Commons Gate

Speeches and parliamentary questions in the House of Commons 2012-13

While speaking in the chamber of the House is a high profile activity for an MP, much other work is done elsewhere, in committee, as well as a large casework load for constituents.
 

A backbencher speaks for his constituents

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In the House: Current session

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25/04/13 Foreign governments own our railways
25/04/13 Defending rights at work
22/04/13 Afghanistan
22/04/13 Public Service Pensions
16/04/13 Safety at work
10/04/13 Margaret Thatcher
22/03/13 Reoffenders: Veterans
20/03/13 Free School Meals
19/03/13 Back to work Schemes
11/03/13 ESA: Appeals
11/03/13 BBC: Whistleblowing
07/03/13 Fire Services
05/03/13 Written Questions: Government Responses
01/03/13 Tinned meat: horse
28/02/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
28/02/13 Dualling the A1
28/02/13 Kurdish Genocide
27/02/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
25/02/13 Housing Benefit
25/02/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
25/02/13 Gurkhas
12/02/13 Marriage
12/02/13 Defence Fire Service: Retirement
12/02/13 Fire Services: Redundancy
11/02/13 Probation reform
07/02/13 A1: Newcastle Upon Tyne
06/02/13 NHS resources
05/02/13 North Korea
05/02/13 Fire Services
04/02/13 Iraq
29/01/13 Economic data
28/01/13 High Speed Rail
25/01/13 NHS Property Services
23/01/13 Green Belt
23/01/13 Blacklisting
23/01/13 Union Flag Dispute (Belfast)
21/01/13 Hearing Impairment
21/01/13 Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill
17/01/13 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
17/01/13 Atos Work Capability Assessments
15/01/13 Coroners: Asbestos
15/01/13 Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
14/01/13 Remploy
09/01/13 Remploy
08/01/13 Remploy
07/01/13 Remploy
07/01/13 Industrial Diseases: Compensation
07/01/13 Redundancy
20/12/12 Football: Sportsgrounds
19/12/12 Uganda: Gay rights
19/12/12 What Sid wasn't told
19/12/12 Symptoms of poverty
17/12/12 Workers' Rights
11/12/12 Union Flag, Belfast
06/12/12 Telephone Services: Unsolicited Goods and Services
06/12/12 Universal Credit
30/11/12 Avian Pox
29/11/12 Middle East
28/11/12 Muscular Dystrophy
28/11/12 Income tax
26/11/12 Flooding
26/11/12 Gaza and the West Bank
26/11/12 Unmanned Air Vehicles
20/11/12 Ministerial legitimacy
20/11/12 Hillsborough
19/11/12 Unmanned Air Vehicles
12/11/12 Unmanned Air Vehicles
12/11/12 Child abuse allegations
07/11/12 Regional pay in the NHS
06/11/12 Unmanned Air Vehicles
05/11/12 Unmanned Air Vehicles
01/11/12 Police conduct: Orgreave Coke Works
29/10/12 Tax Avoidance
29/10/12 Industrial Diseases: Compensation
29/10/12 Public Service Pensions Bill
29/10/12 Ash Dieback Disease
23/10/12 Manufacturing Industries: North East
23/10/12 Bovine TB and Badger Control
22/10/12 Hillsborough
18/10/12 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
17/10/12 Private Rented Housing: Electrical Safety
17/10/12 Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
16/10/12 Enterprise and Regulatory Reform
15/10/12 Expenditure on financial assistance for the provision of infrastructure
15/10/12 West Coast Main Line
08/10/12 Social Security Benefits
18/09/12 Pregnancy: Sodium Valproate
17/09/12 Dairy Farming
14/09/12 Firearm certificates
12/09/12 Hillsborough
10/09/12 Universal Credit
06/09/12 Combined Heat and Power
05/09/12 Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust
03/09/12 Personal Independence Payment
03/09/12 Green Belt
18/07/12 Taxation: Offshore Industry
16/07/12 East Coast Railway Line, Engineering
16/07/12 Adult Social Care
13/07/12 Motorways: Speed Limits
09/07/12 Colombia
04/07/12 Colombia
02/07/12 Green Belt
02/07/12 Financial transactions tax
26/06/12 Mesothelioma (legal aid reform)
19/06/12 Social Security Benefits: Compensation
19/06/12 Homeopathy
18/06/12 Personal Independence Payment
18/06/12 Consumer Prices Index
13/06/12 Olympic transport
12/06/12 Written Questions: Government Responses
11/06/12 Green Belt
11/06/12 Employment rights
24/05/12 Ethiopia
22/05/12 Ethiopia
21/05/12 Ethiopia
21/05/12 Personal Injury: Compensation
17/05/12 Mesothelioma: Compensation
17/05/12 Time to go - Dave attacks coalition's record


 

Commons Hansard
25 Apr 2013

Foreign governments own our railways

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): The Minister wants to rerun the answers.

Mr Burns: Cruel.

Before I was so cruelly interrupted by the hon. Gentleman, I was talking about the important issue of safety.

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Mr Anderson: Does my hon. Friend agree that the figures show that the subsidy has gone up by 300% since privatisation and, on top of that, fares have gone up by 22% in real terms, so the public are paying for the costs of privatisation? The really perverse thing is that a lot of the subsidy from British taxpayers and fare payers is actually going to the German, Dutch and French national Governments, because they own more than half the railways in this country.

Lilian Greenwood: My hon. Friend is right. That is precisely why the Opposition have been prepared to look at reforming the railways.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
22 Apr 2013

Afghanistan

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what ongoing support in terms of (a) asylum and (b) other measures the Government is giving to Afghani interpreters facing possible reprisals for their support of NATO. [151623]

Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): Afghan interpreters, and all our Afghan locally engaged staff, who work for our armed forces and civilian missions in Afghanistan make an invaluable contribution to the UK's efforts to help support the spread of security, stability and development in their country. We take our responsibility for all members of staff very seriously and have put in place measures to reduce the risks they face. Precautions are taken during recruitment and staff are fully briefed of any risks involved in their work before taking up employment. We regularly encourage staff to report any security concerns immediately. We currently follow an agreed cross-Government framework for considering cases of intimidation or injury on a case by case basis. This framework ensures that we take into account the particular circumstances of each case and can respond appropriately to the needs of the individual. Where locally engaged staff face a threat our options include providing security advice to staff and their families, granting extended leave or transferring staff to different jobs. In serious cases we may help staff relocate within Afghanistan or, in exceptional cases, to the UK.

We are currently looking very carefully at how we are going to make appropriate provision to support locally engaged staff as we draw down and eventually end our combat mission.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he holds on whether other member states of NATO have offered asylum to Afghani interpreters; and if he will make a statement. [151624]

Alistair Burt: We are working very closely with some of our key NATO partners on this issue, to understand best practice and to ensure consistency with allies with whom we work particularly closely. We are aware of two general resettlement schemes, offered by the US (on a quota basis) and our ISAF partner New Zealand (to former interpreters).

In addition, the UK is among a number of nations who already have plans in place which would, in extremis, offer resettlement in cases of extreme intimidation. We have resettled one interpreter using this scheme and have accepted asylum claims from others in different circumstances.

We are aware of a number of other nations who have not yet made any policy decisions, but who will no doubt consider this issue in more detail as we near the end of combat operations at the end of 2014.

We are currently looking very carefully at how we are going to make appropriate provision to support locally engaged staff, including interpreters, as we draw down and eventually end our combat mission.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
16 Apr 2013

Safety at work

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): I apologise for arriving late. I was at a meeting of the Backbench Business Committee.

My hon. Friend has just made an important point. This is not about compensation as such; it is about ensuring that employers introduce and abide by regulations that prevent accidents from happening in the first place because they are frightened of having to pay the compensation. That financial disincentive will drive employers to do the right thing in circumstances in which they might not otherwise have done so. This is not about people at work receiving money; it is about people at work not getting hurt and not getting killed.

Mr Umunna: I entirely agree. This is one of the aspects of the debate on health and safety that I find particularly frustrating. While we must of course retain a balance, we must also be clear about the fact that protecting people at work and keeping them safe is not a matter of red tape. It is a matter of safety at work.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
22 Mar 2013

Reoffenders: Veterans

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make an assessment of the effectiveness of the Veterans Treatment Court system in the US in limiting reoffending by former service personnel. [148115]

Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary: The Government is committed to transforming the rehabilitation of offenders to reduce reoffending. We have considered the Veterans Treatment Court system in the US and note that circumstances in the US are very different to England and Wales, not least in the scale and geographical spread of former service men and women. In developing a Liaison and Diversion service at police custody and in courts we are better able to identify the mental health needs of offenders and direct them to appropriate treatment at an early stage in the Criminal Justice System.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
20 Mar 2013

Free School Meals

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Education what steps his Department is taking to ensure that all children in poverty receive free school meals; and what consultation he is planning on changes to the criteria for entitlement to free school meals. [147517]

Mr Laws, Minister of State: The Government recognises the benefits of healthy school meals and is committed to continuing to provide free school meals to those pupils who need them most. Our priority is to make sure that the most disadvantaged children are able to get a nutritious meal at school. The move to universal credit means that we need to introduce new criteria for free school meals, but these will not reduce the number of children eligible for free school meals.

We will allow good time to enable schools, local authorities and children's charities to comment on our proposals before we introduce new eligibility criteria.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
19 Mar 2013

Back to work Schemes

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): If the CPAG advice is correct, does my right hon. Friend have any idea by how much the £130 million could be reduced?

Stephen Timms: My hon. Friend asks a good question, and the answer is in the impact assessment that the Government have produced, which distinguishes between the amount that would be incurred because of people who were sanctioned before 6 August 2012 and the amount incurred in respect of people sanctioned since the court case, because those sanctions have been stockpiled.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
11 Mar 2013

ESA: Appeals

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the likely duration of the gap in payment while mandatory reconsideration takes place when a claimant appeals a refusal of employment and support allowance. [146369]

Esther McVey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: The length of time taken to complete mandatory reconsideration will vary from case to case and will be dependent on whether any additional evidence is required, and if so how quickly it is provided by the claimant. In any case where the Department requests additional evidence regulations state that the Department must allow claimants one month to supply it, so these cases could take in excess of one month to process.

The Department aims to complete mandatory reconsideration without unnecessary delays, but the focus of the process is to ensure that the decision has been fully reviewed in light of any new evidence and explained to the claimant and this process will take time to complete. It would be difficult to give an estimate of the average time this process will take since it is new and untried, and processing times are likely to range from a few days to a number of weeks depending on the complexity of the case.

In employment and support allowance cases, no benefit is payable once the claim has been disallowed on the grounds that a claimant does not have limited capability for work. This also applies to the period while the mandatory reconsideration process is being undertaken, as there are no legal grounds to make any payment of ESA while this process is completed. If a claimant chooses to appeal following mandatory reconsideration ESA can be paid at the assessment phase rate pending the appeal hearing. The payment will cover the period of the mandatory reconsideration so there will not be a gap.

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Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of people whose application for employment and support allowance has been rejected, who face a gap in payments whilst awaiting the outcome of a mandatory reconsideration, and who will not apply for jobseeker's allowance because they do not feel capable of actively seeking work; and what steps he plans to take to ensure that people in such circumstances receive adequate support. [146669]

Mr Hoban, Minister of State: The information requested is not available.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
11 Mar 2013

BBC: Whistleblowing

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what reports she has received on allegations that the BBC used money raised from the licence fee to prevent whistleblowing; and if she will make a statement. [146688]

Hugh Robertson, Minister of State: I am aware that there have been allegations against the BBC with regards to whistleblowing. The BBC is examining this in the context of their ongoing inquiries and I expect the BBC to consider what action is required in response to the findings. In addition to this, the National Audit Office (NAO) now has full access to the BBC in carrying out value for money studies following the last licence fee settlement. NAO reports are laid before Parliament, along with the BBC Trust's response, and can be examined by the Public Accounts Committee.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
7 Mar 2013

Fire Services

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether it is his intention that fire authorities will be allowed to mutualise their services without the independently verifiable support of a clear majority of their front-line workforce. [146368]

Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: As outlined in my answer of 5 March 2013, Official Report, column 931W, at this stage, the Government is working with Cleveland fire authority to support their bid for a local, employee-led mutual. Employees at Cleveland fire brigade have already shown their entrepreneurial drive by setting up a social enterprise which provides fire prevention services to businesses and uses the profits to fund fire prevention work in the community. More information can be found at:

www.gov.uk/government/news/95-000-boost-for-cleveland-fire-service-s-bid-to-mutualise

Public service mutuals are organisations with a high degree of employee control, but it will be for each local authority and fledgling mutual to determine how best to engage with the relevant work force. I note these issues were discussed in the recent publication by the Co-operative party ("Towards co-operative councils: empowering people to change their lives", February 2013), which was endorsed by the Leader of the Opposition.

Further information on employee engagement can also be found on the Mutuals Information Service:

http://mutuals.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
5 Mar 2013

Written Questions: Government Responses

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to answer question 144633, tabled by the hon. Member for Blaydon on 14 February 2013 for answer on 25 February. [146185]

Stephen Hammond, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: This question was answered on 28 February 2013, Official Report, column 586W.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
1 Mar 2013

Tinned meat: horse

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of whether (a) tinned meat and (b) sausages are not contaminated with horsemeat. [144744]

Anna Soubry, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department of Health.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has required industry to test meat products for horse DNA and to report the results to the FSA. The results reported to date cover 3,644 tests, including 202 on non-beef meat products. The results include tinned meat products and sausages, and the raw materials and ingredients used in these products.

Of all product tested, the overwhelming majority, 3,599 (over 99%), of tests showed no horse DNA present at or above the level of 1%. 35 results, representing 13 products, indicated the presence of horse DNA. at or above the 1% threshold. These products have already been named and withdrawn from sale. None of these withdrawn products were sausages or tinned meat products.

The FSA is conducting a United Kingdom-wide meat authenticity sampling survey with local authorities taking official control samples for horse DNA testing across a range of comminuted and minced meat products. Phase 1 of the survey includes testing of beef sausages, and Phase 2 includes sampling of canned ready meals (labelled as containing beef). It is planned to publish results from this survey from week commencing 4 March 2013. Sampling has also started on a further phase as part of a sampling programme being undertaken by European Union member states for horse DNA in products marketed as containing beef. This will also include tinned meat products and sausages.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
28 Feb 2013

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many investigations his Department has undertaken on the use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles in operations in Afghanistan since their deployment in that country. [144047]

Mr Robathan, Minister of State: A wide range of investigations into the operation and employment of equipment, either in general or in response to specific incidents, can be initiated by various competent authorities, including the chain of command. These are not held centrally or in a form that would allow all investigations relevant to Reaper, the UK's only armed remotely piloted air system, to be identified.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
28 Feb 2013

Dualling the A1

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his oral statement of 28 January 2013, Official Report, column 685, on High Speed Rail, for what reason he stated that we have just announced a major investment on dualling the A1 up to Newcastle, when the A1 has been dualled up to Newcastle for more than two decades. [144633]

Stephen Hammond, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: The Chancellor announced investment of £378 million to upgrade two key sections of the A1 as part of the autumn statement on 5 December 2012, Official Report, columns 871-882.

The investment will result in the provision of new roads in both directions parallel to the existing A1 between Lobley Hill and the A184 in Gateshead, and upgrading the A1 to a three lane motorway standard road between Leeming and Barton.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
26 Feb 2013

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the relationship between the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and political radicalisation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. [144021]

Mr Robathan, Minister of State: The Ministry of Defence regularly reviews risks to UK interests from political radicalisation in Afghanistan and Pakistan of which there are a range of potential contributing factors.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
25 Feb 2013

Housing Benefit

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of unpaid carers who will be affected by the underoccupancy rules where a partner's disability requires a separate bedroom. [143712]

Steve Webb, Minister of State: The information is not available.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
25 Feb 2013

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 26 November 2012, Official Report, column 29W, on unmanned air vehicles, whether his Department has provided any unarmed drone assistance in countries other than (a) Afghanistan and (b) Libya against non-terrorist suspects in the last three years. [143854]

Mr Robathan, Minister of State: During the previous three years the Ministry of Defence has only operated unmanned aircraft systems - armed and unarmed - in support of UK and coalition forces on ground operations in Afghanistan.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 12 November 2012, Official Report, column 31W, on Afghanistan, how many unmanned aerial vehicle strikes have been conducted by the UK since 1 November 2012; and if he will make a statement. [143855]

Mr Robathan: As of 1 February 2013, 18 Hellfire precision guided missiles and no (zero) laser guided bombs have been employed by the UK Reaper Remotely Piloted Air System (RPAS) in Afghanistan since 1 November 2012. Reaper is the only UK RPAS which carries weapons.

Reaper is not an autonomous system and all weapons employment depends upon commands from the flight crew. The weapons may be released under the command of a pilot who uses Rules of Engagement (ROE) that are no different to those used for manned UK combat aircraft. The targets are always positively identified as legitimate military objectives, and attacks are prosecuted in strict accordance with the Law of Armed Conflict and UK ROE. Every effort is made to ensure the risk of collateral damage, including civilian casualties, is minimised.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) psychological and (b) physical assessments his Department has undertaken on Royal Air Force pilots of unmanned aerial vehicles; and if he will place in the Library copies of any such studies. [144179]

Mr Robathan: The Ministry of Defence takes seriously the psychological and physical health of all armed forces personnel. The RAF Reaper Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) force, alongside other front-line forces, has robust Trauma Risk Management strategies in place to ensure this is continually monitored. The RAF Medical Services have not detected any adverse psychological and physical trends for RAF pilots of RPAS.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
25 Feb 2013

Gurkhas

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons Ghurkas were historically not allowed to access pensions or social security benefits when made redundant. [144049]

Mr Francois, Minister of State: Before 1 July 1997, when the Brigade of Gurkhas moved permanently from Hong Kong to the United Kingdom, Department of Social Security rules excluded them from paying national insurance contributions, even if serving temporarily in the United Kingdom. For this reason they were ineligible for state benefits. However, those that qualified by length of service would have received payments from the Gurkha Pension Scheme at that time, if they were made redundant.

Since May 2009 all ex-Gurkhas with more than four years service, may apply to settle in the United Kingdom. Once settled they are eligible for state benefits.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason Gurkhas were classed as foreigners and mercenaries before 1997. [144053]

Mr Francois: On 1 July 1997, with the withdrawal from Hong Kong, the Brigade of Gurkhas became a United Kingdom based force. Previously they had been based mainly in the Far East.

Gurkhas have a long and historic connection to the United Kingdom. They serve under special and unique arrangements. We certainly do not consider them to be mercenaries. Gurkhas have always been recruited with the agreement and consent of the Government of Nepal. They are required under this agreement to remain Nepali citizens during their service in the Brigade of Gurkhas.

Gurkhas: Children

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information his Department has on children of Gurkhas despite being born in the UK being registered as being born in Hong Kong or Brunei. [144055]

Mr Francois: The Ministry of Defence does not hold this information.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
12 Feb 2013

Marriage

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities (1) what recent representations she has received on the adequacy of her proposed protections aimed at ensuring that churches and clergy who do not wish to carry out same sex marriage ceremonies are not compelled to do so; [142402]

(2) what discussions she has had with representatives of the churches and clergy regarding protections for (a) churches and clergy who do not wish to carry out same sex marriage ceremonies and (b) workers who have a conscientious objection to measures contained on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill; [142403]

(3) if she will take steps to put robust measures in place to ensure that churches and clergy who do not wish to carry out same sex marriage ceremonies are not compelled to do so; [142404]

(4) whether, in the light of views expressed by hon. Members in the debate on Second Reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, she plans to bring forward further proposals to strengthen protection for churches and clergy who do not wish to carry out same sex marriage ceremonies. [142405]

Mrs Grant, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State [holding answer 11 February 2013]: We have always been clear that no religious organisation or individual minister will be forced to marry same sex couples. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which had its Second Reading on 5 February, contains a quadruple lock of religious protections which deliver on this commitment. We have had detailed discussions with a wide range of religious organisations, including the Church of England, as we developed the Bill, and we are confident the religious protections are robust and effective. The Church of England has said:

"If the Bill proceeds into law it is essential that the various 'locks' in the Bill are preserved as drafted."

When the Bill is in force, people will continue to be able to express their perfectly lawful views that marriage should be between a man and a woman, in the same way as they already express views about a whole range of issues - such as that civil partnerships are contrary to religious teaching, or that people should not have children outside marriage. Same-sex marriage will not be treated any differently.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
12 Feb 2013

Defence Fire Service: Retirement

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what his policy is on the retirement age for staff of the Defence Fire and Rescue Service; and if he has any plans to change the retirement age for such staff from 68 years old; [141967]

(2) what medical evidence has been used by his Department to inform decisions on changes to the retirement age for staff of the Defence Fire and Rescue Service. [141969]

Mr Francois, Minister of State: Although the Ministry of Defence (MOD) abolished its policy of a contractual retirement age for the majority of its civil servants in 2010, the Defence Fire and Rescue Service continues to operate a retirement age of 65. This decision was based on academic research and drawn up under the guidance of Defence Medical Services.

Defence firefighters are civil servants and, as such, are subject to the rules of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme. Since 2007 all new entrants have been subject to a normal pension age of 65 and this applies equally to MOD firefighters.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
12 Feb 2013

Fire Services: Redundancy

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many firefighters' jobs were lost in (a) 2011 and (b) 2012. [141756]

Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Figures on the number of firefighters in post can be found in my Department's annual publication 'Fire and Rescue Service Operational Statistics' which can be found on my Department's website:

www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-communities-and-local-government/series/fire-and-rescue-authorities-operational-statistics

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
11 Feb 2013

Probation reform

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the cost of the proposed reform of probation. [141360]

Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: The Ministry of Justice has recently published the consultation paper 'Transforming Rehabilitation - a revolution in the way we manage offenders' which sets out proposals for driving down re-offending by extending rehabilitative provision, opening up service delivery and paying by results.

In the consultation paper we have made clear our intention to ensure that delivery of these proposals is affordable and will demonstrate maximum value for money. We have invited consultees to give their views on options for the design of the future system. The costs will depend upon the design decisions made. The consultation closes on 22 February 2013 and we will set out further details of how we will reform the way we manage offenders once we have considered responses.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
7 Feb 2013

A1: Newcastle Upon Tyne

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his oral statement of 28 January 2013, Official Report, columns 671-85, on High Speed Rail, what investment his Department has allocated for the dualling of the A1 up to Newcastle. [141735]

Stephen Hammond, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: The Chancellor announced investment of £378 million to upgrade key sections of the A1 (Lobley Hill and Leeming to Barton) in the North-East as part of the autumn statement of 5 December 2012, Official Report, columns 871-882.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
6 Feb 2013

NHS resources

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Speaking as a former care worker and president of Unison, which is the biggest trade union representing people in health and social care, I am convinced that members of that union and other health workers will welcome the commitment today on developing a culture of zero harm and quality care as the priority, and they will not be frightened of a new inspections regime. However, unless we have a system alongside that which makes sure they have time to do the job and spend time with patients, as well as the resources, both physical and financial, to make that work properly, unfortunately we will have this debate again about another situation in a decade's time.

The Prime Minister: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. Clearly, a health service facing growing demands requires growing resources. We are growing those resources, but they are limited, so at the same time we must meet the challenge of increasing productivity and cutting waste in our NHS, which we are doing. I do not believe that that should impact on patient care. Every public sector body has to look at how it can become more productive and efficient, but that must not be at the expense of patient care, and that is important for the future.

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Commons Hansard
5 Feb 2013

North Korea

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will support calls to set up a Commission of Enquiry into crimes against humanity in Democratic Republic of North Korea. [140996]

Mr Swire, Minister of State: We agree with the principle that more needs to be done to put pressure on North Korea to improve its appalling human rights record. To this end, we are consulting with partners in the UN about whether to establish an international inquiry into human rights violations in North Korea in the Human Rights Council in Geneva in March.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
5 Feb 2013

Fire Services

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what estimate he has made of the number of firefighters' jobs that will be lost as a consequence of recent and planned reductions in spending; and if he will make a statement; [141758]

(2) what assessment he has made of the assertion by the Fire Brigades Union that about 70 fire stations face closure and that others will be downgraded as a consequence of planned reductions in spending; [141760]

(3) what assessment he has made of the assertion by the Fire Brigades Union that recent and planned reductions in spending on fire services will lead to loss of life. [141761]

Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: I refer the hon. Member to the answer of 8 January 2013, Official Report, column 248W.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment he has made of the potential effect of reductions in fire service budgets on (a) fire prevention, (b) intervention in flooding, (c) resilience to other threats and emergencies and (d) rescues at fires; and if he will make a statement. [141759]

Brandon Lewis: These are matters for each fire and rescue authority which must produce regularly, and consult on, an integrated risk management plan. The plan must identify the risks facing local communities and detail how the fire and rescue authority will allocate its resources to mitigate them effectively. People will have opportunities to make their voices heard on such issues.

Specific national resilience funding, including funding for high volume pumps used in flood response, is currently delivered through specific grants, and has not been affected by the formula grant changes.

As I outlined in my statement of 17 December 2012, Official Report, columns 69-70WS, there is significant scope for fire and rescue authorities to make sensible savings, such as through reforms to flexible staffing and crewing arrangements, better procurement; shared services, collaboration with emergency services and other organisations on service delivery and estates, sickness management; sharing of senior staff, locally led mergers and operational collaborations, new fire-fighting technology, preventative approaches and working with local businesses.

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Commons Hansard
4 Feb 2013

Iraq

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on the condition of residents of Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty; and what representations he has made to the Iraqi Government on that matter. [140622]

Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: The UN visit Camp Liberty, where the majority of former residents of Camp Ashraf now live, several times a week, and report that facilities at the camp meet international humanitarian standards. For example, residents have access to electricity 24 hours a day and over 200 litres of water per person per day. This compares well to the situation for many Iraqis. I raised the situation at Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty with the Iraqi Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Human Rights in July 2012. We continue to monitor the situation at Camps Ashraf and Liberty through our embassy in Baghdad, and to raise issues with the UN and the Government of Iraq where appropriate.

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Commons Hansard
29 Jan 2013

Economic data

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): : The Chancellor is well known for trying to help us Back Benchers to do our job. Would he be so kind as to place in the Library the criteria that he uses to define whether or not the economy is in the danger zone, and will he tell whether it is in the danger zone today?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr George Osborne): There is a pretty simple definition. Every day and every week the British Government have to go and borrow money to fund the extremely large deficit that was left behind, but we can command record low interest rates because of the confidence that the rest of the world has in our economic plans.

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Commons Hansard
28 Jan 2013

High Speed Rail

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Without any three-lane motorway north of north Yorkshire, and with a dual carriageway that ends just north of Newcastle, the North-East has the worst road system in the country. We are now being told that we will also have a second-rate railway system. Does the Secretary of State agree that the best we are going to get in the North-East is HS1.5?

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin):: I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman feels that way. We have just announced a major investment in dualling the A1 up to Newcastle, and I will look at other schemes in due course.

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Commons Hansard
25 Jan 2013

NHS Property Services

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how NHS property services will be held accountable at a local level; [138945]

(2) whether NHS property services will have to report on a regular basis to local scrutiny committees; [138946]

(3) how many staff will be employed by NHS Property Services Ltd; [138947]

(4) what assets he intends to be held by NHS Property Services Ltd; [138948]

(5) what his policy is on the constitution of NHS Property Services Ltd and the management of any possible issues of conflict of interest within that organisation; and if he will make a statement. [138950]

Dr Poulter, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: NHS Property Services Ltd (NHS PS), a limited company wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Health, was created to take that part of primary care trusts' (PCT) estate not transferring to national health service providers on 1 April 2013, which is the date when PCTs are being abolished.

The company's objectives will be to hold property for use by community and primary care services, including for use by social enterprises; deliver value for money property services; cut costs of administering the estate by consolidating the management of over 150 estates; develop and deliver cost-effective property solutions for community health services; and dispose of property surplus to NHS requirements.

The key benefit of the new model will be the opportunities offered by consolidating assets, skills and experience from 151 PCTs to create an organisation of increased scale and standing which is focused on the efficient management of property. This will in due course deliver improved management of the estate and improved efficiency, which will free up resources to improve properties and front-line services.

In relation to how NHS PS will be held accountable at a local level, it will be for local health economies and their clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to take decisions as to what properties and related services are provided and where they are located. It will be for NHS PS to work with the local NHS and its commissioners in deciding the need for primary or community care premises and other buildings from which NHS services are provided. . If a need for premises is identified by local CCGs, it will be for NHS PS to respond and offer the necessary site or building.

In respect of whether NHS PS will have to report on a regular basis to Local Scrutiny Committees, health organisations must seek review by the local authority where proposals result in a service change. New regulations on local authority health scrutiny are being prepared to ensure that any changes to local healthcare are more transparent, and overseen and considered locally. However, these regulations will only apply where health organisations are proposing to change health services and will not apply where the local health economy is considering changes to its estate that do not materially effect the delivery of services.

With regard to how many staff will be employed by NHS PS, the company has a small board of directors, with most of its staff being at a regional and local level. It has four regional directors, with teams that will work closely with the new NHS structure, with the majority of staff being locally-based and delivering services to patients; NHS staff and the public.

The precise number of staff to be employed by NHS PS is not yet known. However, it is anticipated that some 3,000 staff working in estates and facilities roles in PCTs and strategic health authorities will transfer under TUPE (Transfer of Undertaking Protection of Employment) legislation to the company. Staff will transfer on 1 April 2013. The company is recruiting to a further 72 posts to fulfil corporate roles such as in finance, IT and human resources. This type of support has been provided to local estates teams by the PCTs that they are currently part of.

On assets to be held by NHS PS, work is ongoing, but current analysis has shown that:

GP surgeries will account for 30% of the assets;

Support services (e.g. administration and equipment storage) - 24%;

Hospitals and land - 2% each; and

Health centres - 19%.

Other assets, such as items of equipment needed to deliver a particular service should generally transfer to the service provider or organisation which requires use of them. Where NHS PS provides either landlord and advisory services that PCT estates teams currently provide or manage, the company will take ownership of the associated assets. Likewise, where NHS.PS provides services such as cleaning, catering, pottering, the company will also take ownership of the assets associated with those activities.

Finally, in relation to the constitution of NHS PS and the management of any possible conflicts of interest, as a limited company, NHS PS will comply with the provisions of the Companies Act 2006 in all respects, including its governance structures and the directors' statutory duties in relation to conflicts of interest. A copy of the Company's Articles of Association, which gives more detail, has been placed in the Library.

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Commons Hansard
23 Jan 2013

Green Belt

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many planning applications for new build projects on Green Belt land have been approved under Planning Policy Statement 7 Clause 11 since 2001. [138470]

Nick Boles, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Planning) [holding answer 21 January 2013]: This information is not collected centrally. Planning Policy Statement 7 was replaced by the National Planning Policy Framework, published in March 2012. The Framework maintains both Green Belt policy and a policy on exceptional dwellings in the countryside.

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Commons Hansard
23 Jan 2013

Union Flag Dispute (Belfast)

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): May I add to the comments made by the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) about the role played by Inez McCormack over many years? In moving the peace process forward, she always said that if we want to move from a shared divided past to a shared united future we must do that in a non-partisan way while recognising that we must compromise. The Northern Ireland parties in this House have attempted to work together, so will the Secretary of State give her commitment that she will ensure that that makes progress?

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mrs Theresa Villiers): Yes, I will.

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Commons Hansard
21 Jan 2013

Hearing Impairment

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to include measures to reduce unaddressed hearing loss in his campaign to tackle loneliness and isolation; and if he will make a statement; [138437]

(2) what plans his Department has to tackle isolation resulting from unaddressed hearing loss in (a) Blaydon constituency and (b) England. [138438]

Norman Lamb, Minister of State: Loneliness is a serious issue that is blighting the lives of many people across the country. As a Department, we are working with partners - including The Campaign to End Loneliness - to reduce levels of loneliness and social isolation, and to highlight the links between people's relationships and their mental and physical health and well-being. Initial work has focused on measuring the issue, in order to help local commissioners come up with the right targeted solutions.

The Department has funded a digital toolkit to support Health and Well-being Boards and local commissioners in understanding, mapping and commissioning for loneliness and social isolation in their communities. This was launched in July 2012, and can be found at:

http://campaigntoendloneliness.org/toolkit/

The toolkit highlights sensory impairment as a risk factor that can lead to somebody becoming lonely or socially isolated.

The Government wants to deliver health outcomes that are among the best in the world for people with hearing loss. We are working with voluntary sector groups and other partners to see if it is possible to identify any further practical steps to address a number of issues that affect people with both addressed and unaddressed hearing loss.

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Commons Hansard
21 Jan 2013

Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill

Toby Perkins: I would like to finish my point. I am glad that my comments have elicited so much excitement and that lots of people want to intervene. There are basic things that we need in order to sustain life, and if someone is on poverty money - the hon. Member for Dover (Charlie Elphicke) said there are 600,000 people in severe poverty - their 1% increase cannot be compared with the way that a school teacher, for example -

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Or an MP.

Toby Perkins: - or a Member of Parliament is able to sustain small increases. There is no comparison between what someone in severe poverty is able to cut and the situation faced by public sector workers, despite their currently being hard pressed, as many will testify.

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Commons Hansard
17 Jan 2013

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent steps he has taken to ensure that every child and adult with myalgic encephalomyelitis receive suitable and appropriate treatment for their condition; [137185]

(2) what recent assessment he has made of the 2007 National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) and the Medical Research Council sponsored trial into CFS/ME conducted in February 2011. [137186]

Norman Lamb, Minister of State: We have not assessed the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's (NICE) clinical guidelines on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). NICE regularly reviews its guidance to ensure that it remains up to date and takes into account any new evidence that may influence its recommendations, and when new evidence comes to light, NICE can consider revising its published recommendations.

We have made no assessment of the Medical Research Council sponsored PACE trial: A Randomised Controlled Trial of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), graded exercise therapy (GET), adaptive pacing and specialist medical care for the chronic fatigue syndrome. However, we understand that the trial demonstrated that CBT and GET were moderately effective out-patient treatments when added to specialist medical care, as compared with adaptive pacing therapy or specialist medical care alone, and that all four treatments tested were safe. The findings of the trial have been published and NICE has processes to ensure that as new evidence becomes available, its advice can be reviewed.

Clinicians are responsible, within their area of competence, for diagnosing medical conditions, advising patients on the treatment options available and providing care that takes into account their patients' preferences. In doing so, they are expected to take account of evidence-based guidance from NICE and authoritative advice from other relevant bodies.

Long-term conditions is one of the Secretary of State for Health's priority areas and this was reflected in the prominence with which it featured in the mandate to the NHS Commissioning Board. Following the publication of the mandate we are working with the NHS Commissioning Board to agree the best way to improve care for people with long-term conditions including those with CFS/ME.

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Commons Hansard
15 Jan 2013

Coroners: Asbestos

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many inquests were carried out for asbestos-related deaths in England and Wales in each of the last three years; [135896]

(2) what steps the Coroner Service takes to make people with asbestos-related disease and their families aware during their lifetimes of the role of the Coroner Service in investigating deaths due to asbestos-related disease. [135897]

Mrs Grant, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: The Ministry of Justice collects and publishes annual statistics on the number of inquests held by coroners including those following deaths from industrial diseases, but it does not specifically collect statistics about inquests into asbestos related deaths. The latest statistical publication can be found here:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/statistics/mojstats/coroners-stats/coroners-bulletin-2011.pdf

A coroner's jurisdiction is derived from the presence of a body lying within their district so they do not have a role in end of life care. However, the Ministry of Justice has published a 'Guide to Coroners and Inquests and Charter for coroner services' which includes information on inquests into deaths from industrial disease. The guide can be found here:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/burials-and-coroners/guide-charter-coroner.pdf

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Commons Hansard
15 Jan 2013

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will commission an independent inquiry into UK Government policy on, and matters concerning, myalgic encephalomyelitis. [136498]

Norman Lamb, Minister of State: We have no plans to commission an independent inquiry on this matter. However, the Department acknowledges that services have not always been sensitive to the needs of people with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME).

The Health and Social Care Act (2012) sets out a range of reforms that will improve outcomes, improve access to services and give people, including those with CFS/ME, more choice and control over the services they receive.

People with CFS/ME should be involved in decisions about their care and we expect NHS professionals to ensure that they fully involve patients and their family and carers to enable them to be part of that decision-making process.

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Commons Hansard
14 Jan 2013

Remploy

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the reports of corruption during the sale of Remploy sites in Chesterfield, Springburn and Barrow; and if he will set up an independent inquiry into the closure of Remploy. [134503]

Esther McVey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: The current commercial process for Remploy is a matter for the Remploy board, not the Department, and as such any requests for an investigation into this process should be raised directly with Remploy's Company Secretary. They can be contacted at

company.secretariat@Remploy.co.uk

I have seen no evidence to substantiate any of those allegations. If anyone has evidence to the contrary, they should present this to the Remploy board.

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Commons Hansard
9 Jan 2013

Remploy

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on what occasions Ministers in his Department have met with trades union consortium officers on the closure of Remploy sites. [134504]

Esther McVey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: I have had contact with representatives from the Remploy trade unions in face to face meetings, stakeholder events and through correspondence. I have listened and responded to their views and opinions on the progress of the Stage 1 process, as I have done with other stakeholders.

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Commons Hansard
8 Jan 2013

Remploy

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons Remploy factory sites that were earmarked for sale have not yet been sold. [134502]

Esther McVey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: All stage 1 businesses were put up for sale. We also provided funding to support employee-led bids. For some businesses, no interest was received, reflecting the commercial standing and nature of the businesses. I understand from Remploy that in some instances where initial interest was received from bidders, no final offers were submitted by bidders. In some instances bids were rejected because they did not meet published criteria, including on retaining the employment of disabled employees, sustainability of employment or value for money and in some cases bidders withdrew from the process.

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Commons Hansard
7 Jan 2013

Remploy

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what types of jobs have been obtained by former Remploy workers; whether those jobs are full-time or otherwise; and at what level salaries are being paid. [134426]

Esther McVey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Out of around 1,100 people that our personal case workers are currently working with, 161 disabled people, over the past three months have already moved into work. These new jobs are with a variety of major retailers as well as small and medium sized enterprises operating across the retail, manufacturing and logistic sectors.

These employees are working a range of hours to suit their individual needs and availability. However we do not collect information about salary levels.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) if he will publish the names of all former Remploy managers who have been sold or been given any of Remploy's former assets; [134501]

(2) if he will place a list of any assets formerly owned by Remploy that have since been sold in the Library. [134505]

Esther McVey: The information requested is not held by the Department, and the hon. Member is advised that he should request this information from Remploy's Company Secretary. They can be contacted at:

company.secretariat@Remploy.co.uk

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Commons Hansard
7 Jan 2013

Industrial Diseases: Compensation

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) if he will thank the individual members of the English, Welsh and Scottish groups on coal miners' compensation for their work; [134868]

(2) when the individual members of the English, Welsh and Scottish monitoring groups on coal miners' compensation will be formally advised whether or not their services are required any more. [134869]

Mr Hayes, Minister of State: The Coal Heath Compensation Monitoring Groups were set up specifically to monitor the progress and settlement of claims under the chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD) and vibration white finger (VWF) schemes. Both schemes were formally concluded in the courts over two years ago. At the same time the work of the monitoring groups came to a natural conclusion with the completion of most claims.

These were among the biggest personal injury schemes in British legal history. It has been noted on several occasions that the schemes have been a remarkable achievement for all those involved including the monitoring groups. I endorse that sentiment.

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Commons Hansard
7 Jan 2013

Redundancy

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what consultation has taken place on reducing the redundancy notice period to 45 days; and if he will publish the consultation responses and evidence considered in informing that decision. [134997]

Jo Swinson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: The Government conducted a Call for Evidence on the current collective redundancy consultation regime from November 2011 to January 2012. The Call for Evidence document set out fully the Government's understanding of the evidence base.

Following this, the Government published a consultation document which set out the issues identified by the responses to the Call for Evidence and proposed a package of reforms. This was accompanied by an impact assessment which evaluated each of the proposed reforms. The consultation ran from June to September 2012.

The Government Response, which set out a summary of the responses received to each consultation question, and a revised impact assessment, were published on 18 December 2012. The Government Response is clear about what was said by consultees on the question of 45 days.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what consultation he undertook on his plans to reduce the period of notice for redundancy; and if he will make a statement. [135508]

Jo Swinson: I believe this question refers to the recent Government announcement to reduce from 90 to 45 days the minimum period before which large scale redundancies of more than 100 can take place. It is important to be clear, however, that this is not the same as the individual notice period for redundancy. Individual notice periods will remain unaffected by this change. Individual notice periods start once redundancy notices have been issued, something which can only happen once the consultation on the redundancies is genuinely complete.

The Government conducted a Call for Evidence on the current collective redundancy consultation regime from November 2011 to January 2012. Following this, the Government consulted on a package of reforms from June to September 2012. I announced the Government's Response in a written ministerial statement, on 18 December 2012, Official Report, column 80WS.

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Commons Hansard
20 Dec 2012

Football: Sportsgrounds

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which First Division football grounds were in possession of a current safety certificate for designated stadia in the 1988-89 season; and when those certificates were issued. [134521]

Hugh Robertson, Minister of State: We do not hold records relating to the issue, amendment or cancellation of safety certificates. While the designation of a sports ground as requiring a safety certificate would have been undertaken by the Home Secretary, who was responsible for the Safety of Sports Grounds legislation at the relevant time, any decision to issue or amend a safety certificate would have been a matter for the local authority.

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Commons Hansard
19 Dec 2012

Uganda: Gay rights

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Ugandan government on its proposals to legalise discrimination against people based on their sexuality. [134439]

Mark Simmonds, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: The British Government is committed to ensuring that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people around the world are free to live their lives in a safe and just environment. We are concerned about the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill which is being considered by the Ugandan Parliament and which has Ugandan public support. We raise our concerns regularly with the Ugandan Government. I most recently raised this issue with President Museveni during my visit to Uganda on 21 November, and with Henry Okello. Minister for International Affairs, on 10 December.

+++

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make it her policy not to allocate direct aid to governments which are legislating to discriminate against people based on their sexuality; and if she will make representations to the Ugandan Government in this respect. [134440]

Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development: Our financial aid to the Government of Uganda, and other countries, is predicated on partnership principles in fundamental commitments and agreed principles which include poverty reduction, respect for human rights, improved public financial management, and promoting good governance.

The UK Government is committed to ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are free to live their lives in a safe and just environment. We are therefore concerned about the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill being considered by the Ugandan Parliament. We have raised our concerns regularly at the most senior levels of the Ugandan Government.

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Commons Hansard
19 Dec 2012

What Sid wasn't told

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.

We face the party that inherited the policies of the past 30 years, the party that believed that to tell Sid was the way to go ahead, but what did it tell Sid? "Buy something you already own", it said. The party told him that he would be part of the great share-owning democracy. The party told Sid not to worry. Those wonderful private companies were dedicated to serving the public, they would ensure that they invested in the infrastructure, and they would give the country great value for money and transfer all the risk away from the public sector.

What the party did not tell Sid was that 9 million people would be living in fuel poverty by 2016; that it would set up a cartel of six big energy suppliers that would have complete control over every facet of energy policy; that the industry would be regulated by the weakest regulator in history; that it would fail badly to invest in the industry's infrastructure; that we would face the real possibility of power cuts as a result of that failure; that we would have a national grid that has been described as not fit for purpose; that the failure to invest in skills and training would leave a work force incapable of dealing with the challenges we face; and that, 30 years down the line, the industry would want another £250 billion from the men and women of this country -

Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans): Order. We must move on to the wind-ups.

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Commons Hansard
19 Dec 2012

Symptoms of poverty

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Despite what the Prime Minister has just said in response to our leader, the facts on the ground are these: the classic poverty-related diseases of rickets and tuberculosis are on the increase in this country, the number of food banks is increasing, kids are going to school hungry, and we have a stagnant economy. Is the Prime Minister proud that his policies are taking this country back to the 1930s?

The Prime Minister: I would hope that the hon. Gentleman, with the constituency that he represents, would today be celebrating the fact that Nissan has announced another £125 million investment in our country. This is now one of the biggest and most successful car plants anywhere in Britain. Yes, we face tough economic times, but the fact is that we have over 1 million new private sector jobs, and last year and this year saw some of the fastest rates of new business creation. That is what is happening in our country. Yes, there are tough times and tough choices, but our economy is rebalancing and we should recognise that.

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Commons Hansard
17 Dec 2012

Workers' Rights

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): My hon. Friend is making a very good case. Is it not clear from what Conservative Members have said that we know exactly what this is about - it is about the complete disregard for workers' rights by Government Members? They believe anything can be resolved by waving money at it. It is absolutely disgraceful that we even have to discuss this issue tonight. I hope the Liberal Democrats will have some of the courage that they have not shown in two and a half years so far and vote against this measure tonight.

Ian Murray: My hon. Friend makes an incredibly strong point. If the clause had been drafted to increase employee ownership without the exchange for rights, we would fully have supported it. What the Government are doing, however, is saying to employers, "If you wish to buy out the rights of your employees, you may do so for as little as £2,000 without any regard whatever to the protection they have against unfair dismissal and redundancy." Crucially, in response to my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr Anderson), this flies in the face of the Government's flexible working policies that they were trumpeting just last week. In addition, the people who will be hit worst by this policy will be those who are not able to seek advice and those who are not members of trade unions or other associations.

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Commons Hansard
11 Dec 2012

Union Flag, Belfast

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): I agree entirely with the Secretary of State's claim that this is nothing less than a fundamental attack on democracy. Part of being a democracy is accepting that sometimes we do not get what we want. Opposition Members know that very well, as every day of the week we have to accept things we do not like, and the same was true for Government Members when they were in opposition. Can we be very clear, on behalf of everyone in this House, that there is no way that the people leading the riots will succeed and that we will support the people in Belfast in carrying out their democratic mandate in what they have agreed to do properly?

Mrs Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: I welcome that firm statement, which I am sure that everyone will endorse. Such decisions need to be taken on the basis of democracy and consent, and indeed decisions on matters as sensitive as flags need to be taken after calm reflection. It is important that a real effort is made to take into account the concerns of people right across the community. There is a way forward. Northern Ireland has demonstrated that it can resolve seemingly intractable problems that have divided people for 800 years, so I am sure that they can find a sensible way forward on flags as well.

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Commons Hansard
6 Dec 2012

Telephone Services: Unsolicited Goods and Services

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps her Department is taking to stop cold telephone calls from overseas. [131461]

Mr Vaizey, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: Cold telephone calls from overseas foreign companies fall outside the jurisdiction of the UK. However, callers from within the UK, or those based overseas calling on behalf of UK companies, are legally required not to call numbers registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), which is a free service and is provided under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). UK consumers are also protected if they have previously notified the caller that they do not wish to receive such calls. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) enforces the TPS and considers complaints about breaches. The ICO can issue a fine of up to £500,000 for the most serious breaches of the PECR.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is pressing for more action in this area, with the ICO, Ofcom and TPS working together to make improvements. The ICO has increased the resources devoted to enforcement of PECR and, on 28 November 2012, served penalties totalling £440,000 on two illegal marketers responsible for distributing millions of spam texts. The ICO has also published on its website a list of the most complained about companies that make calls to TPS registered consumers, if the companies fail to remedy their actions, they could face further enforcement action. The ICO is currently considering issuing penalties to three other companies for breaching the PECR.

In addition, Ofcom has improved the information available to consumers on-line at:

http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/tell-us/telecoms/privacy

which provides clearer advice on how to avoid nuisance calls, texts and e-mails. A new Consumer Guide signposts the correct place to make a complaint:

http://consumers.ofcom.org.uk/2012/10/tackling-nuisance-calls-and-messages

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Commons Hansard
6 Dec 2012

Universal Credit

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Warrington North of 17 September 2012, Official Report, columns 537-38W, on universal credit: Warrington and the answer to the hon. Member for Jarrow of 29 October 2012, Official Report, columns 64-65W, on universal credit, on what date he plans to announce what support will be made available to those claimants who do not currently make benefit claims on-line. [130865]

Mr Hoban, Minister of State: A framework that describes how we will help people who can't use the standard on-line UC service will be published in the new year. The framework will set out the support available to claimants who will need to make claims on line.

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Commons Hansard
30 Nov 2012

Avian Pox

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he is taking to tackle the new strain of avian pox which reduces the survival of great tits especially juvenile birds. [130360]

Mr Heath, Minister of State: Avian pox in wild birds in the UK has been present for many years and affects many species of wild bird. The great tit is not a threatened wild bird species in Britain and so far evidence does not indicate that the new strain is any more virulent than existing ones. Thus, currently available data does not indicate that the new strain of the disease is at present likely to threaten the British (national) population of this species.

Avian pox is a viral infection and (as with most viruses) there is no specific treatment for the disease. At present therefore, surveillance for the disease and mapping the distribution is the most appropriate scientific approach.

Researchers working on avian pox in great tits are partners in the DEFRA funded GB Wildlife Disease Surveillance Partnership, delivering wildlife disease surveillance to Government. One of the partners, the DEFRA supported Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency Diseases of Wildlife scheme, which has undertaken wildlife disease surveillance in England and Wales since 1998, is helping with this monitoring and has diagnosed cases of avian pox recently in birds submitted to its regional laboratories, in conjunction with one of the other partners, the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London.

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Commons Hansard
29 Nov 2012

Middle East

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that Israel and Palestine comply with international law. [130074]

Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: We urge all parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.

It is important that Israel fulfils its obligations under international law. We have consistently condemned Israel's announcements to accelerate settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) and have called on Israel to reverse these.

We have also repeatedly made clear to the Israelis our serious concern at the 40% increase last year, as recorded by the UN, in demolitions of Palestinian properties in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Our ambassador to Tel Aviv raised this issue with the Israeli Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the OPTs on 9 October. We view such demolitions and evictions as causing unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians; as harmful to the peace process; and, in all but the most limited circumstances, as contrary to international humanitarian law.

More generally, we continue to have serious concerns about the human rights situation in Israel and the OPTs, which we raise regularly with both Israeli and Palestinian authorities. More details can be found at:

http://fcohrdreport.readandcomment.com/human-rights-in-countries-of-concern/israel-and-the-opts/

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Commons Hansard
28 Nov 2012

Muscular Dystrophy

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the cost to the NHS of unplanned emergency admissions to hospital with muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular conditions. [130328]

Norman Lamb, Minister of State: Information on the cost of unplanned emergency admissions to hospital for people with muscular dystrophy and related neuromuscular conditions is not collected centrally.

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Commons Hansard
26 Nov 2012

Flooding

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): The Secretary of State quite rightly praises the work of the emergency services. What will we do going forward given that fire services in places such as Tyne and Wear are having their budgets reduced by 35%, 1,500 local authority workers in Gateshead have been sacked and the Environment Agency in the North-East faces a 20% cut in resources? How will we manage these situations then? When will he stop putting ideology before practicality?

Mr Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: We have provided £2.5 million to fire authorities to help on this issue. Under very difficult circumstances - I do not want to make tiresome political points, but we inherited them from the previous Government - we have managed to hold up the investment in flood defence schemes. We are looking at a 6% reduction over the whole spending period compared with that over the previous spending period, which under the current circumstances shows the priority we are giving to these schemes.

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Commons Hansard
26 Nov 2012

Gaza and the West Bank

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his Israeli counterpart on preventing civilian casualties in Gaza. [130015]

Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: The British Government is gravely concerned by the recent violence in Gaza and southern Israel and deeply regrets the loss of civilian life. We consistently called on those involved to avoid any action which risked civilian casualties and to abide by international humanitarian law.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), raised this issue during discussions with his Israeli counterpart Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on 17 and 21 November. I also spoke to Foreign Minister Lieberman during my visit to Israel on 21 November and again on 22 November.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will call on the government of Israel to stop the demolition of houses in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. [130073]

Alistair Burt: We have repeatedly made clear to the Israelis our serious concern at the 40% increase last year, as recorded by the UN, in demolitions of Palestinian properties in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Our ambassador to Tel Aviv raised this issue with the Israeli Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories on 9 October. We view such demolitions and evictions as causing unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians; as harmful to the peace process; and, in all but the most limited circumstances, as contrary to international humanitarian law.

In addition we continue to support Palestinians facing demolition or eviction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories through support to the Norwegian Refugee Council legal aid programme which helps individuals to challenge these decisions in the Israeli Legal System.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will call on the government of Israel to stop settlement building. [130075]

Alistair Burt: We have repeatedly condemned Israel's announcements to accelerate settlement building in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem and called on Israel to reverse these. As well as being illegal under international law, settlements undermine the possibility of a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and those working for a sustainable peace.

We look to the Government of Israel to take all necessary steps to prevent settlement construction and raise this issue on a regular basis with the Israeli authorities.

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Commons Hansard
26 Nov 2012

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to offer assistance to families affected by drone strikes; and if he will make a statement. [126287]

Mr Robathan, Minister of State: Currently the UK operates armed remotely piloted air systems only in Afghanistan. The protection of the Afghan civilian population is at the core of our military strategy in Afghanistan. International Security Assistance Force and UK forces have strict operating procedures to minimise the risk of civilian casualties occurring and to investigate any incidents that do happen.

There is a system in place for handling claims for compensation brought against the Ministry of Defence by Afghan civilians and we have an area claims officer located in Lashkar Gah. This claims officer travels throughout Helmand province and makes visits further afield to ensure that all claims receive attention.

We ensure that Afghan locals are aware of the claims scheme available to them through announcements on local radio and leaflets distributed by the military stabilisation support teams, who collate the details of claims that can not reach the area claims officer. Provincial and district governors are also aware of, and support, the compensation process.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what recent assessment he has made of his Department's use of (a) armed and (b) unarmed remotely piloted air systems outside Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement; [126286]

(2) whether UK pilots are permitted to carry out armed drone strikes other than as part of ongoing military operations in Afghanistan. [126288]

Mr Robathan: Her Majesty's Government do not use armed remotely piloted air systems against terrorist suspects outside Afghanistan. However, UK personnel flew armed remotely piloted air systems missions against Gaddafi's forces in Libya in 2011, in support of the NATO humanitarian mission authorised under UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

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Commons Hansard
20 Nov 2012

Ministerial legitimacy

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): It was claimed last week that one of the reasons why we had police and crime commissioner elections was that police authorities had no democratic legitimacy - indeed the Conservative party chairman said that PCCs are 5 million times more legitimate than police authorities were. If that is the case, what legitimacy is held by Ministers of State who have no direct democratic input from this country but who are, in fact, appointed in a way that is much less transparent than appointments to police authorities? Where is the legitimacy for any Minister of State?

The Deputy Prime Minister: If I understand it correctly, the Labour party's position is that there should be direct elections to police authorities, so it agrees that there should be a change in the arrangements to give the public a greater democratic say in how policing is organised in their local area. The policy happens to be one that was not advocated by my party, but it was, rightly and understandably, in the coalition agreement, having been brought in by the Conservatives, so it is right that we should deliver it. I remain nonplussed that the hon. Gentleman is now so critical of the policy when the posts were so ferociously contested by numerous - failed, as it turns out - Labour politicians last week.

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Commons Hansard
20 Nov 2012

Hillsborough

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Attorney-General if he will expedite the inquest into the death of Kevin Williams who died in the Hillsborough disaster. [128456]

Dominic Grieve, The Attorney-General: My role in relation to an inquest into the death of Kevin Williams is restricted to the powers given to me by section 13 of the Coroners Act 1988 which is to apply to the High Court to quash the original inquest and order a new inquest to be held. The Court will do so if it is satisfied that the evidence before it makes a new inquest necessary or desirable in the interests of justice. I am in the process of preparing such an application for all the inquests into the deaths of all the victims of the Hillsborough disaster and expect to do so in December. If new inquests are ordered, the timing of the inquests will be a matter for the coronial process.

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Commons Hansard
19 Nov 2012

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department holds on how many British citizens were killed by unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in each of the last three years; and in which countries any such fatalities occurred. [128145]

Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not keep detailed records of deaths of British nationals overseas who may have been killed by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) strikes. We are aware, of public reporting in relation to a small number of individuals alleged to have been killed by UAV strikes overseas, but cannot comment on specific cases.

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Commons Hansard
12 Nov 2012

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many unmanned aerial vehicle strikes have been conducted by the UK since operations commenced in Afghanistan; and what proportion of such strikes were classed as (a) targeted and (b) signature missions in each year for which figures are available. [127650]

Mr Robathan, Minister of State: As of 1 November 2012, 297 Hellfire precision guided missiles and 52 laser guided bombs have been employed by the UK Reaper remotely piloted air system (RPAS) since operations commenced in Afghanistan. Reaper is the only UK RPAS which carries weapons.

'Signature missions' are not a classification recognised by the UK military.

All strikes are against targets which are positively identified as legitimate military objectives, and attacks are prosecuted in strict accordance with the law of armed conflict.

Weapons released by remotely piloted air system are done so under the command of a pilot who uses rules of engagement no different to those used for manned UK combat aircraft. The weapons are all precision guided, and every effort is made to ensure the risk of civilian casualties is minimised.

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Commons Hansard
12 Nov 2012

Child abuse allegations

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Over the weekend allegations were made that an abuser in the north Wales case had previously abused children in my constituency in the 1960s and '70s. As other Members have said, we must ensure that it is those people we focus on and that we put as much effort, if not more, into ensuring that proper resources go into encouraging victims of abuse to come forward. That might well mean that the Government will have to look at giving further support to social services departments and the police, because those people will not just feel frightened and apprehensive; they might have spent a lifetime feeling that in some way they are guilty. They need a lot of support, and we should give it to them.

Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport; and Minister for Women and Equalities: The hon. Gentleman puts his finger on it when he says that the important issue that comes out of this is that people who have suffered abuse do not in any way feel impeded in coming forward for fear of being part of what has become a media circus. We have to make sure that people have the confidence to be able to do that, and he is right to make sure that we focus on it. Perhaps he will contribute to tomorrow's Back-Bench debate as well.

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Commons Hansard
6 Nov 2012

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilians have been killed or injured in drone strikes undertaken by the RAF since operations commenced in Afghanistan. [126285]

Mr Robathan, Minister of State: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the then Minister for the Armed Forces, the hon. Member for North Devon (Sir Nick Harvey), on 26 June 2012, Official Report, column 187W, to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Hall Green (Mr Godsiff).

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Commons Hansard
5 Nov 2012

Unmanned Air Vehicles

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions (a) he and (b) officials in his Department have had with the Attorney-General's office on the legality of armed drone strikes. [126289]

Mr Robathan, Minister of State: It is the longstanding position of Government, reflected in the Ministerial Code, that whether the Law Officers have been consulted on any issue on any matter is not disclosed outside Government.

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Commons Hansard
1 Nov 2012

Police conduct: Orgreave Coke Works

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether she plans to investigate the allegations made in a recent BBC Inside Out programme about the conduct of South Yorkshire police in policing the Orgreave Coke Works in 1984. [125797]

Damian Green, Minister of State (Policing): The Government takes any allegation of police misconduct extremely seriously. It is the responsibility of the relevant police force or the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to investigate such allegations. To initiate an investigation, a complaint must be made to the force involved, to their police authority, or to the IPCC itself.

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Commons Hansard
29 Oct 2012

Tax Avoidance

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set up a review to assess the merits of setting up a tax avoidance system wherein all such schemes would be illegal without prior agreement by his Department. [125356]

Mr Gauke, Exchequer Secretary: The vast majority of people and businesses in the UK do not try to avoid their tax and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is very successful at tackling the small minority who do. HMRC is able to deploy a range of approaches to prevent, detect and counteract tax avoidance - and the Government is looking to strengthen its hand further by, for example, enhancing the Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes rules and developing the UK's first general anti-abuse rule (GAAR). Once introduced, the GAAR will act as a powerful deterrent to those engaging in abusive avoidance schemes. Where such schemes persist, it will also improve HMRC's means of tackling them effectively.

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Commons Hansard
29 Oct 2012

Industrial Diseases: Compensation

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what recent work has been done by the Monitoring Group on Coal Health Claims; and what the remit of the group is. [125892]

Mr Hayes, Minister of State: The terms of reference of the Coal Health Claims Monitoring Groups were:

"to review on a regular and transparent basis progress the implementation of the Handling Agreement on Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Vibration White Finger (VWF) so that the communities concerned can be confident that everything possible is being done to ensure the sensitive, rapid and effective delivery of compensation to ex-miners".

The VWF scheme was formally closed by the presiding judge on 1 May 2009 and the COPD scheme was formally concluded by the presiding judge on 13 December 2010. All compensation claims under the schemes have now been dealt with, and the role of the Monitoring Groups has therefore concluded.

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Commons Hansard
29 Oct 2012

Ash Dieback Disease

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): In evidence to the independent panel on forestry, the Friends of Chopwell Wood, which is based in my constituency, said:

"There is a concern that having 'saved' our wood from sell-off we may lose it by neglect and disease"

and that that would be caused by "insufficient staff and funding". Will the Minister give an assurance that that will not happen?

Mr Heath, Minister of State: As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Government have not yet formally responded to the independent panel on forestry, but we have indicated that we accept the thrust of its recommendations. I look forward to giving a full response early in the new year on that subject. The future for forestry is very bright, despite setbacks of the sort that I have described today. I repeat that we have not cut back on the allocation of resources. I hope we will be able to mobilise not just scientists, foresters and the voluntary groups for which he has spoken up, but everybody who has an interest in trees in this country, to ensure we have a thriving forest - not only today, but in future.

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Commons Hansard
23 Oct 2012

Manufacturing Industries: North East

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills with reference to his Department's Economic Paper, Industrial Strategy: UK Sector Analysis, what steps he is taking to encourage chemical or pharmaceutical industries in the North-East; and if he will make a statement. [123916]

Michael Fallon, Minister of State: The Government recognises that chemical and pharmaceutical companies make an important contribution to the North-East region and to the UK economy as a whole.The Government is creating the right environment to encourage investment in businesses in these sectors through the Strategy for UK Life Sciences and initiatives like the Regional Growth Fund, Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative and the Employer Ownership Pilot that will address barriers to growth, encourage innovation and technology commercialisation, exports, business investment, and improve skills. The two enterprise zones (EZ) in the North-East provide a supportive environment for new investments in this sector. In particular six of the 12 Tees Valley EZ sites have been identified as suitable for companies in the chemical sector.Furthermore, the Department is working closely with the chemicals sector as it develops an industry-led strategy for maintaining and enhancing the competitiveness of the UK chemicals industry, which the Government will seek to support. The Department awaits the industry conclusions and recommendations.

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Commons Hansard
23 Oct 2012

Bovine TB and Badger Control

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Will the Secretary of State explain why there was a delay to avoid a clash with the Olympics and Paralympics, and what are the ideal weather conditions for killing badgers?

Mr Paterson, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: My predecessor was very responsible, because the Government had a request from the police and discussed it with the Home Secretary. There was obviously a huge amount of discussion about security before the Olympics and Paralympics. The whole nation wanted the games to be a success, and of course they were the most outstanding success. It was quite right not to burden the police with an extra task, so I think my colleagues were completely responsible.

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point about the weather. We have obviously had the most extraordinarily wet year, which has made it difficult to get out on the land and difficult to get vehicles out. There is also a technical problem, which mainly applies to Gloucestershire. The maize is still standing, and part of what needs to be done is the cutting of maize, because otherwise badgers come and take the cobs. That is rather more a Gloucestershire problem than a Somerset one, but all in all, he must understand the practical difficulties of getting on the land in a very wet year.

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Commons Hansard
17 Oct 2012

Private Rented Housing: Electrical Safety

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps he is taking to ensure that landlords in the private rental sector comply with electrical safety standards; and if he will ensure that appropriate action is taken against those who fail to do so. [122907]

Mark Prisk, Minister of State (Housing): Private landlords are responsible for ensuring that their properties are safe. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 requires that electrical installations are safe when a tenancy begins, and are maintained in a safe condition throughout the tenancy.

Local authorities have powers, under the Housing Act 2004, to assess the risks and hazards in all residential properties using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. If a property is found to contain serious (category 1) hazards, the local authority has a duty to take the most appropriate action. This could range from trying to deal with the problems informally at first to prohibiting the use of the whole or part of the dwelling. The Government continues to urge local authorities to make full use of their powers.

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Commons Hansard
15 Oct 2012

Expenditure on financial assistance for the provision of infrastructure

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Is the situation not worse than that? In the early days of this Government, one of the first things they did was stop the Building Schools for the Future programme, which had been clarified and was seen as the way forward to develop new schools. There were projects involving five schools in my constituency, which would have put £80 million into the local economy, with the money spent on the private sector and building schools for those children. Those projects were frozen - the same thing happened across the country - but if they had gone ahead, we would now be in a much better position.

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Commons Hansard
15 Oct 2012

West Coast Main Line

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): In this House, we have become used to the Government's incompetence. They could not privatise the forests properly and they made a mess of the NHS; with this, they have shown that they cannot even privatise what is already out there. The job is too big for them. Why do they not just give up - and give up now?

Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport: I am not sure, Mr Speaker, whether that was a question or a statement.

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Commons Hansard
8 Oct 2012

Social Security Benefits

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

  1. what the total cost is of in-work benefits paid to local government employees in (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland;
  2. how many local government employees are in receipt of in-work benefits in (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland
.

Mark Hoban, Minister of State: For in-work credit, return to work credit and job grant, this information is not available. For tax credits, this information is available only at disproportionate cost.

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Commons Hansard
18 Sep 2012

Pregnancy: Sodium Valproate

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what guidance doctors are given to enable them to give appropriate counselling to pregnant mothers who are susceptible to epilepsy and who are taking sodium valproate; [121059]

(2) what support he provides to people who have been adversely affected as a result of their mothers being prescribed sodium valproate during pregnancy. [121060]

Norman Lamb, Minister of State: The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is an Executive agency of the Department of Health responsible for ensuring that medicines are acceptably safe and effective in their licensed indications. Part of the remit of the MHRA is to ensure that the information associated with the medicine and provided to health care professionals (the Summary of Product Characteristics, SmPC) and to patients (the Patient Information Leaflet, PIL) is accurate and up to date.

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Commons Hansard
17 Sep 2012

Dairy Farming

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what support his Department is providing to ensure the long-term viability of dairy farms in England and Wales. [120597]

Mr Heath, Minister of State: The Government continues to support the UK dairy industry's work on a number of initiatives. We have given our full support to the industry's negotiations on a new code of practice which will help to improve contractual relationships in the supply chain.

I want to see a profitable, thriving and competitive dairy sector. Product innovation and exploring new domestic and export markets is an integral part of this and would benefit all parts of the industry. The Government is providing £5 million worth of new funding under the Rural Economy Grant scheme for high quality dairy projects which can help dairy farmers to explore the potential in new markets through support for collaboration and marketing.

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Commons Hansard
14 Sep 2012

Firearm certificates

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people under the age of 18 have shotgun and other firearms certificates in the (a) UK and (b) North East.

Damian Green (Minister of State (Immigration), Home Office: The total number of shotgun and other firearm certificates granted to persons aged under 18 years in England and Wales, as of September 2012, is 4,952. For the North East region, consisting of Cleveland, Durham, and Northumbria police forces, the figure is 159.

Data for Scotland and Northern Ireland are matters for their respective Administrations.

The data were extracted from the National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS). The NFLMS is an operational system, continuously updated by police forces in England and Wales, which holds data on all firearm and shotgun certificates they issue. While some statistical data from this system is published annually by the Home Office, the figures on age are not part of this publication and not subject to the same quality assurance checks.

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Commons Hansard
12 Sep 2012

Hillsborough

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): In welcoming the Prime Minister's statement and thanking him and the Leader of the Opposition for what they have said, may I raise one point with the Prime Minister? He has mentioned "new evidence" and "new documentation" a number of times, but the truth is that it is not new - the vast majority was old but buried and concealed. We have heard that the Prime Minister at the time was advised by her private secretary that

"the defensive and...'close to deceitful' behaviour of senior South Yorkshire officers was 'depressingly familiar.'"

We have also been told that the report says that no Government have tried to conceal the truth. The real question for politicians is this: what failures did politicians create in not trying to expose the truth?

The Prime Minister: Absolutely. The hon. Gentleman has put his finger on it. When I said "new evidence", I suppose I meant "newly published evidence". The inquiry has not uncovered things that did not previously exist - they existed but were not published, so their publication is what is new today. The really important point he makes will take careful consideration, and those in government at the time will want to think this through and provide their own answers. The sense I get from the limited look I have had at the report is that advice went to Ministers that the behaviour was "depressingly familiar" and that the chief constable should resign. The question then is whether the output of that advice resulted in enough action by that Government and subsequent ones to blow away the false narrative that was building up. That is a very important question that people will want to consider.

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Commons Hansard
10 Sep 2012

Universal Credit

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Is part of the Secretary of State's strategy to help people move on to universal credit the expansion of food banks, which is seen as a disgrace and a condemnation of this Government across the country?

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr Iain Duncan Smith): Not at all. When we came to office, I was told by the Department that despite the constant requests from a variety of people who provide food banks, in particular the Trussell Trust, to put their leaflets in jobcentres to advertise what they were doing, the last Government said no, because they did not want the embarrassment of their involvement. We immediately allowed them to do so, which is one reason for the increase in the number of people seeking food banks.

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Commons Hansard
6 Sep 2012

Combined Heat and Power

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what assessment he has made of the potential effect of removing levy exemption certificates on (a) investment in industrial combined heat and power (CHP) and (b) reductions in emissions associated with using industrial CHP over the next 10 years. [118771]

Gregory Barker, Minister of State: The Department has not made a specific assessment of the impact of withdrawal of levy exemption certificates on investment in new industrial Combined Heat and Power (CHP) capacity or carbon dioxide emissions. The impacts of the changes announced in Budget 2011, and confirmed in Budget 2012, are summarised in the Tax Information and Impact Note published alongside Budget 2012. This can be found on the HMRC website at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/budget2012/tiin-0700.pdf

The Department produces projections of CHP capacity growth for inclusion in our annual updated energy projections, which will be published in October. The latest CHP projections account for withdrawal of levy exemption certificates, as well as our latest energy price projections and improved assumptions on the proportion of power exported by CHP schemes. These projections predict continued growth in CHP capacity from the current level of 6.1GW electrical capacity to 11GW by 2020.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (1) what role industrial combined heat and power plays in his Department's plans for future emissions reductions; and what assessment he has made of how that role might be affected by the abolition of levy exemption certificates; [118772]

(2) whether his Department has any plans to replace levy exemption certificates with an alternative means of support for industrial combined heat and power technology; and if he will make a statement. [118773]

Gregory Barker: Renewable CHP in all sectors benefits from effective support under current renewables obligation arrangements. The forthcoming consultation on the renewable heat incentive will consider the case for specific support for heat from new renewable CHP schemes.

The Department believes natural gas fired CHP also has an important role to play, as an industrial energy efficiency measure and a cost-effective carbon reduction measure in industries that continue to rely on gas. Our analysis identifies that high required rates of return and short required payback periods can be barriers to development of new natural gas industrial CHP capacity.

Levy exemption certificates were not a value for money way of addressing these barriers. The Department is looking at alternative ways of addressing the barriers to investment.

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Commons Hansard
5 Sep 2012

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Whenever the Prime Minister is faced with industrial dispute in this country, he always advises the trade unions to go for reconciliation and arbitration. In the interests of fairness, will he speak to his new Health Secretary and ask him to involve himself in the dispute at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust, to ask its board to do what the union is asking for and refer the dispute to the NHS Staff Council for resolution?

The Prime Minister: The new Health Secretary will have been listening carefully to that, and I am sure he will be able to discuss the matter with the hon. Gentleman.

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Commons Hansard
3 Sep 2012

Personal Independence Payment

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) on what basis the assumption was made in the case studies provided by his Department in the personal independence payment consultation that blind people would face lower mobility and daily living costs after they have lived with sight loss for longer; [110903]

(2) for what reason support dogs were included in the mobility component of the personal independence payment criteria but orientation aids were not. [110904]

Maria Miller, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Disabled People): The Government believes that support in personal independence payment should be targeted at those people who are most affected by their impairments. The proposed assessment criteria for personal independence payment have not yet been finalised but will focus on an individual's ability to carry out key everyday activities, considering the support they need from aids and appliances and other people to do so. The greatest priority in the assessment will go to those people who are least able to carry out the activities and need the most support. We believe that such an approach allows us to reflect and differentiate between the barriers and extra costs faced by disabled people.

No assumption has been made that blind people will automatically face reduced costs or barriers after they have lived with sight loss for a period of time. However, we are aware that many individuals, with a range of different impairments, do adapt to their situations and develop coping strategies that enable them to manage daily activities either unaided or with less support, reducing the barriers and costs they face. The approach taken under personal independence payment will be to assess the needs of the individual not their condition.

Support dogs were specifically included in the second draft of the assessment criteria as we recognise that individuals who have support dogs face particular barriers and costs.

The work to develop the assessment criteria is still ongoing. On 30 April we completed a 15-week formal consultation. We received around 1,000 responses to this, including a joint response from the visual impairment sector. We are considering all of these comments very carefully as we evaluate what further improvements need to be made to the assessment. If we need to make more changes to ensure it fairly reflects the needs of individuals, we will do so.

We intend to publish a response to the consultation alongside a revised draft of the assessment criteria later in the year, once our considerations are complete.

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Commons Hansard
3 Sep 2012

Green Belt

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what records the Planning Inspectorate keeps of decisions that they have made in allowing planning applications made for developments on green belt land. [116659]

Robert Neill, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Fire and Resilience, Thames Gateway and Olympics, Local Government and Planning)[holding answer 16 July 2012]:The Planning Inspectorate keeps records of decisions made by Inspectors on planning appeals where the green belt was a specific issue. Electronic copies of decisions made since 2005 are available through the inspectorate's online system. Appeal files are retained for a year after decision and are destroyed thereafter.

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Commons Hansard
18 Jul 2012

Taxation: Offshore Industry

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the cost to the Exchequer of providing decommissioning relief deeds to the oil industry. [116651]

Miss Chloe Smith, Economic Secretary : At Budget 2012 the Government announced that it will introduce legislation in 2013 giving it statutory authority to sign contracts with companies operating in the UK and UK Continental Shelf, to provide assurance on the relief they will receive when decommissioning assets.

The Government committed to consult further on the form and detail of such contracts, and on 9 July published a consultation document on its proposal for Decommissioning Relief Deeds:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/d/consult_decommissioning_relief_deeds_090712.pdf

This measure is expected to lead to additional investment and production, increasing Exchequer revenues. The Exchequer effects of providing greater certainty on decommissioning relief are set out at line 9 of Table 2.1 of the Red Book:

http://cdn.hm-treasury.gov.uk/budget2012_chapter2.pdf

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Commons Hansard
16 Jul 2012

East Coast Railway Line, Engineering

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will request that Network Rail rearranges planned engineering work on East Coast line on 15 and 16 September in order to avoid disruption to the Great North Run event. [116637]

Theresa Villiers (Minister of State (Rail and Aviation): The scope and timing of engineering works are operational matters for Network Rail under the industry's national possessions planning regime which is overseen by the Office of Rail Regulation, not Ministers.

Network Rail advises that the major works programme between Newcastle and Edinburgh has been planned with the relevant train operators since October 2010, before the finalisation of the date for the Great North Run 2012.

As part of our general efforts to improve efficiency on the railways, we are encouraging Network Rail to work closely with train operators and other relevant stakeholders on planning possessions and completing them on time.

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Commons Hansard
13 Jul 2012

Motorways: Speed Limits

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent progress she has made on her proposals to raise the motorway speed limit to 80 mph.

Michael Penning, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Roads and Motoring: The Department is currently working on an impact assessment of 80 mph speed limit on sections of the motorway network with variable speed limits and considering the criteria for where and under what conditions the 80 mph speed limit might be applied. It is aiming to consult on this later in the year alongside the broader work on a roads strategy.

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Commons Hansard
9 Jul 2012

Colombia

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise with the Colombian Government threats that have been made against the life of Carlos Lozano from Colombians for Peace. [115162]

Mr Jeremy Browne, Minister of State (South East Asia/Far East, Caribbean, Central/South America, Australasia and Pacific): Any threat against Dr Lozano's life is unacceptable. Our embassy in Bogota met with Dr Lozano recently, and continues to monitor his case closely. During Dr Lozano's recent trip to the UK, he met with senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials to discuss the situation in Colombia. The Colombian Government has assured us that providing protection for human rights defenders is an absolute priority for them. Officials at our embassy in Bogota will raise the case of Dr Lozano with the Colombian Government.

The British Government continues to raise the protection of human rights defenders regularly with the Colombian Government. I discussed human rights with President Santos, Foreign Minister Holguín and Vice President Garzón during my visit to Colombia in March 2012.

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Commons Hansard
4 Jul 2012

Colombia

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise attacks on trade unionists in Colombia with the Colombian Government. [114823]

David Lidington, (Minister of State (Europe and NATO): The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the hon. Member for Taunton Deane (Mr Browne), discussed human rights with President Santos, Foreign Minister Holguin and Vice President Garzon during his visit to Colombia in March 2012.

Our embassy in Bogota continue to raise our concerns about the violence and intimidation suffered by human rights defenders, including trade unionists, with the Colombian Government. Our embassy also funded a study by UN Development Programme last year into violence against trade unionists and is following up its recommendations with the Ministry of Labour.

Human rights continue to be an integral part of our dialogue and relationship with Colombia. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's 2011 Human Rights and Democracy Report outlined the important steps that the Santos Administration has taken to improve the human rights situation in Colombia, but also that more remains to be done. We urge the Colombian Government to provide greater protection for human rights defenders and their families, to reduce the length of time taken to investigate murders and forced disappearances, and to work with unions and employee organisations to strengthen labour relations in Colombia.

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Commons Hansard
2 Jul 2012

Green Belt

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 11 June 2012, Official Report, column 8W, on planning permission: green belt (1) if he will provide examples of the considerations which may outweigh harm to the green belt and allow planning approval of new residential development on such land; [114574]

(2) how many new residential applications on protected green belt have been approved under the provisions of (a) Planning Policy Statement 7: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas, paragraph 11 and Planning Policy Guidance 2: Green Belts, section 3 and (b) National Planning Policy Framework paragraphs 87 to 91 and 55; and what the circumstances and considerations were that outweighed the harm done to the green belt caused by the new developments which resulted in planning approval being given in each case. [114575]

Greg Clark, Minister of State (Cities): Planning policy on the green belt is outlined in Section 9 of the National Planning Policy Framework.

Each planning application should be determined on its own facts and merits by a local planning authority in light of its local plan, the framework and other material considerations.

The information requested on individual decisions is not centrally held.

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Commons Hansard
2 Jul 2012

Financial transactions tax

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Was the financial transactions tax spoken about at the weekend, whether formally or informally? Does the Prime Minister not realise that the people of this country would welcome that as a way of showing that bankers are being made accountable for their appalling behaviour?

The Prime Minister: The financial transactions tax was mentioned, because the growth compact says clearly that a number of eurozone members will go ahead with it. I do not support it and Britain will not take part, because unless there is agreement all over the world, the transactions will go to jurisdictions that do not have the tax. That would cut our jobs, our investment and our GDP. The people who would pay for such a tax would be not the bankers, but the pensioners, and I do not think that that is sensible.

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Commons Hansard
26 Jun 2012

Mesothelioma (legal aid reform)

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this timely debate. Does he agree that one of the big issues is how long we must wait before we get information about how the review will start? Since we had the debate in the main Chamber, some 200 people have died of mesothelioma.

Bill Esterson: My hon. Friend has a long and distinguished record of fighting for those suffering from many industrial diseases, especially mesothelioma. He has made the point well: 200 people have died since the last time the issue was debated. That demonstrates the urgent need for the Minister to indicate exactly when the review will be held and how quickly it will conclude.

+++

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Crispin Blunt): I apologise for the absence of the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr Djanogly), to whom this debate would normally fall, but he is serving on the Committee that is considering the Defamation Bill.

...

Primary legislation might be required, but I anticipate that my noble friend Lord Freud, who is working on the matter, will make a statement before the summer recess. If primary legislation is required, however, the hon. Member for Sefton Central and other hon. Members will understand that that will take a considerable period of time.

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Commons Hansard
19 Jun 2012

Social Security Benefits: Compensation

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the NHS has recovered under the (a) Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999 and (b) Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 in England in (i) 2009, (ii) 2010 and (iii) 2011; and what the administrative cost was of recovering such charges. [111887]

Mr Simon Burns, Minister of State (Health): The information requested is provided in the following table.

NHS Injury Cost Recovery Scheme (England)
£
 2009-102010-112011-12
Motor130,673,295131,352,977141,750,583
Clinical Negligence607,1341,341,2363,257,709
Employer13,661,25117,710,40222,373,021
Other340,993581,020746,709
Public12,633,41118,012,61423,613,311
Liability Not Yet Known62,13751,93341,701
Total157,978,221169,050,181191,783,034
Note:The data reflects the total value of NHS Recoveries (including Ambulance Charges) received by the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) between 1 April 2011-31 March 2012 relating to the NHS Injury Costs Recovery Scheme for trusts in England. The data has been broken down by liability type.

The Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 expanded the earlier recovery scheme in respect of road traffic accidents to cover all personal injury claims.

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Commons Hansard
19 Jun 2012

Homeopathy

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that access to homeopathic medicines is not restricted. [111886]

Anne Milton, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Public Health): There are no planned changes to either the current regulatory status or the long-standing regulations governing the access to, or the sale and supply of, homeopathic products. Provision for homeopathic products is set out in Directive 2001/83/EC as amended by 2004/27/EC Directive 2001/83/EC. Activities currently permitted will continue to be permitted.

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Commons Hansard
18 Jun 2012

Personal Independence Payment

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how people in receipt of disability living allowance who reach retirement age shortly after the introduction of the personal independence payment will be treated if there is insufficient time between the introduction of the personal independence payment and the point at which they retire to complete the application and assessment processes. [110905]

Maria Miller, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Disabled People): All existing claimants to disability living allowance (DLA), who are aged between 16 and 64 when personal independence payment (PIP) is introduced on 8 April 2013, will be invited to claim PIP and will be assessed for the new benefit if they choose to claim it.

As set out in our ongoing consultation, 'DLA reform and Personal Independence Payment - completing the detailed design', we will begin to reassess existing DLA claimants from October 2013. Therefore anyone reassessed for entitlement to PIP who is over the age of 65 at the time they are assessed will have their eligibility determined according to their age on 8 April 2013. These arrangements will ensure that individuals are able to access all components of PIP without any age restriction applying, even if their needs have increased since reaching age 65. This ensures everyone is treated equally irrespective of their age at the time of their reassessment.

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Commons Hansard
18 Jun 2012

Consumer Prices Index

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether the consumer prices index with housing costs included, which is being developed by the Office for National Statistics, might be used in future for the uprating of (a) state benefits and pensions and (b) public sector pensions. [111959]

Steve Webb, Minister of State (Pensions): The Office for National Statistics is currently consulting on the methodology for reflecting owner occupiers' housing costs in a new additional measure of consumer price inflation. We will need to consider the range of issues, including the outcomes of this consultation, before coming to any conclusion about the most appropriate measure for the purposes of uprating state benefits and pensions and public sector pensions in the future.

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Commons Hansard
13 Jun 2012

Olympic transport

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what consideration he has given to using UK-built vehicles for official use during the London 2012 Olympics. [111114]

Hugh Robertson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Sport and the Olympics): The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has given no such consideration. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is the private company responsible for staging the London 2012 games. LOCOG appointed BMW as the automotive partner for the games back in 2009, and is working on the details of the 4,000 cars required for its fleet, including low-emission, diesel, hybrid and electric cars. LOCOG also procured c1,600 buses and coaches in early 2010, which will be provided by a range of companies across the UK.

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Commons Hansard
12 Jun 2012

Written Questions: Government Responses

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he plans to answer question 106889 tabled by the hon. Member for Blaydon on 10 May 2012 for answer on 14 May 2012. [111143]

Greg Clark, Minister of State (Cities): Parliamentary question 106889 was answered on 11 June 2012, Official Report, column 7-8W.

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Commons Hansard
11 Jun 2012

Green Belt

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer of 30 April 2012, Official Report, columns 1111-2W, on planning permission: green belt, what the very special circumstances are in which development may be permitted on green belt land under the National Planning Policy Framework; and how this varies from the previous planning rules in relation to green belt development. [106889]

Greg Clark, Minister of State (Cities): The National Planning Policy Framework maintains robust protections for green belt land.

Paragraphs 87-88 of the framework are clear that "inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances" and that "'very special circumstances' will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other considerations." This replicates the policy set out in the previous Planning Policy Guidance 2: Green Belts. Paragraphs 89-91 set out in more detail the forms of development that should be regarded as inappropriate and the limited exceptions to this.

As with all national planning policies, these policies will be applied by decision-takers taking account of all the circumstances of a specific case.

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Commons Hansard
24 May 2012

Ethiopia

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has set any benchmarks to assess the Ethiopian Government's respect for human rights (a) in the Gambella region and (b) under its villagisation programme. [108397]

Mr Bellingham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Africa and the United Nations): The UK takes allegations of human rights abuses extremely seriously. The UK has led multi-agency missions, independent from the Ethiopian government, to Gambella and the Somalia region, two of the four regions affected by the villagisation programme. The missions found no evidence of systematic or widespread human rights abuses. We have raised concerns with the Government of Ethiopia that resettlement has been poorly planned, and that destination sites often do not have facilities such as schools and health centres in place before people move. While we have not set any formal benchmarks, the UK will continue to monitor closely the situation in Gambella and other regions affected by the villagisation programme and will use a common methodology for these assessments. We will also maintain our ongoing dialogue with the Ethiopian Government over the implementation of the commune programme.

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Commons Hansard
22 May 2012

Ethiopia

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he has taken to ensure that UK aid provided to Ethiopia under the Protection of Basic Services Programme accords with his Department's conditionality policy in respect of the issue of villagisation. [108396]

Mr Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development: The UK Government assesses partner Governments against four Partnership commitments when considering any form of budget support. These include: poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals; respect for human rights and other international obligations; improving public financial management, good governance, transparency and fighting corruption; and strengthening domestic accountability.

The Protection of Basic Services Programme is a multi-donor programme which has very robust monitoring and audit arrangements and we are confident that these systems will prevent any misuse of UK aid funds. Through the programme Ethiopians are now better educated and healthier than five years ago.

The UK takes allegations of human rights abuses extremely seriously. The UK became aware of human rights allegations associated with the villagisation (or commune) programme in Gambella in late 2010 and immediately took steps to investigate them. In February 2011 the UK led a multi-agency mission, independent from the Ethiopian Government, to Gambella. The Mission found no evidence of systematic or widespread human rights abuses, though isolated human rights abuses may have been committed. The UK Government has not provided resources to directly support the commune programme.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development when he plans to publish the findings of the UK-led independent multi-agency mission to Gambella, Ethiopia in February 2011. [108398]

Mr Andrew Mitchell: The Donor Assistance Group report on villagisation in Gambella, Ethiopia, will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

As this report is more than one year old, it does not reflect the latest situation in Gambella. The UK and other donors continue to monitor the villagisation process and to raise our concerns at the highest levels of the Ethiopian Government.

The report should not be seen in isolation, but considered as one element in and a contribution to the overall debate and assessment on villagisation which includes further research and political dialogue in various forums on the subject. In particular the EU is engaged in a dialogue with Government on the issue.: The UK Government assesses partner Governments against four Partnership commitments when considering any form of budget support. These include: poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals; respect for human rights and other international obligations; improving public financial management, good governance, transparency and fighting corruption; and strengthening domestic accountability.

The Protection of Basic Services Programme is a multi-donor programme which has very robust monitoring and audit arrangements and we are confident that these systems will prevent any misuse of UK aid funds. Through the programme Ethiopians are now better educated and healthier than five years ago.

The UK takes allegations of human rights abuses extremely seriously. The UK became aware of human rights allegations associated with the villagisation (or commune) programme in Gambella in late 2010 and immediately took steps to investigate them. In February 2011 the UK led a multi-agency mission, independent from the Ethiopian Government, to Gambella. The Mission found no evidence of systematic or widespread human rights abuses, though isolated human rights abuses may have been committed. The UK Government has not provided resources to directly support the commune programme.

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Commons Hansard
21 May 2012

Ethiopia

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has received any reports of human rights violations connected with the villagisation programme in Gambella, Ethiopia. [108399]

Mr Bellingham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Africa and the United Nations): We became aware of allegations associated with the villagisation (or commune) programme in Gambella in late 2010 and immediately took steps to investigate them. In February last year the UK led a multi-agency mission, independent from the Ethiopian Government, to Gambella. The mission found no evidence of systematic or widespread human rights abuses, though isolated human rights abuses may have been committed. We have provided the Ethiopian Government with guidelines on resettlement best practice and these have been placed in the House of Commons Library. We have repeatedly raised our concerns over how the programme is being implemented with the Ethiopian Government.

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Commons Hansard
21 May 2012

Personal Injury: Compensation

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what percentage of the total number of personal injury claims made in the last full year for which figures are available were for damages of £5,000 or less; and how many claims there were for £5,000 or less in that period; [107645]

(2) how many of the personal injury claims with a damages value of £5,000 or less in the last year for which figures are available arose from a work-related injury. [107756]

Mr Jonathan Djanogly, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Legal Aid and legal services, HM Courts Service, tribunals and administrative justice, Office of the Public Guardian, Offices of Court Funds, official solicitor and public trustee, Offices of Court Funds, family justice, coroner reform and burial policy, Criminal Cases Review Commission, Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, Parole Board): The Ministry of Justice does not hold figures centrally which specifically relate to claims for personal injury or work-related injuries, or the amounts of damages in these. Such cases are logged onto the administrative computer systems used in the county courts of England and Wales. However the information held in these systems does not enable them to be separately identified from other types of claims for unspecified amounts of money or for the amount of damages claimed to be identified.

Exact identification of personal injury cases and the amount of damages claimed in these would require the inspection of individual case files at disproportionate cost.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the report by Professor Paul Fenn on extension of the road traffic accident portal will be published before the completion of the Government's information gathering exercise on possible extension of the current portal arrangements and before any decision is taken based upon that exercise. [107949]

Mr Djanogly: Professor Fenn's report will not be published before the conclusion of the Government's evidence gathering exercise on 25 May 2012. However, it is expected to be published by summer 2012 and, in any event, before any announcement is made on the final form of the extended Road Traffic Accident Personal Injury scheme and its associated costs.

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Commons Hansard
17 May 2012

Mesothelioma: Compensation

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what the format will be of the review of the effect that sectors 43 and 45 of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 would have on mesothelioma cases; [107646]

(2) what factors will be taken into account in the review of the likely effect of sections 43 and 45 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 on mesothelioma cases; [108200]

(3) when he expects to (a) commence and (b) publish the report on the review of the effect of sections 43 and 45 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 on mesothelioma cases. [108201]

Mr Jonathan Djanogly, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Legal Aid and legal services, HM Courts Service, tribunals and administrative justice, Office of the Public Guardian, Offices of Court Funds, official solicitor and public trustee, Offices of Court Funds, family justice, coroner reform and burial policy, Criminal Cases Review Commission, Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, Parole Board): The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 received Royal Assent on 1 May 2012. The Government has already announced that the provisions in part 2 relating to civil litigation funding and costs will come into force in April 2013. However, the provisions in relation to sections 44 and 46 (recoverable success fees and insurance premiums) will not come into effect in relation to mesothelioma claims until a review has been undertaken and published in accordance with section 48. The review is not due to begin for some time, and the Government will consider in due course how best to conduct it.

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In the House: Current session

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Reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO