To be published as HC 543-v

House of COMMONS



Scottish Affairs Committee

Blacklisting in Employment

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Nigel Cann and Barbara Jones

Evidence heard in Public Questions 3151 - 3217



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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Scottish Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 17 December 2013

Members present:

Mr Ian Davidson (Chair)

Mike Crockart

Jim McGovern

Graeme Morrice

Pamela Nash

Lindsay Roy


Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Nigel Cann, Site Construction Director for Hinkley Point C, Nuclear New Build, EDF Energy, and Barbara Jones, Nuclear New Build Director of Human Resources, EDF Energy, gave evidence.

Q3151 Chair: May I welcome you to this meeting of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee? As you are probably aware, we have been conducting a series of inquiries arising from concerns about blacklisting. Today’s session is intended to provide some illumination for us about model agreements going forward. I would like to start by asking you to introduce yourselves and to tell us where you fit into the grand order of things in EDF.

Nigel Cann: My name is Nigel Cann. I am the Hinkley Point C site construction director. I fit into the Hinkley Point C project organisation, which is part of Nuclear New Build in EDF Energy.

Barbara Jones: I am Barbara Jones. I am the human resources director for the Nuclear New Build project, which is part of EDF Energy.

Q3152 Chair: We have been meeting all the trade unions involved in the construction sector, and they are telling us that this is a model agreement and that, basically, you are a combination of the bee’s knees and the dog’s bollocks, and so on, but I am not quite sure which of you is which.

My first question is this. Why are you so good? What it is about this agreement that makes it suitable for consideration as a template for other industrial projects like this?

Nigel Cann: We realised fairly early that our project is unique in scale, in the sense of how long it will last and how it will impact the local community, being such a large construction project in a very rural area. We realised that, as client, EDF Energy was taking a huge risk; clearly we wanted to be at the heart of setting out a real industrial and social partnership with the contractors, but also with the trade unions-very much in a clear and meaningful social partnership. We also realised that there was a huge opportunity for skills, and we wanted to be proactive in understanding how to get what we in the nuclear industry call SQEP-suitably qualified and experienced people-ready to work on our project.

Q3153 Jim McGovern: What was that acronym again?

Nigel Cann: Suitably qualified and experienced persons. It means that we have to demonstrate to our regulator that the people who come on to our job, whether they work for us or for any of the contractors, absolutely have the right skills, knowledge and experience to carry out work on a nuclear plant.

With all that in mind, we engaged early with our trade union colleagues to understand what a good agreement would look like. We put together what we called a social covenant. It is one bit of paper on which we wrote down all the aspirations of both the trade unions and ourselves-what we wanted in a meaningful partnership. At that stage, we had not got any of the major contractors on board, but, as we did, we tried to engage them as early as possible. We went into a process called "early contractor engagement". We were able to bring some of the big contractors to the table as we negotiated the agreements; certainly in the civils, our major civil contractor was part of the negotiating team.

Q3154 Chair: What main features of the agreement that differ from previous agreements are worth us reflecting on in our report?

Nigel Cann: The agreement as it currently stands is the common framework agreement, and that sets out the structure of how you manage the project. As you would expect, safety is at the heart of a good construction site, so it maps out the value of having the right safety partnership with the trade unions, and it understands the value of trade union safety reps. It also sets out the structure of the committees where you manage any of the particular issues that arise on a big construction site. It has us, as the client, at the heart of that governance process.

The other thing the agreement has is what we call an Employment Affairs Unit. Although it is contractually obliging on our contractors to deploy that agreement, the Employment Affairs Unit-the EAU as we call it-provides the governance to make sure that the agreement is deployed, and is very clear that we will use an audit process to make sure that the agreement is absolutely adhered to by all our contract partners and anybody else involved in the project.

Q3155 Lindsay Roy: The CFA has not only been described as good; it has been described as best practice, as a programme for the future, with the accolade of cutting edge. Would you elaborate on what is different from previous agreements? You have mentioned one or two things already, and you have helpfully given us some key points. Will you go through some of them and highlight exactly what the benefits are?

Barbara Jones: There are a couple of things. Nigel has already talked about the Employment Affairs Unit. We believe that it is the first time a unit has been set up to oversee the deployment of this agreement; it is run by us as the client, but with the involvement of trade unions and the contractor employers. Some other elements of the agreement that are different are things like the requirement for direct employment, which is important to us.

Q3156 Lindsay Roy: Why is that so important?

Barbara Jones: It is important to us in terms of the size and scale of the job, as it is a long-term venture-the scale of the project and the years of the project. We want to be sure that people are very connected with those who have signed up to this agreement and to our job. We want to try to maximise the employment opportunities for people involved in the project, whether that is through reskilling, or being re-brokered into other jobs, which is one of the other aspects of the agreement.

It is not a new thing. We have looked at other projects; we do not think that we know everything. We have looked at other big projects in the UK, like the Olympics and T5, and they deployed an employment brokerage. The employment brokerage is also an aspect of our agreement; there is an employment brokerage where people can sign up for jobs and sign up for training to get them into work. We think that the way we have brought together employment conditions, and also conditions that will support employment and continued employment, is quite unique.

Finally, all of this will be overseen by a joint project board that will be headed by Nigel. It will be a tri-party board, so contractors will be represented, as will the trade unions, and EDF Energy as the client. When we talk about the client, we mean us-EDF Energy. It is about bringing these things together and trying to learn from what has gone before, and really thinking about the fact that 25,000 people are going to be working on this project, across the life of the project, with a minimum of 900 on site during the 60-year operation of the site. It is the whole scale of it; we wanted to have something that we thought would underpin it to make it safe, high quality and successful.

Nigel Cann: I guess that the concise answer to your question is that it is difficult to employ best-in-class standards if you are going to have agency workers. You almost need to make sure that these people are directly employed, so that you can deploy your agreement and ensure that the contractors do it. There are good things in our agreement around pensions, insurances, best rates of pay and the respect agenda, but it is difficult to do that if you do not directly employ people.

Q3157 Lindsay Roy: Would you tell us more about your HR training and the nature of the negotiations? What kind of platform for negotiations was arranged?

Nigel Cann: Would you repeat the question?

Lindsay Roy: Would you tell us more about your HR training in relation to this?

Nigel Cann: We brought in some industry experts to help us get to a place where we understood what was best practice before. We centred ourselves before we went into the negotiations, as EDF, but I cannot sit here and say that I had any specific training to go into the negotiations.

Clearly, training generally is at the heart of our agreement. One of the things that we wanted to do in our agreement, which it enables, was to maximise the opportunity for UK employment and also for local employment. The sort of things written in the agreement empower and enable, and we have committed to 400 apprenticeships on our job.

We have already started to change the industry. One issue that I guess is easy to articulate is that, when we wanted to solve our "suitably qualified and experienced" issue, we found that in the UK there was no standard qualification for steel fixers, so we worked with the skills bodies to come up with a qualification for steel fixing. We now have around 16 people a month going through the apprenticeship. There is now a UK standard for steel fixing. We found it by setting up that partnership early. By really understanding the needs of the industry, we were able to go out there and make a difference, raising the bar as far as skills in the UK are concerned.

Q3158 Lindsay Roy: How were the negotiations different?

Nigel Cann: As I said at the beginning, one of the best things that you can do in any negotiation is write down what you agree about. We set out, and quickly got to a point where we were comfortable to sign, our social covenant. As I said, it is one page, and I think it is in the evidence.

As I say, we wrote down all our aspirations and desires for the agreement, and that allowed us to go on. We did it in three phases. We did the common framework agreement first, because it sits around governance and sets the tone of how industrial relations will be dealt with in the project. We then went into the more detailed sector agreements around reward, recognition, and terms and conditions.

Barbara Jones: The other thing that was different was that the negotiations were led by EDF Energy as the client. Usually, that is not quite the case, but this is a unique project because of its size and scale, so we felt that we needed to be not only right in the middle of it but right at the front, bringing together the trade unions, who were obviously absolutely key, and our supply chain-the contractors who bring with them the skills for us to do this. The simple thing that was probably different was that, too.

Q3159 Mike Crockart: I want to go back, Nigel, to your point that, if you are going to put in place best-of-class type relations, you really need to have direct employment, and having contractors makes that more difficult. In one of the key points that you put in your evidence, you say, "We would, of course, take the appropriate action if we found evidence of our contractors being involved in any future blacklisting…" You make the point that your chief executive has made your position clear-that you would take appropriate action. What is involved in taking appropriate action? It is quite a vague concept.

Nigel Cann: As I think I said before, we have made it absolutely contractual that our contractors deploy our agreements, and the agreements are very clear. There is one line saying that we find it unacceptable to consider any form of blacklisting. It also commits them to a very transparent onboarding process, and we will monitor that through the governance of the project. At the head of that governance, I guess, is the agreement project board, and all the trade unions and our major contractors and we, as the client, will sit on that board.

What would happen if we found anybody blacklisting? Straight away, there is a financial penalty, and the ultimate sanction, I guess, would be changing the contractor. It is scalable; there is no "no action," but there is clearly a point where you would work through to changing the contractor.

Q3160 Mike Crockart: Your understanding is that this would be written into the contract?

Nigel Cann: It is already written into the contract.

Q3161 Mike Crockart: In the evidence that you submitted you say, "EDF Energy is also exploring further ways of reinforcing our position such as through clauses in contractor contracts."

Nigel Cann: The contract appendices say that our agreements are mandatory for deployment on the project, for both our tier 1 contractors and their subcontractors.

Q3162 Jim McGovern: Thank you both for coming here to give evidence. As someone who served an apprenticeship in the construction industry, I well remember that I had to get my father to sign indentures and stuff like that.

Nigel Cann: Me too.

Jim McGovern: You talk about the steel workers now being given apprenticeships. My apprenticeship was for four years, but the current Government talk about 300,000 apprenticeships of six-month training courses. What is the duration of a steel worker’s or steel fixer’s apprenticeship?

Nigel Cann: The steel fixer’s apprenticeship is a short period; it is about six months. We are looking at a whole range of apprenticeships. My history is that I was an electrical apprentice, so I did four years. My father gave me away, too.

We are looking to invigorate and deepen the skills pool in the UK. There will be a whole mass of civil apprentices-a mass of electrical, mechanical, pipefitters and welders apprenticeships. Generally, we are not looking to weaken the current standards; if anything, we are trying to increase them. We have already tried to target the difficult long-term unemployed in the 18 to 35 age group; and we have tried to explore, via our union colleagues, what is a good way of getting them into meaningful skilled employment and on a flight path to what I call skilled status, which is what you may know as a skill standard.

We are expecting a whole array of apprenticeships across our project. We are already talking with some of the familiar names in mechanical electrical, and we are looking to tie in with them. We have invested in a construction skill centre at Cannington, a village about 7 miles from the site, and we have put several million pounds into an energy skills centre that is more aligned to the electrical mechanical skills set.

We are already starting to see training. We went down to Cannington two weeks ago and saw seven ladies driving big bits of plant, which was good to see; some of them were long-term unemployed and one had come through our pre-apprentice training programme. We are trying to take people who probably have not got the social and life skills to go straight into an apprenticeship, so we have this pre-apprenticeship programme that lasts about a year that gets them what we call job-ready. How many people have we got through that?

Barbara Jones: It is about 60 so far. It reaches those who did not quite get the academic attainment to access a normal four-year craft apprentice programme, and sometimes those who think, "A job like that isn’t for me," because of their learned experience and what they have seen around them. It is about trying to reach those parts of the community and open things up. We need a lot of people to work on this project, and we think that it is a great opportunity to give people who might not get these skills some new skills.

Through the Access to Apprenticeships programme, we have been running year-long access programmes for 16 to 25-year-olds. It gives them a run-in year, following which they go into a classic apprenticeship, or some people have gone into further education. On the back of that success, we are now setting up an adult Access to Apprenticeships programme, which is shorter. It is about taking people with some relevant skills, but that they may need topped up to go into big industry, and putting them through training programmes of around six months. As Nigel said, it will help them with this idea of being job-ready.

We are really excited about the opportunities that are opening up, because it will help in meeting our commitment to local employment particularly, but also in energising the availability of apprenticeships. It is important to make as many apprenticeships available as possible, and we think that Hinkley Point C is a great opportunity, which is why we have linked it to this agreement. We have not just said, "Oh, it’s just about terms and conditions"’; we have tried to bring together the jobs and skills aspirations of the project with the employment standards.

Q3163 Jim McGovern: Going back to steel fixers, you said perhaps six months, so there is a start date and a finish date. It is approximately six months.

Nigel Cann: That is right.

Q3164 Lindsay Roy: The vision and the strategy are to be applauded, but that is the easy bit.

Barbara Jones: It is.

Nigel Cann: That is true.

Lindsay Roy: Implementation of the strategy is a bit more difficult. To get the right outcomes is more demanding still.

You say that you have effective supervision. How exactly are you going to monitor it robustly, to ensure that your desired outcomes are achieved? In the past, we have had companies say that they are against blacklisting, but we have found out that something different applied. That is a real challenge.

Nigel Cann: I wholeheartedly agree. One of the lessons we learned from Terminal 5 was that they put a major project agreement in place, but it was not hugely well implemented. We kick off with our implementation project, as we call it-we are setting it up like a project-to implement our agreement. It has six work streams, and each of those work streams has trade union officials and either some of our contractors or people from industry who have volunteered for the work streams, and obviously EDF as the client. Each of those work streams will ensure that we have the real detail that matters, to make sure that these agreements work. As I say, we are trying to work in a social partnership to make it successful. But you are right: until we have deployed this and made it work, it is just an aspiration.

Q3165 Lindsay Roy: Does it involve cultural change? In the past, there has been discouragement at times to identify health and safety issues, or at least a penalty. How are you going to ensure that there is openness and transparency in bringing them to light?

Nigel Cann: We have had an interesting journey. First, I shall finish answering the previous question about supervision.

Because this project is so long, we think there is a unique opportunity to raise the standard of supervision, so one of our aspirations is that we have created a new construction supervision programme along with the ECITB and the CITB. That has allowed us to employ a real standard for supervision. For people who want to develop further, we have worked up an Institute of Leadership Management qualification that we will be promoting for our supervisors to go on to.

If you look at nuclear, behavioural safety is traditionally absolutely at the heart of the culture. What we have done is to dock in with our tier 1 contractors; some of them are already starting some behavioural safety programmes; Costain is one that is leading the way. We have tried to make sure that we take the best of the behavioural safety work that we have done in nuclear, look at what they have done in construction and build on it. You are absolutely right about behavioural safety. Having the courage and confidence, one, to point out issues and, two, stop when something is not right, must be at the heart of a nuclear construction site. We will very much be ensuring that our supervisors understand that message, and making sure through the inductions and through constant reinforcement that construction workers feel empowered to stop and ask questions. That is really important to us.

Q3166 Lindsay Roy: Are you willing to underwrite health and safety training for union representatives?

Nigel Cann: Yes, absolutely. It is built into our agreement, and I value that. We come from an industry that has done that for many years, and I support it as being the right way to go.

Q3167 Lindsay Roy: Being proactive is a major step forward.

Nigel Cann: Absolutely, yes.

Q3168 Lindsay Roy: Do you see this as a standard for all agreements?

Nigel Cann: Certainly from a safety point of view, union safety reps are at the heart of a good safety culture on a construction site.

Q3169 Jim McGovern: Nigel, you said that you come from an industry that for many years has adopted health and safety. That is not quite my experience of the construction industry.

Nigel Cann: I am a nuclear operations guy by trade. I am sorry if you thought I was talking about construction; I was talking about the nuclear operation.

Q3170 Jim McGovern: On the previous question, I thought you said that that was your background originally.

Nigel Cann: No, I was an electrical apprentice. That was my background.

Jim McGovern: In the nuclear industry?

Nigel Cann: Yes, in the nuclear industry.

Q3171 Jim McGovern: Possibly health and safety is more prevalent in that industry than in the construction industry.

You may already have answered this question from Mr Roy, but what steps do you take to protect union members who raise issues of health and safety-not necessarily safety reps, but any employee who is a union member?

Nigel Cann: We have already deployed on the site, in the small amount of work that we have done, what we call an organisational learning tool, which allows people to raise issues. We call them learning reports, but they are called various things across industry. You can raise a report anonymously or put your name to it. Every learning report raised is processed; it goes to what we call a screening committee, which will look at it. The reason it goes for screening is to see whether immediate action needs to be taken, but every issue that is raised is processed. It is very visible. The site is stood down at the moment, but where operations were going on, that was visible in the canteen, and everybody could see what issues had been raised and what actions had been taken. We very much encouraged it. For the people who did put their names on them, we did things like learning report of the month, to encourage people so that they knew that we valued it both managerially and as the client, and we made visible the fact that that was the culture that we were expecting.

Q3172 Jim McGovern: My experience during 25 years in the construction industry was that if you raised health and safety issues you were regarded as a nuisance, and there was a good chance that it would cost you your job. Are you saying that that just does not happen in your industry?

Nigel Cann: It absolutely cannot happen. It would be a complete failure of our project if we had that kind of culture.

Q3173 Jim McGovern: Every employer would say that, but-

Nigel Cann: But I mean it.

Jim McGovern: Okay.

Chair: I ought to mention that when we visited Dounreay, not only were we struck by the fact that, for safety reasons, we were obliged to hold on to the banister on each stairwell, but we also discovered that Mr McGovern’s watch was radioactive. It was an old watch, so it caused somewhat of a safety scare.

Lindsay Roy: It still is. We are sitting too close.

Chair: That explains the nature of his questions.

Q3174 Pamela Nash: Mr Cann, in your response to Mr McGovern you mentioned that learning reports can be submitted anonymously. You said that there was encouragement to come forward with those reports. I take it that reflects the fact that people are still frightened of being blacklisted or losing their jobs.

Nigel Cann: You have to realise that some people-

Pamela Nash: Just to be clear, I am not saying that it is a reflection on your company. In general terms, it is about workers in construction.

Barbara Jones: In my experience, some people prefer it. We run all sorts of recognition things with staff; sometimes you want to recognise somebody for something and they will say, "I’m just doing my job. I don’t want to be recognised." What we are trying to do is have a process that is very open. We hope that people will say, "I have seen this issue," and fill out the card. We can then go back to them if we want a bit more information. Clearly, if they do not want to do so, that is fine. The main thing is to get the issue raised.

The other route is that people can always talk to their supervisor. That is a key part of the supervisor’s role and why supervisors are so important to us. We need them out among the teams, making sure that people are aware that that is what we want. We want this open culture of reporting. All we are trying to do is maximise the opportunity for people to say, "I have seen something that I wasn’t happy with," or even, "I have seen something that was really good. Could we replicate it? I think that would make the site even safer."

Nigel Cann: All human beings are different. Some people worry about asking a silly question. It is not just about retribution. We want people to be able to say, "It may be a silly thing to ask, but I want to ask it anyway." You still need to encourage that.

Q3175 Pamela Nash: Your employees obviously come from other construction firms elsewhere in the industry. Are you aware, or do they express concern, that blacklisting still exists elsewhere in the industry?

Nigel Cann: We have been clear from the start that we find blacklisting unacceptable.

Pamela Nash: I am not questioning that at all.

Nigel Cann: Have I personally heard anybody express concerns about blacklisting to me? The answer is no-but why would they? I have made it clear that it is not going to occur on our project.

Q3176 Jim McGovern: Presumably, it would not have been on your site, so why would they mention it to you?

Nigel Cann: Exactly.

Pamela Nash: I was interested in whether they had had previous experience of it or heard about it elsewhere before joining you. Thank you.

Q3177 Graeme Morrice: In your employment agreement, you state that it is the intention only to directly employ workers through the PAYE scheme so as to avoid the casualisation of the work force. Is that all employees, or will there be any opportunity for workers employed through agencies?

Nigel Cann: No. For all the reasons stated, we have made it clear that we want direct employment. That is down to the main contractors and the subcontractors.

For all the reasons that I have mentioned previously, it is really important to us that they feel connection with the projects and can benefit from the agreements. It is difficult to see how that can be done if you have agency workers, because they would generally be on a day rate and on different terms and conditions. That would be outwith what we are trying to achieve.

Q3178 Graeme Morrice: To be clear, are you saying that there will be no opportunity for any staff from agencies to be engaged by your company?

Nigel Cann: Obviously, they will not be employed by us, but they will be employed by whatever company has been contracted to do the work.

Q3179 Graeme Morrice: Are there going to be any conditions on principal contractors in relation to subcontractors, and in turn, will any conditions be applied to subcontractors in relation to using agency staff?

Nigel Cann: We are very clear that our tier 1 contractors, and any subcontractors that they employ, will have to be directly employed.

Barbara Jones: Anyone who gets a contract to work on our job, either as a direct contractor or as a subcontractor of a tier 1, must directly employ their work force.

Q3180 Graeme Morrice: I think we would all agree that that is encouraging, but is it legally enforceable? Doubts have been raised in connection with other contracts. Crossrail, in particular, has been mentioned.

Barbara Jones: When they sign the contract, that is what they are signing up to; they are clearly entering into a contract with us. Part of the process of getting ready to start construction and to let all the contracts has been the process of early contractor engagement that Nigel was talking about. We did not arrive at the tender process and then say, "Oh, by the way you need to directly employ everybody." We have been through quite a long process with people who were interested in working on the project, and we laid all these things out early-whether it was about the commitment to skills and training, the commitment to direct employment or the need to sign up to the agreements that have been negotiated for this project. Companies that want to work with us know what they are stepping into, and they have agreed to take that on.

Obviously, as well as helping us consistently deploy the agreements, one of the things the Employment Affairs Unit does is monitoring to make sure that the key principles of the agreement are in place, and one of the key principles is direct employment. It would be their job to help us have oversight of that, and they will be reporting any significant variance to the joint project board. That is how we will tie it in. Rather than thinking whether it is legal or not, we have made that agreement and we are going to look to enforce it.

Q3181 Graeme Morrice: I fully understand what you say, and I accept it. Again, it is a good process that you have outlined, but have you checked it out legally to make sure that it is doable?

Barbara Jones: Yes, it is doable; it is not discriminatory in any way.

Nigel Cann: To be fair, the industrial relations agreement is not a legally binding agreement. Labour agreements generally are not, but it is clear that that is a standard. By the way, if people are not adhering to that agreement they will be found out. We have already said that the Employment Affairs Unit will be monitoring it and will be doing audits, and that will be very visible. All we want is transparency, and it will be transparent if people start to stray from what they have signed up to and what they are contractually obliged to do.

Q3182 Graeme Morrice: That is useful, because my next question was going to be about the monitoring and auditing that you would be engaged in, but you say that you have structures in place to ensure that that happens.

Nigel Cann: That is right.

Q3183 Graeme Morrice: What sanctions are there if you find that a principal contractor or subcontractor has broken the rules and is engaged in employing agency staff or casual staff, or people on zero-hours contracts?

Nigel Cann: I guess that it is scalable. One misdemeanour may incur a penalty for the contractor, but many misdemeanours will end up with the removal of the contractor.

Barbara Jones: The other point is that having the infrastructure in place to audit and deal with things when they go wrong is important. However, I have to say that we have had very positive engagement from the trade unions, and also from the contractors who have been involved in this process. People are coming into this project in a positive way.

I do not want you to think that we are naive and think that everything is always perfect. It feels very much like a combined effort, a partnership, and that is what we are trying to do. We obviously have to have measures in place to monitor and check, but we have very much been on the receiving end of a lot of engagement, with positive input from employers and trade unions in putting this together.

Nigel Cann: We have very much concentrated on engagement and the positive side, but, as Barbara says, we are not naive. There must be a sanction at the end of it, but, if you are halfway through building a nuclear power station, throwing all your contractors off site for one minor misdemeanour might not be the best business decision. But if somebody is flouting the agreement that they have signed up to and not adhering to our social aspirations, there clearly is an end point.

Q3184 Chair: May I pursue this a little further? Based on our investigations so far, it is reasonable for us to have come to the conclusion that contractors, by and large, cannot be trusted. We have come to the view that there is a great deal of regret about blacklisting from some of the contractors, but their main regret is that they got caught. I don’t think we are convinced that they regret having done it.

In these circumstances, given that we have come to the not unrealistic view that these people cannot be trusted, we want to know how firmly this is nailed down. It was noticeable that you specified the question of tier 1 contractors and then their subcontractors, but fleas are fleas and so on. How far down the chain does all this go?

We discussed this with the unions and they gave the impression that they think there will be no labour-only subcontractors on site at all, and the deal you will have with contractors, I thought, would be legally binding in a cascade all the way down. You now seem to be saying that it is not legally binding and that action might have to be taken, but that you would not want to throw major contractors off sites. I understand that, but to some extent it seems that a contractor, once appointed, would have you over a barrel. If they felt like it, they could bring labour-only people on to the site and almost dare you, in a sense, to do something about it.

Nigel Cann: I do not want to mislead you, but personally I think that it is tied down and is very clear. There are legally binding pieces where we will have a contractual arrangement with the contractors, and this agreement will be part of that contract.

When I say that it is not legally binding, the actual agreement with the trade unions is not legally binding-that’s a fact-but it goes all the way down. If you come on site with a pass, you have to be signed up to this agreement. Whatever subcontractor it is, however many tiers you go down, if they come on to do work, they will have sign on to this contract with these rates of pay and conditions. That is clear.

Would we, to use your words, be put over a barrel by a contractor? We have a very healthy supply chain, and the way that we have set up our contracts means that we have options. We are not a naive client; if somebody did not share the same social aspirations and did not want to come on this industrial adventure with us, we would have to take some sanctions, and we would not be scared to do that.

Q3185 Jim McGovern: The Chair mentioned our visit to Dounreay. I remember that the people there were very conscious of health and safety. As you heard, they told us to hold the handrails on the stairs. There were signs everywhere saying, "Mind your head", "Slippery underfoot" and so on. I remember one sign that said, "Do not run up the stairs. Use the handrail." I thought that running up the handrail would probably be more dangerous than running up the stairs.

Graeme Morrice: I think that radiation in your watch has affected you.

Jim McGovern: More seriously, on the subject of blacklisting, have you had to take any action yet against contractors?

Nigel Cann: No, but obviously our project is still at the phase where it is getting its final permissions in place before we start. We are gearing up to start construction in 2014. The project agreement goes live when we mobilise our main civil contractor; that is the point at which we said we would go live with the agreements. On 9 January, we are going to kick off the implementation teams; that will get us into a state of readiness, and we can go live as soon as construction starts. We have not been in a position yet where we have had to take any action, because the project has not kicked off, but 2014 will hopefully be our year-not to take action but to start the project.

Q3186 Jim McGovern: Possibly in answer to Mr Morrice, you touched on my next question, although I think he mentioned it in a different context. What would be the consequence for a contractor if they were found to be blacklisting?

Nigel Cann: What are the consequences? There is clearly a contractual obligation, so there is a financial penalty almost immediately. If it is multiple misdemeanours, you get to the point of final sanction, where the contractor will eventually be removed from the site, and probably not considered for further work should there be a Sizewell C or other jobs that we as a client do.

Q3187 Jim McGovern: In the first instance, Nigel, you are saying that there would be a financial penalty. For some companies, depending on the size of the financial penalty, it might be just a drop in the ocean and they would think it was worth while. How would you quantify the financial penalty?

Nigel Cann: We haven’t got a list of fines, but we have to make it meaningful and it has to bite. I am an overly optimistic kind of guy, and I hope that we never get to that point, but if we do, we will not shirk our responsibility to take action, and we will make it meaningful.

Q3188 Jim McGovern: Have you had discussions with the unions regarding what would happen if workers raised concerns about blacklisting?

Nigel Cann: Yes. It was part of our negotiations to talk about blacklisting, making sure that it was clear that we had set an absolute line in the sand and that we would not accept it on our project. Our trade union colleagues, I guess, were very taken with the fact that we were going to promote an open reporting culture on the site on any issue-not just blacklisting, but any issue. As I said earlier, having the courage and confidence to feel that you can stop jobs, raise issues and do it without fear of retribution is going to be at the heart of our project’s culture.

Q3189 Jim McGovern: When you were answering a question earlier about reporting health and safety concerns, you said that you could do it anonymously or you could put your name to it. Is there some sort of system for reporting concerns about blacklisting?

Nigel Cann: The same system allows you to raise concerns about anything, not just health and safety. It could be quality, it could be equipment, it could be the standard of welfare, or concerns that there may be some blacklisting. All those things could be raised through the concerns programme. Ultimately, we have what we call a safe-call number, which is an anonymous phone line that people can use to raise concerns, and an independent body will then investigate-outside the site and the contractors.

Q3190 Jim McGovern: When we took evidence in Cardiff on the subject of blacklisting, the Welsh Assembly put out a report saying that companies who had been involved in blacklisting must self-cleanse. That is the terminology that was used. Is EDF doing something similar?

Nigel Cann: When we put our agreements together, we were very much forward-facing. We wanted to make sure that we were absolutely clear that blacklisting was unacceptable on our project, and all the contractors we were engaged with needed to sign up to the agreements and show the commitment that blacklisting was not and would never be used on our project. They share the same values as us-that, from our project point of view, blacklisting was absolutely unacceptable.

Q3191 Chair: Jim raised the point about self-cleansing. As I understand it, the self-cleansing exercise was partly about making compensation-not only recanting and repenting, but doing something about what had happened in the past. My understanding is that no firms have done that to date and that, if you do not take on somebody who has been involved in blacklisting, you will not be able to get your construction under way, as the major contractors are all guilty as sin as far as I can see. How do you propose to deal with that?

Barbara Jones: We look forward to starting this job. We have set out clearly that blacklisting is not acceptable. EDF Energy has not been involved in blacklisting. People have signed up to this project and, as Nigel said, we are planning for the main part to start in 2014, so we are looking forward.

The people coming to work with us know what we expect. They are telling us that they expect that as well, and have signed up to it, so that is what we are doing. We are planning for that and moving forward on that basis, with the measures we have described in place to have appropriate monitoring. You cannot just hope; you have to have monitoring as well. That is what we are doing; we are looking forward and setting out the standard.

It is a new project, the first major nuclear construction project in the UK for over 20 years, and there is the chance for everybody involved to have a great experience, whether that is the supply chain, the people who have the chance to work on the job, or the trade unions, who are rightly proud of the agreement that they have struck with us. They have done a great job in helping us through this process and getting something that we think is right for our project. That is what we are doing. It is about us looking forward.

Q3192 Jim McGovern: I appreciate that it is about looking to the future, but the agreement that we heard about in Wales-the Chair referred to it as well-is that organisations or companies who have been involved in blacklisting in the past must self-cleanse. Are you making sure that they have self-cleansed?

Nigel Cann: I have not heard of the terminology "self-cleanse".

Jim McGovern: It was the first time I had heard it.

Nigel Cann: As Barbara said, we have been very clear right from the start that this is the line in the sand, and that if you do not want to go on this journey with us, if you still have aspirations to do blacklisting, you will not be welcome on our project.

Q3193 Chair: But can you see why, from our perspective, there might be a danger that, although someone like yourselves, taking the line that you do, can make sure that the contractors do not operate blacklists on your project, they will merrily carry on blacklisting elsewhere? They make a tactical adjustment in the light of what you are imposing on them, but they haven’t actually changed their attitudes, culture or practices. Can you see that as being a difficulty for us?

Nigel Cann: I can, and we would clearly take on board any recommendations that come from this Select Committee. As I say, it is difficult for us to comment, as we have not been involved in blacklisting. I do not profess to be an expert, but we think that we have set out with the right social standards, the right aspirations for our project, and a solid agreement. We have made sure that the contractors are tied into it, and that is the way they will behave on our project.

Q3194 Jim McGovern: May I give an example? Around 40 years ago, I was on a construction site in Perth. The General Accident insurance company was building a world headquarters there. It was a massive project, and Sir Robert McAlpine was the main contractor. McAlpine’s had declared that they would not let anyone from Dundee, which was where I lived, on their sites. Our bosses told us to say that we were from Edinburgh and deny that we were from Dundee. We were a subcontractor, but Sir Robert McAlpine was presumably ultimately responsible for us having to lie to get on the site.

What we are saying is that EDF, presumably, are ultimately responsible for who gets on their sites. How do you monitor it to make sure that the subcontractors are not blacklisting in some way?

Nigel Cann: We have not gone into huge detail, but as part of our Employment Affairs Unit we have set up a brokerage, and all the people who have aspirations to work on the project can register with the brokerage. Currently, about 2,100 people are registered. We try to do a skills match as they come in, and the contractors will then look at the list of people with relevant qualifications and go for a transparent recruitment process from that point.

We will be right at the heart of making sure that all contractors, whether they be a tier 1 or a small tier 4 contractor, go through that process to recruit their people. We are clear that we are trying to push UK skills, and local employment in Somerset. It is a big imposition to build a huge infrastructure project in the middle of Somerset, so it is really important that we give local people the opportunity to upskill and be part of a re-energised and bigger gene pool of skills in the UK. We think that the onboarding process is transparent and robust, and that it will allow us to monitor and audit to make sure that the appropriate measures and controls are in place.

Barbara Jones: The other thing, as Nigel was saying, is that we are launching the implementation project for this new agreement in January. What we have done right from the start in setting up this agreement and this project is to get people involved as early as possible-getting them really involved in setting the thing up and designing the ideas. On the idea of the employment brokerage and how it would work, we talked to trade unions about their experience, and what has worked and what has not worked in terms of how people get on board in these projects.

When we go forward in January to implement all the arrangements of the Employment Affairs Unit, and the skills and training that sit underneath this project, we will have a project team that is made up of people from the supply chain companies, trade unions and us as the client, plus other subject-matter experts who come in to help us. In our industry, we talk about people putting skin in the game; the more you get people involved early, the more you take account of their ideas and the more effort, commitment and time they put into getting these things ready, the more you maximise your chances of its working well and delivering the things that you have set out for it to deliver.

Chair: I flag up to members of the Committee that I have been reminded on three occasions by the Clerk that we should not mention a particular court case, the contents of which are sub judice. As nobody has done it so far, I just draw it to your attention.

Q3195 Lindsay Roy: Critical to this is building up trust and confidence. How do you ensure that the bad practices of contractors have finished? How do you ensure that there has been cultural change? Have you discussed it with companies who have previously been involved in blacklisting?

Nigel Cann: I’ll be honest: at the beginning of the agreement negotiations, there was a level of distrust, as you would expect. Part of dispelling that distrust was putting the Employment Affairs Unit in place. Our trade union colleagues were robust; they wanted third-party audits done as part of the process. We absolutely supported that as the client, and there was no resistance from the contractors involved in the negotiations. That culture of openness and transparency is crucial if you are going to move from past issues to a brighter future.

Q3196 Lindsay Roy: Are you saying that the unions are convinced that there has been a cultural change-a real change of heart?

Nigel Cann: The trade unions are comforted that we are going to do third-party audits so that we can build that trust. Trust is generally not like a light switch; it takes a bit of nurturing over time. We are at a point where there are green shoots of trust, and the audit process gives confidence that, hopefully, that trust can grow over the next couple of years as the project takes off.

Barbara Jones: There are the human things that sit around that as well, so there is an extra focus on supervision. The role of the supervisor is being elevated and put right at the heart of the project. It really helps-the more leaders you have on the ground to provide guidance and leadership for teams. A series of bodies are part of it, including the local councils and the joint project board. It is the whole thing together that will help us deliver that trust and confidence, but obviously it is all about demonstration. That is how you get trust, and we will be in a better place to say that we have it once we have got started. We are doing everything that we can to set off in the right way, with people in the right frame of mind on this project.

Q3197 Chair: If I remember correctly, in his dealings with the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan-I do not often quote him-used the phrase "trust but verify", which seems to be appropriate in these circumstances.

Barbara Jones: Yes.

Q3198 Chair: Could I come back to some of the bigger questions before dealing with the more detailed ones? One of the things that I am not clear about relates to your role as client, which is obviously key in a lot of this. I am not clear whether you are able to play the role that you do because the project is so big, is taking so long, is nuclear, and is so complicated. One of you referred to it as being almost unique, which is almost a contradiction in terms. How unique is it? How many lessons from this can we take in order to say, "This ought to be best practice by clients across a whole range of issues"?

We are interested in trying to identify whether we should be saying to the Scottish Government, the UK Government or the Welsh Assembly that this sort of practice, with the client being directly involved in the operations of the site, placing stipulations on the contractor, is something that you can lift. Rather than saying, "Nothing to do with me, guv, it’s the contractors. It’s up to them to determine whether or not there is blacklisting, not us," we should lay that to one side and just say, "This template seems to be accepted by a major client, the contractors are now on board, willingly or not, and the unions seem to be keen about it, and it is something that we should be identifying as best practice," and departure from that should be the exception and should have to be justified.

Nigel Cann: It would be arrogant for us to say that this is something that should be deployed on every project. It is slightly scalable; this is a major project, and it lasts a long time. We will be a big client organisation, but other smaller projects would have a much smaller client organisation.

There are a couple of things. I do not think that any client should completely shirk their responsibility to ensure that the right industrial relations practices are deployed on their project. You have to scale that. We have the opportunity, because it is such a big project and we are a big client organisation, as you have to be in nuclear, because basically you are in control of the quality and you hold the licence.

We have an opportunity to play a more major role than other clients may be able to do. However, I think that the model would work on other large infrastructure projects where you have a client that is of a suitable size to take on the responsibility. Obviously, it needs people to oversee it, and it requires a level of effort and a level of desire. We have all of them, but it might not be a match for smaller scale projects, where a client is employing an EPC contract.

Q3199 Chair: There is a distinction between smaller projects and smaller clients. The public sector is a big client that might be running lots of small projects. Am I right in thinking that the sort of structures, rules, guidelines and everything else that you are adopting could easily be adopted by the public sector as a whole? There would have to be a transmission mechanism whereby they were applied to individual small projects, such as the building of a primary school or something that is not enormously complex. That would be a way of doing it, and the fact that the project itself was small would not excuse the client from participating in this sort of structure.

Barbara Jones: The spirit in which it has been done is joint working between all the parties involved-the person whose job it is; the client, who feels responsible; the trade unions representing the work force; and the contractors who bring the skills and the know-how. That is absolutely replicatable. It is about a way of working. In terms of the detail of the agreement, it would be very much a matter for the client. On this job, because we hold the nuclear licence, we know that we absolutely cannot pass that responsibility on to anybody else. There are billions of pounds of risk on the project that we cannot share. It is our risk, and this huge nuclear and engineering asset is absolutely our responsibility.

We always knew that we needed to be at the heart and in control. We would not be comfortable sitting here and saying, "Look, all you clients out there in the world, do what we have done." We have had a really positive experience putting this together. It has been hard work, but we have had good engagement. I am convinced that there must be elements that would be replicatable, but it is hard for us to say, "Yes, it is a template; just go and do it."

Nigel Cann: One of the key things around this agreement is that we have formed a true social partnership with our trade union colleagues. We are very much of the view, right up to our CEO, that you do things in partnership with trade unions, not despite them. That is at the heart of what we have achieved in sitting down together, understanding what our joint aspirations are and coming out with something that is fit for purpose for our project. A lot of the stuff is around the respect agenda, and making sure that safety is at the heart of everything that you do. There is no magic potion; it is just a list of really good behaviours, values and reward packages that suit our job.

Q3200 Chair: I understand that, and I can understand why you have a social partnership with the unions, but, to be fair, it was not the unions that were operating blacklisting. I therefore see that it was easier to come to an agreement with them in terms of shared objectives than with the contractors. We are still worried that some of the contractors have form, and whether the conversion that they seem to be expressing in their dealings with yourselves is more than skin-deep. That is obviously something that we would want to reflect on.

Could I raise a further point on the question of direct employment? You mentioned your emphasis on local recruitment and training, and the like. Because of some of the techniques that are going to be involved-it is a French reactor, for example-there is a danger, from a UK perspective, that, although the work crews that come in may be directly employed, they will all be French or from somewhere else. There will obviously be a need for specialist skills to be brought in from outside, but how is that going to be meshed with the commitment to direct employment? Even in my own city, I am aware that there are signs on some building sites in Polish, simply because of health and safety and the nature of the work force. How are you going to ensure, first, the maximisation of UK direct employment, and then, given that you are going to have to bring in people from outside, that they, too, are directly employed under the responsibility of particular contractors?

Nigel Cann: We have been really clear in these agreements that it does not matter whether it is a UK or a French company, or one from another European country. They are all expected to adhere to these terms and conditions. Everybody is on the same terms and conditions.

We have tried to look ahead. When we looked at the UK marketplace, we tried not to be too arrogant-that we were the only job in town. We realise that we are in rural Somerset and not within the M25 envelope. The south-west of the UK is not generally seen as an industrial heartland. It is generally an agricultural area, so we have had to reach out and do quite a bit of mapping about where we are going to get our work force and what skills they are likely to have. We have tried to get front foot forward, to maximise the opportunity to train UK workers and give them the best opportunity that we can.

Does that mean that we will end up with no foreign workers on the site? Absolutely not. As you rightly say, there are some specialist skills. We have to employ the rules of the European Union, and we cannot discriminate, but we can maximise the opportunity for UK and local employment, and I think we have done that in spades. We have been reaching into schools. We run an Inspire programme, getting into schools and talking to children to try to get them interested in engineering and trade skills. We are already partnered with some of our contractors, so they are going into schools as well and showing children machinery. It is a really good arena to get into.

Q3201 Chair: On the question of recruitment of contractors who are foreign or foreign-based wanting to bring in their own foreign work force, is that going to be part of the negotiations, or is it something that you decide?

Nigel Cann: It is something that the project joint council will monitor. We clearly want to make sure that our agreement is being deployed. It does not matter whether they are French; they will still need to have the same terms and conditions and they will still need to be directly employed.

Q3202 Chair: I understand that, but it is the question of the decision to bring in-

Nigel Cann: There is a whole range of metrics that we will work out and the joint project board will monitor, and part of it will kick off on 9 January. The implementation programme will set out the metrics that the project board will get, and what they are going to monitor, and what the auditors are going to present to us on a periodic basis.

Q3203 Chair: Could I seek further clarification on the question of the brokerage? I am not entirely clear whether you are saying that it is going to be the sole route by which future employees can get on to the site. Are there going to be other avenues?

Barbara Jones: It is going to be the sole route through which people board the site. Basically, the way they come on to the site-induction to the site and so on-is managed through that. All opportunities to work on site will be advertised through the brokerage. Contractors will obviously bring their own workers with them, but they will be subject to all the same standards that are set, in terms of qualifications and any security vetting that is required, but we will be advertising all opportunities, and that is where they will be advertised.

The employment brokerage has been set up in partnership with Jobcentre Plus, so any contractors that come to work on the project are all signed up to the fact that they will advertise all their vacancies there. Obviously, the organisations that come to work with us already employ some people. Those people clearly will not have to reapply for a job that they already have, but all new opportunities will be advertised there.

Q3204 Chair: There is an issue. If there are people who are going to be working on the site that a contractor brings with them, the contractor could already have had those people vetted and combed for blacklisting before coming on as an engaged work force. There will be people working for some of the contractors that used the Consulting Association, so the work force will have been put through the mechanisms of the Consulting Association. Some of them will have workers that have been cleared by that process.

Barbara Jones: But they will still be subject to the qualification and vetting process for this job. Even if they are already an employee of that organisation, they will still be vetted as though they were new employees.

Q3205 Chair: In a sense, they are vetted for different things. I understand your point about a recruitment channel, and establishing that clear parameters have been achieved and that the levels have been achieved. My observation-which I had not thought of until I was listening to you earlier today-is that it is entirely possible that an employer will be bringing in a pre-blacklist-cleared work force. In those circumstances, they will have people employed for a while who had previously been vetted by the Consulting Association.

Barbara Jones: All that we can do, as we said, is to look forward, set the standards, vet them newly for this job and give them the training for this job, with all the new safety training and induction.

Chair: I can understand that.

Barbara Jones: We can say that these are the standards that we have set now. Those who are coming to work on our site will obviously be welcomed, as all employees will be, and will be getting the same training and development. All that we can do is say, "Here is where we are." We shall be starting afresh with the right standards.

Chair: All that we can do is reiterate the fact that we think that some of the contractors that you might be taking on will have form-they will have been involved in blacklisting people in the past, and that therefore you potentially will not have an entirely blacklisting-vetted-free work force, if that’s not too complicated.

Q3206 Jim McGovern: I hate using the term, but how do you monitor whether these contractors have self-cleansed?

Barbara Jones: As we said before, we had not heard the expression before today. Blacklisting is an issue that we have become very aware of in our discussions. It obviously featured in the negotiations for the agreement. That is why it is in there. We do not accept blacklists, and, if you are party to this agreement, you are signing up to say that you do not accept blacklisting. We have the monitoring in place to see that it does not happen on this job.

Nigel Cann: Rightly or wrongly, we are just looking forward.

Jim McGovern: Perhaps we could provide the list that we were given, and you could inquire of these companies whether they have self-cleansed yet.

Chair: The whole process of self-cleansing is that you do not just look forward. People must not only repent but must make recompense. It is the question of whether villains are still villains or just pretending not to be. Some of these companies have whole propaganda departments to tell people that they have changed without actually doing so, as I am sure you are aware. That is something that we will consider further.

Q3207 Lindsay Roy: The key thing is what you are doing differently, and how do we know. What evidence have you got to substantiate that you are doing something different from when you were blacklisting?

Barbara Jones: We have never been involved in blacklisting.

Chair: Sorry, that is not a question to you directly, but a question that we asked them.

Q3208 Lindsay Roy: Is it something you would want to take up with them?

Barbara Jones: With all the things that we are asking them to be party to in this agreement, people are willingly saying, "Yes, we want to be party to this agreement. We want to do these things."

Nigel Cann: As we move forward, and bring the contractors on board, they physically sign the agreements, so it is not just lip service. It will be in their contract appendices, but when they come on board there comes a point when they actually sign our agreements. All our agreements not only have us; they are signing too.

Q3209 Chair: I do not want to be offensive, but that seems very gullible. We have evidence that some of the contractors who were blacklisting in the past flatly denied it even as they were doing it. The fact that they sign something possibly means that, if they are going to be supervised, they are not going to do it on your site. I understand that.

Nigel Cann: Your "trust but verify" comment earlier is appropriate. That is why we have put the audit process in place. That is why the joint project board will get regular performance indicators of how the process is working. Any misdemeanours will be brought up very visibly and openly to that board. As was said earlier, do we all trust each other now? I have the view that trust has to be earned, and it will be earned over the next couple of years. We are watching.

Q3210 Jim McGovern: Perhaps a Joe McCarthy type of question might be appropriate. Are you now, or have you ever been, involved in blacklisting?

Nigel Cann: EDF Energy have never been involved in blacklisting.

Jim McGovern: Not you. I mean people coming on to your site.

Chair: If that was asked of some of them, if they were to tell the truth, they would have to say, "Yes, we were." That is what the court case that I cannot refer to is going to be about. We have only mentioned the existence of the case; we have not referred to the detail. They would clearly be shown to be as guilty as sin, if I can say that without prejudicing the case-[Interruption.] No, I can’t say that.

Jim McGovern: This is being broadcast.

Chair: The evidence is quite clear, and we have already said so in Committee, as the Clerk is about to remind me.

Jim, you wanted to raise a point about hours.

Q3211 Jim McGovern: I shall come to that, but there was another point prior to that. Were any suggestions put to you by the trade unions that you felt EDF just could not agree to, regarding blacklisting in particular?

Nigel Cann: Nothing, no.

Q3212 Jim McGovern: I appreciate your brevity. As regards overtime, the agreement seems to suggest that people on site should not refuse to work overtime unreasonably. Barbara, you in particular will be well aware of the European working time directive, which says that nobody is to be compelled to work more than 48 hours per week. Prior to recruitment, are people told that they will have to sign the opt-out?

Barbara Jones: No.

Jim McGovern: So if they choose not to work-

Barbara Jones: The point is that we expect people who come on to our sites to work as part of a team. When working as part of a team, whether it is operational or in the construction environment, it will sometimes require overtime working because things happen or a schedule changes. What we are saying is that "reasonable" would include any legal requirements. Obviously, it would not be reasonable for an employer to ask an employee to work in a way that breached any legal or health and safety requirements.

That is what we mean by reasonable. It means not always leaving extra work to everybody else in your team unless you have a really good reason. Clearly, people sometimes have reasons why they cannot work overtime, and therefore it would not be reasonable to ask them to do so. That is why we couch it in that phrase. It is about being reasonable.

Q3213 Jim McGovern: No one is obliged to sign any opt-out.

Barbara Jones: No.

Q3214 Jim McGovern: That is not part of the recruitment process.

Barbara Jones: It is not part of the recruitment process, no.

Q3215 Chair: Some points have been raised with us about the question of overtime and hours that might be worked, and whether that had implications for health and safety and so on, but you are saying that there is unlikely to be such pressure on a consistent basis.

Barbara Jones: Zero-harm health and safety is our absolute No. 1 priority. We want to deliver our job to high quality, on time and to the right cost, but never, never at the expense of health and safety. We want this to be the safest job.

Nigel Cann: Absolutely.

Q3216 Chair: I am just sweeping up some loose ends. In the summary statement that you gave us, you say, "We would, of course, take the appropriate action if we found evidence of our contractors being involved in any future blacklisting either on or outside of our project." If somebody is caught undertaking blacklisting elsewhere, it presumably means that they might suffer from sanctions from yourselves?

Unfortunately, Hansard does not record nodding, no matter how vigorously you do it. You have to say something.

Barbara Jones: I am sorry; I nod a lot.

Chair: Could you speak?

Barbara Jones: I have forgotten the question.

Nigel Cann: The question was if a contractor was involved in future blacklisting outside of our project would we take action.

Barbara Jones: We would investigate it.

Nigel Cann: We would investigate it, and the joint project board would take a view. I am sure that our trade union colleagues and ourselves would have a view. It is difficult to look at all the circumstances, but we have deemed that blacklisting is absolutely unacceptable to us as a value, and, if our contractors do not share the same values as us, that is clearly an issue.

Q3217 Chair: That is helpful. Colleagues, are there any other points that you want to raise? No.

As I indicated before we came in, we always finish by asking people whether they have answers prepared to questions that we have not asked. Is there anything that you feel we have not touched upon that you want to draw to our attention, or something that you feel it would be appropriate to make sure we were left with? Is there anything?

Nigel Cann: No, I don’t think so. Hopefully, you found our evidence helpful, and we have answered your questions appropriately.

Barbara Jones: No, nothing from me, thank you.

Chair: Okay. Thank you very much for coming along today. We found it very helpful and constructive.

Prepared 20th December 2013