April 2014

John's Quarterly Newsletter April 2014

Below is summary of my main Parliamentary activity since the December recess. If you would like to receive my newsletter by email directly please drop me an email and I will make sure that you do.  

January

6thWater Bill

At third reading of the Water Bill I tabled a new clause which would require the Government to stand back and look objectively at the performance of the water supply industry since it was privatised in 1989 before it could move forward with further legislation.

In my address to the House I exposed the scandalous behaviour of the largest water companies, the flagrant exploitation of consumers and the outrageous profiteering at the expense of the British tax-payer. Although far less prominent in the political debate than the energy industry, the corporate malpractice of the largest water companies is on a comparable scale. Since 2010 alone, bills have gone up by more than 12.5%.

In my address to the House I called on MP’s to consider in detail the record of Water companies since privatisation in terms of cost to the consumer, performance, and implications for our taxation system before coming to a considered view about whether privatisation has worked and whether there are alternatives. I argued that minor reforms will not satisfy people when their next water bills come through the door and urged colleagues to consider the Welsh not-for-profit model which re-invests revenues back into the infrastructure and quality of service rather than lining the pockets of the wealthy owners and shareholders of British water companies.

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140106/debtext/140106-0002.htm#14010614000182

 

7thMesothelioma Bill

At report stage of the Mesothelioma Bill I supported the amendment put forward by Paul Goggins MP which sought to put in place legislation to generate the income for prevention activities and research.

Working in factories in the north-east as a youngster, I can remember the Hebden bridge experience and the asbestos factory there. I have known many mesothelioma sufferers and stressed to the House the two things they want are, first, speedy compensation so that they and their families can get some compensation while they are still alive, if possible, and secondly, that no one else should go through this absolutely appalling suffering.

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140107/debtext/140107-0002.htm#14010751002078

7thPoint of order to the Speaker

On the 7th of January I made a point of order to the Speaker following the recent 10 hour disturbance at Her Majesty’s prison Oakwood, which is managed by G4S.

A recent prison inspector’s report on that prison demonstrated that it was easier to obtain drugs than a bar of soap, under the management of widely discredited G4S.

Through the Speaker I urged the Government to at least provide some form of written statement about how the issue would be addressed.

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140107/debtext/140107-0001.htm#14010751002065

 

13thWelfare reforms and poverty

I spoke during the debate on Welfare reforms and poverty to highlight the shocking levels of child poverty we are witnessing in our constituency, on a scale not seen since the Second World War, and the housing crisis we are witnessing across the country.

The response of this Government has been to increase rents in the social sector—in council housing and social housing—and at the same time cut benefits. Family breakdown is increasing in many of our areas as a result of the financial pressures that people are being put under by a whole series of reforms that have been introduced as part of an incremental attack on the poor by the coalition.

I called for a massive redistribution of wealth to tackle poverty in this country. At the moment we are living in a corporate kleptocracy, where corporations steal and rob from us through tax avoidance and tax evasion. By recouping that money lost to the most wealthy in this country, not only could we tackle the deficit, but that redistribution of wealth could take place and we could lift people out of poverty, provide the homes they need and give them back the life chances that this Government are stealing from them.

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140113/debtext/140113-0003.htm#14011333000352

 

11thOffender Rehabilitation Bill 

Following the extensive work I have done on this issue in opposing the privatisation of the probation service I continued to express my deep concern at the ability of private companies to effectively supervise ex-offenders who have committed a range of serious crimes.  At third reading I intervened in order to call on the Minister to make absolutely clear whether G4S and Serco would be able to form parts of consortia bidding for probation service contracts.

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140114/debtext/140114-0002.htm#14011474001550 

15th  National Minimum Wage Debate

In the national minimum wage debate I brought to the attention of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills this country’s annual condemnation by the International Labour Organisation for undermining trade union rights.

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140115/debtext/140115-0003.htm#14011593001625

 

30thImmigration Bill

At Report stage of the Immigration Bill I was seething with anger at being denied an opportunity to speak to the many amendments I had tabled the Bill.

In the limited time I was given I spoke to an amendment which dealt with the restriction of bail for detainees. In our constituency we have over 1000 detainees at the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook detention centres; this Bill will deny many of them the right to apply for bail in the 14 days before their removal or if they have applied 28days beforehand.

Large numbers of the detainees I deal with in my office are parents and, in those last 14 days, they want to get bail so that they can see their children. Others need bail because they are sick or suffering from a mental illness. The Bill will deny them that opportunity, on the approval of the Secretary of State.

I suggested to colleagues supporting these provisions in the Bill that they visit a detention centre, that they read the report on visits to the Harmondsworth detention centre during 2013 which set out the number of people whom doctors had determined were mentally ill, and, to read the report on mental health in detention centres that was published in January this year by Medical Justice which uncovered ‘a crisis of mental health’ in detention.

To deny people the right to bail in the way in which the Bill proposes takes away hope, and increases the pressure and mental stress and the number of mental illnesses. At the same time, it brings about the level of abuse and inhumanity we have witnessed. I warned members that this Bill will increase harm and be counter- productive. It will deny justice to the most vulnerable people in our society. It is unnecessary. All people want is the right for their case to be heard in the normal manner, as we would all expect it to be.

 

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140130/debtext/140130-0003.htm#14013061000878

February

3rd: Deregulation Bill

At second reading of the Deregulation Bill I supported the Member for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas in her concern about the overall nature of the Bill and how deregulation in a range of areas will impact on key policies to which the Government have signed up, but from which they now seem to be reneging upon, especially regarding environmental protection and tackling climate change.

I also flagged up concerns with regards to a number of clauses across the Bill. I sought clarification from ministers regarding, Clause 23 which removes restrictions on the provision of passenger rail services by amending the Transport Act 1968, Clause 26 of the duty to order a rehearing of a marine accident investigation, and a number of the Bill’s proposals on education, especially the devolution of school dates to individual schools.

While I welcome the ability to remove unnecessary or archaic regulations, I sought to highlight instances where the Bill seeks to remove regulations that are relevant, and their removal could have consequences beyond those calculated by the Government, including an impact on safety.

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140203/debtext/140203-0002.htm#14020325000474

4th:  Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill

During the consideration of Lords amendments to the Anti-social Behanviour, Crime and Policing Bill I sought clarification from the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims to clarify in the terms of the Bill the difference is between “innocent of” and “did not commit”.

During the debate I sought to gain clarification of the entitlement of victims of miscarriages of justice to compensation from the state.  

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140204/debtext/140204-0002.htm#14020474000961

 

24th: Criminal Justice and Courts Bill

At third reading of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill I focused on my concerns with regards to the secure colleges provisioned under the Bill and the proposal for magistrates to sit alone when taking decisions and the changes to judicial review.

With regard to the proposed secure colleges I am concerned at their similarity to the old approved schools system. I called on the Government to take into account the overwhelming evidence in recent years demonstrating that tackling young offenders and rehabilitating youngsters to ensure that they do not offend in the future is better done in smaller units, rather than large ones.

I am concerned by the proposals for magistrates to sit alone when taking decisions and called on the government to take on board the recommendations made by the Magistrates Association in maintaining an element of openness and transparency in this layer of our justice system.

The general trajectory of justice reforms under this Government is deeply concerning. Judicial review is largely used by individual or small organisation to challenge decisions by state bodies and has been used a number of times in our own constituency largely to scrutinise decisions made by local councils. The Government’s current proposals will bear heavily on those individuals or organisations that are challenging decisions by bodies such as local councils. I hope that there will be opportunities in this process for the Government to consider amendments to improve the legislation, so that certain rights can be protected, particularly those of the individual taking on the powerful within our society.

 

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard:http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140224/debtext/140224-0003.htm#14022429000236

 

26th: Flooding debate

In the general debate on the flooding recently experienced in the UK I spoke in order to raise a number of constituency concerns. During the floods I visited on a daily basis those areas of our constituency that were at risk. We were very fortunate that no homes were flooded but it was a near-run thing in West Drayton, particularly in Frays avenue and Donkey lane, and down in Longford.

During my address I called for a ministerial meeting, in light of recent events, to revisit a proposal for what was called the Arklyn Kennels scheme in West Drayton, for investment to build up concrete and earth-bank defences by 2014-15.

 

With regards to the expansion of Heathrow, I called for the Howard Davies review, which is looking at the various options for runways across the south-east, including at Heathrow, to focus attention on the implications for building on what is effectively the Thames floodplain. Any further expansion at Heathrow—any additional runway—will effectively build up a dam, which will cause flooding further on.

 

Finally, I called on the Government to implement recommendation 39 of the Pitt review which called for a statutory duty to be placed upon fire authorities with regard to flooding. Placing a statutory responsibility on fire authorities protects their budgets, ensures that someone takes responsibility, and in the long term cumulatively ensures that the lessons of past disasters are learned.

 

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140226/debtext/140226-0004.htm#140226113002195

 

 

27th: Backbench Business Debate in my name on the effects of welfare reform on sick and disabled people

On the 27th of February I led a historic debate in the chamber on the effects of welfare reform on sick and disabled people. The House of Commons debate followed the success of the online War on Welfare petition which secured over 100,000 signatures, and was the first time in its history people with disabilities have secured a debate on a motion of their choosing.

During the debate I led calls from MP’s for the Government to commission an independent cumulative assessment of the impact of changes in the welfare system on sick and disabled people, their families and carers.

Disgracefully, it is the disabled who have been hardest hit by the austerity programme this government has embarked upon in order to pay for the recession caused by the most wealthy in our society. The group the welfare cuts are hurting the most is the 2.7 million people with disabilities who live in poverty.

Simon Duffy, the director of the Centre for Welfare Reform, explains that disabled people in poverty are bearing the cuts four times worse than the average, while the burden on people using social care is nearly six times that on the average person. Other reports escalate the figure and say that the burden on people with disabilities is perhaps 20 times the average.

 

This government has so far refused to commission an impact assessment of their policies and I put it to the Minister that the government’s reluctance was because if an impact assessment were published, people across society would be so angered and disgusted at how people with disabilities were being treated that they would rise up in revolt.

 

In place of the flawed work capability assessment I called on the Government to work with people with disabilities, their representatives, the BMA and others to create a system that is fair and just.

 

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140227/debtext/140227-0001.htm#14022773000712

 

March

10th and 11th : Care Bill

At report stage of the Care Bill I tabled a number of amendments covering various aspects of the Bill and spoke on the worrying situation in our own constituency in which care is on the edge of crisis, with the new threshold rolling it back for many people.

Amendment 22, tabled in my name, was proposed by the Royal National Institute of Blind People and lobbied for by a number of my constituents to ensure that the local authority is required to collect information on both adults and children.

 

New Clause 31 in my name required public bodies to publish and maintain a register of practising qualified carers.

 

My amendment 26, sought to install into the Bill a provision on the right to live independently, as recommended by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, but dismissed by the Government

My amendment 21 sought to the address the uncertainty of charges for residential care by considering a care funding calculator model for care overall.

 

My proposals in amendment 20 required local authorities to merely collect and record information about an individual’s main and other disabling conditions when they are conducting their social care assessments and arranging care packages.

 

Finally I made clear I would oppose any measures further powers to accumulate in the Secretary of State’s hands to override local wishes by reminding my colleagues that this was a debate about trust and listening to local people.

Here are two links to my full interventions as recorded in Hansard:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140310/debtext/140310-0002.htm#14031030001476

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140311/debtext/140311-0003.htm#14031174001507

 

20th: Tributes to Tony Benn

In the week following his sad passing I paid tribute to the great Tony Benn and the ideals he fought for.

I spoke on the continued relevance of Tony Benn’s ideas to the political struggles of today and the prophetic 1982 Bennite Labour Programme. The programme offered a radical vision of an alternative more equal, democratic and just society and directly addresses the continuing, underlying problems of our country today.

A video of my tribute to Tony in the House of Commons Chamber seen here.

Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140320/debtext/140320-0001.htm#14032059000937

Oral Questions

 

Sri Harmindir Sahib

John McDonnell: The Foreign Secretary spoke of reassurance. I do not believe that members of the Sikh community in my area will be reassured by the fact that a UK Government were willing to provide any military support to desecrate the most holy place on this earth, or by the fact that there was no semblance of an apology today. Nor do I believe they will be reassured by files going missing, or by the fact that this was an internal inquiry. May I urge him to move swiftly for a full public and independent inquiry?

Mr Hague: No, and I think the facts have been set out clearly by the Cabinet Secretary, a respected official and the most senior civil servant in the country, who has served Governments of all parties in a non-partisan way. These are sensitive matters, and everyone should be careful about how they phrase things. To say that the UK gave military support to desecrate the temple is obviously a wild distortion of events, and the hon. Gentleman should regret that.

Flooding 

John McDonnell: I met Fire Brigade Union representatives, representing firefighters in the south-west, last week, and they report that firefighters are working extremely hard for long hours. I pay tribute to them. But they asked me to make the point that they are being hampered by job cuts—2,000 firefighters over the last 18 months. In addition, although there has been an improvement in equipment, the Government still have not decided to establish a statutory duty on fire authorities to deal with flooding, which would protect investment in equipment in the future.

Mr Pickles: I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would also like to thank the thousands of retained firefighters for working hard on behalf of their local communities. I, too, had the opportunity to speak to firefighters this morning in Croydon. I was remarkably impressed by their dedication, hard work, cheerfulness and adaptability in ensuring that an important water pumping station remains open. We will ensure that firefighters have the best possible equipment to deal with this issue, and we have a strategic reserve of high-volume pumps that are being used extensively throughout the Thames valley and the Somerset levels.

 

Re-offending

John McDonnell: At the heart of the Government’s reforms is the large-scale tendering of services. Does the grotesque debacle of the electronic tagging contract with Buddi not demonstrate that the Minister’s Government is incapable of managing this process efficiently? This is yet another contract where the competition has been ended. A Ministry of Justice statement says that it has had to retender the contract for the supply of new tags.

Jeremy Wright: Perhaps unsurprisingly, I do not agree with the way the hon. Gentleman has represented the situation. The position is this. We will work with a preferred bidder to try to ensure that our needs are met and that we can reach agreement in delivering what will be impressive new technology to help us keep better track of offenders. If we cannot reach agreement with a preferred bidder, we must move on to another provider, and that is what is happening here. Four lots are involved in this particular process. On three of them, things are working as well as we could possibly have expected. In relation to the fourth, there are difficulties, but we are resolving them. What I hope the hon. Gentleman will welcome is the use of the technology.

Written Questions

 

I have raised a number of Parliamentary questions to departments across government. Below is a list of my written and oral questions.

Written Questions

 Alstom

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions (a) he and (b) officials in his Department have held with Alstom in respect of its decision to restructure its transport sector. [181919]

Stephen Hammond: There have been no discussions with Alstom. As a private sector company it is up to Alstom how they operate their business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northern Rail

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what revenue support has been received by Northern Rail since 2010. [181989]

Stephen Hammond: Revenue support figures are published by the Office of Rail Regulation and can be seen at

http://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/displayreport/html/html/6d363642-c3a9-4a29-9477-542810798fa7

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of the (a) risk and (b)benefits of devolving Northern Rail services; [181992]

(2) what assessment he has made of potential Government funding requirements in the event that responsibility for Northern Rail services is devolved; [181993]

(3) what the allocation of funding responsibilities will be between central Government and local authorities in the event that responsibility for Northern Rail services is devolved; [181994]

(4) when the Government plans to make a decision on the devolution of Northern Rail services; and if he will make a statement. [182005]

6 Jan 2014 : Column 123W

Stephen Hammond: The Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire Dales (Mr McLoughlin) met a delegation from the Rail North consortium of local authorities in the North of England on 21 November 2013 to take forward their proposals for the devolution of the Northern and TransPennine Express rail franchises. He confirmed the Government's support for the principle of devolution. Devolution could support greater local accountability, improved rail efficiency, passenger benefits and economic growth. The Secretary of State agreed with Rail North leaders an initial partnership structure to take forward devolved decision-making in the north of England to help manage the risks associated with a project of this scale.

The partnership will cover the re-franchised Northern and TransPennine services. The Department will run the competitions for the replacement franchises from February 2016, working closely with Rail North. The intention is to bring the management of those replacement franchises into a formal partnership structure. The partnership will build on the good work Rail North has done over the past year to build consensus on a long term rail strategy and a structure for decision-making in the north. It will be designed to facilitate local funding from Rail North partners in addition to core funding from the Department.

Rail North and Department officials are developing further details of the partnership for presentation to the Secretary of State and the Rail North local authorities in January.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the new short-term franchise for Northern Rail services is a contract extension or a new contract. [181995]

Stephen Hammond: The new franchise for services currently operated by Northern Rail will be a new franchise contract made by Direct Award.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultation his Department has undertaken with passengers regarding the award of a short-term franchise for Northern Rail services. [181996]

Stephen Hammond: No formal consultation has been undertaken with passengers regarding the planned Direct Award to Northern. As part of the discussions about the new contract we are engaging closely with Rail North and other stakeholders.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost to his Department in respect of (a)consultancy fees and (b) other matters has been in respect of the short-term franchise for Northern Rail services. [181997]

Stephen Hammond: The cost to date of external advisers on the Northern Direct Award totals £393,000. The cost of all franchising activities will be published annually in the Department for Transport accounts.

Railways: Waste Disposal

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the average quantity of effluent that is discharged directly onto railway tracks each week. [181975]

Stephen Hammond: When asked in early 2013, Network Rail was unable to estimate the current level of waste discharged on to the tracks.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what estimate he has made of the number of trains which still discharge effluent directly onto railway tracks; [181976]

(2) what estimate he has made of the number of trains which do not have effluent retention tanks. [181977]

Stephen Hammond: Over three quarters of all trains either have retention tanks fitted or are not equipped with toilets.

This proportion will increase significantly as new rolling stock is introduced over the next few years.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on which routes trains still discharge effluent onto railway tracks. [181978]

Stephen Hammond: Certain services on the Great Eastern, Great Western, Midland and East Coast main lines are served by trains which discharge effluent to the track. This is also the case for certain local and regional services in East Anglia, Wales, Scotland, the east and west midlands, the north and south-west England.

However, significant progress has been made since 2001 in rolling out vehicles with retention tanks, with a halving in the number of trains which discharge waste to the tracks. This will continue over the next few years as more new rolling stock with retention tanks is introduced, and as tanks are fitted to older units.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether his Department has made representations to the (a) rolling stock operating companies and (b) train operating companies to end the discharging of effluent onto railway tracks; [181979]

(2) whether his Department has made representations to the (a) rolling stock operating companies and (b) train operating companies to modify rolling stock which currently do not have effluent retention tanks. [181980]

Stephen Hammond: The rail industry is aware of Ministers' desire to see effluent discharge to tracks phased out.

The Department is currently considering proposals from a number of operators to extend their franchises, which include programmes to fit retention tanks to older fleets.

6 Jan 2014 : Column 129W

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps have been taken by (a) rolling stock operating companies and (b) train operating companies to modify rolling stock which does not have retention tanks for effluent. [181998]

Stephen Hammond: There is currently no formal or legal requirement to stop train operating companies from discharging toilet waste on to the track or to force rolling stock leasing companies to retrofit controlled emission toilets to those trains that currently discharge waste to the track.

Despite this, the industry is taking steps to reduce the number of trains that discharge effluent to the track. A fleet of older diesel trains in East Anglia is currently being fitted with retention tanks, while the Department is currently considering proposals from a number of operators to extend their franchises, which include programmes to fit tanks elsewhere.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Government requires all new rolling stock on UK railways to have effluent retention tanks. [181999]

Stephen Hammond: Since 1996, the rail industry has adhered to a code of practice which requires effluent retention tanks to be fitted to all new rolling stock with toilets.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department issues guidelines on the frequency which train effluent tanks must be emptied. [182000]

Stephen Hammond: The Department for Transport does not issue guidelines on the frequency which train effluent tanks must be emptied. This is an operational matter for the railways.

Rolling Stock

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what leasing costs have been paid to rolling stock leasing companies on each franchise in each of the last ten years; [181923]

(2) what the total leasing costs are that have been paid to rolling stock leasing companies in the last 10 years. [181932]

Stephen Hammond: The leasing costs for rolling stock are the result of negotiations between two private sector commercial entities. Putting such information in the public sphere would give advantage to each party's competitors.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps he has taken to introduce the regulation of fair rates of return for the rolling stock operating companies recommended by the McNulty Rail Value for Money study; [181925]

(2) what steps he has taken to hold rolling stock in the public interest as recommended by the McNulty Rail Value for Money study. [181926]

6 Jan 2014 : Column 130W

Stephen Hammond: The Secretary of State's March 2012 Command Paper sets out the Government's approach to the sector in light of the McNulty study.

The Government's policy is for a market led approach to rolling stock. Current and future franchise competitions give greater flexibility to franchisees over the rolling stock decisions they make when bidding for franchises which will drive greater value in the sector.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of market share of the rolling stock leasing companies. [181930]

Stephen Hammond: For franchised rail passenger fleets, ownership by vehicle is as follows:

ROSCO

Percentage

 

Electric Multiple Unit

Diesel Multiple Unit

Coaches

Loco

Total

Angel Trains

32

37

33

46

34

Eversholt

37

13

27

13

29

Porterbrook

30

37

37

39

33

Voyager Leasing

13

3

Macquarie

1

1

Beacon Rail

<1

<1

Virgin Trains

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what obligations there are in the franchise and contract extension for Virgin Trains to maintain its rolling stock; and whether those obligations specify the number and location of maintenance depots. [181918]

Stephen Hammond: The franchise agreement requires West Coast Trains Limited, trading as Virgin Trains, to operate and maintain the specified train fleet. The franchise agreement does not specify the number and location of maintenance depots.

 

Rolling Stock

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what new railway rolling stock will be 

7 Jan 2014 : Column 219W

introduced in the next 10 years; by what dates; and on what routes. [182003]

Stephen Hammond: On services operated by Department for Transport procured rail franchises the following new train orders have been placed since 2010:

170 Electrostar carriages currently being delivered for use on Southern routes;

80 Desiro carriages currently being delivered for use on Transpennine and West Midlands services;

116 Electrostar carriages for use on the Thameslink route by May 2015;

1,140 carriages for use on the Thameslink route from 2016; and

866 IEP carriages for use on the Great Western and East Coast main lines from 2017.

Other franchising authorities, such as Transport Scotland and Transport for London, are also involved in ordering new trains-such as for Crossrail.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has assessed the consequences for safety of introducing new rolling stock which is not configured to employ a conductor or guard. [182004]

Stephen Hammond: This is a matter for the train operator.

 

Railways: Waste Disposal

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make an assessment of the effect on the safety of(a) rail workers and (b) passengers of the discharge of effluent directly onto railway tracks. [182001]

Stephen Hammond: Research carried out for the Rail Safety and Standards Board in May 2004 concluded that while discharge from toilet waste on to the track is unsightly, the risk to passengers and employees from pathogen infection was low.

 

West Coast Railway Line

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who is currently responsible for the maintenance of trains on the West Coast Main Line; and at what depots this maintenance takes place. [181915]

8 Jan 2014 : Column 263W

Stephen Hammond: Franchisees operating trains on the West Coast Main Line are responsible for the provision of rolling stock required to operate their services. The details of what maintenance takes place at which depot can be ascertained from contacting the 10 passenger train operating companies.

 

Rolling Stock

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it a requirement that all new railway rolling stock to be introduced in the next 10 years will be configured to retain (a) the existing role of conductor and guard and(b) on-board catering facilities. [182002]

Stephen Hammond: In line with the market led approach set out in the March 2012 Rail Command Paper, ‘Reforming our Railways: Putting the Customer First’, it will be for the relevant asset owners and potential future operators to determine the configuration of rolling stock, in line with the franchise specifications and the relevant safety and legislative requirements. The previous Administration similarly did not specify rolling stock types or interior layouts and design.

 

Northern Rail

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has prepared contingency plans for Directly Operated Rail Services, or a subsidiary of Directly Operated Rail Services, to operate Northern Rail Services in the event that it is not possible to agree a new contract with the incumbent operator. [181985]

Stephen Hammond: In line with the Secretary of State's statutory duty to maintain the running of passenger rail services under the Railways Act 1993 (as amended), it might be that Directly Operated Rail Services (DOR) or a subsidiary of DOR could operate Northern services.

Northern Rail

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make an assessment of potential benefits to the public purse of Directly Operated Railways operating Northern Rail services in the event that it is not possible to agree a new contract with the incumbent operator. [181986]

Stephen Hammond: The Secretary of State has a statutory duty under the Railways Act 1993 (as amended) to maintain the running of rail passenger services. If he is unable to secure a new contract for an operator for such services, including those currently operated by Northern Rail, Directly Operated Railways could fulfil this requirement.

 

Rolling Stock

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultants have been used to provide advice on train leasing arrangements in the last five years; and what conflicts of interest they declared. [181922]

Stephen Hammond: In the last five years, the following companies have provided consultancy advice on train leasing arrangements:

Freshfields;

PWC;

Steer Davies Gleave;

Booz & Company;

Leigh Fisher;

Arup/lnterfleet;

Willis;

Eversheds;

Burges Salmon; and

Halcrow/TRL.

9 Jan 2014 : Column 310W

Three conflicts of interest were notified, two by Interfleet and one by Burges Salmon. In each case the Department was satisfied that appropriate protection was in place.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who will own the rolling stock provided for (a) the Intercity Express programme, (b) the Thameslink Rolling Stock project and (c) Crossrail. [181924]

Stephen Hammond: The rolling stock for the Intercity Express Programme will be owned by Agility Trains. The new Thameslink rolling stock fleet will be owned by Cross London Trains Ltd and the rolling stock for Crossrail will be owned by Transport for London.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultancy costs his Department has incurred in the last five years in respect of advice on train leasing arrangements. [181931]

Stephen Hammond: Train leasing arrangements are generally a matter for train operating companies and rolling stock leasing companies.

Where the Department has employed consultants to assist it during rolling stock projects, those companies provide advice on a number of areas, which may include train leasing arrangements. It has not, therefore, been possible to break consultancy costs down to such a specific area of work.

 

West Coast Railway Line

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what fees have been paid to Virgin West Coast by the Government since the introduction of the management contract in December 2012. [181990]

Stephen Hammond: Virgin West Coast retains 1% of revenue as per the contracted terms. This is the “fee” as agreed in the management contract.

For the relevant 16-week period ending 31 March 2013 within the financial year 2012-13 (ending 31 March 2013), Virgin West Coast Trains "fee" for the provision of the Franchise Services totalled £2,860,000.

In the same period, the Government received £24,313,000 as a premium payment from Virgin West Coast.

Cleared, audited accounts are not yet available for the tax year 2013-14.

 

Railways: Freight

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the potential contribution of increased rail freight capacity to (a) regional economic growth and (b) economic growth in West Yorkshire. [181933]

13 Jan 2014 : Column 376W

Michael Fallon: The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable), has had no such discussions with the Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire Dales (Mr McLoughlin).

 

Mortgages

John McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the practice of mortgage lenders declining mortgage applications from people who in the previous six years had taken out a payday loan. [182434]

Sajid Javid: In making mortgage lending decisions, lenders must follow the appropriate regulatory and legislative requirements. Beyond this, decisions about who they lend to and on what terms are a commercial matter, including how they use information about existing or previous credit commitments.

Credit risk models and approaches vary between lenders, so while a history of payday loans may prevent a borrower taking out a loan with one lender, others may take a different approach.

 

Rolling Stock

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 9 January 2014, Official Report, column 310W, on rolling stock, what the basis was of the conflicts of interest declared by Interfleet and Burges Salmon. [183059]

Stephen Hammond: In relation to the Thameslink Rolling Stock Programme, Interfleet notified the Department that it had contracted to provide technical 

21 Jan 2014 : Column 135W

assistance to Siemens in relation to gauging activities and simulations and the provision of Notified Body approval for the new Thameslink fleet. The Department has received assurances about strict adherence to project confidentiality rules being in place and was content that this did not represent a conflict of interest.

In November 2013 Interfleet notified the Department that its Swedish arm, Interfleet Technology AB, had responded to a Siemens ITT for the provision of instrumented wheelsets for the Thameslink train to allow information to be recorded during test runs. It is understood that this contract has yet to be awarded. However if it was, the Department is satisfied that it would not represent a conflict of interest given that the firms operate as separate entities.

Separately, one team within Burges Salmon provided legal advice to First Transpennine Express during the procurement of the new electric trains that it has recently begun operating, while another team provided legal advice to the Department. We were satisfied that all appropriate protections (including information barriers) were in place and that both teams' objectives were to obtain the best deal for their respective clients.

 

Work Programme

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether his assessment of the effectiveness of the Work Programme will include (a) data on claimants returning to Jobcentre services and (b) a survey of the experiences of those completing the Work Programme. [183947]

Esther McVey: Work Programme performance statistics data and experiences of Work Programme returners have and will be used in assessment of the effectiveness of the programme.

 

Employment and Support Allowance

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what guidance and support his Department provides to people assessed as fit for work by ATOS and declined employment support allowance whilst awaiting reconsideration. [183950]

Mike Penning: When a decision maker has decided that a claimant does not have limited capability for work following a Work Capability Assessment, the Department makes a decision assurance call. During this call, the claimant can be advised of what alternative benefits may be available and what action to take if they dispute the decision.

The decision letter issued to the claimant in these circumstances also provides detailed advice on claiming jobseeker's allowance and other benefits. Jobcentres also provide further advice to claimants to help them return to work.

 

Fire Services: Risk Management

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress he has made on developing integrated risk management planning guidance since publication of the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England in July 2012; when the Integrated Risk Management Plan Steering Group has met since May 2010; and what plans he has to deliver the Fire and Rescue National Framework for England and associated risk management planning. [183948]

Brandon Lewis: The Fire and Rescue National Framework for England, published in July 2012, made clear that Government did not intend to issue any additional guidance in relation to integrated risk management planning in the light of the sector-owned Integrated Risk Management Plan Steering Group, which was put in place to take this work forward.

Since May 2010, this group met twice under the chairmanship of my Department: in November 2010 and in February 2011. In February 2011, the responsibility for the group was transferred to the Chief Fire Officers' Association, and officials from my Department have not been invited to participate in any subsequent meetings.

The Framework also set out that fire and rescue authorities must publish an annual statement of assurance on financial, governance and operational matters including showing how they have had due regard to the expectations set out in their integrated risk management plan. In May 2013 my Department published light touch guidance on the content of these annual statements:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statements-of-assurance-for-fire-and-rescue-authorities-in-england

My Department reports on the overall delivery of the Framework to Parliament biennially. The last report was laid in July 2012 and set out that the Secretary of State was satisfied that fire and rescue authorities had been acting in accordance with the Framework, and that he had not taken any formal steps to secure compliance.

 

Railways

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the proportion of passenger rail journeys requiring (a) no change of train, (b) one change of train and (c) more than one change of train (i) in the last year for which data is available and (ii) in 1994. [184013]

Stephen Hammond: The following table shows the proportion of passenger rail journeys in Great Britain involving no change, one change or two or more changes of train in 2012. Equivalent data from 1994 are not available.

Proportion of surface rail trips involving no change,   one change or two or more changes of train: 2012

Number of changes of train

Percentage

No change

85

One change

14

Two or more changes

2

Note: Figures may not add up to 100% due to   rounding. Source: National Travel Survey

 

 

Social Security Benefits

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many (a) jobseeker's allowance and (b)employment and support allowance hardship claims have been made since July 2012. [183970]

24 Jan 2014 : Column 367W

Esther McVey: The information requested about the number of claims for hardship is intended for future publication and will be released in due course in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

 

Social Security Benefits: Disqualification

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what definition he uses for (a) expectations for sanctions referrals and (b) targets for Jobcentre Plus staff. [183945]

Esther McVey: The information is as follows:

(a) There are no sanction targets or expectations for number of referrals.

(b) Departmental Performance Agreements replaced top-down targets with planning assumptions, introducing a more flexible culture of continuous improvement to drive up individual and organisational performance and providing greater value for money to deliver high quality public services.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment his Department has made of correlation between increased sanctioning and (a) jobseeking success rates, (b) incidents of abuse and assaults committed against staff in jobcentres and (c) referrals of claimants to foodbanks. [183949]

Esther McVey: We have made no such assessment.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions with reference to his Department's statistics on sanctions published on 6 November 2013, if he will provide a breakdown of those statistics by (a) region and (b) equality groups as proportion of the claimant count. [183969]

Esther McVey: The information requested is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

 

Probation

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what the inherent and pre-mitigation risk is to the Transforming Rehabilitation programme from insufficient attention and support from his Department owing to other demands; [184129]

(2) what the inherent and post-mitigation risk is to the Transforming Rehabilitation programme from insufficient or delayed guidance to probation trusts from his Department; [184130]

(3) what the inherent and post-mitigation risk is to the Transforming Rehabilitation programme from insufficient capacity in his Department to manage the process owing to their scale and lack of co-ordination between different work streams in his Department; [184131]

(4) what the inherent and post-mitigation risk is to the Transforming Rehabilitation programme from a failure of the programme to be delivered either in scope or within the time scale set by Ministers. [184132]

Jeremy Wright: The Rehabilitation programme adopts a rigorous governance approach to programme delivery. This provides a framework of decision-making and allows effective co-ordination across different work-streams within the Department.

We are committed to giving trusts all the information, resources and support they need to transition to the new system successfully. For example, comprehensive guidance has been given to trust HR managers on transitioning to the new structures, including the criteria to be used when allocating staff for posts in the new national probation service (NPS) or community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) and the grounds for appeal against assignment. In addition, from 1 April, we will begin to allocate cases according to the future structure of NPS and CRCs and will make the full transition to new IT support systems. More information will continue to be sent to trusts as the programme progresses.

We have developed and designed the new system through consultation and engagement and are working with operational staff from probation trusts to test the design of the future operational model. We will continue to work closely with trusts to test key aspects of the new system in the run-up to implementation. We are taking a phased approach to implementation and have plans in place to roll out further business readiness tests at key stages of implementation so that we can ensure we are managing the transition to the new system in a safe and measured way which maintains public protection.

This approach ensures that the Transforming Rehabilitation programme remains on track to deliver these essential reforms.

Probation

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the annual cost is to the Probation Service in England and Wales of supervising a person on licence for (a) 12, (b) 24 and (c) 36 months. [183946]

Jeremy Wright: Probation unit costs are published on an annual basis by the Ministry of Justice at the following page of the gov.uk website:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/prison-and-probation-trusts-performance-statistics-201213

Tonnage Tax

John McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the reduction in tax liabilities for shipping companies in the tonnage tax scheme was in each (a) calendar and (b) financial year since the scheme was introduced up to the latest estimates for (i) 2013 and (ii) 2013-14. [185941]

Mr Gauke: The following tables provide estimates of the difference between accruals of tax liabilities for the UK Shipping Industry through tonnage tax and what they would otherwise have been under standard UK corporation tax since 2000 for (a) calendar year and (b) financial year:

 

£ million

Calendar year

Reduction in tax liabilities1,4,5

20003

60

20013

65

2.0023

65

20033

80

20043

90

2005

95

2006

90

2007

135

2008

270

2009

95

2010

95

20112

120

 

 

£ million

Financial year

Reduction in tax liabilities1,4,5

2000-013

60

2001-023

65

2002-033

70

2003-043

80

2004-053

90

2005-06

90

2006-07

100

2007-08

170

2008-09

225

2009-10

95

2010-112

100

6 Feb 2014 : Column 309W

Notes: 1 Estimates have been rounded to the   nearest £5 million. 2 The latest data available are for   2011. 3 Estimates for 2000-04 should be treated as indicative only,   due to insufficient data being available before 2005. 4 Estimates   are based on the assumption that without the introduction of tonnage tax in 2000,   the level of affected UK shipping activities would have remained equal to   that of 1999. 5 This methodology has been revised and is now   consistent with estimates reported to the European   Commission. 6 Previous methodology was based on taking into account   that it is likely that fewer large ships would be operated from the UK if   generally internationally mobile ship operating companies had to pay standard   UK corporation tax rather than tonnage tax. As a result these estimates may   differ from estimates previously released.

The latest tax returns data available are for 2011; however, HMRC publishes projections of the estimated reduction in tax liabilities accrued by the UK shipping industry through the tonnage tax regime for 2012-13 and 2013-14. These are available at the following link (and are consistent with the methodology used above):

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/statistics/expenditures/table1-5.pdf

Immigrants: Detainees

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) many immigration detainees have been transferred from Colbrook Immigration Removal Centre to Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in each of the last 12 months; [186543]

(2) how many immigration detainees have been transferred from Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre to Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre in each of the last 12 months; [186544]

(3) what the escorting arrangements are for immigration detainees who are transferred from Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre to Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre. [186546]

James Brokenshire: The data requested about the transfer of immigration detainees to and from Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) and Harmondsworth IRC can only be collated and verified at disproportionate cost.

Tascor Services Ltd operates the Home Office escorting contract and carries out all routine transfers of immigration detainees to and from Harmondsworth and Colnbrook IRCs.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether contracted companies receive a payment for each reception and discharge of an immigration detainee. [186545]

James Brokenshire: There is no payment made for each reception and discharge of an immigration detainee.

11 Feb 2014 : Column 567W

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what payments have been made to (a) GEO and (b) Tascor in respect of the transfer of immigration detainees from Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre to Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre in each of the last 12 months. [186547]

James Brokenshire: The Home Office does not make payment to GEO in respect of the transfer of immigration detainees between Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre and Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre.

The Home Office does have a contract with Tascor in respect of the transfer of immigration detainees between Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre and Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre this is based on a rate per mile, the detail of which is commercially confidential.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what payments have been made to (a) Serco and (b) Tascor in respect of the transfer of immigration detainees from Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre to Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in each of the last 12 months. [186548]

James Brokenshire: The Home Office does not make payment to Serco in respect of the transfer of immigration detainees between Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre and Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre.

The Home Office does have a contract with Tascor in respect of the transfer of immigration detainees between Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre and Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre this is based on a rate per mile the detail of which is commercially confidential.

 

Prisoners: Foreign Nationals

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many foreign national prisoners have been given temporary release to attend interviews at immigration detention centres operated under contract to the UK Border Agency in each month of the last three years. [186540]

Jeremy Wright: Central data is not held on how many foreign national prisoners have been given release on temporary licence and for what reasons. This information could only be obtained by a manual check of the records of all instances of prisoners being released on temporary license, which would incur disproportionate cost. It is not however, usual practice for foreign national prisoners to be given release on temporary licence for this purpose. In circumstances where the Home Office is required to interview foreign national prisoners, Immigration Enforcement staff will attend the relevant prison to carry out this task.

Prisoners: Foreign nationals

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many foreign national prisoners, who were given temporary release to attend interviews with the immigration service at immigration detention centres operated under contract to the UK Border Agency, were transported to and from their interviews in each month of the last three years; [186541]

(2) what the cost has been of escorting foreign national prisoners, who were given temporary release to attend interviews with the immigration service at immigration detention centres operated under contract to the UK Border Agency in each month of the last three years. [186542]

 

James Brokenshire: Foreign national offenders are not given temporary release in order to attend interviews at Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs).

It is not possible to give the number of foreign national offenders who were moved to attend interviews at IRCs and the cost of those moves as this would require the examination of individual records at disproportionate cost.

 

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment he has made of the potential effect of costs savings at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, on the scientific research and conservation work carried out at the gardens; [186737]

(2) what costs savings he expects to make at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, over the next 12 months; and what assessment he has made of the potential effect of such changes on the services provided to the public by the gardens. [186736]

11 Feb 2014 : Column 578W

Dan Rogerson: The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) is funded from a variety of sources: Government, commercial income, charitable giving including through the independent charity the Kew Foundation and other grants. DEFRA provided £32.5 million in funding in financial year 2012-13, the most recent complete year of data, out of total income of £59.8 million.

The total budget for financial year 2014-15 will be set by the RBG Kew Board of Trustees as part of the annual business planning process. This plan will specify the year's activities, including those relating to its scientific research and conservation work, and the services provided to the public by the gardens and will be agreed with Ministers.

 

Shipping: Employment

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the contribution of long-term trends in (a) training and (b) employment in the shipping industry to the decline in the total number of UK seafarers between 2012 and 2013. [187384]

Stephen Hammond: The Department for Transport produces and publishes National Statistics on the number of UK certificated seafarers and ratings currently estimated to be active at sea and on the number of sea cadets in training. Data on the number of ratings in training are not held.

During the period 2006 to 2013, the total number of cadets in training has increased, as can be seen in Table 1.

Table 1: Number of cadets in training, 2006-13

 

Number

2006

1,110

2007

1,430

2008

1,700

2009

1,800

2010

1,830

2011

1,840

2012

1,900

2013

1,990

Source: UK seafarer statistics, 2013

The Department for Transport monitors the data on an annual basis (or when updates are available). The Support for Maritime Training programme (SMarT) budget was increased by 25% to £15 million in September 2013 to ensure the availability of a qualified workforce. Government also has a number of other policies in place to address the decline including Maritime apprenticeships and the tonnage tax regime with its mandatory training link. The Support for Maritime Training programme (SMarT) budget provided by Government extends to the provision of training for ratings.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the contribution of long-term trends in (a) training and (b) employment in the shipping industry to the decline in the total number of UK ratings between 2012 and 2013. [187385]

Stephen Hammond: The Department for Transport produces and publishes national statistics on the number of UK ratings currently estimated to be active at sea. Data on the number of ratings in training is not held.

The Department for Transport does not hold the appropriate data regarding the available ratings work force and those in training to assess any long terms trends or relationships.

13 Feb 2014 : Column 722W

The Support for Maritime Training programme (SMarT) budget provided by Government extends to the provision of training for ratings.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the contribution of long-term trends in (a) training and (b) employment in the shipping industry to the decline in the total number of UK certificated officers between 2006 and 2013. [187386]

Stephen Hammond: The Department for Transport produces and publishes National Statistics on the number of UK certificated seafarers currently estimated to be active at sea and on the number of sea cadets in training.

During the period 2006-13, the total number of cadets in training has increased, as shown in the following table.

Number of cadets in training, 2006-13

 

Number

2006

1,110

2007

1,430

2008

1,700

2009

1,800

2010

1,830

2011

1,840

2012

1,900

2013

1,990

Source: UK seafarer statistics, 2013.

The Department for Transport monitors the data on an annual basis (or when updates are available). The Support for Maritime Training programme (SMarT) budget was increased by 25% to £15 million in September 2013 to ensure the availability of a qualified work force. Government also has a number of other policies in place to address the decline including Maritime apprenticeships and the tonnage tax regime with its mandatory training link. The Support for Maritime Training programme (SMarT) budget provided by Government extends to the provision of training for ratings.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of employment trends in the shipping industry. [187404]

Stephen Hammond: National statistics on employment in the shipping sector are published by the Office for National Statistics. Data is collected as part of the business register and employment survey.

The Department for Transport collects and produces a national statistics publication on seafarers which provides estimates for the number of UK seafarers active at sea, including demographic analysis.

Data from these two Government sources, alongside industry estimates are monitored on an annual basis (or when updates are available). The Department for Transport monitors the data on an annual basis (or when updates are available). The Support for Maritime Training programme (SMarT) budget was increased by 25% to £15 million in September 2013 to ensure the availability of a qualified work force. Government also has a number of other policies in place to address the decline including Maritime apprenticeships and the tonnage tax regime 

13 Feb 2014 : Column 723W

with its mandatory training link. The Support for Maritime Training programme (SMarT) budget provided by Government extends to the provision of training for ratings.

Probation

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what steps he has taken to ensure that there will be sufficient experienced probation officers allocated to the 21 community rehabilitation companies to assess risk escalation of offenders who are supervised by those companies. [187389]

Jeremy Wright: The 30 bidders who passed the first stage of the competition to win the regional rehabilitation contracts were announced in mid December and all have experience in working with offenders or across the wider Criminal Justice System. Providers bidding to run Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) will need to demonstrate in their bids how they will deliver high quality services and how they will maintain a workforce with appropriate levels of competence and training to deliver these services. CRCs will be free to use the Probation Qualifications Framework (PQF) to ensure this. Existing probation staff have been assigned to posts in the new structures according to their experience and case load.

Detention Centres

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how UKBA monitors contractual levels of staffing provided by GEO Group UK Ltd at Harmondsworth and Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centres. [187415]

James Brokenshire: The UK Border Agency was abolished in March 2013 and replaced by Home Office UK Visas and Immigration and Home Office Immigration Enforcement; this followed the creation of Border Force as a separate Home Office command in March 2012.

The organisational changes have not altered the way in which contracts with service providers are managed. The contractual staffing levels for GEO at Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre (IRC) and for Serco at Colnbrook IRC are monitored by the on-site Home Office Immigration Enforcement Team and through monthly staffing and self-audit reports detailing the hours worked by detainee custody officers and managers.

 

Probation Trusts

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the anticipated underspend for the financial year 2013-14 for each of the 35 probation trusts in England and Wales is. [187387]

Jeremy Wright: The National Offender Management Service expects each Probation Trust to keep their expenditure in line with agreed individual contract values in relation to the services they have been commissioned to deliver to NOMS. The National Offender Management Service works with Trusts to adjust contracts and redeploy resources as appropriate with a view to avoiding under spends at the end of the financial year and to making best use of taxpayer's money.

 

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department spent on maintenance of buildings within the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 2012-13; and if he will list each such building and the cost of repairs to it during that period. [186738]

24 Feb 2014 : Column 99W

Dan Rogerson: In 2012-13 the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew spent £9,219,993 on maintaining and repairing its buildings and associated infrastructure on its two sites at Kew and Wakehurst Place.

We do not keep records of expenditure on each building in a format that would allow reporting of spend in this way. To calculate this would be of disproportionate cost.

 

Sri Lanka

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made on the establishment of an independent investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sri Lanka. [188508]

Mr Swire: Since the end of the military conflict in Sri Lanka, the British Government has been clear that there should be a credible, transparent and independent 

24 Feb 2014 : Column 60W

investigation into allegations of violations and abuses of international humanitarian and human rights law. Following her visit to Sri Lanka last year, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said that she had detected 'no new or comprehensive effort' to investigate these allegations. We share the High Commissioners concerns and do not believe that processes set up by the Sri Lankan Government, such as the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission or the Commission of inquiry on Disappearances announced last year, adequately address accountability.

If credible domestic investigations have not begun properly by March 2014, the Prime Minister has been clear that we will use our position on the United Nations Human Rights Council to work with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and other countries to call for an international investigation.

 

Personal Independence Payment

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people who have indicated that they have a neurological condition have 

3 Mar 2014 : Column 686W

(a)

applied for personal independence payment and

(b)

received a decision on their claim between April and December 2013; [189520]

(2) how many people who indicated they have Parkinson's (a) applied for personal independence payment and (b)received a decision about their claim between April and December 2013. [189550]

Mike Penning: Personal Independence Payment (PIP) started from April 2013 and although limited data has started to feed through, we need to wait until the Department has quality assured, meaningful figures for publication. The Department is working to guidelines set by the UK Statistics Authority to ensure we are able to publish statistics that meet high quality standards at the earliest opportunity. We intend to publish official statistics on PIP from spring 2014 in line with our publication strategy:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/284330/pip_stats_release_strategy_feb14.pdf

An ad hoc release of PIP information was published on Tuesday 11 February 2014.

 

Probation

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the number of trainee probation officers that the National Probation Service will need to recruit for financial years 2014-15 and 2015-16. [187388]

Jeremy Wright: The National Probation Service (NPS) will make a fundamental contribution to protecting the public from the most dangerous offenders in the community and it is essential that it employs staff with the skills to do this effectively. The Probation Service currently employs around 300 trainee probation officers a year and this figure will be reviewed as we transition to the new system, and will form part of a workforce planning exercise which the NPS will undertake.

 

Shipping: Employment

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 13 February 2014, Official Report, columns 721-3W, on shipping: employment, for what reasons projections of future numbers of UK seafarers were not included in the UK Seafarer Statistics 2013; and if he will take steps to publish such projections of the UK seafarer workforce in 2014. [191051]

Stephen Hammond: Indicative projections of seafarer numbers were not published in the UK seafarer statistics 2013 due to an ongoing methodological review of the projections. The methodological review will assess whether the assumptions used to project seafarer numbers, based upon past recruitment and retention rates are robust. Projections of seafarer numbers are not National Statistics.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 13 February 2014, Official Report, columns 721-3W, on shipping: employment, what discussions he has had with the Office for National Statistics on the (a) collection and (b) use of data on future numbers of UK seafarers in the annual Seafarer Statistics publication; and what the outcomes were of any such discussions. [191052]

Stephen Hammond: The Department has not held any discussions with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on the (a)collection or (b) use of data on future numbers of UK seafarers in the annual Seafarer Statistics publication.

The Office for National Statistics has a statistical methodology unit who are able to advise on specialist statistical matters and during the course of the Department's review of Seafarer Statistics they may be consulted.

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) pursuant to the answer of 13 February 2014, Official Report, columns 721-3W, on shipping: employment, what recent forecast his Department has made of the number of UK seafarers active at sea in the next 20 years; [191053]

(2) what baseline data his Department uses to forecast UK seafarer numbers over the next two decades; [191054]

(3) what baseline data his Department uses to forecast the number of trainee UK seafarers who will be required to maintain a skilled seafarer workforce over the next decade. [191055]

Stephen Hammond: Indicative projections of UK Seafarers from 2011 to 2031 were published by the Department on the 26 February 2012. The details of 

these projections and the data used in their production are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/seafarer-statistics-2011

The Department for Transport makes further reference to the independent review commissioned of the economic requirement for trained seafarers in UK, undertaken by Oxford Economics and Deloitte, which contains extensive forecasts for the next decade. The results of this report, published in December 2011, are given at the following link:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/3540/economic-requirement-report.pdf

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 13 February 2014, Official Report, columns 721-3W, on shipping: employment, (1) if he will take steps to increase the amount of data his Department (a) collects and (b) publishes on (i) trainee and (ii) employed UK seafarers; [191056]

(2) whether he has initiated a review of the (a) collection and (b) use of data projecting future numbers of UK seafarers in the annual Seafarer Statistics publication. [191074]

Stephen Hammond: The Department intends to undertake a review into both the collection of and use of data in the annual Seafarer Statistics publication. This review is at the initiation stage and the intention is to engage a wide range of interested parties.

 

Fire Services: Floods

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many flood rescues and flood evacuations were carried out in England by firefighters from each fire and rescue service in each of the months of December 2013, January and February 2014. [191035]

Brandon Lewis: The Department receives fire and rescue incident data to a quarterly timetable and data for this period are not yet available.

 

Government Departments: Pay

John McDonnell: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what payroll deductions other than trades union subscriptions are made from Government Department employees through the check-off system. [192676]

Mr Maude: It is a matter for each Government Department to decide which organisations can collect their subscriptions through the employers' payroll service.

 

Merchant Shipping (Diving Safety) Regulations 2002

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 16 May 2013, Official Report, column 335W, on the Merchant Shipping (Diving Safety) Regulations 2002, (1) what discussions (a) Ministers in his Department and (b) officials from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have held with the Health and Safety Executive regarding the implications for diver safety or revoking the regulations; and what the outcomes were of those discussions; [192713]

(2) whether it is still his policy to pursue revocation of the regulations. [192714]

Stephen Hammond: It is still our policy to revoke the Merchant Shipping (Diving Safety) Regulations 2002.

There have been no specific discussions between Ministers or the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regarding the implications for diver safety or revoking the regulations since May 2013. However, the proposal was raised by the MCA at a meeting with HSE's Offshore Division in July 2013 to consider a range of regulatory issues affecting the offshore sector, and it was agreed to discuss in more detail as the proposals are developed, and prior to any changes to the regulations.

Taxation: Rebates

John McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many tax refunds were withheld for inquiry to be made in the tax years (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11, (c) 2011-12 and (d) 2012-13 for (i) income tax, (ii) value added tax, (iii) corporation tax and (iv) national insurance; [193120]

(2) what part by value of the tax refunds paid without being held for inquiry subsequently were reclaimed from the taxpayer to whom they were paid in the tax years (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11, (c) 2011-12 and (d) 2012-13 for (i) income tax, (ii) value added tax, (iii) corporation tax and (iv) national insurance; [193121]

(3) what the value of tax refunds withheld for inquiry to be made was in the tax years (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11, (c)2011-12 and (d) 2012-13 for (i) income tax, (ii) value added tax, (iii) corporation tax and (iv) national insurance; and what part by value was subsequently remitted to the taxpayer making the claim. [193122]

Mr Gauke: We are unable to provide the level of analysis asked for in these questions. HMRC does not have case tracking systems that can generate reports at the level of detail requested and any attempt to collate the information manually could only be done at disproportionate cost.

John McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many tax refunds were made in the tax years (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11, (c) 2011-12 and (d) 2012-13 for (i) income tax, (ii) value added tax, (iii) corporation tax and (iv) national insurance; and what the total value of refunds was in each such category in each such year. [193123]

Mr Gauke: The figures shown represent the value of repayment figures as included in the accrued net revenue figures in the Statement of Revenue, Other Income and Expenditure which are published in the Annual Report and Accounts. We hold only the total value not number of repayments made by tax type.[Official Report, 7 April 2014, Vol. 579, c. 2MC.]

HOD

2009-10

2010-11

2011-12

2012-13

Income Tax

9,703,600,140.60

11,062,294,029.42

12,032,623,916.28

12,452,181,005.78

VAT

52,098,844,904.82

65,208,522,155.96

75,332,913,101.11

74,730,895,023.43

Corporation Tax

8,993,368,840.74

5,012,774,914.88

6,999,305,350.27

4,619,517,414.07

National Insurance Contributions.

381,775,025.34

359,560,830.57

233,269,374.25

749,910,875.73

 

Tax Evasion

John McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many evasion referrals were made by the taskforces established by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to crack down on tax evasion and tax avoidance to the HMRC Evasion Referral Team in each tax year from 2011-12; and how many of those referrals were adopted as working cases by the HMRC's (i) Criminal Investigation, (ii) Specialist Investigation and (iii) Local Compliance Fraud business units. [193119]

Mr Gauke: The figures requested are in the following table:

Number

 

Taskforce Evasion Referrals received

Adopted by Criminal Investigations or the Criminal   Taxes Unit

Adopted by Specialist Investigations

Adopted by Local Compliance Fraud

2011-12

128

14

0

1

2012-13

336

38

6

24

 

2013-14

557

68

9

52

The figures only cover the period up to 28 February 2014. As at that date there were still 118 referrals being reviewed some of which may subsequently be adopted.

The referrals are made by HMRC officers when they suspect or discover evasion. The process is designed to escalate this type of case to a specialist team—Criminal Investigation, Specialist Investigation or Local Compliance Fraud—for review. If the case is not adopted by one of these teams it is returned to the referring officer to deal with.

John McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many evasion referrals were made to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Evasion Referral Team in each tax year since 2011-12; and how many of those referrals were adopted as working cases by HMRC's (a) Criminal Investigation, (b) Specialist Investigation and (c) Local Compliance Fraud business units in each such year. [193124]

Mr Gauke: The figures requested are in the following table:

Number

 

Tax Evasion Referrals received

Adopted by Criminal Investigations or the   Criminal Taxes Unit

Adopted by SpecialistInvestigations

Adopted by Local Compliance Fraud

2011-12

3,584

262

121

244

2012-13

2,888

330

119

215

The figures only cover the period up to 28 February 2014. As at that date there were still 565 referrals being reviewed some of which may subsequently be adopted.

The referrals are made by HMRC officers when they suspect or discover evasion. The process is designed to escalate this type of case to a specialist team—Criminal Investigation, Specialist Investigation or Local Compliance Fraud—for review. If the case is not adopted by one of these teams it is returned to the referring officer to deal with.

 

Asylum: Syria

John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what (a) accommodation provision, (b)employment programmes and (c) other resettlement provision has been made for Syrian refugees who come to the UK as part of the resettlement deal;  how long the UK plans to host Syrian refugees who come as part of the resettlement deal; and whether such refugees will be issued with a visa for a specified time period. [192656]

James Brokenshire: The first beneficiaries of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme arrived in the UK on 25 March. This is the result of excellent co-operation with UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration and local authority services, which has allowed us to identify vulnerable individuals in need of evacuation and ensure that the support they need is in place in the UK. These support packages are tailored on a case by case basis to ensure that specific requirements for those relocated under the scheme are met and include health, education and integration support.

Those admitted under the VPR scheme will be granted five years' Humanitarian Protection, with all the rights and benefits that go with that status. This includes access to public funds, access to the labour market and the possibility of family reunion. If the situation in Syria stabilises, they may choose to return home. However, at the end of the five years, if they have not been able to return to Syria, they may be eligible to apply for settlement in the UK.