Speeches and parliamentary questions in the House of Commons in the 2013-14 SessionWhile 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.
07/05/14 Asylum: North East
06/05/14 G4S in Israel
30/04/14 Asylum: North East
30/04/14 UK Coal: Property
19/03/14 Electoral Register: Gateshead
06/03/14 Horses: Exports
03/03/14 Mental Health Services
03/03/14 Horses: Exports
26/02/14 Public Transport: Visual Impairment
23/01/14 Shrewsbury 24 (Release of Papers) [complete debate]
22/01/14 Work Capability Assessment
21/01/14 USA: Miami 5
20/01/14 Employment and Support Allowance
16/01/14 Fire Services: Floods
15/01/14 National Minimum Wage
14/01/14 Offender Rehabilitation Bill
13/01/14 Musculoskeletal Disorders: North East
07/01/14 Mesothelioma Bill
06/01/14 Natural England
06/01/14 Asylum: Deportation
11/12/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
10/12/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
09/12/13 General Practitioners
09/12/13 Nelson Mandela
02/12/13 Mesothelioma Bill
02/12/13 Energy Bills
27/11/13 Winter Fuel Payments
25/11/13 Defence: Pensions
22/11/13 Defence: Procurement
20/11/13 Defence Equipment and Support
18/11/13 Prisons: South Yorkshire
18/11/13 Prisons: Crimes of Violence
18/11/13 Prison Accommodation
18/11/13 Defence Equipment and Support
06/11/13 Energy Price Freeze
05/11/13 Prison Service
05/11/13 Railways: Finance
04/11/13 Iraq: Links
30/10/13 Utilities' privatisation
24/10/13 NHS: Innovation
14/10/13 Child Trust Fund
09/10/13 Ballymurphy Massacre
09/10/13 Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill
12/09/13 Prison sales
12/09/13 Electronic Tagging
11/09/13 Prison rating
11/09/13 Electronic Tagging
11/09/13 Lobbying Bill
10/09/13 Public Records
10/09/13 Fire Services: Pensions
10/09/13 Lobbying Bill
09/09/13 Prince George
06/09/13 Legal Aid Scheme
03/09/13 Lobbying Bill
02/09/13 Security passes
29/08/13 Temporary Employment
29/08/13 Syria and the use of chemical weapons
17/07/13 Guided Weapons
17/07/13 Paid Directorships and Consultancies (MPs)
16/07/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles: Guided Weapons
16/07/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
10/07/13 Bill of Rights
09/07/13 Zero-hours contracts
03/07/13 Prison Service: North East
25/06/13 Royal Mail
20/06/13 Electronic Tagging
13/06/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
13/06/13 Afghanistan: Drone strikes
13/06/13 Legal Aid Scheme
13/06/13 HMRC: Nurseries
12/06/13 Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights
12/06/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
11/06/13 Muscular Dystrophy: West Midlands
11/06/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
10/06/13 Pakistan and Afghanistan
10/06/13 Unmanned Air Vehicles
10/06/13 Research and Development
10/06/13 Defence: Research
10/06/13 Pakistan: Military Bases
05/06/13 Fuel Fraud
04/06/13 Bus Services: Concessions
03/06/13 Prescriptions: Fees and Charges
03/06/13 Religious Hatred
03/06/13 Television: Licensing
21/05/13 Winter Fuel Payments
21/05/13 Ex-service Personnel
14/05/13 Cost of Living
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will take steps to ensure the viability of the financial position of the North East Refugee Service; and for what reasons her Department has not yet paid exit costs to that organisation. 
James Brokenshire, Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration): Negotiations on the exit claim are under way between the Home Office and the Refugee Council and we hope to conclude these as soon as possible. The North of England Refugee Service was a subcontractor of the Refugee Council, and the Home Office is therefore unable to negotiate directly with the North of England Refugee Service.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Islington of 2 September 2013, Official Report, columns 294-95W, on Israel, what recent steps he has taken to raise allegations of corporate complicity in human rights abuses and international law violations by G4S in Israeli prisons with G4S. 
Hugh Robertson, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): International law does not impose direct obligations on corporations. However, the British Government encourages British companies to show respect for human rights in their operations in the UK and internationally. This is why in September 2013, we launched the UK action plan based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Through the Overseas Business Risk Service, we provide on-line advice to raise awareness of the key security and political risks which British businesses may face when operating abroad, including in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will take steps to ensure that the application for exit costs submitted to her Department by the North East Refugee Service in March 2014 is paid immediately. 
James Brokenshire, Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration): The North of England Refugee Service submitted an exit cost claim as a constituent part of a wider claim submitted by the Refugee Council to the Home Office. Negotiations on the claim are under way between the Home Office and the Refugee Council.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will place in the Library a list of the land and property owned by UK Coal and its subsidiaries that was previously owned by the National Coal Board and British Coal. 
Michael Fallon, Minister of State (Department of Energy and Climate Change): No. A portfolio of land and property was transferred to a predecessor company of UK Coal Production Ltd ("UK Coal") in 1994. It would be for UK Coal itself to clarify what from that portfolio remains in its ownership.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the hon. Member for South West Devon, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, what the electoral registration figures were in each ward in the recent confirmation dry run conducted in (a) Gateshead Council and (b) Blaydon constituency. 
Mr Streeter: The Electoral Commission informs me that the confirmation dry run involved matching all entries on the electoral registers against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Customer Information System database. Entries would be marked as green if they matched with DWP, amber if they were a partial match or red if there was no match.
The ward results for Gateshead council were as follows:Percentage
|Ward||Green matches||Amber matches||Red matches|
|Chopwell and Rowlands Gill||85.1||1.8||13.1|
|Crawcrook and Greenside||84.6||1.9||13.5|
|Dunston and Teams||80.5||1.4||18.1|
|Dunston Hill and Whickham East||87.6||1.4||11.0|
|Lobley Hill and Bensham||82.1||1.7||16.2|
|Pelaw and Heworth||85.6||1.2||13.2|
|Ryton, Crookhill and Stella||85.3||1.6||13.1|
|Wardley and Leam Lane||88.0||1.0||11.0|
|Whickham South and Sunniside||88.2||1.4||10.4|
|Windy Nook and Whitehills||88.1||1.0||10.9|
|Winlaton and High Spen||87.1||1.7||11.2|
The ward results for the Blaydon constituency were as follows:
|Ward||Green matches||Amber matches||Red matches|
|Chopwell and Rowlands Gill||84.6||1.9||13.5|
|Crawcrook and Greenside||87.6||1.4||11.0|
|Dunston Hill and Whickham East||84.8||2.0||13.1|
|Ryton, Crookhill and Stella||86.4||1.2||12.4|
|Whickham South and Sunniside||87.1||1.7||11.2|
|Winlaton and High Spen||84.0||1.2||14.8|
Results for all wards are available on the Commission's website here:
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Attorney-General whether any successful prosecutions have been made in the last five years against those accused of exporting horses and ponies for slaughter; and if he will make a statement. 
Oliver Heald, The Solicitor-General: There have not been any prosecutions for the export of horses or ponies for slaughter in the last five years.
European and national legislation permits the export of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption. National legislation currently prohibits the export of ponies for slaughter for human consumption.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to improve mental health provision in England. 
Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): Improving mental health and well-being is a priority for this Government. Our overarching goal is to ensure mental health has equal priority with physical health, and that everyone who needs it has timely access to the best available mental health provision. We are investing over £400 million to give thousands of people, in all areas of the country, access to approved psychological therapies. We are also investing £54 million over four years (2011-15) in the Children and Young People's Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme - giving children and young people improved and timely access to the best mental health care. The Department has a total budget of £22 million to support veterans' physical and mental health from 2010 to 2015. This includes investing £1.8 million each year until 2015 in support and care for veterans with mental health problems (£7.2 million in total).
By improved co-ordination between emergency and mental health services, we are working to deliver a fast, effective and safe response to people experiencing mental health crisis through delivery of the action plan set out in our new Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat and via our street triage schemes.
Our mental health action plan, Closing the Gap, shows how changes in local service planning and delivery will make a difference, in the next couple of years, to the lives of people with mental health problems: setting out 25 priority areas where people can expect to experience the fastest changes.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department takes to prevent horses and ponies being exported for slaughter. 
George Eustice, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs): European and domestic legislation permits the export of horses to be slaughtered for human consumption. National legislation currently prohibits the export of ponies for slaughter from GB.
Any consignment of horses or ponies being exported from GB requires export health certification, issued by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA). AHVLA has no record of issuing any export health certificates for consignments of horses where the intended purpose has been declared to be for slaughter.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he plans to take to make travel easier for those with sight loss; and if he will make a statement. 
Stephen Hammond, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) (Roads and Motoring): The Department for Transport is committed to removing the barriers to travel for all passengers, including those with visual impairments and reduced mobility. We are working with the transport industry to deliver a range of initiatives to provide a more accessible and fair transport system, including setting deadlines for accessible buses and trains, and improving the numbers of transport staff who have received disability awareness training.
Our commitments have been published in the Department's Accessibility Action Plan, which is available on the Department's website:
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what account is taken of potential health and safety issues when declaring known drug or alcohol addicts as being fit for work; and what liability his Department has for subsequent problems. 
Mike Penning, Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions): The work capability assessment considers the functional impact of a claimant's condition, rather than the condition itself. The question of whether a claimant has limited capability for work is assessed against descriptors set out in legislation.
There may be some exceptional cases where a claimant does not meet the functional descriptors set out in legislation, but there would be a substantial risk to their (or someone else's) mental or physical health if they were not found to have limited capability for work. In such cases, regulation 29(2)(b) of the Employment and Support Allowance Regulations 2008 provides that a claimant is to be treated as having limited capability for work if there is such a risk and the risk could not be reduced by a significant amount by reasonable adjustments in the claimant's workplace.
In general, where there is a statutory regime which provides for appeal rights, acts of public administration do not give rise to any duty of care. Consequently, neither Atos health care professionals nor departmental decision makers could be held liable for any adverse consequence suffered by a claimant (or third party) following a decision that the claimant does not have limited capability for work. The decision-making process is an act of public administration, and there is an appeal right against the decision in question.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to his US counterpart on the fairness of the trial of the Miami Five; and if he will make a statement. 
Hugh Robertson, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): The British Government will not make representations to the US Government on the trial of the Miami Five. The British embassy in Washington continues to monitor the issue.
The Miami Five were tried and convicted in December 2001 in a seven month open trial of having committed crimes in the US including using false identification, espionage and conspiracy to commit murder.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will publish the guidance given by his Department to those dealing with claims for employment and support allowance where the claimant is known to be addicted to alcohol or drugs. 
Mike Penning, Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions): Guidance for Atos health care professionals and the relevant extract of guidance for DWP decision makers and advisers who deal with claims for employment and support allowance where the claimant is known to be addicted to alcohol or drugs will be published in the House of Commons Library.
It should be noted that guidance is constantly updated and therefore subject to change.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will bring forward legislative proposals to impose a statutory duty on Fire and Rescue Services in England to respond to flooding incidents. 
Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government): I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) today, PQ 182786.
Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will bring forward legislative proposals to impose a statutory duty on the fire and rescue service to respond to flooding incidents. 
Brandon Lewis: The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 detail the roles and powers of fire and rescue authorities in respect of both emergency response and rescue in a wide range of situations, including from flooding. Fire and rescue authorities are expected to produce Integrated Risk Management Plans which identify the full range of risks that an authority's service is expected to respond to and is subject to consultation. This approach is enshrined in The National Fire Framework which was given statutory effect in August 2012. When it comes to rescuing people from floods there are a number of agencies involved, particularly in coastal areas, where, as well as fire and rescue authorities, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute and Search and Rescue helicopters can become involved. In any area, individuals and agencies with boats may also volunteer to help. Usually the fire and rescue authorities take the lead in co-ordinating the flood rescue co-ordination as a leading category 1 responder under the Civil Contingencies Act.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to create an additional neuromuscular care advisor post for the North East region; and if he will make a statement. 
Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): NHS England is responsible for commissioning specialised services, including neuromuscular services.
NHS England published 'Neurosciences: Specialised Neurology (Adult)' in July 2013. This service specification describes the service commissioned by NHS England for patients with a neuromuscular disorder. Care is provided via a managed clinical pathway that supports multi-disciplinary and cross-organisational working. The multi-disciplinary team includes neuromuscular care co-ordinators.
The service specification has been implemented from 1 October 2013. NHS England is working with providers to ensure they comply with the service description and standards.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the international community tackles the persecution of Christians. 
Mr Lidington, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) : My Department is working actively at both ministerial and official level to keep this issue at the top of the international community's agenda, and to take action in individual countries. We are working to ensure that states take practical measures on the ground to implement UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18, which focuses the international community on combating religious intolerance, protecting the human rights of minorities and promoting pluralism in society. During the UN General Assembly Ministerial Week at the end of September The Senior Minister of State, my noble Friend the right hon. Baroness Warsi convened a second meeting of international leaders to discuss what more politicians in particular can do to promote freedom of religion or belief and fight religious intolerance within our societies.
We also regularly use international processes such as the UN Universal Periodic Review, EU Dialogues with third countries and Ministerial Council Decisions at the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE). As an example, we raised freedom of religion or belief with the Chinese and Saudi Arabian Governments during their Universal Periodic Reviews at the October session of the Human Rights Council. In September at the EU-Vietnam Human Rights Council Dialogue we highlighted, with our EU colleagues, concerns about the reported harassment of religious groups, the delays in registering churches and the refusal of the authorities to allow churches to train pastors.
Furthermore we speak out bilaterally, as the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), did following the deplorable burning of Churches and attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt, and meet with local faith leaders to better understand their concerns. For instance the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Faversham and Mid Kent (Hugh Robertson), discussed the situation faced by Coptic Christians and implications of the new constitution in his meeting with Bishop Yulios during his recent official visit to Cairo in December. We also lobby against discriminatory legislation and practices and support projects which address this and help to encourage co-operation and understanding between different faith groups. For example we are currently funding a series of grass roots meetings in Iraq, led by Canon Andrew White, bringing together people from different faiths to combat sectarian violence.
On 15 November Baroness Warsi gave a speech in Washington stressing the need for an international response to the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities. The Minister announced plans to host an international conference in the first half of 2014 on promoting the benefits of religious pluralism to encourage countries to protect this fundamental, yet threatened human right.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the criteria used in the shortlisting and selection of candidates for the chairmanship of Natural England were; and if he will make a statement. 
Dan Rogerson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs): The essential criteria used in the shortlisting and selection of candidates for the Chairman of Natural England were:
1. An understanding of how the rural environment can contribute to a range of Government priorities, particularly the successful growth of the rural economy;
2. Significant commercial acumen and working with organisations undergoing substantial change, including a proven track record at a senior level in the private or public sector in a comparable organisation;
3. A strong vision and capacity to lead and represent Natural England, giving a clear sense of overall strategic direction and purpose;
4. Building a strong team culture and creating consensus around practical solutions both within the Board and in the way the wider organisation does business;
5. Experience of delivering a top quality service to customers and of building strong networks and collaborating with key partners; and
6. An understanding of the complementary roles of chairman and chief executive and of working effectively in this relationship to the benefit of the strategic goals of the organisation.
The recruitment process for the Chairman of Natural England has been carried out in accordance with the 'Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies' published by the Commissioner for Public Bodies.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if she will reconsider the decision to deport Isa Muaza to Nigeria; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr Harper, Minister of State (Home Office) (Immigration): Isa Muazu, a failed asylum seeker, has now been successfully returned to Nigeria.
We consider every claim for asylum on its individual merits and he was not found to have a genuine need of protection. This was a decision that was supported by the courts. As he had no right to be in the UK, the Home Office began the complex process of removing him. Halting the removal of Mr Muazu because of his protest would have undermined our asylum and immigration system-and provided a dangerous incentive for others to follow suit.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): If he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 18 December.
The Prime Minister (Mr David Cameron): I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in sending our warmest wishes for Christmas to our armed forces in Afghanistan. Having just returned from there, I saw at first hand once again their incredible commitment and dedication. We should remember the families who will be missing them, especially at this time of year, and indeed we should remember all our service personnel around the world. Our country owes them a huge amount for the work they do and the sacrifices they make on our behalf.
This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, and in addition to my duties in the House I shall have further such meetings later today.
Mr Anderson: I join the Prime Minister in sending our warmest wishes to our armed forces, and also to all the public sector workers taking care of us over the Christmas period.
Unless the Mesothelioma Bill is changed, 6,000 victims who were criminally and negligently exposed to asbestos at work will not receive any compensation from insurance companies. Will the Prime Minister intervene at the eleventh hour to prevent that happening? If he does not, it will be fair to assume that he would rather stand up for the insurance companies than for innocent people who were exposed to asbestos at work.
The Prime Minister: I very much respect the hon. Gentleman's record of campaigning on this issue, but I will say this: the Mesothelioma Bill is a huge step forward. Frankly, for decades there has been no provision for these people, through no fault of their own, who will die from this terrible disease. Once the scheme that we are putting in place is up and running, roughly 300 people a year will receive approximately £115,000 each. I think that is an important step forward. I will obviously look at what he has to say, but I think that we should be proud of the fact that after a long delay we are tackling this issue.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether operational command of unmanned aerial vehicles allocated for use by NATO can revert to US command to enable it to engage in operations outside the International Security Assistance Force mission. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): The UK's unmanned aerial vehicle platforms are national assets and only operate in support of the NATO led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 16 July 2013, Official Report, column 653W, on unmanned air vehicles, what the outcome of the MOD-MBDA trials planned for autumn 2013 was. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): The Ministry of Defence, with MBDA support is still conducting the trials into the feasibility of integrating Brimstone onto Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems.
Therefore the results are not yet available.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will support the campaign to direct more resources to frontline services via GPs; 
(2) if he will make it his policy to increase resources for general practice up to 11 per cent of total funding by 2017; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr Poulter, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): Commissioning primary medical care is the responsibility of NHS England and it will be for NHS England to determine the level of funding required to deliver those services in order to meet the needs of patients.
NHS England are developing a strategic framework for commissioning of primary care services, strengthening general practice and enabling it to play an even more pivotal role at the heart of more integrated systems of out-of-hospital care for patients and local communities.
The Government recognises the central role that primary care has to play in helping keep people healthy, supporting proactive management of long-term health needs and reducing the need for hospital admissions. In 2014, the Government will set out plans for improving care for vulnerable older people, including the central role that general practitioners have to play in helping people to stay healthy and live independently.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 4 November 2013, Official Report, column 6W, on Iraq, what reports his Department received on links between Hamid Jafar, Crescent Petroleum International and the former Iraqi government led by Saddam Hussein between 1992 and 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
Hugh Robertson, Minister of State: The information requested is not held centrally and is therefore available only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Is it not true that we were sold the privatisation of utilities on the supposed knowledge that there was a transfer of risk from the public sector to the private sector? What we have seen today is a transfer of risk from the billed utility customer to the taxpayer, so the same people are paying the same money through a different route while the companies get off scot-free and with a £600 million taxpayer bung.
Mr Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change: I do not recognise anything that the hon. Gentleman has just said. If he does not understand the difference between bill payers and tax payers, he needs to ask the fuel poverty lobby groups that are saying that people in his constituency on low incomes will benefit from this change, which moves some of the cost from bills to taxes. He really ought to talk to the fuel poverty lobby groups.
Mr Anderson: What about the companies doing their bit?
Mr Speaker: Order. The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr Anderson) is now squawking like a parrot with indigestion. He must calm himself. He is normally a calm man and he aspires to statesmanship.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the cost of sending letters about eligibility for winter fuel payments was in the last two years; how many such letters were sent in both years; and if he will make a statement. 
Steve Webb, Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions): The information requested is not available.
There is no central record of the costs for sending out correspondence concerning eligibility for winter fuel payments. Eligibility and payment are generally automatic based on customers receiving an entitling benefit.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether the review of Ministry of Defence Police and Defence Fire and Rescue Service pensions will include examination of the MDP Net Pay Deduction; 
(2) which stakeholders were consulted as part of the review of Ministry of Defence Police and Defence Fire and Rescue Service pensions. 
Anna Soubry, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Minister for International Security Strategy, my hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison), on 31 October 2013, Official Report, column 549W, to the hon. Member for West Dunbartonshire (Gemma Doyle). The Department has consulted with the relevant trade unions while preparing this report.
The Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) Net Pay Deduction is not part of the current Ministry of Defence review of MDP and Defence Fire and Rescue Services pensions, but is under review as part of the wider review of MDP terms and conditions due to conclude in spring 2014.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to ensure that any entity acquiring defence procurement contracts pay corporation tax in the UK. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): We would expect any entity acquiring or being awarded defence procurement contracts to pay corporation tax, where applicable, in line with current regulations.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many meetings he has had with representatives of employees working at Defence Equipment and Support to discuss the proposals in the Defence Reform Bill. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): The reform of Defence acquisition has been discussed at meetings between Ministers and trade union representatives of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) staff, most recently at a meeting with the Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), in September 2013. Senior DE&S officials also hold regular meetings with the trade unions at which defence acquisition reform is discussed.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the future operation of (a) HM Prison Hatfield, (b) HM Prison Moorland and (c) HM Prison Lindholme will be; and if he will make a statement. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): We announced in July that Serco had been selected as the leading bidder in the ongoing competition to operate these South Yorkshire prisons. However, as the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling), made clear at that time, we are auditing every MOJ contract held by Serco and G4S following issues that arose in relation to the Department's electronic monitoring contracts. These issues are now subject to a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.
The Government will make a further statement when it is appropriate to do so.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many prison officers have received hospital treatment following an assault at work in each of the last five years. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): : The National Offender Management Service has a zero tolerance policy towards violence in prisons. NOMS is working with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to ensure that prisoners who assault prison staff are charged wherever possible and punished appropriately.
NOMS is also currently reviewing the way in which violent incidents are managed in prisons to identify best practice across the prison estate and is planning to implement new policy and guidance in 2014 to help further reduce the number of assaults.
Centralised recording of the type of treatment given for prison officer injuries following assaults only commenced in 2011 and complete information is only available from the start of 2012 to the end of June 2013.
In 2012, there were 213 hospital attendances following reported assaults while there were 170 such attendances in the first two quarters of 2013.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice on how many occasions police cells have been used to house offenders owing to shortage of available prison places since 4 September 2013; and if he will make a statement. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): Prison numbers fluctuate throughout the year and we have sufficient accommodation for the current and expected population. We will always have enough prison places for those sent to us by the courts.
Police cells, under Operation Safeguard, have not been used since 22 September 2008 and no police cells under Operation Safeguard have been on stand by since the end of October 2008.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his American counterpart on the Defence Reform Bill and the potential move of Defence Equipment and Support to a Government owned, contract operated entity. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): The Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond) meets with Defence Secretary Hagel regularly, most recently at the NATO Defence ministerial meeting in October 2013, where a range of topics were discussed.
In April 2013, I met with Frank Kendall, the US National Armaments Director to discuss the future of Defence Equipment and Support, and Bernard Gray, Chief of Defence Materiel, has also met with Mr Kendall numerous times over the past year as part of a comprehensive engagement plan. In addition, my team has been working closely with the taskforce which Mr Kendall has established specifically to consider the Materiel Strategy with us. We will continue to engage at all levels as the current phase of the programme develops.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the effect on woodland creation of the hiatus created by current discussions on the reform of CAP. 
George Eustice, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs): EU regulations which govern the transition from the current Rural Development programme (RDP) to the next do not allow member states to make any commitments in 2014 to fund planting of woodland for the first time on either agricultural or non-agricultural land. The new CAP regulations will allow this from 2015. We are currently consulting on the use of CAP funds up to 2020.
The Forestry Commission is currently considering applications to fund planting of up to 2,900 hectares of woodland in 2014. The current RDP has seen 12,442 hectares of woodland planted and funded through the English Woodland Grant scheme. Current applications would therefore represent an annual planting rate above that in the current programme.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many staff from each prison establishment in England and Wales were working on detached duty at another prison establishment on the most recent day for which records are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): Information on how many staff in each public sector custodial establishment in England and Wales were working on detached duty at other such establishments on 30 June 2013 is contained in the following table:
|Headcount of staff from each public sector custodial establishment in England and Wales working on detached duty at another public sector custodial establishment in England and Wales, as at 30 June 2013|
|Establishment||Headcount of staff|
|Isle of Wight||3|
|North Sea Camp||1|
|Sheppey Clustered Services||3|
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy that spending on jobs and maintenance should be ring fenced and excluded from the National Rail budgetary reductions announced by the Office of Rail Regulation. 
Stephen Hammond, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) (Roads and Motoring): No. Network Rail's funding requirement is a matter for the independent economic and safety regulator, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR). ORR assumes an efficient level of expenditure for each of Network Rail's regulated activities to deliver the outputs required by the Government and to maintain and improve the safety and reliability of the railway. It is then for Network Rail to decide how it manages its business within the overall framework specified by ORR and to determine the staff it needs to carry out its work effectively. ORR holds Network Rail to account and can take enforcement action if the company fails to deliver its regulated outputs.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on links between Hamid Jafar and Crescent Petroleum International and the former Iraqi Government led by Saddam Hussein; and if he will make a statement. 
Hugh Robertson, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) : We have received no such reports since May 2010.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many (a) elective and (b) emergency admissions took place in each (i) primary care trust and (ii) clinical commissioning group area for patients with (A) primary and (B) secondary diagnosis of a neurological condition, as defined under Diseases of the nervous system in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision, in each of the last five years for which data is available; 
(2) how many emergency re-admissions within 28 days took place for patients in each (a) primary care trust and (b) clinical commissioning group area with a (i) primary and (ii) secondary diagnosis of a neurological condition, as defined under Diseases of the nervous system in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision, in each of the last five years for which data is available. 
Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): A count of finished admission episodes for a primary and secondary diagnosis of a neurological condition, ICD10 codes G00-G99 by primary care trust of treatment for the years 2007-08 to 2011-12 has been placed in the Library. It is not possible to provide this information by clinical commissioning group area.
Information on readmissions within 28 days for patients in each primary care trust and clinical commissioning group area with a primary and secondary diagnosis of a neurological condition is not collected by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): We have recently learned that energy security in this country is being outsourced to the Chinese and the French, that the lights may go out, that pensioners will freeze this year, and that we have no control over the big six. Does the Prime Minister have any regrets about the cack-handed privatisation of the utilities by the former Tory Government and the decimation of the most technically advanced coal industry in the world?
The Prime Minister: What I would say to the hon. Gentleman in terms of energy security is that he backed a Government who in 13 years never built a single nuclear power station. Oh, they talked about it - boy, did they talk about it - but they never actually got it done. In terms of Chinese and French investment, I think we should welcome foreign investment into our country, building these important utilities so that we can use our firepower for the schools, the hospitals, the roads and the railways we need.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to re-establish the Innovations Commissioning Fund; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr Poulter, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): From April 2013, NHS England has had responsibility for the commissioning of specialised services.
NHS England has advised that the scale of this task - to bring together regional commissioning into a single, nationally consistent operating model for specialised services commissioning - has resulted in a level of unplanned expenditure. To manage this unplanned expenditure both in year and into the future, NHS England has needed to concentrate its efforts on their core commissioning requirements. The Specialised Services Commissioning Innovation Fund announced by NHS England in August 2013, sits outside the core requirements and in October NHS England reluctantly took the decision to suspend it. NHS England has advised that it remains committed to both leading and facilitating the uptake and spread of innovation and will seek ways to reinstate the fund in future years.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether he has developed plans that will allow the transfer or conversion of funds in child trust funds into junior ISAs; 
(2) when he will publish the results of the consultation on transferring child trust fund accounts into junior ISAs. 
Nicky Morgan, Economic Secretary (HM Treasury): A summary of responses document will be published shortly which will outline how the Government intends to proceed in response to the consultation.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will consider establishing an independent panel to investigate events surrounding the Ballymurphy Massacre in August 1971. 
Mrs Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: I have received the proposal from the Ballymurphy families for an independent review panel into events surrounding deaths in the Ballymurphy area in August 1971. This is currently being considered.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will work with members of the Dail to seek a way to fully investigate the events surrounding the Ballymurphy Massacre in August 1971. 
Mrs Villiers: I have regular discussions with Justice Minister Alan Shatter which cover a range of issues, including addressing the past in Northern Ireland.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will meet the families of those who died in the Ballymurphy Massacre in August 1971 to discuss justice for those families. 
Mrs Villiers: I met the Ballymurphy families on 31 January 2013 to hear their concerns.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what estimate he has made of the likely income from the sale of HMP (a) Blundeston, (b) Dorchester, (c) Northallerton and (d) Reading; 
(2) who owns the (a) building and (b) land at HMP (i) Blundeston, (ii) Dorchester, (iii) Northallerton and (iiv) Reading; 
(3) what meetings (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had with companies or organisations in relation to the sale or purchase of HM Prison (i) Blundeston, (ii) Dorchester, (iii) Northallerton and (iv) Reading. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): : The Ministry of Justice owns the prison sites at Blundeston, Dorchester, Northallerton and Reading.
Once the prisons have closed, consideration will be given to potential future uses and disposal of the sites. No meetings with companies or organisations have yet taken place.
The market value of each of the sites has not been formally assessed. We seek to gain best value from the sale of all surplus assets.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when he expects to (a) receive and (b) publish the report of the audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers into the electronic monitoring contracts held by G4S and Serco in England and Wales. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): : The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling), received a preliminary audit report from PricewaterhouseCoopers in July, which informed his statement to the House on this subject on 11 July 2013, Official Report, columns 573-575. Auditors from PricewaterhouseCoopers are now in the process of auditing every other contract the Department holds with G4S and Serco. It would not be appropriate to publish audit reports at this stage, in order to avoid prejudicing any subsequent investigations. The Secretary of State will however continue to keep Parliament informed.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the prison performance rating was for HM Prison (a) Blundeston, (b) Dorchester, (c) Northallerton and (d) Reading in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): The annual prison performance ratings for 2012-13 were published by the Ministry of Justice on 25 July 2013 at the following location:
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the cost of the audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers into the electronic monitoring contracts held by G4S and Serco in England and Wales is expected to be. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): We do not yet have a figure for the total cost of auditing the electronic monitoring contracts, as audit work is still being carried out.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice on what date PricewaterhouseCoopers was commissioned to carry out the audit into the electronic monitoring contracts held by G4S and Serco in England and Wales. 
Jeremy Wright: We commissioned Pricewaterhouse Coopers to carry out a detailed audit of the electronic-monitoring contracts held by both G4S and Serco in May 2013.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) if he will publish a list of records of papers that have been retained for an extended period on the grounds of risk of prejudice to national security which were subsequently released; 
(2) on which occasions papers have been withheld for more than 30 years under section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 since implementation of that Act; 
(3) on which occasions papers have been withheld for over 30 years under the Public Records Act 1958. 
Mrs Grant, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice) : Central records are not held listing the total number of papers that have been retained under the Public Records Act 1958 (PRA) for an extended period (including on national security grounds) and subsequently released, or the number of occasions papers have been withheld for more than 30 years under section 23 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Therefore it would be possible to provide any part of this information only at disproportionate cost following research undertaken by all bodies subject to the PRA and FOIA.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will facilitate negotiations between employers and trades unions on pensions in the fire service. 
Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government): The pension on offer to firefighters is one of the most generous in the public sector. A firefighter who earns £29,000 and retires at age 60 after a full career will get a £19,000 a year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension.
The Government has been discussing reform of the Firefighters' Pension scheme with employers and trades unions for over two years, including meeting the Fire Brigades Union last week, and made significant improvements to the offer over that time.
Discussions on the detail of the reforms will continue as part of implementing the 2015 scheme.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): In an earlier debate, our hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) raised with the Deputy Leader of the House, who is no longer in his place, the scenario in which charities would not be allowed to campaign in his constituency, yet political parties could spend £250,000 there, as they did, trying to undermine him and make him lose his seat. Is that not the real scandal of this Bill? It does nothing to address that concern. It will affect charities, who have a genuine right to lobby, but do nothing about such abuses of power.
Angela Smith: Our hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) articulated clearly the feelings of parts of many organisations in the third sector, who feel aggrieved that they are being picked on, as it were, in this Bill while the big spending takes place elsewhere.
The sceptical among us could be forgiven for thinking that in part 2, and clause 27 in particular, the Government appear to be trying to insulate their record and policies from legitimate democratic criticism. For example, a number of recent high-profile third sector campaigns could well have been stymied if this Bill had been in place. They include campaigns such as Stonewall's equal marriage campaign or the Royal British Legion's military covenant campaign. Indeed, as has been made clear on a number of occasions this afternoon, the National Union of Students could find it difficult to hold Members to account in the forthcoming election period.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Any birth is a joy, and this is a joy for the people of this country. I am particularly happy because a great grandfather in the Duchess's family was a coal miner in the area where I worked for 20 very happy years. I hope that the inherent spirit and generosity of miners and their care for others will flow through this child's blood, so that he can play his part, along with whoever takes over from us in this House in years to come, to prevent such things as I heard about on Saturday morning: a 13-year-old girl in my constituency who has just had a spinal operation is sleeping in a camp bed, because of over-overcrowding, in her grandmother's house. I hope that whoever takes over from us will be able to work together, along with the royal family, to make something like that a thing of the past.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the effect of his proposed changes to legal aid on victims of human trafficking. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): At around £2 billion a year we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems of its type in the world. The consultation paper, "Transforming Legal Aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system", contained a range of measures aimed at reducing the cost of and promoting public confidence in the legal aid scheme, including a proposal that those applying for civil legal aid should have a strong connection to the UK (with exceptions for asylum seekers, serving members of Her Majesty's armed forces and their immediate families).
We have analysed responses to our consultation carefully and will publish our response shortly.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): I apologise, Madam Deputy Speaker, for being late for this debate; I have been in a Committee meeting. My hon. Friend said that the Bill was unprecedented. Does he agree that the other constitutional changes that the Government parties have tried to get through this House, such as boundary changes, Lords reform and changing the voting system, are the same as this Bill? They are using the constitution to give themselves political advantage at the next election and future elections. That is what this Bill is about.
Ian Lavery: I thank my hon. Friend for his comments; he is absolutely right. Everything in this Bill is about giving the coalition political advantage in the year running up to the next election - and, indeed, at every election.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many security passes issued on Ministry of Defence sites have been given to those directly employed by his Department. 
Mr Francois, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many security passes issued for access to sites owned by the Ministry of Defence have been given to those not directly employed by his Department since May 2010. 
Mr Francois: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many individual contracts have been issued for manpower substitution by his Department in each financial year since 2007;  (2) how many days have been worked by staff employed as manpower substitutes in his Department in each financial year since 2007. 
Mr Francois, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): In 2007, the Ministry of Defence (MOD), excluding its Trading Funds, began to operate centrally administered manpower substitution contracts which provide MOD business units with access to short-term staff known as agency workers. These arrangements provide placements at agreed fixed rates on a national basis, thereby offering benefits to the entire Department. The first centralised contracts provided clerical/administrative and secretarial agency workers. This has expanded over time to a centralised Manpower Substitution Service (MSS) owned by Defence Business Services (DBS) which also encompasses the provision of interim professionals (including HR, finance and audit, project and programme management and procurement), specialist IT workers, health care and dental grades and Skill Zone workers, drivers and security guards.
The information held centrally on the MOD's MSS database reflects this broadening of scope. It records the number of centrally-held individual manpower substitution contracts rather than the number of different agency staff who may have worked within MOD.
|Financial year||Number of individual manpower substitution contracts|
The database used to capture this information was set up in late 2007 and therefore full data from financial year 2007-08 is unavailable. These data do not capture pre-existing locally arranged contracts, which business units may have had with recruitment agencies prior to the introduction of the new mandatory centralised arrangements, nor locally organised manpower substitution arrangements for temporary staff outside of the groups mentioned.
A calculation of the number of days worked could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): I have spent a lot of time this summer working with a veterans group in Tyneside called Forward Assist, which works with people who have left the forces and fallen through the cracks in society. Talking to those men and women made me realise what we ask them to do. We do not just ask them to go around the world and to be prepared to die for us; we also ask them to be prepared to kill for us. We ask them to do abnormal things. Most people would run away when someone was firing at them, but we ask those people to run into the gunfire. Those people are our constituents and the husbands, wives, sons and daughters of our constituents. They say to us clearly that if we are going to commit them to such action again, we must do it on the very best evidence. We have heard today that we do not have that evidence or the certainty that we need.
Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree with the many Members who have expressed concerns about the apparent timetable for action before the recall of the House? Does he agree that being seen to act through cruise missiles or airstrikes should not be confused with taking more cautious but effective action against the regime?
Mr Anderson: It is clear that we are being driven by a timetable that has no basis in anything other than appeasing America, which says that the red line that it drew last year has been crossed. We saw the same thing 10 years ago when we were driven by the deadline of an American President - the deadline for him to get re-elected in 2004. We were wrong to follow America then and we would be wrong to follow it now.
The Labour amendment helps to bring clarity, but I make it clear to my Front Benchers that if the amendment is passed, it will be no more than a checklist. It will be a job sheet for the Government and the Opposition to work through so that they can say to the people of this country that they have the support of the United Nations and that there is more clarity and better evidence before they bring us back here to vote again. I want to make it very clear to my Front Benchers and to Government Front Benchers that even if the motion goes through amended, it will not be an automatic green light for anybody in this House to say that we are supporting military action. It will be a statement that we will come back in a given period with good information and good evidence, that we will have another debate and that we will then decide whether to support military action.
The ghost of Tony Blair haunts this debate, but the ghost of Hans Blix haunts it even more. We should have listened to him in 2003. We should have given him time and waited. We ignored the one independent voice in the arena. We should not do that again. We should be very clear about what we are doing tonight. We are giving the Government nothing more than the remit to improve what is happening. We are not giving the green light for any military action whatsoever.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his United States counterpart on the (a) development and (b) export of a Brimstone missile prototype. 
Dr Murrison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): The Secretary of State for Defence has had no official discussions with his United States counterpart on either the development or export of Brimstone.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether his Department has commissioned testing into the feasibility of deploying Brimstone missiles from unmanned aerial vehicles; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what assistance his Department has provided to MBDA Systems in the development of a prototype Brimstone missile suitable for use on a US unmanned aerial vehicle platform. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): The Ministry of Defence (MOD), with MBDA support, is currently planning to conduct trials into the feasibility of integrating Brimstone onto remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) in the autumn of 2013. The MOD is not developing a prototype Brimstone missile for use on a US RPAS. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 15 May 2013, Official Report, column 222W, to the hon. Member for Moray (Angus Robertson).
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what assistance his Department has provided to MBDA Systems in the development of a prototype Brimstone missile suitable for use on a US unmanned aerial vehicle platform. 
Michael Fallon, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills): The Department is not providing assistance to MBDA Missile Systems for the development of a prototype Brimstone missile.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): What her policy is on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland; and if she will make a statement. 
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mike Penning): The Government would like to see the issue resolved on the basis of consensus among the parties in Northern Ireland, and we remain open to taking whatever action might be required should there be such a consensus.
Mr Anderson: The Minister is aware, as is everybody in the House, that a Bill of Rights was an integral part of the 1998 Belfast agreement. We have waited 15 years for it. How much longer must we wait while people cannot make their minds up? Surely the Government have a responsibility to ensure that this moves forward and should not just pass the buck on to people in Northern Ireland.
Mike Penning: I do not think anybody in Northern Ireland or in the House would say that the matter has not had an awful lot of attention in the past 15 years. The previous Government were unable to find a solution. I understand the problems that they had, and people have to understand the problems that we have. We need a consensus, and then we can move on. Until we get consensus, we cannot do that.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): I congratulate my hon. Friend on this worthy debate. What she has just said proves the fallacy of what we hear every day from the Government on the great job they are doing in increasing employment in this country. What they are really doing is taking people from secure, well-paid jobs, particularly in the public sector, and putting them into jobs where absolutely no respect is shown for their life or for anything else.
Julie Elliott: That is absolutely correct, and I will talk about it later.
Mr Anderson: This morning we met a Unison group and had discussions with home care workers who work in this city. Not only are they on zero-hours contracts, they do not get paid for time spent travelling between houses, they have no pension rights, their travel costs are not paid, they must pay for the phone calls when they ring in to say each client is okay and they must do training in their own time. Does that not show a huge lack of respect for some of the most valuable people in this country, who do tremendous work? Does it not show how the Government's deregulation mania is driving such people into a serious position?
Julie Elliott: I could not agree more with my hon. Friend. I will come to this later, but I question whether the people working in that field on zero-hours contracts are actually being paid the minimum wage, after all the costs that they must pay themselves are deducted. If they were employed, they would not have to do so.
The full debate may be read here.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many (a) operational support grades, (b) prison officer grades, (c) administrative grades, (d) operational and senior operational manager grades and (e) other grades received an exceeded marking on their staff personal development record at each prison establishment in the Prison Service North East area in (i) 2011-12 and (ii) 2012-13; and if he will make a statement. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): The deadline for completing the Staff Personal Development Record exercise is 30 June. Data is therefore not yet available for 2012-13. Information relating to 2011-12 is in the following table.
|Number of staff in post in the North East receiving a exceeded marking on Staff Personal Development Record, broken down by grade and establishment, 2011-12|
|Grade||Deerbolt||Durham||Holme House||Kirklevington Grange||Low Newton||Northumberland||North East Total|
|Operational Support Grades||(1)—||(1)—||10||(1)—||(1)—||10||30|
|Operational Manager and Senior Managers||(1)—||10||10||(1)—||10||10||40|
|(1) Denotes suppressed values of 5 or fewer. Low numbers are suppressed, in conjunction with the rounding policy to prevent disclosure in accordance with the Data Protection Act, 1998. AH figures are rounded to the nearest 10. Totals are formed from unrounded parts prior to rounding. For this reason, rounded totals may not equal the sum of their rounded parts.Note:HMP Frankland, which is located within the North East region but is managed with the High Security Estate is not included in the figures.|
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what criteria he uses to calculate fines for non-delivery by private sector providers on each electronic monitoring contract; 
(2) what fines have been ordered against each company in relation to each electronic monitoring contract in each of the last five years. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): The electronic monitoring contracts held by G4S and Serco in England and Wales have provisions for the authority to seek remedy through:
(a) service credits if the Service Provider fails to provide the Services in accordance with the Service Levels of the contract
(b) recovery of sums due under the agreement resulting from issues linked to non-delivery.
Both contractors are currently being audited and while this is ongoing it would be inappropriate to disclose this.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether UK personnel have flown unmanned aerial vehicles as part of NATO operations. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): Yes.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes his Department plans to make to the data collection process relating to compensation claims for deaths caused by drone strikes in Afghanistan. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 17 December 2012, Official Report, column 601W, to the hon. Member for West Bromwich East (Mr Watson).
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will meet the Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association to discuss proposals to reform the legal aid system; and if he will make a statement. 
Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): Between 9 April and 4 June 2013 the Government consulted on a number of proposals to reform legal aid via the 'Transforming Legal Aid: delivering a more credible and efficient system' consultation. This included a proposed model of competitive tendering for criminal legal aid services. We have been clear we must continue to bear down on the cost of legal aid, including the £1 billion of taxpayers' money spent on criminal legal aid a year, to ensure we are getting the best deal for the taxpayer.
During the consultation the ministerial team and officials met with many stakeholders, and I refer the hon. Gentleman to the parliamentary question (158068) asked by the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), for a full breakdown of those meetings. It states that Lord McNally met with the Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association on 30 May 2013 for 45 minutes, along with a senior civil servant and a representative from the Legal Aid Agency (LAA).
This consultation has now closed and my officials and I will be considering the responses, including the response received from the Criminal Bar Association, with a view to publishing the Government response in the autumn.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the potential effect on parents and children who use the nursery school on the HM Revenue and Customs site at Waterview Park, Washington, of a closure of the school. 
Mr Gauke, Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury): HMRC wrote to affected parents on 7 May, inviting them to face-to-face consultations about what the impact of not re-tendering the nursery provision in three sites in the North East (Waterview Park, Benton Park View and Tyne View Park) would be on them.
Face-to-face consultation meetings were held in all three sites and parents and interested parties were invited to attend and offer their views. These impacts were noted down throughout the meetings.
A dedicated mailbox was also set up to allow parents to e-mail their questions and feedback directly. This has been monitored daily and every e-mail has been responded to.
Parents submitted a range of views. A summary of this feedback was shared with all affected parents on 10 June. This summary and a People Impact Assessment forms part of a decision paper that will be discussed by HMRC's Executive Committee on 18 June.
The impact assessments will also be used to put together a support package for parents, similar to that made available in 2012, which will be used if the decision is not to re-tender for the nursery provision in these three sites.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the effect on parents and children who used nursery schools on HM Revenue and Customs sites which have recently been closed. 
Mr Gauke: In 2012, HMRC announced the closure of eight nurseries that were on HMRC premises. These nurseries had varying levels of occupancy and many of the nursery places were available to non-HMRC staff.
Following the announcement, HMRC put in place a series of support measures for affected parents. This included some short-term financial support, flexible working and special leave to give them time to find alternative arrangements. Members of HMRC's HR support were also on hand to support parents with agreeing what measures they needed to make use of.
The take up of these measures varied. In some cases parents found alternative nursery provision very easily and did not approach HMRC for additional support. In others they needed some support to do so.
Six of the nurseries closed in November 2012 and HMRC has not received any further requests for help from affected parents. Two nurseries, East Kilbride and Cardiff, were given a commercial lease and will continue until August 2015. These two nurseries were granted these leases as over 50% of those using them worked for HMRC. Both the nursery provider and the parents are aware of this arrangement.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent correspondence and meetings have taken place between his Department and the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights; and if he will place such correspondence and the minutes of such meetings in the Library. 
Mr Lidington, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (European issues and NATO): Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have regular contact with the UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights. Letters sent by the Special Rapporteur to all Governments, including letters to the British Government, and those Governments' responses, are published in his annual Communications to and from Governments report.
I have placed his most recent Communications to and from Governments report in the Library of the House. Electronic copies can be found at:
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his international counterparts on the legal framework for attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles targeted at particular individuals. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): None.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to address the lack of a specialist neuromuscular care adviser and a specialist neuromuscular consultant in the West Midlands since the agreement of funding for those posts in March 2010. 
Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): On 1 April 2013 NHS England became responsible for commissioning specialised services, improving standards and national consistency. This is intended to guarantee equitable access to services across the country. This includes diagnostic services for adults and children with rare neuromuscular disorders.
NHS England commissions some elements of neurological services through specialist services commissioning arrangements, which includes specialised neuromuscular services.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many qualified unmanned aerial vehicle pilots are currently employed by the Royal Air Force. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): There are currently 36 Royal Air Force personnel qualified to pilot remotely piloted air systems.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department has undertaken an assessment of the effects of unmanned aerial strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan on (a) the livelihoods of the affected communities and (b) the ability of the affected communities to access education. 
Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): Her Majesty's Government has not undertaken a specific assessment of the effects of unmanned aerial strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan on (a) the livelihoods of the affected communities and (b) the ability of the affected communities to access education. However, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has supported opinion surveys in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas which in 2010 and 2011 included a question related to drone strikes. I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 16 May 2013, Official Report, column 392W, to my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Sussex (Nicholas Soames).
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Reaper and (b) Hermes 450 vehicles have crashed and subsequently been taken out of service in each year since each model came into operation. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): The numbers of Reaper and Hermes 450 Unmanned Air Vehicles that have been permanently removed from service as a result of crashes is provided in the following table:
|2013 to 1 June||0||0|
Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Watchkeeper training flights have taken place; what the location was of such flights; and what the cost to the public purse has been to date. 
Mr Dunne: Watchkeeper has made 72 training flights to date, all from West Wales airport, Aberporth.
Training flights are only one element of the wider Watchkeeper trials, evaluation and qualification programme and it is not possible to identify separately the costs of flying activities from other costs under the programme.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on research and development funding on unmanned air vehicles in (a) 2011, (b) 2012 and (c) 2013. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): Unmanned air vehicle research and development spending for the financial years (FY) 2010-11 to 2012-13, rounded to the nearest £1 million, is set out as follows:
|Financial year||£ millions|
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been allocated for research and development funding in (a) 2014 and (b) 2015. 
Mr Dunne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence): There is no fixed forward budget for research and development.
The Department's plans for funding research through the centralised Ministry of Defence Science and Technology Programme, under the Department's chief scientific adviser, are £410 million for 2013-14 and £435 million for 2014-15, rounded to the nearest £5 million, which meets our intention to sustain science and technology investment at a minimum of 1.2% of the Defence budget. Development expenditure is applied according to the requirements of individual projects (mostly as part of the equipment programme) and the plans for funding of the development elements of these projects are not centralised.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when and for how long any UK armed forces personnel have been stationed at Shamsi Airbase in Pakistan; and what the purpose of such personnel deployed to that base was. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): We have no records of UK armed forces having been stationed at Shamsi Airbase in Pakistan.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the Afghan Government on the future use of UK operated unmanned aerial vehicles in that country. 
Mr Robathan, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): The UK, and ISAF partners, have discussed the redeployment of military equipment with the Afghan Government.
Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the UN Mission in Afghanistan's 2012 report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, whether his Department is participating in the review of criteria required to establish positive identification and determination of status undertaken by international forces in Afghanistan. 
Mr Robathan: No.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): What steps are being taken to tackle the rise of fuel fraud in Northern Ireland. 
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mike Penning): There is no evidence that fuel fraud is rising in Northern Ireland. Published tax-gap figures show a long-term downward trend. Tackling fraud is a joint priority for Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and the Northern Ireland Executive, along with tobacco smuggling.
Mr Anderson: I am surprised by the Minister's response, because that is not the information that we are being given in the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. There is a huge issue involving not just the breaking of tax laws, but the criminal activities that lie behind it, and the potential support for terrorism. Will the Minister look into the situation? Does he accept that as long as two separate types of diesel are being sold the potential for fraud will continue, and will he consider an arrangement whereby those who use straightforward white diesel are given a rebate and those who do not are subject to sanctions?
Mike Penning: I hope that I did not mislead the House by suggesting that there was any complacency about fuel smuggling, which is a serious matter. However, the original question related specifically to whether it was increasing. We are very conscious - as are the Treasury and HMRC - of the need to establish where the profits from fuel smuggling go, but the taxation issue is clearly a matter for a different Department, and I shall ensure that the relevant Minister is made aware of the hon. Gentleman's comments.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the net savings to his Department in the case that the concessionary bus pass was to be withdrawn from those pensioners currently eligible to pay income tax at the (a) higher rate of 40 per cent and (b) additional rate of 45 per cent. 
Norman Baker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) (Regional and Local Transport): Government does not hold information about the rates of income tax that concessionary bus pass holders pay. Therefore I do not have an estimate of the net savings that could be achieved by means testing via individual's income tax rates. However, the cost of the concession is driven by the number of trips made, and the following tables from the National Travel Survey (NTS) show pass uptake and concessionary bus boardings made by six household income groups:
|NTS Table 1: Take-up of older person's concessionary travel pass by household income: England, 2008-10|
|Household income:||Take-up rate (%)|
|Less than £7000||79|
|£7,000 to £9,999||80|
|£10,000 to £14,999||78|
|£15,000 to £19,999||80|
|£20,000 to £29,999||73|
|£30,000 to £39,999||70|
|£40,000 or more||63|
|All household incomes||75|
|NTS Table 2: Average number of bus boardings using an older person's concessionary pass by household income: England, 2008-10|
|Household income||Bus boardings per pass holder per year|
|Less than £7000||198|
|£7,000 to £9,999||167|
|£10,000 to £14,999||122|
|£15,000 to £19,999||104|
|£20,000 to £29,999||86|
|£30,000 to £39,999||78|
|£40,000 or more||77|
|All household incomes||119|
|Notes:1. Figures are based on data from three NTS survey years combined (2008, 2009 and 2010).2. These figures do not take into consideration the concessionary travel changes which took place in April 2010 and all individuals 60+ have been included in the eligibility base for all years.|
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will hold discussions with his Ethiopian counterpart about the treatment of the Amhara people of that country; and if he will make a statement. 
Mark Simmonds, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): We regularly raise human rights concerns with all levels of the Ethiopian Government. In April officials at the British embassy in Addis Ababa raised with Ethiopian State Ministers the issue of displacement of ethnic Amharas from the Benishangul-Gumuz region. We obtained assurances that this had been a mistake, that the Amharas had returned home, and that the Government officials involved in the displacement had been removed from their posts and that an investigation was under way. In January our ambassador raised concerns about the implementation of the commune programme (sometimes referred to as "villagisation") in Ethiopia's developing regional states, which includes Benishangal-Gumuz, with the State Minister for Foreign Affairs. We continue to monitor this programme and follow-up allegations of abuses of human rights in the regions.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the net savings to his Department in the event that free prescriptions were to be withdrawn from those pensioners currently eligible to pay income tax at the (a) higher rate of 40 per cent and (b) additional rate of 45 per cent. 
Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): Estimates for the net revenue raised in the case that free prescriptions were to be withdrawn from those aged 65 and over currently eligible to pay income tax at 40% and 45% are shown in the following table:
|Estimated revenue raised, England, 2013-14|
|Estimated revenue raised (£ million)(1)|
|Scenario 1: Estimated revenue including behavioural elements(2)||Scenario 2: Estimated theoretical maximum revenue(2)|
|Age 65+ Higher (40%) rate taxpayers(3)||62||142|
|Age 65+ Additional (45%) rate taxpayers(3)||4||9|
|(1) These data are estimates of the number of items claimed by those aged 65+ in 2013-14, based on current prescription levels.|
(2) Scenario 1 assumes that three quarters of the population aged 65 and over would use pre-payment certificates to claim prescriptions should exemption be withdrawn. This is a more likely scenario because people in this age group generally claim multiple prescriptions and would therefore benefit from use of pre-payment certificates. The estimated theoretical maximum revenue (Scenario 2) is based, on the assumption that all those aged 65 and over would pay for prescription charges at the point of dispensing, paying £7.85 per prescription item. Note that those on lower incomes are likely to claim more prescriptions than those on higher incomes, so these estimates are likely to be over-estimates, as these calculations assume that each group will claim prescriptions at the same rate. In addition, people in this age group are more likely to have long term medical conditions and may be eligible for medical exemption certificates (MEDEX) if free prescriptions were withdrawn.
(3) To simplify these calculations, the estimates above have been applied to all those in England aged over 65 years. However, the female state pension age is being increased gradually from April 2010 to be equalised with the male state pension age by November 2018.Source:Estimates of numbers of higher rate and additional rate taxpayers are based upon the 2010-11 Survey of Personal Incomes using economic assumptions consistent with the Office for Budgetary Responsibility's March 2013 economic and fiscal outlook. Estimates of prescription items are taken from Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community, Statistics for England published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to continue support for the Tell Mama national project to support victims of anti-Muslim prejudice beyond October 2013. 
Mr Foster, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government): We have given the Tell Mama project £374,564 of funding to establish itself as a sustainable community organisation. I have been very impressed by the progress they have made in their first year of operation to monitor anti-Muslim hatred, increase reporting and ensure victims receive support. I am confident that they will be able to build on the financial foundation we provided and continue to provide this service to the community.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will estimate the net savings to her Department in the event that the free TV licence for over 75s were to be withdrawn from those pensioners currently eligible to pay income tax at the (a) higher rate of 40 per cent and (b) additional rate of 45 per cent. 
Steve Webb, Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions): I have been asked to reply on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions.
The following estimates are based on Department for Work and Pensions expenditure forecasts combined with information on the tax paid by older people from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Survey of Personal Incomes.
|AME savings from withdrawing the free TV licence for those aged 75 and over from different categories of tax payers, UK|
|(a) higher rate taxpayers (40%)||20|
|(b) additional rate taxpayers (45%)||<5|
These estimates assume that the take-up of the free TV licence for those aged 75 and over is distributed equally across the tax bands. The figures are expressed in cash terms and rounded to the nearest £5 million.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the net savings to his Department in the event that the winter fuel allowance was to be withdrawn from those pensioners currently eligible to pay income tax at the (a) higher rate of 40 per cent and (b) additional rate of 45 per cent. 
Steve Webb, Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions): The estimates in the table are based on Department for Work and Pensions expenditure forecasts combined with information on the tax paid by older people from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs Survey of Personal Incomes.
|AME savings from withdrawing the winter fuel payment from different categories of taxpayers|
|(a) Higher rate taxpayers (40%)||100|
|(b) Additional rate taxpayers (45%)||5|
The table provides estimates of the expenditure associated with winter fuel payments, for higher and additional rate taxpayers, assuming the payment rate of £200 for people that have reached women's state pension age and are under 80, and £300 for people aged 80 or over. The figures are expressed in cash terms and rounded to the nearest £5 million.
Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): What support he provides for ex-service personnel in the criminal justice system. 
The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice (Damian Green): Depending on their individual risks and needs, offenders with a military history are eligible for the full range of NOMS interventions and offender services. Many prisons have a designated support officer for veterans in custody. Often these officers have served in the forces themselves, and they provide support tailored to the experiences that veterans may have had while on active service. Several probation trusts have an equivalent role for support in the community. The MOD has also made its veterans mental health services available to ex-service men and women in custody.
Mr Anderson: Since 2008, 300 veterans have gone through the veterans treatment court system in Buffalo, New York state. Not one has reoffended. That has been so successful that 103 similar courts have been set up across the USA. Will the Minister agree to meet me and others who support this process to see whether there are lessons that we can learn from the USA and adapt for this country?
Damian Green: I would be happy to do that. As I hope the hon. Gentleman will have seen this morning, we are very open to new ideas throughout the criminal justice system, and spreading best practice is the way to reduce reoffending and in this case to help veterans.
In the House Current Session
Reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO
|Promoted by Chris McHugh on behalf of Dave Anderson, both of St Cuthbert's Community Hall, Shibdon Road, Blaydon, NE21 5PT|