Another experience of SOCA that I hope will not be repeated under the NCA arrangements is that we had

11 Mar 2015 : Column 359

evidence, which I took to the Secretary of State and others, that MI5 was promising that, if people turned and joined dissident organisations and essentially became MI5 agents, it could remove a working SOCA interest in them. We presented evidence that showed that SOCA seemed to be pursuing people not so much for SOCA’s purposes, but to help frame operations that had MI5 at their heart. We must ensure that none of that happens in future. We must ensure that the NCA’s work and the work it carries out in Northern Ireland with the PSNI under the approval of the Chief Constable has none of that about it. If it does, it brings the NCA into disrepute, and compromises the Policing Board’s important role in ensuring the fullest support for, and engagement with, the NCA’s future work.

Revenue and Customs needs to be more active in these areas. On many of the cases referred to by other hon. Members, it has been less than authoritatively convincing in its silence. More assurance is needed.

We need to encourage fully the significant cross-border work that takes place under the Organised Crime Task Force. I recognise that that extends not just to the areas of crime that many of us have touched on today, but to other areas of crime—this was touched on by the hon. Member for Belfast East—relating to human trafficking. It was heartening that one of the first engagements of the new UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner was a meeting with the Minister of Justice in Northern Ireland and his southern counterpart to address this issue. The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Staffordshire Moorlands (Karen Bradley), will recall that this was one of the issues on which I tabled amendments during the Committee stage of the Modern Slavery Bill, to ensure that all aspects of the Bill would either apply to Northern Ireland or be compatible with legislation that was then going through the Northern Ireland Assembly. In particular, I wanted to ensure that the new commissioner would be able to consider issues in Northern Ireland, and the performance of enforcement agencies not just in Northern Ireland but as they operated and liaised and engaged with their counterparts in the south as well.

I am very glad that we have legislation not just in respect of the NCA, but modern slavery provisions. That puts us in a stronger position to address different aspects of serious crime as they happen in Northern Ireland and across the border.

4.41 pm

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): At the outset, I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for South Antrim (Dr McCrea) on securing this very important debate and on introducing it in such a powerful way. I thank all Members from across the House who have spoken, but I pay particular tribute to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey), the Labour Front-Bench Spokesman. He has put on the record some incredibly startling facts that require answers.

Last week, Alan Bennett, the famed playwright, when interviewed on “World at One”, was asked to outline for us the most important achievement of this nation. After pondering on whether it should be the National Trust or our physical heritage, he said very clearly that it was English hypocrisy.

11 Mar 2015 : Column 360

I am sick, sore and tired. We have heard a unified voice from this side of the House, whether nationalist or Unionist. We are sick, sore and tired of the hypocrisy that is fed to us by the shovel-load: that we are somehow thick Paddies who have no idea of what is going on in our country when it comes to crime, and that if we dare to expose anything about it, we are told, “Hush, hush, you’ll tip the criminals off.” Anyone would think we were a bunch of suckers when it comes to dealing with crime, but we have lived among these criminals for decades. We see how they work. We see the evil they bring upon our society. We want it dealt with and we want it dealt with now. We are saying that with a unified voice on this side of the House, across all parties. We are no longer prepared to be fed, quite frankly, the bull that we are being fed: that this matter is being dealt with by officialdom.

Alan Bennett was right when he pointed to hypocrisy. I see it in the officials that I meet and have met daily since 2009 and since entering this House. We have tried to deal quietly and discreetly with the issue of how we can tackle serious and organised crime in our society. All we get, frankly, is this hypocrisy: it will be dealt with, it will be dealt with. Well, five-and-a-half years later it has not been dealt with. Since 2009, when I came off the Organised Crime Task Force board, I have not seen one single inch of progress. I have heard a lot of platitudes. We on this side of the House are sick, sore and tired. We want something done. We want something done urgently. We want something done that is effective and actually makes a difference. I believe we are all on the same side and want to see the criminals beaten, but officials are dragging their feet when it comes to sorting out this problem. I hope they can get to grips with it.

Last week, a national newspaper report by Brian Flynn dealt with a number of crime issues and I want to address those listed in the motion. The first is the smuggling of tobacco products and the impact it has on our economy. Every crate of smuggled tobacco products puts £1 million into the coffers of the criminals, and 40% of all cigarettes smoked across the United Kingdom are either counterfeit or smuggled. The vast majority of that money goes into the coffers of the IRA. In fact, last year it was estimated that it achieved about £22 million from that enterprise.

Some of us take a different view of plain packaging, but under new regulations it is estimated that the profit margin will increase to €120 million, which is £87 million. That is enough money, as we would say locally, to choke a donkey. The people engaged in this serious organised crime are rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of plain packaging after today’s vote because, whether we are for or against plain packaging—I respect the views of those who support it for health reasons—the legislation is defective on the issue of tracking and tracing.

At present, the manufacturing of cigarette boxes involves placing an electronic track-and-trace system in each box. The legitimate manufacturer of the cigarette packet gives those track-and-trace numbers to the police and customs, and the police can at any time place the packet on a hand-held machine in order to see the date and location of manufacture. Under the defective delegated legislation that went through the House today, that has been removed and packs cannot have track-and-trace. The Government have told me privately, “We’ll introduce it later on,” but apparently the earliest it can be introduced

11 Mar 2015 : Column 361

under the delegated legislation is in about three years. There is a bonanza coming for the next three years, because cigarette packets will have no track-and-trace capability. Criminals out there are rubbing their hands in glee because an effective security measure has now been removed from cigarette packets. The hypocrisy stinks to heaven.

The second issue that has taken up a lot of time in this debate is that of fuel laundering and fuel fraud, and it is a most serious crime. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington asked some very serious questions. Indeed, he and my hon. Friend the Member for Upper Bann (David Simpson) asked 13 specific questions that have not yet been answered, and this House is entitled to answers.

Why would the Government continue in January 2015 to designate in legislation the Dow fuel marker when they knew a year ago that it was not fit for purpose, being completely launderable using basic science? The Hydrocarbon Oil (Marking and Designated Markers) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 will come into force on 1 April and they indicate the precise ingredients of the Dow marker. Under law, believe it or not, we have to tell the world what makes up the Dow marker. That is how pathetic the hypocrisy of our country is: we have to tell the criminals that publicly. The Minister said tonight that the Labour Front-Bench spokesman, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington, should not have read out a letter as it could have tipped certain people off, yet we publish in black and white the exact ingredients that go into the Dow marker. The statutory instrument is well timed, because it comes into effect on 1 April, April fools’ day. What fools we are for just going along with that and accepting the regulations, which publish what will be in the fuel and tip off scientists, legitimate and otherwise, about what is in the recipe for the Dow marker and what they therefore need to do to remove it.

If the marker was effective, that would not matter, because we would have those people and could prevent them from doing that. However, it is not effective and the Government knew that it was not effective a year ago. The Opposition spokesman put on the record the letter from 9 July 2014 from the then Treasury Minister, the right hon. Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan), to the Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, the hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr Robertson), telling him that the information about the theoretical weaknesses in the fuel could alert fraudsters. The idea was that he should just hush it up and not tell anyone and the Government would keep working on it. The Government then went on to say that there was insufficient evidence to show that the process of distilling the fuel was

“a viable option commercially on a large scale for effective laundering of rebated fuels, although HMRC are continuing to investigate these claims.”

I will come to the question of whether that can be done effectively and economically, but let me turn first to the question of hushing things up. Members of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee were prepared to sit for some time and give the Government the opportunity to change things and to make a move. We waited from last July and promises were made through August, September and October. Bigger promises were made in December and, at the turn of the year, we were told that things would be changed. They have not been changed and the April fools’ day legislation will be put in place without a

11 Mar 2015 : Column 362

single jot or tittle removed from it. The legislation, which will be pushed through, will push through a defective marker that the criminals will welcome and that they know they can remove.

How do I know that it can be removed? Today, we have placed in the Library a report that was confidential until yesterday, written by four academics, one from Queen’s university. The report, entitled “Distillation of fuel markers”, makes a number of startling claims, which I want to put on the record. In its opening section, it states:

“Distillation is a very simple and highly cost-effective way of removing a marker and has a key advantage over many of the methods cited above in that there is no laundering residue for the criminal to dispose of.”

My hon. Friend the Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) can rest tonight in the knowledge that in future when criminals distil fuel and remove markers from it there will no longer be terrible sludge and waste pumped into our rivers. This marker is so simply removed that it can be distilled off the top of fuel without creating any terrible after-pollution. The simplicity of the distillation process is incredibly beneficial to the criminals.

The report goes on to state:

“Given the simplicity of distillation it is apparent that an authority would be foolhardy to employ a marker whose boiling point fell just in or entirely outside the boiling range of the fuel to be protected.”

That is exactly what Dow has done. It has created a marker that is effective until just below boiling point, so people can boil the marker away without causing any harm and it vanishes up into the heavens. It is the devil’s share. He gets his share and the criminals get theirs. That is what is happening as a result of the new fuel marker.

The report stated that the academics took a British piece of scientific equipment, a marker that was found worthy of being put into British fuel, and tested it against the Dow marker. It stated this, after testing both markers:

“These results clearly indicate that the Dow marker can effectively be removed by simple distillation and successfully separated from the diesel distillate.”

In other words, the fuel can be separated completely from the marker and sold as unabated fuel that is no longer marked.

Dr Murrison: The hon. Gentleman is making a speech in his usual robust fashion, but it is important to put on the record the difference between a laboratory analysis and scaling up to field operations. I think he needs to reflect that in his contribution.

Ian Paisley: I am delighted by that, because I am going to reflect that point now and I thank the Minister for encouraging me to do so. The then Treasury Minister said that there was insufficient evidence that the process was a viable commercial option, which I think is the point the Minister has just made: “Yes, you can do this in a lab, but could you really do it in the field?” Well, the report that is now in the Library goes into this, under a section entitled, “Economics of distillation”:

“The capital cost of a distillation plant suitable for laundering out a marker from fuel is low. Cost for off the shelf plant can be as little as…£12k”.

For an initial outlay of £12,000 for a small plant, the criminals could make about £16,000 per day, after they

11 Mar 2015 : Column 363

have laundered the product, or 5.8 million quid a year—that is pretty economical in my books; that is pretty cost-effective. I will come to the in-field testing in a minute, so I hope the Minister will brace himself, because it gets even better.

The report goes on:

“Even taking into account the worst case scenario presented above, a 160kW distillation laundering plant would generate huge profits with a payback in just under a fortnight. If this process was refined with heat regeneration and vacuum distillation, it would be quite feasible to double the capacity of this system. A small 1MW industrial unit could operate 6 of these 160kW systems, generating clear profit of approximately £92,000 per day and a payback period of less than 2 weeks. Such a 960kW laundering facility would be capable of generating an annual profit of approximately £33.5 million.”

This is a feasible, cheap alternative for gangsters and criminals. This report, which is in the Library of the House, is by a credible group of scientists and, critically, presented in such a way that if it is wrong, the Dow Chemical Company could sue the pants of these people. But it won’t go near it—it won’t even address the points made.

I understand that in-field testing was carried out on four occasions. The one at Bellingham, which my hon. Friend the Member for Upper Bann (David Simpson) mentioned, was not a small test; it was a test of 30,000 litres of fuel distilled successfully—it was just distilled off. Another test was carried out in Northern Ireland, and another test of a similarly large quantity, carried out by a scientist, Professor J. J. Leahy, in the Republic of Ireland, also proved that this material could be distilled off. Queen’s university also carried out a test, but sadly, after it reported privately to officials last year, the official response to the professor at Queen’s university was this: “You’d better tell us where that illegal plant you’ve just set up is, because we want to put it out of business.” I can take a joke, but I do not think that was a joke—it is almost like they were telling him for daring to undermine what officials were doing. It is hypocrisy.

Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab): As well as congratulating the Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs, I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the huge amount of personal commitment he has put into this issue. Will he explain why, despite the evidence that the Select Committee saw, the Government, officials and the authorities have been so singularly afraid to go down the route we suggested?

Ian Paisley: I think that deserves a more detailed answer than a brief response at this point, so I will come back to the matter. The hon. Lady, my friend, puts her finger on a very important and worrying point. This was a worrying trend that we watched with our own eyes when we tried to deal with this matter.

I asked the Minister earlier whether there was roadside capability in detecting this marker in our fuel, but he did not quite get the right end of the stick. I must deal with this critical issue. The head of the oils fraud section takes the lead in dealing with fuel laundering in Northern Ireland. He is an important official in the department. He gave evidence to our Select Committee in 2013, and he told us that the IMS tendering process for the new fuel marker was incredibly important. Although

11 Mar 2015 : Column 364

a specific roadside test was not specifically asked for, his view was—and he is the expert—that it was critical because it was the one measure through which the system could be policed.

One of the companies that tendered brought forward a roadside test capability—a kit that is the size of a laptop. If a drop of fuel was put on to a pad, the kit could detect within two and a half minutes where and when the fuel was bought—both the location and time. That is how sophisticated the marker was, and the roadside test could be done in two and half minutes.

The Dow marker has no roadside capability. In fact, after the April fools’ day legislation comes into place, let me explain what will happen. If an official stops a vehicle and takes a sample from it, he will have to send it away to the Government’s own plant. Three weeks later, the sample will be returned and the result on whether the Dow marker remains or has been removed will be provided. Why should we have to wait three weeks? Unless someone has a very efficient car, as my hon. Friend the Member for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson) does, the fuel will be evaporated within days.

Ms Margaret Ritchie (South Down) (SDLP): The hon. Gentleman is making a technical argument on this issue, displaying a lot of knowledge that is obviously garnered from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee inquiry. Is he aware of the level and number of prosecutions resulting from illegal fuel laundering? Is it documented on a year-on-year basis?

Ian Paisley: I understand that the level of prosecutions is woeful—zero. That is one of the driving forces that show why we need a marker that actually works, and it explains why some of us are so passionate about this issue. We know the type of villains and individuals who are carrying this out, and it would be valuable if we could get them behind bars or at least stop them in this particular aspect of their criminality. Yes, they will turn to something else, but at least we would have blocked off one section of activity for them. The hon. Lady is absolutely right. The prosecution level is woefully zero, and it will remain zero because of this defective marker.

My hon. Friend the Member for Upper Bann (David Simpson) asked why the Government would not support their own world-leading British science company whose fuel markers are the only recommended IMS-proven indelible markers. This is important. The final report on the IMS procedure, which was a tendering process between the Republic of Ireland revenue authorities and our own HMRC, provided two options. One was to implement the Dow marker—it listed what it was—and the other was to introduce two markers: the Dow marker and the British company’s marker, which would provide something with which to confuse the criminals. There would be a choice of markers, allowing consideration of which one went in one month and which one did not go in. That was one of the options provided, but that course of action was not chosen, but it could still be chosen today.

The Government could amend the April Fool’s day legislation. They could introduce another statutory instrument tomorrow, providing for a different marker, and I hope that they will. I hope that, following today’s debate, they will see how foolish they have been in following the line they have followed. Some of us never

11 Mar 2015 : Column 365

wanted this debate to take place. We wanted the Government to take action and solve the problem, but unfortunately we have been pushed to this point. I think it will be clear from the anger that has been expressed today by members of several parties that we are all rightly concerned about what is going on.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington asked why, given that the IMS had been a joint United Kingdom-Republic of Ireland process, an IMS for a single launderable dye marker had been awarded when the Government knew that they needed a minimum of two indelible markers. Why—this is another question that was asked today—was technology awarded to Dow when no roadside test was available?

Who has the contract for HMRC fuel marker testing, and did the testing company have anything to do with the evaluation and final recommendation group? That very important question goes to the heart of the IMS procedure. The allegation that something went awry between whoever was carrying out the evaluation of the tests and the company that was awarded the final contract is very serious, and deserves to be answered by Ministers.

We have seen the answers to those questions. We know what has gone on. I actually feel sorry for the Minister, because he has been dropped into this debate without having been properly briefed about what has gone on and how serious the position is.

In 2012, the HMRC director Mike Norgrove gave evidence to the Select Committee. He had been offered the chance to see the new marker being used in Brazil. Why did he turn down that opportunity? I believe that that question was asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Upper Bann.

Why would the Government cover up a £1 billion fraud when a British scientific solution already exists?

One of the last questions that were asked was: the Government must be aware that the Dow Chemical Company was fined $1.1 billion in 2013 in a fraudulent bribery case, so why was the company allowed to continue to engage in the IMS tender process?

Opposition Members have asked important and pertinent questions that deserve to be answered. In an intervention, the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey) asked me why this was happening. I think that there has been a deliberate turning of a blind eye. The hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) put his finger on it when he said that a company had operated illegally in his constituency, and that it was based in South Armagh. I have the same problem in my constituency. North Antrim could not be any further from South Armagh, but we have a fuel station that changes its name regularly to avoid tax, and regularly sells illicit fuels to unsuspecting motorists. Sometimes it changes its name to “Taxco”, just for a laugh, to rub the officials’ noses in it. On other occasions, it changes its name to “Taxnoco”. It looks like “Texaco”. The name is spelt like that deliberately to embarrass officialdom, and nothing is ever done about it.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Antrim spelt out loud and clear the problem of pollution that was associated with this crime—the leaking of waste into our lakes and river courses. With the new Dow marker, that will no longer be a problem, because it is now evaporating from our fuel. In the words of Alan Bennett, the hypocrisy will continue.

11 Mar 2015 : Column 366

I think that we deserve answers to those questions, because we have waited long enough. We have pushed this issue for five years—we have pushed it in the Select Committee—and we have expected answers, but, to date, we have been let down.

5.9 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Karen Bradley): I congratulate the hon. Member for South Antrim (Dr McCrea) on introducing the debate and the hon. Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley) on his concluding comments. It has been an interesting and passionate debate and in my closing remarks I will endeavour to address the points that were made.

As we heard, serious and organised criminal groups do not operate in isolated pockets. We know, for instance, that they exploit the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. As the motion reminds us, they are engaged in a range of crimes, including fuel smuggling, the supply of counterfeit medicines and electrical goods, and fraudulent trading in numerous products to evade VAT or make illegal repayment claims. VAT fraud associated with tobacco and alcohol has become more sophisticated and more multinational, and the internet has opened more opportunities for the criminals. The cost to the Treasury is substantial and the impact is felt in communities throughout Northern Ireland.

A number of hon. Members referred to the fact that these are not victimless crimes. The hon. Member for Belfast East (Naomi Long), my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Nigel Mills) and the hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) made that point explicitly, and they are right. The effect of fuel laundering, which has been a major part of the discussion, means that it is clearly not victimless. The hon. Member for Belfast East spoke about the impact on the vehicles of unsuspecting purchasers of illicit fuel. The impact on us all from the loss of that tax revenue means that we have less tax from which to pay for much-needed teachers, nurses and police officers. People purchasing that fuel are aiding and abetting the criminals. This is not victimless crime. The people involved in such criminality are not cheeky scoundrels. This is serious crime that is a threat to us all.

Our strategic approach needs to be tightly co-ordinated to counter that threat; otherwise, serious and organised criminals will exploit the gaps. We need to ensure that measures are in place relentlessly to disrupt serious and organised criminals, stop people getting involved in crime and strengthen our protection against the criminals. The UK Government and the Northern Ireland Assembly are doing exactly that. The launch in 2013 of the National Crime Agency and the serious and organised crime strategy represented a step change in our approach. The NCA and the 4 Ps strategy are already making a difference, leading to a more co-ordinated response across the whole United Kingdom. As a result, we have improved our understanding of the threat, strengthened co-operation with partners, invested in better capabilities and introduced important new legislation.

Implementation of the serious and organised crime strategy is consistent with the approach in Northern Ireland, where the Organised Crime Task Force enables law enforcement agencies to work alongside other

11 Mar 2015 : Column 367

Government bodies and the private sector to share knowledge and tackle organised crime in partnership and to deliver the objectives of Northern Ireland’s organised crime strategy for 2014-16. Leading the operational fight are the PSNI, HMRC and the National Crime Agency.

The NCA works closely with its partners to investigate the activities of organised criminal groups, including those involved in fuel smuggling, fuel laundering and the counterfeiting of consumer goods. The NCA is a key member of the OCTF in Northern Ireland, providing specialist knowledge, support and expertise. It continues to support the PSNI through the exchange of intelligence and information relating to Northern Ireland, including instances where the situation has required constabulary powers to be exercised. The NCA is undertaking civil recovery investigations in Northern Ireland, where fuel laundering and cigarette smuggling are believed to be the underlying criminality.

It is clear that fuel smuggling and laundering is a major problem in Northern Ireland. I was interested in many of the points that were raised, including the comments of the hon. Member for Belfast East about criminals. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. This is a supply chain issue that the hon. Member for Foyle and I explored at length when we served together on the Committee considering the Modern Slavery Bill. He is right to commend the Bill for covering Northern Ireland where necessary, as does the remit of the commissioner. He made an interesting point about the impact on human trafficking and modern slavery. Sometimes we say that the criminality of organised crime groups lies in drugs trafficking, firearms trafficking or people trafficking, but in reality those groups are involved in all forms of criminality. That was brought home to us all by the dreadful case of the container in Tilbury docks with 35 Sikh people in it, including one who, sadly, died in transit. Part of the investigation of that incident involved a fuel laundering plant. That brings it home that this is not a victimless crime; it is a crime that affects us all, and those criminals are nasty people who want to harm us and are prepared to go to great lengths and hurt many people through different types of criminality to make money from organised crime.

We have heard from my fellow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for South West Wiltshire (Dr Murrison), that the Government have a comprehensive strategy in place to tackle fuel fraud and crime and it is working. HMRC’s latest figures indicate the illicit market share of diesel for Northern Ireland has fallen from 26% to 13%. Co-operation and intelligence sharing through the Organised Crime Task Force and the Cross Border Fuel Fraud Enforcement Group has been invaluable in tackling oil fraud, including fuel smuggling and laundering, and I remind the House that in 2013-14 HMRC dismantled 38 laundering plants, closed 79 huckster sites and seized over half a million litres of illicit fuel in Northern Ireland.

As has been said, a new fuel marker will come in on 1 April. Many Members, including the hon. Members for North Antrim, for East Antrim (Sammy Wilson), for Belfast East and for Upper Bann (David Simpson)—and I am sure there were more—raised that point.

11 Mar 2015 : Column 368

Ian Paisley: The Minister refers to some of my party colleagues. My hon. Friends the Members for South Antrim (Dr McCrea) and for Upper Bann (David Simpson) mean no discourtesy to the Minister, whom I know they are very fond of, but they have had to leave the Chamber because of a meeting tomorrow morning with a Minister in Northern Ireland. I hope the Minister will appreciate that they had to catch their flight.

Karen Bradley: I appreciate that intervention, apart from anything else because I am not going to have to answer yet another question from those hon. Gentlemen, who gave me a significant number to try to address. I do understand completely the time pressures we all face, however.

I understand that HMRC is making sure it has the best and most appropriate roadside marker testing equipment, further to strengthen testing capability. From day one of the new marker implementation, its road fuel testing units will be able to use their existing battery of tests to identify suspicious samples, and I should repeat the point that this is not a replacement marker initially; this is a running-alongside marker with the existing marker, to ensure we have full evidence and information. I also understand that, in addition, HMRC expects to have ground-breaking roadside testing equipment by the summer.

The hon. Member for North Antrim made a number of points and I understand that HMRC has written to him on many of them, in particular the point about the new marker being easily laundered and that that can be done on a commercial scale. I urge him to provide details of any trials about which he believes HMRC may be unaware. It does want to review the report he has laid in the House, and it will respond to him. The Government will of course review the report as well, and HMRC has investigated whether this can be done on a large scale. The hon. Gentleman says he has seen the test to prove that that is the case. If he provides that evidence to HMRC, it will review the report and write to him, but the only large-scale test that we are aware has been undertaken, which was with 25,000 litres, fully supported HMRC’s conclusion that this is not easily translated to large-scale operations in the field. We do take these claims very seriously, however, and HMRC will look at any reports that the hon. Gentleman provides.

The hon. Member for South Antrim talked about the number of arrests and prosecutions for this crime. In the period 2011-14 there was a total of 56 arrests for fuel fraud, and 47 of them were in Northern Ireland, while just nine were in the rest of the United Kingdom. We have not, of course, yet got the full figures for 2014-15, but the latest information is that there were 25 arrests, 13 of which were in Northern Ireland and 12 in the rest of the UK. That shows that we take this crime very seriously, including in Northern Ireland.

Confiscation was also mentioned. In 2013-14, the last year for which we have figures, £113,001 was applied on confiscation orders relating to this type of crime, of which £113,000 related to confiscation orders in Northern Ireland, with only £1 relating to the rest of the United Kingdom. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington and I have enjoyed many debates on the topic of asset recovery, and we agree that we want to see more confiscation orders and more recovery. The Government take this issue seriously and progress is being made.

11 Mar 2015 : Column 369

HMRC’s anti-smuggling strategy is effective, and we continuously adapt it to accommodate changes in criminal behaviour. Since it was first launched, we have reduced the illicit cigarette market by half and the illicit hand-rolling tobacco market by a third, but we all recognise that more can be done. The hon. Member for East Antrim contributed to yesterday’s debate on the order to bring the National Crime Agency into Northern Ireland. I want to put it on record that, in regard to the priorities for policing and the NCA in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Policing Board will agree the NCA annual plan. That will allow key crime types, which may include fuel laundering, to be prioritised for the NCA in Northern Ireland.

One of the blockages to having full support in Northern Ireland has been the limit to the NCA’s ability to provide support to HMRC and the PSNI in Northern Ireland. That related to the powers issue, and thankfully that issue is now resolved. Yesterday, we debated and approved in Committee here, and in another place, the draft Crime and Courts Act 2013 (National Crime Agency and Proceeds of Crime) (Northern Ireland) Order 2015. The order will enable the NCA to operate with police powers in Northern Ireland from around the end of May. It puts in place accountability arrangements for the NCA that have been agreed with the Northern Ireland parties. It also extends civil recovery provisions and civil recovery investigation provisions under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to Northern Ireland. This will increase activity and improve performance, alongside the efforts of other accredited financial investigators in Northern Ireland, such as the Serious Fraud Office, the PSNI and the Environment Agency. Perhaps that will answer the question from the hon. Member for Foyle about waste crime.

We are also strengthening the provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act through the Serious Crime Act 2015. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington and I served on the Committee that considered that legislation. Its provisions will make it harder for criminals to move, hide and use the proceeds of crime through the better enforcement of existing court orders and the better recovery of hidden assets overseas. These steps are important, as denying criminals the proceeds of crime is one of the most effective ways of disrupting their activities. We agree that, so far, not enough has been recovered, but with these enhanced powers, the NCA, working

11 Mar 2015 : Column 370

with law enforcement, will be able to recover more. I urge the courts to ensure that confiscation orders are applied whenever possible, and that compensation orders for victims are also put in place.

The hon. Member for Foyle also raised concerns about engagement with communities. The Crime and Courts Act 2013 (National Crime Agency and Proceeds of Crime) (Northern Ireland) Order 2015 that we approved yesterday provides that the Northern Ireland Policing Board must make arrangements for obtaining the co-operation of the public with the NCA in the prevention of crime. The hon. Gentleman will recall that, as part of the Justice Minister’s proposal paper, there will also be a requirement for NCA officers to have a duty to secure the support of, and to act in co-operation with, the local community. Additionally, the order provides that the NCA’s director general must obtain the Policing Board’s prior consent to the Northern Ireland aspects of the NCA’s annual plan.

Serious and organised criminal groups do not respect borders or force boundaries. The PSNI estimates that there are around 150 organised crime groups active in Northern Ireland. Nearly a third of those groups are assessed as having links to international criminality, and another third are linked to criminality in the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland. HMRC operates across the UK as a whole, and the National Crime Agency has both national and international reach. They are working more closely than ever before with the PSNI and other partners to disrupt organised criminal groups undertaking fuel laundering and smuggling in Northern Ireland and to deny criminals the proceeds of that crime. As has been said, we will not oppose this motion, and I want to thank everybody for the debate. I look forward to Northern Ireland seeing the benefits of the NCA that the rest of the UK has benefited from since October 2013.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House notes with concern the continued prevalence of serious organised criminal activity in Northern Ireland on a cross-border basis in relation to fuel smuggling, fuel laundering and the counterfeiting of consumer goods; recognises that this has had a significant and detrimental impact on HM Treasury; regrets the lack of prosecutions in relation to this activity; and calls on the Government to ensure greater co-operation between HM Revenue and Customs, the National Crime Agency and the PSNI so that this criminal activity can be eradicated.

11 Mar 2015 : Column 371

Ark Pension Schemes

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Mark Lancaster.)

5.25 pm

Mr Jack Straw (Blackburn) (Ind): I begin by expressing my personal gratitude to you, Mr Speaker, for selecting this important subject for an Adjournment debate this evening. The Ark pension schemes were put in place a few years ago to offer an apparently lawful method by which participants could realise a substantial proportion of their pension pot many years before the relevant retirement age. At the heart of these schemes was a structure called a “maximising pension value arrangement”—MPVA. That involved a pension reciprocation plan by which members could gain access to their pension capital prior to the minimum retirement age without, it was claimed by its promoters, breaching Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs rules. That was achieved by one of the schemes under the control of the trustees “loaning” funds to a member of another scheme under their control and, reciprocally, the same amount being “loaned” back to a member of the first scheme.

In a High Court judgment in December 2011 on the Ark schemes, Mr Justice Bean said that the arrangements, including the MPVA loans, were “beyond the scope” of the trustees’ powers. They were “made for ulterior motives” and were a

“fraud on the trustees’ powers.”

According to Mr Justice Bean, the Ark schemes in question had funds originally of approximately £25 million, with a total membership of at least 487 members. Those members were from across the United Kingdom, and their situation has been a matter of concern to many Members of this House. One of those scheme members, however, is my constituent. For reasons that are readily understandable, he does not wish to be publicly identified, so although I have provided the Minister with his full details in confidence, in this debate I will refer to him simply as Mr Smith.

Mr Smith is in his late 40s. At 18, he showed rather more foresight than is usual for people of that age and took out membership of a private pension scheme, initially with Britannic Assurance but this was later transferred to Standard Life. After almost a quarter of a century paying into the scheme, he decided in 2008 to stop paying his monthly instalments, which had latterly been about £300 per month. The earliest payout date under the scheme was 2022, at age 55. The total pension pot—the fund—was valued at £122,000 in 2011. Mr Smith had for almost the whole of his working life been employed in a specialist sector of the building supplies industry, as a salesman, and had been employed by the same company for 23 years. However, as one of the many consequences of the 2008 world financial crisis, that company went into liquidation in 2010, and his job with it was no more. He found employment with another firm in the same sector, but by February 2011 it became apparent to Mr Smith that because of trading conditions he was likely to be made redundant from that firm, too.

Given that uncertainty, compounded by his age, Mr Smith thought that the best thing he could do was to set up a shop in the sector and work for himself. On

11 Mar 2015 : Column 372

the internet, he saw an advertisement that promised that he could “release 50%” of his “pension tax free”. The scheme claimed to be

“registered with HMRC, and the Pension Regulator”.

It was under the name of “Ark” pensions, with Minerva and Athena as trustees. Ark claimed around that time that

“both HMRC and the FSA”—

the Financial Services Authority, as was—

“have conducted detailed enquiries (with the full cooperation of Ark) but neither has seen fit to take any action”.

Ark also claimed that the schemes were lawful and that it had been advised so by leading counsel.

Mr Smith decided to participate in the Ark scheme. He duly completed all the application forms, and transferred the whole of his pension pot of £122,000 from Standard Life to Ark. His wife also transferred her smaller pension pot of £20,000 to Ark. The issues raised by her case are the same, so for simplicity’s sake I shall concentrate on Mr Smith’s position in this debate.

On 20 April 2011, Mr Smith received from Ark a cheque for £58,725—50% of his pot, less a 5% charge and other charges levied by Ark. Two weeks later, on 6 May 2011, Mr Smith, as he had anticipated, was made redundant for the second time in less than a year. Three weeks after that, on 31 May 2011, the Pensions Regulator decided to impose independent trustees, Dalriada, in place of those operating the Ark schemes, owing to

“concerns over the behaviour of the previous trustees.”

Fourteen days later, on 14 June 2011, Dalriada wrote to all Ark members, including my constituent Mr Smith, to say that they had been advised by leading counsel that there was a “strong possibility” that the MPVA arrangements by Ark were void. Dalriada said:

“This would mean that the arrangements would not be recognised as ever having taken effect.”

The subsequent court action between Dalriada and the original Ark trustees resulted in the judgment of Mr Justice Bean, to which I have already referred, declaring that, as Dalriada had anticipated, the MPVA arrangements were indeed void. The judgment has not been appealed, and therefore stands.

As soon as Mr Smith had had a chance to digest the implications of both the Pensions Regulator’s decision to impose different trustees and the High Court decision, he took the initiative and asked his accountant to contact HMRC about his likely liability to pay tax on the £58,000 received from Ark pensions in April 2011. In a letter to me on 24 February 2014, the chief executive of HMRC, Lin Homer, said:

“Mr [Smith] ... cooperated throughout the process.... and in January 2014 he made the decision to make a payment”


“on account in the sum of £32,300.”

This sum is currently held on Mr Smith's self-assessment account, and to date HMRC has not raised an assessment about it.

Over the past few years, I have come to know Mr Smith very well. He is a thoroughly decent, honourable man. He is expert in his own field of work, but not in pension law. He was led to believe that this MPVA method of releasing funds early from his pension account was entirely lawful. Mr Smith now finds himself in limbo.

11 Mar 2015 : Column 373

I hope that in this short debate the Minister can clarify what the future holds for Mr Smith and other members of the Ark schemes. What Mr Smith most wants is to be put back to the status quo ante. In other words, he refunds the total of what he has received from Ark—£58,000—and it is invested by respectable trustees in the usual way, and the benefits of his pension pot then become available to him, in the usual way, from the age of 55. Of that sum, £26,000 would be paid direct by him, and the other £32,300, which is currently held in a suspense account by HMRC, would be paid by HMRC to the new trustees. That seems to be entirely consistent with the statement of the new trustees, Dalriada, that if, as indeed happened, the MPVA arrangements were declared void, then they would

“not be recognised as ever having taken effect.”

My first and key question to the Minister is therefore this: can what Mr Smith is seeking happen, and if not—with respect—why not? Mr Smith fears that he may end up being the subject of a double whammy: first, he will have to pay the £32,000 in tax on the moneys released; and secondly, he will then find that the £61,000—the 50%—that was left in his pension pot under the arrangement is considerably reduced in value because of poor decisions by the Ark trustees, even though they had control of his moneys for less than six weeks. As I have already mentioned, HMRC has yet formally to raise an assessment against Mr Smith, so my second question to the Minister is this: are Mr Smith’s fears justified, and when is HMRC likely to decide whether or not to require the payment of the £32,300 held in the suspense account against a tax liability?

My third question builds on the second. Mr Smith fears that a considerable part of his outstanding pension pot will be absorbed by fees and legal costs incurred by the new Dalriada trustees. Are those rational fears?

My fourth and final set of questions relates to the assertion that Ark claimed its scheme was

“registered with HMRC and the Pensions Regulator”.

Are those claims correct? If they are, does that not imply that some responsibility for what has happened to individuals such as Mr Smith, who were acting in good faith, must lie with HMRC and the Pensions Regulator? If Ark’s claims are not correct—they were claims that my constituent and, I suspect, every other person who became a member of the schemes relied on—and they were fraudulent, what civil and criminal action is being taken against those responsible?

In short, it seems to me that my constituent has been the innocent victim of an elaborate and sophisticated arrangement designed to evade our pension laws. I have no sympathy for the architects of the scam or for those advising them. I have every sympathy for Mr Smith and his wife, and indeed for others in the same situation. I very much hope that the Minister does too and that he can offer the couple some better hope for their future.

5.37 pm

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): I congratulate the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) on securing the debate and on setting out his case so clearly and with such forensic skill, which has been a characteristic of his role as a Member of Parliament for some 36 years.

11 Mar 2015 : Column 374

As the right hon. Gentleman outlined, the Ark pension schemes are a number of schemes that were administered by Ark Business Consulting. The schemes operated a pensions reciprocation plan that involved loans being paid between schemes and their respective members. That was on the basis that members could access a proportion of their pension savings without breaching tax rules intended to ensure that members access their tax-relieved pension savings only from age 55, under a practice known as pension liberation.

The right hon. Gentleman raised a number of concerns about the tax implications for individuals involved in the schemes. It might help if I set out the tax rules in a little more detail before turning to the particular points he raised. Tax relief is provided on pensions savings with the expectation that the funds are used by the member to provide benefits later in life. The tax rules therefore set out the various payments that a pension scheme is authorised to make to, or on behalf of, a member. They include payments of authorised benefits—pensions and lump sums—as well as such payments as transfers to another registered pension scheme. To be an authorised payment, these benefits cannot be paid before the minimum pension age, currently 55.

Where payments are made that are not authorised, they are classed as “unauthorised payments” and are subject to certain tax charges. These charges are intended to recover the tax relief previously given on the savings, as they have not been used as intended by the tax rules. Where savings are taken before age 55, this is an “unauthorised payment” and tax charges will apply. A loan made to a member from a registered pension in connection with their pension savings is also an “unauthorised payment”. This guarantees fairness to the taxpayer and ensures that pensions are not simply used as a tax-efficient savings tool. HMRC is looking into whether the payments made to the members of the Ark schemes are authorised by the tax rules.

The tax position in relation to the Ark pension schemes is by no means straightforward. The right hon. Gentleman asked whether, if the loans are repaid, they can be treated for tax purposes as though they had never happened. That is not the case, as loans are “payments” for the purposes of the tax legislation under consideration, whether or not they are repaid. He asked why we cannot return to the status quo ante. To do otherwise than treat loans as “payments” would enable people to withdraw funds early from their pension pots without any tax implications, and then return them to their pension pots at some point in the future if they so wished, with no consequences. Clearly, we do not want to encourage that type of speculative behaviour. The rules essentially comply with the principles that have been in place since tax relief was introduced many years ago.

Mr Straw: Of course I accept, as does, I think, everyone in this House, that if we are going to have arrangements by which people are able to save up for their retirement and to gain tax advantages in doing so, we cannot, in principle, have a situation where, in advance of their retirement age, they can simply pick and choose what they take out of the scheme, or not. However, does the Minister recognise the inequity of the fact that my constituent, who has acted in good faith, has been the victim of circumstances where he believed that what was happening was lawful—as indeed, at the time, it

11 Mar 2015 : Column 375

was—and accept that, in the special circumstances in which he finds himself, arrangements ought to be made by which he can return to the status quo ante, because otherwise he will suffer a huge penalty for no benefit?

Mr Gauke: The right hon. Gentleman puts his constituent’s case very well. In the situation as he describes it, it is hard not to be sympathetic to an individual placed in that position. However, the law is very clear that a loan payment of this sort constitutes a “payment”, and certain consequences follow. I take his point, and this may well be a hard case. The challenge arises if we have a situation whereby people are able at least to attempt to access some of their pension pot, and then subsequently find, for one reason or another, that that was not the right thing to do. However, simply putting them in the position they were in to begin with is, to use a snooker term, a bit of a shot to nothing. Although this might be unfair—I am sure that it is—on the right hon. Gentleman’s constituent, others who are acting in not quite such a degree of good faith might attempt to liberate, as it were, their pension in the hope that it does not get picked up, and in the knowledge that if it does, they are in no worse a situation. That is one of the challenges that a Government of any description would face, and that is why the law in this area has been tightly drawn for many years.

In the right hon. Gentleman’s second question, he asked when the matter might be settled so that he could provide some certainty for his constituent. I fear that I cannot provide such certainty about when the tax position will be settled. This is a complex case, and it may ultimately be for the tax tribunal to determine the correct tax position. Until that has been determined, it will not be possible for HMRC to settle the specific case, and that timetable is not within the control of HMRC. I have asked HMRC when it anticipates dealing with this case, but given that it will have to go to a tribunal, HMRC is not willing to provide a precise date.

The Government have a duty, not least to the taxpayer, to apply the legislation fairly and consistently in line with statutory provisions. Where a liability to tax arises, the normal rules in relation to interest accruing on any outstanding tax charge apply. Existing arrangements that allow individuals to get more time to pay or to pay their tax bill in instalments will be available to help those who want to use them.

On the specific case, in May 2011, the Pensions Regulator decided to appoint Dalriada Trustees Ltd as the independent trustee of the Ark pension schemes. It did so because it was satisfied that the interests of scheme members were at risk due to the schemes being used for pension liberation. Under trust law, Dalriada has a duty to act in the best interests of the members. I am sure that it will seek to locate as much of the scheme’s funds as possible, and to recover assets wherever it is reasonable and proportionate to do so, bearing in mind that the standard practice is for the costs of investigating and recovering assets to be met from member funds.

On the right hon. Gentleman’s third question, there are responsibilities on Dalriada as the trustee to ensure that its actions are proportionate and that the pension funds of Ark members are not frittered away. None the

11 Mar 2015 : Column 376

less, it faces a challenge in recovering the assets. I suspect that Dalriada as the trustee is better placed to give an estimate of the risks of legal costs substantially diminishing the pension pot in the Ark scheme.

The right hon. Gentleman has raised the concern that Ark scheme members entered the arrangements in good faith. As I have mentioned, Dalriada was appointed because the schemes were suspected of being involved in pension liberation. He will doubtless be aware that pension liberation is a threat to individuals’ hard-earned pensions savings. It occurs where a scheme is set up to enable someone to access their pensions savings early—usually before age 55. Scheme promoters often fail to tell people about the tax consequences of accessing their pension savings early, and promoters often charge high fees. In some cases, people are promised cash if they invest their pension funds in esoteric investments, on which a high return is promised, and people unfortunately often lose all their pension savings in those cases.

Some products claim to unlock, liberate or provide early access to pension savings without giving rise to tax charges. That is not true: anyone receiving money from their pension scheme before the age of 55 will normally be subject to tax charges aimed at recovering tax reliefs. It is therefore vital for individuals to recognise the danger of entering into such schemes. If they choose to access their pensions savings early, they need to be aware of the tax charges and risks. HMRC is continuing to take action in pursuit of those who deliberately bend or break the rules by offering schemes to liberate pensions savings. That is part of a continuous strategy to combat pension liberation, as is the ongoing review of pension tax legislation. The Government will not hesitate to make further changes if necessary.

Mr Straw: It may be that the Minister is coming to my fourth question, but I would be grateful to know whether it is correct, as my constituent claims, that Ark held out that it was regulated by HMRC and the Pensions Regulator. If that is correct, does he believe that any responsibility for the fact that the scheme was advertised in that way rests with those two regulators?

Mr Gauke: I reassure the right hon. Gentleman that I will turn to his fourth question in a moment, but before I do I hope it will be helpful if I first say a little more about what HMRC is doing in this area, and then I will deal with his question directly.

In addition to the measures I have mentioned, HMRC has been working extremely closely with partner agencies—the Pensions Regulator, the Financial Services Authority and the Serious Fraud Office—to detect, disrupt and deter promoters, and to warn people of the dangers of entering into these schemes. Although HMRC and its partners are taking action to raise awareness of potential threats, the Ark case highlights the need for people to be on their guard against promises of tax loopholes, offers of unrealistic investment returns, or other dubious advice linked to their pension pot or cash lump sums. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Individuals need to consider carefully what is on offer and whether it is appropriate to their circumstances, and ensure they have carried out sufficient due diligence, taking professional advice as they deem necessary.

11 Mar 2015 : Column 377

The right hon. Gentleman asks whether the Ark pension schemes were registered with HMRC, and I confirm that they were. As he will appreciate, it is difficult to know at the point an application for registration is received whether any particular pension scheme will ultimately be misused, but that is not to say that the Government should be complacent. Changes have recently been made to the process for registering a new pension scheme with HMRC to make the system more robust and disrupt any fraudulent intentions.

Legislation in last year’s Finance Act provided greater powers to check that pension schemes are being set up for the genuine provision of retirement benefits, and to impose penalties where wrongdoing is identified. That includes a “fit and proper person” test for those running the pension schemes applying for registration. Essentially, these changes provide stronger powers for existing pension

11 Mar 2015 : Column 378

schemes to be deregistered, or for new schemes to be refused registration where there are concerns.

HMRC’s role is to ensure that the tax system is being complied with. It is not there to perform a role of consumer protection, but to ensure that pensions are not liberated, and we have made a number of changes in recent months to strengthen its powers in that area. As the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate I cannot discuss individual cases, but I assure him that HMRC continues to ensure that the tax rules are applied fairly and consistently, that it will continue to pursue those behind pension liberation schemes, and that the British taxpayer continues to get a fair deal.

Question put and agreed to.

5.53 pm

House adjourned.

11 Mar 2015 : Column 379

Deferred Division

Public Health

That the draft Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015, which were laid before this House on 23 February, be approved.

The House divided:

Ayes 367, Noes 113.

Division No. 174]


Abrahams, Debbie

Ainsworth, rh Mr Bob

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Danny

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Anderson, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Baker, rh Norman

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barclay, Stephen

Barron, rh Kevin

Barwell, Gavin

Bayley, Sir Hugh

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Benn, rh Hilary

Benyon, Richard

Berger, Luciana

Berry, Jake

Blackman, Bob

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Blunkett, rh Mr David

Blunt, Crispin

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brake, rh Tom

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brennan, Kevin

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brooke, rh Annette

Brown, Mr Russell

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burnham, rh Andy

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burstow, rh Paul

Burt, rh Alistair

Cable, rh Vince

Cameron, rh Mr David

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, Mr Gregory

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Champion, Sarah

Chishti, Rehman

Clark, rh Greg

Clark, Katy

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clwyd, rh Ann

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Corbyn, Jeremy

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Cruddas, Jon

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Darling, rh Mr Alistair

Davey, rh Mr Edward

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, Geraint

Denham, rh Mr John

Dobson, rh Frank

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donaldson, rh Mr Jeffrey M.

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doran, Mr Frank

Dorries, Nadine

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Dromey, Jack

Dugher, Michael

Durkan, Mark

Eagle, Ms Angela

Edwards, Jonathan

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellis, Michael

Ellison, Jane

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Evans, Chris

Evennett, Mr David

Farrelly, Paul

Farron, Tim

Featherstone, rh Lynne

Field, rh Mr Frank

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Foster, rh Mr Don

Francis, Dr Hywel

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

George, Andrew

Gibb, Mr Nick

Gillan, rh Mrs Cheryl

Gilmore, Sheila

Glen, John

Goodman, Helen

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Greatrex, Tom

Green, Kate

Greening, rh Justine

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hague, rh Mr William

Hain, rh Mr Peter

Hames, Duncan

Hamilton, Mr David

Hamilton, Fabian

Hammond, Stephen

Hancock, Mr Mike

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harman, rh Ms Harriet

Harris, Mr Tom

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Havard, Mr Dai

Heald, Sir Oliver

Healey, rh John

Heath, Mr David

Hendrick, Mark

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hinds, Damian

Hodge, rh Margaret

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hopkins, Kris

Hosie, Stewart

Howarth, rh Mr George

Howell, John

Hunt, Tristram

Hunter, Mark

Huppert, Dr Julian

Hurd, Mr Nick

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

Jackson, Mr Stewart

James, Margot

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Jenrick, Robert

Johnson, Diana

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Graham

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Mr Marcus

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald

Keeley, Barbara

Kelly, Chris

Kendall, Liz

Khan, rh Sadiq

Lancaster, Mark

Lansley, rh Mr Andrew

Latham, Pauline

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Dr Phillip

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leslie, Charlotte

Leslie, Chris

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Long, Naomi

Lopresti, Jack

Lucas, Caroline

Lucas, Ian

Luff, Sir Peter

Lumley, Karen

Mactaggart, Fiona

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Maynard, Paul

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McCartney, Jason

McCrea, Dr William

McDonald, Andy

McDonnell, John

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGuire, rh Dame Anne

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McLoughlin, rh Mr Patrick

Meacher, rh Mr Michael

Mearns, Ian

Menzies, Mark

Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew

Miller, rh Maria

Milton, Anne

Mitchell, rh Mr Andrew

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Moore, rh Michael

Mordaunt, Penny

Morden, Jessica

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morrice, Graeme


Morris, James

Mudie, Mr George

Munn, Meg

Munt, Tessa

Murphy, rh Mr Jim

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

O'Donnell, Fiona

Offord, Dr Matthew

Onwurah, Chi

Opperman, Guy

Osborne, rh Mr George

Osborne, Sandra

Pearce, Teresa

Penrose, John

Perkins, Toby

Phillips, Stephen

Phillipson, Bridget

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Poulter, Dr Daniel

Pound, Stephen

Powell, Lucy

Pritchard, Mark

Pugh, John

Raab, Mr Dominic

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Reynolds, Emma

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Robertson, rh Sir Hugh

Robertson, John

Rogerson, Dan

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Mr Frank

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Ruddock, rh Dame Joan

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sarwar, Anas

Sawford, Andy

Scott, Mr Lee

Seabeck, Alison

Selous, Andrew

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shepherd, Sir Richard

Sheridan, Jim

Simpson, David

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Slaughter, Mr Andy

Smith, Angela

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Soubry, Anna

Spelman, rh Mrs Caroline

Stanley, rh Sir John

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Swales, Ian

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Tami, Mark

Tapsell, rh Sir Peter

Thomas, Mr Gareth

Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Stephen

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Tredinnick, David

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vaz, Valerie

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Robin

Walley, Joan

Ward, Mr David

Webb, rh Steve

Weir, Mr Mike

White, Chris

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Hywel

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Roger

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Chris

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, rh Jenny

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Mr Rob

Winnick, Mr David

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Woodcock, John

Wright, Mr Iain

Wright, rh Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Young, rh Sir George


Adams, Nigel

Amess, Sir David

Baker, Steve

Baldwin, Harriett

Bebb, Guto

Bellingham, Mr Henry

Bingham, Andrew

Bone, Mr Peter

Bradley, Karen

Brady, Mr Graham

Bray, Angie

Bridgen, Andrew

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Burley, Mr Aidan

Burns, Conor

Carswell, Douglas

Chope, Mr Christopher

Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Davies, David T. C.


Davies, Glyn

de Bois, Nick

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Sir Alan

Elphicke, Charlie

Evans, Jonathan

Evans, Mr Nigel

Fabricant, Michael

Field, Mark

Fox, rh Dr Liam

Francois, rh Mr M ark

Fuller, Richard

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Gummer, Ben

Halfon, Robert

Hands, rh Greg

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Hart, Simon

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Henderson, Gordon

Hendry, Charles

Hepburn, Mr Stephen

Herbert, rh Nick

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Howarth, Sir Gerald

Hughes, rh Simon

Jenkin, Mr Bernard

Johnson, Gareth

Kawczynski, Daniel

Kirby, Simon

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Leigh, Sir Edward

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Macleod, Mary

Main, Mrs Anne

McCartney, Karl

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McVey, rh Esther

Meale, Sir Alan

Metcalfe, Stephen

Mills, Nigel

Morris, David

Mosley, Stephen

Murray, Sheryll

Neill, Robert

Nuttall, Mr David

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Paice, rh Sir James

Paisley, Ian

Parish, Neil

Pawsey, Mark

Percy, Andrew

Pincher, Christopher

Prisk, Mr Mark

Reckless, Mark

Redwood, rh Mr John

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Rosindell, Andrew

Skidmore, Chris

Spencer, Mr Mark

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Sturdy, Julian

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Syms, Mr Robert

Truss, rh Elizabeth

Tyrie, Mr Andrew

Uppal, Paul

Walker, Mr Charles

Wallace, Mr Ben

Watkinson, Dame Angela

Wheeler, Heather

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Wiggin, Bill

Wilson, Sammy

Question accordingly agreed to.

11 Mar 2015 : Column 380

11 Mar 2015 : Column 381

11 Mar 2015 : Column 382