(the con in confidence) ".... I am confident, however, that what farmers want in every part of the United Kingdom is a system that will ultimately be simpler, more efficient and effective, and that will result in fewer forms, fewer inspections and less of the bureaucratic burden."
9 Jun 2005 debate on Single Payment Scheme -HansardExtract:
"..... Margaret Beckett: I take the right hon. Gentleman's point, and I know that he has much experience in these issues. All I can say is that although, as he says, there are many short-term difficulties, he will know that the Department has embarked on a major reorganisation of the Rural Payments Agency and is now introducing a new system on top of that precisely because we understand the difficulties that people experience. I am confident, however, that what farmers want in every part of the United Kingdom is a system that will ultimately be simpler, more efficient and effective, and that will result in fewer forms, fewer inspections and less of the bureaucratic burden of which they, like every other business community, complain, and understandably so.
Mr. Hugo Swire (East Devon) (Con): No one would disagree with the Secretary of State's words. The problem is that the reality is somewhat different. Having just come up against the RPA and animal welfare office in trying to register my new sow, Maud, I can now empathise with the frustrations felt by farmers up and down the country. The reality is that the computer system used by the RPA is simply not up to it, and the animal welfare office to which I spoke asked weepingly whether I would raise the issue in Parliament, which I am now doing. What we and farmers up and down the country face is confusion over the next year until the Secretary of State gets a grip and sorts out the RPA system.
Margaret Beckett: It is precisely because we are sorting out the RPA system - which in itself is bound to cause difficulties - and, on top of that, implementing a new system that, understandably, there are problems and concerns. I entirely understand the anxiety that is being expressed.
9 Jun 2005 : Column 1371
March 31 2007 ~ Margaret Beckett is apparently "too busy with the Iran situation" to address the concerns of the EFRA Committee. She shifts responsibility back to the civil service.
The Yorkshire Post "...There was a similar reaction from the top Whitehall mandarin who was also savaged over the botched handling of the Single Payments Scheme suggesting that no one else would lose their jobs in the furore..." And so it goes on. The Cumberland News quotes Copeland MP Jamie Reed, whose family contains a number of local farmers,
"As a former member of the select committee I was present when the Rural Payments Agency chief executive gave evidence about his organisations ability to pay farmers on time. He was confident in the ability of the RPA to deliver. We all know that the reality was in stark contrast to this."confidence is the very thing that is so frightening to so many. If Mrs Beckett's solution to the Iran hostage crisis is on a par with her former confidence we shudder for the consequences.
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