Commons Gate

Speeches and parliamentary questions in the House of Commons in the 2014-15 Session

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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Current Session

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26/03/15 Undercover Policing
25/03/15 Building Workers: Shrewsbury
24/03/15 Prison Service
24/03/15 Clinical Commissioning Groups
24/03/15 The Shrewsbury 24
23/03/15 Nurses and Midwives: Fees
02/03/15 Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation
18/03/15 Northumberland Prison
16/03/15 Broadband: Blaydon
10/03/15 Germany: Thalidomide
10/03/15 Trade Union Reform (Civil Service)
09/03/15 Industrial Disputes: Shrewsbury
09/03/15 National Gallery
05/03/15 Public Sector: Procurement
04/03/15 Public Sector: Procurement
04/03/15 Future government spending
25/02/15 Members' second jobs
24/02/15 Housing: Blaydon
24/02/15 Translarna
11/02/15 Entry Clearances: Iraq
11/02/15 Social Services: Veterans
11/02/15 Housing: Tyne and Wear
10/02/15 Human rights: Trades Unions
05/02/15 Housing: Blaydon
05/02/15 Translarna
04/02/15 Ryton village school
02/02/15 Drugs: Licensing
02/02/15 Muscular Dystrophy: Drugs
02/02/15 Islamic State
02/02/15 Game: Birds
29/01/15 Neuromuscular Disorders: North East
28/01/15 Fire Services: Pensions
27/01/15 Veterans: Mesothelioma
27/01/15 On-the-Runs Scheme
26/01/15 Infrastructure Bill
23/01/15 Boko Haram
22/01/15 Class Sizes
21/01/15 NHS
19/01/15 Ministers' Private Offices
19/01/15 South Yorkshire Police
15/01/15 Long-term neurological conditions
15/01/15 Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
14/01/15 Landfill
14/01/15 Columbia
14/01/15 DMD Petition
13/01/15 NHS: Pay
13/01/15 NHS Pay
12/01/15 EU External Trade: USA
09/01/15 Neuromuscular Disorders
09/01/15 Hydrotherapy
07/01/15 Stormont House Agreement
07/01/15 Trade Union Facility Time
18/12/14 Ministers' Private Offices
17/12/14 Bedroom Tax
17/12/14 Bahrain
17/12/14 Torture
16/12/14 Bahrain
15/12/14 Tanzania: Masai
15/12/14 Northern Ireland (All-party Talks)
15/12/14 Firefighters’ Pension Scheme
10/12/14 Northern Ireland
08/12/14 Asthma
02/12/14 Crimes against Humanity
02/12/14 NHS: Drugs
01/12/14 Nurses' shoebox collection
01/12/14 Dualling the A1
27/11/14 Kashmir
26/11/14 Gleision Mine
24/11/14 Northumberland Prison
21/11/14 National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill
19/11/14 Neuromuscular Disorders
19/11/14 Veterans (Support and Rehabilitation)
05/11/14 Care workers
04/11/14 Cyprus
30/10/14 Influenza: Vaccination
30/10/14 Public Sector: Procurement
29/10/14 Northern Ireland Assembly: Speaker
29/10/14 Parliament Square: Demonstrations
28/10/14 Prison Service
28/10/14 Coalfields
23/10/14 Dementia
22/10/14 Housing Benefit: Appeals
22/10/14 Prison Service
22/10/14 Builders' strike 1972
21/10/14 Influenza: Vaccination
21/10/14 NHS pay
20/10/14 Housing Benefit
14/10/14 Stem Cells: Donors
13/10/14 Housing Benefit
08/10/14 National Insurance
26/09/14 Air strikes against ISIL
10/09/14 Courts: Correspondence
09/09/14 Sexual Offences: Rehabilitation
08/09/14 Kurds
05/09/14 Affordable Homes Bill, Bedroom Tax
01/09/14 Recall of Parliament
16/07/14 Dentistry
10/07/14 Fire Services: Pensions
09/07/14 Cybercrime
08/07/14 Cybercrime
08/07/14 Planning Permission
03/07/14 Tax Avoidance
01/07/14 Green Deal Scheme
30/06/14 Prisoners
25/06/14 Meriam Ibrahim
24/06/14 Fire Services: Pensions


 

Commons Hansard
26 Mar 2015

Undercover Policing

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): The Minister repeatedly says we need to have confidence in the police, but as someone who was accused by a former Conservative Government of being one of the "enemy within", I find it hard to have confidence. I also do not have confidence in the people behind the police. This investigation has to consider not only the role of the police but who they were being instructed by. This very week, the House discussed what happened in 1972 and the Shrewsbury 24 campaign. It is clear that the Government, the police, the judiciary and private business colluded to lock up innocent men. If we can clear up such things, it might instil a bit more confidence in this place and the police, but as long as people go on covering them up, I will have a huge lack of confidence that my colleagues who have rightly asked for information today will get it, and that will only damage this House and democracy in this country.

The Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims (Mike Penning): In my last answer at the Dispatch Box as Policing Minister in this Parliament, I will say at the outset that there are members of the police, from top to bottom, who have fundamentally let down the people of this country. They are a tiny minority, however, and we should have confidence in our police. If we continue to tar them all with the same brush, the confidence of the police themselves will suffer, and we and the Lord Chief Justice will do everything possible in this inquiry to ensure we have that confidence. However, we cannot continue to run them down.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
25 Mar 2015

Building Workers: Shrewsbury

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): If he will expedite the review of papers held on people convicted in 1973 in relation to alleged incidents during the national building workers' strike at building sites in the Shrewsbury area so that the review is completed as soon as possible. [908308]

The Minister for Government Policy and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr Oliver Letwin): Yes.

Mr Anderson: I am very grateful for that answer, and I wish I believed it. Sadly, it was confirmed in a debate yesterday afternoon that despite this House overwhelmingly agreeing on 23 January last year that the papers would be released - and that Ministers would assist in getting the papers released - they have not been. The campaign has consistently met blockages. I am calling on the Minister to bring forward the release of these papers as quickly as possible and to stop the 43-year cover-up, which will see innocent men going to their graves as convicted criminals to protect the Tory Ministers of 40 years ago. It is a disgrace.

Mr Letwin: I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is unaware of the actual situation. The review of which he speaks is under way at present, but the papers - and the particular parts of those papers that were kept back on security grounds - have all been given to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which has looked at them and is using them in the course of its review. There is no question of any injustice of the kind he describes occurring as a result of the lack of those papers being present. I, however, assure the hon. Gentleman that if I find myself in my current post after the election, I shall seek to expedite the review.

Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) (LD): The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr Anderson) asked a serious question. This was an establishment stitch-up 42 years ago, and for 42 years it has been an establishment cover-up. Does the Minister not realise that there cannot possibly be any state security reasons why the records of an industrial dispute should not be made public?

Mr Letwin: My hon. Friend is also suffering from a misconception. The bulk of the papers involved were released. The bits that were not released relate to security and make specific references to the security services and their activities. Those are being reviewed, and a decision will be made. He is absolutely right that the crucial point is that the people involved deserve justice, so the CCRC needs to see the unexpurgated version, and it has. It has been given full sight of all the papers.

Lisa Nandy (Wigan) (Lab): It is increasingly clear that there is simply no justification for the delay in the review or for the refusal to release the full papers about the case. The Minister may refuse to act, but a Labour Government will act. We will release those papers with the urgency that the situation demands. Justice delayed is justice denied. Why is he so determined to ignore the will of Parliament, ignore the public and ignore the urgency of the situation, and why will he not release the papers now?

Mr Letwin: I am sorry that the shadow Minister wrote that question before she heard my previous answers. If, as I hope she will not, she finds herself a Minister after the election and has to make this decision - [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] If she finds herself in that position, I hope that she will discover the truth, which I have already told the House - that the CCRC has already seen the papers, so there is no question of justice being either delayed or denied.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
24 Mar 2015

Prison Service

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, for what reason the Government decided to award no salary increase to the majority of prison officers in the 2015-16 pay award.

Andrew Selous, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): Staff should be in no doubt how highly I value the hard work that they put in every single day. That is why we have introduced major organisational changes that have saved taxpayers money and ultimately ensured key jobs have stayed in the public sector.

Our reforms have helped to save £300m per year from 2015 -16 - protecting existing jobs and creating new ones by ensuring that HMPS will run the new prison in North Wales.

Pay awards for prison officers are determined independently of Government by the Prison Service Pay Review Body having considered evidence from both NOMS and trade unions. The award recommended for 2015/16 does not include a salary increase for most prison officers who remain in the old NOMS grade (although a small number will receive a contractual incremental increase). All officers in the new (Fair and Sustainable) pay structures will receive an increase. The recommended award recognises that significant pay reform is an important part of delivering future savings .

The Government has accepted the recommendations in full. To do otherwise would undermine the independence of the Review Body as a genuine compensatory measure for restrictions placed on prison staff participating in lawful industrial action over pay.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
24 Mar 2015

Clinical Commissioning Groups

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, to what extent clinical commissioning groups must comply with (a) the specialised service specifications and (b) the clinical commissioning policies produced by NHS England's clinical reference groups.

Jane Ellison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): NHS England has a number of direct commissioning responsibilities, including for a range of prescribed specialised services for which clinical commissioning policies and service specifications are developed and published.

The majority of other NHS services fall within the commissioning responsibilities of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and for these services it is for CCGs to determine commissioning policies and service requirements on a local basis.

It is important that the respective commissioning approaches fit together in a way that provides clinically and cost effective and cohesive care for patients and for that reason NHS England is supporting a range of collaborative commissioning approaches between its specialised commissioning teams, clinical advisors and CCGs.

National service specifications and clinical commissioning policies will still apply for those specialised services that will be collaboratively commissioned with CCGs.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
18 Mar 2015

Northumberland Prison

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will take steps to ensure the separation of sex offenders from other prisoners currently housed together at HM Prison Northumberland; and if he will make a statement.

Andrew Selous, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): Sex offenders at HM Prison Northumberland are accommodated separately from mainstream prisoners. On occasion, following a risk assessment, a vulnerable prisoner who is not a sex offender may be removed from the mainstream accommodation for his own protection and placed in the sex offender accommodation.

Work is under way to reduce the number of other vulnerable prisoners co-located with sex offenders. New assessment and review processes are about to be implemented. Transfers to other prisons will be arranged where appropriate.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
16 Mar 2015

Broadband: Blaydon

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, what estimate his Department has made of when average download speeds in the whole of Blaydon constituency will reach 14.7 mbps.

Edward Vaizey, Minister of State (Culture Media and Sport) (Digital Industries) (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills): House of Commons Library analysis (http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN06643.pdf) of Ofcom postcode data related to June 2014 suggested the average download speed across the Blaydon constituency was then about 18.7 Mbit/s.

The Government's Broadband programme is helping to increase availability of superfast broadband by over 40,000 premises in the Borough of Blaydon to 96%, which could led to further increase in average speeds.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
10 Mar 2015

Germany: Thalidomide

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to the German government urging it to make appropriate financial contributions to British victims of thalidomide.

David Lidington, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (European issues and NATO) : This Government remains a strong supporter of Thalidomide survivors. Her Majesty's Government is supporting the Thalidomide Trust's National Advisory Council in their efforts to engage the German government in order to seek compensation for British Survivors of Thalidomide. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is currently working with the National Advisory Council in its efforts to secure a meeting with the relevant German authorities.

The British Ambassador to Berlin has raised the National Advisory Council's campaign with the German Families Minister, Manuela Schwesig.

In addition, the Minister for Life Sciences at the Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Norfolk (Mr Freeman), raised the issue of Thalidomide with the German government when visiting Berlin on 23 February

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
10 Mar 2015

Trade Union Reform (Civil Service)

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Mr Francis Maude): I support the use of trade union time, but it must be controlled and monitored, and it must not be abused. I also support the presence of trade unions in the workplace, and I personally have worked very closely with them. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury and I spent 12 months in productive discussions with the TUC and public sector trade unions when we were considering public sector pension reform, and we made a number of changes to reflect the concerns of the unions that were prepared to engage with us. I need no lectures about the importance of engagement with the unions, but the arrangements should be controlled and modernised, and the right way for that to be done is the way that I have described.

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): I have seriously tried to understand the rationale for what the Minister has announced. It appears that the management were not controlling the check-off arrangements properly, because the unions would have paid the costs willingly, but those costs were not paid. It also appears that the management could have monitored the difference between facility time for activities and facility time for duties, but did not do so. That suggests a failure in senior management. As for attendance at conferences, it seems that trade unions will still be paid if they hold their annual conferences in Newcastle, Glasgow, Birmingham or Liverpool, because the Minister mentioned only seaside conferences. The truth is that this is nothing more than another attempt to find the bogeyman whom the Conservatives have tried to find for the last five years. They want another Arthur Scargill so that they can try to rattle a can in the next few weeks. That is what this is all about.

Mr Maude: Given that Opposition Members apparently do not think the statement should have been made, they are finding plenty to say about it. Indeed, we are having a good and productive debate. It is important for the issues to be debated, because they do matter.

As I said, I take my relationship with trade unions very seriously. I continue to chair the public services forum which was set up under the last Government. We engage with each other very fully, and I am happy to say that I have warm relationships with a number of trade union leaders.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
9 Mar 2015

Industrial Disputes: Shrewsbury

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, with reference to the contribution of 23 January 2014 by the Minister of State in his Department, Official Report, column 516, on Shrewsbury 24 (release of papers), when he expects the review of papers held in relation to those convicted in 1973 in relation to alleged incidents during the national building workers strike at building sites in the Shrewsbury area to be concluded.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Cabinet Office): A review of these retained papers is under way and will be completed by the end of 2015, as required by the Public Records Act.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
9 Mar 2015

National Gallery

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, if he will (a) make a public response to the proposals submitted to his Department by PCS as an alternative to privatisation at the National Gallery and (b) refer those proposals to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee for scrutiny; and if he will make a statement

Edward Vaizey, Minister of State (Culture Media and Sport) (Digital Industries) (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills): (a) The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has not received a copy of the proposals referred to. The Director of the National Gallery received a document entitled 'Why Keeping Staff In-House is the Best Option for the National Gallery, The PCS Alternative Plan' last week; a copy has not been received by the Department at the present time. The National Gallery Director and his colleagues are currently giving the proposals careful consideration and will issue a detailed response to PCS shortly on behalf of the Gallery. The proposals are part of an on-going consultation with PCS over a proposed programme to add to its existing range of outsourcing options. The Gallery's conversation with PCS is being facilitated through ACAS. The National Gallery operates at Arm's length from DCMS, and as such has responsibility for its own staffing arrangements; the content of the letter is an issue for the National Gallery to consider.

(b) The document is currently the subject of internal management discussions at the National Gallery and covers a range of internal issues; it is not planned that the document will be subject to scrutiny by the CMS Select Committee.

My Right Hon Friend the Secretary of State will not make a statement on the matter.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
5 Mar 2015

Public Sector: Procurement

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what steps he plans to take to ensure that the Public Procurement Contract Regulations 2015 deliver an increase in not-for-profit delivery of public procurement contracts.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Cabinet Office): The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 came into effect on 26 February. They will provide a much more modern, flexible and commercial approach compared to the previous regime. Outdated and superfluous constraints have been removed, and many new reforms have been included to streamline and modernise public procurement.

We have also introduced further measures to remove barriers facing small and medium-sized enterprises. Together, these will make it easier for all suppliers to bid for and win public procurement contracts.

The new measures will increase the visibility of low-value contract opportunities and make the bidding process quicker and simpler across the wider public sector. Complex forms, such as Pre-Qualification Questionnaires, are now abolished for low value contracts. Everyone in the supply chain must comply with 30-day payment terms, including suppliers and sub-contractors, and public bodies must publish an annual late payment report, making their accountability more transparent.

For a range of services that are commonly delivered by public service mutuals (such as social and cultural services) commissioners will also have the option of using a 'mutuals reservation'. This grants public bodies the ability to limit competition to mutuals and social enterprises that meet the tests set out in the directive. This means many mutuals will be able to win their initial contract without having to compete with more established players, allowing them to establish and grow as a business during their first 3 years.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what representations he has received in favour of inclusion in the Public Contract Regulations 2015 of provisions to mandate that social, employment and environmental criteria have the same weight of consideration as cost or price when choosing and selecting a contract bid.

Mr Maude: The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 implement Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement, and came into effect on 26 February 2014. In the negotiations on that Directive, the UK was successful in securing new flexibility, at Article 77, for certain service contracts to be reserved for competition by organisations meeting certain criteria, such as mutuals and social enterprises. Regulation 77 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 implements Article 77 of the Directive, in compliance with European law.

As part of the Government's consultation on proposals for transposition of the EU Public Procurement Directives 2014, 5 out of 204 respondents requested that the regulations should oblige contracting authorities to include clauses in contracts requiring consideration of social, employment and environmental criteria.

The government's response to the consultation can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/transposing-the-2014-eu-procurement-directives

Mr Anderson: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if, as an alternative to the provisions in Regulation 77 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (S.I., 2015, No. 102), laid before the House on 5 February 2015, he will bring forward legislative proposals to reserve contracts for tightly defined co-operatives, mutuals and social enterprises; and if he will make a statement.

Mr Maude: The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 implement Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement, and came into effect on 26 February 2014. In the negotiations on that Directive, the UK was successful in securing new flexibility, at Article 77, for certain service contracts to be reserved for competition by organisations meeting certain criteria, such as mutuals and social enterprises. Regulation 77 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 implements Article 77 of the Directive, in compliance with European law.

As part of the Government's consultation on proposals for transposition of the EU Public Procurement Directives 2014, 5 out of 204 respondents requested that the regulations should oblige contracting authorities to include clauses in contracts requiring consideration of social, employment and environmental criteria.

The government's response to the consultation can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/transposing-the-2014-eu-procurement-directives

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
4 Mar 2015

Public Sector: Procurement

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, if he will delay implementation of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 to ensure that appropriate guidance on trading companies exemptions, reserved contracts provisions, Article 18.2, best price-quality ratio provisions and the new light touch regime can be issued to contracting authorities in time for them to update procurement procedures.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Cabinet Office): The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 came into effect on 26 February. They will enable authorities to run procurements that are faster, less costly and more effective.

During 2014, the Crown Commercial Service provided training on the new directives to more than 4,000 procurement officials.

Further information, including guidance and training material can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/transposing-eu-procurement-directives

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, what assessment he has made of the effect of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 on the ability of contracting authorities to plan joint health and social care commissioning.

Francis Maude: The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 came into effect on 26 February. They will enable authorities to run procurements that are faster, less costly and more effective.

During 2014, the Crown Commercial Service provided training on the new directives to more than 4,000 procurement officials.

Further information, including guidance and training material can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/transposing-eu-procurement-directives

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
25 Feb 2015

Members' second jobs

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Will my hon. Friend confirm that when he talks about the contributions paid by trade union members through a democratic process, that is done under rules and legislation that was drawn up mainly by the Conservatives, so the rules are their rules, which trade union members abide by to pay money to the party that they choose to support?

Grahame M. Morris: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Every attempt is being made to try to cut the link between organised labour and the Labour party, and that is shameful. I find the attacks that are made on trade unions under the guise of whatever flag is waved on the Government Benches appalling and disgraceful.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
24 Feb 2015

Housing: Blaydon

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the Answer of 5 February 2015 to Question 222144, if he will take steps to prevent Gateshead Council from proceeding with proposals to build on green belt land in Blaydon constituency until after the publication of Household Projections 2012 to 2037; and when he expects those projections to be published.

Brandon Lewis, Minister of State (Communities and Local Government): The statistical publication on new household projections will be published this Thursday (26 February).

As I said in my previous answer, there are no central government proposals to build on the Green Belt in Blaydon. The Coalition Government has ensured that strong protections for the Green Belt are in place. The National Planning Policy Framework is clear that Green Belt boundaries can be altered only in exceptional circumstances following local consultation and independent scrutiny of the Local Plan at the instigation of the local council. In October we issued additional guidance that underlined the importance of Green Belt protection.

If the hon. Member disagrees with the planning proposals of the local council, he should take issue with the decisions of the Labour councillors who run and control it.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
24 Feb 2015

Translarna

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Despite assurance from the Prime Minister, it is now clear that the drug Translarna will not be available until after NHS England has concluded its internal consultations. The Secretary of State and others have told me repeatedly that they have no control over the issue, but can the Minister give the House any idea when the drug will be available for young boys suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy in this country, in the same way as it is across Europe? The drug is saving young boys from going into wheelchairs earlier. Does the Minister have any idea when it will be available?

George Freeman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): I have had a number of meetings with patient groups, campaigners and charities over recent months, and the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that due process is important. NHS England is looking at whether to make an interim ruling on the drug in advance of a decision by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, and I have worked with NICE to ensure that its process is accelerated. We should get a decision from NICE this summer, and I hope that NHS England will make a rapid decision based on that judgement.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
11 Feb 2015

Entry Clearances: Iraq

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many and what proportion of people from the Kurdistan Region in Iraq were refused an entry visa to the UK in (a) 2005, (b) 2010 and (c) the last year for which figures are available.

James Brokenshire, Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration): The information requested could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
11 Feb 2015

Social Services: Veterans

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what the reasons are for the difference in contributions to costs for social care between injured veterans receiving payments under the War Pensions Scheme and such veterans receiving payments under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme; and if he will make a statement.

Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): This Government has made a clear commitment, through the Armed Forces Covenant, which we enshrined in legislation in 2011, to support members of the Armed Forces Community, which includes both serving personnel and veterans.

Social care has never been free and people have always been asked to make a contribution based on what they can afford. However, we know that the current system for paying for care no longer reflects the needs of today's society which is why we are in the process of introducing the biggest reforms in over 65 years.

The War Pensions Scheme, which predates the introduction of the welfare state, provides a range of allowances in addition to the basic war disablement pension. Some of these allowances are designed to specifically pay for the ongoing care costs associated with an individual's disability and these are paid at a preferential rate, meaning that a war pensioner does not have to use their basic war disablement pension to meet these costs or seek other benefits to cover them.

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme that was introduced in 2005 operates differently and is therefore currently treated differently in assessing what a person can afford to contribute to the cost of their care. However, officials in the Department of Health have been working closely with the Royal British Legion to assess how the two schemes might be aligned under the social care charging rules in future.

Alongside this we are in the process of introducing much wider reforms to how we pay for social care that will make the system fairer for everyone, including veterans. At the moment, someone who has the highest care needs can risk losing all they have to meet the cost of their care. These reforms will mean that, for the first time ever, everyone will be protected from the risk of catastrophic care costs. The proposals are currently out for consultation and can be found at:

www.careact2016.dh.gov.uk

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
11 Feb 2015

Housing: Tyne and Wear

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, what assessment he has made of the accuracy of population projections that have been used in developing the Newcastle/Gateshead One Core Housing Strategy; if he will suspend work on this strategy until revised versions of those projections are available; and if he will make a statement.

Brandon Lewis, Minister of State (Communities and Local Government): We now have a locally-led planning system. The Government does not impose housing requirements on Councils but expects them to assess their housing needs, using appropriate evidence, and plan to meet these needs as far as reasonably possible.

Newcastle and Gateshead Joint Core Strategy is currently at examination. It is the role of the independent Inspector to assess the Plan's evidence base. The Inspector will issue his report in due course.

House Speech Contents  Return to Homepage


 

Commons Hansard
10 Feb 2015

Human rights: Trades Unions

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): What recent discussions he has had with his Cabinet colleagues on implementation of the UK's domestic and international legal obligations on human rights. [907533]

The Attorney-General (Jeremy Wright): Hon. Members will know that I cannot discuss legal advice that I may have given to members of the Government, but I have regular discussions with colleagues about a large number of issues. Domestic and international human rights are an important aspect of our law and are a key consideration in the Law Officers' work.

...

Mr Anderson: One of the basic human rights is the right of association and, through that, the right to combine together in trade unions. Will the Attorney-General say why his Government are making it harder for civil servants to exercise that basic human right by withdrawing the right to have trade union subscriptions taken off pay at source?

The Attorney-General: I do not accept that we are taking human rights away from civil servants. Let me repeat the point that I made: the Conservative party in government has a proud record on human rights. I remind the hon. Gentleman that it was a Conservative Home Secretary who brought forward the Modern Slavery Bill, of which we are very proud. Clearly, it was a "human-rights enhancing measure". Those are not my words but those of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. It was a Conservative Foreign Secretary, now Leader of the House, who has done excellent work on preventing the use of sexual violence in conflict - again, huge steps forward in the defence of human rights in this country and abroad. We are proud of that record, but see no reason to combine that pride with a blind and meek acceptance that every judgement of the European convention on human rights by the European Court of Human Rights, however eccentric, should be meekly accepted.

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Commons Hansard
5 Feb 2015

Housing: Blaydon

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, if he will delay proposals to build on the green belt in Blaydon constituency until after the publication of Household Projections 2012 to 2037.

Brandon Lewis, Minister of State (Communities and Local Government): There are no central Government proposals to build on the Green Belt in Blaydon. The Government revoked Regional Strategies and their top-down housing targets to ensure Councils are best placed to work out, with their communities, what housing is needed and where it should go.

The National Planning Policy Framework retains strong protections for the Green Belt. Most types of new building are inappropriate in Green Belt and, by definition, harmful to it. A local authority may alter a Green Belt boundary only in exceptional circumstances, through the Local Plan process. Our guidance of October 2014 reaffirms this protection (www.gov.uk/government/news/councils-must-protect-our-precious-green-belt-land)

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Commons Hansard
5 Feb 2015

Translarna

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Last autumn, NHS England halted the testing and licensing of the drug Translarna - a drug that could transform the lives of young boys with Duchenne muscular disease - to embark on a bureaucratic internal discussion on how it does business. Despite genuinely warm words from the Prime Minister and his attempts to move things on, we have been advised this week that the process will not change and that NHS England will continue with its public consultation and further discussions. While it is talking, young boys will stop walking. Can we have a statement from the Health Secretary about what exactly is happening, so that the House can express it views? Clearly, he does not seem able to intervene with NHS England, and as long as that does not happen, these young boys will see their lives destroyed.

The First Secretary of State and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr William Hague): The Prime Minister has spoken about this before, in response, I think, to the hon. Gentleman, who regularly pursues this matter in the House. I think the best thing I can do to help is to inform the Health Secretary of his concerns about the time scale and ask him to respond directly. It is also possible for the hon. Gentleman to pursue debates through all the normal methods, in addition to his having raised it in the House today.

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Commons Hansard
4 Feb 2015

Ryton village school

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): In 2010 the Government withdrew £80 million from five schools in my constituency. This destabilised the school in the village of Ryton so much that it is being forced against the will of all concerned to become an academy. The curriculum is constantly being cut, dedicated staff have lost their jobs and there is more of the same to come in the summer. What do I tell my constituent, Lauren White, who loves this school, when she has seen her chosen career disappear before her very eyes?

The Prime Minister: All the evidence is that schools that have converted to academy status have seen their standards improve at a faster rate than maintained schools. Is it not interesting that the party that started to promote academies has given up on that good reform, as well as the other reforms it has given up on? We have put extra money in for school places, we are seeing improvements in school standards and we have said that any schools that are either inadequate or require improvement will need to be taken over by an academy if they do not have a proper plan for improvement. All parents who want to see their children succeed at school will welcome that.

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Commons Hansard
2 Feb 2015

Drugs: Licensing

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, for how long NHS England's public consultations about the principles and approach to decision making on drug licensing will last.

Jane Ellison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): Translarna (ataluren) was given conditional approval for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy by the European Medicines Agency in August 2014.

NHS England is responsible for commissioning treatments for specialised services.

At its Board meeting on 17 December, NHS England decided that the consultation on prioritisation for specialised services should be 90 days. The length of the consultation period reflects the importance of these decisions and advice received from patient groups. Decisions on prioritisation, including the advice from the Clinical Priorities Advisory Group on the routine commissioning of Translarna (ataluren), will not be completed until the consultation has closed and the consultation responses have had due consideration. NHS England launched the consultation on 27 January 2015 and it is open for responses until 27 April 2015.

Any prioritisation which is urgent on clinical grounds will continue to be dealt with quickly through NHS England's existing procedures. The route of individual funding requests remains the same

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Commons Hansard
2 Feb 2015

Muscular Dystrophy: Drugs

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether the Government plans to commission Translarna during NHS England's public consultations on its principles and approach to decision making on drug licensing.

Jane Ellison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): Translarna (ataluren) was given conditional approval for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy by the European Medicines Agency in August 2014.

NHS England is responsible for commissioning treatments for specialised services.

At its Board meeting on 17 December, NHS England decided that the consultation on prioritisation for specialised services should be 90 days. The length of the consultation period reflects the importance of these decisions and advice received from patient groups. Decisions on prioritisation, including the advice from the Clinical Priorities Advisory Group on the routine commissioning of Translarna (ataluren), will not be completed until the consultation has closed and the consultation responses have had due consideration. NHS England launched the consultation on 27 January 2015 and it is open for responses until 27 April 2015.

Any prioritisation which is urgent on clinical grounds will continue to be dealt with quickly through NHS England's existing procedures. The route of individual funding requests remains the same.

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether his Department plans to make Translarna available whilst NHS England's public consultations are completed on the principles and approach to decision making on drug licensing; and if he will make a statement.

Jane Ellison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): Translarna (ataluren) was given conditional approval for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy by the European Medicines Agency in August 2014.

NHS England is responsible for commissioning treatments for specialised services.

At its Board meeting on 17 December, NHS England decided that the consultation on prioritisation for specialised services should be 90 days. The length of the consultation period reflects the importance of these decisions and advice received from patient groups. Decisions on prioritisation, including the advice from the Clinical Priorities Advisory Group on the routine commissioning of Translarna (ataluren), will not be completed until the consultation has closed and the consultation responses have had due consideration. NHS England launched the consultation on 27 January 2015 and it is open for responses until 27 April 2015.

Any prioritisation which is urgent on clinical grounds will continue to be dealt with quickly through NHS England's existing procedures. The route of individual funding requests remains the same.

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Commons Hansard
2 Feb 2015

Islamic State

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, for what reasons the Kurdistan regional government did not participate in the London conference of the International Coalition against ISIS in January 2015; and if he will make a statement.

Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): We recognise and deeply appreciate the significant role of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Kurdish forces in combating ISIL (the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and the sacrifices made by the Kurdish people. Iraq was represented at the Counter-ISIL Coalition Small Group meeting on 22 January by Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi and Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari. We look forward to seeing the KRG as part of a Government of Iraq delegation at any future meetings.

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Commons Hansard
2 Feb 2015

Game: Birds

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will ban the use of battery cages to confine breeding pheasants and partridges used for sporting purposes.

George Eustice, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs): The Government commissioned research into the use of cage rearing systems which it will publish in due course.

In the meantime, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it an offence to cause any unnecessary suffering to an animal or to fail to provide for its welfare. In addition, the statutory Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes, which is made under the 2006 Act, provides game rearers with information on how to meet the welfare needs of their birds, as required under the 2006 Act.

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Commons Hansard
29 Jan 2015

Neuromuscular Disorders: North East

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will publish the results of his Department's audit of specialised neuromuscular services in the North East.

Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): The Department has not carried out such an audit and has no plans to conduct an audit. NHS England is responsible for the commissioning and delivery of prescribed specialised services, such as neuromuscular services.

We are advised that NHS England, along with the clinical commissioning groups in the area, is currently reviewing specialist services to ensure they meet national specification standards. This work is ongoing and no decisions have been taken.

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Commons Hansard
28 Jan 2015

Fire Services: Pensions

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government of 15 December 2014, Official Report, columns 1148-56, if the Minister will meet the Fire Brigades Union and fire authority employers, and their respective legal representatives, to discuss how commitments that she gave in that debate on fire service pensions will be implemented in practice; and if he will make a statement.

Penny Mordaunt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government): My Department will be working with representative bodies and the employers in the fitness working group facilitated by the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser to provide good practice on the application of the firefighter fitness principles now incorporated into the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England. We have also agreed to set in train an independent review of the operation of these principles in three years time, and in the light of that review, to take such additional action as might be required to ensure the commitments made to Parliament are secured

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Commons Hansard
27 Jan 2015

Veterans: Mesothelioma

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to offer support to veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Anna Soubry, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) :Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma receive considerable support. The Ministry of Defence is committed to ensuring that all veterans and their families are provided with the support they need, and are treated fairly. Veterans UK, provides a package of welfare support for veterans through a free helpline, website and a national Veterans Welfare Service. Veterans UK also administer compensation payments for those injured or bereaved through service.

The existing War Pensions Scheme provides compensation for veterans and their dependants. It is a generous scheme with a low burden of proof, under which mesothelioma sufferers receive the maximum award, with dependants benefits.

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Commons Hansard
27 Jan 2015

On-the-Runs Scheme

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): In response to the question that my hon. Friend the Member for Bury South (Mr Lewis) asked about why the family and the coroner were not involved in July when Hallett produced the report, the Secretary of State said that it was "problematic". That is not good enough. We want to know what has been going on since July. We have been told earlier that the police are now investigating this case, but what have they been doing since July? And what has the NIO been doing since July?

Mrs Villiers, The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: The NIO has been involved in a number of matters implementing the conclusions of the Hallett report. They include consideration of this case by the policy board set up as a result of Lady Justice Hallett's conclusions. We also implemented a number of her conclusions through my statement to the House to provide clarification of the status of the scheme. That also covers the recommendations that she made in relation to removing barriers to prosecution. The PSNI has also made progress on the matters in Lady Justice Hallett's recommendations on how it deals with police databases and the PSNI's liaison with other police services in the United Kingdom.

Mr Anderson: What about this family?

Mrs Villiers: We have to bear in mind that deployment and disclosure of information in relation to these individual cases needs to be handled with the greatest care, because any disclosure presents risks in relation to future prosecutions. That is probably one of the reasons why the information came out at the time that it did. So we need to reflect carefully on these matters. It did come out in an unfortunate way; I reiterate the apology I made earlier to the family for how they learned of this matter, but we all need to take care on the disclosure of information about this scheme, because none of us would want to be responsible for the collapse of a future trial.

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Commons Hansard
26 Jan 2015

Infrastructure Bill

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): In the Minister's assessment prior to coming to the House, did she look at whether the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive need additional staff? If not, will she do so before she pushes the Bill further? We do not know what it costs to do that job properly.

Amber Rudd, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change: The hon. Gentleman makes an important point. It is essential that the Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive have sufficient staff. They have not raised that with me and have accepted the fact that they will have the responsibility, but we will keep conversations with them open to ensure they can do their job correctly.

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Commons Hansard
23 Jan 2015

Boko Haram

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support his Department is offering to Nigeria to tackle Boko Haram.

Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): The UK is working with international partners, including the US and France, to support Nigeria and its neighbours, in their fight against Boko Haram. The UK is providing a substantial package of UK military, intelligence and development support and expertise to Nigeria, including tactical training and capacity building support to the Nigerian armed forces. We are also working with the United Nations, European Union and the International Committee of the Red Cross to support the large number of people displaced by the conflict. Ministerial meetings in Paris, London and Abuja last year brought together international and regional partners to help Nigeria and its neighbours implement measures to tackle Boko Haram. The Right Hon Stephen O'Brien MP (Special Rep for the Sahel) attended the follow-up meeting on security in Nigeria on 20 January in Niamey, Niger where further discussion took place on improving regional co-operation to tackle the Boko Haram threat.

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Commons Hansard
22 Jan 2015

Class Sizes

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will bring forward legislative proposals to give local authorities responsibility to plan, commission and build facilities to tackle classroom overcrowding; and if she will make a statement.

David Laws, Minister of State (Department for Education): Local authorities are responsible for planning and securing sufficient school places in their area.

Supporting local authorities to create school places where they are needed most is one of the Department for Education's main priorities. This is why we have committed £5 billion in capital funding between 2011 and 2015 to help local authorities create new school places. This is more than twice the £1.9 billion in the equivalent four year period 2007/8 to 2010/11. In addition, the Department has announced an additional £2.35 billion in capital funding to help create new school places that will be needed by September 2017, giving local authorities a three-year planning horizon.

Local authorities can use this funding to expand any existing schools and can also run competitions to establish new schools.

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Commons Hansard
21 Jan 2015

NHS

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): I agree with the Chair of the Health Committee that the Secretary of State and his Ministers should listen to the professionals on the front line. If they had listened three years ago, we would not have been lumbered with the Health and Social Care Act 2012, because everyone at the professional end of the health service said, "Do not do it." But they were ignored by the Secretary of State.

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Commons Hansard
19 Jan 2015

Ministers' Private Offices

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many staff in ministerial offices in his Department were appointed from (a) the Civil Service and (b) other bodies (i) between May 2005 and May 2010 and (ii) since May 2010.

Anna Soubry, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): There are currently 29 posts in the Ministry of Defence Ministerial offices filled by civil servants, military personnel and Special Advisers. There is a high turnover in these posts and in view of the significant number of staff who would have worked in Ministerial offices over the years specified, the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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Commons Hansard
19 Jan 2015

South Yorkshire Police

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will request the Independent Police Complaints Commission announces when it plans to report on its investigations into the actions of the South Yorkshire Police at Orgreave coke works in 1984.

Mike Penning, Minister of State (Home Office): The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has completed its assessment of matters arising from the policing of events at Orgreave in 1984 and is currently obtaining legal advice regarding the publication of the outcome of its assessment.

This has been a very complex exercise which has required the in-depth analysis of a vast amount of documentation from over 30 years ago. As the IPCC is an independent organisation the Government has no control or influence over the date of publication of its findings.

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what information she holds on the reasons why the Independent Police Complaints Commission has not published its report on the actions of South Yorkshire Police at Orgreave coke works in 1984.

Mike Penning, Minister of State (Home Office): The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has completed its assessment of matters arising from the policing of events at Orgreave in 1984 and is currently obtaining legal advice regarding the publication of the outcome of its assessment.

This has been a very complex exercise which has required the in-depth analysis of a vast amount of documentation from over 30 years ago. As the IPCC is an independent organisation the Government has no control or influence over the date of publication of its findings.

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Commons Hansard
14 Jan 2015

Landfill

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if she will assess the potential merits of giving additional powers to the Environment Agency to enable it to take punitive action against landfill site operators who ignore advice not to tip during severe weather resulting in waste, dust and other potentially hazardous materials being blown off site.

Dan Rogerson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs): The Environment Agency includes conditions in the environmental permits it grants to operators of landfill sites. Permit conditions can require operators to take all appropriate measures to prevent fugitive emissions of substances, which can include litter, dust and mud, or where that is not practicable to minimise such emissions. Permits can also include conditions that require the operator to clear litter or mud from affected areas outside the site as soon as practicable.

Breach of a permit is a criminal offence and may lead to prosecution. The Environment Agency also has a range of other enforcement powers, including the power to serve statutory enforcement notices, vary permit conditions and suspend or revoke an environmental permit.

Additional enforcement powers are not considered necessary to prevent landfill operators from tipping during severe weather. However, the Government is considering the merits of enhancing Environment Agency enforcement powers to tackle waste crime.

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Commons Hansard
14 Jan 2015

Columbia

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to the finding by UNHCR that there were 40 killings of human rights defenders in Colombia in the first nine months of 2014, what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in that country.

Hugo Swire, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (South East Asia/Far East, India and Nepal, Latin America, Falklands, Australasia and Pacific, Commonwealth): We are aware of the report by Amnesty International which informs that the UNHCHR has confirmed the murder of at least 40 human rights defenders (HRDs) between January and September 2014. ABColombia's 2014 report stated that 78 human rights defenders were assassinated in 2013, which suggests a decrease this year, though there are reports that threats against HRDs have increased in the same period. However, we await more comprehensive reports including data covering the whole of 2014.

The UK Government publishes updates on the human rights situation in Colombia every quarter. The most recent report can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/colombia-country-of-concern/colombia-country-of-concern .

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Commons Hansard
14 Jan 2015

DMD Petition

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): At 1 o'clock this afternoon a petition will be laid at No. 10 Downing street by parents and children who are suffering from Duchenne muscular dystrophy. It calls on the Prime Minister personally to get involved to get NHS England to stop a bureaucratic internal debate which is preventing the licensing of the drug Translarna, which can have an effect on young boys that means they do not have to go into a wheelchair before it is absolutely necessary. At the moment most of them are in a wheelchair before they reach their teens. Will the Prime Minister personally get involved and get this resolved as a matter of urgency?

The Prime Minister: I will try to find time to see those parents today. I was looking at this issue last night and there was a child, who was about the same age as my son, pictured with his local football team, just as my son was. It made me think how vital it is to get these drugs through as quickly as we can. I know that there has been a debate on whether these drugs should be licensed quickly and on all the issues and problems. I will meet those parents, look at their petition and see what can be done.

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Commons Hansard
13 Jan 2015

NHS: Pay

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to resolve the pay dispute in the NHS.

Dr Daniel Poulter, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): All staff will receive an increase in their take home pay this year either as a result of an incremental pay increase or as a result of a 1% pay increase.

Trade unions know we are willing to discuss any affordable proposals that could end the pay dispute.

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Commons Hansard
13 Jan 2015

NHS Pay

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): Despite all the warm words we hear every week from the Government about their support for the staff of the NHS, which I welcome, the Government still refuse to pay the award recommended by the independent review body. At the same time the chief executive of the trust in my part of the world has had a 78% salary increase and the people who set the allowances, the board of governors, have had an 88% increase in their allowances. Is this what is meant by "we are all in this together"?

Mr Hunt, Secretary of State for Health: I believe that NHS managers have a responsibility to be sensible about their own pay. This is not decided centrally, but when we are asking NHS staff to make sacrifices in their own pay to make sure that we can recruit enough staff, NHS managers should set an example.

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Commons Hansard
12 Jan 2015

EU External Trade: USA

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what his policy is on signing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement in circumstances where EU and UK food safety standards were undermined in that Treaty.

Matthew Hancock, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills): The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is not about lowering standards. All parties involved in the negotiations - including President Obama and President Juncker - have made this clear. EU negotiators have specified that TTIP will not affect the way the EU legislates on food safety. The following link explains more: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2014/may/tradoc_152462.pdf

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what steps he is taking to ensure that EU and UK food safety regulations are not undermined in the negotiations on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Treaty.

Matthew Hancock, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills): The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is not about lowering standards. All parties involved in the negotiations - including President Obama and President Juncker - have made this clear. EU negotiators have specified that TTIP will not affect the way the EU legislates on food safety. The following link explains more: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2014/may/tradoc_152462.pdf

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Commons Hansard
9 Jan 2015

Neuromuscular Disorders

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what plans he has to develop more regional managed clinical neuromuscular networks.

Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): Since 1 April 2013, NHS England has been responsible for commissioning specialised neurological services, which includes services for patients with neuromuscular disorders. NHS England has published a service specification for neurological care, which sets out what providers must have in place to offer evidence-based, safe and effective services. The specification can be found at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/d04-neurosci-spec-neuro.pdf

Specialised neuromuscular care may include referral to local or specialised physiotherapy, hydrotherapy or rehabilitation if appropriate. Provision of hydrotherapy services is a matter for the local National Health Service and may be accessed by patients with neuromuscular and other long-term debilitating conditions, subject to assessment and referral.

Neuromuscular patients may also be referred for enabling equipment such as wheelchairs adaptations and environmental controls in line with their clinical commissioning group or specialist rehabilitation referral criteria, subject to the complexity of need.

NHS England is currently undertaking a review of wheelchair services, led by Rosamond Roughton, National Director of Commissioning Development, which will consider provision across both specialised and non-specialised wheelchairs.

NHS England has set up strategic clinical networks (SCNs) for neurological conditions to provide clinical expertise and guidance. Alongside SCNs, Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs) are working with commissioners, providers and patients to ensure the delivery of safe and effective services across the patient pathway and help secure the best outcomes for all people with neurological conditions. Providers are at liberty to set up an ODN for neuromuscular services if they consider it would benefit service provision locally.

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to ensure that sufficient funding is available for wheelchair services for neuromuscular patients with complex needs.

Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): Since 1 April 2013, NHS England has been responsible for commissioning specialised neurological services, which includes services for patients with neuromuscular disorders. NHS England has published a service specification for neurological care, which sets out what providers must have in place to offer evidence-based, safe and effective services. The specification can be found at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/d04-neurosci-spec-neuro.pdf

Specialised neuromuscular care may include referral to local or specialised physiotherapy, hydrotherapy or rehabilitation if appropriate. Provision of hydrotherapy services is a matter for the local National Health Service and may be accessed by patients with neuromuscular and other long-term debilitating conditions, subject to assessment and referral.

Neuromuscular patients may also be referred for enabling equipment such as wheelchairs adaptations and environmental controls in line with their clinical commissioning group or specialist rehabilitation referral criteria, subject to the complexity of need.

NHS England is currently undertaking a review of wheelchair services, led by Rosamond Roughton, National Director of Commissioning Development, which will consider provision across both specialised and non-specialised wheelchairs.

NHS England has set up strategic clinical networks (SCNs) for neurological conditions to provide clinical expertise and guidance. Alongside SCNs, Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs) are working with commissioners, providers and patients to ensure the delivery of safe and effective services across the patient pathway and help secure the best outcomes for all people with neurological conditions. Providers are at liberty to set up an ODN for neuromuscular services if they consider it would benefit service provision locally.

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Commons Hansard
9 Jan 2015

Hydrotherapy

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps his Department and NHS England are taking to increase the number and availability of hydrotherapy pools for people living with (a) neuromuscular and (b) other long-term debilitating conditions.

Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): Since 1 April 2013, NHS England has been responsible for commissioning specialised neurological services, which includes services for patients with neuromuscular disorders. NHS England has published a service specification for neurological care, which sets out what providers must have in place to offer evidence-based, safe and effective services. The specification can be found at the following link:

www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/d04-neurosci-spec-neuro.pdf

Specialised neuromuscular care may include referral to local or specialised physiotherapy, hydrotherapy or rehabilitation if appropriate. Provision of hydrotherapy services is a matter for the local National Health Service and may be accessed by patients with neuromuscular and other long-term debilitating conditions, subject to assessment and referral.

Neuromuscular patients may also be referred for enabling equipment such as wheelchairs adaptations and environmental controls in line with their clinical commissioning group or specialist rehabilitation referral criteria, subject to the complexity of need.

NHS England is currently undertaking a review of wheelchair services, led by Rosamond Roughton, National Director of Commissioning Development, which will consider provision across both specialised and non-specialised wheelchairs.

NHS England has set up strategic clinical networks (SCNs) for neurological conditions to provide clinical expertise and guidance. Alongside SCNs, Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs) are working with commissioners, providers and patients to ensure the delivery of safe and effective services across the patient pathway and help secure the best outcomes for all people with neurological conditions. Providers are at liberty to set up an ODN for neuromuscular services if they consider it would benefit service provision locally.

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Commons Hansard
7 Jan 2015

Stormont House Agreement

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): On corporation tax, I am quite happy for the north to adjust its corporation tax to compete with the south, but this is also a Westminster Government, so we need to be clear that doing that will not disadvantage other parts of the UK, including places such as the one I represent.

On the demise of the HET, the Northern Ireland Committee heard just before Christmas that because of budget cuts to the police, the work of the HET, which we thought would end in three years, will not end for nine. We have been told today that there will be legislation in this House and Belfast. When does the Secretary of State envisage the legislation going through and the HIU being put in place? What does she think the time scale for concluding all those investigations will be? Will it be shorter or longer than we thought?

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mrs Theresa Villiers): Obviously, the PSNI has made some difficult announcements in recent weeks in seeking to absorb budget reductions, but the funding package and agreement, when implemented, will provide some relief. I hope that means that the work the PSNI indicated would take much longer than it had originally expected can be completed more quickly. We have put forward our proposal, and we hope that the HIU will complete the bulk of its work within five years.

On corporation tax, it is key to recognise that Northern Ireland is different and that there are specific reasons to justify its devolution in Northern Ireland that do not apply to the rest of the UK.

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Commons Hansard
7 Jan 2015

Trade Union Facility Time

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): When he carried out an assessment, did the Minister consider speaking to Opposition Members who have experience of being employed under facility time arrangements, where we spent the vast majority of our time helping management to manage the service we were working in, particularly when management was faced with cuts, redundancies and redeployment forced on it by central Government?

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Mr Francis Maude):: I absolutely agree with the hon. Gentleman that the proper use of a trade union presence and the use of facility time on trade union duties, as defined by law, can be very beneficial, and we support it, but what was going on went way, way beyond that. It was completely out of control, and it was quite right that we should bear down on it by first monitoring it and then reducing it. We have now reduced the amount of money spent on it to less than 0.1% of the pay bill in the civil service, and that was quite right.

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Commons Hansard
18 Dec 2014

Ministers' Private Offices

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many staff in ministerial offices in his Department were appointed from (a) the Civil Service and (b) other bodies (i) between May 2005 and May 2010 and (ii) since May 2010.

Anna Soubry, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence): The Ministry of Defence has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

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Commons Hansard
17 Dec 2014

Bahrain

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what steps the Government is taking to encourage democratic change in Bahrain; and if he will make a statement.

Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): I held discussions on Bahrain's recent elections at the UK-Bahrain Joint Working Group on 4 December with the Under-secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond) held similar discussions with the King and Crown Prince of Bahrain during his visit there on 6 December. In both meetings we commended the election of a broad range of candidates, although the opposition political societies decided not to take part. I will continue to encourage the Government of Bahrain to build on the success of the elections and move forward with further reform to advance the democratisation and human rights agenda.

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Commons Hansard
17 Dec 2014

Torture

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what her policy is on the prevention of the admission of alleged and proven torturers to the UK.

James Brokenshire, Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration): The UK is party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture and the optional protocol to that Convention. Torture is illegal in the UK and under international law. Those who have committed crimes abroad that fall under the ICC Statute, including genocide and crimes against humanity, can be tried in the UK if they come here. The Home Secretary may exclude an individual from the UK if their presence here is not conducive to the public good or our national security.

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Commons Hansard
16 Dec 2014

Bahrain

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, how many political prisoners there are in Bahrain.

Tobias Ellwood, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): The UK Government does not hold details on all the cases and charges against prisoners in Bahrain. If we have specific concerns around convictions or sentencing we raise these with the Government of Bahrain as part of our wider dialogue on human rights and reform. Most recently, on 6 December, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond) discussed progress on the reform agenda with HM the King and HRH the Crown Prince of Bahrain.

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what representations have been made to his Bahraini counterpart about the health facilities on offer in prison to Dr Abduljalil Al Singace.

Tobias Ellwood: Our Embassy in Bahrain raised the case of Dr Abduljalil Al Singace, along with a number of other cases, with the Ombudsman for the Ministry of Interior in May. Our Ambassador in Bahrain also raised our broader concerns around detainee rights and prison conditions with HM the King, HRH the Crown Prince and the Minister of Interior.

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent steps he has taken to secure the release of political prisoners in Bahrain.

Tobias Ellwood: We encourage the Government of Bahrain to respect the rights of all peaceful opposition figures. If we have specific concerns around convictions or sentencing, we raise these with the Government of Bahrain as part of our wider dialogue on human rights and reform.

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Commons Hansard
15 Dec 2014

Tanzania: Masai

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations (a) to the government of Tanzania and (b) in international fora about the proposed eviction of the Masai to provide a hunting reserve.

James Duddridge, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): We were aware of media reports last month about plans by the Government of Tanzania in relation to land occupied by Masai pastoralists. Since then, on November 23, Tanzanian President Kikwete confirmed that "there has never been, nor will there ever be, any plan by the government of Tanzania to evict the Masai people from their ancestral land".

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Commons Hansard
15 Dec 2014

Northern Ireland (All-party Talks)

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): The leader of the Minister's sister party in Northern Ireland said last week that the Government were trying to bribe the people with their own money. The truth is that they are trying to bribe the people to accept an agenda that the people there do not want. It is disgraceful that this involves things as important as identity and the past and the future of the place. Does this not show that because we have a Prime Minister with the attention span of a gnat, exactly as my right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain) said, he has left a vacuum - the worst thing one can do in Northern Ireland - which proves that he is not up to the job?

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mrs Theresa Villiers): That is nonsense. The Prime Minister made a realistic offer. Remember, what the Prime Minister can put on the table by way of financial assistance is severely constrained by the huge mess that Labour made of the economy in the years when it was in government.

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Commons Hansard
10 Dec 2014

Northern Ireland

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): In recent weeks the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee heard from officials in Northern Ireland and the police service that cuts to budgets are already leading to long delays in the resolution of actions covered by the Historical Enquiries Team. Will the Minister look into that and ensure that no further cuts lead to people who should have had justice years ago having to wait even longer? People are already waiting three times longer than was originally scheduled.

Dr Murrison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office): The spending power of the Executive has increased since the beginning of this Parliament and will continue to do so. Spending within the police budget is a matter for the Chief Constable, who has set up the historical legacies team from the Historical Enquiries Team. A further body is under discussion as part of the current talks.

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Commons Hansard
8 Dec 2014

Asthma

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, if he will work with NHS England to ensure that a national clinical audit is carried out into services for people with asthma.

Jane Ellison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): A number of potential areas are being considered for new national clinical audits, including asthma. However, no final decision has yet been taken.

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Commons Hansard
2 Dec 2014

Crimes against Humanity

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what the UK's responsibilities are in international law to identify, prevent, suppress and punish acts of genocide and crimes against humanity; and if he will make a statement.

David Lidington. Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (European issues and NATO): The UK is party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 1948 which requires that we prevent and punish the crime of genocide in our jurisdiction. We are also party to the Convention Against Torture 1948 which requires us to take measures to prevent torture in our jurisdiction, and to prosecute or extradite individuals who are in the UK, and who are alleged to have committed torture anywhere in the world.

As a State Party to the International Criminal Court Statute (ICC), the UK has also made it a domestic crime to commit any of the crimes in the ICC Statute, including genocide and crimes against humanity. Where such crimes take place in the UK, or are committed by UK nationals, they can be prosecuted before the UK courts.

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Commons Hansard
2 Dec 2014

NHS: Drugs

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to ensure that the NHS provides fair access for all to life-extending drugs; and if he will make a statement.

George Freeman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): The Government is committed to ensuring that patients have access to new and effective treatments, including those which may extend life, on terms that represent value to the National Health Service and the taxpayer.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the independent body responsible for providing advice to the NHS on the clinical and cost-effectiveness of health technologies. NHS commissioners are legally required to fund treatments recommended by NICE technology appraisal guidance, ensuring consistent access to clinically and cost effective drugs across England. NICE has introduced greater flexibility in the appraisal of effective drugs for patients at the end of their lives, which has helped to secure patient access to a number of potentially life-extending drugs.

We are commissioning an external review of the pathways for the development, assessment, and adoption of innovative medicines and medical technology. This review will consider how to speed up access for NHS patients to cost-effective new diagnostics, medicines and devices.

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Commons Hansard
1 Dec 2014

Nurses' shoebox collection

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): On that subject, I can advise the Secretary of State that last week I spoke with nurses in the hospital near my constituency, and they told me that as a result of the cuts in their pay, which have been going on for many years, they are seriously considering setting up shoebox collections to help their members get through this Christmas. At the same time, the chief executive of that trust has had a 17% pay increase, and the governors have had an 88% increase in their allowances. Is that what he means by all being in this together?

Mr Hunt, Secretary of State for Health: I am afraid we will not take any lessons from the party that increased managers' pay at double the rate of nurses' pay when in office. I will tell the hon. Gentleman what this Government have done: because of our increases in the tax-free threshold, the lowest paid NHS workers have seen their take-home pay go up by £1,000 a year.

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Commons Hansard
1 Dec 2014

Dualling the A1

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): This morning, when the Chancellor talked about the opening of the A1 north, he mentioned improvements in Northumbria, a kingdom that has not existed for centuries. Perhaps someone should have a word with him about the geography of this country. Last week, the Chief Whip said that the opening of the A1 was all down to the Tory candidate in Berwick. This morning, the Business Secretary said that it was all down to the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith). The truth is that both those people have done sterling work, as have lots of Members on the Opposition Benches, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East (Mr Brown). May I ask the Secretary of State why he has come to the House hours after he spoke on the radio? Does that not show contempt for this House and for the rules that you, Mr Speaker, have made?

Mr McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport: It is true that Anne-Marie Trevelyan has made many representations about the road, but so, too, has the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith). [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman is pointing to himself and the right hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East (Mr Brown). They doubtlessly made representations, but what I say is that we are not making representations, but taking action. There are many more Members making representations than delivering. The hon. Gentleman chastised me for giving an interview, but I gave no interviews until after I had laid a written ministerial statement this morning.

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Commons Hansard
27 Nov 2014

Kashmir

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with his Indian and Pakistani counterparts on a resolution to the situation in Kashmir.

Hugo Swire, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (South East Asia/Far East, India and Nepal, Latin America, Falklands, Australasia and Pacific, Commonwealth): The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), has spoken to both his Indian and Pakistani counterparts about regional issues in recent weeks. The long-standing position of the UK is that it is for India and Pakistan to find a lasting resolution to the situation in Kashmir, one which takes into account the wishes of the Kashmiri people. It is not for the UK to prescribe a solution or to mediate in finding one.

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Commons Hansard
26 Nov 2014

Gleision Mine

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on bringing this sad debate to the Chamber today. Is it true that this is not a one-off, and that some of the regulations on water ingress into mines were developed because of tragedies such as this? There was one in the 1970s at Houghton Main in Yorkshire, when exactly the same discussions took place. That is one reason why the need to map out where water lay was built into the inspection regimes. That is why it is clear that plans should be checked regularly, and not just cast to one side.

Mr Hain: I agree with my hon. Friend. He also speaks with great authority as a former miner.

+++

Mr Anderson: I thank the Minister for giving way again - he has been very generous. The crux of why we are here today is that, if this was a one-off and had never happened before, we would probably feel a lot more comfortable, but as I said, it was not a one-off and had happened previously. My right hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr Hain) mentioned the 1979 regulations that were supposed to address the issue. It is all right saying, "Let's learn the lessons." A lesson learned is no use unless it is then applied. Our worry - hopefully this can be tightened up in the report if the HSE decides to do that - is ensuring that things like this, as far as is humanly possible, do not happen again. If, as has been said, the gentleman went in, did the investigation and found that there was no water, that should have raised concerns, because where had the water gone? That should have been followed up. The worry that Opposition Members have is that such an incident could happen again through things just generally not being tight enough.

The Minister for Disabled People (Mr Mark Harper): The hon. Gentleman makes a helpful point, because I was going to move on to the work that has been done to bring forward shortly new mine safety legislation that ensures clear duties on the operators of mines to manage the risks. That work was instigated independently of the Gleision accident, and it arose from the independent review of health and safety legislation by Professor Löfstedt, which reported in November 2011. We have taken into account what happened in the Gleision incident as we have developed the new law.

Read the full debate

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Commons Hansard
24 Nov 2014

Northumberland Prison

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether homosexual prisoners taking part in the Sex Offender Treatment Programme delivered at HM Prison Northumberland are having additional weighting points allocated on the grounds of their sexual orientation; and if he will make a statement.

Andrew Selous, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): National Offender Management Service does not, as part of the Sex Offender Treatment Programme, use a prisoner's sexual orientation when coding and allocating them to a particular risk level.

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Commons Hansard
19 Nov 2014

Neuromuscular Disorders

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many cough assist machines clinical commissioning groups have funded for patients with muscular dystrophy and neuromuscular conditions in the last 12 months.

Norman Lamb, Minister of State (Department of Health): The Department does not hold figures on the number of cough assist machines clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have funded for patients with muscular dystrophy and neuromuscular conditions in the last 12 months. Funding for cough assist machines is a matter for individual CCGs taking into account the individual circumstances of each patient.

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Commons Hansard
4 Nov 2014

Cyprus

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what recent reports he has received of the misselling of and corruption related to mortgages for properties for UK citizens buying in Cyprus; and if he will make a statement

David Lidington, Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (European issues and NATO); Officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office regularly brief me on the scale of property problems in Cyprus and the distressing impact it is having on individuals. Most cases of mis-selling relate to purchases that were made between 2005 and 2010. Many purchasers and investors were advised to take out mortgages in Swiss Francs. As the Swiss Franc strengthened the cost of loans rose. Those affected complain that they were not properly advised that interest rates and exchange rates could rise which would affect the cost of their mortgage over time. We are also aware of allegations that lawyers and property professionals were working collectively and against the best interests of foreign buyers.

The British Government has no authority to intervene in matters concerning Cypriot domestic legislation. However, we continue to work with the Cypriot government to assist in finding resolutions to problems related to property purchases in Cyprus. This has included organising working visits to the UK for staff from the Cypriot Land Registry and the Financial Ombudsman. The High Commission is involved in assisting with public sector reform - specifically with the Ministry of Justice and local government - which will ultimately impact on the way property issues are dealt with.

Although we cannot intervene in individual cases, we do raise wider property problems by lobbying at high level. Both the Leader of the House of Commons and First Secretary of State, my Rt. Hon Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), and I have raised property issues experienced by British nationals with the Cypriot Foreign Minister, Ioannis Kasoulides. Most recently I raised the subject with Mr Kasoulides on 23 July and Cyprus property mis-selling was raised in the UK Parliament on 22 July. The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Defence of the Interests of British Property Owners in Cyprus also met and discussed the issue on 14 October. Our former and current High Commissioners in Cyprus have regularly raised property issues with the Cypriot Attorney-General and the Finance Minister.

Our lobbying is having an effect. The Cypriot government has set up a Ministerial Committee to look at addressing property issues. This is a positive step and we are working with the authorities to encourage the committee to take effective action.

We recognise the significant impact that property disputes has on many families in the UK, some of whom risk losing their life savings. We strongly believe that those affected should continue to pursue their cases through the Cypriot (and if appropriate the UK) courts though we recognise that for many this will be an expensive and protracted route. In parallel we remain committed to lobbying at high level to encourage the Cypriot government to take effective action to resolve existing problems and to reform the property sector to prevent such problems occurring in the future.

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Commons Hansard
30 Oct 2014

Influenza: Vaccination

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the Answer of 21 October 2014 to Question 210389, which groups who previously accessed free inoculations now no longer do so.

Jane Ellison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): Under the national seasonal flu vaccination programme, the following people continue to be offered the seasonal flu vaccination.

We have not withdrawn the seasonal flu vaccination from any patient group who was previously offered the vaccination.

As outlined in my reply to the hon. Member I gave on 21 October 2014 to Question 210389 the Government has commenced a programme to extend the seasonal flu vaccination to children aged two to less than 17 years.

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Commons Hansard
30 Oct 2014

Public Sector: Procurement

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office, for what reason his Department's consultation on transposition of the EU public procurement directive was limited to four weeks.

Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Cabinet Office): This consultation on the draft Public Contracts Regulations 2015 complies with the Government's Consultation Principles, and formally concludes a long-running period of continuous UK stakeholder engagement that commenced in 2011 when the European Commission's own consultations began.

Following the publication of a Procurement Policy note in late 2013, the Cabinet Office engaged with stakeholders interested in specific policy areas. The comprehensive feedback from this exercise meant that a four week consultation period was appropriate and proportionate given the limited scope and impact of the remaining issues on which to consult.

This consultation attracted a large number of responses, which shows the period allowed was reasonable.

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Commons Hansard
29 Oct 2014

Northern Ireland Assembly: Speaker

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what discussions she has had with (a) the Northern Ireland Assembly and (b) the Northern Ireland Executive on ways of ending the impasse on the appointment of a Speaker of the Assembly.

Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; The appointment of the Assembly Speaker is an entirely devolved matter.

However, the recently convened cross-party talks offer an opportunity for the Northern Ireland parties to consider the working of the institutions.

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Commons Hansard
29 Oct 2014

Parliament Square: Demonstrations

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what representations she has received on the police response to the demonstration in Parliament Square on 21 October 2014; and if she will make a statement.

Mike Penning, Minister of State (Home Office): Home Office Ministers have received no representations relating to the police response to the demonstration in Parliament Square on 21 October.

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Commons Hansard
28 Oct 2014

Prison Service

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many Prison Service Reserve Band 3 staff have been employed at each prison establishment in the last year.

Andrew Selous, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice) ; The creation of the Prison Service Reserve was announced in June. Staff information will be published in late November, covering the period up to 30 September.

The National Offender Management Service has written to 2,066 selected former staff who left during the past two years, inviting them to volunteer for a fixed term contract of up to nine months. In response to positive replies from former employees, 435 application packs were distributed.

Recruitment for both the Prison Service Reserves and for permanent officers is progressing well. NOMS is currently aiming to appoint up to 100 Reserves (full time equivalents), but with the flexibility to develop the Reserve as required. We will also be recruiting nearly 1,700 Prison Officers on permanent contracts between 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2015.

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many former members of prison staff have been appointed to the Prison Service Reserve in the last year

Andrew Selous, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice) ; The creation of the Prison Service Reserve was announced in June. Staff information will be published in late November, covering the period up to 30 September.

The National Offender Management Service has written to 2,066 selected former staff who left during the past two years, inviting them to volunteer for a fixed term contract of up to nine months. In response to positive replies from former employees, 435 application packs were distributed.

Recruitment for both the Prison Service Reserves and for permanent officers is progressing well. NOMS is currently aiming to appoint up to 100 Reserves (full time equivalents), but with the flexibility to develop the Reserve as required. We will also be recruiting nearly 1,700 Prison Officers on permanent contracts between 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2015.

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many letters have been sent to former prison staff seeking expressions of interest to join the Prison Service Reserve in the last year; and how many such letters received a positive response.

Andrew Selous, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice) ; The creation of the Prison Service Reserve was announced in June. Staff information will be published in late November, covering the period up to 30 September.

The National Offender Management Service has written to 2,066 selected former staff who left during the past two years, inviting them to volunteer for a fixed term contract of up to nine months. In response to positive replies from former employees, 435 application packs were distributed.

Recruitment for both the Prison Service Reserves and for permanent officers is progressing well. NOMS is currently aiming to appoint up to 100 Reserves (full time equivalents), but with the flexibility to develop the Reserve as required. We will also be recruiting nearly 1,700 Prison Officers on permanent contracts between 1 January 2014 to 31 March 2015.

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Commons Hansard
23 Oct 2014

Dementia

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent steps his Department has taken to support people living with dementia in the (a) community and (b) care system.

Norman Lamb. Minister of State (Department of Health) : Dementia is a key priority for this Government and we are committed to ensuring people with dementia and their carers receive the best possible care in all care settings. That is why in 2012 we launched the first ever Prime Minister's Challenge on dementia to increase diagnosis rates, raise awareness and understanding and double funding for research in dementia by 2015.

Recently a number of steps have been taken to support people living with dementia in the community and in the care system including:

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Commons Hansard
22 Oct 2014

Housing Benefit: Appeals

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many appeals have been made against the application of the shared accommodation rate; and how many of those appeals have been successful.

Shailesh Vara, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): The First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support), administered by HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS), an Executive Agency of the Ministry of Justice, hears appeals against Local Authority decisions on Housing Benefit (HB), which includes the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR).

HMCTS does not record data specifically relating to appeals against SAR decisions and does not therefore hold the information requested.

Information on appeals against HB decisions overall is published by Ministry of Justice in Tribunal Statistics Quarterly. The most recent report for the period April to June 2014, published on 11 September 2014 can be viewed at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/tribunal-statistics-quarterly-april-to-june-2014.

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Commons Hansard
22 Oct 2014

Prison Service

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many prisons staff of what grades are currently performing detached duty at establishments other than the one at which they are employed.

Andrew Selous, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Tooting on 17 October 2014, which covered the information now being requested and can be found at the link below.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-questions-answers/?page=1&max=20&questiontype=AllQuestions&house=commons%2clords&uin=209423

Dave Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the average cost is of Payment Plus for prisons staff on detached duty.

Andrew Selous: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Tooting on 17 October 2014, which covered the information now being requested and can be found at the link below.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-questions-answers/?page=1&max=20&questiontype=AllQuestions&house=commons%2clords&uin=209423

Dave Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the average cost is of (a) travel and (b) subsistence for staff performing detached duty.

Andrew Selous: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Tooting on 17 October 2014, which covered the information now being requested and can be found at the link below.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-questions-answers/?page=1&max=20&questiontype=AllQuestions&house=commons%2clords&uin=209423

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Commons Hansard
22 Oct 2014

Builders' strike 1972

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): When the Prime Minister was in opposition he always lectured Labour on transparency. May I ask him when he is going to shine a light on the men who were fitted up and jailed in 1973 for the national builders strike? Will he release the papers relating to that case? If he will not, what has the Tory party got to hide?

The Prime Minister: I have not looked at this case previously, but I am very happy to take away what the hon. Gentleman has said and look at it. Actually, over recent years we have shortened the period during which papers remain secret, and have released more and more papers. I am very happy to look at the case he raises.

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Commons Hansard
21 Oct 2014

Influenza: Vaccination

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, when his Department last changed its guidance on access to inoculation for influenza; and if he will make a statement.

Jane Ellison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): In July 2012, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which advises the Government on all immunisation matters recommended extending the national flu programme to all children from the age of two to less than 17 years.

This extension began in 2013-14 with all two and three year olds being offered vaccination through GP surgeries, and 5-11 year old children in seven areas being offered vaccination through pilot programmes. The extension programme for children will be phased in over a number of years.

A number of key groups remain eligible for flu vaccination under the annual national flu immunisation programme. Information on who is eligible for the flu vaccination is contained in the Flu Plan: Winter 2014/15. This is available on the GOV.UK website at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/annual-flu-programme. A copy has been attached

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Commons Hansard
21 Oct 2014

NHS pay

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): The good people who work in the NHS have faced six years of pay restraint. How much longer must they carry the can for the failures of the people who got us into this mess - the moneylenders, the LIBOR fixers, the people who mis-sold mortgages? How much longer must front-line staff pay for the mistakes of capitalism?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Dr Daniel Poulter): Even in very difficult times this year, all NHS staff, either through their increments or through the 1% increase, will be getting a pay rise. Of course, we would like to do more, but the NHS finances are under pressure, and our priority is to ensure that we employ as many front-line staff as we can. We now have more than 13,000 more front-line staff working in the NHS than we did when we came into government.

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Commons Hansard
20 Oct 2014

Housing Benefit

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to the Answer of 13 October 2014 to Question 209233 for what reason the information is not available.

Steve Webb, Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions): The Department for Work and Pensions publishes monitoring returns from local authorities that give a breakdown of Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) awards by broad category, including to recipients of Housing Benefit subject to Local Housing Allowance calculations. Further detail, for example awards to those subject to the Shared Accommodation Rate (SAR), is not available. Returns are voluntary and information is not provided by all local authorities. The returns give the number of awards, which may not equate to the number of people receiving them; some people may receive more than one award over the period.

The latest publication is available at the following weblink:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/use-of-discretionary-housing-payments-2013-to-2014

The Department's housing benefit administrative database, compiled from electronic data supplied by local authorities, identifies by gender and age those Housing Benefit claimants that are assessed by the SAR in the given area. These data are taken from scans of local authority systems. They also hold some information on whether a DHP is being made to the claimant at that time. The recording of this information on the electronic data is incomplete and not reliable.

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Commons Hansard
14 Oct 2014

Stem Cells: Donors

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to improve awareness of stem cell donation among 16 and 17 year olds.

Jane Ellison, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): NHS Blood and Transport (NHSBT) manages the British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR), the NHS Cord Blood Bank (NHS CBB) and provides specialist services related to the provision of stem cells which can turn into blood cells for the treatment of blood cancers and is responsible for raising awareness of these issues.

NHSBT recruits stem cell donors to the British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR) exclusively from the pool of active blood donors (aged 17 years and above), however those wishing to join at age 16, can do so through The Anthony Nolan Trust.

All registered stem cell donors are in the United Kingdom's aligned register. Anthony Nolan manages this single UK bone marrow register, which is known as the 'Anthony Nolan & NHS Stem Cell Registry', and is aligned with the NHS British Bone Marrow Registry and the Welsh Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

NHSBT has programmes in place to support education about donation and transplantation for children and young adults including Give and Let Live, a national education programme aimed at promoting awareness of bone marrow, blood, tissue, cord blood and organ donation amongst 14-16 year old pupils.

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Commons Hansard
13 Oct 2014

Housing Benefit

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if his Department will provide longer-term discretionary housing payments to those affected by the extension of the shared accommodation rate who have not found suitable alternative accommodation to help with their housing costs.

Steve Webb, Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions): The start and end dates of a discretionary housing payment are decided by local authorities on a case by case basis. The Government has allocated extra funding in 2014/15 to give local authorities the confidence to make long-term awards in any cases where they consider this is appropriate.

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what representations he has received on the effect of the shared accommodation rate on (a) pregnant women, (b) those fleeing domestic violence, and (c) other vulnerable people; and what research he has commissioned on those issues.

Mr Webb: There have been a number of representations about the extension of the age threshold for the Shared Accommodation Rate and the effect of the change on certain groups of people. However, the cost of identifying which representations were about the specific groups quoted since January 2012 would be disproportionate.

Whilst there is no research planned by DWP to look at the impact on the groups of people mentioned, the Department commissioned an independent evaluation of the changes to Local Housing Allowance, including the extension of the shared accommodation rate. The final reports were published in July 2014 and are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-housing-allowance-monitoring-the-impact-of-changes

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many claimants who have had the shared accommodation rate applied to their claim have subsequently moved home; and whether his Department has commissioned research to find out their eventual destinations.

Mr Webb: The information requested is not available. The Department commissioned an independent evaluation of the changes to Local Housing Allowance, including the extension of the shared accommodation rate, by a research consortium from the Centre for Regional and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and Ipsos Mori. The final reports were published in July 2014 at the following weblink:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/local-housing-allowance-monitoring-the-impact-of-change

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many (a) male and (b) female claimants of each cohort have had the shared accommodation rate rule applied to their claim since its introduction.

Mr Webb: The information is not available in the format requested. The information which is available is point in time monthly caseload information on the shared accommodation rate from December 2012 onwards which can be found at:

https://stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk

Guidance on how to extract the information required can be found at:

https://sw.stat-xplore.dwp.gov.uk/webapi/online-help/Stat-Xplore_User_Guide.htm

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many appeals have been made against the application of the shared accommodation rate; and how many of those appeals have been successful.

Mr Webb: DWP does not hold this information.

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Commons Hansard
8 Oct 2014

National Insurance

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will consider including information about bone marrow donation within correspondence informing people of their National Insurance number.

Mr Gauke, Financial Secretary (HM Treasury): There are no plans to include information about bone marrow donation within the letters issued informing people of their National Insurance number. However, as digital delivery of services increase HMRC are looking at whether there are opportunities to highlight other services that individuals may wish to consider.

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Commons Hansard
26 Sep 2014

Air strikes against ISIL

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): In the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, I led a trade union delegation to Kurdistan. I was amazed by the reaction of the people there, who were delighted that our country had invaded that benighted nation. Since then I have learned why that was so. The people in Kurdistan lived through a period where they saw genocide at Halabja, 182,000 people destroyed by Saddam Hussein and 4,500 villages razed to the ground, while the west, including the Government led by Margaret Thatcher, turned its back. While 1 million Iraqis and Iranians were being killed on the battlefields, the west turned its back because it was a price worth paying, as Saddam was keeping the Ayatollah occupied.

To take a position today, I went back to those people and said, "What do you think we should do in the House?" The advice from a very close comrade of mine on the ground in the trade union movement in Kurdistan was, "ISIS is a fascist organisation. The only language it understands is force. Under ISIS, trade unions have been, as under Saddam, forced to go underground. Despite recent elections, Iraq is still terribly divided, but the immediate threat of ISIS must be halted and to do that we need external military air support." That was the clear advice from people at the sharp end, not the intelligence services. We have learned lessons. Things are different today. However, I want to say clearly to the Prime Minister: under no circumstances should this be escalated without Members coming back together. I do not care what he says about circumstances perhaps meaning that he has to act on his own. He should not do that. That is one of the main reasons that the House is held in such contempt.

I am also wary about who the Prime Minister is being advised by. Yesterday at the UN, the Iranian President said that certain intelligence agencies put blades in the hands of madmen and were behind the build-up of ISIS. Some people claim that those agencies were the CIA and Mossad and that they intended, after last year's failure to take action on Syria, to find another way to make people such as us take and support action. That may not be correct but unless such claims are addressed the people of this country will suspect that this could the back door to action on Syria.

I believe in supporting the people on the ground in Kurdistan. I have to support this action, even though I do not really want to, but I am clear that the Prime Minister should do nothing without the sanction of this House.

4.12 p.m.

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Commons Hansard
10 Sep 2014

Courts: Correspondence

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will seek to ensure that the courts' administrations when a defendant has been given a custodial sentence do not send confidential information to an address where there is a risk it might be read by unauthorised persons such as a new tenant but instead to a person nominated by the prisoner such as next-of-kin or to the prisoner's legal representative. [208067]

Mr Vara, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) provides administrative support for a large number of courts in England and Wales. HMCTS sends information by post to the addresses given by the parties to court proceedings. If a party changes their address or commences a custodial sentence part way through court proceedings then they should notify the relevant court of this change and can request that information is sent to a relative or a legal representative. All courts have administrative procedures in place to process changes of address and will update their records accordingly.

HMCTS is reliant on the parties to proceedings providing valid and up to date addresses. It is not possible for HMCTS to check if an address given is correct or if any defendants in criminal proceedings have commenced a custodial sentence, due to the volume of cases handled by the criminal, civil and family courts.

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Commons Hansard
9 Sep 2014

Sexual Offences: Rehabilitation

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what studies his Department has commissioned on the relative efficacy of prison-based treatment as against treatment in the community for sex offenders convicted of similar offences. [207844]

Andrew Selous, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): It is difficult to compare the efficacy of programmes delivered in prison and in the community, as at the moment they are different programmes and the sexual offender populations accessing treatment in the two settings may also differ in a way that could affect comparison.

The National Offender Management Service's (NOMS) programmes delivered to sexual offenders across prison and probation have been developed in line with the available evidence to address the needs of this group. They have been designed in accordance with the principles of effective intervention, and have all been accredited by an independent body of experts, the Correctional Services Accreditation and Advisory Panel. The latest published reconviction outcome study for the NOMS Core Sex Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP) delivered in prison was conducted in 2003 (Friendship, Mann & Beech, 2003.

NOMS are working towards the development of a new programme for sexual offenders which will be delivered across prison and in the community. As part of this development, NOMS will be commissioning research into the best methodology to evaluate this programme as it is rolled out across both settings.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what the reoffending rate is of sex offenders who have undergone (a) the sex offender treatment programme at HMP Northumberland (formerly Acklington) and (b) the Northumbria Sex Offender Groupwork programme in the community; [207845]

(2) what the national reoffending rate is of sex offenders who have undergone the sex offender treatment programme (a) in prison and (b) in the community. [207846]

Andrew Selous: The Ministry of Justice publishes proven re-offending rates for adult and juvenile offenders on a quarterly basis. However, these rates cannot be provided for offenders who have undergone the sex offender treatment programme in prison or in the community as the information held centrally on re-offending does not separately identify these offenders.

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Commons Hansard
8 Sep 2014

Kurds

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Kurdistan Regional Government or its representatives in the UK on the situation in that region. [207428]

Mr Ellwood, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond) have both spoken to Kurdistan Region President Barzani. The Secretary of State for International Development, my right hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Justine Greening) and I visited Erbil on 27 August and met with President Barzani, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Deputy Prime Minister Talabani, and other Ministers. I have also met the KRG's representative in the UK and officials are in regular contact with the KRG offices in both the UK and Iraq.

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Commons Hansard
1 Sep 2014

Recall of Parliament

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): At the end of this summer we are seeing relations between the west and Russia at their worst level for three decades, 2,000 innocent people killed in Gaza and genocide in Kurdistan. The Prime Minister said this is the most serious threat that we have ever faced, yet he chose not to recall Parliament. Can he explain why he thought we should not have our say in a proper debate so that hon. Members on both sides of the House could make their comments? Last year, it was decided within 48 hours to recall the House to pay tribute to Margaret Thatcher, who presided over a Government who watched Saddam Hussein kill innocent Iraqis by the thousands.

The Prime Minister: Last year we recalled Parliament because there was a particular issue that needed to be addressed: the role that Britain would or would not play in combating the use of chemical weapons in Syria. This year I do not think that it was necessary to recall Parliament. To have done so at certain stages might have almost shown that somehow we were reacting to individual terrorist events, ghastly as they were. Now Parliament is back, there is plenty of opportunity to ask questions and have debates.

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Commons Hansard
16 Jul 2014

Dentistry

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the implications for the NHS of the decision by the General Dental Council to raise their compulsory statutory annual retention fee from £576 per annum to £945 per annum. [204838]

Dr Poulter, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health): No assessment has been made of the implications for the national health service of the decision by the General Dental Council (GDC) on their proposal to increase the annual retention fee.

The GDC is an independent body and it is therefore for the GDC Council to determine the level of the annual fee it charges for registration. The proposed fee increase is subject to public consultation where the GDC's case will be scrutinised. The Department does not usually contribute to such consultations but all professional regulators, including the GDC, are aware of the Department's position on registration fees. In February 2011, the Government published Enabling Excellence, which states that we would not expect registration fees to increase beyond their current levels, unless there is a clear and robust business case that any increase is essential to ensure the exercise of statutory duties.

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Commons Hansard
10 Jul 2014

Fire Services: Pensions

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he plans to make formal proposals to end the ongoing dispute on firefighters' pensions based on the alternative costed options within the proposed cost ceiling which were released on 12 June 2014; and if he will make a statement on progress towards resolving that dispute. [203610]

Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government): I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 1 July 2014, Official Report, column 610W. The consultation on the draft regulations has now concluded and it remains premature to pre-empt its outcome. Progress towards resolving this dispute remains entirely in the hands of the Fire Brigades Union.

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Commons Hansard
9 Jul 2014

Cybercrime

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what support and protection the Government provides to UK businesses experiencing cyber attacks. [203893]

Mr Willetts, Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Universities and Science): The UK Cyber Security Strategy, published in November 2011, sets out how the UK will support economic prosperity, protect national security and safeguard the public's way of life by building a more trusted and resilient digital environment. A £860 million National Cyber Security programme is in place to 2016 to deliver the objectives of the strategy. These objectives include making the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business in cyberspace, and making the UK more resilient to cyber attack and better able to protect our interests in cyberspace.

Government is working closely with industry to address the threat and impact of cyber attacks. These measures include:

Creating a National Computer Emergency Response Team, CERT UK which works closely with industry, Government and academia to enhance UK cyber resilience. It provides support to Critical National Infrastructure companies to handle cyber security incidents. The Cyber Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP), part of CERT UK, enables companies to share information and intelligence on cyber security threats.

The creation of a Government approved list of Cyber Incident 'Clean Up' companies which can help companies respond effectively to incidents and get them up and running as soon as possible.

Advice and guidance resources including the '10 Steps to Cyber Security' guidance, the CyberStreetwise behaviour change campaign:

www.cyberstreetwise.com

and the Government and industry funded GetSafeOnline:

www.getsafeonline.org.

The Government-backed and industry approved Cyber Essentials scheme, which enables businesses to certify themselves against core technical cyber requirements and implement a basic level of cyber hygiene against cyber threats.

Practical support for small businesses with the Cyber Security Innovation Vouchers Scheme to enable individual businesses to receive £5,000 to increase their cyber security.

Support for industry initiatives such as Nominet's 'Cyber Assist' pilot service for small and medium-sized enterprises experiencing cyber attacks.

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Commons Hansard
8 Jul 2014

Cybercrime

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what evidence he has of attempts by foreign intelligence services to instigate cyber attacks on UK companies; and if he will make a statement. [203895]

Mr Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Cabinet Office): As was the case under previous Administrations, we do not normally comment on details of cyber-security attacks.

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Commons Hansard
8 Jul 2014

Planning Permission

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government by what process planning decisions can be reversed at the discretion of a court. [203429]

Nick Boles, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Planning): Challenges to planning appeal decisions are made under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

If a challenge is successful the High Court will normally return the case to the Planning Inspectorate for it to be decided again. This does not necessarily mean that the original decision will be changed or reversed.

Mr Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons he reversed the appeal decision in Gateshead Borough, ref 2193211. [203360]

Nick Boles: When appeal 2193211 was first received by the Planning Inspectorate in February 2013, the agent, acting for the appellant, indicated in the appeal form the hearing method as the preferred choice of procedure. They felt this was appropriate as consideration should be given to complex matters requiring technical expert evidence. The Planning Inspectorate wrote to the local planning authority who indicated they felt written representations would suffice.

After considering the information provided and applying the published criteria for determining the procedure the Planning Inspectorate applied section 319a of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) and determined the written representations method was proportionate in the circumstances. No further correspondence regarding the choice of procedure was received and the appeal proceeded according to the timetable set out in the start letter which also explained the choice of procedure. The agent and the local planning authority submitted, as part of the appeal evidence, a statement of common ground which included agreement that the relevant requirements of paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework were satisfied.

Upon receipt of the decision, dated 29 August 2013, the appellant lodged an appeal with the High Court as he felt the requirements of paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework were satisfied, whereas the inspector had found they were not, and that this information could have been examined verbally had the procedure been a hearing.

To allow for procedural fairness, it was agreed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government that the appeal would be re-determined by a different inspector and would follow a hearing or public inquiry once representations and considerations had been sought from the principal parties. A date for the hearing event has been fixed for 23 July 2014.

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Commons Hansard
3 Jul 2014

Tax Avoidance

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to ensure that proposed accelerated payment notices are not applied retrospectively. [201423]

Mr Gauke, Exchequer Secretary (HM Treasury): The majority of people pay the tax they owe but there is a minority who don't. As part of the Government's long-term economic plan, we are cracking down on tax avoidance.

Legislation currently before Parliament on accelerated payments will enable HMRC to issue notices seeking upfront payment of disputed tax in certain existing and future avoidance cases.

The legislation is not retrospective. It does not create any new tax liability; it simply alters where the tax sits while the liability is being disputed, and puts those who try to avoid tax on the same footing as the vast majority who pay their tax upfront under PAYE.

The taxpayer can continue to dispute the case and will be paid with interest should they win.

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Commons Hansard
1 Jul 2014

Green Deal Scheme

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what the average turnaround is on applications for funding under the Green Deal scheme. [202075]

Gregory Barker, Minister of State (Department of Energy and Climate Change): Applications made to the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund which comply with the scheme terms and conditions will typically be turned around and a voucher issued within five working days. Vouchers are redeemable once the customer has completed their installation of energy saving home improvements.

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Commons Hansard
30 Jun 2014

Prisoners

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many hours per week prisoners in HM Prison Glen Parva spent (a) in cells and (b) working in each of the last three years; and what proportion of such prisoners were classed as unemployed on the last date for which data is available; [202120]

(2) how many hours per week prisoners in HM Prison Gloucester spent (a) in cells and (b) working in each of the last three years; and what proportion of such prisoners were classed as unemployed on the latest date for which data is available; [202121]

(3) how many hours per week prisoners in HM Prison Grendon spent (a) in cells and (b) working in each of the last three years; and what proportion of such prisoners were classed as unemployed on the latest date for which data is available; [202122]

(4) how many hours per week prisoners in HM Prison Guys Marsh spent (a) in cells and (b) working in each of the last three years; and what proportion of such prisoners were classed as unemployed on the latest date for which data is available; [202123]

(5) how many hours per week prisoners in HM Prison Haslar spent (a) in cells and (b) working in each of the last three years; and what proportion of such prisoners were classed as unemployed on the latest date for which data is available. [202124]

Jeremy Wright, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice): Up until the end of 2011-12 information was collected on the average hours per weekday that prisoners were unlocked. By subtracting the average hours unlocked from the 24 hours in a day it is possible to estimate hours spent locked in cell. Figures for each prison establishment for the three years from 2009-10 to 2011-12 have been placed in the Library of the House.

HM Prison Gloucester was closed at the end of financial year 2012-13.

It should be noted that time in cell includes hours when prisoners are asleep. Time unlocked includes time where a prisoner is either out of their cell or where the cell door is unlocked allowing them to move freely in and out of the cell. Figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems, which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Time unlocked was discontinued as a performance indicator for prisons at the end of 2011-12 because it was not used in the day-to-day management of prisons and NOMS had concerns over the burden on the frontline of collecting the data. Indicators introduced into prison SLAs in respect of rehabilitation, resettlement and work in prisons provide a better demonstration of efforts to prepare prisoners for release and reduce reoffending. Figures for time in cell for the years 2012-13 and 2013-14 could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Work in prisons is a key priority to ensure prisoners are engaged purposefully while they are in custody. It also gives them the opportunity to learn skills and a work ethic which can increase their chances of finding employment on release, a key element to reducing reoffending.

The number of prisoners working in industrial activity across public sector prisons increased from around 8,600 in 2010-11 (the first year for which figures are available) to around 9,700 in 2012-13. This delivered an increase in the total hours worked in industrial activities from 10.6 million hours to 13.1 million hours. Private sector prisons have also been supporting this agenda and have reported that they delivered over 1.5 million prisoner working hours in commercial and industrial workshops in 2012-13 which provided work for over 1,200 prisoners. In addition there are substantial numbers of prisoners who work to keep prisons running on tasks such as cooking, serving meals, maintenance and cleaning.

Figures for public sector prisons are published in the NOMS Annual Report Management Information Addendum:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/225225/mi-addendum.pdf

The establishment-level breakdown of weekly hours worked is not available centrally for 2011-12 and 2012-13 and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Our reforms to the Incentives and Earned Privileges national policy framework came into effect in adult prisons on 1 November 2013. Prisoners will be expected to engage in purposeful activity, as well as demonstrate a commitment towards their rehabilitation, reduce their risk of reoffending, behave well and help others if they are to earn privileges.

Information on the proportion of prisoners classed as unemployed is not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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Commons Hansard
25 Jun 2014

Meriam Ibrahim

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the government of Sudan about the imprisonment of Meriam Ibrahim. [198895]

Mark Simmonds, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): I am appalled at the death sentence given to Meriam Ibrahim, and her continued imprisonment. Immediately following her trial, I issued a statement describing her conviction as barbaric and calling upon the Government of Sudan to respect the right to freedom of religion and international human rights laws as enshrined in its own constitution. The chargé d'affaires of the Sudanese embassy in London was summoned to the Foreign Office on 19 May at the request of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague). The Under-Secretary of State for International Development, the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone), reiterated our demand with the Sudanese Foreign Minister when she met him on 20 May. Our embassy in Khartoum, that attended her trial, continues to press the Sudanese authorities for Meriam Ibrahim's release, and is in close contact with the defence team.

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Commons Hansard
24 Jun 2014

Fire Services: Pensions

Mr. Dave Anderson (Blaydon): To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bristol North West, Official Report, column 152W, on fire services: pensions, if he will publish outstanding information requested by the Fire Brigades Union. [201588] Brandon Lewis, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government): On 12 June I published all of the costings that the Fire Brigades Union requested the Government Actuary’s Department to undertake on their behalf. The costings and related communications can be found at the following link:

www.gov.uk/government/publications/firefighters-pension-schemereforms

I also placed copies in the Library of the House.

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