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Rural Payments Agency: Late Payments

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is responsible for the payment of IACS and non-IACS scheme. Because of different operational requirements and scheme payment deadlines the information is presented by scheme.

Arable Area Payments

The payment deadline for 2002 scheme year was 31 January 2003.

Total number of valid claims received Payments made within deadlinePayments made outside deadlinePayments still outstanding% Late
41,33840,793456891.31

Breakdown of payments made outside deadline by month
February:341
March:98
April:17

Non-Food Set-Aside

The payment deadline for 2002 scheme year was 31 March 2003.

Total number of valid clams received Payments made within deadlinePayments made outside deadlinePayments still outstanding% Late
4,0613,752242 (April)677.60

Sheep Annual Premium Scheme

The payment deadline for 2002 scheme year was 31 March 2003.

Total number of valid claims received Payments made within deadlinePayments made outside deadlinePayments still outstanding% Late
27,09526,99236 (April)670.38

Bovine Schemes

The number of payments for each bovine scheme for the 2001 scheme year which were made after the 30 June 2002 are listed below.

Following regulatory changes the bovine scheme claims were subjected to extensive cross-checking with the cattle tracing-system operated by the BCMS. This produced significant discrepancies which had to be resolved before payment.

2001 Scheme Year

Total number of valid claims received Payments made within the deadlinePayments made outside the deadlinePayments still outstanding% Late
259,818151,189107,81781241.8

Breakdown of payments made outside deadline by month

July 2002:19,732
August 2002:29,072
September 2002:14,295
October 2002:14,426
November 2002:6,287
December 2002:5,315
January 2003:3,367
February 2003:7,024
March 2003:4,803
April 2003:3,496

Dairy Subsidy Schemes

Total number of valid claims received Payments made within deadlinePayments made outside deadline% Late
6,5806,57460.1

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ERDP

ERDP scheme claims are subject to rolling payment deadlines that are calculated from the date an individual claim is received by the Rural Development Service which administers the schemes on behalf of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). The exception being the hill farm allowance which is administered by RPA and has a target of 95 per cent of payments to be made by the end of March.

The latest performance data relating to 2002 showing the number of ERDP claims for each scheme processed within the published targets are:

SchemeTotal number of valid claims receivedPayments made within deadlinePayments made outside deadline% Late
Countryside Stewardship Scheme19,73714,8034,93475
Environmentally Sensitive Areas I–III7,4585,2952,16371
Environmentally Sensitive Areas IV3,1042,94915595
Farm Woodland Premium Scheme7,7064,0073,69952
Organic Farming Scheme1,4891,08740273
Energy Crops Scheme1211189
Processing and Marketing Grant61501182
Rural Enterprise Scheme89870019878
Vocational Training Scheme2232012290
Hill Farm Allowance11,0987,2143,88465

Non-IACS Claims

The following table shows the number of payments made within the EU deadline for the non-IACS claims:

Total number of valid claims receivedPayments within deadlinePayments made outside deadline% Late
July90,79190,775160.02
August66,51166,511None0
September60,86860,86620
October82,40182,39470.01
November99,20199,19830
December121,572121,56840
January105,304105,222820.08
February85,49285,492None0
March84,27584,26780.01
April68,10268,10970.01

Technetium–99: Discharge into Irish Sea

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is still their intention to impose a moratorium on the discharge of technetium–99 into the Irish Sea from Sellafield.[HL2759]

Lord Whitty: In December of last year, we consulted on a proposal to direct the Environment Agency to consider whether it would be possible to impose a moratorium on the discharge of technetium–99 pending the introduction of abatement technology

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based on the use of the chemical TPP. A number of responses from interested parties have been received, some containing new information, and further scientific analysis of this information is currently being carried out. Once that analysis has been completed, we will decide whether to direct the Environment Agency as we had proposed. We hope to make an announcement in the early summer.

Slug Pellets: Song Thrush Population

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 10 March (WA 152), what evidence they have that song thrushes are in decline in United Kingdom gardens.[HL2868]

Lord Whitty: The best figures on song thrush numbers in gardens come from the RSPB's long-running "Big Garden Birdwatch". From 1979 to 2003 there was a decline of 31.1 per cent in the mean number of song thrushes recorded in each garden taking part in the survey. Comparing 2003 with 1985 (when the survey was carried out much more regularly), the decline is 57.1 per cent. These figures show that the decline in numbers occurring in gardens is similar to the overall national trend during the same period. There is the suggestion that the decline since 1985 in gardens has been greater than the national trend but a more detailed anlaysis of the data would be needed to confirm this.

The BTO has carried out a garden bird survey "Garden Birdwatch" since 1995 which suggests that song thrush numbers in gardens have been roughly stable in the period 1995–2003, a trend mirrored by national Breeding Bird Survey data from all habitats.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 10 March (WA 152), what work they are dong to establish whether increased usage of slug pellets in gardens is having an impact on the United Kingdom song thrush population and on other birds and mammals, especially those whose habitat is mainly gardens.[HL2870]

Lord Whitty: The Pesticide Safety Directorate has published reviews of methiocarb (1998) and metaldehyde (1996), two of the major components of slug pellets. The report for methiocarb raised concerns regarding the effects on small mammal populations and noted a high risk to mammals. Methiocarb has high acute toxicity to birds, but considered the risks of direct poisoning of birds from slug pellets quite unlikely because of the repellants used in their manufacture. Metaldehyde was considered to pose a high risk to small mammals and birds from primary and secondary poisoning. Acute poisoning of birds can therefore result from slug pellets, although the number of recorded incidents is relatively few.

3 Jun 2003 : Column WA151

Methiocarb does however pose a high risk to some non-target invertebrate populations. As a result, slug pellets, along with other broad-spectrum insecticides, may have contributed to observed declines in farmland invertebrate populations, which include prey items for farmland birds.

Such potential indirect effects of pesticides acting on bird populations via changes in their food supply are not currently considered during pesticide registration. However, the Pesticide Safety Directorate has established a subgroup of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides, currently chaired by English Nature, with the aim of proposing methods for assessing wider biodiversity effects of pesticides.

Water Fluoridation

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to introduce compulsory fluoridation of water throughout England.[HL2878]

Lord Whitty: The Government have no proposals to introduce compulsory fluoridation of water throughout England. However, the Government are currently giving consideration to supporting a proposal in the Commons, embodied in Early Day Motion 247, for amendments to the Water Bill, which would require water companies to accede to requests from strategic health authorities to fluoridate drinking water in areas where the local population was in favour, and it was technically feasible.


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