Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) (Lab): In the short time available, I first thank the right hon. Member for North East Hampshire (Mr Arbuthnot) and those involved

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in his group for their hard work. I am dismayed that he and many of the group have lost faith. My sub-postmasters, who are outside that scheme, were pinning their hopes on a successful outcome that could point the way forward for them. They now feel exceptionally let down as well.

Sub-postmasters have been hung out to dry. They are either being accused of mass fraud—of being rogues—or of mass stupidity—of being fools. I am not naive enough to believe that there are not some rogues out there. There might be some fools out there, too. There are enough in this place. Even families have them, but the idea that there is mass criminality, mass fraud, mass stupidity, mass ineptitude or mass deception going on, worthy of some sort of criminal fraternity such as SMERSH or SPECTRE in James Bond or some society of clowns who cannot even add up—before Horizon, they certainly could add up; there were no problems before—stretches the bounds of the imagination.

In response to some of the points that have been raised, all but three of my sub-postmasters in Ogmore are deemed to be rural. I have three cases in a very small constituency. All three are different in their nature, but they all consistently say the same things. They have all had problems with the interface between Horizon and existing schemes. They have all had problems with downtime on Horizon during the period in which it was introduced, which messed up their calculations. The lack of support and training given when that happened was appalling. They all say that the subsequent lack of training and support when incidents arose was appalling. They have all had to dip into their own pockets, as sub-postmasters have to, to make good on this. That seems utterly bizarre. What business practice insists that they have to do that? All my sub-postmasters are outside any scheme. We were hoping that the scheme would give resolution, at least to those who were within the mediation scheme, and point the way forward. I refer the Minister to a debate on 9 July 2013, when she made her statement. I put that exact point to her then. I said that my people are not in the scheme or any future scheme. I had two cases at the time and I now have three. I ask the Minister again: where do they go?

I will concentrate on just one of the three cases. My constituent was asked in 2008 to repay more than £5,000 to Post Office Ltd as a result of discrepancies of the like we have heard about today. He claims that it was the fault of the Horizon computer system, but also the fault of a lack of training, support and follow-up when difficulties arose, which I suspect is exactly what the Second Sight report, when it eventually comes out in March or April, will say is happening. That is a pertinent point: it cannot just be the computer hardware. The lack of support and training, the downtime and the software interruptions are all pertinent, but they do not seem to have been taken into account.

My constituent had spotted the error some time before. His daughter says that he had somehow tried to adjust the matter by repaying more than £29,000 voluntarily to the Post Office. He was then investigated and suspended from his role. The Post Office may seek full repayment, which would amount to more than £70,000, and criminal charges have not been ruled out. His family describes him as a broken man. That is not good enough. What help will the Minister now give to those who have been let down by the mediation scheme? What will she do with the potentially hundreds of people who did not came forward initially and now also want to seek justice?

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3.40 pm

Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab): It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries. I pay tribute to the right hon. Member for North East Hampshire (Mr Arbuthnot) for securing this debate. I cannot believe that this is his first Adjournment debate after 28 years of distinguished service in the House. It is probably better late than never given the content of his speech. I wish him well when he goes on to other things after May.

I am disturbed by what we have heard this afternoon. I have been involved in the matter since the Minister made her statement to the House last year, but we have heard troubling stories about people having their lives turned completely upside down through no fault of their own. I was particularly concerned by the story of my hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr Jones), who will be a fantastic new leading Member for the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance, about his constituent, Tom Brown. He gave 30 years’ service to the Post Office, but he has now lost his home and lives with his son and has been declared bankrupt after losing more than £250,000, which has been described by the Post Office as a lifestyle choice. I hope that Post Office representatives, who will be watching this debate, will reflect on the stories that Members have described today and do something about this.

At the statement last year, I made the point that we welcomed the fact that the Post Office had recognised that there were problems with the Horizon system. At that point, it seemed that the Post Office would do something about it. Since then, however, nothing has been done. Like everyone else, I have in front of me the letter from Sir Anthony Hooper, the chair of the working group, the reverse of which details how the 150 cases have been progressing over the past few months. The information seems incomplete, and it would be useful to hear about the conclusions in the seven cases that have been mediated. Was it found that the Horizon system was incorrect? Was it found that the sub-postmaster lacked training or support? The conclusions and information need to be reflected back, perhaps privately, to the Minister and the working group.

I was struck by the contributions of the hon. Member for North West Leicestershire (Andrew Bridgen) and my hon. Friend the Member for Batley and Spen (Mike Wood), who made the point that the Post Office’s contracts mean that sub-postmasters are completely responsible for any losses incurred. There is no carrot and stick approach in stealing from one’s own business. Instead of robbing Peter to pay Paul, sub-postmasters would be robbing Peter to pay Peter because their contracts mean that they are completely responsible for the losses incurred.

The Second Sight report came up with some preliminary conclusions that are worth reflecting on in the context of today’s debate. It found no evidence of system-wide problems, which causes me a great deal of concern because we continually hear about significant issues, which may point to deeper problems in the system if the professionals cannot find major problems. It found two incidents where defects or bugs in the Horizon software gave rise to losses of some £9,000 in 76 branches. It mentioned individual postmaster experiences when reporting problems and the lack of support and of a user forum. It described a lack of an outreach investigations

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function within the Post Office to investigate problems. It also mentioned problems with the trading period and the process for transactional corrections and that there was no “suspense account” option, which made it difficult for transactional corrections to be dealt with in a neutral manner.

I am concerned by the language used in this interim report. Conclusions have been made, but we continue to hear about the significant problems experienced by sub-postmasters up and down the country. We must also reflect on the fact that the Post Office was encouraging postmasters to break the law on accounting. Asking someone to allocate accounting to a different period in order to make up losses is creative accountancy.

More than 144 Members have supported the campaign. The right hon. Member for North East Hampshire has written to the Post Office to say that he has no confidence that the Post Office board is committed to finding a fair solution to this particular problem. The Post Office board must reflect on that, but the Minister has a role to play here. I agree with the hon. Member for North Durham that she must get a hold of the situation and find a conclusion to it. The more it goes on, the more we will hear of sub-postmasters ending up in prison or declaring guilt for something that they have not done in order to avoid a custodial sentence. That is not how justice works in this country and it is not how justice should be seen to be working.

I want to pose several questions to the Minister, and I will sit down early to allow her time to respond to the significant questions that have been asked during the debate. First, what is her response to the letter to the Post Office from the right hon. Member for North East Hampshire about the cases that were recommended for mediation by Second Sight? Can she confirm that that is happening? If so, what is the solution?

Secondly, what discussions has the Minister had with the Post Office about cases that have been refused mediation and where the sub-postmaster involved has previously pleaded guilty to allegations of impropriety? When people have been given custodial sentences or criminal records, those cases must be looked at seriously.

Thirdly, will the Minister take urgent action to resolve not only the outstanding cases, which we can see in the letter from the chair of the working group, but the cases described by hon. Members that have arisen since the closing date of the mediation scheme?

Fourthly, will the Minister address the JFSA’s loss of confidence in the Post Office system, as highlighted in the letter from the right hon. Member for North East Hampshire?

Fifthly, what discussions has the Minister had with the Post Office and the prosecution services regarding the prosecution of sub-postmasters? Will she make a statement to the House regarding that?

Finally, do the Government have any further concerns regarding not only the Post Office’s handling of the matter, but the Horizon system?

We must reflect on the horrendous worst-case scenarios that we have heard from hon. Members. I plead with the Minister really to get a hold of the matter, to answer Members’ concerns, to do justice for the many hard-working sub-postmasters up and down the country who feel that they can no longer have confidence that things are being dealt with correctly and to ensure that such issues do not occur again.

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3.48 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Jo Swinson): I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Hampshire (Mr Arbuthnot) on securing this debate on the review and mediation scheme relating to the Post Office and Horizon. He set out his concerns clearly and eloquently and cares passionately about the subject. He has worked tirelessly over a long period of time on the matter, as have many other hon. Members present today. I appreciate hon. Members taking forward their constituents’ concerns. Today’s debate obviously follows on from the statement in the House of July 2013 and the important foundations laid and commitments made at that point.

I have listened carefully to the concerns expressed by hon. Members today and I recognise the real and genuinely distressing situations described and their concern for their constituents. I wanted to respond as thoroughly and fully as possible to the debate, so I was keen to get views on how the scheme was going from the working group. I contacted its chair, Sir Anthony Hooper, and received a letter back from him, copies of which I circulated to hon. Members present. I had placed it in the Library of the House yesterday, but, appreciating that not everyone would have noticed that that had happened, I thought it would be helpful to bring copies along today.

Sir Anthony Hooper is, of course, a Court of Appeal judge. He was appointed chair of the working group at the suggestion of the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance. His appointment was welcomed by many hon. Members, including my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Hampshire, who I understand still has confidence in Sir Anthony as chair of the working group.

Sir Anthony Hooper has set out the confidentiality requirements clearly and, as such, was not able to have a discussion. He said that he could give only limited information—that was not Post Office Ltd, as the hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) suggested, but the Court of Appeal judge. Sir Anthony has provided details of the number of cases and the progress made. So far, the scheme has received 150 applications, with 10 cases resolved before the scheme started, four applications rejected outright and a couple of cases resolved after investigation. The rest of the cases are working their way through the scheme and are at different points on the timeline. So far, 24 cases have been recommended for mediation by the working group, of which only two have not gone to mediation because the Post Office has not been happy to mediate—

Mike Wood: Will the Minister give way?

Jo Swinson: I will give way after the next sentence or two. I understand the concerns expressed by hon. Members, but two out of 24 is nothing like the figure of 90% that has been put forward. A basic principle of mediation is that both parties agree to it voluntarily, so that it can be entered into in the proper, constructive spirit.

Andrew Bridgen: Will the Minister give way?

Jo Swinson: I will give way to the hon. Member for Batley and Spen (Mike Wood) first. I will tally up the interventions.

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There would be no point in entering a mediation if one of the parties was adamant that it could not reach any possible positive outcome. Most of the cases recommended for mediation, however, are going to mediation.

Mike Wood: Is the Minister happy that the mediation process, which started on one basis, is now being interpreted on a completely different one by the Post Office? As a result, the vast majority of cases listed as going through the process will be excluded and never get to mediation. Is the Minister happy about that?

Jo Swinson: I do not accept the premise of the question. The scheme was set up and it was agreed that any case could apply to the scheme, even those cases in which the individual had pleaded guilty to a charge. The working group, which is made up of representatives of the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance through Second Sight, the Post Office, and its chair Sir Anthony Hooper, will consider the report from Second Sight about whether a case should go to mediation. As a result of the process, the cases then go to mediation, but it was never anticipated that every single case would do so. There is the point at which the working group considers it.

Andrew Bridgen rose—

Mr Arbuthnot rose—

Jo Swinson: I will give way to my hon. Friend the Member for North West Leicestershire (Andrew Bridgen) first, then to my right hon. Friend.

Andrew Bridgen: I do not know what the Post Office has been saying to the Minister, but it has been saying a different story to the MPs on the working group. We have heard examples of people losing everything in their life, but is she aware that one of the criteria for refusing mediation is the Post Office stating that the claim by a sub-postmaster for compensation is too high? In other words, if sub-postmasters have suffered a huge loss, the Post Office is using that as a criterion to exclude them from mediation—because their claim is too large, because they have lost too much.

Jo Swinson: At present, we are talking about only two cases in which that has happened—the Post Office has refused mediation in only two cases. Perhaps there is some degree of confusion, but Sir Anthony Hooper, the independent chair of the working group, provided that information. If hon. Members wish to challenge it, I will happily go back to Sir Anthony about the information provided. I have to work, however, on the basis that that Court of Appeal judge is providing me with accurate information. I hope hon. Members appreciate that.

I will now give way to my right hon. Friend the Member for North East Hampshire.

Mr Arbuthnot: To be clear, I have not lost faith in Sir Anthony Hooper as the chair of the working group. I have never said, however, that 90% of the cases have been rejected. I have said that the Post Office has recently argued that 90% of the cases should be rejected, and that that is where the breach of faith and the lack of straightforward dealing lies.

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Jo Swinson: This is slightly difficult territory, because the working group discussions are confidential. I do not go to those discussions or know what is said in them. I cannot find out what is said in them. Indeed, every party involved in the discussions is bound by confidentiality. So I do not know whether the information mentioned by my right hon. Friend is in fact accurate. That said, I point to the information that we do have from Sir Anthony Hooper, which is that even if what my right hon. Friend says is true and the Post Office has argued for some of the cases not to be mediated, none the less it has gone into mediation on them. In a sense, the point is slightly academic, although I understand the concern on the part of hon. Members. I also take on board and take seriously the comments made by more than one hon. Member about the attitude of senior staff from Post Office Ltd to groups of MPs.

Mr David Jones: Looking beyond the issue of mediation, it is clear from what we have heard in the debate that a large number of people have had their life ruined because they adopted accounting practices on the basis of advice given to them by the Post Office. In other words, as I said in an intervention, the Post Office itself was counselling on procuring false accounting. Has my hon. Friend the Minister considered referring that matter to the prosecuting authorities?

Jo Swinson: My right hon. Friend is right to recognise that the accusation is a serious one—if true, it would be incredibly serious. It is difficult to know whether that is the case, which is why full investigation is needed. The hon. Member for North Durham made a clear challenge, and a fair one, about ensuring that we get some action and resolution on the issue. The point that I push back on is that many of the cases are incredibly complex, understandably so, because they are dealing with systems and many transactions—

Mr Kevan Jones: You’re the Minister, do something!

Jo Swinson: In order to do something, what is required is independent investigation that is done thoroughly and forensically—

Mike Wood: Will the Minister give way?

Jo Swinson: I will finish the point, if hon. Members will allow me.

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The hon. Member for North Durham said “do something”, and in such a situation what I would normally propose doing is to get a team of forensic accountants to go through every scenario and to have the report looked at by someone independent, such as a former Court of Appeal judge. We have a system in place to look at cases therefore, but if particular cases can be mediated, that is an ideal solution. If any information comes to light during the course of the mediation or the investigations, that suggests that any of the convictions that have taken place are unsafe, there is a legal duty for that information to be disclosed to the individuals convicted and to their legal representation. I fail to see how action can be taken without properly looking in detail at every single one of the cases through exactly the kind of scheme that we have set up.

Albert Owen: I understand the difficulty of getting involved in the mediation, but will the Minister tell senior managers of the Post Office that they need to look at some of the specific accusations made against their staff of giving certain information to people who have ended up in court and in jail?

Jo Swinson: Absolutely. That is a serious accusation, and many serious issues have been raised in the debate and in correspondence that Post Office Ltd needs to look at and to respond to, perhaps to reassure itself that such things did not occur, or to look into whether they were the case and, if so, to take appropriate action. We do not for a second take lightly the issues raised today, but I caution against the expectation of some swift and easy magic solution. We have to look at the details and the facts, and that has to be done forensically. That is why Second Sight, the team of forensic accountants, has been employed and why we have someone of the calibre of Sir Anthony Hooper to oversee the process.

Mike Wood: Will the Minister give way?

Jo Swinson: I will give way, but time is short.

Mike Wood: The Minister rightly sets great store by the involvement of Second Sight, but—

Nadine Dorries (in the Chair): Order. If the Minister wishes to wind up, there are only a few seconds to go.

Jo Swinson: I will take away the points made by hon. Members in the debate. I am sure that the issue is one that we can return to in future.

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International Money Transfer Charges

4 pm

Dame Tessa Jowell (Dulwich and West Norwood) (Lab): It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries.

This Christmas, millions of people will work extra hours in difficult and low-paid jobs so that they can send money to their relatives living abroad. Their remittances, particularly to sub-Saharan Africa but to many other parts of the world as well, now account for more money than donor aid. However, their money transfers will be hit by fees and charges that can be as high as 15%, and in some cases even higher. Five years ago, the G8 committed to reducing this “transfer tax” to 5%, but the deadline for international action has now passed and the target has not been achieved. People who seek to send relatively small amounts are being hit disproportionately by high fees; I am calling for concerted action to change that.

Take, for example, Dorothy Mukasa, who arrived in the UK from Uganda 34 years ago and, like so many thousands of migrants, works for the NHS. Over the years, her family in Uganda have needed her help. For example, she has sent money home to pay the school fees for her orphaned niece, and she currently pays for a nurse to attend to her elderly parents twice a week. Dorothy explained her anger at the extortionate charges that she has to pay, because sending relatively small amounts can incur higher charges. Her case was recently highlighted by The Observer newspaper.

I applied for this debate because of the circumstances of people like Dorothy who are being hit by the double effect of poor foreign currency exchange rates and high fees, of which a key driver in certain parts of the world is the lack of competition in the market. When chairing the Africa Progress panel earlier this year, Kofi Annan highlighted the control that money transfer companies have over the market. He said that the two largest such companies, Western Union and MoneyGram, both

“operate exclusivity agreements with their agents and commercial banks, which raises the cost of market entry.”

He went on to say that money transfer operators

“account for US$900 million taken from African migrants and their families through excessive charging.”

The situation was also illustrated in this year’s groundbreaking report from the Overseas Development Institute. The fees being charged are disproportionately high and far above the 5% level set by the G8 and the G20. The ODI showed that when the fee and, critically, the foreign currency exchange rate were combined the margin levied by MoneyGram would see someone sending £120 to Malawi incurring a 22.4% cost. Sending the same amount to Senegal and Ghana would have costs of 19.9% and 11.4% respectively. It is important to say, however, that MoneyGram disputes those figures.

In the case of Western Union, the other big money transfer company, the ODI’s research shows similarly high charges. The cost of sending £120 to Gambia was 14.2%, and to send the same amount to Uganda incurred charges of 13.4%. The ODI’s research showed that between them Western Union and MoneyGram control two thirds of the remittances market in sub-Saharan

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Africa. The problem affects not only those sending money to Africa, but large parts of Asia and Latin America as well.

A further challenge is the severe lack of transparency about the components of charges. For example, figures taken from MoneyGram on Saturday show that sending card-to-cash transfers of £100 to six countries in different parts of sub-Saharan Africa incurred a uniform fee of 12%, plus further currency exchange charges. The four countries have different market conditions and underlying factors, yet the basic fee of 12%—more than double the G8 standard of 5%—is the same for each of them. People do not understand why. Along with financial regulators, the UK Government should require companies to be more transparent about such charges, in the interest of consumers. I would like to commend TransferWise for its campaign, which I support, calling on the UK Government to put a stop to hidden fees and to stop banks and brokers overcharging consumers in foreign currency exchange.

The G20’s conclusions show that Governments are aware of the scale of the problem. At the G8 L’Aquila summit in 2009, world leaders agreed to bring the cost of remittances down to 5% within five years. The G20 formally adopted that objective in 2011, but the deadline was missed two weeks ago. At last month’s G20 summit in Brisbane, which was attended by the Prime Minister, world leaders reaffirmed the 5% commitment, but they appeared to weaken their ambition by failing to agree a deadline by which they would act. Perhaps the Minister can assure us that that is not the case for the UK Government. I am very concerned by that omission and I would like reassurance from the Minister on the Government’s determination to tackle the problem.

There are many issues surrounding remittances, and I fully accept their complexity. One such issue is the availability of accounts for money transfer companies. Earlier this year, owing to concern over lack of control of funds, Barclays announced that it would be closing 250 UK accounts held by money transfer companies that deliver remittances to families in developing countries. This year, my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) led the successful “Save Remittance Giving” campaign, which called on Barclays to reverse its decision and on the Government to throw a lifeline to families in developing countries—particularly Somalia, which faces significant challenges in this respect—by co-ordinating action between the Government and financial regulators in order to secure a long-term solution. Like other Members, I am sure, I want to put on the record my thanks to my hon. Friend for her continuing work on this issue.

A key issue that I have already mentioned is the lack of effective competition, which works against consumers. Between them, Western Union and MoneyGram control two thirds of the remittance market in sub-Saharan Africa. That market must be made more open to a wider ranger of companies, including smaller, secure companies, to ensure that there is a competitive market. The issue has been highlighted by the Association of UK Payment Institutions and its executive chairman, Dominic Thorncroft. The AUKPI represents 120 payment institutions in the UK, and it notes that, since the collective decision of the UK banks in 2013 to stop trading with money remittance firms, more than 150 Financial Conduct Authority-regulated UK money

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remittance firms have lost their bank accounts and since then struggled to be able to offer money remittance services to their customers.

Some firms are taking action to try to offer alternatives in the market. An example is, which is a service set up by social entrepreneur Rajesh Agrawal in response to the high charges levied by the big and dominant money transfer companies. However, right now consumers have less choice, and overall fees and charges have inevitably increased. Policy makers, including the UK Government, are just not doing enough to encourage greater competition, which would begin to tackle very high charges. By analogy, we would not tolerate a situation in which two companies controlled two thirds of our energy or banking markets, and we must not tolerate that in the international remittance market either.

Remittances are big business, and the lack of transparency, effective regulation and competition means that very substantial profits can be made by just a few big players. In 2013, Western Union handled £52 billion of transfers between customers. It returned over £420 million to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. I believe there needs to be a balance between the commercial interests and success of these important companies and the decency of the business, taking into account the population of consumers on whom they rely. That is why I have called on MoneyGram and Western Union particularly to halve their fees in the run-up to Christmas—a time of giving—as a gesture of good will, and as a small stepping stone towards a more permanent solution.

I hope that the Minister will be able to give a commitment that her Government, should the opportunity arise, will act between now and the general election to reaffirm the commitment of the G20 last month and begin to set out specific proposals on how the UK Government might offer leadership in this area to bring down transfer charges. I also hope that her Government, until the election, will agree to speed up the necessary action to force money transfer companies, banks and brokers to be more transparent in their charges and, in particular, their foreign currency conversion rates. Hundreds of thousands of very hard-working people, doing some of the toughest jobs in our country, just want to support their relatives in some of the poorest countries in the world, and I hope very much today that the House will show its support for them too.

4.12 pm

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Andrea Leadsom): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Ms Dorries. I thank the right hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Dame Tessa Jowell) for raising such an important topic. I say to her, first, that it has taken up a lot of my time since I have been in this role. It is a very complicated issue and it is very important to me that we get it right.

I also congratulate the right hon. Lady on raising the issue with the Prime Minister at Prime Minister’s questions earlier today. As he set out, the Government are acutely aware of the importance of remittances from UK residents that are sent to their family and friends in developing countries. Annual remittances from the UK amount to more than £15 billion. In the specific case of Somalia,

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remittances support nearly 3.5 million people and account for approximately half of Somalia’s gross national income. Since I came to this job earlier in the year, I have therefore personally been making sure that the Government are doing everything we can to ensure that remittances continue to flow through accessible and secure channels from the UK to all regions of the world.

The House will be aware that transparency of fees and charges for financial services products and competition between providers are key priorities for the Government. Increased transparency promotes greater competition, it provides better outcomes for customers, and it helps strengthen people’s trust in financial institutions—it is fair to say that that has been somewhat shaken in previous years. Therefore, it is my firm belief that greater competition as a whole in the financial services industry will lead to greater innovation, and ultimately to better outcomes for customers.

We have put in place a huge range of programmes of reforms to support greater competition in banking. That includes putting competition at the heart of the regulatory system, with statutory competition objectives for both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Very importantly, we have created the new Payment Systems Regulator, which will come into its full powers on 1 April 2015.

The PSR has three statutory objectives: first, to promote effective competition in the markets for payment systems and for services provided by those systems; secondly, to promote the development of innovation in payment systems, in particular the infrastructure used to operate payment systems, in the interest of customers; and thirdly, to ensure that payment systems are operated and developed in a way that considers and promotes the interests of customers.

Coming back to the specific issue that the right hon. Lady raised on the cost of remittances, I am aware that my ministerial colleagues at the Department for International Development have been considering the cost of money remittances, and they have already taken action to reduce fees. That includes action to improve the transparency of fees by supporting the pioneering price comparison website to increase transparency around remittance transfer costs and to stimulate competition. The average cost of sending £100 has fallen by 5.6% across 11 countries and by 28% to India. The web platform has now become fully commercialised and has been replicated in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand.

DFID has been taking action to improve inter-market co-operation. Between 2009 and 2015, DFID will support the FinMark Trust in its drive to reduce the average cost of remittance transfers from South Africa to other Southern Africa Development Community countries by 30% by 2014.

Given the concerns rightly raised by the right hon. Lady today, I plan to write to my ministerial colleagues at DFID to ask that we work together to think about what more can be done and particularly to seek an update on the points she made about the Brisbane G20 discussions. However, as I have said, this is an extremely complicated issue. She is fully aware that in recent years we have seen growing concern among banks globally about money laundering and terrorism financing, and, of course, the very real possibility of potentially crippling

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enforcement action against banks that fail properly to protect against these risks. The money service business sector has been particularly affected, as she knows.

The right hon. Lady mentioned the actions taken by the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali), and my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing Central and Acton (Angie Bray) and many other colleagues have also brought this issue to the attention of the House on a number of occasions.

I know that the right hon. Lady is also aware of the action group on cross-border remittances, which was set up at the start of 2014 to seek to address this worrying trend towards debanking the money service business sector. The action group is composed of Government representatives, banks, money transfer operators and industry associations. It has initiated a number of important activities to revise guidance on compliance with the money laundering regulations; to improve the understanding of money laundering and terrorism financing risks; importantly, to sustain the flow of remittances from the UK through formal channels; and particularly, to improve trust in the remittance sector.

Our banks and regulators have a very real responsibility to ensure that they are not supporting activities that could pose a threat to British citizens and undermine the progress that developing countries are making. The right approach to tackling these threats should effectively deter, detect and deal with those who seek to use the financial system, including money remitters and banks, to launder money or fund terrorism. At the same time, it should protect and support legitimate businesses and, in particular, critical lifelines for countries such as Somalia.

In conclusion, as the Prime Minister set out earlier today, this is a very complicated area, but I would like to reassure the right hon. Lady that the Government are committed to doing what we can to keep remittances flowing and the costs down.

4.19 pm

Sitting suspended for Divisions in the House.

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Greyhound Welfare

4.42 pm

Nadine Dorries (in the Chair): Because the previous debate ended early, the final debate of the day may continue for up to 41 minutes, so we have until 5.23 pm.

Chris Evans (Islwyn) (Lab/Co-op): It is always a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries.

Coming from a family of bookmakers, and having worked in the industry, I feel that I have been around horses and dogs all my life. Indeed, after setting up the betting shop with the race cards and newspapers, and after writing the “off slips” that signify the start of the races, my day would officially start with a piercing bell signifying that the 11 am greyhound race from Romford or Walthamstow was about to begin. Each Christmas, our work outing would be a night of dog racing just down the M4 at Swindon’s race track.

I make it clear that, when it is well regulated, greyhound racing can be a fun pastime. Even though it was a bit before my time, I can still remember the names of Ballyregan Bob and Scurlogue Champ from when the races were shown on that staple of Wednesday nights, “Sportsnight” on the BBC. Over the years I have known a few greyhound owners and trainers. In the main, they are dog lovers who treat their animals well.

Greyhound racing supports in excess of 7,000 jobs in the UK, and it is sustained by more than 4,000 owners. Additionally, the industry generates more than £55 million in taxation. However, there are two major problems with greyhound racing that are having a serious impact on the dogs themselves: prize money and welfare. The betting industry is inextricably linked with the sport of greyhound racing. As a betting product, greyhound racing has never been more popular. Some £2.5 billion is staked on the outcome of greyhound races each year. William Hill owns and operates two tracks, one at Sunderland and another at Newcastle. I welcome the fact that William Hill voluntarily pays more than £2 million to the British greyhound racing fund, which is an example that many betting companies making profits from the industry should follow. However, that is simply not the case with many online operators, including betting exchanges, which do not contribute a penny to the industry.

Whereas horse racing is subject to the Horserace Betting Levy Board, which collects a statutory levy from the horse racing business of bookmakers to be distributed for the improvement of horse racing and the breeds of horses, and for the advancement of veterinary science and education, greyhound racing could be termed a poor cousin. Greyhound racing has only a voluntary levy that is not enshrined in law and that sees a percentage of off-course betting turnover—currently 0.6%—returned to the sport. The levy amounts to approximately £12 million a year and is used to finance welfare and integrity work, the promotion of the sport and commercial activities.

Greyhound racing provides a core betting sport. Unlike horse racing, which is thriving, attendance at many greyhound tracks is dwindling. The independent Greyhound Board of Great Britain regulates the sport and maintains its integrity and well-being. I commend the board on its decision to ensure that all greyhounds are looked after, and microchipping the animals means that owners are

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always traceable. I have argued in the past that all dogs, regardless of breed, whether they are a working dog or a family pet, should be microchipped. In the summer my own dog went walkabout and would have been lost for good had I not microchipped him as a pup. To see the industry lead the way can only be a good thing.

However, low prize winnings put pressure on breeders, trainers and race tracks, who have to put on more races to make greyhound racing pay. More races mean more pups and more retired greyhounds that are sadly abandoned after their racing days are over. I again make it clear that it is no good tarring everyone with the same brush. In the main, trainers, dog owners and race track owners are people who love dogs and love greyhound racing, but a small minority are causing problems.

In 2004, a greyhound had to be put down when it was found in an extremely distressed state by a member of the public on a mountainside between Fochriw and Bargoed in the Rhymney valley—I do not represent those two villages, but I represent the lower part of Rhymney valley, which is in the Islwyn constituency. The dog had been shot with a nail gun and its ears, which were probably tattooed, had been cut off to stop identification. I have read that that is common practice in Ireland, although I appreciate that the Minister does not have jurisdiction there.

In 2010, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs adopted a system of self-regulation. When the system was instigated we were promised an end to the abuses of the past such as the one reported by The Sunday Times in 2006. The report found that, over 15 years, more than 10,000 healthy but unwanted greyhounds had been shot with a bolt gun and buried in a garden. That unofficial abattoir and graveyard was servicing licensed greyhound trainers. The practice was part and parcel of the greyhound racing industry. The chairman of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain admitted that it was “very plausible” for there to be similar operations that had not yet been uncovered.

Progress has been made, and I commend the efforts of the greyhound racing industry. However, according to the Society of Greyhound Veterinarians, the dimensions of the track and the all-weather conditions in which greyhounds are forced to race lead to high injury rates. Greyhounds suffer bone fractures, skin trauma, lacerations and a host of other problems, many requiring euthanasia. Most damning of all, each and every year, thousands of healthy greyhounds that could be re-homed and lead happy and long lives are needlessly and horribly put to sleep.

The all-party group on animal welfare estimates that a minimum of 4,728 racing greyhounds are unaccounted for each year—the majority are destroyed. The APGAW’s report states that the figure is

“likely to be a significant underestimation of the true scale of the problem of unwanted dogs being destroyed.”

We are now four years into self-regulation, and the racing industry’s problems are still prevalent, and it is not as if Ministers do not know. The APGAW, Lord Donoughue—who was commissioned by the industry—the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Greyhound Rescue Wales and the League Against Cruel Sports have all shown time and again that some greyhounds lead a life of abuse, neglect and early death.

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In a wide-ranging and comprehensive report, “The state of greyhound racing in Great Britain—a mandate for change”, the League Against Cruel Sports outlined how a new regulatory system might work. Such a system could improve the lives of greyhounds and make the sport fulfil its obligations to racing dogs. However, any new system must be based on evidence, transparency and the public interest. DEFRA’s five-year review of the statutory instrument must be open to the public. I invite the Minster to make that commitment. Once the full facts are in the open, action must be taken to ensure the welfare of greyhounds.

Ian Swales (Redcar) (LD): The hon. Gentleman is making a powerful speech. Does he agree that more statistics are needed on the fate of greyhounds? Does he welcome the moves by charities to start doing that on a basis that the industry itself does not seem to want?

Chris Evans: Yes, I welcome those moves. It is worrying that so many greyhounds have gone missing. We must look at how their lives begin and end. When the greyhound was found on the side of a mountain in my part of the world, we could only conclude that his ears were cut of so he could not be identified. It was a terrible incident.

Once all the facts are in the open, there must be six changes. I would be grateful to hear the Minister’s thoughts on each of them. First, we must create an independent welfare regulatory body to oversee all greyhound racing—both licensed and independent—and it must include representatives from animal welfare organisations. Secondly, there must be full transparency. Those involved in greyhound racing must be required by law to disclose welfare information at the national and track level to the regulatory body each quarter. Thirdly, the use of substances such as testosterone and anabolic steroids on greyhounds must be prohibited. Fourthly, we must introduce greyhound passports so the welfare regulator is able to track every dog from birth, which will end the enigma of the thousands of greyhounds that go missing each year. Fifthly, there must be a statutory requirement on tracks, trainers and owners to re-home all racing greyhounds. Sixthly, we must introduce breeding controls, set up a licensing regime for British breeders and create joint initiatives with DEFRA and the devolved nations to tackle over-breeding.

Ministers could make those simple changes this side of the election if they wished. The Minister must tell us why the Government are allowing this sorry state of affairs to continue. The Government must step up to the plate, and I urge the Minister to do so today.

Although I believe that the betting industry has been unfairly criticised over the years, that does not stop me, as somebody who worked in it, being a critical friend. We should introduce a measure for greyhound racing similar to the horseracing levy. Those who make money out of racing should give something back, in much the same way as William Hill does. The levy should be statutory, rather than voluntary, otherwise the betting companies will simply not play ball. The choice is simple: either we have an independent welfare regulation system backed up by legislation and funded by a greyhound levy, or racing greyhounds will continue to face the horrible conditions that they do now. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s thoughts.

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4.52 pm

Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) (Lab): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans) on securing this timely debate. As ever, it is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries.

I am a greyhound owner. I love greyhounds, and I take great exception to people who know little about this wonderful sport classifying me as a “terrorist in sport” because I want to raise those wonderful animals. I co-chair the all-party group on greyhounds, and I have had lots of e-mails from people across Europe telling me that I am a bad individual for supporting this great sport.

Greyhound racing is widely watched and loved by millions of people—not just here in the UK, but across the globe. I really take exception to anybody who suggests that I do not look after my dogs. I have had hundreds of greyhounds: fast ones, slow ones, ones that have never made the track and ones that have reached five years of age. I have looked after every one of the animals I have had or been associated with from the day they came into my ownership to they day they sadly passed on.

The vast majority of owners do the responsible thing, but of course I accept that some people out there do not. Greyhound racing is a great sport, but it is tarnished by a secret few and a murky past. My hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn mentioned the event in Seaham a few years ago, when up to 10,000 dogs—most, but not all, were greyhounds—were found to have been killed by an individual. It brought tears to not only my eyes, but the eyes of anybody who has anything to do with the sport. It took the sport back 30 or 40 years—it was an outrage.

We have moved on since then. We have all heard the great tales of people stopping dogs running with pork pies and by putting elastic bands around their feet, and of people painting greyhounds to look like different dogs. If only a few of those tales were true, it would be half-amusing. People who try to besmirch this brilliant sport continue to perpetuate those myths because they are great tales to tell.

In the past, there were many instances of greyhounds, lurchers and other dogs of that type of breed being found on hillsides, like the dog that my hon. Friend spoke about. It is an outrage and brings tears to everybody’s eyes. Every time a single greyhound is left like that, it takes the sport back 10 years. We need to move forward.

Of course, there is a massive problem with welfare. The statistics show that. But we should not be looking to ban the sport, because it is a fantastic sport that is enjoyed by many people across the globe, from owners to spectators. We have 30 tracks or more in the UK. We have got to address the welfare problem, because every time there is a positive story about greyhound racing, such as the Towcester track, which opened two weeks ago—its official opening was on Saturday night, and it was a great event—it is tarnished by the welfare issue. We can take massive positive steps, but they are always tarnished by welfare. We should not turn our backs on the welfare issue because it is extremely important.

We need more transparency in the sport, as my hon. Friend suggested. Today, if somebody buys a greyhound, they get a passport with it. Every time the greyhound runs, its passport is marked. Since the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010 and the Donoughue review,

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every greyhound is now microchipped, so there is a complete trail of ownership and the details of the individual greyhound are stored. Dogs are no longer allowed to run unless they are microchipped. That shining example of protecting welfare can be applied to all types of animal, but greyhound racing has been a leading light. Every track is now required to have a vet present during racing time.

Nadine Dorries (in the Chair): Order. Mr Lavery, you have had more than six minutes. Another Member wishes to speak and the Minister must respond. Could you wind up?

Ian Lavery: Thank you very much, Ms Dorries. I thank the Minister and my hon. Friend the Member for Islwyn for allowing me to speak.

We must work with the trainers, the owners, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, the Greyhound Trainers Association, the Dogs Trust and the Retired Greyhound Trust. Everybody must pull together to tackle the welfare issue and put greyhound racing on a firm footing for the future.

4.58 pm

Andrew Rosindell (Romford) (Con): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Dorries. I thank the hon. Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans) for giving us the opportunity to discuss this important issue. I also thank the hon. Member for Wansbeck (Ian Lavery), with whom I co-chair the all-party group on greyhounds.

I come from Romford, which is a greyhound racing town. There is a greyhound stadium in my constituency, where I have always lived. Therefore, for me it is very important that we get this issue right. We support greyhound racing, but as the hon. Members for Islwyn and for Wansbeck said, it is important that we uphold the welfare of the animals. I will focus on welfare in my brief remarks today.

The greyhound is, of course, a remarkable athlete. It is one of the oldest canine breeds; it is mentioned in the Bible, in Chaucer and in Shakespeare. Greyhounds have often been owned by members of the royal family.

In the UK, the greyhound industry is thriving, and it is an exciting industry. It not only brings in £55 million in taxation per annum but supports more than 7,000 jobs, which are linked to the 30 or so greyhound racing tracks around the country. Greyhound racing is a traditional British pastime and many people around the UK spend a lot of their life involved in it. It is very important that we do not take it away from them.

Let me state, as chairman of the all-party group on greyhounds, that whatever we feel about greyhound racing, the important thing is that we never forget about the welfare of the 8,000 dogs that enter and leave the sport every year. The sport itself must be supported, but only on the basis that the dogs are properly looked after during their racing days and when they finish racing.

I am pleased that much progress has made by the industry since the introduction of the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010. The Greyhound Board of Great Britain has maintained the standards that afford it accreditation by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. All racing greyhounds are microchipped and,

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under the GBGB rules of racing, owners are responsible for their greyhounds when the dogs’ racing days come to an end. In addition, the GBGB conducts a vigorous anti-doping regime, taking more than 9,000 samples a year. Of these, well over 99% are negative.

Charities such as the Retired Greyhound Trust, of which I am a trustee and a proud vice-president, serve to further the welfare of greyhounds when their racing days are over. The RGT is the largest single-breed re-homing charity in Britain and last year it found homes for 3,742 greyhounds. Unfortunately, the RGT and other charities are simply unable to help all the dogs that leave racing, and I welcome any assistance the sport is able to give these charities in that respect. The hon. Member for Islwyn emphasised the importance of that.

However, the recent report into greyhound racing in the UK by the League Against Cruel Sports has raised many concerns. While it is important for the sport to be held to account, it is my opinion that this report does not necessarily represent all the facts as they truly are, and in some cases it uses data that are simply not correct. For instance, the report claims:

“Most racing greyhounds spend 95% of their time confined in a kennel”,

when the truth is that they spend 95% of their time at a kennel, because quite simply that is where they reside and where they have access to paddocks, runs and walks on a daily basis. I do not believe that twisting the facts in that manner helps the debate and we should be careful not to take information at face value, rather than checking whether it is based on fact or just hearsay.

The GBGB is working with the Greyhound Forum to improve transparency on the information about injuries and trackside euthanasia rates, which means that this information is now available to many animal welfare organisations. However, I know that many of these organisations would like to see this transparency increased and for the GBGB to improve outside understanding of the injuries that greyhounds sustain and of the remedies that are used.

It is also regarded as important that the GBGB shares information about the number of greyhounds that retire each year, and about exactly where these dogs go. Perhaps that is one area where the industry could work more closely with the Greyhound Forum.

The greyhound industry and the GBGB are insistent on their commitment to the welfare of the animals with which they work. To retain the public’s support for greyhound racing, and the support of all those who care about the well-being of the animals, I strongly urge the industry and the GBGB to continue along the path of greater transparency.

5.3 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (George Eustice): I congratulate the hon. Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans) on raising this issue. I was interested to hear about his background in and experience of greyhounds, as well as the direct experience of greyhounds of the hon. Member for Wansbeck (Ian Lavery). I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) has a long-standing

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record of championing animal welfare issues; he has clearly followed this issue particularly closely.

The treatment of racing greyhounds, both during and after their racing lives, is also a matter of concern for the public. This debate is very timely, because I will be able to say a few words about what the Government will be doing on greyhound racing during the coming months, and in particular about our plans to review the current regulations early next year.

Ian Swales: Earlier this year, I took my constituent Trudy Baker, who is a prominent member of the Greyt Exploitations charity, to see Lord De Mauley, who is a Minister. On 1 April, Lord De Mauley wrote to me promising the setting up of a review group to assess the 2010 regulations. Has that group been set up? If so, when will it report?

George Eustice: I was going to come on to say that the original legislation envisaged a review in 2015. Work towards that review has already begun with officials, and the intention—as I was going to say later on—is that we shall shortly have a discussion with stakeholders and those involved in greyhound racing, before going to a wider public consultation. I myself have had the opportunity to talk to Lord De Mauley, who leads on this particular issue in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. I know that he has visited greyhound racetracks and has already met many stakeholders to discuss these particular issues.

I shall first set out the current legislative framework covering the welfare of greyhounds in England. This matter is, of course, a devolved one. However, it is a reality that the majority of greyhound tracks in Britain—some 30 out of 34 tracks—are in England. There are a further three tracks in Scotland and one in Wales. The majority of those 30 tracks in England—24 in total—are currently affiliated to the Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Following the 2007 report on greyhound racing that was led by Lord Donoughue, the GBGB has been the main governing body of the sport since January 2009. However, there are a further six tracks that are currently not affiliated to the GBGB: these are the so-called independent tracks, which tend to be smaller. They race independently of the GBGB.

Ian Lavery: Just to clarify that point, does the Minister mean that those independent tracks are not licensed by the GBGB, rather than “not affiliated to” it?

George Eustice: That is right. My understanding is that if tracks are affiliated to the GBGB, they are licensed by it. The independent tracks, which tend to be the smaller ones, are directly licensed by the relevant local authority.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that welfare standards for all racing greyhounds in England are covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010. The 2006 Act is wide ranging, but it allows action to be taken where there is evidence of cruelty to an animal or of a failure to provide for an animal’s welfare needs. This includes, for instance, when greyhounds are kept away from the track, such as at a trainer’s kennels, which is often flagged as a point of concern by some animal welfare groups.

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Further to the general provisions under the 2006 Act, which apply everywhere, the welfare standards at all greyhound racing tracks in England are specifically covered by the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010. Introduced in April 2010, these regulations require that all tracks must do the following: first, they must have a vet present at all races, race trials and sales trials, with all greyhounds inspected by the vet before they are allowed to run; secondly, the tracks must provide suitable kennelling; thirdly, all greyhounds be microchipped and earmarked before they can race or trial; and finally, each track must keep records of all dogs that are raced or trialled at that track, and of any dogs injured during a race, trial or sales trial.

These standards are regulated either by the track’s local authority—that is the case for independent tracks, as I have pointed out—or, as in the majority of cases, by the GBGB, which regulates 24 tracks. However, the GBGB is only allowed to regulate these standards on the basis that it is accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service for the audit of greyhound tracks against the standards required by the 2010 regulations.

At this point, it might help the House if I briefly discussed what we mean by the term “self-regulation”. The hon. Member for Islwyn said that this is still very much self-regulated. However, I do not think it is quite as simple as that, because the position is firmer than simply having a voluntary code.

Prior to the introduction of the regulations in 2010, the industry was self-regulated in the way that most people would understand the term. There were no specific statutory requirements for greyhound racing tracks, the industry set its own welfare rules of racing and there was no independent external scrutiny of how the National Greyhound Racing Club, which was the main industry regulator at the time, enforced its own rules. However, following the 2007 Donoughue report and the subsequent introduction of the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010, the minimum conditions required for all greyhound tracks in England are now set down by Parliament. Apart from local authorities, if any organisation wishes to regulate the standards themselves, it must have UKAS accreditation to do so. The GBGB is currently the only body certified in this way by UKAS and ensures that there is now external independent oversight of the enforcement work that the GBGB carries out.

While the current situation is often described as self-regulation, clearly 2010 marked a break with what had gone before. What we have is a statutory form of regulation that is enforced by an industry body that is then itself audited by an independent body established within Government.

It might be worth while my saying a little more about UKAS accreditation. UKAS is recognised by the Government as the sole UK organisation for the accreditation of certification, testing and inspection bodies to internationally agreed standards. UKAS accreditation provides an assurance of the competence, impartiality and integrity of assessment bodies. As UKAS accredits the GBGB as a certification body, I think that the Government can have confidence that the GBGB is effectively monitoring and verifying welfare standards as defined within the rules of racing and within the 2010 regulations.

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UKAS’s accreditation process determines the technical competence and integrity of organisations acting as assessment bodies. Before UKAS accredits any organisation, the organisation will be subject to intensive audit to ensure compliance with the international standard for certification bodies, including witnessing the organisation’s own assessment activities. Accredited organisations are subject to annual surveillance visits and full reassessment after four years.

Organisations found not to be acting in accordance with their accreditation can have that suspended or even withdrawn. Should the GBGB ever lose its accreditation, the 2010 regulations would automatically remove its powers to regulate the standards set out in those regulations, and all GBGB tracks in England would then require a licence from their local authority.

If anyone has any concerns about how the GBGB is applying welfare standards as defined within the rules of the 2010 regulations, they can report them to UKAS. UKAS has powers to investigate any such concerns reported to it. The GBGB was accredited by UKAS in March 2010 and DEFRA officials have been told that since then UKAS has received no complaints about the efficacy with which the GBGB has approached its duties.

I want to say a little about the five-year review, which was touched on in an intervention. When the regulations were introduced in 2010, Ministers in the last Government committed to reviewing them after they had been in force for five years. As the House is aware, all new regulations now come with statutory five-year review clauses anyway, but it was always the intention—even under the previous Government, and even before the statutory requirement to review regulations every five years was in place—to review these particular regulations after five years.

The review is due in April 2015, but work on it has already begun. We aim to go out to key stakeholders early in the new year, to collect the evidence that we need to assess the effectiveness of the regulations. Once we have independently collected and considered that evidence, DEFRA will go out to a wider public consultation, which will most likely commence after the election, given that we will quickly be at the end of March and into a purdah period.

Given the strength of views on these issues, it is important that we do not have a quick consultation that gets lost in the run-up to the general election. This is an important issue, and we do not need to rush it. Provided we have started the engagement with stakeholders before the general election, we should allow plenty of time for people to respond to a public consultation after it.

That review will consider how effective the regulations have been. It can look at the self-regulatory elements of the regulations and how the current approach adopted by the GBGB is working and at the requirement to collect injury statistics and how those can be used. It can also look at the traceability of greyhounds after they have left the sport, because one of the biggest concerns that is often raised about the current situation—the hon. Member for Islwyn highlighted this—is that nobody is sure where between 2,000 and 4,000 greyhounds a year, by some estimates, end up. We know that many excellent charities help to re-home greyhounds that have left racing, but there is concern about some of the others.

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The hon. Member for Islwyn mentioned a number of issues that he would like to be addressed in that review, and I think that all of them could indeed be covered. For instance, he highlighted the importance of independent welfare oversight and asked whether other welfare charities could be involved, and I see no reason why that could not be explored through the review. It is exactly the kind of thing that we should do.

The hon. Gentleman also mentioned the importance of transparency on statistics. We know that the regulations now require the GBGB to require all its tracks to record instances of injuries. Many say that those injuries should be submitted to the GBGB and perhaps published, so that there is transparency in that regard. Again, these are all valid points that can be addressed through the review.

My hon. Friend the Member for Romford highlighted the issue of doping and the use of drugs. This is a good point. We should recognise that the use of doping and drugs in this context would already be a breach of the Gambling Act 2005, which, as my hon. Friend will know, given his background in this, sets out many provisions in this regard. We should also recognise that

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the GBGB has done some good work in this area. It has taken it quite seriously, spending more than £640,000 a year on drug sampling and research to ensure that it is able to detect substances, as my hon. Friend said.

Finally, the hon. Member for Islwyn mentioned over-breeding. This is an issue with many breeds—the greyhound is not the only example—and the Kennel Club has started to become alert to this problem and to do work on it, including the dangers and welfare impacts. I am sure that when we have that review, organisations like the Kennel Club and other animal welfare organisations, which have themselves done good work in this connection, may want to contribute to it.

In conclusion, we have had a good, well-informed debate with hon. Members who have a lot of experience of this issue. I am sure that many of the points that have been raised will be pertinent to the review that we are about to commence, first with stakeholders and then with the wider public during the next six months. I again congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing this debate and hon. Members on their important contributions.

Question put and agreed to.

5.18 pm

Sitting adjourned.