Incident Recording System (NIRS) show that there were 33 sewage related discharges into the Hampshire Avon and its tributaries in 2005 and 21 such discharges so far in 2006. The following table summarises these incidents by category and river catchment.
|(1 )To 22 November 2006. (2) Source to Christchurch.|
Each incident was investigated to establish the cause and to quantify the impact. For Category 1 and 2 incidents (those with the greatest impact) the Environment Agency also gather evidence which may be used to support subsequent enforcement action. In addition, the Environment Agency would ensure that visible evidence of sewage pollution is removed from the river and that the polluter takes action to prevent a reoccurrence of the incident.
Mr. Bradshaw: DEFRA and the Scottish Executive have been funding research into alternatives to conventional veterinary medicines for control of sheep scab for several years. To date the cost of this programme has been £4.4 million.
Three main approaches are being investigated. These are the development of vaccines, the development of scab mite growth-regulators and investigations into biological control techniques. The results for the vaccines and the mite growth regulators have been encouraging and so research requirements for new projects have been advertised and proposals are currently being considered.
The use of sheep dip products containing diazinon would only be reviewed if new evidence was received that they could not be used
safely. This is currently not the case. Packaging designed to prevent the operator from coming into contact with the concentrated material was fully introduced by July 2002 and since that time there has only been one reported case of a human adverse reaction arising from the use of organophosphate dip products.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the basis was for the decision that farmers should be required to complete the Cross Compliance Soil Protection Review. 
Barry Gardiner: Under Council Regulation EC 1782/2003 (Article 5 and Annex IV), member states have to set standards in order to maintain land in good agricultural and environmental condition. This includes a requirement to address the problems associated with soil erosion, soil organic matter and soil structure. The Soil Protection Review is designed to meet this requirement.
In England, following extensive discussion with farmers and a full public consultation in spring 2004, we announced our intention to introduce the requirement for a simple soil management planthe Soil Protection Reviewfrom 2006.
The risk-based approach adopted in the Soil Protection Review allows farmers to choose appropriate measures specific to their holding. This approach was generally favoured by stakeholders in preference to a requirement to comply with an extensive list of prescriptive national soil management standards.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether the budgets for (a) the State Veterinary Service and (b) the Veterinary Laboratories Agency have been reduced for (i) 2006-07 and (ii) 2007-08. 
Barry Gardiner: I refer my hon. Friend to my written answer of 24 October 2006, Official Report, columns 1723-24W, in which I stated that the resource budget for the State Veterinary Service for the current fiscal year had been reduced by £3 million and the resource budget for the Veterinary Laboratories Agency Service for the current fiscal year had been reduced by £2.4 million.
However, as our noble Friend Lord Rookers statement to the other House explained, there was an increase of £3 million in the capital budget of the State Veterinary Service so there was no net reduction in their budget.
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