The hon. Member for Wansbeck (Ian Lavery) talked about the involvement of the workers in the Ashington factory in his constituency. It is absolutely to be commended

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that the workers in that factory are involved in building a success of the business. There are 27 people in the Ashington factory, but I remind him that there are more than 10,000 disabled people in his constituency. I want to ensure that more of those people get the sort of support that they need, so that we can ensure that they are not only in employment, but reaching their potential in life.

The right hon. Member for Wythenshawe and Sale East raised a number of incredibly important points. He and I have had long and, for me, useful discussions about his experience in this area. His main point was the importance of ensuring more local control and autonomy for the factories. He is very much echoing the Sayce review in saying that, if we are to drive effectiveness and have a successful network of factories in the future, it might be useful to consider enabling people such as the manager whom he talked about to have more autonomy. Again, there are 19 people at the factory in his constituency, where more than 15,000 disabled people live. I want to ensure that more help is available for them to be able to succeed in their lives and secure jobs that they can do.

The hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Nick Smith) talked about the fact that it pays to care. Again, he and I are as one on that. He talked about the importance of ensuring that people who are subject to changes in their jobs are looked after. For the record, some 1,809 redundancies were put in place by the previous Administration. The figures seem to have got jumbled up over time, so I thought it would be useful for hon. Members to have the facts. Some 1,611 of those people were disabled. Indeed, when we consider the facts and figures, we can see that just under 40% of those individuals took early retirement. Some 252 people took modernisation terms and continue to be in employment elsewhere. Of those people who took the support on offer, some 70% found work. The problem was that not enough people took that offer of support. That is the learning from the previous modernisation plans that were put in place.

The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) was very critical of the previous Administration in his comments. I would not be so critical. I think that they were trying to do the right thing.

John McDonnell: Will the Minister be clear about the future before she finishes? She says that she accepts the Sayce report. The Sayce report says that Remploy enterprises will be given six months to prepare a business plan and then 24 months to implement it, by which time all subsidy will be withdrawn. So there will be no subsidy within two years of the implementation of a business plan. Is that what the Government are saying?

Maria Miller: No, that is not what the Government are saying. The Government are still consulting on the Sayce review, as the hon. Gentleman will be aware. I have said that we are minded to accept these things, and as we move forward, we might or might not accept proposals in that report. We may accept them piecemeal or in their entirety. That is yet to be decided, so he will have to bear with me—as I am sure that he is willing to do—for a little while longer, so that we go through the proper processes with all these things.

The hon. Member for Swansea West—I see that he is not in his place—talked about there perhaps being problems with recruitment. Yes, indeed, because of the

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austerity that we are under at the moment, controls on new Government recruitment are in place. Owing to its non-departmental public body status, Remploy is covered by those controls, but I absolutely assure hon. Members in the Chamber today that since the austerity measures came into force, Remploy has successfully applied for exemptions through this process, where requests have been approved, to ensure that we can continue commercial operations. There are absolute safeguards in place to ensure that the business can continue in the way that it needs to.

The right hon. Member for Cynon Valley mentioned expensive consultants. She and I have a joint dread of the idea of having expensive consultants in place. I assure her that since austerity measures have been introduced, Remploy has not used consultants. I cannot speak for the previous Administration, but that is something that we feel very strongly about.

The hon. Member for Wrexham talked about when financial information will be available. As I have already made clear, no decision has been made on the recommendations of the Sayce review to date, so it would not be appropriate or possible for me at this stage to release financial information on a decision that is yet to be taken. We have to ensure that we adhere to the right proprieties. He would expect us to do that as a Government, and I assure him that, as soon as decisions are made, the appropriate information will be forthcoming for anybody who is interested in that detail.

The Remploy pension scheme has been mentioned. To assure individuals who may be concerned about comments that have been made about that, the Government have promised to protect fully the accrued benefits of pension scheme members in the event that the pension scheme were to close following the implementation of the Sayce review recommendations. It is an unfortunate fact that we have identified a £104.6 million deficit in the valuation of the pension scheme, which we inherited. A deficit repayment plan has been put in place, which is important because we want to ensure that both employees and pension scheme trustees are confident in the propriety of the finances of the scheme. Payments of £7.4 million, £25.8 million and £21.5 million have already been made into the scheme, which shows the commitment that this Government have, in tough economic times, to ensuring that we stand by our obligations and our commitments to Remploy staff.

I want to ensure that the right hon. Member for Cynon Valley who secured the debate has a few minutes at the end to sum up.

Ann Clwyd: I am very happy to give my time to the Minister, because there are a lot of questions left unanswered. If she would like my extra time, I am very glad to give it to her.

Maria Miller: That is extremely kind of the right hon. Lady. I have managed to race through most of the issues that I want to cover—I think that I have actually managed to cover almost everything raised by hon. Members.

Gemma Doyle: The Minister is drawing to a conclusion, but I do not think that she has mentioned the issue of bonuses, which we discussed earlier this year. She promised

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to look at the scandalous practice of management still collecting millions of pounds in bonuses. Has she decided to take action on that?

Maria Miller: The hon. Lady has raised the issue of bonuses before. I think I can remember either writing to her or perhaps replying in detail. It is vital that any business is run in a proper way. As an incoming Government, 18 months ago we took over a set of commitments that the previous Administration had put in place. That included many things including not only the modernisation plan, but the issue of bonuses for senior managers at Remploy. The performance incentive payments in the annual report—the statement made this year—relate back to 2009-10. The executive directors are contractually entitled to those payments, but, unfortunately, those contracts predate this Administration. The hon. Lady may know that there are legal issues that we have to be aware of. The Department has no power to limit bonuses, but from 2010-11 all Remploy’s executive team and senior managers have agreed to cap their bonuses in line with the senior civil service bonus cap. That was a particular request made by the Secretary of State, so that we can ensure that there is some—[ Interruption . ]

John McDonnell: Are they getting a bonus? Even though they are failing, are they getting a bonus?

Maria Miller: As the hon. Gentleman has just heard me say, his Government put those contracts in place. [ Interruption. ] Sorry, Mr Benton, I was not giving way.

Mr Joe Benton (in the Chair): Order. Either submit an intervention, or allow the Minister to answer.

Maria Miller: Thank you, Mr Benton. I was in the process of trying to answer that intervention. What is very clear is that there are legal issues. We are contractually obliged to pay those bonuses, and we have been advised that there is no alternative. The hon. Gentleman can take that up with his colleagues.

Stephen Lloyd: I thank the Minister for giving way. I very deliberately have not intervened, because the previous Chair was very kind and gave me a long time and people were very patient, but I am grinding my teeth a wee bit. Does my hon. Friend agree that this has been going on for years under both Governments and is incredibly intractable, which is why we are still here? The whole issue is a complete red herring. We have absolutely no choice, because we have to implement what the previous Government actually agreed.

Maria Miller: My hon. Friend is absolutely right that we should not get away from the facts here. Disabled people listening to this debate expect us to show a way forward for the future. All the meetings that I have had with the leading disability organisations on this issue have made it clear that disabled young people, as was said in an earlier intervention, want to ensure that they have sustainable jobs in the future. Those disabled young people want to make sure that they learn the skills that will give them those sustainable jobs into the future, which is my priority. That is where I want to ensure the Government’s funding is being placed. We have made it clear that this money is ring-fenced, so it is secure.

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The issue is about getting the best outcomes for disabled people. Some hon. Members questioned whether this was the right way forward. I tell them first, second and third that we will make sure that the priority is the best outcome for disabled people. That is what comes first rather than vested interests or the history, because we have to look at the future.

Lindsay Roy: Will the Minister distance herself from the comment that Remploy factories were ghettos?

Maria Miller: The hon. Gentleman is asking me to comment on something that I do not think I would ever say. [ Interruption. ] What I would say is that we have to listen to what disabled people want. Disabled people tell me that they want to live independent lives in communities like everybody else. To be able to do that, they want to have the jobs that everybody else would expect as well.

I fear that I will run out of time if I do not wind up my remarks quickly. In conclusion, getting this right is absolutely crucial for millions of people—millions of our constituents. It is only right that we take the time to consider the consultation representations before making any decisions. I have not yet made a decision about the future, and an announcement will be made as soon as is practically possible. Hon. Members can be sure that I will consider carefully not only the points that have been raised today, but the points that have been raised by hon. Members and right hon. Members in the many

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meetings that we have had in recent weeks. However, we need to look at the evidence. We need to be driven by that evidence and ensure that we are committed to the best decision for the future of disabled people. I recognise how vital it is to join up with work across Government to improve employment outcomes for disabled people. I have already answered one of the requests in the Sayce report to establish a cross-Government Committee that considers disabled people’s employment.

Ann Clwyd: Disabled people want jobs and the jobs are not there. Where are they going to come from?

Maria Miller: The right hon. Lady makes a timely intervention. She will know that in her constituency 37 people are employed in a Remploy factory, and she has more than 13,000 disabled people in her constituency. My responsibility is to ensure that more of those 13,000 people get the support they need to get into work. We know that there are almost 700 vacancies in Jobcentre Plus in her area, and that Remploy employment services in Merthyr Tydfil has placed 254 disabled people into employment. In the Rhondda, that figure is 163 disabled people into employment; in Bridgend, it is 251.

5.30 pm

Sitting adjourned without Question put (Standing Order No. 10(11)).