Mrs Villiers: I am happy to confirm what I have said on many occasions: this was not an amnesty, and that has been confirmed by all those who have appeared in front of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. I

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believe it is confirmed by Lady Justice Hallett, and it was confirmed by Sir Nigel Sweeney in the Downey judgment. The Government have always strongly opposed amnesties, which is why they opposed the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill. If we had inherited a scheme that involved an amnesty, we would have stopped it immediately. This was not an amnesty, and we will not be introducing an amnesty under any circumstances.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): I welcome the Secretary of State’s statement and the fact that she made it in the House after discussions with the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. I think that is appropriate, and I know a lot of people will appreciate the statement today. I also welcome the clarion certainty of the statement that this shameful episode is now over. Many people in Northern Ireland will welcome the fact that a line has been drawn under this.

Last week at the Select Committee the Secretary of State reiterated her appropriate and contrite apology for this matter—indeed, that was echoed by the Labour Front-Bench spokesman. In the Committee yesterday, however, the former chief of staff of the then Prime Minister, Mr Jonathan Powell, refused to apologise. Does the Secretary of State agree that it would be appropriate of the author of the scheme also to recognise that it was wrong and apologise?

Mrs Villiers: The hon. Gentleman has obviously taken a close interest in this matter, and he is right to view today as drawing a line under it and reaching an end to what has been a painful episode for many people. On the evidence given to NIAC by Jonathan Powell, I think it is a matter for him whether he chooses to apologise. As I said in relation to the scheme, although I would not necessarily have done everything in the same way as the previous Government, or necessarily agreed with their overall approach to OTRs, I recognise that they were striving for a peaceful settlement in Northern Ireland, and dealing with an extremely difficult situation and difficult judgments.

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley) (Con): I thank the Secretary of State for her statement. At its start she mentioned that she discussed this issue with the various authorities in Northern Ireland. At the Select Committee last week I asked whether she would consider asking those authorities to make a similar statement, so that we could be sure that the courts in Northern Ireland accept that this status is for the whole of the UK, not just the Secretary of State, given that she has no power over the courts in Northern Ireland. Has she taken that on board and ruled it out?

Mrs Villiers: I did give that suggestion some thought and I discussed it with David Ford. I continue to be of the view that these statements were made by the UK Government—largely by the Northern Ireland Office, and by No. 10 in a couple of instances—so it is for the UK Government to clarify their status. The key factor is that this is the Government’s statement of what the letters now mean. In those circumstances I do not think it is necessary for an additional statement to be published by the Department of Justice or the devolved authorities, but, as I have told the House, they agree that this is the

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best way forward to do whatever we can to try to remove barriers to prosecution that might be created by the scheme.

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Does the Secretary of State agree that in a way her statement confirms what was the case all along: that the letters were not get out of jail free cards, but confirmed what the police and law officers assessed at the time, which was that these people were not wanted—wrongly in the case of Downey, and absolutely and rightly an apology is due for that—but that that did not preclude prosecutions in future should evidence come to light? I realise that that gives deep offence to victims and to my Unionist friends, but the letters were essential building blocks to get the peace settlement to drag Northern Ireland away from the horror, evil and terror of the past. It would be very dangerous and toxic somehow retrospectively to rescind those letters. I know the Secretary of State is not doing that; she is simply confirming their legal status, or lack of it, but I caution people because the scheme was part of getting us from the horror of the past to the peace and stability that we now enjoy.

Mrs Villiers: I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that my statement is consistent with how the scheme was always intended to operate. It was intended to be a scheme to establish whether an individual was wanted, not to provide an amnesty or assurance to those who were wanted that they were not wanted. It was also clear from the Hallett report that John Downey should never have received a letter. If the scheme had been properly administered, no such letter would have been issued. It was that serious error that led to the result in the Downey case.

On the legal effect of today’s announcement, as I have said, I do not believe that the words “rescind” or “revoke” are appropriate. It is much better to stick to the fact that these letters should no longer be relied on, and owing to the systemic flaws in the scheme, it might well be that further errors were made. Decisions on the prosecution of recipients of letters will be taken in exactly the same way as they are in relation to every other member of the public: if there is evidence or intelligence to justify arrest, that is what will happen.

Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne) (LD) rose—

Mr Speaker: I fear the hon. Gentleman toddled into the Chamber slightly late, but I am in a generous mood.

Stephen Lloyd: Thank you, Mr Speaker, and I apologise for being a couple of minutes late.

I welcome the Secretary of State’s statement on the Hallett report. It certainly reassured me, and will reassure a lot of people in Northern Ireland, particularly because the report emphasises that any comfort that recipients would have taken from the letters is misguided. Does she know how many people may not receive comfort and may be further investigated?

Mrs Villiers: The PSNI has told NIAC and the Policing Board that it is looking at all 187 “not wanted” indications. Lady Justice Hallett identified two cases in which she believed a mistake had been made and highlighted a further 36 cases processed by the Operation Rapid team

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between February 2007 and November 2008 in which she said there was a risk that an inappropriate threshold might have been applied. There might therefore be at least 38 cases where there is reason to question the original conclusions. It will be known whether that is the situation in further cases only once the PSNI completes its investigations, but given the systemic failings, there must be a risk that errors occurred in other cases as well.

Mr Jeffrey M. Donaldson (Lagan Valley) (DUP): The Secretary of State will be aware that some of the names proposed for the scheme came from the Irish authorities. Given former Irish Justice Minister Michael McDowell’s recent comment that the Irish Government were not pursuing those responsible for terrorist actions in their jurisdiction, what is her current understanding of that Government’s position?

Mrs Villiers: I have spoken to Charlie Flanagan, the Irish Foreign Minister, about this matter, and he has given me the clearest assurances that there was no policy to refrain from prosecuting terrorist offences, that the statements and speculation were groundless and that if there was evidence in the Irish justice system to justify arrest and prosecution, that would happen.

Oliver Colvile (Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport) (Con): As my right hon. Friend knows, yesterday morning, Jonathan Powell, chief of staff to Tony Blair, gave evidence to NIAC and confirmed—inadvertently or advertently—that he might have perverted the course of justice when in April 2000 he told Rita O’Hare, a leading republican politician, not to come to meetings with British officials in Northern Ireland. Will she confirm that Rita O’Hare is still wanted by the PSNI for questioning over terrorist activities?

Mrs Villiers: It would be inappropriate for me to comment on individual cases and I do not propose to do so.

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): I thank the Secretary of State for giving an oral statement, not a written statement, on this important matter.

Will the Secretary of State put herself into the mind of one of these people who got a comfort letter and who has been very comforted for the past few years? If they know that they did something appalling that is still being investigated, would she advise them to leave the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom?

Mrs Villiers: My advice to people who have received letters is to read my statement with care and no longer to take comfort from the letters they have received. I emphasise, however, that today’s statement does not mean that those who received “not wanted” letters are now suddenly wanted. It might be that after review of their cases the conclusion turns out to be the same; that many of them are “not wanted”, and that there is no evidence to justify prosecution. It would be a mistake to assume that all the individuals processed by the scheme were terrorists—that has not been established—but it has been established that mistakes were made in some cases, which is one reason that the letters should no longer be relied on.

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Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): I commend the Secretary of State for the clarity of her statement. However, a line will finally be drawn under this grubby episode only when somebody who has received a letter is successfully prosecuted for a terrorist-related offence. Like me, would she be disappointed if there were not such a successful prosecution?

Mrs Villiers: These decisions are rightly matters for independent police and prosecuting authorities, and no option is available to me that will give us 100% protection against a successful abuse-of-process defence in the future. This is, however, the most effective and expeditious way I can seek to remove potential barriers and reduce the likelihood of another prosecution collapsing.

David Simpson (Upper Bann) (DUP): I welcome the Secretary of State’s statement, although the scheme should never have been implemented in the first place. Victims might take some comfort, however, from the fact that not only existing but historical evidence can be taken into consideration. However, does she agree that even though the Hallett report said things were not done in secret, the evidence from all the senior police officers is that they were not informed about the letters until the Downey case?

Mrs Villiers: Clearly, much of the distress caused to victims was the result of the scheme not being transparent. People did not know it was happening and that has caused great distress and contributed to anxiety and misunderstanding about the scheme. It was clear that the PSNI knew that indications were being given to OTRs about their status and it was pretty clear that the Royal Ulster Constabulary knew from the start that indications were being given—though not necessarily how—but there was not enough clarity about how it was being done. A key problem identified by Lady Justice Hallett was that the PSNI did not see the text of the Northern Ireland Office letter until December 2011. The lack of transparency created problems not only for the general public, who did not know what was going on, but internally by making errors in the scheme more likely. With hindsight, that aspect of the scheme should have been handled differently and it is regrettable that it was not dealt with more transparently.

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): The Secretary of State tells us that the letters are not rescinded, but that they are not to be relied upon. Should it arise that someone finds themselves in a court and seeks to rely on the letter and on the case law, how confident is she that a court would not decide as it did in the Downey case? Does she expect that, in that situation, evidence would again be given by former Secretaries of State and a former adviser to the Government which presents things in a different light from that presented to the House today?

Mrs Villiers: As I have said, while doing everything possible to reduce the risk that an abuse-of-process defence might succeed in future cases, today’s statement cannot eliminate that risk. If a case were brought against an OTR with a letter, it is certainly possible that they could seek to rely on that letter. What I am saying very clearly is that it is no longer safe to rely on those letters. What is more difficult to deal with is reliance that has already taken place. That is certainly something that the

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courts can and will take into account, but I am confident that this statement does everything possible to try to ensure that an abuse-of-process defence does not succeed in the future. The Government are being completely clear that it is no longer safe to rely on the letters, and such reliance is obviously a key plank of an abuse-of-process defence, as it was a key plank of the Downey judgment.

Lady Hermon (North Down) (Ind): I thank the Secretary of State most sincerely for her statement and for the strength of purpose with which she delivered it. I am curious—I am sure other right hon. and hon. Members are, too—whether the Secretary of State has received information from the police, or indeed the intelligence services, that would indicate that recipients of comfort letters have already absconded again to the Republic of Ireland. If so, will that information be shared with the newly established oversight board, including with the advisers who will be in attendance in a supervisory capacity?

Mrs Villiers: I am afraid that I do not feel it would be appropriate to comment on individual cases or to share that kind of information. I would emphasise, however, that the oversight board to which the hon. Lady has referred is looking at all matters relating to the OTR scheme. While entirely respecting the independence of the police and prosecuting authorities, we are determined to ensure that we do not make the same mistakes again and that all those who have a role or an interest in these matters are looking carefully at how we take forward the Hallett recommendations. There will be a frank and full sharing of information within that policy board between the police and the Northern Ireland Office.

Naomi Long (Belfast East) (Alliance): I thank the Secretary of State for her clear statement today, in which she reiterated that the scheme was never a devolved scheme. She has said in previous statements, too, that this matter was never devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly or to the Department of Justice. Will she therefore explain the justification for transferring the financial burden of the review of the scheme and each of the cases to the devolved budgets, particularly given that the PSNI is already facing considerable pressures on its finances? This was never a devolved scheme; it was never within any budget; no budget line has been set aside for it—yet the costs are simply being passed on to the PSNI. Does the Secretary of State not agree that she should have discussions with the Department of Justice to resolve this matter in a much more fair and equitable manner?

Mrs Villiers: I can assure the hon. Lady that I have had many discussions about their resources with the Department of Justice and the PSNI, and indeed with the Department of Finance and Personnel. It is a difficult situation; the hon. Lady raises a very good point about the allocation of responsibility for funding the ongoing work. The reality is that these are now matters for the criminal justice system, so it is within the remit of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the PSNI. The lines between national security work and the rest of the criminal justice system are always blurred, which is why the Government have provided substantial additional funding to the PSNI to reflect the particular

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circumstances it faces. We have confirmed that for the current spending review and for 2015-16. This, of course, is an important part of ensuring that the PSNI can do its job both in current policing and on legacy matters.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): I thank the Secretary of State for the much improved statement and for the Hallett report, which was very clear about the letters of comfort. As the statement says, “the letter recipients should cease to place any reliance on those letters.” Will the Secretary of State confirm that those in other jurisdictions, such as the Republic of Ireland, should be made aware that if they cross the border into Northern Ireland or appear on a flight at Heathrow or elsewhere in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, they will be detained? Will she indicate the exchange of information between the PSNI and the Garda Siochana in order to catch those responsible wherever they may be?

Mrs Villiers: I assure the hon. Gentleman that individuals coming from whatever part of the world will be treated on the basis of the evidence and the assessment if it is available today. If that evidence justifies arrest, that is what will happen. The relationship between the PSNI and the Garda Siochana is perhaps stronger than it has ever been; levels of co-operation deepen year by year. They work extremely well together on pursing offenders either side of the border. I am sure that that will continue in respect of all individuals, regardless of whether they possess a letter under the scheme.

Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) (Lab): This is an important and much needed statement, not least for its clarification that those who have come to rely on the letters of comfort should, in the Secretary of State’s words, “cease to derive” any such comfort, and that they will be in the same position as any other member of the public. In the light of the breakdown of the all-party talks on mechanisms to address the issues of the past, what additional support will the Secretary of State put in place to get that going again?

Mrs Villiers: I agree that it is absolutely vital that the parties get round the table again on flags, parading and the past. There is so much to be gained in Northern Ireland from finding an agreed way forward. These issues are hugely difficult, and every day they have the potential to cause real gridlock and disruption to Assembly decision making. We all want the devolved institutions to succeed. They have a big programme of government to deliver. They have achieved a lot, but unless they can find a way to unblock the two issues of flags, parading and the past on the one hand, and welfare reform on the other, their ability to deliver for their electorates will be significantly impaired. I will continue to press all the parties to come together to find a deal and a way forward, as they have successfully done so often in the past.

Mr Andrew Robathan (South Leicestershire) (Con): I apologise to you, Mr Speaker, to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and to the House for not being present at the very beginning of the statement.

Given that the situation regarding the letters has been clarified and that there is no longer a process to be abused, would my right hon. Friend the Secretary of

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State consider talking to the relevant authorities in the PSNI, the Metropolitan police and perhaps the Garda about whether the case against Mr Downey could be re-opened? As she said in her statement, if the evidence is sufficient to warrant prosecution, people will be prosecuted, and it appears that the Metropolitan police had evidence to pursue an allegation against Mr Downey.

Mrs Villiers: Once a stay of prosecution is granted, it is more or less impossible for it ever to be lifted. That means that I think it is inconceivable that Mr Downey could ever stand trial on a future occasion in relation to the Hyde park bombing. It would, of course, be possible for the police to look at other cases and other evidence in relation to Mr Downey; there would be nothing to stop them doing so.

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Points of Order

2.9 pm

Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. An announcement was made earlier today that the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, wearing their hats as party leaders, are to go to Scotland tomorrow to spell out more details about further devolution of power to Scotland in the event of a no vote next week. The Deputy Prime Minister was giving evidence to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee earlier today and I asked him why the UK House of Commons was not going to be told first about the details of further devolution so that Members could ask questions. There could, for example, be a Government statement on the issue at 7 o’clock this evening. The Deputy Prime Minister told me that the Government could not make such a statement, because of the rules of purdah.

My point of order, Mr Speaker, is to ask whether it is correct, under the procedures of this House, that the rules of purdah prevent Ministers from making a statement to our House about proposals for further devolution for Scotland. If purdah is not a bar, and if the Government are genuinely keen to share this information with the House, would it possible for them to make a statement at 7 o’clock this evening?

Mr Speaker: I am extremely grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. My understanding is that the convention of purdah during election and referendum campaigns is not a convention of a parliamentary character. There is nothing to prevent, or render illegitimate, the communication by a Minister of a view or intention to this House, and I therefore understand, having taken advice, that what the hon. Gentleman said about the possibility of a Government statement, either tonight or tomorrow, is correct. I am sure that there will be a warm glow on the countenance of the hon. Gentleman when he hears it said that he is correct.

Mr Peter Hain (Neath) (Lab): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. As both a former Leader of the House and a former Welsh Minister who led the referendum campaign in Wales in 1997, I can express some sympathy with the hon. Gentleman’s view. It seems to me paradoxical, to say the least, that Ministers, including the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, can make statements about the future of the United Kingdom outside the House, but cannot make such statements inside the House. As I understand it, the purdah applies to Government resources, and would prevent, for example, the sudden issue of a Government White Paper or a leaflet during the purdah period, but does not prevent the Prime Minister at Prime Minister’s questions tomorrow, or the Deputy Prime Minister at any time, from making a statement to the House. I therefore strongly endorse your interpretation of the point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr Speaker: I am extremely grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said, not least because, as he reminded the House, he has done so on the back of considerable experience of leading the House and, previously, of leadership responsibilities in Wales. My

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understanding is his understanding, and it is also the understanding of the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope). In any case, in so far as purdah is an applicable concept in this regard, it applies to what is said outside the House as well as what is said inside the House. There does seem to be a slightly paradoxical notion that it is okay to say something outside the House, but not okay to say it inside the House. The issue, it seems to me, is whether the basic convention is being adhered to or not: whether what is being said is a proper thing to be said. If it is a proper thing to be said, it is perfectly proper for it to be said in this House.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP): Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. What we have learnt from the media is that significant new powers for Scotland will be offered during a purdah period. I listened very carefully to your rulings in response to both the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr Chope) and the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain), but it seems to me that purdah will be broken, and that there is no excuse for the fact that the statement is being made outside the House, because it is still being made.

Can you tell us, Mr Speaker, whether this does indeed break purdah? Can you also tell us when you were first advised that the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition would not be present for Prime Minister’s questions tomorrow, what arrangements have been put in place, and why they are fleeing—at such notice, and in such blind panic—to Scotland tomorrow?

Mr Speaker: I think that there are just two points for me to make in response to the hon. Gentleman’s point of order. First, although I have happily responded to points of order on the matter, it is important for me to emphasise—consistent with what I have said about purdah not being a convention of a parliamentary character—that purdah is not a matter for the Chair.

The second point relates to a factual inquiry from the hon. Gentleman about when I heard that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition would not be here for Prime Minister’s questions tomorrow. I did receive an indication of that within, I think, the last hour—

Pete Wishart: The last hour?

Mr Speaker: I can only say to the hon. Gentleman, notwithstanding the expression of shock upon his countenance, that absolutely nothing disorderly has taken place here. The hon. Gentleman is an experienced—I will not say “old hand”, but he is an experienced hand. He knows that, periodically, Prime Minister’s questions take place with the principals absent, and that in those

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circumstances it is quite common for the right hon. Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) to represent the Government, and very common for the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) to represent the Opposition. The hon. Gentleman may disapprove of that state of affairs, but nothing disorderly has happened.

Mr Angus Brendan MacNeil (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP): Further to the point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr Speaker: I do not think that the day would be complete without a point of order from the hon. Gentleman.

Mr MacNeil: I am very grateful, Mr Speaker; thank you very much. I wondered whether any of the procedures of the House can prevent Members—in this case, party leaders—from breaking the rules of purdah outside the House.

Mr Speaker: No. Nothing.

Well, I think that the House is satisfied for the time being—or, at any rate, that the appetite for points of order has been satisfied.

Bills Presented

Recall of Elected Representatives

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Zac Goldsmith, supported by Mr David Davis, Anne Marie Morris, Mr Andrew Mitchell, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nick de Bois, Mr Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Caroline Lucas, Roger Williams, Jonathan Edwards and Mark Durkan, presented a Bill to make provision about the recall of Members of the House of Commons; to allow for the extension of such provision to other offices; to provide that the recall of elected representatives in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland be a devolved matter; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 6 March 2015, and to be printed.(Bill 88).

Affordable Housing Contributions (Ten Unit Threshold)

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Tim Farron, supported by Annette Brooke, Sir Nick Harvey, Jeremy Lefroy and John Woodcock, presented a Bill to give local planning authorities the power to determine the requirements for affordable housing contributions from sites of fewer than 10 units as part of planning obligation agreements under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 6 March 2015, and to be printed.(Bill 90).

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Service Charges, Gratuities and Cover Charges (Hospitality, Leisure and Service Sectors) (Statutory Code)

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

2.16 pm

Andrew Percy (Brigg and Goole) (Con): I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish a code relating to service charges, gratuities and cover charges in the hospitality, leisure and service sectors; and for connected purposes.

The current position relating to tips, gratuities, service charges and cover charges is not clear or transparent for consumers, and is also unfair to employees, who often do not receive all the money that customers try to give them following their service. The Bill results from a number of examples that I have encountered in my constituency, where people working in the service sector have raised concerns about whether or not their employers are passing on tips and service charges, but also from what has been said in some of the national media, and, of course, from my own conversations in restaurants and hotels with those who work in them.

Consumers often do not know whether charges on a bill are mandatory or discretionary. They often have no idea of how much, if anything, the employee will actually receive. There is no requirement in law for service charges or tips to be distributed to employees, and there is far too much confusion over the whole matter. Customers often feel that there is more of a chance that the employee will receive the tip if it is made in cash rather than with a credit card, but that varies from business to business. That, too, proves that there is a lack of transparency in the matter.

Following pressure from the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty)—who, sadly, is not here today; I assume that he is in Scotland trying to save our beloved Union—the last Government did implement changes by introducing a voluntary best-practice code in 2009, and also outlawing the previous arrangement whereby tips could be used to top up the minimum wage, which, of course, was different in this particular sector.

The new code of best practice acknowledged four key principles, and asked businesses to agree to them when they signed up to it. Those principles were that businesses should display, prior to point of purchase, their policy relating to mandatory and discretionary service charges and tips; that businesses should have a process to deal with requests for information on how service charges, tips, gratuities and cover charges were dealt with and shared out; that businesses should ensure that workers were able to explain the policy, and were confident about doing so; and that workers should be fully informed about how service charges, tips, gratuities and so forth were distributed, and how deductions were made.

The code was supposed to promote transparency, which is beneficial not only to employees but to employers and consumers. A research poll by Gallup found that engaged employees generate 43% more revenue and are 87% less likely to leave the business than disengaged employees. The code was supposed to be reviewed after

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a year. It has not been. There is strong evidence of widespread abuse of the code and of many companies choosing to ignore it.

The Bill aims to do three things. First, it aims to set out clear measures on the distribution of tips and service charges, which are important in constituencies such as mine where the tourist trade is important. That is also true in the constituencies of my hon. Friends the Members for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers) and for Aberconwy (Guto Bebb), who are here today, where there are many hospitality workers on the minimum wage. The Bill would secure a proper process for the distribution of tips. I propose a model similar to the tronc model that exists for national insurance liabilities. Employees themselves will determine how tips and service charges are distributed in the business: if kitchen and bar staff are to get a share, that will be decided by the employees. That is not happening at the moment. Where troncs do exist, the policy is often determined by one person appointed by the management or business owner. We want a proper process in law that will allow employees to decide how tips will be distributed.

Similarly, many businesses argue that there is an administration fee involved in collecting tips, particularly via credit cards. The Bill aims to set a maximum at which that percentage could be charged. Personally, I believe that there should be no percentage taken by the employer, but there is a view among some that they incur a cost in collection. Therefore, I would seek consultation on that matter. However, the Bill would provide a power to set the maximum percentage that can be taken by the employer.

There are plenty of good examples out there—Pizza Hut, TGI Friday’s, Harvester, All Bar One and Toby Carvery distribute 100% of tips to employees. Other national chains have not done that, including PizzaExpress, which sacked a waiter who revealed that it took an 8% admin fee, and Bella Italia, which took 10%. There are examples of businesses taking even more. In the more extreme cases, businesses are collecting tips but not distributing them to workers at all.

The final element of the Bill would require the business to display its policy on tips and service charges so that the consumer is aware of exactly where the tip or service charge they pay will go and how it will be distributed. My local radio station, BBC Radio Humberside—I will give them a shout-out, thereby guaranteeing I will get on air again—did a vox pop on the issue this morning with the, I am sure you will agree Mr Speaker, sound people of Brigg. When asked their view on the issue, 100% agreed that tips should be distributed to the people they expected them to be distributed to—the workers in a business.

Conservatives are often challenged on whether proposing new regulation is something we should be doing. It is not an un-Conservative principle to pass legislation that protects the consumer and employees and benefits employers. Under the Bill, a consumer who pays a tip or service charge will know where it is going, which is a key principle. When asked, most consumers have no idea how tips are distributed. The Bill will protect employees, many of whom are on the minimum wage. They can work at one restaurant one week and receive 100% of the tips and then go to another and receive none of the tips because there is no requirement for them to be distributed. For many people, particularly in constituencies

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such as mine, where wages are generally low and there are minimum wage jobs, the measure will provide a way to top up their incomes. It is not right for employers to be able to cream off a percentage of that.

The Bill will be good for employers in a number of ways. Someone asked me the other day whether employers rely on that percentage to help their business. I am sorry, but employers’ profit margins should be built into the cost of the product, service or food that people are buying. A business should not exist because it is able to cream off service charges or tips. If there is a cost in that regard, there is an argument to be made in a consultation on the maximum amount that businesses should take.

The Bill will also benefit employers in a different way because it will hopefully result in staff being more engaged. The Institute of Customer Service provided me with some interesting statistics from its research on the issue. It found, as I said earlier, that engaged employees deliver 43% more revenue, 87% are less likely to leave and 67% would advocate for their company. When employees considered themselves to be disengaged from their employer, only 3% said that they would advocate for them. The Bill will therefore be good for businesses, consumers and protect employees’ rights.

I have been able to secure cross-party support for the Bill. I am pleased to see the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Nic Dakin) in the Chamber, a near neighbour who supports the Bill. I hope that the House will give me leave to bring in the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.


That Andrew Percy, Henry Smith, Diana Johnson, Andrew Stephenson, Nic Dakin, Mr Graham Stuart, Martin Vickers and Guto Bebb present the Bill.

Andrew Percy accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 17 October and to be printed (Bill 89).

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Business of the House

2.27 pm

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Tom Brake): I beg to move,

That at today’s sitting:

(1) the Speaker shall put the Questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on the Motions in the name of Secretary Patrick McLouglin relating to the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill not later than two hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Motion for this Order; such Questions shall include the Questions on any Amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved; the Questions may be put after the moment of interruption; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply; and

(2) notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 20 (Time for taking private business), the Private Business set down by the Chairman of Ways and Means may be entered upon at any hour, and may then be proceeded with, though opposed, for three hours, after which the Speaker shall interrupt the business; the business may be entered upon after the moment of interruption; and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply.

Last Thursday, during the business statement, the Leader of the House announced that the House would today consider motions relating to the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill, a motion to approve the draft Legislative Reform (Clinical Commissioning Groups) Order 2014, and then opposed private business. The business motion before the House helps to control these proceedings today.

The effect of passing the motion would be to allow two hours for the debate on both of the high speed rail Bill motions, which would be debated together. The clinical commissioning groups order motion is not included within the terms of the business motion as that motion will be subject to 90 minutes’ debate under Standing Orders. The business motion then allows up to three hours’ debate on the opposed private business, as well as allowing that business to start at any time.

The motions relating to the high speed rail Bill have been on remaining orders since last Tuesday. The first amends the carry-over motion agreed by the House in April relating to the application of the electronic deposit of documents in this Session. The second is an instruction to the Select Committee considering the Bill to give it powers to consider amendments to accommodate the requirements of certain landowners and occupiers, utility undertakers and changes to the design of the works authorised in the Bill, as specified in the motion. Two hours would seem adequate to discuss these very specific procedural motions relating to the Bill. The business of the House motion also allows the opposed private business to be proceeded with at any hour and to last for three hours.

I hope the House will agree that the business motion facilitates the business of the House in a sensible way and I commend the motion to the House.

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): I thank the Deputy Leader of the House for that explanation of the business today. I am very grateful that he has explained why we have the business of the House in this order, but may I just say to him how grateful I am because today not only do I have an interest in HS2, but of course I have an interest in the opposed private business, which covers the film industry

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in Buckinghamshire. Therefore, I am very grateful for the reordering of the business today which enables me to cover both debates in one sitting?

Mr Speaker: It is truly joyous for the House to see the right hon. Lady in such a happy frame of mind. May it long continue.

Question put and agreed to.

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High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill

[Relevant documents: Ninth Report from the Transport Committee, Session 2013-14, High speed rail: on track?, HC 851, andthe Government response, HC 1085Tenth Report from the Transport Committee, Session 2010-12, High Speed Rail, HC 1185, and theGovernment response, HC 1754.]

Mr Speaker: Motions 3 and 4 on high-speed rail will be debated together.

2.30 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill): I beg to move,

That the Order of 29 April 2014 (High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill (Carryover)) be varied as follows:

After paragraph 10 of the Order insert–

“10A. The Order of the House of 26 June 2013 relating to electronic deposit of documents shall apply in respect of a Bill presented as mentioned in paragraph 2 or 4 as in respect of the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill read for the first time in the current Session.”

Mr Speaker: With this, we will take the following:

That it be a further Instruction to the Select Committee to which the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill is committed–

(1) that the Select Committee have power to consider–

(a) amendments to accommodate the requirements of landowners and occupiers in:

(i) the parishes of the Little Missenden, Great Missenden, Wendover, Stoke Mandeville, Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell, Quainton, Preston Bissett and Turweston in the County of Buckinghamshire,

(ii) the parish of Finmere in the County of Oxfordshire,

(iii) the parish of Chipping Warden and Edgcote in the County of Northamptonshire,

(iv) the parish of Little Packington in the County of Warwickshire,

(v) the parish of Berkswell in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, and

(vi) the City of Birmingham;

(b) amendments to accommodate changes to the design of the works authorised by

the Bill in:

(i) the parishes of Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell, Fleet Marston, Steeple Claydon and Twyford in the County of Buckinghamshire,

(ii) the parish of Mixbury in the County of Oxfordshire,

(iii) the parishes of Culworth and Whitfield in the County of Northamptonshire,

(iv) the parishes of Radbourne, Southam, Stoneleigh and Curdworth in the County of Warwickshire, and

(v) the City of Birmingham;

(c) amendments to accommodate the requirements of utility undertakers in:

(i) the parishes of Denham, Wendover, Ellesborough, Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell, Quainton and Grendon Underwood and the town of Aylesbury in the County of Buckinghamshire,

(ii) the parishes of Offchurch, Burton Green, Little Packington, Coleshill, Curdworth, Wishaw and Moxhull and Middleton in the County of Warwickshire,

(iii) the parishes of Drayton Bassett, Hints with Canwell, Weeford, Swinfen and Packington, Fradley and Streethay, Longdon, Kings Bromley and Lichfield in the County of Staffordshire, and

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(iv) the parish of Bickenhill in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, and amendments for connected purposes;

(2) that any petition against amendments to the Bill which the Select Committee is empowered to make shall be referred to the Select Committee if–

(a) the petition is presented by being deposited in the Private Bill Office not later than the end of the period of four weeks beginning with the day on which the first newspaper notice of the amendments was published, and

(b) the petition is one in which the petitioners pray to be heard by themselves or through counsel or agents.

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.

Mr Goodwill: We are here to debate the merits of two motions: one instructing the HS2 Select Committee to consider 55 minor amendments to the Bill and to hear petitions against them, should there be any; the other to allow the documents relating to this additional provision and any other in the future to be deposited in electronic format.

Before I deal with the merits of the motions, let me put them in context. The House will recall that in April it agreed, by a large majority, to give the hybrid Bill for phase 1 of High Speed 2 a Second Reading. The Bill provides the necessary powers to allow the construction and operation of phase 1 between London and the west midlands.

On Second Reading, the House agreed the principle of the Bill, which is that there should be a high-speed railway that will run between Euston and the west coast main line in Handsacre in Staffordshire, with a spur to Curzon Street in Birmingham. There will be intermediate stations at Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange, located near the NEC and Birmingham international airport.

Following Second Reading, the Bill, as it is a hybrid, was remitted to a specially appointed Select Committee. This Committee, under the chairmanship of my hon. Friend the Member for Poole (Mr Syms), is tasked with considering the petitions lodged against the Bill by those directly and specially affected by it, a task which it has already started with commendable diligence and good judgment, for which I thank it. Indeed, it is continuing its work in Committee Room 5 today.

In parallel with this, and as a key part of the process, HS2 Ltd has been engaging further with those petitioners in order better to understand their concerns and determine whether these can be addressed without the need for them to appear before the Committee. This has proved successful with a number of petitioners, including Birmingham city council and Centro. As a result of some of those discussions and further developments in the design for the railway, we have identified the need to make 55 minor amendments to the Bill as originally deposited.

The motion before the House sets out their broad location but, despite their minor nature, I think it would be useful to explain them in a little more detail. They are mainly changes to access tracks required to construct or maintain the railway and refinements to National Grid’s requirements for electricity wire diversions. For example, where a farmer has suggested that it would be better to route an access track over this field rather than that field, that change is included in this additional

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provision. Additional land is also included around some electricity pylons where National Grid’s requirements have been refined.

These changes, in total, will not increase the overall project budget or target price for phase 1. Indeed, they are expected to cost slightly less than our original proposals. The estimate of expense for this additional provision, which will be published if this motion passes, sets out the total cost of these works at around £965,000. However, due to the prescriptive nature of this process, it does not set out the net position, which is, as I have already said, a slight saving.

The first motion being debated today instructs the Committee to consider these amendments, and to hear petitions against them. It is important to note that the motion does not agree that these changes should be made; it just agrees that the Committee be allowed to consider them.

Subject to the approval of this motion, the additional provision and a supplementary environmental statement describing the likely significant environmental effects of the amendments will be deposited in Parliament, and in local authority offices and libraries in those locations affected by the changes. Following deposit of these documents, a public consultation on the supplementary environmental statement will commence, which will close on 14 November. This consultation is 56 days long, in line with the approach taken for the main environmental statement and in excess of the minimum requirements in Standing Orders. As with the main environmental statement consultation, the responses to the consultation will be analysed by Parliament’s independent assessor and the assessor’s report will be tabled in the House ahead of Third Reading.

There will also be a petitioning period for those directly and specially affected by these changes to submit petitions against them. This petitioning period will begin on Friday 19 September and end on 17 October for all petitioners.

Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab): The people now petitioning have already petitioned and paid their £20. Will they be able to petition without paying a further £20?

Mr Goodwill: Yes, they certainly will. Indeed, this is a “buy one, get one free” offer from this Government and I can reassure those who are affected and wish to petition that there will be that provision for a free opportunity.

Newspaper notices will be published in national and local newspapers over the next two weeks, alerting the public to these changes and the opportunity to feed into the process by petitioning or responding to the consultation, as appropriate.

The second motion before us confirms that the permission given by the House in July last year to deposit environmental and other information in relation to this Bill in electronic format applies to additional provisions as well. Electronic deposit of the Bill and related environmental information was an innovation welcomed by the public, as well as avoiding the need and cost of printing documents, a single set of which weighed 1.5 tonnes. I believe that it is only sensible that the same approach be taken for this additional provision

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and any subsequent ones that might come forward, although I hasten to add this will not be such a weighty document.

As with the Bill deposit, the motion is permissive. It allows those locations where documents are to be deposited to choose whether they would like documents in electronic form only or also in hard copy. Many local authorities affected by these amendments have already indicated their preference for electronic format. A similar motion to this has already been endorsed in the other place.

I hope that the House will agree that these are two very sensible motions to demonstrate the progress that this Government are making in transforming the country’s infrastructure and economic geography. It also demonstrates that we are doing this in the right way, listening to the concerns of those affected and, where possible, making changes to reduce impacts. I commend these motions to the House.

2.38 pm

Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab): Before I move on to the detail of the motions before us, may I welcome the Minister back to his place? I know it has been a particularly busy couple of weeks in the Department for Transport, especially as Ministers from both parties race to catch up with Labour’s rail policies. First, we learned in The Times that the Liberal Democrats now apparently support a public sector operator, even though they have rushed through the privatisation of East Coast Trains in this Parliament. Then we heard the Chancellor say that rail fares would be capped at the retail prices index in January, just three weeks after the Transport Secretary said that the policy would result in

“more debt than our children and grandchildren could ever hope to repay.”

Last year, the Chancellor waited until Christmas to say there would be a freeze. This year, the very next day he took it away. Evening rail fares rose yesterday in the north by up to 162%—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. I have to say to the hon. Lady that one quip or joke is fine, but we are discussing motion No. 3 on the Order Paper and this is not a general debate. I therefore fear she might have to save her humour for another debate, and return to the motion please.

Lilian Greenwood: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am sorry not to be able to continue to amuse the House.

I am sure that while the Chancellor was busy with all his whatnots, Ministers were busy preparing these changes to the High-Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill this weekend so that it could be considered by the Bill Committee following the vote today. In April, the House endorsed the principle of building a new high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham. The case for introducing more capacity is clear. Passenger numbers have doubled over the past 20 years; the railways are carrying the same number of passengers as they did in the 1920s on a network that is now half the size. Anyone who believes in encouraging the use of rail freight, in supporting modal shift and in tackling road congestion should want to see that growth continue. However, most of our

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alignments were built to serve Victorian service patterns, and many of our civil structures date back to the 19th century.

The west coast main line, the vital rail artery connecting the north-west, the west midlands and London, is approaching the limits of its capacity. As many hon. Members will know, there are also growing capacity constraints on the east coast and midland main lines. This is no theoretical challenge. Our lack of capacity means that it is increasingly difficult to run more inter-city, freight and commuter services.

Network Rail is being asked to deliver substantial investment over the next five years, but Railtrack’s legacy on the west coast main line is a powerful warning against relying on incremental upgrades. De-scoped, over-budget and over-time, the west coast modernisation project cost the taxpayer £9 billion pounds and delivered only a fraction of the capacity we need, and, just a few years after completion, that extra capacity has been exhausted. I know from speaking to the local authorities and hon. Members whose constituencies are on the route that they never wish to relive that experience. Of course we support electrification programmes and other route improvements, but after the Norton Bridge area works are completed, the options for upgrading the west coast main line further will be limited.

A new approach is needed. The last Government developed the initial proposals for HS2, but after the election, some of the project’s momentum was sadly lost. Labour rightly drew attention to the project’s rising costs, and we went so far as to change the law to ensure better value for taxpayers’ money, through an amendment that stood in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mary Creagh). Indeed, Baroness Kramer has described the changes, in another place, as putting in place

“a very vigorous reporting process under which the Government must report back annually and record any deviation from budget, and the consequences of that…which has put in place a very intense scrutiny process around the budget.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 19 November 2013; Vol. 749, c. 949.]

Since his appointment, David Higgins has taken great strides to restore confidence in the project, and we welcome the renewed focus on connectivity and integration with the existing transport network, especially for phase 2 of the project. Of course there can be no room for complacency on costs. The phase 1 route of HS2 is currently being subjected to very close scrutiny, and it is inevitable that some changes will be made, both through the petitioning process and through agreements made directly with HS2 Ltd. The Minister estimated that those additional provisions would lead to a net saving, although he did not specify its exact level. Will he give us an estimate of the cost implications of the alterations announced today, and the net saving involved? I would be happy to take an intervention from him on this point.

Mr Goodwill: I can tell the hon. Lady that it is a small net saving; I am sure that the shadow Chancellor will not be able to spend it on all his uncosted pet projects.

Lilian Greenwood: It’s a laugh a minute today. The net saving is of course welcome. Will the Minister also tell us, when he responds to the debate, when we can expect the first report on HS2’s initial expenditure, under the terms of the preparation Act?

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There are two motions before us today: the carry-over motion and the instruction motion to the Select Committee. The hybrid Bill is reckoned to be the longest piece of legislation ever produced, once the environmental statement is included. When the new documents published today are included, it will have broken its own record. It is therefore right that the provisions for the electronic depositing of Bill documents should continue, although there should also continue to be a number of specified sites where residents can consult physical copies.

The instruction motion requires the Committee to consider a number of alterations to the route, which take the form of additional provisions. The additional provisions published by the Department cover a range of recommendations, from the location of balancing ponds and the preservation of public rights of way to the maintenance of golf course car parks. They mainly affect the constituencies of Government Members and I shall do my best to finish my speech in a timely fashion, because I know that a number of hon. Members wish to speak.

It must be noted, however, that these provisions cover the end of phase 1 in Lichfield and Birmingham Curzon Street to Hillingdon, but no further. I am mindful of the many contributions made in the House by London colleagues, especially those of my right hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson), who I note is in his place today. It is vital that, when future additional provisions are brought forward, those areas should be given at least equal consideration to the local authorities affected by the proposals.

Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): As a London MP who is majorly affected by HS2, I echo what my hon. Friend has just said. I wish that the Minister had mentioned London in his speech. I know that it is not the subject of the motions, but will he look again at the subject of the compensation for London being adequate and commensurate with that being given to the rest of the country? I have just had details of a brand-new part of the rail link dumped on me today, as an afterthought, in the form of a letter. If there are to be significant changes, proper notice must be given to Members of Parliament and residents, and a full consultation must be carried out. That is not happening at the moment.

Lilian Greenwood: My hon. Friend speaks on behalf of his constituents, who will be particularly affected by the proposals for Old Oak Common.

In the area around Euston station in particular, considerable uncertainty has been caused by revisions to the designs for HS2’s London terminus. Three times now, alternative plans for Euston have been presented. Local residents deserve better.

Mr Goodwill: I should like to reassure the hon. Lady. I had lunch with the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) the other day and saw some of the issues at first hand. Indeed, I think we got a freebie from the restaurateur; we should find out whether we need to declare it. Similar changes are being progressed in the London area, and they will be brought forward when other changes in London, such as the HS1 link removal, are ready to be brought forward, so that

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impacts such as those on transport can be considered in the round. I remind the House that the changes being debated today were communicated to landowners and to others who might be affected, including Members of Parliament, back in May.

Lilian Greenwood: I thank the Minister for that response, particularly in relation to Euston.

It is to be hoped that we will see confirmation before the election that the additional provisions mechanism can be used to resolve some of the long-standing mitigation issues in Euston. We do not object to the principle of making changes to the Bill in this manner. After all, Parliament has already voted to remove the unsatisfactory link to HS1 that was included in the original wording of the Bill. It is likely that further refinements will be made as the Bill progresses through Parliament. However, it is important that these changes are seen not as a final draft but rather as proposals that must be subjected to full scrutiny and a proper consultation period. When there are objections—as there might be, given the changes to land requirements set out in the additional provisions—those petitioners must be heard on the same basis as those who have already started to appear before the Bill Committee. I look forward to further improvements to the scheme.

HS2 is the right project, and it can be improved further. On 1 October, we will mark the 50th anniversary of the first Shinkansen service. The date is perhaps unlikely to be celebrated in this country, except in specialist publications, but it will be a rather sobering reminder that high-speed trains were running abroad when many parts of the UK were still reliant on steam locomotives. High-speed rail is a proven technology, and it has been proven in this country. I recently saw for myself the benefits that HS1 has helped to bring to Kent, including the greatly improved journey times and the connections that allow fast services to radiate out from the core high-speed line. HS2 must similarly be fully integrated with the existing network, and that issue that will no doubt be revisited in David Higgins’s upcoming report.

HS2 should also be seen as an opportunity for utilising the skills gained through the Crossrail project, for training a new generation of highly skilled construction engineers and railway operators and for supporting the 120,000 jobs in the UK’s supply chain. To that end, we want to see a copy of the Government’s long-promised jobs and skills strategy for HS2.

Mr Simon Burns (Chelmsford) (Con): The hon. Lady is making an extremely interesting speech. She called for HS2 to be part of an integrated system with the existing conventional railway line. Will she elaborate a little on how she sees that being possible?

Lilian Greenwood: I thank the—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. Not on this motion. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would like to have a conversation with the hon. Lady outside the Chamber, but she will talk only about motion No. 3 from the Dispatch Box, please.

Lilian Greenwood: I will take your direction, Madam Deputy Speaker.

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Overall, we want the railways to support regional development, connect isolated communities and help deliver the balanced economic growth that this country needs. We want to build 21st-century infrastructure in the midlands and the north, not just in London and the south-east, and we will continue to support HS2 as the necessary legislation, including these motions, progresses through Parliament.

2.50 pm

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): I welcome the Minister’s opening statement on these motions, but may I issue a word of warning? When I hear a politician say, “Buy one, get one free”, the other phrase that comes to mind is, “Always beware of politicians bearing gifts.” Innocuous though this matter seems, I am not sure that the Minister can get away without answering a few questions. I have no intention of dividing the House as this is a technical matter referring changes to the Select Committee, so for those who are in any doubt may I say that I do not intend to cause too much of a fuss but I do intend to comment?

We find ourselves back in this Chamber once again with the Government asking colleagues to vote on matters relating to HS2. I recall that the previous time the Government asked MPs to vote on this project, we did so in the absence of the Major Projects Authority report, which identifies the risks of the project. That is still unavailable to MPs and to the very Select Committee to which the new changes are being referred. I reiterate that it is not fair to ask the Select Committee to evaluate the changes, or any of the other proposals being made by HS2 Ltd, in the absence of the full MPA set of reports identifying the risks we are taking with this project.

I was surprised that more detail was not available on the changes before we arrived in this place. The Minister was good enough to send me details of the one change that affects my constituency. However, 20 out of the 55 changes affect Buckinghamshire, and issuing the list I had sent to me at 1.30 pm today does not give colleagues, particularly those who are not able to make representations in the same way as I am, an opportunity to study the detailed changes.

Mr Goodwill: My right hon. Friend will recall that the Secretary of State wrote to her on 2 May with details of the change in her constituency, and other right hon. and hon. Members, both Government and Opposition, were contacted in the same way.

Mrs Gillan: I am glad to have the Minister’s reassurance; that is not exactly how I understood it from my colleagues, but I will take his word for it. Having looked at the list, I find that I have one minor change in my constituency, which accommodates a footpath change at the request of my local landowner Mr Lund. I hope it accommodates his request in full, and I repeat that I was grateful to the Minister for providing details to me. However, I am not sure that details of the changes in other parts of Buckinghamshire have been communicated to my colleagues, because when I spoke to people in their offices I was told that the details that were made available in the list that arrived in my office at 1.30 pm had not been made available to Members or their staff, so no comments on the changes could be fed into the debate.

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As the Minister knows, several of the changes require a permanent acquisition of land to provide services or access for HS2.

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton) (Lab): I am grateful to the right hon. Lady for giving way, and she is always generous with her time. This is a poor show, because this debate was in the business statement announced to the House on Thursday afternoon. Will she name her Conservative colleagues who cannot be bothered to turn up to represent their constituents?

Mrs Gillan: The hon. Gentleman mistakes what I mean. Several Members of this House who serve as Ministers or in other positions of responsibility are unable to express, directly on the Floor of the House, the views of their constituents. I am sometimes permitted to make points on their behalf and at their request, which is usually the way we accommodate such matters, as he knows.

Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): At the moment, my hon. Friend the Member for Tamworth (Christopher Pincher), for example, is in Committee discussing the Modern Slavery Bill, where there might be votes. I know that he would otherwise very much wish to be here for the debate.

Mrs Gillan: My hon. Friend makes a very valid point. The hon. Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer) knows that he was a little naughty with his intervention. He was trying to make people look bad, and this is not a time to do that. I can honestly say that all my colleagues, on both sides of the House, are fighting the corner for our constituents and trying to put their point across. The sort of point the hon. Gentleman makes is not particularly welcome.

Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): Will my right hon. Friend emphasise that not just constituents who live on the proposed line of route but almost all constituents, including mine, are concerned about the enormous bill to the British taxpayer, to which they will have to contribute if this Bill goes through?

Mrs Gillan: My hon. Friend makes a good point. The costs of the project are a matter of concern right across the board and to all Members. Hon. Members ought to bear in mind that today the Minister has brought savings to the Dispatch Box[Interruption.] He indicates to me that they are minute savings, but we know that size is not everything—savings are important. I hope that will go some way to showing that Ministers’ eyes are open at least to looking at cost savings ideas. I hope that they will be open to looking at other savings, not just monetary ones.

Mr Goodwill: May I point out that there is not only a small saving but considerable improvement for my right hon. Friend’s constituent Mr Lund? Although I would not go so far as to say he is pleased to see the change, it is certainly an improvement on what was there before. May I remind the House that although we wrote in May to Members with details of the changes in their constituencies, we sent them an additional copy of the letter this morning, in case they had missed the earlier one? We have also tabled documents before the House

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so that any other right hon. or hon. Member who wishes to look at the detailed changes, on moving electricity pylons, rights of way and so on, can see what is before the House today. Nobody can be in any doubt about what we are discussing today.

Mrs Gillan: I am grateful to the Minister for that. It was good of him to send the letter that he said was sent to me on 2 May. In his original letter to me he said it was sent on 1 May and we were looking in the wrong place, although I still have no record in my office of having received the letter on 2 May. That is just a small point of no real importance; this was just poor staff work.

I would like to know when the map books are going to be available—I believe 17 are affected—showing the changes, with the list of affected owners. I understand that they are not yet available, so will the Minister confirm when they will be published? When exactly will the notices and the newspaper advertisements be placed? I am willing to give way to allow him to answer that.

Mr Goodwill: They will be available on Wednesday—tomorrow.

Mrs Gillan: If they are available on Wednesday, that raises the question of why they could not have been available in time for this debate. The Minister is obviously not going to allow us to have the detail until after this debate, and we have to put up with that.

Mr Goodwill: The purpose of today’s motion is to facilitate the depositing of the maps. That is why we are doing so on the first possible opportunity, should we get the consent of the House today, which is tomorrow.

Mrs Gillan: I am grateful for the Minister’s clarification, but it would have been helpful if the map books had been available to Members before the debate.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington) was also concerned that he had not yet been given details of the proposals. Let me make a small point. It is hard for Members of Parliament to allay people’s fears or make the relevant representations if we do not have the details at the earliest opportunity. I am sure that some of the proposed changes will be welcomed—I certainly hope so. Sadly, the only change that my constituents want is the adoption of a longer tunnel under the area of outstanding natural beauty. That would save the violation of our so-called protected environment and the Committee Members to whom these changes are being committed some 550 petition hearings, which have been lined up because of the lack of support for the long tunnel so far.

Like the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson), I am willing to offer the Minister a freebie lunch in Chesham and Amersham if he visits to look at the environment, the countryside and the grief that would be saved if the longer tunnel, which I understand is being considered by the Department, is accepted. I know that it is currently being studied by the engineering teams at HS2, and I hope that the Minister will confirm that any future changes from HS2 Ltd, which he mentioned in his letter of 28 August, will include the tunnel extension.

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Mr Chope: My right hon. Friend makes an important point. Will she confirm that it is a matter of regret that there is no agreement on the costs between HS2 and the promoters of the extended tunnel? Surely it should be possible for rational engineers, albeit from different sides of the argument, to reach a conclusion over the additional costs of a tunnel.

Mrs Gillan: I think that engineers are talking to engineers. With the help of the Department, I have certainly facilitated meetings at which the tunnel has been discussed. The problem is that we do not have access to the costings prepared by HS2 Ltd, so we cannot make any comparisons. The truth of the matter is that we can make savings in time and money by reducing the need for those 550 petitions and we can save an area of outstanding natural beauty. If we can protect other areas of the country by kicking up a fuss, we should protect the one that is nearest to our capital city and the one that is so fragile that it would be irreparably damaged if this scheme were to go ahead as currently envisaged.

The office of the right hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) is also concerned that uncertainty still exists for its constituents. During the last petitioning period, it came to light that some people who were affected by the proposal had heard nothing from HS2 Ltd. They heard about their properties being affected only by word of mouth from neighbours. All of us in this House wish to hear that such behaviour will not be repeated in this or any future case.

Following this debate, there will be a consultation on the environmental statement for the additional provisions running from 19 September to 14 November. However, the petitioning period for those who are affected runs only until 17 October. If 56 days have been allocated to look at the environmental impacts, people whose land is affected should not be disadvantaged and expected to respond with a petition in a shorter time frame. Will the Minister consider extending that petitioning period to the same closing date as the consultation on the environmental provisions?

Let me put this matter in context. This project has been going for nearly five years, and because of errors and omissions by HS2 and the Department there have been so many consultations and so many changes to periods of consultations that the closing dates and timetables continue to confuse people. It would be a good idea if we had just one date for the additional provisions. I hope that the Minister will give that thought some consideration.

What assessment has the Minister made of today’s motions and their compliance with key aspects of European environmental legislation, specifically the habitats directive and the environmental impact assessment directive, and the UK’s obligations under the Aarhus convention? As I understand it, the EIA directive requires the entire environmental effects of a project to be measured and consulted on rather than it being done in individual stages through salami slicing. Perhaps the Minister will address that in his response.

I said that I have no intention of dividing the House on this issue as it deals merely with changes to the process for scrutinising the project, but I must again make the point that this project as proposed is deeply unpopular not just with my constituents but with many

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others who, like me, do not think that the business case, the route and the lack of connectivity to other transport hubs justify the vast expenditure.

Michael Fabricant: May I say how much I agree with the point that my right hon. Friend has made? Is she aware that if HS2 were to follow the route that we supported as the party in opposition, there would be less environmental damage and we would save £4 billion to £8 billion in costs?

Mrs Gillan: My hon. Friend has long supported the other route. Before the election, it was the other route that was on the drawing board. Something happened when the coalition came into power that changed the original understanding that we all had. The Government still have time to look at this in a different way, and I urge them to start this project in the north and connect our great northern cities and then revisit these plans to make better connections to Heathrow and the channel tunnel and of course to provide the extra tunnelling, should it still apply, that would protect the environment in the Chilterns to the highest standards.

I am afraid that, after five years, feelings still run really high in my constituency. This week, the Buckinghamshire Examiner says that HS2 will cost the Chilterns £170 million. Chiltern district council has done a study of what the costs of this project will be to my local economy in my constituency. I hope the Minister will understand the damage that will be done to the Chilterns and that he will consider my words yet again.

3.7 pm

Frank Dobson (Holborn and St Pancras) (Lab): The debate this afternoon strikes me as rather strange, as we are being asked to give the existing Select Committee power to consider amendments that we have not seen, which is fairly unusual in the House of Commons. If we are asked to agree to some amendment, we have usually had the opportunity to read and digest them and possibly to consult other people about them. The environmental statements are apparently ready but will not be issued until tomorrow, leaving us to proceed in ignorance. They will contain all the details. When people are considering the impact on their homes, businesses, schools or leisure provision, it is the detail that counts.

Mr Goodwill: I must make it clear that the House is being asked not to approve the changes, but to allow the Committee to consider the changes and for petitions to be submitted to help them in that work.

Frank Dobson: I understand that, but if we had the detail, the House might decide that some amendments are so blindingly stupid that they should not be referred to the Select Committee in the first place. It remains the case that we are being asked to endorse these propositions without having seen them. Six groups of changes are, it is claimed, in response to the requirements of local people; four of them are in response to requirements of the public utilities; and five are for “minor changes of design” and—these are the magic words—“connected purposes”. What we are being asked to push through is not quite as specific as has been suggested.

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Michael Fabricant: Following the point that the right hon. Gentleman has just made, does a blank cheque come to mind?

Frank Dobson: Pretty much, yes, although I am opposed to the daft £20 billion cheque in the first place, and have been all along.

What bothers me, besides the famous “connected purposes” let out, is that we are also told:

“That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.”

According to HS2, the changes we are considering—or not really considering—this afternoon are minor, and we are placing this procedure within the Standing Orders of the House so that we have a sort of modern precedent for the Clerks to rely on if challenged. What concerns me is that the proposals that will eventually be made for the Euston part of my constituency cannot be considered as minor by anyone on earth.

Mrs Caroline Spelman (Meriden) (Con): On the right hon. Gentleman’s point about minor design changes, the same term is used in a letter written to me by the Department on 2 May. It cites three “minor changes”, which are in fact significant land acquisitions—at a National Grid sub-station; in the diversion of the Kenilworth greenway; and through provision of additional car parking at the national motorcycle museum. There is no indication in that letter of how compensation schemes would affect those lands, which are significantly outside the present qualifying area. Like him, I think that some of these minor changes seem quite significant to the landowners.

Frank Dobson: The right hon. Lady’s point simply emphasises how the detail is important. With Euston, however, it is not a matter of detail. The current proposal that the House voted through has been abandoned. In fact, it was abandoned before the House voted it through. The situation is utterly crazy. The proposition included in the Bill was basically to build a rather elegant lean-to engine shed at the west side of the existing Euston station, so most of the concern and the emphasis and the source of petitions have been from people, homes and businesses to the west of the station. The proposition now is to abandon that and demolish the whole of the existing Euston station, which will clearly take longer and extend the impact. More time will be required because of the increase in scale and the impact on businesses and people living to the east of the station will massively increase.

Mr Slaughter: I share my right hon. Friend’s pain about the shifting sands. The letter to which I referred earlier, which I received today, invites me to a meeting this Sunday at which I will have

“an opportunity to learn more about a possible new rail link that has been proposed and how it might affect you. The new line would connect the planned HS2 and Crossrail interchange station at Old Oak Common with the West Coast Main Line.”

That might be very desirable—in fact, I thought it was happening already—but it suddenly introduces a new railway line that skirts around a few streets on the edge of my constituency. The picture changes every day, the consultation becomes redundant and we move to another phase.

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Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. The hon. Gentleman might consider making his observations in an Adjournment debate. They are not directly relevant to the two motions we are discussing today, as far as I am aware, but he has put them on the record.

Frank Dobson: Although I understand the concerns of people who are directly affected by the propositions that are not quite before us this afternoon, my principal concern is the application of the Standing Orders to what is proposed and likely to be proposed at Euston, which will be the biggest building and engineering project in Britain for many a long year. Its impact will be phenomenal and I believe that it is wholly inappropriate for the Government to try to use such a procedure to push through changes on that scale and with such an impact.

Mrs Gillan: I am increasingly worried about the process. My right hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs Spelman) just said that in her letter she had been informed that four sites were subject to these additional provisions and changes, but the document issued to me at 1.30 today shows only two changes for Meriden. That reinforces the fact that there is a lack of clarity about the detail and there seems to be some confusion about what changes are being referred to the Committee. With a project of this size, we cannot afford such discrepancy.

Frank Dobson: Again, I sympathise with the right hon. Lady, because nowhere has been subjected to the absolutely stupendous incompetence of HS2 more than my constituency. HS2 proposed a link with HS1. Everyone said that that was crackers, HS2 said it was wonderful and then it had to drop it. HS2 proposed the lean-to engine shed proposal. Lots of people said that that was crackers, HS2 said it was the only thing it would be possible to do and that it would be extraordinarily expensive to have a full development of the whole station—and lo and behold, that is what is now being proposed. No apology has been issued to anyone, as far as I know, for this stupendous incompetence and ridiculousness. I understand that when an environmental statement is eventually issued, the consultation period will run concurrently with the petitioning period. That seems to me to be extremely unfair.

Let me explain the difference in scale between what is being formulated now and what is in the Bill. The works at Euston in the Bill were going to cost £2 billion, but HS2 let slip at meetings that it is now thinking in terms of £7 billion. Even a fellow Yorkshireman like the Minister would admit that that is a few bob more. It is people with that grasp of reality who are behind this scheme. In addition, and in a further source of perturbation for my constituents, HS2 now says that the new Euston, when finally completed and in operation, would not be able to cope with the increased number of passengers without the building of Crossrail 2 to help take passengers to and from Euston, at an additional cost of £20 billion. Will that be included in the new environmental statement and will it be subject to petitioning?

Mr Goodwill: May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that none of the provisions we are considering relates to Euston or the part of the line around there, as they refer merely to the parishes?

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Frank Dobson: The point that I am trying to make to the Minister—and to anyone else who cares to listen—is that we are being asked to endorse the approach set out by the Government by incorporating it in Standing Orders of the House. That could be taken as a precedent that such a procedure may apply to the massive changes at Euston, not just to the important but none the less much smaller changes in the parishes and towns to which the instruction motion refers. It is therefore perfectly legitimate for me to express my concerns about the threat to my constituents. That is what I was elected to do, and it is what I propose to continue doing.

3.21 pm

Mr Goodwill: With the leave of the House, I shall touch on several points raised during the debate.

I can tell my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan) that the people along the line of route who are affected by the changes are aware of them. The changes are minor. The process has been described as a tidying-up exercise, although I recall the previous Government describing the treaty of Lisbon as a tidying-up exercise, so I should not go too far down that road. Of the 55 changes overall, there are 21 changes to access tracks, most of which, including the change in her constituency, are a result of discussions with farmers about developing preferable approaches. Some 20 areas of land will be required, mostly temporarily, so that National Grid can undertake works to rewire pylons. Three areas of land will be required temporarily for works to pipelines, while a further three areas are needed due to minor amendments for the laying of roads. There will be eight other changes, including with regard to car parking provision at the national motorcycle museum in the parish of Hampton-in-Arden.

Mrs Gillan: Why did that change not appear to be included in the list about the additional provision that was given to me at 1.30pm?

Mr Goodwill: It might be that just the parishes were listed, not the actual works, but I understand that the documentation laid before House did include that—[Interruption.] Indeed, I have been passed a bit of paper that might well reassure hon. Members. I am told that the changes relating to the motorcycle museum site are no longer being brought forward as a result of negotiations, so I must apologise to the House if the information was incorrect.

Such issues will be the subject of petitions that may be laid before the Select Committee. I believe that the petitioning period is adequate, especially given the limited scope of the changes. I underline that, at all times, we will seek to comply with all our obligations under EU and domestic legislation.

Many of the changes will be welcomed by landowners and people in the relevant areas. They have arisen partly as a result of our continuing negotiations with those affected by the building of HS2, and it is important that we ensure that people’s views are taken into account.

We need to look at the overall picture, and the right hon. Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Frank Dobson) referred to changes that may take place in his constituency. We are aware not only of the permanent changes that will arise due to the line’s construction, especially to the

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station itself, but of how businesses in the area might be affected due to the construction. I spent an enjoyable lunchtime eating a meal with the right hon. Gentleman in one of the area’s Bangladeshi restaurants, and I understood precisely the worries of the owners about the erection of building hoardings in the area, which might make it difficult for the restaurant’s usual clientele to access the site.

Frank Dobson: But the point—I have clearly failed to make it—is that that area is to the west of the station, but there will now be similar problems to the east of the station.

Mr Goodwill: Sir David Higgins is considering how we can best capitalise on the tremendous opportunity that Euston station presents as part of the project. Those of us who remember what the area around King’s Cross station was like a number of years ago will understand how it has been transformed. Indeed, the station itself has become a destination in its own right, and people often spend time in that area. We can capitalise on the opportunity at Euston, but I understand that people will be severely affected during the transformation process, so we need to do what we can to minimise the impact on them.

Frank Dobson: David Higgins is apparently incapable of distinguishing between the land around the stations. The redevelopment at King’s Cross took place on useless, empty, brownfield railway land; the land on both sides of Euston station is not brownfield land to be rescued by some Australian missionary, but a place where people live, go about their business and send their children to school, and somewhere people go to old folks’ luncheon clubs. They want to continue to do that; they do not want the area levelled as part of some grandiose redevelopment scheme that everyone can think is wonderful. I speak as someone who has strongly supported redevelopment at Euston and was the first person to advocate using St Pancras station as the terminus for the channel tunnel link, so I do not need to take any lessons from anyone, but the same situation does not apply at Euston—

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): Order. I remind the right hon. Gentleman that he was making an intervention, not a second speech—although it did sound a bit like one.

Mr Goodwill: I would be the last person in the world to try to argue that I know better than the right hon. Gentleman about the concerns and aspirations of the people in the area around Euston station. Indeed, when he and I met, we were joined by Sarah Hayward, the leader of Camden council—I have to admit that I am a little frightened of her—who set out similar concerns in no uncertain terms. Indeed, I am pleased that we have managed to secure social housing provision to replace some of the housing that will need to be demolished.

Mrs Spelman: On the subject of the motion, I thank the Minister for the clarification about pieces of land in my constituency that now will not be needed for the project, but can he assure me, in the presence of the Chair of the Select Committee hearing the petitions, that the Select Committee members will be absolutely

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clear about the changes, the pieces of land coming in and out of the project, before they make the visits to the sites, as the Select Committee is to do in my constituency next Tuesday?

Mr Goodwill: I know my right hon. Friend is aware that negotiations are ongoing with landowners and others to try to mitigate the impact of the project on individuals. Indeed, we are determined to ameliorate—I was tempted to use the term “head off”—petitions that are being laid, to ensure that they will not necessarily need to appear before the Committee. I think it is a good part of this dynamic process that a petition can be raised to alert us to particular concerns, so that we can try to address those concerns. Many of the provisions before us today are made in response to petitions. I am interested to know what consideration has been made in relation to the national motorcycle museum. Until very recently indeed, we intended to provide alternative car parking, so I shall make a point of finding out what the solution to that problem is.

I know that the two remaining changes in my right hon. Friend’s constituency are, first, in the parish of Berkswell, where there will be a temporary diversion of the Kenilworth greenway, which will be realigned following discussions with stakeholders; and secondly, in the parish of Bickenhill, where there will be a requirement to oversail property to construct overhead lines, which is a minimal impact on the area.

Returning to Euston, I am determined to ensure that we do all we can to make sure that customers can still reach businesses that may be affected by the construction work.

Sir John Randall (Uxbridge and South Ruislip) (Con): Although my constituency is not affected by the provisions before the House, there is a great deal of solidarity between those who have this wretched line going through or under our constituencies. I hope my hon. Friend the Minister realises that although just one right hon. Member might be affected, we do actually share his concerns.

Mr Goodwill: As a regular user of the Tea Room, I am in no doubt as to the strength of feeling up and down the line of route.

Michael Fabricant: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I think my right hon. Friend the Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Sir John Randall) might inadvertently have misled the House by saying that only one person might be concerned. In fact, many people are concerned. He may wish to put the record straight.

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Dawn Primarolo): No, I am sure he does not wish to put the record straight. I do not think that was a point of order, or that it could possibly be the interpretation of what the right hon. Gentleman said—[Interruption.] Indeed, I think it is a case of beard solidarity, as he is pointing out.

Mr Goodwill: I think we have digressed from the subject of the debate. Yes, there are concerned people, not least those who seek to replace my right hon. Friend as the Member of Parliament for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. No doubt a number will express their views during the selection process. I am pleased that we have a tunnel under that constituency.

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I commend the motions to the House. I believe that the provisions will give the Committee the opportunity to listen to any additional petitions, and I am sure the House will be content to approve the motions.

Question put and agreed to.


That the Order of 29 April 2014 (High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill (Carry-over)) be varied as follows:

After paragraph 10 of the Order insert–

“10A. The Order of the House of 26 June 2013 relating to electronic deposit of documents shall apply in respect of a Bill presented as mentioned in paragraph 2 or 4 as in respect of the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill read for the first time in the current Session.”



That it be a further Instruction to the Select Committee to which the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill is committed–

(1) that the Select Committee have power to consider–

(a) amendments to accommodate the requirements of landowners and occupiers in:

(i) the parishes of the Little Missenden, Great Missenden, Wendover, Stoke Mandeville, Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell, Quainton, Preston Bissett and Turweston in the County of Buckinghamshire,

(ii) the parish of Finmere in the County of Oxfordshire,

(iii) the parish of Chipping Warden and Edgcote in the County of Northamptonshire,

(iv) the parish of Little Packington in the County of Warwickshire,

(v) the parish of Berkswell in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, and

(vi) the City of Birmingham;

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(b) amendments to accommodate changes to the design of the works authorised by the Bill in:

(i) the parishes of Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell, Fleet Marston, Steeple Claydon and Twyford in the County of Buckinghamshire,

(ii) the parish of Mixbury in the County of Oxfordshire,

(iii) the parishes of Culworth and Whitfield in the County of Northamptonshire,

(iv) the parishes of Radbourne, Southam, Stoneleigh and Curdworth in the County of Warwickshire, and

(v) the City of Birmingham;

(c) amendments to accommodate the requirements of utility undertakers in:

(i) the parishes of Denham, Wendover, Ellesborough, Stone with Bishopstone and Hartwell, Quainton and Grendon Underwood and the town of Aylesbury in the County of Buckinghamshire,

(ii) the parishes of Offchurch, Burton Green, Little Packington, Coleshill, Curdworth, Wishaw and Moxhull and Middleton in the County of Warwickshire,

(iii) the parishes of Drayton Bassett, Hints with Canwell, Weeford, Swinfen and Packington, Fradley and Streethay, Longdon, Kings Bromley and Lichfield in the County of Staffordshire, and

(iv) the parish of Bickenhill in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, and amendments for connected purposes;

(2) that any petition against amendments to the Bill which the Select Committee is empowered to make shall be referred to the Select Committee if–

(a) the petition is presented by being deposited in the Private Bill Office not later than the end of the period of four weeks beginning with the day on which the first newspaper notice of the amendments was published, and

(b) the petition is one in which the petitioners pray to be heard by themselves or through counsel or agents.

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.— (Mr Goodwill.)

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Regulatory Reform

3.33 pm

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb): I beg to move,

That the draft Legislative Reform (Clinical Commissioning Groups) order 2014, which was laid before this House on 13 March 2014, in the last Session of Parliament, be approved.

The draft legislative reform order seeks to amend the National Health Service Act 2006 in two ways. First, it will allow clinical commissioning groups to form a joint committee when exercising their commissioning functions jointly. The 2006 Act already allows two or more CCGs to exercise their commissioning functions jointly, but makes no provision for them to do so via a joint committee. Secondly, it will allow CCGs to exercise their commissioning functions jointly with NHS England and to form a joint committee when doing so. The Act already allows NHS England and CCGs jointly to exercise an NHS England function and to do so by way of a joint committee, but it makes no provision for them jointly to exercise a CCG function.

This draft order has already been scrutinised by the Regulatory Reform Committee, and I was pleased with its recommendation that it be approved under the affirmative resolution procedure.

I should say from the outset that the proposed arrangements are voluntary. One party cannot impose the arrangements on another. This allows CCGs to retain their autonomy and to continue to make decisions that are in the best interests of their local populations. They can decide whether to enter a joint committee arrangement with other CCGs. At the moment, the lack of provision for CCGs to form joint committees is placing a burden on CCGs and preventing them from working in the most effective and efficient way. Without the power to form joint committees, CCGs have had to find other means of reaching joint decisions that are binding. That means that they often end up seeking legal advice to ensure that they are on a firm footing, and that adds to cost and complexity without a proper process in place.

As an interim measure, therefore, some CCGs are forming committees in common whereby a number of CCGs may each appoint a representative to such a committee. Those representatives then meet, and any decisions reached are taken back to their respective CCGs for ratification. This leads to additional costs in terms of people’s time in sitting on multiple committees, administrative resources, and extra financial cost. Clearly, such arrangements are burdensome, particularly when compared with the simplicity of a joint committee. Primary care trusts, the predecessors of CCGs, were able to form joint committees at which all participating PCTs were bound by the decisions reached, subject to the terms of reference of that committee.

Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton) (Lab): The Minister’s advice that all the members of a committee acting in common have to report back is at odds with the letter from the Department of Health to a committee dated 8 April 2014, where part of its case is that decisions have to be taken unanimously. That is quite different from having to report back, and it undermines his case about the administrative burden.

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Norman Lamb: Currently, because there is no provision for a joint committee, the participating CCGs have to enter into some sort of arrangement that allows them, under their constitutional arrangements, to approve whatever plan of action is discussed and agreed at the committee in common. There could be a process for each CCG to delegate responsibility to the person attending the committee in common to take the decision at the committee on a unanimous basis, as the hon. Gentleman suggests. Alternatively, there could be an arrangement whereby they have to go back to their own CCG and then have a further committee meeting to endorse the proposal that has been discussed at the committee in common. However it is done, it adds complexity and additional cost to the process. It does not stop anything happening; it just makes it more complicated than it has to be.

As I said, such arrangements can be burdensome. Primary care trusts, the predecessors of CCGs, were able to form joint committees at which participating PCTs were bound by the decisions reached. We therefore want to allow CCGs—I stress that we are allowing them, not imposing anything on them, and it is entirely up to them to decide whether they want to participate—a route through which they can take decisions in a properly constituted forum when they are collaborating with other CCGs.

Similarly, the lack of any power for CCGs to exercise their functions jointly with NHS England is causing inflexibility. NHS England and CCGs may wish to act jointly to commission better out-of-hospital services, for example. Making sure that services are integrated around the needs of the patient is the best way of ensuring that care is provided in a safe and compassionate way that most benefits the person involved.

Sometimes there are issues that straddle the commissioning responsibilities of NHS England—the specialised end of the commissioning spectrum—and the responsibilities of the local CCG, and it seems to me that it is worth trying to secure joint working on both sides of that divide in the most effective way possible. The amendment would allow CCGs and NHS England, as co-commissioners, to develop and agree strategic plans and delivery processes that take into account the effects of services across the whole pathway—from specialist to local commissioning—supporting design and continuity of services across primary, secondary and community care.

For example, CCGs and NHS England may wish to review service delivery across specialised services commissioned by NHS England and any impact a redesign may have on non-specialised acute services commissioned by CCGs, in order for services to be designed and delivered to achieve the best possible outcome for the population served. The inability of NHS England and CCGs to jointly exercise a CCG function, and to form a joint committee when doing so, makes it more difficult to make timely decisions, which can delay the ability to improve patient safety. The proposed amendments will encourage the formation of new commissioning partnerships, allowing the most effective approach to be used.

When CCGs agree to form a joint committee, they will have the freedom to agree terms of reference, including voting arrangements. They could, therefore, agree between them to allow decisions to be reached by a majority.

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Equally, however, if a CCG wants to be absolutely sure that there would be no adverse effect on the area it serves, it could, as part of the agreement to enter the joint committee, require unanimity before anything is approved. This will not dilute the emphasis on local decision making.

It is important that patients, members of the public and other stakeholders are able to see how joint committees operate and, in particular, how decisions are made. CCGs must specify in their constitutions the arrangements made for the discharge of their functions and for ensuring that there is transparency about the group’s decisions and the manner in which they are made. That applies whether CCGs are discharging their functions individually or as part of a joint committee with other CCGs.

CCGs already have a duty to involve patients and the public in plans and decisions about commissioning arrangements. This involvement can be by way of consultation, by the provision of information or in other ways. We would still expect CCGs to make suitable arrangements to make sure that that duty is complied with when exercising their functions in a joint committee. In other words, the duty is exactly the same: arrangements for public involvement apply equally to decisions made by CCGs in a joint committee as they do to those made by CCGs individually. There is no reason why decisions taken in joint committees should be any less transparent than any decisions taken individually. The creation of joint committees would enable CCGs to take binding decisions without the need for separate ratification of complicated delegation structures.

CCGs are still accountable as individual organisations—they do not lose that by entering a joint committee. Joint arrangements mean that each CCG is still liable for the exercise of its commissioning functions, even where they are being exercised jointly with another CCG or with NHS England. To be clear: joint working does not abrogate a CCG of their responsibilities as a statutory, independent and accountable organisation. The proposed arrangements will not lead to reconfiguration by the back door; they will not affect the existing processes, the tests that any significant service redesign needs to follow or the role of the overview and scrutiny committee locally.

The proposed amendments build on existing powers by giving CCGs greater flexibility and control in the way they work. They return, in a sense, to the arrangements that were in place with primary care trusts. The changes will support more effective and efficient joint working and allow discussions about service redesign to take place across the local health economy. As CCGs become more established organisations, they need to have more flexibility to work together and with NHS England. In any commissioning structure, there will always be some decisions that need to be taken locally and some that span a wider population.

3.44 pm

Liz Kendall (Leicester West) (Lab): The draft order makes important changes, so I welcome the fact that we can debate it properly on the Floor of the House. Hon. Members will forgive me if I say that the reason we are here today is to try to clear up yet another problem

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created by the Government’s NHS reorganisation and by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, which will go down in the annals of parliamentary history as one of the worst pieces of legislation this House has ever seen.

Richard Fuller (Bedford) (Con): Will the hon. Lady give way?

Liz Kendall: No. I will make some progress. The hon. Gentleman may want to listen to what the Secretary of State for Health admitted in a letter to the chair of Healthwatch England on 11 August:

“The Health and Social Care Act, when it established CCGs, did not make provision for CCGs to form joint committees and other CCGs. PCTs previously had this provision in legislation and many formed joint committees to progress partnership work.

Health organisations, including CCGs, have expressed concerns about CCGs’ inability to form joint committees that are able to make binding decisions. This inability has brought many practical challenges in working together on issues that cut across boundaries, such as continuing healthcare, patient specific funding requests and service change”

across the country. I do not know whether the Minister wants to explain why the Health and Social Care Act removed that provision, as the Health Secretary admitted in the letter to Healthwatch England. Does he want to stand up? If not, I will make some progress.

The Minister was fortunate not to be on the Committee that looked at the Health and Social Care Bill twice, so he will not know that Opposition Members repeatedly warned during its passage that CCGs would often be too small to secure effective changes to services across wider areas. We have consistently made it clear that the only way we can get the big changes we need to be able to improve care for patients, including by specialising some services in regional centres and shifting others out of hospitals into the community and towards prevention, is by working in partnership across larger areas.

In principle, we support the need for collaboration and for CCGs to come together both with one another and with NHS England, particularly in wanting to commission good services across primary, secondary, community and specialist care. However, serious concerns have been raised about the draft order by local healthwatch organisations, Healthwatch England and some of the organisations that responded to the consultation, and my hon. Friends may want to raise real concerns. I will go through the concerns in some detail.

The Minister has talked about the fact that CCGs will remain autonomous, but many of them are concerned that that is not written into the draft order. Many CCGs feel that they are coming under increasing pressure from NHS England and some of its local offices. They are concerned that the draft order might take away their autonomy, forcing them into committees and decisions that they do not think are in the best interests of local people.

Norman Lamb: Will the hon. Lady give way?

Liz Kendall: If the Minister will give me two seconds, before I allow him to intervene I want to read out what NHS Clinical Commissioners—the independent collective voice of CCGs—said in its response to the consultation. It said that it

“would not want the Legislative Reform Order to become a ‘back door mechanism’ for reconfigurations.”

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It asked for

“some assurance the change will continue to respect the decisions of CCGs as statutory bodies”,

and it insisted that

“CCGs must not be pushed into shared arrangements with NHS England if it is not in the interests or needs of their population”.

I have heard the Minister’s words about that, but the draft order has not been changed. Perhaps he would like to say more about it.

Norman Lamb: It is worth putting it on the record again that this does nothing to change the legal duties of a CCG and nothing to put any pressure on a CCG to enter any arrangement, either with other CCGs or with NHS England. If a CCG feels under pressure, it has every right to resist it, if it feels that to do so is in its interests or those of its local community. This is entirely voluntary. With regard to the legal duties, nothing changes.

Liz Kendall: If one of the 22 CCGs in the east midlands, part of which I represent, decided that it did not want to come together to commission one body to perform NHS continuing health care, for example, because it did not like it, could it say no?

Norman Lamb: Absolutely. There is nothing in the proposed amendment that could force any CCG to do anything. I suspect that in such circumstances common sense might prevail, as everyone recognises that on something such as NHS continuing health care, collaboration makes a lot of sense, as the shadow Minister indicated, but there is nothing to force anyone to do that.

Liz Kendall: Will the Minister also clarify that if NHS England wanted to form a joint committee with CCGs in the area, it could not force them into it?

Norman Lamb: This is a good exchange of views. Again, I can confirm that this is about a voluntary arrangement between a CCG or CCGs and NHS England. There is no compulsion at all.

Liz Kendall: I am very grateful to the Minister, who has perhaps been much clearer on that point than the Minister in the other place was.

The Minister has been clear that CCGs will not be forced into joint committees, but the second concern relates to majority voting in the committees. He will know that the Regulatory Reform Committee’s report cites a couple of CCGs that have been concerned that

“Joint committees would be able to take majority decisions on behalf of their constituent CCGs and NHS England, and so individual CCGs might find themselves accountable for implementing policies that their members did not consider to be in the best interests of the local population.”

To put it bluntly, if one or two CCGs on the committee disagree, they can be outvoted. Is that the case, and would it be possible for NHS England to have the casting vote on a committee?

Norman Lamb: It is helpful to respond straight away on these specific points. Again, I stress, as I think I made clear at the beginning, that it is up to the participating CCGs to determine what voting arrangements should

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be in place. If they felt that unanimity was required in order to protect the interests of the community they serve, they could make that a condition of entering the joint committee. It is entirely up to the participating CCGs to agree the rules.

Liz Kendall: I am grateful to the Minister for that helpful clarification.

The third concern has been raised by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and by the Local Government Association. They are concerned that any joint arrangements between CCGs, or between CCGs and NHS England, must be fully aligned with the geographical boundaries and strategies of local health and wellbeing boards. That is not only because we have to get health and social care working together, with council care services and the NHS, but because of accountability issues. Perhaps the Minister will say something about that later.

The last two concerns about the draft order are, for me, the greatest. The fourth is about how the joint committees will be held to account for the decisions they take and how patients, the public, local healthwatch, health and wellbeing boards and Members of this House can know what decisions are taken and hold the joint committees to account, because I understand that they will not be required to meet in public. I raise that concern because it has been raised in two letters from the chair of Healthwatch England to the Secretary of State. In her first letter on 16 July, she wrote:

“I am concerned about the impact this reform could have on the statutory role of local Healthwatch, the integrity of local accountability mechanisms, and meaningful public involvement in decisions about service redesign.”

She goes on:

“Whilst I recognise the important role CCG collaborations can play in the effective commissioning of health and social care and the transformation of traditional service models, I am sure you will agree that it is vital they are accompanied by strong accountability and engagement mechanisms. This is of particular importance given the scale of decisions being made by joint committees, and our anticipation that many more of these joint arrangements will be put in place. Without these safeguards in place, the public are far less likely to understand, or be accepting of, the changes that happen in their community.”

She recommends that the draft order be strengthened, and makes four proposals:

“Ensure CCGs acting in collaborative arrangements have in place adequate mechanisms meaningfully to engage the…community.”

She suggests a

“mandatory non-voting constitutional seat on Committees…for local Healthwatch”

and a

“duty on all lead or co-ordinating commissioners to have due regard to existing local agreed priorities…(including Joint Strategic Needs Assessments and Health and Wellbeing Plans).”

Finally, there should be

“a duty on all lead or co-ordinating commissioners to act within existing local accountability mechanisms”

including local health and wellbeing boards.

When the Secretary of State replied to Anna Bradley, he said he felt that mechanisms for public accountability were in place and that there would be no proposed strengthening of the order. In her reply to him on 20 August, Anna Bradley stated:

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“I do not yet share your confidence that the new joint committee arrangements will address our concerns about transparency and accountability.”

The Government said throughout the Health and Social Care Act 2012 and all their reforms that there should be “No decision about me without me”, but the patient and public voice, local and national Healthwatch, has said it does not believe that that strong patient and public voice will be effective under the proposed order. The Minister needs to respond to that.

Finally—this is a particular concern of mine—one decision that joint committees can take concerns individual patient-specific funding requests for things such as NHS continuing health care. Any hon. Member whose constituent has applied for that kind of funding, or funding for a number of different areas, knows that it can be difficult to get to the bottom of those decisions. I had a particular problem with Greater East Midlands commissioning support unit, which manages continuing health care for the 22 CCGs in the east midlands. I have barely been able to get any information out of it about the bad decisions it has taken, and that is a real worry because I am concerned that the joint committees will repeat that. How will we know how those decisions are taken or hold them to account?

Norman Lamb: Perhaps the hon. Lady will give me details of that concern in her local area. It is important that we hold the different parts of the system to account, and she should be able to establish the position. I am happy to pursue that matter for her if she would like.

Liz Kendall: I am grateful to the Minister. I will forward him my concerns, just as I have done to my local CCGs and the chief executive of NHS England.

To conclude, Healthwatch raised these concerns in relation to a particular issue in Greater Manchester and the Healthier Together project, where 12 CCGS have grouped together to reconfigure services. The local healthwatch is concerned that under the draft order some of the problems it has seen with Healthier Together could be replicated. For example, I understand that governance meetings for Healthier Together started to take place in public only in March 2014. That was after major decisions—such as the model for service reconfiguration—were discussed in a closed session of that committee. The local healthwatch remains concerned about the lack of clarity on planned public involvement in Healthier Together in future, and, like the local healthwatch, Healthwatch England is concerned that the joint committees will not be accountable to patients and the public.

Hon. Members across the House will say that previous primary care trusts were sometimes not open and accountable, and I may have shared some of those concerns. This is a chance to put things right, but I am concerned that the draft order is not strong enough and I know other hon. Members will also raise that point.

3.59 pm

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): I rise to support the order in general, while wishing to raise some serious concerns in Stafford and further afield in Staffordshire. I will not rehearse the circumstances there, other than

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to say that two of our hospitals, Stafford and Cannock Chase, are currently being integrated, the first with the University Hospital of North Staffordshire and the second with Royal Wolverhampton hospital, while at the same time an inquiry is being held into the entire health economy in Staffordshire. It is characterised as a fragile health economy—which it absolutely is—and we await the report, due in the next few days, with keen interest.

Four CCGs in Staffordshire—Stafford and Surrounds, Cannock Chase, Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire —have come together to commission cancer and end-of-life services. Like all Members, I have no problem with the idea of improving outcomes for cancer patients. Together with Macmillan, the CCGs have consulted heavily with local cancer patients, and that extremely valuable work has raised many concerns about the co-ordination of services in Staffordshire that I share—constituents have come to me with the same concerns. That is all well and good and I agree with that work.

We have very strong concerns, however, over the proposal for improving those services. As I understand it, everywhere else Macmillan has worked with CCGs and NHS England, a co-operative and collaborative approach has been adopted to improve the co-ordination of cancer and end-of-life services. CCGs have to commission services from many different providers—37 in Staffordshire, I believe—so it is a complex operation and I understand why they want to simplify it, but in Staffordshire, instead of saying to existing providers, “How can we work better together? Could someone take the lead and work with us to provide better cancer and end-of-life services?”, the services have been put out to tender for 10 years. These services are worth £120 million a year, which is £1.2 billion over 10 years.

I have two major concerns and plan to make a direct request to the Minister at the end of my remarks. First, an extremely large reorganisation and tender process are being imposed on a fragile health economy that is going through an extremely difficult amalgamation of two hospitals into other trusts which we must support and must be done properly to ensure patient safety and quality of care. However, one of the acute trusts, UHNS, which will be taking over Stafford hospital and will effectively—there is no other alternative—be the one providing acute cancer services in the area, has also expressed grave concern.

As a result of that concern, I and other colleagues from Stoke-on-Trent and elsewhere wrote to the CCGs asking them at least to suspend the process until the extreme fragility of the health economy had been made more robust as a result of the dissolution of Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. To date, that has not happened. There have been public meetings. I addressed one, with others, on Saturday in Stafford. I do not want to do down the work done with many patients in my constituency and others who want to see improvements in cancer and end-of-life services. I do not want that work to be lost at all, but I believe there are other ways to ensure that the co-operation and co-ordination are better.