Cost of motor insurance: follow up - Transport Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers 46-80)

Mike Penning MP and Jonathan Djanogly MP

11 October 2011

Q46   Chair: Good afternoon, Ministers. Welcome to the Transport Select Committee. Mr Djanogly, could you tell us why the Government decided to ban referral fees in personal injury cases, against the advice of the Legal Services Board?

Mr Djanogly: Good afternoon, Chair. First, I wish to declare interests. Should I do that now?

  Chair: Yes, please.

Mr Djanogly: I wish to declare all relevant disclosures made in my entries in the Register of Members' Financial Interests and the Ministerial Register. In particular, I mention any interest I may have as a non-practising solicitor who has not received any payment under the Legal Aid Scheme.

Can I also declare any interests I may have in the insurance sector? My investment holdings are in the hands of a blind trust and, although I do not know what they are, I know that they did include, and therefore possibly may still include, a minority share in the Djanogly Family LLP and various other insurance and financial shareholdings as publicly declared by me to the Register of Members' Financial Interests at the start of this Parliament.

Q47   Chair: Thank you. We have noted that. Could you tell us why you decided to ban referral fees in personal injury cases when the Legal Services Board had come out against that?

Mr Djanogly: When we came into Government, the starting point on all of this was the report prepared at the instigation of the senior judiciary by Lord Justice Jackson. That dealt with civil costs and other civil litigation issues. In that report he did include a recommendation for the banning of referral fees. In addition to that, the Prime Minister requested a report to be prepared by Lord Young. He also suggested a ban on referral fees.

  At the time when the Legal Aid Bill was in gestation, the Legal Services Board was also conducting a review of referral fees. They did not recommend a ban but they basically shifted the decision as to whether to go ahead with a ban on to the underlying regulators beneath the Legal Services Board.

  On reflection we thought, having read the Legal Services Board report and taking account of the other reports, public opinion and evidence that we were taking from around the stakeholder communities, that a ban was appropriate. I should say that that has been generally welcomed. Some elements of our Legal Aid Bill proposals in relation to civil costs are not welcomed by some people who do want a ban. For instance, the Law Society does not like our general Jackson proposals in the Legal Aid Bill but they do like the idea of a ban on referral fees. Our intention basically is to discourage claims harvesting and to reduce the high costs and volume of litigation, which is increasingly becoming a commodity. A claim, for instance, can be sold with a referral fee attached up to five times before it gets anywhere near a court.

Q48   Chair: Have you considered referral fees in relation to vehicle repairers or other people who are involved in the merry-go-round of referral fees?

Mr Djanogly: The word "merry-go-round" is an appropriate way to describe it. It is important to make the general point that we do accept what I think was the finding of your Committee the last time you looked at this: that referral fees are a symptom of the compensation culture rather than the cause of it. When we look at things like referral fees, I would put them into the same basket as SMS texting, garages selling lists and inducement advertising. All of these are symptoms of what I would call a sick suing culture.

Q49   Chair: Why are you only looking at referral fees in relation to lawyers and you don't seem to be looking at referral fees in relation to other people on that merry-go-round?

Mr Djanogly: We are.

Q50   Chair: Are you looking at banning referral fees for repairers and car-hire companies?

Mr Djanogly: We are looking at both the receipt and the payment of referral fees. The payment of referral fees by solicitors is the starting point, but we are also looking at the receipt of referral fees too.

Q51   Chair: How will this be progressed? When will the ban be effected?

Mr Djanogly: My hope is that it will be put into the Legal Aid Bill. That has not yet been finally signed off by party managers, but that is what I am personally pushing for. Of course, what I want to do is to have it go through in that Bill because it ties in very cleanly with the other civil costs Jackson provisions, which I think should come into play all at the same time for proper effect. That is an important point. If you want to go into the compensation culture aspects of it, I can talk further on that.

Q52   Chair: Mr Penning, were you involved in this decision? We discussed this when you came to the Committee the last time.

Mike Penning: Yes, we were. We are very, very keen. The evidence I gave to the Committee last time was that we are very keen to give all the backing to the Minister to get this Bill through. It will be part of a package that will start to address the costs of insurance. I say "part" because there are other issues that we have discussed before and I am sure we will discuss today.

Q53   Paul Maynard: Are you concerned that the new so-called Tesco Law—the alternative business systems that will allow insurers to either purchase or set up their own law firms—will allow your banning of referring fees to still have the desired impact? Are there any other impacts that you fear might occur as a consequence?

Mr Djanogly: That is a very good and a very complicated question. I do not think anyone could give you a firm answer on it because no one quite knows what the impact of alternative business structures is going to be because of the scope of them. However, you are right. I do think that there will be a significant number of claims management companies who, realising that our proposals are going to severely curtail their business, will look to join with solicitors. In effect that would mean that the claims management company would become the advertising arm of the law firm, even though it may own that law firm, which will become possible under the proposals due to come into place around the end of the year.

  However, from a regulatory perspective I think that that would be advantageous. The reason why is because the claims management companies would then be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. That would be a very significant movement in favour of consumer protection. I do not fear that as a move; I would encourage it.

Q54   Paul Maynard: Prior to the introduction of referral fees there was an underground market of sorts. How do you think you can prevent that re-emerging also?

Mr Djanogly: That is a key concern of mine. It is a straightforward fact that when referral fees were banned last time, which I think was pre-2004, there was huge leakage. There are many ways that you can get round a straightforward referral fee. In a simple sense it is easy. I give you a job and you pay me a referral fee. However, we do know from how it worked in the past that there are many ways that you can get round referral fees. For instance, insurers give work to solicitors on the basis that the solicitors get their insurance off the insurer. Trade unions will apparently give work to solicitors on the basis that they do their low-value work for nothing or very little on the basis that they get their high-value work pretty much guaranteed.

There are other ways of cutting it. For instance, instead of paying a referral fee, you could pay for "services" and get a fee for the services rather than a referral fee. To what extent those services are really undertaken is something that would have to be looked at in the context of the case, as with all of these examples I am giving. Sometimes they may be tied down to referrals; sometimes they may be valid services.

That is why, I have to say, when we looked at how this should be put into effect, we veered away from a criminal offence. A criminal offence is a very blunt instrument. You have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and the grounds for when something would be a referral fee or not would be very much merged. It would be very difficult for a jury to convict on the basis of the complexity of these arrangements, which is why we came down on the basis that it should be a regulatory offence where the principle of what is happening can be looked at by the regulator and a view taken.

Q55   Mr Harris: Minister, you said at the beginning in terms of referral fees that they were a symptom rather than a cause of the dysfunctionality of the system. I do not know if you have seen it, but we have written evidence submitted today from Admiral Group which uses precisely that wording. Do you feel sometimes that you are a bit too close to the insurance company, because that is almost exactly what they have said to us as well?

Mr Djanogly: I think that is the case, and I will explain why I think it is the case. [3] On insurance companies, no, I do not feel that I am at all too close to insurance companies. Indeed, there seems to be some assumption that what we are proposing is going to help insurance companies. That is not by any means necessarily the case. If, as I hope, the level of claims comes down and that can be fed through to the consumer so that insurance premiums come down, that will not be to the benefit of insurance companies. Of course, insurance companies themselves are very big earners from referral fees, particularly, by the way, the company that you have given as an example. Reportedly their share price fell on the day that I announced the referral fee ban. Of course the ATE insurance market could be pretty much totally ended from our proposals. The idea that insurance companies are going to benefit from what we are doing is certainly not the case for all insurance companies and I would say not necessarily the case for most.

Q56   Mr Harris: There is a report in yesterday's Guardian that suggests that you met with leading members of the insurance industry on 19 January and told them. You asked their advice about how best to draft rebuttals to criticisms of Government proposals that might arise from its consultation on Legal Aid reforms. Then you come to this Committee and use a phrase which is identical to one of the bits of evidence that Admiral Group has given us. You see where I am going here. It looks like a very cosy relationship here.

Mr Djanogly: With respect, if you were going to make the point you have not used a good example to make it with. In relation to The Guardian, let me just put the situation into context. Obviously I read the article this morning and I did have a feeling it may come up today. I have discussed this within the MoJ because it mainly relates to the MoJ rather than to me.

  There has been ongoing dialogue between the Government and stakeholders with a range of opposing views. That is an important part of policy making. The story in The Guardian today only covers one stakeholder group whose view was broadly supportive of the MoJ's policy on controlling costs in civil cases, not legal aid, as reported. The story refers to a meeting with MoJ officials in May this year at which officials set out the Government's policy. There is nothing surprising in that. The Government had set out its position clearly and fully in an oral statement to Parliament by the Secretary of State on 29 March. The quotes and interpretations in their e-mails are their own rather than the MoJ's.

  I can confirm that my officials and I have met with a number of organisations from the side of both the claimant and the defendant as part of the process of consulting on and implementing Government policy. I would have thought that most people would have wanted us to do no less.

  Chair: I do want to try to keep to the points of concern.

Q57   Mr Harris: Absolutely. I will ask a question on policy then. Is the Government going to make illegal the text messaging that Mr Dobbin, for example, referred to from personal experience? I do not know if that was in an earlier session. People do get these texts saying, "You could make three grand if you phone this number." Are you going to outlaw them?

  Chair: These are cold calling messages.

Mr Djanogly: I have had them too, Chair, by the way. I think we all probably have.

Q58   Chair: It does look as if there is a problem with regulation or absence of regulation on data protection. What is going to be done about that?

Mr Djanogly: First, we do need to point out that not all of these texts are necessarily illegal. You may, when you signed up to your insurance, have signed up to small print which gives permission, for instance, for them to use text messages. If they are DPA registered, then it may be done legally. However, a lot of these text messages are illegal. I do see them as another symptom of the compensation culture—the money flushing through the system that is going into referral fees. Some is going to pay for text messages.

Q59   Chair: What are the Government proposing to do about it?

Mr Djanogly: The starting point is that, if you feel that you get a text message and you want to report it as a potentially illegal text message, you can do so now by calling the ICO hotline.

Q60   Chair: But do the Government intend to take any new action to deal with this problem? They may be telephone calls. They may not be text messages.

Mr Djanogly: We are, and we are looking at several ways of doing so. First, we are working with industry, the Direct Marketing Association and others, to see how we can crack down on the use of technology in this way. I am pleased to say that in the last month we have reached agreement with a number of major network operators who have now agreed to help with the investigations and giving us access so that the ICO and indeed the Claims Management Regulatory Unit at the MoJ can get access to who these people are. If they are not registered and are texting illegally, we can then investigate. The ICO can deliver very stringent fines and the MoJ can strike off CMCs that are acting illegally. We have struck off over 250 CMCs in the last year.

Q61   Mr Harris: I have one more very brief question, Mr Djanogly. It follows on from your very first statement to the Committee. I think this is relevant and I just want some clarification. You said that your membership of the Djanogly Family LLP was in a blind trust. Is that correct?

Mr Djanogly: Yes; correct.

Q62   Mr Harris: So you are no longer a member of the Djanogly Family LLP; is that correct?

Mr Djanogly: No; my interests are controlled by a third party.

Q63   Mr Harris: It is just that a member of an LLP does have a fiduciary and statutory duty.

Mr Djanogly: That is my duty to the LLP. It has nothing to do with Parliament.

  Mr Harris: It was part of the original statement, Chair.

  Chair: The statement was given.

Q64   Iain Stewart: In the evidence we have received it is the compensation claims for whiplash that seem to be a particular problem in fuelling this compensation culture. Is the Government planning to look at imposing a limit on the value of the claims for whiplash?

Mr Djanogly: Whiplash is a complicated area. Let me start with the easy bit. First, there is a growing amount of fraud. There are people orchestrating crashes, for instance, and then claiming whiplash. More prosecutions are taking place and that needs to be increased. That is the criminal aspect, if you like.

  Secondly, we need to appreciate that abolishing the recoverability of success fees and ATE insurance premiums is going to suck money out of the market. We do hope that that again will have a significant impact on SMS texting and on inducement advertising because there will be less money to pay for them. That in itself will reduce the number of whiplash claims.

  Thirdly, we need to appreciate that because we have not had a balanced suing mechanism, if you like, defendants have been induced to settle too easily. Through our other reforms we are hoping to create an atmosphere where the insurance defendants will want to defend more readily. From a governmental point of view, I say today, we encourage them to do so.

Q65   Julie Hilling: Are you intending to reduce the fixed fee through the RTA portal?

Mr Djanogly: In terms of the underlying causes it goes back to recoverability. We need to appreciate that, if we sort out recoverability, which we are proposing to do in the LASPO Bill, we will have less money in the system, but, because there are fixed costs for small claims under £10,000, that will not change the amount going through the system at all for small claims. You are right that we cannot get insurance premiums down, for instance, or it would be hard, without sorting out the fixed costs as well or at least that will help the process. We have initiated that process.

  Again, that it is not straightforward. I believe that there is a notional amount within those fixed costs that is attributed to referral fees. In effect we want to reduce the fixed cost by that amount. However, the legal profession disputes that vociferously. They either say that there is no notional amount for referral fees or, if referral fees are banned, they will have to spend more on advertising and therefore they should keep that amount. There is going to be a negotiation there.

  Last time this came up as an issue it was in effect brokered by the Civil Justice Council. They may have a role in this again. I have said to the Law Society that it is not the Government's intention to stop referral fees going to claims management companies just so that lawyers can take those referral fees in effect for themselves. We want the benefit of that to feed through to the consumer in lower insurance premiums.

Q66   Julie Hilling: Are you then going to monitor the effect on access to justice for less well-off people? The thread through this seems to be that whiplash is a non-existent injury and that people are milking the system. But there is a reality that the people who do not have the means to employ a solicitor in the first place are the people who are benefiting from these systems. Are you going to monitor the effect of the reduction on particular groups? It is not just about whether there is an overall reduction. An overall reduction may not mean that there is an overall reduction in people that are suffering.

Mr Djanogly: We will be monitoring that. Your question goes to the heart of this whole issue, and that is recoverability. If you don't mind, Chair, can I just address that because I think it is the starting point?

  What happened was that pre-1997, in the last Conservative Government, Lord Mackay put in place some proposals which introduced CFAs: no win no fee deals, if you like. They did not include recoverability of success fee or ATE insurance premiums. It was just a basic CFA. In the 1999 Access to Justice Act there were some important changes. First, the then Government took away legal aid for personal injury. At the same time they added recoverability for the winning claimants of success fees and ATE insurance premiums.

  That had a huge and dramatic effect. For instance, I can tell you that one individual indicated that in 1999 claimants' solicitors' costs were equivalent to just over half the damages agreed or awarded at 56%. By 2010, the average claimant costs represented 142% of the sums received by the injured victims. The same person said that, while average damages paid had increased since 1999 by 33%, average claimant costs paid had increased by 234%.

  That legislation had a dramatic and significant impact on the claims culture. The problem is that, if you are a claimant and you have no chance of losing, then you are almost obliged and you are almost crazy not to sue. Why shouldn't you? That is the mechanic of the compensation culture. That is what we are proposing to reverse in our legislation. We are basically going back to the Lord Mackay system, as proposed by Lord Justice Jackson, whereby the claimant ultimately has an interest in what they are paying their own lawyer and they will be interested in the outcome of the case.

Q67   Julie Hilling: Is it not the case that the rich will continue to sue people willy-nilly, but it is the people who have less access to solicitors who don't do so and therefore are more likely then not to receive what they are due in terms of an accident that is not their own fault?

Mr Djanogly: It is a very important point. We are not proposing to end no win no fee litigation. We are proposing to take away the success fee element. In future you will still be able to go to a solicitor and say, "Please act for me for nothing." The solicitor will still be able to say, "Yes, I will act for you for nothing and I will get my costs plus a mark-up," but that mark-up would come out of damages rather than from the losing defendant. That happens in every other country in the world, by the way. We hope that will reintroduce a degree of thought as to whether you should sue. What will happen is that, if it is a blatant case, you will still easily get a CFA. If it is a marginal case, then you might have to think a bit more carefully because there could be a downside. But litigation is about risk and that is where we are heading towards.

Q68   Jim Dobbin: This is probably a question for Mr Penning. How big a problem is uninsured driving throughout the country?

Mike Penning: As I said to the Committee last time, it is a really difficult situation in the country as a whole. The last time I came here the estimate was that there were about 1.2 million or 1.3 million drivers on the road that were uninsured. This has a knock-on effect. The police tell me that, if you are likely to be driving with no insurance, you are likely to be driving without other car documents and you may well be involved in other criminality as well.

  There are two different kinds of people. There are people who just do not think they should insure and do not care about the consequences. There are people who cannot afford to insure and take the risk of being taken to court or being caught. It is a massive issue and not just in fiscal terms. There is the time involved with my own Department, the insurers and the police in trying to police uninsured drivers. It is a big issue.

Q69   Jim Dobbin: Certain areas are highlighted as having a bigger problem than others. We are aware of Birmingham and Bradford. Why should that be?

Mike Penning: It is not for me to say. It is a fact that the number of people who drive uninsured is largest where there are areas of economic and social deprivation. The biggest area we have is in young people, though. That goes across the country as a whole. As I said at the last Committee, it is particularly 17 to 25-year-old boys, where insurance is difficult based on risk and because 17 to 25-year-old boys are more likely in general to be involved in an accident than a girl of a similar age. Of course the European Court has ruled that that is illegal, which I think was a somewhat silly decision. That is being polite.

Q70   Jim Dobbin: On the point of insurance for young people, do you ever see a time when the exorbitant insurance tariffs that they have to pay will be reduced?

Mike Penning: Yes, I do, and it is happening now. As my colleague has said, I have met with the insurers mostly to do with how we can get the insurance down. Insurers operate on a profit situation, but if no one insures with them they don't make any money. They look at the risk. It is for others in the insurance business to tell you exactly how they calculate that. Sometimes I struggle as well as to how they calculate that.

  What is starting to happen on the insurance side, for instance, is that I had an insurer with me the other day which puts a black box into the insured's car. That policy is specifically for younger people. That box will tell the insurer if they break the speed limit. This is the stage the technology has reached. They get a reduced premium with that. If they break the speed limit two or three times, they will get a letter of warning and then eventually the insurance will be removed from them. That is also a symptom of the problems we have in teaching people to drive safely for themselves and others rather than just passing a test, which is another issue that we are dealing with, along with other measures as well. We need to teach and educate people from a very young age that they can enjoy a car or a motorcycle but that it is actually a very dangerous piece of equipment as well.

Q71   Jim Dobbin: So I can tell my older grandchildren that their insurance premiums will be reduced shortly; is that right?

Mike Penning: Having two teenage daughters that have gone through the same process, I know exactly how you feel.

Q72   Jim Dobbin: Do you think the penalties that the courts are allowed to levy are high enough?

Mike Penning: The levies that they can give are high enough. This is something that the Minister and I are working on now. If you are an imaginary boy or girl under 25 with three points on your licence, it is without a doubt a risk that they are willing to take at times to go to court or to take the fixed penalty of £200 and the points because they know that they will not necessarily lose their licence, rather than pay for the insurance.

  The magistrate could give you a fine of up to £5,000. Going back to the point you were making, if you or your family don't have a particularly large income, a £5,000 fine is not going to work. But what would work is if we look at the points. That would be much better. The loss of their vehicle or their ability to drive the vehicle is much more of an incentive for them to adhere to the law—we know that from crushing when we take the vehicles away—than giving them a fine. The fine is disproportionate to the actual cost of insurance. This is something that we are working on now with the Justice Department to see if we can get the guidance to the magistrates to not just hit them with a fine. They may have to get a fine because they have not paid their premium, but we are looking at whether or not the penalty is more of a deterrent to them—in other words points on their licence and the loss of their licence.

Q73   Chair: I do not know if you are aware, Minister, but Young Marmalade has conducted a study looking at young people and very high premiums. There is a fairly shocking figure of about a third who admit that they have considered altering the information to get lower quotes. Over 20% have considered driving without insurance.

Mike Penning: Yes; I have seen the evidence.

Q74   Julie Hilling: On points, do you also think that the fact that drivers are not being banned when they have more than 12 points adds to this problem? An increasing number of people are continuing to be allowed to drive beyond that.

Mike Penning: Without being rude to the Committee, you are dragging me into the territory of judicial decisions—in other words, what a judge or a magistrate does. That is not for me to decide as a Transport Minister, but it is very difficult for my Department and DVLA. Naturally, it is highlighted at 12 points that that person would normally have their licence removed, but it is within the legislation for the presiding judge or magistrate to have a degree of autonomy. Personally I don't quite understand how they get to 20 points with that autonomy, but that is a personal view and not a criticism of the relevant judges or magistrates. But it is a good point that you make and I know it is something that is being looked at as well in the other Departments.

Q75   Julie Hilling: And are a lot of those driving without insurance in those cases?

Mike Penning: Of course if you have no licence your insurance is invalid, so you are driving without insurance immediately. There is a catalogue of crimes that come immediately to mind.

Mr Djanogly: I point out that it is for the Sentencing Council to determine the guidelines for offences. We can have an impact on that.

Mike Penning: We must agree on these things, obviously. The point is that the magistrate or the judge does have the power to allow people to go over 12 points if they believe that they should do so. There are some, as you are probably aware and we know this, up around 20 points. That, to me, is an issue.

Q76   Kwasi Kwarteng: This is a question to the Transport Minister. What is your view on referral fees and how active were you with the Ministry of Justice in coming to—

Mike Penning: When I sat here last time I called them "ambulance chasers". My view before and since I got this job, and frankly just as a human being, is that I find it very difficult that any organisation would see a profit in someone's injury. I know people deserve compensation if they are injured, but 50% of the insurance claims are personal injury claims now. That is partly why our premiums are so high, though there are other reasons.

  When the Minister and I talked, we pushed, and I think it was very important that we did it. But it was not my Department; it was the Minister's Department and we are very pleased.

Mr Djanogly: There was general agreement across Departments that it was the right policy to push ahead with. It is worth pointing out that, when the Jackson Report first came out, obviously the last Administration was in power and the then Secretary of State, Jack Straw, welcomed it at the time, although they did not get round to doing anything about it.

Q77   Julian Sturdy: Most of my questions have been asked by Mr Dobbin. Going back to the uninsured drivers point, do you think enough is being done to clamp down on this regional disparity within uninsured drivers? Mr Dobbin raised that briefly, but obviously that is having an impact on the cost of motor insurance at a regional level. We heard earlier on in the session about the huge disparity in motor insurance on a regional basis.

Mike Penning: And postcodes.

Q78   Julian Sturdy: Absolutely. Do you think we are really doing enough to tackle the regional disparity in this?

Mike Penning: There is a lot more to be done; we accept that. Of course, a lot depends on how the particular police force in each particular area looks at this particular crime. All Chief Constables have priorities set for them not only by central Government but by their own police committees. Some of them would see this as more of an issue than others.

I see it very much as a national issue. We brought in continuous insurance in June, which I discussed at the Committee last time. That has started to develop significant results. 60% of those who are being contacted to say, "You are not insured" are immediately SORN off the road or insured. That is higher than I expected and I went into this with a very open mind.

  The insurance companies are now funding a specialist unit within the City of London Police. For the first time there is a national fraud computer system within insurers, so we are starting to know who these characters are. One of the things I always say through ACPO to the Chief Constables is that this is not a tiny issue. It is a really, really big issue. Where police forces have clamped down on this, they have seen their detection rates in other crimes dramatically increase as well.

  We will look very carefully at the evidence that you have been given as well as to what work we can do in those areas particularly. Very often we will pick up vehicles which are not taxed and invariably they are not insured. We predominantly crush those vehicles now and the crushing regime is working. People will give up everything else but they hate losing their car. If that is what I need to do to get them to insure, then I will take the car.

Q79   Chair: What is the current position on the establishment of a unit to deal with insurance fraud, paid for by the insurance companies?

Mike Penning: As I said at the last Committee, I ask for things from the insurers and they naturally ask for things from me. I asked for a lot of money from them to do the Continuous Insurance Bureau, which they came up with. The £9 million for the City of London Bureau is not an insignificant amount of money. We are preparing to give them access to the DVLA database so that they will know when giving a quote whether or not that person is telling the truth—in other words, whether there is fraud taking place there.

  I will be honest with you: there are issues to do with cost because there is a cost to DVLA to create that portal. We are in discussions with the insurers. As soon as we can get that through, which I think we will be able to do, they will have that access. That will start to eliminate intentional and unintentional fraud.

  There are two sorts of fraud that take place. As a dad, I remember my daughter saying to me, "Dad, will you put me on your insurance?" I was absolutely adamant that she was put down as the main driver because she was, even though it was on the family insurance. A lot of mums and dads don't because it obviously has an effect on the premium. But that is fraud, the same as someone saying, "I don't have any points. Give me a premium of X." That is the same. Some of it is intentional, some of it is done for the best possible reasons, but it is still fraud.

Q80   Chair: When will the new unit start its work?

Mike Penning: I do not have a date, Madam Chair, but I will write to the Committee and give you a date. I had hoped it would be up and running by now but we had some technical issues.

  Chair: Thank you very much, Ministers, for coming and answering our questions.

3   Note from witness: i.e. referral fees being a symptom Back

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