Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

Rural Payments Agency

Report published

The Committee published ' The Rural Payments Agency and the implementation of the Single Payment Scheme ', its Third Report 2006-07 (HC 107-I), on 29 March 2007. The House of Commons debated this report on Monday 9 July 2007.

Oral and Written Evidence (HC 107-II) was published the same day.

The Government Response (HC 956 06-07) was published on Tuesday 24 July 2007.

An Interim Report was published on January 24 2006.

Terms of Reference

30 March 2006
The terms of reference have been updated to take into account the extended inquiry:

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee published an interim report on the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) on 24 January 2006. That report raised several concerns about the RPA's ability to meet the deadline for making payments to farmers under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS). Since then, it has been announced that the RPA will miss its target of making the bulk of payments by the end of March, Mr Johnston McNeill has been replaced as Chief Executive of the RPA and the Secretary of State has announced a fundamental review of the RPA's work. The Committee has decided to take into account the implications of these events in the further work that will form the basis of its final report on the RPA.

The Committee has decided to appoint a sub-committee to carry out this inquiry. The sub-committee's evidence sessions will₠provide an opportunity for a forensic examination of how the current situation came about, looking in particular at the decisions taken at the start of the process of implementing the new SPS and the start of the development of the IT system used to execute it. A key element will be to examine what wider lessons the implementation of the SPS has for the relationship between "core Defra" and its agencies, given the fundamental issues thrown up about communications between the RPA and Defra, and about how Defra validated the information it was given by the RPA. The sub-committee hopes to hear from all parties who may be able to add to its understanding of these issues. In conducting its inquiry, the Committee will bear in mind the overriding need not to detract from the current efforts by Defra and the RPA to ensure farmers receive their single farm payment as soon as possible. The Committee invites interested parties to make brief written submissions to address these issues.

15 December 2005
Original terms of reference for the rapporteurs' study were as follows:

To follow up the Committee's earlier report on the Rural Payments Agency (Sixth Report of Session 2002-03, Rural Payments Agency, HC382) by examining:
â‚why the RPA is unable to make payments under the Single Payment Scheme at the start of the payment window in December;
â‚the issues involved in making an interim payment to farmers, in advance of the new February target;
â‚what impact the RPA's own Change Programme has had in the introduction of the new CAP payments and the agri-environment schemes; and
â‚the extent to which the RPA's IT systems have failed to evolve to deliver what is required of them.

Sub-committee membership

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee nominated the following Members to its Sub-Committee on the Rural Payments Agency [19 April 2006 (* added 3 May 2006)]:
Mr David Drew James Duddridge Rt Hon Michael Jack
Lynne Jones Daniel Kawczynski Mr Dan Rogerson*
Sir Peter Soulsby* David Taylor Mr Roger Williams
The Rt Hon Michael Jack was elected Chair of the Sub-Committee.

Uncorrected Oral Evidence
(corrected versions appear in the oral and written evidence above):

Monday 15 January 2007
Johnston McNeill, former Chief Executive, RPA
Wednesday 6 December 2006
Sir Brian Bender, former Permanent Secretary, Defra
Monday 27 November 2006â‚
Mr Tony Cooper, interim Chief Executive, RPA
Monday 23 October 2006
Lord Bach and Lord Whitty, former Defra Ministers with responsibility for the RPA
Wednesday 28 June 2006
Mark Addison, former Acting Chief Executive, RPA
Monday 22 May 2006
Monday 15 May 2006
Helen Ghosh, Permanent Secretary, Sir Brian Bender, former Permanent Secretary, Andy Lebrecht, Director General, Sustainable Farming, Food and Fisheries, Defra
Monday 8 May 2006
Country Land and Business Association; Central Association of Agricultural Valuers
Monday 24 April 2006
National Farmers' Union and Tenant Farmers Association; Public & Commercial Services Union
Wednesday 11 January 2006
Lord Bach, Defra; RPA

Recent Press Notices:
24/07/07 Government response published
19/07/07 Government response to be published
02/07/07 Debate to be held in the House of Commons
29/03/07 Report published
22/03/07 Report to be published
15/01/07 Oral Evidence Session with Johnston McNeill
27/11/06 Further evidence session announced
15/11/06 Evidence session cancelled
09/10/06 Further evidence session announced
05/07/06 Further evidence session announced
05/06/06 Evidence session announced
30/03/06 Inquiry extended
24/01/06 Report Published
19/01/06 Publication of Interim Report