Energy Infrastructure Planning Projects

Paul Scully Excerpts
Thursday 7th July 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Written Statements
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Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
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This Statement concerns an application for development consent made under the Planning Act 2008 by NNB Generation Company (SZC) Limited for the construction and operation of a nuclear power station near Leiston in Suffolk.

Under section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make a decision on an application within three months of the receipt of the examining authority’s report unless exercising the power under section 107(3) of the Act to set a new deadline. Where a new deadline is set, the Secretary of State must make a statement to Parliament to announce it. The current statutory deadline for the decision on the Sizewell C nuclear power station application is 8 July 2022.

I have decided to set a new deadline of no later than 20 July 2022 for deciding this application. This is to ensure there is sufficient time to allow the Secretary of State to consider the proposal.

The decision to set the new deadline for this application is without prejudice to the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.

[HCWS195]

Post Office: Compensation for Horizon scandal

Paul Scully Excerpts
Thursday 30th June 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Written Statements
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Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
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As the House is aware, the Post Office Horizon scandal, which began over 20 years ago, has had a devastating impact on the lives of many postmasters. Starting in the late 1990s, the Post Office began installing Horizon accounting software, but faults in the software led to shortfalls in branches’ accounts. The Post Office demanded sub-postmasters cover the shortfalls, and in many cases wrongfully prosecuted them between 1999 and 2015 for false accounting or theft.

The High Court Group Litigation Order (GLO) case against the Post Office brought by 555 postmasters exposed the Horizon IT scandal which had seen many postmasters forced to “repay” to Post Office sums which they had never received. In March 2022, the Chancellor announced that further funding would be made available to ensure members of the GLO will receive similar levels of compensation to that which is available to their non-GLO peers.

Today, I am announcing that the Government intend to make an interim payment of compensation to eligible members of the GLO, who are not already covered by another scheme, totalling £19.5 million. Together with the share of the December 2019 settlement that we understand was distributed to the GLO postmasters, this brings the total of compensation to approximately £30 million. I hope this will go some way in helping many postmasters who have, and still are, facing hardships.

In parallel, we are working towards delivering the final compensation scheme for the GLO and will be appointing Freeths to access the data and methodology they developed in relation to the distribution of the 2019 settlement. Freeths represented the GLO claimants and have vital knowledge and expertise based on their involvement in the case. This will allow us to work at pace on the design of a scheme.

Furthermore, I can confirm that members of the GLO group will be able to claim reasonable legal fees as part of participating in the final compensation scheme. I hope that this will allay any concerns that they might have about meeting the costs of seeking legal advice and support when applying to the scheme.

Overturned historical convictions

I am pleased to report that interim payments for overturned historical convictions are progressing well. As of 29 June, there have been 75 overturned convictions, with the most recent convictions being overturned in recent weeks. The Post Office has received 74 applications for interim payments including several new applications in recent weeks. Sixty-seven offers have been accepted by and paid out to claimants, totalling nearly £7 million paid out in compensation so far.

For those postmasters who have already submitted quantified claims, we are working with Post Office to agree part payments of agreed elements of claims, such as loss of earnings, wherever possible, and will continue to do so with additional claims which are submitted. Taking this step should enable us to avoid undue delays in awarding partial compensation while outstanding matters are resolved.

I acknowledge that one area where it has been challenging to agree compensation is non-pecuniary damages, some of which reflect the wider impact on postmasters’ lives that these wrongful convictions have had. These include compensation for the loss of their liberty or impacts on their mental health. A number of the postmasters have agreed to refer this issue to the process of early neutral evaluation, to be conducted by former Supreme Court Judge, Lord Dyson. It is hoped that this evaluation will facilitate the resolution of these issues. Government stands ready to support the delivery of the early neutral evaluation process and is keen to ensure that the outcomes of this process enable swift compensation.

Historical shortfall scheme

As of 23 June, 65% of eligible claimants have now received an offer, meaning £29 million has now been offered and that 444 further postmasters have been offered compensation since my last update to the House. I have set the Post Office the ambition to make 100% of HSS offers by the end of the calendar year and the Government are working closely with Post Office to achieve this.

[HCWS161]

Post Office: Compensation for Horizon Scandal

Paul Scully Excerpts
Thursday 30th June 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
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With permission, I will make a statement on the latest steps that the Government are taking to ensure that swift and fair compensation is made available to postmasters impacted by the Horizon IT scandal.

The House is well aware of the terrible impact felt by the many postmasters affected by the issues with the Post Office’s Horizon IT system that began over 20 years ago. Those distressing consequences have been widely documented in the courts—in the 2019 group litigation order judgments and in the more recent Court of Appeal judgments—as well as in the media. I have met postmasters personally to hear how their lives and the lives of their families have been affected by these events, and every time I am moved by the impact that these events have had on individual postmasters’ lives and their fight for justice over a number of years. I pay tribute to colleagues on both sides of the House for the way they have supported postmasters in their efforts to expose the truth and see justice done.

Today, I will update the House on the latest steps that the Government are taking to ensure that fair compensation is paid to people impacted by the scandal. As Members will know, members of the GLO group performed a great public service by bringing the case in 2019 that exposed the scandal. That is why I was pleased when the Chancellor announced in March this year that further funding is being made available, to ensure that those people receive similar levels of compensation to that available to their non-GLO peers. The Government intend to make an interim payment of compensation to eligible members of the GLO who are not already covered by other compensation support, totalling £19.5 million. Together with the share of the December 2019 settlement, which we understand was distributed to the GLO postmasters, that brings the total level of compensation to around £30 million. Postmasters will be contacted in the coming weeks to submit an application, and we aim to distribute funds within a few weeks of receiving that application. I hope that will go some way towards helping many postmasters who have faced and still are facing hardships.

In parallel, we are continuing to work at pace on delivering the final compensation scheme for the GLO. I confirm that we will be appointing Freeths to access the data and methodology that it developed in relation to the distribution of the 2019 settlement. Freeths represented the GLO claimants, and it has vital knowledge and expertise based on its involvement in the case. That will allow us to work at pace on the design of a scheme with the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, and Freeths, to give those in the GLO similar compensation to their non-GLO peers. As promised in March, we will informally consult with members of the GLO about the proposed scheme’s operation. I am also pleased to announce that members of the GLO group will be able to claim reasonable legal fees as part of participating in the compensation scheme. I hope that will allay any concerns they might have about meeting the costs of seeking legal advice and support when applying to the scheme.

Turning to progress on compensation for overturned criminal convictions, I am pleased to report that interim payments are progressing well. As of 29 June, there have been 75 overturned convictions, with the most recent being overturned in recent weeks. The Post Office has received 74 applications for interim payments, including several new applications recently. Sixty-seven offers have been accepted by and paid out to claimants, totalling nearly £7 million. That marks significant progress, with 10 additional interim payments made to postmasters since I updated the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee on 11 January 2022. I am pleased that those interim payments have helped to deliver an early down payment on the compensation due to affected postmasters, in advance of full and final compensation packages being agreed.

For those postmasters with an overturned conviction who have already submitted quantified claims, we are working with the Post Office to agree, wherever possible, part payments of agreed elements of claims, such as loss of earnings, and we will continue to do so with additional claims when they are submitted. That step should enable us to avoid undue delays, by awarding partial compensation while outstanding matters are resolved.

One area where it has been challenging to agree compensation is non-pecuniary damages, some of which reflect the wider impact on postmasters’ lives that the wrongful convictions have had. That includes compensation for their loss of liberty, or impacts on their mental health. A number of postmasters have agreed to refer this issue to the process of early neutral evaluation, to be conducted by former Supreme Court judge Lord Dyson. It is hoped that that evaluation will facilitate the resolution of those issues. The Government stand ready to support the delivery of the early neutral evaluation process, and are keen to ensure that the outcomes of the process enable swift compensation.

I urge all postmasters with a Horizon-related conviction to continue to come forward to seek to have them overturned. Indeed, postmasters are being contacted individually by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, and other relevant bodies, to encourage them to do so.

In addition to progress on compensation for those with overturned criminal convictions, good progress has been made on delivering compensation for those in the historical shortfall scheme. As of 23 June, 65% of eligible claimants have now received an offer, meaning that £29 million has now been offered, and 444 further postmasters have been offered compensation since my last update to the House. I thank the independent panels for their diligent work in progressing those cases.

As I have said previously, I have set the Post Office the ambition to make 100% of HSS offers by the end of the calendar year, and the Government are working closely with the Post Office to achieve that. It is important, however, that in addition to providing compensation, we learn lessons so that something similar can never happen again. That is why the Government set up the Post Office Horizon IT inquiry and put it on a statutory footing, to ensure that it has all the powers it needs to investigate what happened, establish the facts, and make recommendations for the future. We are co-operating fully with the inquiry to ensure that the facts of what happened are established and lessons are learned, and I commend this statement to the House.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
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I thank the Minister for advance sight of his statement and for keeping the House informed of progress. The Horizon scandal is perhaps the greatest miscarriage of justice in our country’s history. Its victims have waited for justice for far too long. I pay tribute to the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance for its tireless work and acknowledge the work of colleagues on both sides of the House who have gone to considerable lengths to highlight the plight of their constituents. In particular, I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr Jones), whose commitment to the cause has been unwavering, and to Lord Arbuthnot in the other place.

I also pay tribute to the Minister—and I do not say that lightly. Successive Conservative Governments have sat on the scandal, but he has made real progress in moving us to a place where we can see that justice is in sight. I acknowledge that. I also welcome the update on the March announcement that, as Labour has repeatedly called for, the 505 litigants will receive the compensation payments that they are entitled to. However, I emphasise that, as I am sure the Minister will acknowledge, it is unacceptable that it has taken so long when the right course of action was always clear. There really was no need for victims to have spent so long in limbo.

At the core of this unforgivable scandal is the belief that workers were dishonest and technology was infallible. Perhaps that is not surprising, given the Government’s track record on defending the rights of working people. Decent, honest people have had their lives torn apart, been put in prison and been made to wait years for justice. For some, that wait has been too long. We must not forget those who are not with us and will not see the justice to which they were so entitled.

As I have previously done in the Chamber, I implore the Minister to act quickly and decisively to draw a line under this horrific miscarriage of justice. There can be no further delays in providing the compensation that will go at least some way in helping to right this wrong. As such, will he provide a timescale for when all compensation payments will have been made? Will he confirm that the compensation will not affect the Post Office’s core funding, day-to-day operations or viability in—I stress this—any way? Given the vital role that post offices perform in our communities—we all acknowledge that—it is essential that today’s communities are not made to pay for the unacceptable mistakes of the past. Labour has called for all those involved to be held accountable. Will he therefore update the House on what investigations are ongoing into the role of Fujitsu and others involved in the technology that led to the failure?

The Minister spoke about learning the lessons from this horrific scandal. The Government were, and remain, the only shareholder in the Post Office. They have a financial responsibility and a moral responsibility to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I thank the hon. Lady for her kind words, and I totally echo her thanks and congratulations to the right hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) and Lord Arbuthnot. My hon. Friend the Member for Telford (Lucy Allan) and others sitting behind me have also worked tirelessly on this for so long, as has the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Marion Fellows), who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on post offices.

It is not possible to listen to the stories and fail to be moved. There is always something else that comes out and brings a tear to the eye and, frankly, anger that this was ever allowed to happen. The Government have moved to do something about it, but we are all doing something, because this is about a human cost. We are humans first and politicians second.

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah) talked about the timing. There is an application form for the 555 to fill in. It is comparatively simple and Freeths will work with each of them and walk them through the process, because the last thing we want to do is put hurdles in their way. We want to make sure that within a few weeks the money goes out of the door to them. They need the money now. In parallel with that, the compensation scheme has started. We want informal consultation with the 555, to make sure that they are happy with the scheme and have faith and confidence that the funding will be delivered. As I have said, we want the historical shortfall scheme to be wrapped up and to at least make offers to each person by the end of the year.

I think we will be able to start moving quickly on overturning criminal convictions as soon as Lord Dyson has responded through his early neutral evaluation, but that also depends on the flow of cases via the solicitors. I have been working closely with Hudgells and other solicitors who represent the groups, to make sure that it is as speedy as possible.

I can confirm that this will not affect the Post Office’s core funding. We want to make sure that the Post Office has a future, but we cannot have that future until we have rectified the mistakes of the past.

The hon. Lady also talked about Fujitsu, learning the lessons and holding people to account. The next stage of the statutory inquiry starts next week, when the Government, the Post Office, Fujitsu and others will go in front of Wyn Williams. That will start the process of making sure that we know exactly who knew what, who did what and when.

Lucy Allan Portrait Lucy Allan (Telford) (Con)
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I thank the Minister for all his good work. Obviously, today is a great day because he has been able to make this statement to the House.

I remain deeply concerned about the role of Fujitsu, UK Government Investments and all those who sent Ministers to this House, even after the Justice Fraser judgment, to say, “Nothing to see here.” That was wrong. I know that Sir Wyn Williams is investigating, as the Minister has rightly said, but will my hon. Friend personally commit to ensuring that those individuals are held to account?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I thank my hon. Friend for all the work that she has done. Having set up the statutory inquiry, what I cannot do at this Dispatch Box, at this moment in time, is direct Sir Wyn towards any particular area of findings. That is for him to do and I want him to remain an independent chair. But we absolutely want to make sure that lessons are learned and that people are genuinely held accountable.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the SNP spokesperson, Marion Fellows.

Marion Fellows Portrait Marion Fellows (Motherwell and Wishaw) (SNP)
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Thank you, Mr Speaker. I thank the Minister both for his statement and for prior sight of it. I also thank all members of the APPG, both former and current, because they have been the power behind this. I merely chair it. I came along quite a way into all of this, and I am grateful for the help I have had.

The Minister has been diligent in his work leading to today’s announcement on interim compensation. Though that is very welcome, it has taken a long time to get here. I thank him for the thought that has gone into the administration of the scheme, and welcome the proactive action to be taken in contacting those GLO members who are yet to receive compensation.

Will the Minister—I know this is a big ask—reopen the historical shortfall scheme without a cut-off date, as the NFSP called for? Lots of sub-postmasters have still not applied for the compensation to which they are entitled. Post Office failures go a long way back under Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem Ministers, and sub-postmasters still struggle to make a decent living. Will the Minister confirm that the Government will continue to support post offices and sub-postmasters so that they thrive and do not suffer for grievous past mistakes that are now rightly being dealt with?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I thank the hon. Lady for all her work and for her remarks. It is not practical to reopen the historical shortfall scheme in full, but cases are still coming forward and the Post Office is looking at them on an individual basis, because we want to make sure that we catch as many people as possible who have been wronged.

As for remuneration for postmasters, I talked about the fact that we have to give post offices a future. That has to be done on the back of the people—the postmasters up and down the country—who make the Post Office what it is. Remuneration remains a key topic of discussion with the Post Office, the NFSP and postmasters in general.

David Davis Portrait Mr David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con)
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I have watched many Ministers do a good job at the Dispatch Box, but it takes a very special Minister to take an issue such as this to heart and really make it move, as this Minister has. The compensation that he talks about is long overdue, particularly for litigants—he knows that I represent one of them—and it will go a good way to correcting some of the historical injustices in this sorry case. I congratulate him on that and I know that this is not the end of the tale.

There is another way in which this cannot be the end. We have heard about learning lessons and all that, but this is about more than learning lessons; there is a massive question of justice. People have covered up—let us make no bones about it—a massive injustice to their advantage and for their own profit, pay and honours. I know that the Minister cannot say certain things and that sub judice issues apply to him, but I hope that he will keep a very close eye on this issue and make sure that the people who need to be punished are punished and that justice is done.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I thank my right hon. Friend for all his work and the conversations that we have had. I should not have to be here making these statements and the taxpayer should not be covering compensation for the Post Office. This is being done because people have been wronged by those in authority and they have been let down time and again over 20 years. That is why we need compensation, justice and answers and to be able to draw a line under this, so that people who have been wronged can move on with their lives.

Clive Efford Portrait Clive Efford (Eltham) (Lab)
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The Minister knows that I have two such cases. One person is in front of the independent panel giving advice on the historical shortfall scheme. The other person has a conviction that was overturned by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. However, the Post Office does not accept that that was a Horizon-related conviction and is therefore refusing to provide any form of compensation. Given the comprehensive nature of the failure of Horizon, how can the Post Office say that with any confidence? Will the Minister confirm that we will consider compensation for former postmasters who are in my constituent’s position?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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The hon. Gentleman and I have discussed this matter and I think the interim payments are his constituent’s concern. If Horizon is deemed not to have been the main driver of what happened—the Post Office contested that—his constituent would not be entitled to the interim payments, but that does not stop them applying for compensation.

David Jones Portrait Mr David Jones (Clwyd West) (Con)
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Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), I commend the Minister for his personal dedication to this cause. It is outstanding and I am sure that a lot of postmasters around the country appreciate it. The cost of the settlement that he has announced will fall on the public purse. In due course, it should be possible to seek indemnity in whole or in part from the companies—I suggest Fujitsu, most notably—that are responsible in whole or in part for this issue. What steps is he taking to ensure that they are made aware that, in due course, such indemnity will be sought?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I think that all parties who will be in front of the inquiry will know exactly that. I do not want to pre-empt anything that we may do, but as my right hon. Friend says, the taxpayer clearly should not have to foot the bill. However, we want to make sure that we get all the answers before we take further steps.

Kevan Jones Portrait Mr Kevan Jones (North Durham) (Lab)
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I thank the Minister for his statement. I put my thanks to him on the record, because of the numerous Ministers I have dealt with on the issue in the past 10 years or more, he is the only one who has challenged the system and compassionately realised that this wrong needs to be righted. He should be congratulated and take full credit.

The interim payments will make a difference because a lot of these individuals, such as my constituent Tom Brown, have been living in abject poverty for the past few years through no fault of their own. Proud individuals who served their community were ruined by the state. Like the hon. Member for Telford (Lucy Allan) and the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), I would like to know what the next process will be.

I accept that the compensation scheme will be put in place, and I am pleased that Freeths is involved, but what about holding people to account? My layman’s view is that criminal activity was involved in some of the decisions that were made. When will the individuals involved face a day of reckoning? I accept that the Minister cannot speak about what will come out of the public inquiry, but it is very important that the Government have a strategy to ensure not only that those individuals are identified, but that there is a process for dealing with them in the criminal courts.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I thank the right hon. Gentleman for all his work and for his kind words, which mean a lot from someone who has done so much in this area. I do not want to pre-empt the inquiry, but I know from looking back at the records that the Director of Public Prosecutions was interested in the findings of the Fraser judgment. That is the process for further criminal action, should it be deemed appropriate.

Duncan Baker Portrait Duncan Baker (North Norfolk) (Con)
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I echo everything that has been said to the Minister; I will not go over it all again, but he really deserves the credit that has been given. As a former postmaster—I think I am the only one in the House—I absolutely believe that those responsible, including Fujitsu and senior people in the Post Office, must be held to account.

I also want to say something different to the Minister: will he please, please look at the remuneration structure for postmasters? We are losing post offices up and down our high streets and in our communities, because it is sometimes unviable to run a post office as a stand-alone unit. When communities lose post offices, we struggle to get them back. Once this horrendous scandal is dealt with, will the Minister please look at remunerating postmasters properly so that we can get these great institutions back on our high streets? My goodness, we need them.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I thank my hon. Friend, whose comments come from experience. We are not waiting until this is over. The Post Office has conversations all the time with sub-postmasters and their representatives about remuneration. It relates partly to the future of post offices. Some postmasters rely on extra services to bring in footfall so that they can then sell other products in their retail outlets; some find that too binding, including in some smaller units in Scotland—the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Marion Fellows) is nodding— because they are full of parcels, which is preventing them from doing other trading. That is why we need to work together to make sure we have a viable approach for post offices, not just for economic value but for social value.

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Ogmore) (Lab)
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I pay tribute to the Minister for righting this wrong and for working to get more justice for postmasters. He is aware that I have a constituent who has faced hardship for many years, having been a sub-postmaster for about 10 years. May I press him slightly on his statement, in relation to the 33 postmasters who are no longer with us, four of whom took their own lives during the wait for justice? Will he ensure that their families, including husbands, wives and children, get support to receive compensation? There can never be enough compensation for those families, but that would go some way towards righting this wrong and ensuring that they get the justice that they deserve.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments. I ask him please to pass my condolences to the family of the postmaster to whom I know he is referring, and to others with whom he has been in contact who have a family member who has taken their life as a result of this. The compensation schemes all include the estates of the postmasters who have died, whether they died of natural causes or unfortunately took their own lives.

Robert Buckland Portrait Sir Robert Buckland (South Swindon) (Con)
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I want to add my tribute to my hon. Friend, who is working tenaciously on behalf of—as he has just said—not just the living, but those who have sadly died. I think he will agree that we can have the fullest confidence in the experience of the High Court judge Sir Wyn Williams and his independent statutory inquiry, but does he agree that the inquiry should examine in particular the way in which, before evidence that is the product of information technology—which is only going to grow as a phenomenon in the years ahead—is presented to any court, it is the subject of its own verification? That seems to me to be at the heart of the problem that was the root of what has been, in terms of its scale, the greatest miscarriage of justice in our English and Welsh legal history.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for what he has said and for the experience that he brings to the House. Sir Wyn Williams has had to learn very quickly and import considerable resources because of the technology that has been involved. It is easy to baffle people with high tech, and to say that there is nothing to see here and absolutely nothing is wrong. It is extremely complex, and I hope that Sir Wyn does get to the bottom of exactly the issue that my right hon. and learned Friend has raised.

Alistair Carmichael Portrait Mr Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)
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May I add my voice to those who have said that the Minister deserves full credit for getting us to this point?

The inquiry is of course about ensuring that those who have done wrong in the past are accountable. However, we already know that at the heart of this problem was the culture at the top and the centre of the Post Office, which essentially did not trust the people at the coalface. If we are to ensure that this never happens again, we have to know that that culture has changed. Quite apart from the inquiry into the past, is the Minister satisfied that those who are currently at the top and the centre of the Post Office have genuinely received that message about a change in the culture?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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Yes, I definitely am. We have already talked about remuneration, but Nick Read brings with him a different type of culture—a different approach—because he does not see post offices as merely branches of a central location. He was used to dealing, in his previous occupation, with supermarkets which were part of a bigger organisation, and I believe that the culture is shifting under his leadership.

Bob Blackman Portrait Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)
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I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend—not just on the work that he has done in respect of this matter, but on keeping the House updated, and listening to what Back Benchers have had to say and then dealing with it. He has, for example, announced the interim payments that were requested by Members during the last statement.

Sub-postmasters are essentially running small businesses, for the benefit of the community and to provide services. The accounting systems prior to Horizon were chaotic, to put it mildly. May I urge my hon. Friend to ensure that evidence is presented relating not just to what happened during the scandal of people being charged with offences which they clearly had not committed, but to what happened previously and led to this chaos in the first place?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I thank my hon. Friend for his kind words. Sir Wyn will be looking at the Horizon scandal in the round to see how it progressed over those 20 years, and at the history that is documented in Nick Wallace’s book “The Great Post Office Scandal”, which is a very comprehensive read. As for the interim payments, they will clearly never be enough for people to settle their debts, but they are a first step. This is not the end of the process, but it is a really important step.

Gareth Thomas Portrait Gareth Thomas (Harrow West) (Lab/Co-op)
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Further to the question from the chair of the all-party parliamentary group on post offices, the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw (Marion Fellows), about the scope for flexibility on the closing date for the historical shortfall scheme, I have constituents who ran a sub-post office in a nearby borough but had it shut down and the franchise taken away by the Post Office. At first glance, it looks as though Horizon issues were very much involved. They submitted an application to the historical shortfall scheme, but for a series of reasons it seems that their application was not received by the Post Office. If the Post Office is unwilling to consider their case, would the Minister be willing to meet me to see if together we might persuade it to rethink?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I will gladly meet the hon. Gentleman to look at that case. It is difficult for me to make a judgment here, but I have talked about the fact that the Post Office is looking at things on an individual basis and I will gladly meet him to talk about his constituents’ case.

Aaron Bell Portrait Aaron Bell (Newcastle-under-Lyme) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can I add my name to the chorus of praise for the Minister? I also thank the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah), for her generous words to him. The reality is that it has taken far too long to get to this point, and not just in miscarriages of justice like this. We have also seen scandals in the NHS where people have to wait too long for Governments finally to admit fault and then to compensate people. That is often because they have been badly advised along the way. Given what we have heard from so many people around the Chamber today about the people involved in these cases being old, retired and often still in poverty—and, as the hon. Member for Ogmore (Chris Elmore) said, some of them have died—can I impress on the Minister the urgency of his continuing his good work so that we can get this fully resolved as speedily as possible and everyone can get the justice and compensation they deserve?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I thank my hon. Friend for his kind words. Receiving this praise is great for me, but this is not about me. As he rightly says—please do carry on, by the way—it is about the people who have suffered terribly at the hands of people in authority. Some of them have taken their own lives and many of them have been stigmatised and left in debt and abject poverty, so we have to keep the pace going, not just to get that compensation for them but to get those lessons learned and hold people to account.

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Among the other catastrophic and inexcusable failures, this House failed. This House was made to fail in its duty to get to the bottom of this quicker, because somewhere in the machinery of government there was a deliberate and sustained conspiracy to send Minister after Minister unwittingly to the Dispatch Box to say things that we now know are not true. This House has to look at that very seriously indeed. It cannot be acceptable in any circumstances for this House to be prevented from doing its job by conspirators, whether in Government or in outside agencies, and I hope the appropriate authorities of the House will look into that urgently.

Can the Minister tell me what further action he proposes to take in forthcoming legislation to widen the circumstances in which directors of companies can be held personally liable as well as corporately liable for serious misconduct in office? In particular, one of the things my constituents find frustrating is that directors of these companies, who at the very least should have known what was going on and did nothing to stop it, were able to walk away and become directors of other companies. They have had 20 years of a good lifestyle that was denied to the victims and, if they are called to account, they will get a fair trial, which was denied to the victims. Will the Minister look for ways to speed up the process of preventing directors from taking up other highly paid directorships if there are serious questions to be answered about their conduct in office?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

I am not sure if it is the House authorities, but it is certainly the case that Wyn Williams’s inquiry will see exactly where the failings were—including, if there are any, failings by Ministers or others who have stood here—without fear or favour. In terms of directors, we have already brought in a number of measures since I have been a Minister, including the disqualified directors legislation, which allows the Insolvency Service to bring companies back on the books and then to take action against their directors, but we will always look to make sure we have the most robust system to tackle rogue directors.

Margaret Ferrier Portrait Margaret Ferrier (Rutherglen and Hamilton West) (Ind)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I would like to thank the Minister for his determination to get this issue sorted for sub-postmasters where other Ministers have failed. With post offices getting harder and harder to come by in recent years, how do the Government intend to restore confidence so that potential sub-postmasters are not put off opening these businesses that are so essential to our communities?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

We want to ensure that, by drawing a line under this historic miscarriage of justice and scandal, we can work on the future of the Post Office. To do that, we need to make sure we are engaging everybody—rural, coastal and city-wide post offices—on how we get the right balance between the Post Office’s economic value and its social value. I will continue to work with the APPG and with Members on both sides of the House to get this right.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for grasping the core of the issue and getting the job done. The Chamber is unanimous in thanking him, and I add my thanks, too. I welcome that those who initially missed out on the scheme now have the opportunity to apply. It is good to see fairness and equity set as the standard for those who have passed away. Will their sponsors or next of kin be eligible to apply?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. The solicitors will work with the estates of postmasters who were subject to overturned convictions or historical shortfalls, or indeed the original 555. It is important that we get the equity he seeks.

UK Conformity Assessed Marking Regime: Support for Business

Paul Scully Excerpts
Monday 20th June 2022

(1 year, 12 months ago)

Written Statements
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Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
- Hansard - -

I am pleased to announce that the Government are going further to make it easier and cheaper for businesses to move to the new UKCA product regulation regime.

Our new UKCA regime gives us the chance to take control of the way products are regulated and ensure these rules work to the benefit of business and consumers in Great Britain. The UKCA marking will become mandatory for most goods which previously used the CE and reverse epsilon markings if they are first placed on the market in Great Britain after 31 December 2022.

The Government understand that moving to this new regime has meant changes for businesses. While change is necessary, we want to take a pragmatic approach. We have been consulting with industry to understand their key concerns in the transition to the UKCA marking regime.

The Government want to make it easier for businesses to comply with the changes so we will introduce four measures to further support businesses adopting UKCA. These measures are designed to reduce compliance burdens and prevent costs that could be passed on to consumers. These changes will apply to BEIS sectors requiring the UKCA marking, other Departments will make related announcements on arrangements for their sectors as required in due course. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities is making a UKCA announcement in conjunction with BEIS today, as indicated below.

These measures are as follows:

Government will reduce re-testing costs for UKCA certification, by allowing certificates provided by EU (European Union) conformity assessment bodies (CABs) issued before the end of this year to be used as a basis for UKCA marking certification—including a specific arrangement for construction products, via the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. This will prevent duplication and immediate increased costs for businesses.

Government will make clear there is no need to re-test existing imported stock, as these products will be considered already placed on the Great Britain (GB) market. This will prevent the costly, and unnecessary re-labelling of existing stock for businesses.

Government will make clear that spare parts that repair or replace goods already on the GB market can meet the same requirements as the goods that they repair or replace. This will allow products and goods requiring spare parts to continue to be maintained.

Government will allow the UKCA marking and importer details to be added to products using a sticky label or on an accompanying document until 31 December 2025. This will allow business to adjust their product design to accommodate marking changes at a convenient and cost-effective time.

The Government intend to lay secondary legislation before the end of the calendar year to give effect to the changes for labelling and testing. Our guidance will be updated to reflect our changes to spare parts and existing stock.

These measures are being implemented to address the concerns we have heard through working closely with industry. Officials in the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, in collaboration with other Departments, will continue to engage actively with industry and support their preparations ahead of the full introduction of UKCA rules at the end of 2022.

[HCWS113]

Fire and Rehire Tactics

Paul Scully Excerpts
Wednesday 15th June 2022

(2 years ago)

Westminster Hall
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Westminster Hall is an alternative Chamber for MPs to hold debates, named after the adjoining Westminster Hall.

Each debate is chaired by an MP from the Panel of Chairs, rather than the Speaker or Deputy Speaker. A Government Minister will give the final speech, and no votes may be called on the debate topic.

This information is provided by Parallel Parliament and does not comprise part of the offical record

Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
- Hansard - -

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms McVey.

First of all, I congratulate the hon. Member for Slough (Mr Dhesi) on securing this debate on the use of fire and rehire tactics. It is an important issue, and we have heard today how worrying and unsettling it is for people when their employer wants to change their contract or puts them at risk of redundancy, especially when workers are already worrying about how they will pay their bills.

I speak to businesses every day and know that most employers try to do the right thing by their staff, and that decisions to change terms and conditions are not taken lightly. Let me be clear, as I have said many times, that we expect companies to treat their employees fairly and to do right by them. There are legal obligations and procedures that employers must abide by. We expect employers to act with fairness and compassion and to comply with the rules.

The Government have always been clear that the threat of dismissal and re-engagement on reduced terms—so-called fire and rehire—should not be used as a negotiation tactic. We expect employers to engage properly and meaningfully with their workforce and representatives, and to consider alternative options. Dismissal and re-engagement should be considered only as an option of absolute last resort, if agreement cannot be reached.

The UK has a strong labour market and its success is underpinned by balancing flexibility and workers’ protections. It is vital that we continue to strike that balance, while clamping down on the poor practices of some unscrupulous employers, some of which we heard about earlier. Our response to fire and rehire has been carefully considered, reflecting the seriousness of the issue and the importance of avoiding inadvertently creating a situation where employers have no choice but to make their staff redundant.

When the pandemic led to cases of firing and rehiring, we asked ACAS to conduct an evidence-gathering exercise to help us better understand the issue, so as to get behind the headlines and work out a quantitative and qualitative understanding. The Government then went further and asked ACAS to produce new guidance, to ensure that employers were clear on their responsibilities. That guidance was published in 2021 and clearly sets out the employer’s responsibilities when considering making changes to employment contracts.

The guidance is clear that fire and rehire should be used only as the option of last resort. I urge all employers to make themselves familiar with that. ACAS stands ready to help mediate disputes, should either party seek its services. ACAS has also published guidance for employers and employees.

The Government are going further still. As has been mentioned, on 29 March, I announced that we would introduce a statutory code of practice on dismissal and re-engagement.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Can I say gently to the Minister that there is some confusion in his position? He says that it is the Government’s view that fire and rehire should not be a negotiating tactic. Surely, the problem is how employers can go into negotiations if they can legally dismiss and re-engage. Is he saying that if an employer, or a representative, in a negotiation says, “We can dismiss and re-engage and we may very well do that,” they are in breach of the code that he has just outlined?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I will come to the statutory code in a second and explain how that works. Even the hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner), who talked of banning fire and rehire and ran a campaign that involved many Members here, actually explained in the debate in the Chamber that his Bill would not ban fire and rehire. It would limit it but not ban it. Even he understood that, in certain circumstances, there needs to be that flexibility.

The statutory code includes practical steps that employers should follow if they are considering changes to terms and conditions and there is the prospect of dismissal and re-engagement. A court or employment tribunal will take the code into account when considering relevant cases, including those related to unfair dismissal. The tribunals will have the power to apply an uplift of up to 25% of an employee’s compensation if an employer unreasonably fails to comply with the code where it applies.

Most employers do their best to comply with the law, but the code will clarify best practice standards and deter those employers who try to cut corners, pushing the bar even higher for employers who seek to do the wrong thing. We will hold a public consultation soon, to seek views from across employers, individuals, unions and beyond.

Jim Shannon Portrait Jim Shannon
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I know that the Minister genuinely wishes to see betterment, as we all do. We gave some examples. Three or four Members referred to P&O Ferries. The Minister and the Government condemned the chief executive of P&O Ferries for his tactics, and they were right to do so. British Gas is another example of doing it totally the wrong way and disregarding the workers. I note that 20% of my constituents in Northern Ireland found that fire and rehire tactics were wrong. What will the Minister and the Government do to protect workers where, as the Minister and the Prime Minister have said, companies have done wrong?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

I will come to P&O Ferries now before I address the other points that Members have raised. The Government have been clear that the dismissal by P&O Ferries of 800 loyal seafarers without any notification or consultation was absolutely unacceptable. I was sat behind the chief executive—literally, not figuratively—during the Select Committee hearing. Like everyone else, I was appalled when I heard him say that he would do the same thing again. That was absolutely horrific to hear.

Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders
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As I asked in my speech, can the Minister provide an update on the criminal prosecutions?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

I will develop that in a second.

As I was saying, the chief executive of P&O Ferries admitted to breaking employment law. He demonstrated—not only in his actions on that weekend, but in the Select Committee hearing—absolute contempt for workers who had given years of service to his company. That was not just a case of fire and rehire, which is the subject of the debate; in the main, it was just fire, because the vast majority of those workers had no prospect of re- engagement. We have urged P&O to reconsider, but those calls have fallen on deaf ears.

David Linden Portrait David Linden
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister has probably made this point better than the rest of us: P&O’s acceptance that it was breaking the law very much makes the case for an employment Bill to strengthen workers’ rights. Anecdotally, the number of cases of fire and rehire is on the increase, partly because companies see others getting away with it. Do the Government hold any data on how often fire and rehire is happening, and if so, will they publish it? If they do not have that data, why not?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

I will talk a little about that in answering the question from the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders), about what the Insolvency Service is doing in relation to P&O Ferries.

We engaged ACAS to better understand exactly what fire and rehire actually is. A lot of the reports in various media are not strictly about fire and rehire, because it is never quite as binary as it appears. However, there are some egregious examples, and I think we can all agree that we want to eliminate them, or at least push the bar so high that it is just not viable for employers to take that sort of action. As a result of the inability of P&O Ferries to hear not just what this House was saying but what the country was saying, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport set out the nine steps that we are taking to force it to rethink its decision and to prevent such cases from happening again in the maritime industry.

To come to the shadow Minister’s point, the Insolvency Service is now pursuing its own inquiries. It has commenced formal criminal and civil investigations into the circumstances around the redundancies. Those investigations are ongoing, so I am not in a position to comment any further on them for the time being, but I wish the Insolvency Service every speed in its efforts, as we all want a result that holds P&O Ferries to the highest account.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Portrait Mr Dhesi
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the Minister for outlining the statutory code and the Government guidance on improving working practices. To improve modern working practices, when will the Government finally legislate on the 51 recommendations that they accepted from the 2017 Taylor review?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

I will come to that in a moment.

I mentioned that ACAS has been helping us on both quantitative and qualitative data. We have moved to guidance, and are moving towards a statutory code, and my colleagues can see that action is taking place. Members have asked where my colleagues are. A number of them are in the main Chamber, tackling the issue of the rail strikes; if they go ahead, there is a distinct possibility that they will affect smaller businesses and workers. My colleagues are paying attention to that immediate risk to people up and down the country.

We have discussed fire and rehire on a number of occasions, and will continue to discuss it. As I have said, we want to eliminate the most egregious instances of its use. There has been a lot of conversation about the employment Bill. I must correct the hon. Member for Glasgow East (David Linden): our manifesto commitment was not to bringing forward an employment Bill, but to bringing forward measures that might be put in it. I bore all my officials and civil servants with my talk of the difference between output and outcome. I doubt any worker with a rogue employer is thinking, “I wish there was an employment Bill.” They are probably thinking, “I need carer’s leave,” “I need neonatal leave,” or, “I need flexible working.” Those are the things that affect people up and down the country; it is not that they need a single piece of legislation, tied up with a bow. That would be neat, clearly, but it is the measures to which we are committed, and that we will deliver.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Frankly, I think that implementing the 51 recommendations of the Taylor review does require a Bill. On 25 January, the Minister said that such a Bill would be in the Queen’s Speech. Why was it not?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

I will look back at my words, because I am not sure that I have ever pre-empted what Her Majesty was going to say. I will certainly look back at exactly what I said.

Chris Stephens Portrait Chris Stephens
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister is being very generous in giving way. Let me quote Hansard for his benefit. He said, in a Committee chaired by the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies):

“Clearly, the employment Bill, as the hon. Member for Glasgow South West knows, is primary legislation. It will be announced, when it comes forward in parliamentary time, in the Queen’s Speech.”—[Official Report, Third Delegated Legislation Committee, 25 January 2022; c. 24.]

Why was the Bill not in the Queen’s Speech?

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Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

I said, “in parliamentary time.” It will be when parliamentary time allows. We have a manifesto commitment to delivering these measures in this Parliament. The Queen’s Speech relates to this Session, not this Parliament. Clearly, it would be neat to have the measures in a single legislative vehicle, but I think we would all find that workers up and down the country are interested in the net result—what happens to them in their daily life. We are task-focused, rather than process-focused.

Christian Wakeford Portrait Christian Wakeford
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

There is a bit of a debate now about whether there will be an employment Bill or an improvement to employment rights. The main question is: when will it be delivered?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

As I say, our manifesto commitments remain. The hon. Gentleman will see employment measures come forward both in this Session and before the end of the Parliament, because we want to act. We have pledged to do many things, and we absolutely want to stick to those pledges.

The hon. Member for Glasgow East talked about productivity. I will not comment on individual workers, but there is no doubt that companies in the UK are less productive than companies elsewhere in the G7, so we need to work on our productivity as a nation, and as businesses. That involves a whole raft of things, including working practices, the relationship between employers and employees, and infrastructure. If we raised our productivity to German levels, it is estimated that we could add £100 billion to our economy. Those are pretty substantial gains, if we can get there.

David Linden Portrait David Linden
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I caution the Minister against making too many comparisons with Germany, which has much higher statutory sick pay. If he wants to make international like-for-like comparisons, let us look at the whole package, and the wider picture.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

I am going wider than workers’ rights and productivity. That is why we are rolling out the Help to Grow management scheme for smaller businesses, and other things. This is huge. We need better transport connections. That is part of the levelling-up agenda. There are lots of things within that, and I do not underestimate what the hon. Gentleman is saying. Our employment landscape is very different from that in Germany. In Germany, they tend to ask permission—it is courts first there, whereas we tend to be tribunal led. There are big differences.

One of the key things I want to raise about productivity relates to what the hon. Member for Llanelli (Dame Nia Griffith) said. She was absolutely right to say that job security leads to a better, more productive, happier and more loyal workforce. That allows workers and employees to plan and it results in better mental wellbeing. That is why, by setting statutory minimums in legislation, guidance and codes, we want employers to go further. Frankly, it makes business sense for employers to go further, rather than follow the egregious example of P&O. What is the point of taking people on and training them, which involves costs, time and resources, only to then cast them aside and have to do the same thing again?

Nia Griffith Portrait Dame Nia Griffith
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will the Minister give way?

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Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

I will give way, but I will then need to make progress so that I allow time for the hon. Member for Slough to respond to the debate.

Nia Griffith Portrait Dame Nia Griffith
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister says that rational and good businesses would not do this, but the fact of the matter is that hundreds of businesses are being undermined because some businesses are using fire and rehire. It is being used repeatedly and in many different sectors. It is no good saying that it does not make logical sense; we need the legislation to back that up. That is what we want the Minister to bring forward.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- Hansard - -

The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) talked about parliamentary staff. Before becoming a Member, I worked in this place for a little while. I was an avuncular figure because I was about 20 years older than everybody else. People would come to my office in tears because former colleagues—they are not in this place any more—did not know how to employ people. The way in which they treated some of their staff was absolutely appalling. I have seen it at first hand.

The hon. Member for Llanelli rightly mentions the behaviour of some employers, and we have heard a number of examples today. Almost a year ago, The Independent reported that one employer was making a third of its workforce redundant and then taking on other people on less secure contracts. The Labour party claimed that by doing so it was putting itself on a firmer and fairer footing ahead of a general election, when it was telling people to use their own laptops, anti-virus software and firewalls, and to work from home. That is what I mean about outcomes and outputs. We can have great words, but if an organisation is not acting on them, that is no good to the employees who trust it. People want something that is flexible and that works to protect jobs but that also gets the best out of workers. It is really important that we work for that.

Let me leave the House in no doubt that this Government will continue to stand behind workers and stamp out unscrupulous practices where they occur. We will provide further updates regarding the consultation on the statutory code in due course, and we will inform the House and keep Members up to date on what we are doing on fire and rehire.

Oral Answers to Questions

Paul Scully Excerpts
Tuesday 7th June 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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David Linden Portrait David Linden (Glasgow East) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

14. What plans his Department has to bring forward legislative proposals on neonatal leave and pay.

Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

We recognise that parents of babies receiving neonatal care need extra support during some of the most difficult days of their lives. We are committed to introducing neonatal leave and pay to meet this need as soon as parliamentary time allows.

David Linden Portrait David Linden
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

We are all disappointed that there is no employment Bill, but there is cross-party agreement in the House on neonatal leave and pay. Leaving to one side the more controversial aspects of the employment Bill, what would stop the Government supporting a stand-alone Bill to enact policies on neonatal leave and pay?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- View Speech - Hansard - -

We absolutely welcome and recognise the interest in this issue, especially from the hon. Gentleman, who has personal experience of the subject and has raised it a number of times in the House. I remain committed to the legislation. We can work on it in different ways. I believe that we have a meeting scheduled, and I am looking forward to discussing how we can deliver these policies in good time.

Luke Hall Portrait Luke Hall (Thornbury and Yate) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I was pleased to meet Ministers and the Prime Minister recently to talk about the importance of delivering the vital Government commitment to bring in neonatal leave and pay by the 2023 target that they set in their Budget two years ago. Work continues on finding a timeslot in which to take the measures through Parliament. Meanwhile, it is vital that Ministers in the Department continue to work on the required background measures, such as the guidance for businesses and for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, so that they are ready for introduction as soon as possible when we get parliamentary time. Can the Minister update me on the work that he has been doing to ensure that we are ready?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I thank my hon. Friend for the impassioned work that he does on this issue—again, following his personal experience. He is right: we are not just standing still while waiting for parliamentary time. We are taking action to prepare for implementation once the legislation is there, including by having conversations with third sector stakeholders and business representatives. Officials have also spoken to HMRC about developing a system to implement the measures when we have the legislation.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the shadow Minister.

Justin Madders Portrait Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Minister says “when parliamentary time allows”, but the Government could have provided time by putting an employment Bill in the Queen’s Speech. On neonatal pay, flexible working and an enforcement body to protect workers’ rights, this Government promise a lot but deliver very little. Ministers have promised an employment Bill over 20 times, yet it still appears nowhere in the legislative programme. Is not the only job that this Government are interested in protecting the Prime Minister’s?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Absolutely not. What we are interested in is jobs right across the UK—quality, highly productive, high-skilled, high-wage jobs. We will introduce all the employment measures to which we are committed in good time, when parliamentary time allows.

Paul Blomfield Portrait Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

15. Whether he plans to take further steps to improve the energy efficiency of domestic buildings.

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Maria Miller Portrait Dame Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

17. What steps he is taking to improve workers’ rights.

Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Through unprecedented increases to the national living wage and a range of legislative measures introduced since 2019, we are building a high-skilled, high-productivity, high-wage economy that delivers on our ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to work.

Maria Miller Portrait Dame Maria Miller
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer, but a great deal of his really good work could be for naught if we still allow employers to use confidentiality clauses to cover up mismanagement and discrimination in the workplace. Ministers have acknowledged this as a problem, and the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s warning notice, issued four years ago, is not universally understood. When will the Minister act, and put into law measures to outlaw the use of these dreadful clauses?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I add my congratulations to my right hon. Friend on being honoured as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire—it is well deserved. The Government consulted on the misuse of confidentiality clauses between workers and their employees back in 2019. In response, we committed to legislating to ensure that employers are not able to intimidate victims into silence. We remain committed to doing so, and I will continue to work with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on ensuring that we introduce this necessary legislation as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Rosie Cooper Portrait Rosie Cooper (West Lancashire) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

18. Whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals to prohibit fire and rehire practices.

Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

The Government will bring forward a new statutory code on the practice of fire and rehire. We will publish a draft for consultation in due course, and bring the code into force when parliamentary time allows.

Rosie Cooper Portrait Rosie Cooper
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Last year, when British Gas threatened thousands of its staff with fire and rehire, one of my constituents wrote and told me that the “human cost” had been the saddest part, and that

“the mental health strain on me and my colleagues has been so very difficult to watch.”

Since 2020, almost 3 million workers have been told to reapply for their jobs, with worse conditions. I heard the Minister’s response to my initial question, but the question that is rebounding round the Chamber, to almost every answer I have heard so far, is not about the intention, but about when. Will the Minister commit today to bringing forward a no ifs, no buts ban on the abhorrent practice of fire and rehire?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- View Speech - Hansard - -

What we are not going to do is ban a situation that allows flexibility for employers that are in trouble. We are, however—[Interruption.] Well, it is all seen as black and white by the Opposition, but they are very anti-business in that. The hon. Lady cites an example, and there are human costs involved in the most egregious cases of fire and rehire. That is what we will be tackling through the statutory code that we will announce in due course.

Jack Lopresti Portrait Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

19. What steps his Department is taking to deliver new and advanced nuclear power in the UK.

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Ian Byrne Portrait Ian Byrne (Liverpool, West Derby) (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T3. I have heard from constituents in West Derby how the use of fire and rehire tactics by employers such as British Gas and British Airways put them in unbearable situations during the pandemic. Shamefully, in the middle of a cost of living crisis, we see many rogue employees across all sectors utilising those immoral practices on a daily basis to drive people into poverty. As my hon. Friend the Member for West Lancashire (Rosie Cooper) made clear, we need employment legislation now and the outright outlawing of the despicable practice of fire and rehire. Can the Minister justify why workers should accept anything less from the Government?

Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
- View Speech - Hansard - -

Later this year, the hon. Gentleman will see an effective code that will penalise the most egregious cases of fire and rehire and hit those companies in the pocket. That is an effective way of banning those egregious situations without disallowing the flexibility that some employers need in times of trouble.

Ben Everitt Portrait Ben Everitt (Milton Keynes North) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T6. Mr Speaker, you will know as well as I do that Milton Keynes has a rich history of science and innovation that goes well beyond me banging on about robots in this place. I was pleased to see the historic settlement for the UK Research and Innovation fund last month. Does my hon. Friend agree that places such as Milton Keynes with such a history of innovation should get a fair share of that funding?

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Simon Baynes Portrait Simon Baynes  (Clwyd South) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T7.   I declare an interest as the chairman of the all-party parliamentary markets group. The “Love Your Local Market” campaign, supported by many Members across the House, has just come to an end. Does my hon. Friend agree that local markets and traders are a vital part of the local business community and make a huge economic contribution to the health of our high streets and the regeneration of our city and town centres?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
- View Speech - Hansard - -

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his work and interest. We absolutely recognise the contribution that markets make to the vibrancy and diversity of our high streets up and down the country, and indeed of our town centres. We believe that local markets should stay at the heart of community life, and we want them to flourish all over the country.

Owen Thompson Portrait Owen Thompson (Midlothian) (SNP)
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T5. Insect protein is likely to play a significant part in meeting the needs of the agri-food industry and it can certainly address some of the sector’s climate impacts, but it needs the right support. Brexit and supply chain issues have caused major chaos for the industry. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how to support the industry and, more importantly, how to protect the really highly skilled jobs it supports?

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Mark Logan Portrait Mark Logan (Bolton North East) (Con)
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T9. Mr Speaker, would you believe it? Where I live in Westminster there is a lift that was made by the Bolton Gate Company 100 years ago and is still operating at the back end. Bolton Gate leads the door industry on the latest standards, but will the Minister outline what support we can provide to companies like Bolton Gate to navigate the new UK Conformity Assessed marking regulations, and to ensure that both Bolton Gate Company and its MP will be operating for another 100 years?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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As well as the Minister for product safety and standards, I am also the Minister for the hair and beauty sector, so can I thank my hon. Friend for supporting the sector with his new haircut? In all seriousness, we are taking a pragmatic approach to implementing the UKCA regime. We know the challenges that businesses have and we are committed to supporting businesses to adapt. We continue to work closely with industry to understand and resolve implementation challenges. We are also engaging extensively with the industry in the UK and around the world to explain our new requirements.

Alison Thewliss Portrait Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) (SNP)
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It was really interesting to hear the Secretary of State palm off the detail of the tax on electricity generators to the Chancellor, because the Chancellor could not answer many questions on that at the Treasury Committee yesterday, such as defining excess profits or saying exactly when it will start or what the impact would be on renewables generators in Scotland. Will he publish a full impact assessment on this policy and investment in the renewables sector in Scotland, which is a key sector in getting to net zero?

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Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP)
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The recently published preliminary report by the administrators of the failed Safe Hands funeral plans company suggest that this is yet another instance in which company directors have made false promises to innocent people, taken their money, played fast and loose with it and are likely to have lost it all. Will the Minister give us a timetable for the various bits of legislation in the Queen’s Speech so that dodgy company directors can be held to account immediately and not 10 or 15 years later?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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On corporate governance, we will see, in the economic crime Bill, the reviews relating to Companies House, and we have also had the Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Act 2021. However, the hon. Gentleman cites a particularly egregious example and I will make sure that my colleague Lord Callanan, the Minister responsible for corporate governance, responds accordingly.

Hospitality Industry: Liverpool

Paul Scully Excerpts
Monday 6th June 2022

(2 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
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I congratulate the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Dan Carden) on securing today’s important debate.

Nationally, the hospitality sector is a really big deal. It employs about 2.4 million people across 167,000 businesses, and it generated revenues of about £83 billion last year. However, as MPs who care about the prosperity and the wellbeing of our constituents, we all know that hospitality is even more important, as the hon. Member has said, at a local level. Hospitality is important for its contribution to our local economies and communities, providing accessible jobs and the social spaces that people need.

I was in Liverpool a few months ago, and I really saw how the city has changed in leaning more towards tourism and hospitality. The projects it has there are really exciting, as indeed are its plans for “Liverpool Without Walls” to try to bounce back after the regional lockdowns are really innovative. I hope that it continues to lean into hospitality in that way, because it is really important for the colour and the vibrancy it brings to our high streets and in helping to showcase the rich diversity of British society, our culture and, indeed, our heritage. It is important for levelling up because everyday high street businesses such as hospitality, retail and personal care are the foundation on which strong local economies and communities are built.



Over the course of the pandemic, I worked closely with the hospitality sector, listening to its concerns and representing its interests across Government. That engagement helped to shape the Government’s business support package and ensured that as many businesses as possible had access to some form of support.

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Scott Mann.)
Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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Overall over that period, the Government provided £408 billion of support, including furlough, grants, loan guarantees, regulatory easements, cuts in VAT and business rates, and a moratorium on commercial rent recovery. That support provided a lifeline for many businesses. We all hoped that once the covid restrictions were lifted and businesses were able to operate more freely, we could look forward to a period of recovery, but as we have heard, an increase in global energy prices and the war in Ukraine has made that recovery even more challenging.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton talked about Byrnes fish and chip shop. I have talked a lot about the headwinds that our economy and our businesses face. Fish and chip shops—real stalwarts of the British hospitality scene—face those headwinds probably more than any hospitality business at the moment, because, as the hon. Gentleman mentioned, clearly a lot of vegetable oil and rapeseed oil comes from Ukraine, hence the colours in its flag. A lot of the cod and white fish—I think about 50% or so—that we consume in this country comes from Russian seas. A lot of flour, from wheat, also comes from that part of the world. We are indeed paying the price for freedom. With the headwinds I have talked about, our fight against Russian aggression in Ukraine comes at a cost to our economy. Byrnes, which I think is a fourth generation family-run business, has gone through a lot; I really hope it remains for many generations to come.

I continue to work closely with the sector. I am still listening and representing its interests, and we continue to provide support. The Chancellor obviously needs to strike the right balance between helping businesses and the families that are most in need, while at the same time continuing to restore the public finances to ensure that we have resilience. The hon. Gentleman talked about food banks, families and individuals. Clearly that is why the Chancellor continues to flex and respond, and has announced £37 billion of support to date—it is coming over the next year—to tackle the energy price situation and other pressures on family finances.

In the autumn Budget, the Chancellor announced reforms to the business rates system worth £7 billion over the next five years, including a new temporary relief for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses worth almost £1.7 billion in 2022-23. In the spring statement, the Chancellor cut the cost of employment for half a million small businesses by increasing the employment allowance from £4,000 to £5,000. As a result of that announcement, 670,000 business will not pay national insurance contributions and the health and social care levy at all.

We have introduced legislation to ringfence covid-related rent debt, and to establish a new binding arbitration process to help tenant businesses and their landlords to reach amicable settlements. Our help to grow scheme is supporting businesses to increase productivity, grow their businesses, and access discounted software and free advice.

The Queen’s Speech set out our plans to bring forward legislation to make permanent some of the temporary regulatory easements that we introduced during the pandemic, including pavement licence easements that provide businesses with greater flexibility to trade and help to create the vibrant, bustling outdoor spaces needed to encourage people back to our high streets again, some great examples of which I saw on my visit to Liverpool.

We recognise the impact of rising energy prices on businesses. Both the Government and Ofgem are in regular contact with business groups and suppliers to understand the challenges they face, and explore ways to protect consumers and businesses.

In July last year, we published the first ever hospitality strategy, which set out our ambition for the recovery and future resilience of the sector. We produced that strategy because covid highlighted the fact that hospitality businesses right across the country needed resilience. The sector is characterised by high fixed costs and low margins, so it is not necessarily in a strong position to adapt to new shocks and challenges, including longer-term challenges that businesses face, such as climate change.

We have also established the Hospitality Sector Council, which will oversee the delivery of the strategy. Kate Nicholls, whom the hon. Gentleman mentioned, sits on the council and chairs some of its sub-groups. The council has established thematic working groups to consider issues including access to finance, the role of hospitality in local economies and communities, hospitality careers and skills, environmental sustainability and international trade. The working groups will bring forward recommendations and highlight examples of good practice that will help to provide the best possible trading environment for hospitality businesses and ensure that the sector is fit to face any future challenges head on. The Government will not just be telling hospitality businesses what to do; hospitality businesses and the Government will co-create the solutions.

I mentioned that hospitality has an important role to play in levelling up. More than that, it can have a transformative effect, particularly in deprived areas. It was really interesting to hear about the Homebaked bakery’s initiatives, which sound great—I know that they will play a major role in the area that the hon. Gentleman represents. When I was in Birmingham only a couple of weeks ago, I saw the Digbeth dining club and the Aston Villa Foundation to learn about their great work regenerating the areas of Birmingham in which they operate, using street food as the driver and providing training and qualification for local people who want to start their own street food businesses.

Effectively, that is the blueprint for hospitality-led regeneration, which was one of the commitments in our hospitality strategy. Near the hon. Gentleman’s constituency, Sefton Council is delivering the first pilot in Bootle. When I visited Sefton Council last October, I was excited to hear about its plans to transform the Strand shopping centre, create an incredible events space in the centre of Bootle and deliver training and qualifications for local people so that they can fully contribute to the regeneration of their town.

The hon. Gentleman spoke about qualifications, including T-levels, which cover catering and will play a huge role in the future of hospitality, along with wider training. I visited Hugh Baird College in Bootle, which will support Sefton Council by providing hospitality training, allowing local people to take advantage of the new jobs and businesses that the regeneration project that I outlined will deliver. Given all that, perhaps it is not surprising that I am passionate about the sector.

I spoke about the £37 billion of support that we are providing to individuals, especially the lowest paid and those who are most vulnerable to changes in energy prices and food prices. It is really important that we look to grow the economy overall, ensuring that people can take on more hours and fill the record number of vacancies in our very tight labour market, because that is the best way to face down the cost of living situation.

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman again on securing today’s important debate. Hospitality has always been at the heart of Liverpool, especially over the past few years with the legacy changes since it was the city of culture. I always welcome the opportunity to talk about hospitality, a sector that I am particularly passionate about. It is easy to take hospitality for granted: it is always there in the background, supporting us when we need it, but covid showed us what it would be like to live without it. We missed it; we cannot take it for granted. There are undoubtedly difficult times at the moment, but the creativity and the adaptability—

Dan Carden Portrait Dan Carden
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I am grateful to the Minister for responding to the debate. I want to take the opportunity to emphasise again that the potential short-term impact of spiralling prices and high inflation this year puts many businesses—many restaurants and cafés—at risk of closure. Will he keep his eye on the ball with regard to businesses that are closing and what needs to be done?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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Absolutely, I will. We do not want—the Chancellor in his response, from the spring statement to the other changes and the Budget, does not want—to bring in measures that are in themselves inflationary and could add to the problem in the longer term. Clearly, however, we want to make sure that we can always flex to support as many businesses as we can.

During a lot of covid, when we were gripping the economy so hard, insolvencies were at a 40-year low. We will not be able to solve every problem now—the Government never can—but I will absolutely keep my eye on the ball to make sure that, as I say, we work with the sector to co-create those solutions so that we can tackle as many problems and cover as many businesses as we can. The hospitality sector continues to show real creativity and real adaptability, particularly over the past two years, and that gives me the confidence that it will recover and thrive.

Question put and agreed to.

Business Update

Paul Scully Excerpts
Thursday 26th May 2022

(2 years ago)

Written Statements
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Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
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As part of the second statutory review of the pubs code and the pubs code adjudicator (PCA), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will today publish a 12-week long invitation to stakeholders with an interest or experience of the operation of the pubs code and the performance of the PCA to provide their views and evidence on these matters.

The great British pub lies at the heart of our communities and, as well as providing accessible jobs and prosperity, acts as a hub within local communities and provides space for people to connect and socialise.

There are a range of different types of operating models for pubs and in 2016 legislation came into force in England and Wales to tackle concerns specific to one type of the operating model: the tied pub model in which the tenant agrees to buy beer and other products from their landlord in return for lower rent and other benefits. The Pubs Code etc. Regulations 2016, applying to England and Wales, ensure the fair and lawful treatment of tied pub tenants of large pub-owning businesses. The pubs code also provides the tied pub tenant with certain rights, including the right, in certain circumstances, to require the landlord to offer a change to their commercial contract from a tied tenancy, to a free-of-tie tenancy.

The role of the PCA is to investigate and enforce compliance with the code, provide advice, consult on and issue guidance, and arbitrate disputes in respect of compliance with the pubs code. The PCA is appointed by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Secretary of State is required by the legislation to review periodically the operation of the pubs code and the performance of the PCA. The first such review, covering the period from when the pubs code and the pubs code adjudicator first began to operate in 2016 until 31 March 2019, was completed with the publication of the Secretary of State’s report in November 2020, a copy of which was laid before Parliament. This second review covers the 3-year period from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2022.

The invitation to submit comments and evidence can be accessed through the gov.uk https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/pubs-code-and-pubs-code-adjudicator-invitation-for-views-on-the-second-statutory-review-2019-to-2022

and stakeholders have until 17 August 2022 to respond. A report on the findings of the review will be published as soon as practicable and laid before Parliament by the Secretary of State.

The terms of reference for the second statutory review of the pubs code and the PCA have today been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.

[HCWS66]

Draft Pollution Prevention and Control (Fees) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2022

Paul Scully Excerpts
Tuesday 24th May 2022

(2 years ago)

General Committees
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Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
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I beg to move,

That the Committee has considered the draft Pollution Prevention and Control (Fees) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2022.

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Bardell.

The draft regulations were laid before the House on 25 April. As the environmental regulator of the offshore oil and gas sector, which I will refer to as the offshore sector, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Offshore Petroleum Regulator for Environment and Decommissioning—snappily abbreviated to OPRED—recoups the costs of its regulatory functions from the offshore sector rather than the taxpayer.

OPRED minimises the impact of the offshore sector on the environment by controlling air emissions and discharges to sea, and minimising disturbance over the lifecycle of operations, from seismic surveys through to post-decommissioning monitoring. Its recoverable costs are covered in two ways: in regulations covered by the fees regulations; and by five fee schemes that do not require legislative change and which will be amended administratively.

OPRED’s average annual fees income is £6.2 million, which is recovered from about 120 companies. It recovers its costs via fees based on hourly rates. The fees that OPRED charges are currently based on hourly rates of £197 for environmental specialists and £108 for non-specialists. Specialists are technical staff who carry out the functions of the Secretary of State, and non-specialists are support staff. The current hourly rates have been in force since June 2021. OPRED reviewed the cost base and concluded that the existing hourly rates needed to be revised to reflect the present costs to OPRED for providing regulatory services.

Alan Brown Portrait Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)
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Will the Minister provide a bit more detail about the qualification level of environmental specialists that merits their high rate, and the qualifications of non-specialist support staff, given that their rate is still very substantial at £104 an hour?

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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The headline figure is less to do with personal specialisms, and more to do with admin and back office specialisms. Support staff obviously have a different point of view from the specialists looking at the exact decommissioning services that OPRED tackles.

The draft regulations will amend the charging provisions by increasing the existing hourly rates for environmental specialists to £201 and decreasing the hourly rate for non-specialists to £104; that reflects the administrative whole, rather than the individuals themselves. The fees are determined by adding together the hours worked by specialists and non-specialists on cost-recoverable activities, multiplied by the hourly rates. The new hourly rates were approved by the Treasury in March and were calculated in line with the Treasury’s “Managing public money” guidance. They cover the expenditure on all resources used by OPRED to support its activities—for example, staff salaries, accommodation, IT and legal services.

OPRED’s costs-recoverable functions include, for example: the evaluation of applications and issuing of consents for seismic surveys, and conducting assessments of the likely environmental effects of proposed projects; assessing operators’ oil pollution emergency plans; and compliance monitoring through inspections. The payable fees will be revised by small amount to enable OPRED to recover its eligible costs. OPRED’s fees regime guidance will be revised to reflect the new hourly rates. OPRED informed the offshore sector of the planned revisions to the hourly rates, and no representations were received.

The revisions to the hourly rates introduced by the regulations will allow operators to recover the costs of providing regulatory services from those who benefit from them, rather than the costs being passed on to the taxpayer. I hope that hon. Members will support the regulations, which I commend to the Committee.

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Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I am glad to hear that overall I have provided the necessary assurances for the Committee to approve the statutory instrument, but I appreciate the valid questions that have been asked.

OPRED’s accrued income is about £6.2 million per year, as the hon. Member for Southampton, Test said. The majority is charged to the offshore sector, with less than £100,000 charged to the North Sea Transition Authority, which is largely for the provision of advice related to licence transfers, and the appointment of operators and monitoring compliance with an offshore licensee’s obligations to make adequate provision to cover potential environmental damage liabilities deriving from their operations.

OPRED bills about 120 companies and the NSTA on a quarterly basis, but the fees are determined by adding together the number of hours worked by specialists and non-specialists on cost-recoverable activities multiplied by the applicable hourly rates. That is the chargeable amount, but there is something like £10 million of overall running costs for OPRED’s environmental operations unit, including the cost of the office in Aberdeen and corporate support supplied from London. The recovery is 65% of those costs.

Alan Whitehead Portrait Dr Whitehead
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Does the Minister accept that it looks like there are a number of other recoverable costs liable to OPRED that have not been mentioned this afternoon? It would be helpful to know what those costs are.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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I will write to the hon. Gentleman about the costs and to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun about the qualifications. OPRED’s operating costs are more than £6.2 million—about £10 million—but the recoverable costs have been established in previous years. The amendment is just a recalibration of the hourly rates according to the annual uprating, and indeed downrating for the non-specialists, as they relate to the administrative costs around the hourly rate that the individuals get themselves. I hope the hon. Member for Southampton, Test will accept my explanation if I provide more detail in writing.

Alan Whitehead Portrait Dr Whitehead
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indicated assent.

Paul Scully Portrait Paul Scully
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The regulations will enable OPRED to recover the costs, which we do not want to pass on to the taxpayer. I therefore commend them to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Sizewell C Nuclear Power Station

Paul Scully Excerpts
Thursday 12th May 2022

(2 years, 1 month ago)

Written Statements
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Paul Scully Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Paul Scully)
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This statement concerns an application for development consent made under the Planning Act 2008 by NNB Generation Company (SZC) Ltd for the construction and operation of a nuclear power station near Leiston in Suffolk.

Under section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make a decision on an application within three months of the receipt of the examining authority’s report unless exercising the power under section 107(3) of the Act to set a new deadline. Where a new deadline is set, the Secretary of State must make a statement to Parliament to announce it. The current statutory deadline for the decision on the Sizewell C nuclear power station application is 25 May 2022.

I have decided to set a new deadline of no later than 8 July 2022 for deciding this application. This is to ensure there is sufficient time to fully consider further information provided by the applicant and interested parties in response to the Secretary of State’s post-examination consultation.

The decision to set the new deadline for this application is without prejudice to the decision on whether to grant or refuse development consent.

[HCWS17]