Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Session 2006-07

24 July 2007




Government Response to Committee Report: The Rural Payments Agency and the implementation of the Single Payment Scheme

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee today publishes the Government Response to its Third Report of Session 2006-07, The Rural Payments Agency and the implementation of the Single Payment Scheme. In the Special Report the Committee makes the following comments:

1. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee reported to the House on The Rural Payments Agency and the implementation of the Single Payment Scheme in its Third Report of Session 2006-07, published on 29 March 2007 as HC 107-I. We received the Government response on Friday 6 July. Not only was this very late, it also meant that we were unable to report it to the House in time for the debate on our report that was held on Monday 9 July. We do not understand why it took the Government so long to produce this less than full reply. The Department knew of the debate well in advance. The response should not have been so late at all, but at the very least should have been given to us so that we had the opportunity to report it to the House in time for the debate.

2. Given the in-depth analysis contained in our Report, we believe that the Government response is, to say the least, shoddy. In a number of cases it fails to provide any response at all to the specific recommendations we made. In some other cases the response is superficial. We have decided not to ask for the Department to produce another one at this stage. However we give notice to the Department that we will wish to re-examine the Rural Payments Agency in the future and will return to the recommendations in our report in that context.

3. We fundamentally reject the Government's criticism of the fact that the Committee named those it judged responsible for the failure that occurred. We were not attempting to act as a disciplinary tribunal of senior civil servants, but seeking to allocate responsibility for a fundamental failure of Government policy.

-ENDS-

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. For media inquiries, or to arrange bids for interviews with the Chairman, Rt Hon Michael Jack MP, and other Members of the EFRA Committee, please call Laura Kibby on 07917 488 557.

2. The Government Response was published at 11.00am on 24 July as the Committee's Third Special Report, HC 956.

3. For information about the Committee's inquiry, please call Chris Stanton on 020 7219 3263. The Government's Response, the Committee's Report, and the written and oral evidence taken in the inquiry, is available on the Committee's website. Website: http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/environment__food_and_rural_affairs/efra_rural_payments_agency_2006.cfm