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Ann McKechin: All staff in the Scotland Office are on secondment from the Scottish Executive or the Ministry of Justice who remain their employer and have the responsibility for the operation of any early retirement schemes. The Office has incurred no costs.
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many (a) special advisers and (b) press officers have been employed by his Department in each year since 1997-98; and at what cost in each year. 
|Special advisers||Press officers|
|(1) Relates to number in post as at 31 March in any given year.|
Since 2003, the Government have published on an annual basis the number of special advisers in each pay band. For the recent information, I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, on 22 July 2008, Official Report, column 99-101WS. Information on the costs of special advisers prior to 2003 was provided at regular intervals and this information will be available in the Library of the House.
Ann McKechin: The Scotland Office came into existence on 1 July 1999. We do not hold information on the number of press releases issued by the former Scottish Office between 1997-98. The figures for the calendar years 1999 to 2007 are provided in the following table.
|(1) Partial year. (2) 2008 year to date (1 January to 25 November)|
The Scotland Office Press Office has a wide-ranging role within the Department which goes beyond the issuing of press releases. These figures do not include information issued orally in response to media inquiries, articles, operational and diary notes, nor do they include the Office's collaborative work with other Government Departments regarding press and media activity in Scotland.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many holdings claimed payments under the single payment scheme in the last year for which figures are available, broken down by holdings of (a) less than one hectare, (b) between one and five hectares, (c) between five and 20 hectares, (d) between 20 and 50 hectares, (e) between 50 and 100 hectares and (f) more than 100 hectares. 
Jane Kennedy: The Rural Payments Agency is the accredited Paying Agency for the Common Agricultural Policy within England and as such does not hold information for Single Payment Scheme (SPS) claimants in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Tim Farron: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what administrative costs were incurred in respect of processing claims made under the single farm payments scheme in each of the last five years; 
(2) what the (a) administrative and (b) legal costs incurred by his Department in relation to outstanding claims made under the Single Farm Payment Scheme were in each of the last five years; 
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the extent of decoupling under the Common Agricultural Policy in each EU member state for benchmarking purposes. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which commoners associations that were previously responsible for the operation of the Single Farm Payment are now no longer carrying out that function. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people on Minchinhampton Common, Gloucestershire are entitled to receive single farm payments; and how many such people received single farm payments in each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
Jane Kennedy: There are a total of four customers who have claimed on registered rights on Minchinhampton Common and are entitled and eligible to receive payment under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) for the 2008 scheme year.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will hold discussions with the Minchinhampton Commoners Association on the operation of the single farm payment scheme on the common. 
Jane Kennedy: The Minchinhampton Commoners Association's case has been analysed in great detail. Unfortunately the Minchinhampton Commoners Association fails to meet the specific criteria which allows Commoners Associations to claim the single payment scheme payment.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate his Department has made of the potential taxpayer liability for fines disallowance or other penalties as a result of late payment of the Single Farm Payment Scheme and other precursor common agricultural schemes since 1997; 
(2) pursuant to the answer of 30 October 2008, Official Report, columns 1181-4W, on the Rural Development Programme, if he will provide the figures requested, excluding projects where ERDP legacy payments were made after 1st January 2007; 
(3) pursuant to the answer of 30 October 2008, Official Report, columns 1183-6W, on the Rural Development Programme, if he will provide the figures requested where ERDP legacy payments were made after 1 January 2007; 
(4) on what date the EU target of 96.14 per cent. of payments by value under the Single Payment Scheme in England was met in each of the scheme years to date; and when he expects the target to be met for the 2008 scheme year; 
(6) what fines, disallowance or other penalties the Government has received to date as a result of late payment of the Single Payment Scheme and other precursor common agricultural schemes since 1997. 
David Mundell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) how much the Government has paid in fines to the European Union as a result of late payments made under the Single Farm Payment scheme; and how much it has allocated to meet the costs of such penalties arising in the next 12 months; 
(2) in which years his Department (a) has and (b) has not met the EU target for making single farm payments on time since the scheme was established; and how many single farm payments have been made late to date. 
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