John’s Quarterly Newsletter July 2014
This is a selection of my constituency activities over the last few weeks. . If you would like to receive my newsletter by email directly please drop me an email and I will make sure that you do.
Hayes FM 91.8
I host a weekly news and chat show on Hayes FM Monday 10am to 12 noon. I look at what’s happening in Parliament and discuss local and national political issues. Recently I have interviewed David Davies MP and Tom Watson MP on the Data Retention Bill, Matt Wrack FBU General Secretary on the firefighters pensions dispute, the famous journalist Victoria Britain on Palestine, Zac Goldsmith MP on Kew Gardens, Shane De Garis, Chief Executive of Hillingdon Hospital, the local Police Inspector, Andy Lewis and numerous others.
The show is broadcast on 91.8 FM and on the internet. Contact me if you have an issue you want aired on the show and also if you would like to become a Hayes FM volunteer, producing and presenting programmes.
I have been meeting with the local police, both the new Borough Commander, Nick Downing and the local Hayes inspector, Andy Lewis. Despite the obvious hard work being undertaken by the local police teams I am anxious about police resources in the area and the demise of the Safer Neighbourhood model of policing. I met the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to express my concerns.
Local Head Teachers Retiring
Two popular and very dedicated and effective primary school head teachers retired in July. Steve Foot from Minet Juniors and Peter Shawley from Charville Primary School. I spoke at both their very moving retirement parties and thanked them for their years of hard work on behalf of our children. They will be much missed by us all.
Local Church and School Fetes
I was pleased to be asked to open St Mary’s Fete on Saturday 5th July and visited the absolutely beautiful flower display in the church. The flower festival is a wonderful event each year. I am looking for funds for the restoration of the ancient lych gate to the church. I also attended Botwell Catholic church fete to thank everybody for the sterling work they undertake in our community. I also looked in on Harmondsworth church fete and the West Drayton fair on the green.
It was the 70th Anniversary of the EMI bombing in July of this year and so I was proud to be asked to read a suitable poem at the service held in Cherry Lane Cemetery on July 7th in memory of all those that lost their livers and were injured in the bombing.
EMI Film Festival
Remembering that EMI was a major employer in the area I attended a film festival at the EMI site celebrating the films produced in Hayes and also watched the newly remastered Beatles film “Hard Day’s Night” to remind us that the Beatles records were pressed at EMI in Hayes.
Amnesty International Fund Raising Walk and Talk
Our local branch of Amnesty International undertook a fundraising walk in Hayes celebrating the connection of George Orwell to our town. I went along to hear the talk about George Orwell by a local resident Les Gillot and met once again Geoffrey Stevens, who is the last surviving pupil of George Orwell from when he taught at a local school, which is now the Fountains Hotel in Church Road.
AS joint Chair of the Hayes Carnival Committee with John Chamberlain from Hayes Methodist Church, I was pleased to walk again at the front of the Carnival Parade with the Mayor. The parade was tremendous with so many local community groups from such a vast array of cultures walking in the parade. Barra Hall was packed with community stalls and the whole day was a marvellous success in bringing the community together.
I have been visiting local children’s centres once again to talk with parents and the staff about local child care and early years education. I have been really impressed with the activities being undertaken and the quality of the care. During this period II have visited the centres at Nestles Avenue and Uxbridge College and the Teasel Nursery at Willow Tree Marina.
New Primary School at Laurel Lane
The Council is planning another new primary school. Initially it was expected that this would be at Porters Way in West Drayton but it appears the council failed to realise that there were planning constraints on this site and now the proposal is to build on land in Laurel Lane. I have expressed my concerns to the council about the lack of consultation with the community on this proposal and the potential traffic problems that need to be addressed if this school is to go ahead.
Hillingdon Tamil Centre Anniversary Celebrations
I spoke at the celebration party for the 3rd anniversary of the local Tamil Community Centre. The Tamil community in our area is quite sizeable and I have been doing all I can to assist in overcoming the problems Tamils still face as a result of the recent war and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.
Harmondsworth Remembers Commemoration of the start of WW1
Harmondsworth village commemorated those villagers that lost their lives in World War One with a very moving ceremony and day of activities. At the ceremony I had the honour of reading out one of the names of the 94 young men from the local villages who were killed in the war.
Threat from Airport Expansion to the Heathrow Villages
The threat to our villages still hangs over us after David Cameron broke his promise of “no if no buts there will be no third runway.” I attended a planning meeting to launch our new local campaigning organisation, Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE.) In addition we have set up an All Party Group in parliament to test the arguments put forward over Heathrow prior to any government final decision. The APPG on Heathrow and the Wider Economy has launched a website @ZacGoldsmith @johnmcdonnellMP @uxbridgewalrus http://www.heathrowappg.com/purpose-of-appg/ …
I also went along to the successful film competition, showing the films produced by local community groups exposing the impact of a third runway.
Hillingdon Nepalese Gurkha Association Annual Party
We have a small Gurkha community in Hayes, drawn from ex Gurkha servicemen. I have been working with their local association to assist their members integrate effectively in our local community. They have proved to be a valuable asset to our area and willing to throw themselves into local community activities. I attended their recent annual family party, which was really enjoyable.
Nestles Site Pubic Meeting
On Friday 25th July I convened a meeting at Hayes and Harlington Community Centre about the closure of the Nestles factory site in Hayes. The purpose of the meeting was to engage the Council and Company in considering a planning brief for the site before it was put up for sale. Unfortunately the Council said it was unwilling to undertake a planning brief. This is a huge site of over 60 acres along the canal. I felt it was necessary to talk to residents to get their views on what they thought should go on the site so that we can go back to the Council with what the community want to see on the site. The meeting was well attended by residents and local Labour councillors. The residents said they did not want the entire site to be wholly housing. They wanted to see a balance between housing, open space and businesses that would provide employment opportunities to local people. They were also concerned that there would be social provision in terms of a nursery, school, sports facilities and medical provision. It was recognised that the site was located in one of the worst areas of air pollution in the country and residents were concerned how the additional traffic would be managed. They want to see pollution free public transport associated with the site. Another concern was that this attractive site along the canal side should be accessible to all and not become a gated community. I am now submitting these views to Nestles and the council to try and get these organisations n to engage with us and listen to the local people.
Eid Ul Fitr
The holy month of Ramadan ended this month and I visited the local mosque to express my best wishes to the congregation. However the usual celebrations at the end of Ramadan have been tempered by the knowledge of the immense tragic suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza and at the loss of life in Israel. I have made several representations to the Government on this issue and convened a public meeting to discuss how we can help to secure a just and lasting peace.
Visits to Local Secondary Schools
I have been visiting local secondary schools and found my discussion with students at Harlington School and Swakeleys School absolutely stimulating. The young people I met were so interested in local and national issues and had such stimulating ideas that I found the visits inspiring. It gives me such hope for the future.
Below is summary of my main Parliamentary activity since the Easter recess.
12th: High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill
At second reading of the High Speed Rail Bill, I made my opposition to the Bill clear and voted in support of the reasoned amendment against the Bill.
Our borough is on one of the few constituencies in the country who have not been told what the implications of HS2 will mean for us. The uncertainty surrounding the proposed link to Heathrow. I will not support this Bill without knowing the route in order for there to be full consultation with the residents affected. Not to have been informed which land is threatened and what the compensation those affected will be offered is not acceptable and I made clear to the minister present that the uncertainty is a blight to our community and sought explanation as to what the process will be for consultation and decision making with regards to the Heathrow link.
I also took the opportunity to raise the concerns of Bert May who has worked extremely hard with Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre, developing it through the Queensmead school sailing club into a sailing centre that has given thousands of young people in our area the opportunity to learn how to sail and to enjoy the environment. In response to the uncertainty around the future of the Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre, I asked for some certainty from Ministers about its future.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm140429/debtext/140429-0003.htm#14042952000301
12th: Passport Office Debate
During Theresa May’s urgent statement to the House on the unacceptable delays and backlog of unprocessed applications at the Passport Office I raised the concerns of PCS union with the Home Secretary.
The problems were repeatedly predicted by the Union as a consequence of the government’s decision to close 22 interview offices, one application processing centre and sack of 315 staff, equivalent to one in 10 of the workforce.
I called on the Home Secretary to meet with PCS to which she gave unsatisfactory response.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140612/debtext/140612-0001.htm#14061241000086
16th: Prison Overcrowding Urgent Question
During the Justice Secretary’s response to an urgent statement on prison overcrowding I called on Chris Grayling to listen to the concerns of prison staff who predict a ‘perfect storm’ in our prison system of a ‘rising population, a lack of staff and too few prison cells’. The prison officers association warned of the consequences of this government’s actions in further crowding our overstretched prisons undermining its ability to maintain a safe and secure penal system.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140616/debtext/140616-0001.htm#14061610000238
16th: Iraq and Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict
In response to a Government statement on Iraq I called for absolute assurance from the Foreign Secretary that that there will be no military intervention by this Government, or support by this Government for others’ military intervention, without a vote of the House of Commons.
I also urged the government to look into reports that women who have come to this country seeking asylum from areas of conflict have been detained in Yarl’s Wool, where they have been subjected to sexual abuse
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140616/debtext/140616-0002.htm#14061619000114
17th: Criminal Justice and Courts Bill
In response to government attacks on the ability of residents and local authorities to use judicial review to hold government to account I referenced the success we have had locally in effectively using judicial review over issues such as the third runway at Heathrow to ensure that the Government abide by their own legislation.
With regards to government proposals prison sentencing for possession of knives I called for clarity in regard to the changes set out.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140617/debtext/140617-0002.htm#14061768000018
18th: Opposition day debate on Passport Applications
In the opposition debate on passport applications I re-iterated the point on the floor of the House that the increase in demand was predicted. I asked the Home Secretary why the decision was taken by management to alter the mechanism in the Passport Office where if the backlog got to 150,000, measures would automatically be put in place to deal with it. Management took the decision to increase that figure to 350,000.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140618/debtext/140618-0002.htm#14061870000112
19th: Business of the House
I called on the Leader of the House to ask the Prime Minister to make a statement in response to the Sikh community’s request into the government’s internal enquiry into the Indian Government’s attack on the Golden Temple at Amritsar
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140619/debtext/140619-0001.htm#14061939000235
23rd: Deregualtion Bill
I opposed the Deregulation Bill on principally three reasons.
The proposed health and safety legislation with regard to the self-employed is flawed, lacks transparency and leaves out whole professional categories such as dockworkers placing their safety in jeopardy.
I raised concerns that the reforms relating to taxis and public hire vehicles, which leaves no effective control over who will be plying that trade will put the travelling public at risk.
Finally I condemned the disgraceful decision of this government to take the retrograde step of tearing up previous shipping legislation meaning that in the tragic circumstances of losing a British ship at sea, whether or not an inquiry is opened or reopened will be based on the whim of a Minister and no longer required under law.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140623/debtext/140623-0004.htm#1406244000573
25thPrivate Rented Sector
During the opposition day debate on the private rented I addressed the crises we are living through in Hayes and Harlington and throughout the rest of the country with regard to the chronic shortage of affordable housing, lack of supply and increasing rents.
Despite high levels of employment in our own constituency, the discrepancy between pay and house prices is such that many constituents are priced out of owner-occupation and forced into the over-priced private rented sector. In our own constituency as a result we have seen overcrowding and the numbers of those being housed in bed and breakfast accommodation spiral.
On the floor of the house I advocated the obvious solution of building more council housing, of encouraging the compulsory purchase of homes standing empty and crucially rent controls as thing that would work in our area in order to ensure sufficient affordable housing and to ensure families in our community have a decent roof over their heads for their children.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140625/debtext/140625-0002.htm#14062534000084
30thPerformance of the Department of Work and Pensions
During the opposition day debate on the performance of the DWP I focused my comments on the independent living fund (ILF), which the Government are proceeding to abolish.
The idea behind the ILF was to fund carers and others who enabled people with severe disabilities to ensure that they were no longer trapped in residential homes but could live independently in their own homes, participate in wider society, and as a result of that support, some could go to work and earn their income.
Under this government responsibility is now being transferred to local authorities, who are unable to provide a similar level as service as is being argued by the Government. There has been a cut of £3 billion in expenditure by local authorities on social care for people with disabilities.
I called on the government to reverse this policy which is causing extreme consternation not just among disabled people but among their families and will eventually- as a result of people who without the support of the ILF forced back into residential establishments- prove even more costly than the 17,500 people who are currently receiving the benefit.
I argued in the House for the need to do exactly what the ILF was funded to do: to provide care and support so that disability can be overcome at least in the sense that people with disabilities are able to participate in wider society.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140630/debtext/140630-0003.htm#14063047000202
15thData Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill
All four stages of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill were steamrolled through Parliament in under a day preventing any meaningful scrutiny of the legislation from taking place and provoking deep suspicions from voters across the country.
In my contributions to debate I made clear my opposition to the Bill and my deep distrust at the way the government chose to legislate.
I voted in support of a 6 month sunset clause tabled in my name and that of Tom Watson MP (West Bromwich East) which sought to impose a minimum safeguard compelling the government to return with a more detailed case for the new legislation in six months’ time. This would provide lawyers an opportunity to make a detailed case, the Home Affairs Committee a chance to discuss it, the Joint Committee on Human Rights a chance to examine it and importantly allow MP’s the opportunity to consult with our constituents, voluntary organisations and experts in the field.
I find the government’s argument absurd that six months would not give us time to produce adequate legislation while they rushed through a Bill that had been put together in less than three months.
Many constituents had expressed concerns that the DRIP Bill represents the start of a process of widening the vista of snooping legislation and these are concerns I raised throughout the debate.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140715/debtext/140715-0005.htm#14071577001178
16th: Syrian Relocation Scheme
In the Westminster Hall debate secured by Sarah Teather MP (Brent Central) I criticised the Minister for Security and Immigration on our government’s shaming record in providing refuge to the desperate asylum seekers of Syria fleeing in search of basic shelter, education and supplies of food.
I asked why we as a Government have responded in so small a way, whether a target figure had been set, what was preventing us from receiving more people and called on the Government to confront the issue rather than letting the situation drag on. The Syrian asylum seekers are absolutely desperate. During my intervention I made clear this level of refuge and support that we, the sixth or seventh richest country in the world, are providing by way of direct assistance, is unacceptable, does not meet our obligations to fellow human beings and that we will look back on this period and wish that we had done more, done it more effectively and done it much more speedily.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140716/halltext/140716h0001.htm#14071664000059
27th: Unviersal Postal Service
I spoke in defence of a publically owned national postal service during the backbench debate held in the name of my colleague Katy Clark MP.
I made clear that the full privatisation of the Royal Mail and the loss of billions of pounds of taxpayer’s money has been absolute insanity. During my speech I called for action to be taken before it becomes too late to save the universal service in the country being undercut by competitors paying poverty wages.
I called for both an immediate public review by Ofcom, and as a matter of urgency, a public meeting between Ofcom, the minister and the Communication Workers Union affiliated MP of which I am one in order to ensure full openness and transparency about the monitoring of the postal service being undertaken.
The onus is on the government to act now if we are to save our universal postal service. By not doing so the Government risks betraying both the work force of Royal Mail and the constituents that depend on it.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard:http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140717/debtext/140717-0003.htm#14071754000476
22nd: Electronic Communications Draft Data Retention Regulations 2014
I asked the Minister for Immigration and Security to arrange for the relevant officials to meet with me as secretary of the all-party Parliamentary group of the National Union of Journalists to talk through how the how the protection of journalists and their professional secrecy are to be implemented in the proposed regulations.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard:
22nd: Summer adjournment debate
I used the opportunity of the pre-recess summer adjournment debate in July to raise six issues, one of which related to the increasingly prevalent virus hepatitis C, three related to issues to do with the Fire Authority, one with regard to Northern Ireland and lastly issues relating to our local Hillingdon Council.
I urged the Government to increase the awareness of hepatitis C in our country and to prioritise diagnosis and treatment. New treatments are able to cure 95% of cases, but awareness and testing are extremely low, meaning that only 3% of sufferers receive treatment every year
With regard to the Fire Service, I urged the UK government to agree on a fair retirement age for firefighters who, despite the Northern Ireland and Scottish administrations agreeing the age of 60 is too old for the physical demands of the firefighting, have refused to enter meaningful negations.
I called for a solution to the unresolved pension arrangements for defence fire service and rescue firefighters.
With regard to the London Fire Authority specifically I urged the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to refuse to agree to Boris Johnson’s plans to cut It Labour representation on the assembly in half and remove all Lib Dem and Green representation.
Raising the point of welfare reform in Northern Ireland I criticised the government for imposing a £13 million fine on the Northern Ireland Administration for 2014, rising to £87 million in 2014-15 and to £114 million in 2015-16 for its opposition to this government’s appalling welfare reform agenda and the decision that they should not be implemented in Northern Ireland.
Turning to Hillingdon Council, once again I desperately urged the Government to launch an independent public inquiry into the administration of Hillingdon council. Expressing my concerns that in Hillingdon we now live under an elective dictatorship, I made the point that Hillingdon has become a prime example of the lack of openness and transparency in decision making of local government within this country. Using the example of Triscott House, a local elderly residential home in our borough which suffered severe delays in its renovation work due to mismanagement on the part of the council, I urged action to restore local democracy in our community.
Here is a link to my full intervention as recorded in Hansard:
I have raised a number of Parliamentary questions to departments across government. Below is a list of my written and oral questions.
John McDonnell: What steps he is taking to help households improve their energy efficiency.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Gregory Barker): Figures released this morning show that nearly 700,000 homes have benefited from direct energy efficiency improvements since the launch of the energy company obligation and green deal programme in January 2013. Nearly a quarter of a million people have been given green deal assessments, which, according to our research, are proving to be popular and useful in stimulating action. Last week we launched the green deal home improvement fund, which is already showing signs of providing a significant boost for the nascent green deal market.
John McDonnell: In my constituency, there has been a massive expansion in the number of buy-to-let properties. Landlords charge higher rents and cram large numbers of people into those properties, but do not invest in them. That means that families are trapped into high energy prices. What can we do not just to encourage but perhaps to force those landlords to invest in energy conservation?
Gregory Barker: The hon. Gentleman has made a good point. That is exactly why we took powers in the Energy Act 2010—the first Energy Act of this Parliament—to give every tenant the right to a green deal improvement from 2016, and from 2018 landlords will not be able to refuse it.
Shared Services (Newport)
John McDonnell: The question concerning the constituents of my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) is not about which Government awarded the original contract to Steria; it is about whether, having wasted £56 million, a company should be rewarded with a contract double the size. Which Minister in their right mind would reward failure in that way?
Chris Grayling: The contract was awarded through the Cabinet Office as a result of a proper procurement process, and appropriate legal advice was taken.
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; 
(2) 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. 
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.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the payment by results pilot in HMP Doncaster has been terminated. 
Jeremy Wright: The HMP Doncaster Payment by Results (PbR) pilot was established to test the introduction of PbR to reduce reoffending, in response to commitments made in the Coalition Agreement. The pilot has been running since October 2011, with offenders released from Doncaster prison given additional rehabilitation support to help turn their lives around.
The pilot predates the Transforming Rehabilitation programme and while it has provided important learning to inform our plans, the delivery model at HMP Doncaster is not fully aligned with these reforms. As a result, we have decided to bring the pilot to a close, to help ensure the effective transition to the new model for rehabilitation services and offender management in the South Yorkshire Contract Package Area. No further participants will enter the pilot beyond the end of 2014.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the assessment and allocation tools to be used by probation staff in England and Wales from 1 April 2014 have been finalised. 
Jeremy Wright: We are carrying out extensive local testing of the key elements of the new transforming rehabilitation systems across a number of probation trusts. Findings are helping us to refine the associated tools and guidance. We have now completed testing of the new risk of serious recidivism (RSR) tool, which will be used to inform the allocation of cases to new community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) or the national probation service (NPS), and we have begun the roll out of the current version of the tool to all trusts.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when supervision of prisoners on release serving less than 12 months will begin in England and Wales. 
Jeremy Wright: The extension of statutory licence conditions and rehabilitation supervision to offenders sentenced to less than 12 months imprisonment is subject to the commencement of the relevant provisions in the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014. This change to the sentencing framework is a core element of the Ministry of Justice’s Transforming Rehabilitation Programme. Ministry of Justice officials are currently managing the transitional and implementation arrangements for the programme, including the timing for commencement of this part of the Act.
We are on course to award and mobilise the new contracts for delivering rehabilitation services by 2015.
Probation Trusts: Sick Leave
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether sickness rates in probation trusts in England and Wales have risen since January 2013. 
Jeremy Wright: Information on the average levels of absence due to staff sickness in the Probation trusts is published annually, at national level, in the NOMS Annual Report and Accounts: Management Information Addendum.
A link to the latest published report for FY 2012/13 is provided as follows:
The NOMS Annual Report and Accounts: Management Information Addendum for FY 2013/14 will be published on 31 July 2014.
Palace of Westminster Policy
John McDonnell: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, what the police staff turnover rates have been at SO17 Palace of Westminster over the last 10 years. 
John Thurso: The turnover for police staff (security officers) at SO17 Palace of Westminster since the start of the current contract in April 2010 is as follows:
April 2010 to March 2011: 5.1%
April 2011 to March 2012: 3.2%
April 2012 to March 2013: 7.6%
April 2013 to March 2014: 7.6%
These figures are provided by SO17 and were calculated by dividing the number of leavers every year by the total number of staff. I understand that data for previous years could only be derived from manual records and are not readily available.
John McDonnell: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many police officers have been employed in office-based roles in SO17 Palace of Westminster in each of the last 10 years. 
John Thurso: The number of police officers employed in office-based roles in SO17 Palace of Westminster since the start of the current contract in April 2010 is as follows:
April 2010 to March 2011: 7
April 2011 to March 2012: 7
April 2012 to March 2013: 8
April 2013 to March 2014: 9
At the start of 2013-14 there were 164 police officers and 356 security officers in SO17. These figures are provided by SO17. I understand that data for previous years could only be derived from manual records and are not readily available.
John McDonnell: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, how many police officer managers have been deployed at SO17 Palace of Westminster in each of the last 10 years. 
John Thurso: The average number of police officer managers, defined as Chief Superintendent, Superintendent, Chief Inspector, Inspector and Sergeant, deployed at SO17 Palace of Westminster since the start of the current contract in April 2010 is as follows:
April 2010 to March 2011: 20
April 2011 to March 2012: 21
April 2012 to March 2013: 19
April 2013 to March 2014: 21
The numbers vary from month to month so the figures above are rounded averages for the 12 month periods shown. At the start of 2013-14 there were 164 police officers and 356 security officers in SO17.
These figures are provided by SO17. Data for previous years could only be derived from manual records and are not readily available.
Probation: South West
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how long it took to merge Avon and Somerset Probation Services. 
Jeremy Wright: Avon and Somerset Probation Trust, which was established on 1 April 2010, replaced the
Avon and Somerset Probation Board, which had been created on 1 April 2001 following the merger of the two separate probation committees for Avon and for Somerset.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what civil service restrictions will be removed should the Highways Agency be moved to a GoCO. 
Mr Goodwill: The Government intends to turn the Highways Agency (HA) into a government-owned Strategic Highways Company (SHC), as confirmed in the response to consultation published on 30th April. As announced by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in June 2013, the new company will operate with guaranteed multi-year funding settlements and have the flexibility to move funds between years.
As a company, outside of the civil service but inside the public sector, the SHC will have more autonomy over its internal governance arrangements and delivery processes so that it can respond to business needs more effectively.
The Government is continuing to work through the details of its relationship with the SHC to provide the necessary commercial freedom to boost delivery and improve efficiency, whilst ensuring value for money for the taxpayer.
The rights of existing HA staff will be protected in accordance with TUPE principles.
John McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and what proportion of qualifying companies in the Tonnage Tax scheme were in the (a) public and (b) private sector in each year the scheme has been in operation. 
Mr Gauke: The information requested is not available.
Enterprise Allowance Scheme
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what (a) targets have been set and (b) rates have been achieved for take up of the enterprise allowance in each Jobcentre district and individual job centre. 
Esther McVey: We set an ambitious target for the new enterprise allowance: to support 40,000 people to set up their own businesses by the end of 2013. Official statistics to the end of December 2013 revealed that this was surpassed. There are no sub-national targets for numbers of allowance starts. The volumes are broken down by Jobcentre District in the following publication, Pre-Work Programme support: New Enterprise Allowance, March 2014 which can be found at:
A breakdown by Jobcentre Plus office is provided in the document “New Enterprise Allowance: Weekly Allowance starts by Jobcentre Plus office - April 2011 - December 2013”—this can be found in tables which will be placed in the Library.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many grievances on the grounds of race discrimination have been made in HM Prison Thameside in the last three years; what the nature was of each such grievance; when each grievance was made and resolved; and what the outcome was in each case; (2) How many employment tribunal cases were presented on the grounds of race discrimination in HM Prison Thameside in the last three years; what the nature was of each complaint; when each such tribunal began and ended; what the outcome was in each such case; and what the cost to the public purse was of defending such cases. 
Jeremy Wright: The Government is committed to ensuring equality throughout the criminal justice system. Internal complaints procedures and the employment tribunal system enable any allegations of racial discrimination in the workplace to be thoroughly investigated.
Two staff grievances alleging discrimination have been submitted at HMP Thameside in the last three years.
The first, which alleged bullying at work, racial discrimination, unfair treatment and victimisation, was received in 12 October 2012. It was considered by the Employment Tribunal at two hearings (October 2013 and in December 2013). The Tribunal dismissed the claim in its entirety in January 2014.
The second grievance, alleging unfair dismissal, racial discrimination, victimisation and harassment, was received in March 2013. It is currently being considered by the Employment Tribunal.
Liability for any legal costs in relation to employment cases would fall on the employer.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether any (a) internal and (b) external reports were commissioned by Serco in relation to any steps taken by HM Prison Thameside to eliminate race discrimination in the workplace. 
Jeremy Wright: The Government is committed to ensuring equality throughout the criminal justice system. Internal complaints procedures and the employment tribunal system enable any allegations of racial discrimination in the workplace to be thoroughly investigated.
The Ministry of Justice conducted a routine assurance audit of HMP Thameside in 2013.
Any internal document prepared by the contractor in relation to potential litigation is legally privileged and therefore exempt from disclosure.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with the (a) UK Chamber of Shipping and (b) European Community Shipowners Association on pay rates for seafarers subject to UK National Insurance payments employed on vessels working from UK ports; and if he will request data on pay rates from maritime employers' associations. 
Stephen Hammond: Ministers have not had direct discussions with either body but dialogue at ministerial and official level is continuing with relevant bodies on the wider agenda of seafarer pay.
The Department is currently reviewing the statistical data it uses and other data sources that may be relevant for future use but this does not include an objective to collect pay rates as this is undertaken by other Departments.
Shipping Minimum Wage
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (1) what recent (a) correspondence and (b)discussions he has had with individual employers in the maritime industry about pay rates below the national minimum wage (NMW) for seafarers subject to UK national insurance employed on vessels working from UK ports; and if he will take steps to enforce in the maritime sector his Department's policy on enforcement, prosecutions and naming employers who break the law on the NMW; (2) what recent discussions he has had with the (a) UK Chamber of Shipping and (b) European Community Shipowners Association on pay rates for seafarers subject to UK national insurance employed on vessels working from UK ports who are paid hourly rates below the national minimum wage; and if he will request data on such pay rates from maritime employers' associations. 
Jenny Willott: The Department is beginning engagement with a range of stakeholders from the maritime industry to fully understand issues surrounding payment of the minimum wage. To date we have met with officials in other jurisdictions as this policy area is affected by legislation outside the UK. We will go on to engage with individual maritime employers and their associations. We will be discussing recruitment models and pay structures as part of this engagement. Following these investigations, we will consider whether further enforcement activity is needed in this sector.
This Government remains committed to the minimum wage and the protection it provides to low paid workers. That is why we have strengthened the enforcement regime by cutting back the criteria for naming and shaming non-compliant employers and have increased the penalty from 50% to 100% of arrears up to £20,000. We are also taking primary legislation to apply a penalty per underpaid worker rather than per non-compliant employer.
Where employers in the maritime industry are found to not be paying the national minimum wage that workers are entitled to, we will not hesitate to take action, including recovering arrears owed to workers and penalising employers financially and their reputation by naming and shaming where appropriate.
Workers in the maritime industry who think they have not been paid the correct national minimum wage should contact the Pay and Work Rights Helpline on 0800 917 2368.
Mass Media: Equal Opportunities
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what advice or guidance his Department provides to employers in the media industry on equality monitoring;  (2) what assessment he has made of diversity in employment in public and private sectors of the media industry;  (3) what steps his Department plans to take to improve equality monitoring of employment within the media industry; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr Vaizey: Promoting greater equality of opportunity in the workforce is a matter the Government takes seriously. The Government is actively engaging with leading organisations in the media industry who are working together through the Creative Diversity Network to help address the under-representation of ethnic minorities in that sector. The industry will outline the steps it intends to take at a roundtable event in early July. Equality data monitoring is among a number of issues that will be discussed. In addition, Ofcom has a number of duties relating to equality of opportunity, as set out in the Communications Act 2003. These include requiring all UK licensed radio and television broadcasters’ licences to have in place arrangements for promoting equal opportunities in employment on the basis of gender, race and disability, and to review those arrangements with regard to any relevant guidance published by Ofcom.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will place in the Library and publish the tender and bid for the Child Maintenance Options contract. 
Steve Webb: Contract documents for the Child Maintenance Options contract are published on the Contracts Finder website. These documents include the contract itself, the requirements issued to bidders and the successful bidder’s response. Contracts Finder is a publicly accessible website where contract documents are published in order to meet government transparency commitments. The specific link to this contract is:
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Government will receive from deductions of charges and from charges for enforcement action in child maintenance cases under the Child Maintenance Options contract; and what profit will be made by G4S in running this contract. 
Steve Webb: The Child Maintenance Options service offers information and support to help separating and separated parents make an informed choice about their child maintenance arrangement. The service has operated under contract to the Department since 2008, most recently by G4S.
Once client charges are introduced they will be applied by the Department only once a client is within, or applies to, the 2012 scheme run by the Child Maintenance Service, which is part of the Department for Work and Pensions. Charging does not in any way form part of the Child Maintenance Options contract.
Details of the Child Maintenance Options contract can be viewed at:
The level of profit that a supplier makes through a commercial contract cannot be disclosed as this action would be prejudicial to the supplier’s commercial interests.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the cost of (a) the tender and bid process for the Child Maintenance Options contract, (b) his Department assisting G4S to fulfil the contract, (c) his Department's in-house option for continued delivery before it was contracted out and (d) bringing the work back in-house should the G4S contract be terminated early. 
Steve Webb: The Child Maintenance Options service was introduced in July 2008 to provide information and support to help separating parents make an informed choice about their child maintenance arrangement. As with all previous tender and bid processes for this work, the cost of the tender is within the Department’s budget.
The most recent Child Maintenance Options contract is available to view at:
However, to identify specific costs associated with this contract would incur a disproportionate cost.
The Department did not assist G4S to fulfil the contract. It is part of planned business continuity arrangements to use colleagues from the Department in order to take some calls where volumes exceed contracted levels.
Since the service was introduced in 2008 it has always been contracted out. There are no plans to bring the service in-house, and to calculate the cost of doing so would be to provide new information at disproportionate cost.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for what reasons the G4S contract to provide the Child Maintenance Options programme was underestimated; for what reasons staff in his Department were assisting G4S with its work on this programme; and if he will consider transferring G4S staff under TUPE regulations to his Department. 
Steve Webb: Call forecasting volumes used as part of a re-tendering exercise for delivery of the Child Maintenance Options service were based on historic call volume data. From November 2013, Child Maintenance Options became the mandatory gateway for all new applicants to the statutory scheme, which led to an incremental increase in demand.
This, among other recent changes, added an increased level of uncertainty into forecasting call volumes, in anticipation of which the Department has in place planned and agreed business continuity arrangements with the supplier. This includes the use of colleagues from the Department in order to take some calls where volumes exceed contracted levels.
This service was introduced in 2008 and has never been delivered in-house, and there are no plans to do so. Therefore, the transferring of staff under TUPE regulations is not applicable.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many staff in his Department have been asked to assist G4S in the delivery of the new Child Maintenance Options scheme to date; how many more staff G4S estimates will be needed to administer this contract when peak levels of applications are reached; and how much in staffing costs his Department is liable to pay as a result. 
Steve Webb: The Child Maintenance Options service is not a new service and was introduced in 2008. It offers information and support to help separating and separated parents make an informed choice about their child maintenance arrangement. It is not a child maintenance scheme.
The Department has in place planned and agreed business continuity arrangements with its supplier. This includes utilising the Department's staff to take some calls where volumes exceed contracted levels. Over the past nine months the Department has used anything from 5 to 20 people for periods ranging from minutes to hours.
The child maintenance reform programme includes ending liabilities on Child Support Agency cases in the 1993 and 2003 schemes over the next three years and it is too early to accurately predict when peak call volumes into Child Maintenance Options will be reached. Child Maintenance Options calculates resource requirements based on forecast volumes provided by the Department on a rolling three month basis. The number of staff Child Maintenance Options employs will increase in line with these forecasts over the next three years before returning to more normal levels when the reforms have completed. The associated costs are reflected in the contract.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much the Government expects to receive from (a)the 20 per cent deduction from the child maintenance payment of the paying parent and (b) the four per cent deduction of total payment of support to the child from the receiving parent. 
Steve Webb: Paragraph 106 of the CSA Case Closure, Introducing CMS Fees, Supporting Family Based Arrangements Impact Assessment gives an estimate of the total income by year raised through the parent with care fee and the non-resident parent fee. This impact assessment, published on 22 November 2013, is available at
John McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects Network Rail to be officially re-classified as a public sector company. 
Danny Alexander: On 17 December 2013, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced that Network Rail will be classified as a central government body in the public sector. This is an independent statistical decision taken by the Office for National Statistics in light of the European System of National Accounts 2010 (ESA10) manual from Eurostat. The reclassification will be effective from 1 September 2014 when ESA10 comes into force across the European Union.
Fire Service: Industrial Disputes
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what military assets have been deployed in which locations in accordance with the Home Office Model Response plans during recent periods of strike action called by the Fire Brigades Union;  (2) what assessment he has made of the number of military pumps available in England during each of the Fire Brigades Union strikes in 2013-14; where each pump was located; and whether each such pump was deployed. 
Brandon Lewis: Pumping appliances crewed by Ministry of Defence personnel have been deployed at various defence locations during the strike action by the Fire Brigades Union. These are sited after consultation with the chief fire and rescue adviser. Fire and rescue authorities are responsible for undertaking their own business continuity planning, and associated contingency arrangements.
No Ministry of Defence resources have been mobilised in England during the last 14 periods of strike action.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will publish his assessment of the robustness of resilience arrangements in place during periods of industrial action by the Fire Brigades Union in the event of strikes of duration greater than 24 hours. 
Brandon Lewis: The responsibility for the preparation of business continuity plans to deal with industrial action by the Fire Brigades Union, rests with individual fire and rescue authorities. Fire and rescue authorities’ business continuity plans have performed well in the last 14 periods of strike action by the Fire Brigades Union, including the 24-hour strike on 12 June. We expect them to perform well in any periods of longer duration.
Defence Fire Service
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when he expects to announce a decision on the normal pension age for workers in the Defence Fire and Rescue Service.
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what the restricted grant-in-aid to Royal Gardens Botanical, Kew has been in each financial year since 2007.
Dan Rogerson: Kew publishes the funding it receives from Defra in its Annual Reports and Accounts, which are publicly available on the Kew website. The presentation of Kew’s accounts has evolved over the years and they have moved to reporting in terms of ‘restricted’ and ‘unrestricted’ Defra funding from 2013/14. Defra places no restrictions on its core or operational funding (resource), which Kew currently considers how best to allocate to deliver its statutory objectives; Kew accordingly defines this as 'unrestricted'. Defra does place restrictions on its capital funding, which may only be used for specified purposes in accordance with bids from Kew. Kew now reports this as ‘restricted’ funding.
Kew budget since 2007/8 (All figures in £k):
Data from Kew's Published ARA
*Taken from Defra records as income split is not published in Kew’s accounts for this year
**Note this includes £1.3m for severance and redundancy payments
Police: Global Positioning System
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will commission an independent evaluation of the use of GPS tracking by police services in England and Wales.
Mike Penning: The Home Office has no plans to commission an independent evaluation.