Chris Grayling – 2018 Speech on Airports

Below is the text of the speech made by Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, on 29 October 2018.

Good morning everyone.

It’s a real pleasure to join you again for your annual conference.

And to start what I’m sure will be a day and a half of stimulating debate.

When the AOA was first formed in 1934, the conference’s theme – the Airport of the Future – might have been an equally apt topic.

But a keynote speaker 84 years ago would have needed a vivid imagination to predict the airports of the 21st century.

Who would have dreamt that Gatwick, a former horse racing track, would become Britain’s second busiest airport?

Or a couple of farms and a vicarage in leafy Cheshire would be transformed into Manchester Airport – with flights to every corner of the globe?

Or that a collection of fields would one day make way for Birmingham Airport – now the Midlands’ gateway to the world.

So Britain’s airports have undergone a remarkable change within a single lifespan – transformed from their early roots to the incredibly successful and safe industry represented in this room today.

Importance of industry

An airports industry that supports hundreds of thousands of jobs.

That every week directly generates £270 million for the UK economy.

And that plays a vital role in attracting inward investment to our country by connecting businesses at home and overseas.

You are the reason why Britain today has the third largest aviation network in the world.

Why we imported and exported £170 billion of air freight last year to countries outside the EU.

Why passenger numbers have surged by 64 million in just 5 years.

With 284 million people passing through our airports in 2017.

And recent events have shown that the pace of change in the airport sector is accelerating.

We’ve ended decades of dithering over Heathrow expansion with overwhelming support in Parliament for the National Policy Statement.

There is massive investment going into airports around the country.

At Manchester, Luton and Leeds Bradford for example.

And you’ve rolled out new routes to cities in some of the fastest growing parts of the world – for instance the Middle East and China.

Airports are becoming increasingly innovative.

Finding new and diverse ways to benefit the economies and communities you serve.

For example hosting business parks, where SMEs can grow with easy connections to markets and suppliers.

And by providing education and training opportunities to attract more people into aviation careers – as we’re seeing at Stansted.

And let’s not forget the smaller airports that maintain essential links for more isolated parts of the country.

From Newquay in Cornwall to Inverness in the Highlands – these busy transport hubs help boost their local economies – making them even more vibrant.

Brexit

And it’s absolutely crucial that UK airports continue to thrive after we leave the European Union.

Of course securing the best possible access to European markets is the ultimate goal of our negotiations.

And with 164 million passengers travelling between the UK and EU last year – maintaining current agreements on air transport is clearly in the interests of everyone.

But as we’ve made clear, it’s just common sense that we also plan for all possible scenarios – even if they are unlikely.

The recent aviation technical notices we released set out the pragmatic approach that the UK would take in the event of a ‘no-deal’ exit.

Those actions would help avoid disruption to air services, while supporting businesses and consumers. Not just here in the UK, but across Europe.

We will also continue to seek new and improved bilateral Air Services Agreements with the rest of the world.

Aiming, as we always have, to improve connectivity, choice and value for money for businesses and consumers.

We want to continue participation with the European Aviation Safety Agency.

But whatever the conclusion of negotiations, EU safety rules will be brought into domestic law through the withdrawal act.

So we look forward to an outcome which not only maintains connectivity, but also allows British aviation to grow and thrive.

And of course that includes capitalising on new, global opportunities.

It has never been more important to demonstrate that Britain is open to the world.

Open to collaboration.

Open for business.

And there can be no better way of doing that than through international air connections and our world class aviation industry.

Aviation strategy and airspace modernisation

Projections show that 435 million passengers a year could be passing through our airports by 2050.

Passengers who are a benefit to Britain.

Boosting tourism.

Building business relationships across continents.

Hundreds of millions of opportunities for Britain to grow.

But we can’t take future success for granted.

We need a long-term plan for sustainable growth.

So that we better manage the impact of airport expansion on local communities.

So that we improve surface access – making journeys to airports quicker, easier and greener.

So that we address the environmental concerns of growth.

And consider the passenger in everything we do.

These things won’t happen on their own.

They can only be achieved by government and industry working in partnership.

And that’s why we are developing our aviation strategy.

A comprehensive, long term vision for the sector up to 2050.

A vision for enterprise and growth.

That provides the right framework for the sector to grow responsibly.

Let me give a couple of examples.

Just as important as building new infrastructure or making best use of existing runways is how we optimise use of our skies.

As air traffic grows, modernisation of airspace is an increasingly pressing issue.

We need to get it right, for the benefit of the industry, passengers, and communities living under flight paths.

We’ve already made good progress on this front with the publication of our airspace change framework last year.

And as part of the aviation strategy we will be examining whether further policy is needed to support these changes.

But we need your help and engagement too.

To help us make best use of airspace.

And growth cannot take place without considering the environment and local communities.

Our recent Airports National Policy Statement highlights the government’s expectation that expansion will be supported by a strong package of environmental and community mitigations.

And the forthcoming aviation green paper will set out proposals to enable sustainable growth across the country.

But to do those things we need you to work with local neighbourhoods, the government and each other to the benefit of every airport across the UK network.

And ultimately to the benefit of passengers.

That’s what the aviation strategy is all about.

We have to look at every stage of the passenger journey.

Analyse key trends, and examine how airports can continue to respond to travellers’ changing needs.

For while you generally do a great job at innovating to meet new customer demands.

For instance your investment in new screening technologies that could speed up passengers’ journey through security.

There is still more to be done to ensure all consumers can travel with confidence.

Inclusive travel and borders

Like providing full accessibility, for instance.

Last year there were 3 million requests for assistive services in airports – a leap of two thirds in 6 years.

And our aging population means demand is likely to further grow.

There’s already been some excellent progress.

This year 16 airports, including Edinburgh, Liverpool, Cardiff and Derry, were rated as very good in the CAA’s accessibility review.

Up from just 6 in 2017.

But there are still distressing stories.

And the CAA reviews have found that some airports still need to make vital improvements.

So it’s important we all up our game.

That’s why in July we launched our Inclusive Transport Strategy – to ensure disabled people can travel confidently, easily and at no extra cost.

And the aviation strategy provides a great opportunity to explore these issues across the airports sector.

We are considering a range of measures including improved training for airport and airline staff and boosting awareness of assistive services at airports.

While the CAA has recently released new guidelines on supporting passengers with hidden disabilities.

In addition it’s vital that we demonstrate that the UK is fully open for business and to the world.

So we want to limit delays at our borders too.

As part of the strategy we are working with Border Force on ways of creating a smoother crossing for travellers through passport control.

Without compromising security.

And I thank the AOA and the aviation industry for your help so far on this work. Your input has been greatly valued.

Green paper

And I know that many of you have already contributed to the strategy‘s development so far.

But we hope to hear even more from you.

We will lay out the next steps of its development in a green paper this December (2018).

To be followed by another consultation period before the final document is published next year.

So I urge you to participate.

This will be a great chance to shape the final strategy.

And an opportunity for us to benefit from your experience and that of your customers.

I can’t predict what will be top of the agenda at the AOA conference 8 decades from now.

Or imagine how our airports will look in 2102.

But I can promise that through the aviation strategy we are looking ahead to the challenges of the coming decades.

I can tell you that your future in this country is bright.

And I can guarantee that by working together we will set a course that allows Britain’s airports to continue to flourish.

Thank you.

Nick Gibb – 2018 Statement on Teachers’ Pay Grant

Below is the text of the statement made by Nick Gibb, the Secretary of State for Education, in the House of Commons on 24 October 2018.

Today I am confirming the allocations for the teachers’ pay grant for 2018-19.

The teachers’ pay grant was announced on 24 July by the Secretary of State for Education. This will be worth £508 million in total and will fully fund the 2018-19 ​academic year pay award to the end of the spending review period, over and above the 1% rise schools would have expected and been planning for.

On 14 September the Department for Education published the rates and high-level methodology for the teachers’ pay grant.

The grant will be paid to all state-funded schools and academies, including maintained nursery schools. This will be on the basis of pupil numbers in mainstream schools, and place numbers in special schools and other specialist provision. All schools will be funded for at least 100 pupils or 40 places.

Funding for mainstream schools will be allocated on the basis of pupil numbers and each school will have a specific allocation which cannot be modified by the local authority.

Local authorities will receive an allocation in respect of specialist provision in their area. This will be based on the number of places in each school, with all schools being funded for at least 40 places. The local authority will have the flexibility to allocate funding to the schools in their area, taking into account the particular circumstance of the schools and following consultation with them.

Further details and guidance will be published on gov.uk.

Theresa May – 2018 Speech on Brexit

Mr Speaker, before I turn to the European Council, I am sure the whole House will join me in condemning the killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the strongest possible terms.

We must get to the truth of what happened – and my Rt Hon Friend the Foreign Secretary will be making a statement shortly.

Mr Speaker, on the European Council, in addition to Brexit, there were important discussions on security and migration.

First, at last Monday’s Foreign Ministers meeting my Rt Hon Friend the Foreign Secretary and his French counterpart secured agreement on a new EU sanctions regime on the use of chemical weapons.

At this Council, I argued along with Dutch Prime Minister Rutte that we should also accelerate work on further measures – including sanctions – to respond to and deter cyber-attacks.

The attempted hacking of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague earlier this year was a stark example of the very real threats we face.

We must impose costs on all those who seek to do us harm, regardless of the means they use. And this Council agreed to take that work forward.

Second, in marking anti-slavery day, I welcomed the continued commitment of all EU leaders in working together to eliminate the barbaric crime of people trafficking.

We reaffirmed our shared commitments to doing more to tackle the challenges of migration upstream.

Following the Council, I met Premier Li of China, President Moon of South Korea and Prime Minister Lee of Singapore at the ASEM Summit.

Since 2010, our trade with Asia has grown by almost 50 per cent – more than with any other continent in the world. I want to develop that even further.

Indeed, Mr Speaker, the ability to develop our own new trade deals is one of the great opportunities of Brexit.

So at this Summit we discussed how the UK can build the most ambitious economic partnerships with all our Asian partners as we leave the European Union. And we also agreed to deepen our co-operation across shared threats to our security.

Turning to Brexit, Mr Speaker, let me begin with the progress we have made on both the Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration on our future relationship.

As I reported to the House last Monday, the shape of the deal across the vast majority of the Withdrawal Agreement is now clear.

Since Salzburg we have agreed the broad scope of provisions that set out the governance and dispute resolution arrangements for our Withdrawal Agreement.

We have developed a Protocol relating to the UK Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.

Following discussions with Spain – and in close co-operation with the Government of Gibraltar – we have also developed a Protocol and a set of underlying memoranda relating to Gibraltar, heralding a new era in our relations.

And we have broad agreement on the structure and scope of the future relationship, with important progress made on issues like security, transport and services.

And this progress in the last three weeks builds on the areas where we have already reached agreement – on citizens’ rights, on the financial settlement, on the Implementation Period, and in Northern Ireland, agreement on the preservation of the particular rights for UK and Irish citizens – and on the special arrangements between us such as the Common Travel Area, which has existed since before either the UK or Ireland ever became members of the European Economic Community.

Mr Speaker, taking all of this together, 95 per cent of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocols are now settled.

There is one real sticking point left, but a considerable one, which is how we guarantee that – in the unlikely event our future relationship is not in place by the end of the Implementation Period – there is no return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The commitment to avoiding a hard border is one this House emphatically endorsed and enshrined in law in the Withdrawal Act earlier this year.

As I set out last week, the original backstop proposal from the EU was one we could not accept, as it would mean creating a customs border down the Irish Sea and breaking up the integrity of our United Kingdom.

I do not believe that any UK Prime Minister could ever accept this.

And I certainly will not.

But as I said in my Mansion House speech: We chose to leave; we have a responsibility to help find a solution. So earlier this year, we put forward a counter-proposal for a temporary UK-EU joint customs territory for the backstop.

And in a substantial shift in their position since Salzburg, the EU are now actively working with us on this proposal.

But a number of issues remain.

The EU argue that they cannot give a legally binding commitment to a UK-wide customs arrangement in the Withdrawal Agreement, so their original proposal must remain a possibility.

Furthermore, Mr Speaker, people are understandably worried that we could get stuck in a backstop that is designed only to be temporary.

And there are also concerns that Northern Ireland could be cut off from accessing its most important market – Great Britain.

During last week’s Council, I had good discussions with Presidents Juncker, Tusk and Macron, Chancellor Merkel and Taoiseach Varadkar and others about how to break this impasse.

I believe there are four steps we need to take.

First, we must make the commitment to a temporary UK-EU joint customs territory legally binding, so the Northern Ireland only proposal is no longer needed.

This would not only protect relations North-South, but also, vitally, East-West.

This is critical: the relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is an integral strand of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. So to protect that Agreement we need to preserve the totality of relationships it sets out.

Nothing we agree with the EU under Article 50 should risk a return to a hard border, or threaten the delicate constitutional and political arrangements underpinned by the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.

The second step, is to create an option to extend the Implementation Period as an alternative to the backstop.

Mr Speaker, I have not committed to extending the Implementation Period.

I do not want to extend the Implementation Period – and I do not believe that extending it will be necessary.

I see any extension – or being in any form of backstop – as undesirable. By far the best outcome for the UK, for Ireland and for the EU – is that our future relationship is agreed and in place by 1st January 2021.

I have every confidence that it will be. And the European Union have said they will show equal commitment to this timetable.

But the impasse we are trying to resolve is about the insurance policy if this does not happen.

So what I am saying is that – if at the end of 2020 our future relationship was not quite ready – the proposal is that the UK would be able to make a sovereign choice between the UK-wide customs backstop or a short extension of the Implementation Period.

And Mr Speaker, there are some limited circumstances in which it could be argued that an extension to the Implementation Period might be preferable, if we were certain it was only for a short time

For example, a short extension to the Implementation Period would mean only one set of changes for businesses – at the point we move to the future relationship.

But in any such scenario we would have to be out of this Implementation Period well before the end of this Parliament.

The third step, Mr Speaker, is to ensure that were we to need either of these insurance policies – whether the backstop or a short extension to the Implementation Period – we could not be kept in either arrangement indefinitely.

We would not accept a position in which the UK, having negotiated in good faith an agreement which prevents a hard border in Northern Ireland, nonetheless finds itself locked into an alternative, inferior arrangement against our will.

The fourth step, Mr Speaker, is for the Government to deliver the commitment we have made to ensure full continued access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK internal market.

Northern Ireland’s businesses rely heavily on trade with their largest market – Great Britain – and we must protect this in any scenario.

Mr Speaker, let us remember that all of these steps are about insurance policies that no-one in the UK or the EU wants or expects to use.

So we cannot let this become the barrier to reaching the future partnership we all want to see.

We have to explore every possible option to break the impasse and that is what I am doing.

When I stood in Downing Street and addressed the nation for the first time, I pledged that the government I lead will not be driven by the interests of the privileged few but of ordinary working families.

And that is what guides me every day in these negotiations.

Before any decision, I ask: how do I best deliver the Brexit that the British people voted for.

How do I best take back control of our money, borders and laws.

How do I best protect jobs and make sure nothing gets in the way of our brilliant entrepreneurs and small businesses.

And how do I best protect the integrity of our precious United Kingdom, and protect the historic progress we have made in Northern Ireland.

And, if doing those things means I get difficult days in Brussels, then so be it. The Brexit talks are not about my interests. They are about the national interest – and the interests of the whole of our United Kingdom.

Serving our national interest will demand that we hold our nerve through these last stages of the negotiations, the hardest part of all.

It will mean not giving in to those who want to stop Brexit with a politicians vote – politicians telling the people they got it wrong the first time and should try again.

And it will mean focusing on the prize that lies before us: the great opportunities that we can open up for our country when we clear these final hurdles in the negotiations.

That is what I am working to achieve. And I commend this Statement to the House.

Guy Opperman – 2018 Speech at PLSA Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Guy Opperman, the Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, at the Pensions and Lifetimes Savings Association on 18 October 2018.

Thank you very much indeed, and thank you to the PLSA for inviting me.

It is good to be back, I’m not quite in Steve Webb territory of repeat appearances but to misquote Mark Twain, rumours of my demise, or the government’s demise have been grossly over-exaggerated.

As you know, I asked to do this job, I wanted very much to do this particular job and I hope that I will be able to continue and I hope I’ll be coming back next year. And whilst I welcome the chance to be here, I love Liverpool, if you want to hold it somewhere in the true North, rather than somewhere halfway up England then my suggestion is that Hexham is a delightful venue, and really if you haven’t been you should go soon.

It is very true to say that in the last year we have seen a significant and large number of changes designed – I believe – to improve savers’ experience. In fact, in my last speech last year, I set out a number of those particular matters. But there were a key 4 things that I tried to explain that we were working on.

The creation of the Single Financial Guidance Body, expansion of auto enrolment, the Defined Benefit white paper and the feasibility study for the Pensions Dashboard.

Now I’m going to change the habit of every single Pensions Minister for a very long period of time, by setting out not in great detail, auto enrolment, and the many things we’ve done in that area. But I do accept that the dashboard, for example, has taken longer than I would’ve liked. There are good reasons why and I’ll be discussing those later on today.

When I spoke last year about the Single Financial Guidance Body, this was the first bill that the government brought in after the 2017 General Election. And you may think that we’re all focused on Brexit and other things, but the truth is the first thing the Prime Minister asked us to take through the House of Commons was a bill to provide pensions guidance and to provide financial capability on an ongoing basis.

So it is something we have worked absolutely hand in glove with the Treasury on, and I’m delighted that we’re up and running. We have, in Hector Sants and John Govett, outstanding leadership for this organisation, we have the new non-executive directors who have been appointed, I’m meeting the organisation on a regular, almost weekly basis, to discuss financial capability generally, and more specifically the long-term strategy they have to take things forward.

At the same stage, we have taken forward the DB white paper, and we have looked at consolidation on an ongoing basis.

We have consulted on The Pensions Regulator’s powers, and my apologies, I missed the speech from Lesley earlier today, but the aim of the new powers it seems to me, is quite clearly to enable the regulator to be clearer, quicker and tougher so that they can be more proactive and get involved earlier, and then if necessary, and this should be in exceptional circumstances, punish wrongdoing when employers make changes which could adversely affect their pension scheme.

We’re currently considering the responses to this consultation along with the feedback, and we are in a position that the publication of the conclusions will be towards the end of this year.

Now, aside from the DB white paper, we have made changes to legislation this year that have made it easier for DC schemes to move members to a new scheme should they wish to exit the market, or consolidate.

Fundamentally, and I want to make this clear. I and the government are in favour of consolidation and superfunds. We genuinely believe that big is better and we believe that consolidation within superfunds offers and alternative option for schemes and sponsors that have no realistic option of being able to fund an insurance buyout now or in the foreseeable future.

We believe that superfunds will not only incentivise sponsors to improve funding levels, but will also reduce the risks created by future employer insolvencies.

However, whilst we welcome this innovation, we need to ensure it is managed safely. We need to set perimeters and parameters which strike the right balance between enhancing member protection, being affordable for employers and commercially viable.

Consolidation within superfunds offers an alternative option for schemes and sponsors who have no realistic prospect of being able to fund an insurance buyout now or in the foreseeable future.

We believe that superfunds will not only incentivise sponsors to improve funding levels, but will also reduce the risks created by future employer insolvency.

However, whilst we welcome this innovation, we need to ensure it is managed safely. We need to set perimeters and parameters which strike the right balance between enhancing member protection, being affordable for employers and commercially viable.

Once we have confirmed our position and approach we will of course engage with your good selves and I hope to announce this consultation on DB consolidation very shortly.

As you’ll see, in this speech, there are an awful lot of consultations coming shortly.

As you’re aware we set out a range of proposals in the DB white paper. Our intention is to legislate for them as soon as possible; I’ll talk about the statutory process later today.

I want to talk a little bit more about the TRIG work on reducing transfer times.

I have been pleased to hear that the PLSA has publicly committed to supporting the work being progressed by the TRIG group.

I know that many schemes, including personal pensions and master trusts, are already signed up to standards and platforms which allow for routine DC to DC transfers in 10 to 12 days, and I sincerely applaud those industry bodies who have made this commitment.

However, I do want to take this opportunity now to encourage all pension schemes – specifically those who have not already signed up to any standards or platforms – to adopt this approach. Given that we can fly to the moon in less than a week, given that we can invade the Falkland Islands in about 21 days, it seems to me that 100 days is too long to transfer.

It is quite clear that there is work to do to ensure there is an equal standard in the industry, and I’m committed to do that.

But I’m a firm believer in encouraging the industry to lead from the front. So I encourage you all to collaborate and to take action to ensure that those schemes whose performance is lagging behind are encouraged to change their processes.

As part of that I want to talk about Ruston’s work on Simplified Annual Benefit Statements.

I want to give my full support to the work the PLSA are doing to develop retirement income targets, and the work Ruston is doing to build agreement across the industry for a Simplified Annual Benefit Statement. I regard this as utterly key.

One of the key points coming out of our review of automatic enrolment in 2017 was that engaging people in pension saving is a shared responsibility – it’s not just government, it will require government, the industry, the advisory community and employers all having roles to play, and to play them collectively.

The review called on industry and others to be creative, and to work together, and the PLSA’s work in this area is an example of how that can happen.

The development of the Simplified Annual Benefit Statement is a testament to what you can do together frankly. I believe it is a simple and more engaging statement focused on user needs. We’ll be hearing more about it in the conference I know, and I’m sharing a stand with Ruston at a later stage today.

But it’s an example of the industry working together, and I want to thank all the team, and it’s not just Ruston, there’s a huge amount of people that have got behind it, for the work they’ve done.

We’ve also introduced regulations that will ensure DC pension schemes are more transparent about how much members pay.

We laid the Administration and Disclosure (Amendment) Regulations in February. Schemes will now have to publish details of all member-borne costs and charges on a rolling basis between this November and next.

I know there remain a few people who believe that members don’t care about, or won’t understand the costs and charges they pay. But I do think that costs matter and transparency matters. This is not the only thing which matters, but it is a factor. And I’m not aware of any other financial products with uncertain returns where members are not told what it will cost them.

So, I really want to thank all the members of the Independent Institutional Disclosure Working Group for their work to agree templates for disclosure to pension schemes. But I believe that transparency – sunlight is the best disinfectant – is actually something that will aid all of you.

I want to turn, if I can, to the issue of sustainable and responsible investments, and the nature of the particular investment.

I accept that it is a difficult and tricky issue for someone in my position to give an opinion on to independent trustees.

But the government has also undertaken some important work to clarify on pension schemes and how they invest, specifically when trustees consider their fiduciary duty in relation to environmental, social and governance factors.

Our recent consultation on this issue attracted more than 3,000 responses. For a pensions consultation that’s a very large number of responses. It is I believe an indication that as more people begin to save, and begin to understand how their pension savings are invested, we could see a significant and realistic step change in the engagement and interest of this new population of savers.

I believe that investing for social, environmental, economic and climate change issues, remains a topic we should be passionate about. I welcome the work that parts of the industry have done – led by Elizabeth Corley – in creating a culture of social impact investment. I will continue to engage across and beyond government to identify how we might remove barriers and make it easier to invest in a way that supports the sort of world we want to live in, going forward.

But we’re not just doing that, we’re doing a number of different things in this area, and it merits discussion today. I’m excited about the work that the Treasury, led by my colleague John Glen, with whom I’m working absolutely hand in glove, have contributed on Patient Capital – another group with many representatives of industry from here today bringing forward radical proposals and compelling arguments about how we make it easier to invest in innovative and unlisted firms, and other assets such as unlisted infrastructure.

As an aside, one of the things I’d like to see pensions schemes do more is to look again at their investment strategies. The DC scheme consolidation is gathering pace as we know. This means we will have larger master trusts who will increasingly be free to move beyond equities, gilts and bonds – important as those assets are – and to start to look at investing directly in firms, in infrastructure, in housing, and in a different way frankly to how they have on a traditional basis.

This is something that I wish the industry to consider, to look at and it’s certainly something I’m discussing with industry on an ongoing basis. In the meantime, the department will be looking at how we can address this, how we can remove barriers and we will be considering what announcements can be made on this topic in the coming months. But as always my door is open.

The next thing I want to talk about is the mid-life MOT. I think this is something I’ve personally championed until I’m blue in the face.

The reality of the situation is this: every single one of us here, receives interventions on a public health basis, at all particular stages. So if like me, you’re reaching a certain age, my GP is announcing that various parts of my anatomy are going to fail unless I come to see him as a matter of urgency. If like me, you get a text from your dentist saying I really haven’t flossed enough and need to come and see him again. Or if like my missus, you’re getting the regular invites and updates to have the standard sort of checks that are absolutely life-preserving to public health in the modern era, then you will appreciate that to their credit the Department of Health, and health professionals have engaged with us as a wider community to do preventative health in a way that is genuinely transformational.

The reality is that we don’t really do that in finance. Almost all of you are in the business of finance. I believe that the sea change will be as we go forward, that there is proper intervention one way or another to engage people, not just with their pension savings but with a whole host of other matters, whether it is their health outcomes, their retraining, their long-term employability, and so much more.

But it’s something that we’ve taken forward as a department. I believe that it’s in your interest because I think that the more that we engage people at an earlier stage in their long-term retirement and savings plans, it’s going to be better for the industry.

We’ve been working over the summer, as a department, with a number of employers, and I’d particularly like to praise Aviva who have done a mid-life MOT test, and have done a trial and a pilot in their Norwich office. I went to see them and I’ve met many of the people that were engaged in that pilot.

And there’s one really interesting thing about a mid-life MOT, if you are an employer, you will probably be thinking this is the sort of worthy thing that HR would like us to do and that will cost my business, in certain circumstances; I might do it because it’s a good thing in terms of employee management but it’s not actually going to bring me any commercial benefit to the business.

I genuinely believe you could not be more wrong, and the evidence I believe from the Aviva pilot and the other pilots that are ongoing, will show absolutely conclusively, that if you wish to retain your people, your 20-year people who have absolute muscle memory of your business, if you wish to have a real understanding of how you’re going to have the people that are 40, 50 and 60 continuing to work for your business and making sure that they continue to push your business forward, then a mid-life MOT is something that helps them do that. And the drop-out rate – taking advantage of pension freedoms, taking advantage of the change in lifestyles – is much lower for those doing a mid-life MOT.

So I’m a massive fan of this, there are other companies who are beginning to embrace this, I would be doing a disservice to the endless lobbying that Tom McPhail does to me if I didn’t make the point that Hargreaves Lansdown are offering a mid-life MOT to all of their staff, and my point would be simply this: if you are in the business of selling finance to all of your customers, what are you doing for your individual staff? Because if they aren’t engaged with finance, and financial decisions and an awareness of their situation, frankly I don’t know who is.

So I believe it’s something we should get behind, and at the same stage we are working on a number of other things.

The 2 photos here I have to say something, it’s a fair point to say that I’m working with the lovely Jack Dromey and obviously on CDCs we’re working with Royal Mail and the CWU. I’d like to say, we’re so tight we held a joint meeting, it’s not often I invite a Labour shadow minister into the Department for Work and Pensions, but we held a joint meeting to try and make sure we are joined up in the way we do this.

The longer-term viability of pensions legislation means that by and large if you aren’t working together on a cross-party basis you will not get things through.

If you haven’t noticed the Prime Minister doesn’t enjoy the largest majority. Obviously everything is going fine, but you do need to work together. And it is absolutely the case that Jack and I are speaking together on a regular basis, mostly in a nice way, occasionally robustly. But we are working very hard to bring things forward.

The reality of CDCs is that we’ve been working hand in glove on a regular basis, meeting with Royal Mail, the CWU; they are with the department literally on a bi-weekly basis. And we believe we are very, very close, I would love to have stood up here today and said ‘here is the consultation’ but we’re not quite able to do that. But we are very close to announcing the consultation on CDCs. It is something that we have been working hard on to ensure we have the legislative and regulatory framework, which would work best for such schemes in the UK.

Any changes we make to facilitate CDCs have got to work for both the employers and members, and must have the adverse impact upon the rest of the pensions system. But we are making tremendous progress, and contrary to popular belief we’re also making tremendous progress on the Pensions Dashboard.

Everyone agrees, and I don’t think there’s any doubt whatsoever, and I’m sure I’ll be grilled later on to within an inch of my life if I was in any doubt. Everybody agrees that a Pensions Dashboard, facilitated by government, led by industry, will be truly game-changing. I certainly believe that.

As I set out in my written statement given to the House of Commons in September, we are going to make this happen, we remain utterly committed to making the dashboard a reality – you shouldn’t read too many things in the newspapers that’s for sure – and the feasibility study, examining ways to facilitate an industry-led dashboard is still under way. It is genuinely true that the department is in daily contact with the industry; if we haven’t contacted you individually my apologies but I promise you we’re contacting a lot of people. I’m unable to make a specific announcement today, and I’m sorry that that’s something I can’t do, but I promise you the work that has been done in assessing the feasibility of the Pensions Dashboard, has made it clear that while we shouldn’t underestimate the size and complexity and difficulty of the challenge, at the same stage this is something that we passionately want to do.

The simple point is this, very often people will come to any government, particularly this government and say ‘we want you to do this’. It’s quite clear that the government has a role to play in the dashboard, a very significant and real role, and I don’t shirk from that in the slightest but at the same stage so does industry, so ask what you’re doing to make this happen. This is something that can only happen on a collective basis.

I want to finish on 2 final points.

I want to renew my desire for all of you to work with me in the financial inclusion space.

It was a massive honour that the Prime Minister decided to make me the Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, and I think the 2 are utterly linked and over the course of the last year, I have drawn a number of conclusions, one of which is that increasingly, customers want all information in a mobile or laptop friendly form. Fintech is transforming banking, without a shadow of a doubt, it is transforming savings and in my view, pensions will be next.

At the same time, I’ll make the point again, you all have to ask what you’re doing to enhance financial inclusion amongst your own staff and amongst the customers you have.

I want to end on what I consider to be the elephant in the room, which is Brexit.

It’s clearly nothing to do with a speech to the PLSA but I think it’s important.

It’s easy to get bogged down in the process of our exit from the European Union.

For my part though, I’m more interested in the future after our departure, I’m more interested in ensuring we are able to be positive and optimistic about our place in the world, that we’re able to say in a few years’ time ‘look at how we’ve embraced tech, look at how we’ve embraced flexible working, look at how we’ve embraced automation, look at how we’ve embraced lifelong education and training and how that has impacted on the country, on who we are and who we want to be.

I want to be able to say ‘look at how we have confronted the politics of anger and rage and nationalism, and replaced it with quiet hope and positive optimism and an ability to rationally disagree, rather than to abuse’. I want to be in a position that we look at how we have reshaped our role in the world, while still championing equality, while still championing international aid, while still upholding human rights and the rule of law. And look at how we have remained open and inclusive.

Yes it is the case that this country wants greater control but at the same time, that is the kind of country I am striving for. I think we all accept we are on a journey, and a difficult journey but if we work together, if we commit to, in the future, to being a sunny, optimistic, positive country, then I believe that if we work together we can make this happen. Thank you very much.

David Lidington – 2018 Speech at the Stock Exchange

Below is the text of the speech made by David Lidington, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, at the London Stock Exchange on 24 October 2018.

Well thank you very much indeed for the invitation to open trading today and to mark this, the first, the inaugural, and I’m sure by no means the only or the last, London Stock Exchange Group’s cyber security conference.

We’ve got every reason in this country to be proud of the United Kingdom’s position at the front of the global digital revolution – driving our prosperity and enhancing our national security. We have seen a rise in the number of new cyber technology companies, right across the UK, who are helping to keep some of our biggest enterprises secure.

But of course, with that opportunity comes risk. We’ve also seen a significant increase in malicious cyber activity globally – both from hostile nation states and from cyber criminals. And only last week The National Cyber Security Centre reported that it is defending the United Kingdom from around 10 significant cyber attacks every week.

And that’s why cyber security remains a top priority for the government and why, two years ago, we launched the National Cyber Security Strategy.

At the very heart of the government’s response was the creation of the National Cyber Security Centre, bringing together the best intelligence and expertise. Right here in the City, the NCSC’s valuable partnership with the Bank of England and its suppliers is helping to build cyber security into the heart of a number of next generation systems. And I am delighted to announce this morning, that Faster Payments – now called Pay.UK – will be the latest scheme to benefit from this collaboration. It will ensure that every payment processed in the United Kingdom is done so safely and securely.

The financial sector has, for a long time, recognised the cyber risk posed by criminals and by states, and I know that financial companies routinely considers cyber security as part of an overall approach to business risk.

In fact, we in government have taken best practice from the financial sector. We’ve launched the GBEST scheme, for government, based upon the sector’s CBEST model. And this will improve government systems to identify and to act against sophisticated and persistent cyber attacks.

And I think the finance sector in the UK should be commended for the initiatives they have taken and the standards they have set.

But the government’s latest Cyber Security Breaches survey showed a significant proportion of companies overall in our economy are still not adopting the basic cyber security precautions that are needed. More than two in five businesses identified breaches in the last twelve months. Despite that, two thirds of FTSE 350 boards say that they have had no training in how to deal with a cyber incident.

There is still a lot more to do – and our ability to build the necessary resilience in the face of these challenges, relies on the strength of our collective action and expertise.

Now last week, I really enjoyed being at UK Finance, and it gave me great pleasure to give the government’s full backing to a new initiative to further cement the growing partnership between industry and the public sector. Early next year, we will establish the Finance Sector Cyber Collaboration Centre. This will build on existing industry expertise and exploit the NCSC’s Industry 100 scheme, it will be led by UK Finance in alliance with 20 financial institutions.

As government, we recognise that cyber security is everyone’s responsibility. We must learn from – and support – one another. For example…

…By taking part in our annual FTSE 350 Cyber Governance Health check – which is now open – you can benchmark the cyber security of your organisation against your peers and understand where you can improve your resilience to cyber attacks.

And I believe our efforts are bearing fruit. The UK’s cyber security industry is making an enormous contribution and is generating more than £5 billion to our economy.

It benefits from strong support from government, including specialist expertise and world leading academic institutions which are providing much needed access to funding, targeted support and also testing facilities. There has never been a better time to invest in our high-quality and home-grown cyber security start-ups and emerging businesses – there are now more than 800 of those across the UK.

Those businesses, supported by the government’s Industrial Strategy, provide world leading products and services to buyers right across the world – injecting innovation into our economy to build a UK fit for the future.

We consider it vital that all organisations should embrace and embed cyber security, from the boardroom down. This isn’t only about minimising operational, financial and reputational risk. Building resilience amongst employees and customers can also be a catalyst for far greater change.

That’s why I will be meeting a number of FTSE 350 Chairman to discuss how the government’s new Board Toolkit will help you better understand cyber risks and also to seek the ideas of business leaders on how to make our nation more resilient.

So, to look ahead to the challenges and opportunities of the future, I look forward to continuing to work together with you in the financial sector, and business more widely, to protect both our national security and our joint economic prosperity.

Hugh Jenkins – 1966 Speech on Pirate Radio Stations

Below is the text of the speech made by Hugh Jenkins, the then Labour MP for Putney, in the House of Commons on 22 June 1966.

I rise to draw attention to the Government’s attitude to pirate radio and television. I think that the adjournment of the House has never been more welcome. As I stand here we see dawn coming in through the windows. I hope that this debate may be seen, looking at it in retrospect, as heralding the dawn of a new attitude by the Government to this whole question.

There has been a tendency perhaps to dismiss pirate radio as a matter of no great importance and no great significance, as something which is a passing episode, but the extraordinary and tragic events of the past 24 hours have perhaps impressed everyone, the Opposition as well as the Government, that piracy is piracy in whatever aspect it occurs. We have seen the hi-jacking of a pirate station, Radio City, and the taking over of that illegally occupied tower by another group equally illegally occupying it. We have seen this culminate in the shooting to death of the chief of one of the pirate ships and the captain of another accused of murder.

We might have been more prepared for this had we considered that piracy is an aspect of anarchy. When the Government condone anarchy, as in effect they have been doing in the last two years, the gangsters soon take over. We might have been warned of this as this is not the first time that murder has taken place as a result of radio piracy. There was a murder on a Dutch ship some time ago. This is not something to be regarded as unimportant and a sort of pleasantry.

When the circumstances of the financing and management of Radio Caroline and of Radio City are investigated, we shall find that some respectable newspapers, notably the Financial Times, have been weaving a romantic web around some operations which will not look too well when the light of examination is brought to bear upon them.

The Government presented us more than a year ago with a document in which they set out the decisions of the European Agreement For The Prevention of Broadcasts Transmitted From Stations Outside National Territories. Article 2 of that Agreement said: Each contracting party undertakes to take appropriate steps to make punishable as offences, in accordance with its domestic law, the establishment or operation of broadcasting stations referred to in Article 1, as well as acts of collaboration knowingly performed. 2. The following shall, in relation to broadcasting stations referred to in Article 1, be acts of collaboration:

(a) the provision, maintenance or repairing of equipment;

(b) the provision of supplies;

(c) the provision of transport for, or the transporting of, persons equipment or supplies;

(d) the ordering or production of material of any kind, including advertisements, to be broadcast;

(e) the provision of services concerning advertising for the benefit of the stations.”

The Government have announced their intention to implement this agreement and to make these things illegal. It is extraordinary that, since that announcement, organisations which are normally regarded as respectable business organisations should continue to support these pirate stations although in full knowledge that the Government were to introduce legislation to make them illegal. One would have thought that it would have been proper for these business organisations to have ceased to support these pirate radios by discontinuing advertisements. That they refused to do so reflects discredit on them. Other countries have found it possible to get rid of pirate radios, but the United Kingdom is being regarded as a sort of refuge for buccaneers who have been rejected by more resolute Governments in Holland, Scandinavia and elsewhere and who have found shelter in and around our shores.

If we can, by international agreement, stop tankers reaching a port in Africa surely we can, with equal international agreement, prevent ships nearer our own shores breaking the European agreement to keep the air free from piracy.

The Postmaster-General has told us of the possible dire consequences of the usurpation of wavelengths, but the Government continue to find excuses for doing nothing to stop that which my right hon. Friend condemns.

When the pirates get into difficulty all available services are deployed to enable them to get back to their stations to continue their piracy. I understand that in the recent fracas on Radio City one group of pirates actually appealed to Scotland Yard to help them to resist the infiltration or attacks of the other group of pirates. According to last night’s Evening Standard senior Scotland Yard officials are considering whether they should go to the aid of one side to help them resist the hijacking of the other. The only thing that Scotland Yard should be considering, but what they have not considered, is how to help the Government to eject the pirates. They should not be intervening in what is an internal competition in illegality.

Many of these pirates are not even on ships. The towers from which they operate have been brought inside territorial waters. They have no licences, and last December the Postmaster-General decided that the time had come to act. In February the Ministry of Defence said that it was too dangerous for the Armed Forces. Perhaps the police could help, but my right hon. Friend said no, the magistrates did not have proper jurisdiction. I am advised that this is not so. They have jurisdiction under the Wireless Telegraphy Act and under the Magistrates’ Courts Act of 1952. I am advised on good authority that the arguments advanced to this effect by Sir Alan Herbert are legally valid. Why is it that the Government have not decided to act? Why is it too dangerous for the Navy or even marines to do here what the policeman regards as part of his job—going in and arresting law breakers?

Why did the Chancellor of the Exchequer refuse to consider my own proposal that the cost of advertising on pirate radio should be disallowed as an expense for tax purposes, thus starving the pirates out if they are too dangerous to arrest? The consequence of that refusal is that the advertising organisations have now recognised the pirates, and the audience must be substantial, for they are paying up to £80 for a 30-second spot.

Here, perhaps, lies the secret of the Government’s inaction. A lot of people are listening to the pirates, and the B.B.C. has lost its grip on the audience for popular music on sound radio. Perhaps the Government do not really know what to do about it.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will comment on the following proposals which I put forward as a possible solution to the problem. The Government should set up a new public authority, called, perhaps, the Television and Radio Authority. It would be quite separate from the existing authorities, which would continue as at present. The new authority would run the fourth television channel, which is needed if the University of the Air is to get off the ground in a big way, and it might also transmit some pay-television programmes, which have had a surprising success in their first test.

The new authority’s immediate task would be to set up a national radio network in competition with the B.B.C. It would replace the pirates, who should be given immediate notice to quit and evicted. The new service would aim to be popular. It would, in the first instance, transmit the same sort of programmes as the pirates are transmitting. It would do that, perhaps, on a medium wavelength which, if necessary, could be borrowed from the B.B.C, though it might be found by international agreement. It would transmit simultaneously on v.h.f., and on these wavelengths would act as a national feeder station for local radio stations which would be set up locally under local boards of directors, with local authority participation.

The new authority would be capitalised by public finance, but it would be allowed to accept advertising. The local stations would be allowed to accept local advertising. It would, as it were, be a mixed economy of the air.

By this means, several problems would be solved. First, we should be able to rid ourselves of the pirates, without depriving the audience of their “mush”. Second, we should break the sound monopoly of the B.B.C. The very existence of the pirates is proof that this needs to be done. Third, we should have established a parent for local radio. Local radio needs a national parent, but it should not be the B.B.C. The flavour of the B.B.C, in my judgment, is good; I enjoy it myself; but many people do not, and they should not be deprived of choice. If anyone says that the three B.B.C. sound programmes provide all the choice that one could want, I point to the success of the pirates. Clearly, the B.B.C. is not catering for that huge audience. I do not believe that the Corporation should be forced to cater for them, if it does not want to, and neither do I believe that it should be forced to accept advertising.

Here, I suggest, is the answer: a new authority, publicly capitalised, publicly owned, but accepting advertising revenue, providing a national service and source of a local service which would provide means of stimulating interest in local activities, facilities, music, sport and so on.

I recognise that there are difficulties. One of them is the absolute need to reach agreement with the performers’ and writers’ unions. In my opinion—I speak here entirely for myself—this would not be impossible if the new authority were prepared to transmit a proportion of live or specially recorded material and to pay for all broadcasts on a royalty basis so that every time a commercial gramophone record was broadcast, the performer or, perhaps, his union or organisation on his behalf received a payment.

These are the lines along which, I suggest, the problem should be tackled. It should be tackled now, and not allowed to drift. The more it is allowed to drift, the more difficult it will be to solve and the less credit the Government will deserve or get for tackling it. I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to tell us that he believes that the Government have been perhaps encouraged or shocked by the events of the last 24 hours and jerked into action which only if it is determined and quick action, will be forgiven for being belated.

Sarah Newton – 2018 Speech on the Employment and Support Allowance

Below is the text of the statement made by Sarah Newton, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work in the House of Commons on 17 October 2018.

This written statement is a further update to the House on progress in correcting historic ESA underpayments and paying arrears.​
The Department began work to assess cases in December 2017. For that stage of the exercise we expect to review around 320,000 cases, of which around 105,000 are likely to be due arrears.

We now have a team of over 400 staff working through these cases and have paid around £120 million in arrears. We expect to complete the vast majority of this part of the exercise by April 2019, and have to date completed all cases where an individual is terminally ill and responded to the review, thereby ensuring they receive due priority.

The announcement in July to pay cases back to the point of conversion requires us to review an additional 250,000 cases, of which we estimate around 75,000 could be due arrears. We will undertake this work through the course of 2019. We now have a team of over 400 staff working through these cases, with a further 400 due to join the team through October and November, and will be assigning more staff to review the additional 250,000 cases. This will enable us to complete this important activity at pace.

The Department is publishing an ad hoc statistical publication today setting out further detail on the progress it has made in processing cases and revised estimates of the impacts of this exercise, including details of the number of claimants due arrears and the amounts likely to be paid. This will be published on gov.uk.

There are currently around 2.3 million working-age people on employment and support allowance. In 2018-19, £54 billion will be been spent on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions this year, which is over 6% of all Government spending and a record high.

A frequently asked question guide will also be will be deposited in the Library of the House for further information.

David Gauke – 2018 Statement on Justice and Home Affairs Council

Below is the text of the statement made by David Gauke, the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice, in the House of Commons on 18 October 2018.

I attended the Justice and Home Affairs Council for Justice day on Thursday 11 October in Luxembourg.

The Council reached a general approach on the insolvency restructuring and second chance directive.

During the discussion on e-evidence legislation, Ministers agreed not to include real-time interception within the scope of the regulation and asked for further work on the extent of the obligation to notify other states when data is sought direct from a service provider. I offered to share UK experience from our bilateral discussions with the US on a data access agreement, which was welcomed by the Commission.

With regard to the draft conclusions on the application of the charter of fundamental rights in 2017, 20 member states, including the UK, supported the Netherlands proposal for the adoption of “presidency conclusions” given the lack of consensus for Council conclusions.

The director of the Fundamental Rights Agency presented his annual review of the fundamental rights situation in the European Union (EU), noting rising levels of hate crime, including anti-Semitism, and ​discrimination faced by immigrants and minority groups. He also referred to Roma communities living without basic amenities such as electricity and water. Member states noted these concerns.

The Commission updated Ministers on implementation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). The European Council will discuss the proposal to extend the EPPO to cross-border terrorism offences.

The discussion on enhancing mutual trust focused on the importance of mutual recognition, while noting the importance of an independent judiciary and the rule of law. The UK intervened to recognise the mutual benefits of continued co-operation, and the UK’s commitment to the principle of mutual trust. The presidency will prepare conclusions on mutual trust for the December JHA Council.

The Commission presented its communication on securing free and fair European elections, including protection from personal data misuse and cyber incidents.

The Home Secretary attended Interior day.

The Commission set out ambitious plans for a stronger, more effective European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) including a standing corps of 10,000 officers, which would provide substantial support to member states in protecting the external border. Member states underlined their support for a stronger Frontex, but expressed concerns about the size of the standing corps, its impact on national authorities and the consequences for member state competence on border protection.

The Commission briefly presented the new return directive recast and member states discussed accelerated borders procedures, linking the asylum and returns processes, with asylum claims processed as close to the border as possible and, if refused, the failed asylum seeker returned fast and smoothly. Some member states focused on the need to maximise third-country co-operation on returns and readmission of own nationals. Member states were divided on the mandatory nature of the border procedures. Some member states supported manifestly unfounded claims at the border leading to an entry refusal rather than a returns decision.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed the EU’s comprehensive “whole of route” approach to tackling illegal migration. The Home Secretary focused on strengthening the EU’s response to human traffickers and smugglers advertising online, and boosting our work with African partners on economic development, strategic communications and behavioural insights to prevent migrants from starting dangerous journeys to Europe.

Ministers also discussed the balance between solidarity and responsibility. The presidency, supported by some member states, proposed broadening the idea of “solidarity” to avoid compulsory reallocation of refugees to member states who reject this, but who are content to make substantial contributions to other aspects of migration management, including external partnerships with third countries.

The Council discussed the JHA funding programmes within the next multi-annual financial framework. The UK will not participate in these programmes as a member state. The presidency called on member states to establish a strong steering structure to ensure the optimal use of funds. Member states supported provisions to step up co-operation with third countries on migration, but raised questions around flexibility and allocations to member states.​
The presidency updated on progress on the files within the common European asylum system (CEAS) package. The Dublin IV proposal, as it links to the issue of solidarity and burden sharing, will be discussed among leaders at the October European Council.

David Lidington – 2018 Statement on the Infected Blood Inquiry

Below is the text of the statement made by David Lidington, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in the House of Commons on 18 October 2018.

On 24 September, I attended the commemoration that preceded the preliminary hearings of the infected blood inquiry, and watched the moving and powerful testimony from those infected and affected by the infected blood scandal. The commemoration brought home the terrible human cost of this tragedy, and emphasised to me the importance of this inquiry, to get to the truth of what happened, and provide the answers that the people infected and affected so desperately need.

When the public inquiry was launched in July this year, I deferred making a decision on whether to appoint a panel to sit with Sir Brian until he was able to take the view of core participants. Sir Brian Langstaff wrote to me this week following the preliminary hearings, and has advised me that he has now done so, and there has been no demand for a panel. In the place of single experts, sitting as panellists, Sir Brian is establishing expert groups to provide openness and transparency across a range of truly expert opinion. He recommended that I should not appoint co-determining panel members. I accept his recommendation.

In his letter Sir Brian also called for action in relation to financial and psychological support for the affected and infected. The Government will consider those comments and Sir Brian’s recommendations carefully and will respond as soon as possible.

The Cabinet Office takes seriously its role as sponsor to the infected blood inquiry and is determined to do all it can to support the inquiry with its work. Regrettably, an administrative error earlier this year has come to light, which had delayed the circulation of an instruction to Government Departments about the retention of records. I can reassure the public that this has resulted in no actual harm, but it is an error for which I apologise to the inquiry, and most importantly, to the people infected and affected.

The facts are these: Cabinet Office officials circulated a Government-wide notice on 3 April this year, instructing Departments to preserve all information relevant to the infected blood inquiry. A further, more comprehensive message was issued to Departments by the Cabinet Office on 11 June.

However, following a query from the inquiry about the notice, Cabinet Office officials discovered that the 3 April email containing the retention notice did not reach its recipients, due to the failure of the collective IT address used. My officials have provided a detailed explanation to the inquiry which will be published on the inquiry’s website.

Since the error was discovered, all relevant Departments and relevant areas within Departments have worked urgently to confirm that they have not destroyed any documents relevant to the inquiry during the period ​between 3 April and 11 June. Because of their size and the complexity of some of the records they hold, HM Courts and Tribunals Service and the Legal Aid Agency are continuing to work to provide this assurance and have committed to doing so as urgently as possible.

The Department of Health and Social Care put in place a moratorium on the destruction of historical records as soon as the inquiry was announced in July 2017. No material damage has resulted from this administrative error, but I am very sorry it occurred, and I would like to reassure the public that the Cabinet Office will learn the lessons from this to avoid such an error occurring in future.

Crispin Blunt – 2018 Speech on Redhill, Reigate and District Rail Services

Below is the text of the speech made by Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP for Reigate, in the House of Commons on 18 October 2018.

What a delight it is to have a satisfactory amount of time to debate the rail service into Reigate and Redhill. It is hard to overstate the importance of the rail service to the two main towns that I am privileged to represent. I am talking about the Brighton main line and not that for Banstead which, as the Banstead village residents’ association will point out, is formally a village, not a town. Of course, the rail services there on the Tattenham line are within zone six. The central issue I want to raise is the service on the Brighton main line and issues that are specific to Redhill and Reigate.

The rail service is a central factor in the economy of Reigate and in the quality of life of the many of my constituents who use it to commute to work, usually in London, and it sustains our economy in a very important way. This also reflects our history: Redhill has its roots as the halfway point on the early Victorian London-Brighton railway. It was, and remains in many ways, a railway town. The rail service has helped to create a vibrant housing market and local retail and service economy. Equally, the rail service has enabled Reigate and Redhill to host a wide range of businesses, including small start-ups, finance and retail organisations, and large multinational companies, whose employees were able to travel reliably into Reigate and Redhill by train. A continuing reliable service is critical to the economic success of these two towns.

It is reasonable to assume that year by year, bit by bit, public services will progressively improve. It is therefore doubly concerning that over recent years, the service has diminished to such an extent that the local economy is now at risk. People are making decisions about where they live and new companies are making decisions about where to invest because of what has happened to the rail service in the past four years. This is now a real risk factor, and there have been articles in The Sunday Times and other publications about communities that are at risk due to the failing rail service. After all the pain of the last four years, the prospect is of a materially worse service after the timetable for 2018 is finally introduced, which breaches the undertakings given to local rail users in 2012.

I recognise that the London Bridge upgrade works have been the principal cause of Redhill to London services experiencing a disproportionate reduction, leading to infrequent, delayed, cancelled and frequently crowded trains since Christmas 2014. The industrial action then made that bad situation even worse. However, even before that, to facilitate the work at London Bridge, there were major changes to the Redhill route services between 2012 and 2014, including the removal of all London Bridge trains after 7.30 am for up to two hours, making commuting into London harder and more inconvenient for many local commuters from 2014. A previous service of nine trains became just four.

Let me say to the Minister, who may well refer to the timetable in his response, that I suspect that the start date is really 2012 rather than 2014, when the service “fell over”. That made things worse, but it was in 2012 ​that the service could reasonably be regarded by my constituents as unsatisfactory, in terms of the number of trains that were serving those commuting to London.

The second blow to local rail users was the long period of industrial action that followed the introduction of driver-only operation on the Southern network. While, of course, all services across the franchise were affected, the Redhill line once again took the brunt of the cancellations on the emergency timetables that were used on strike days. Moreover, Redhill and Merstham stations, which were not served by the fast line—the so-called Quarry line—were, and are, frequently bypassed to enable delayed trains to travel more quickly from Horley to East Croydon and vice versa, so that they could catch up when delays had been inflicted on them. That means that my constituents are the ones who are not being served by the trains by which they would otherwise expect to be served.

Both the planned May 2018 Govia Thameslink Railway timetable and its introduction have added insult to injury. Indeed, they have caused both insult and injury to an already injured travelling public, whose quality of life has now been assaulted for a period longer than the United States spent as a belligerent in the second world war. In November 2014, David Scorey, who was then GTR’s passenger service director, spoke at a public meeting organised by Reigate, Redhill and District Rail Users Association—I was there, and I have the honour to be its president—and publicly stated that the service from Redhill would be significantly better than it was in 2012. However, the new timetable has resulted in a further diminution of the services available to Redhill line users, in terms of both service frequency and journey times. There are now no direct trains from Redhill to the south coast, including Brighton, and no direct services from Reigate to London Bridge, a key commuter route.

In 2012, during the key two-hour morning peak, there were 15 trains to London. By 2018, that figure had been reduced to 12, which constituted a reduction in peak service—a drop from 112 coaches to 104. There was also a significant reduction in the number of seats. The new trains have about 90 fewer seats: the old 12-coach class 377s had 754 seats, and the new Class 700s have 666.

Anyone who is lucky enough to get a seat at Redhill on a train that has travelled all the way up from the south coast will be largely unable to work, because most of the tables have been taken away. I know constituents who are not by any means grossly obese—they look like any other ordinary citizens—but who can no longer fit into those seats, and will therefore choose to stand anyway. It seems that all these issues arise, and then along comes a bright new train, and the bright new train itself produces a worse service—it has fewer, harder seats, and is less compatible with the work that people want to do on the way to their workplaces.

If we cause people to spend more time commuting and then make it more difficult for them to use that extra time to work on the train, we have had a serious impact on their quality of life. I realise that the decisions about rolling stock were made some time before the Minister took up his post, but I cite it as yet another reason why rail users in my constituency are hurting.​
Although the new timetable restored and extended Redhill to London Bridge services through Thameslink, following the London Bridge upgrade cuts, it did not restore the fast trains that formerly took 25 to 27 minutes from Redhill, the fastest of which now take 31 minutes in peak hours. The service from Redhill to Victoria was significantly reduced from seven trains between 7 am and 9 am to just four. Furthermore, those trains now take 39 minutes, whereas in 2012 the 0703 took 30 minutes. From neighbouring Earlswood, the 0718 service that took 43 minutes in 2012 has been replaced by trains taking 51 minutes. Off-peak and evening scheduling to and from Victoria has also seen journey times increased from 28 minutes in 2012 to 38 minutes in the new timetable. This is, by any standard, a very significant reduction in service quality.

Under the Thameslink contract specification for train services, most stations were given a minimum journey time to London. For example, Brighton has 62 minutes guaranteed in the peak and 56 in the off-peak, but Redhill route stations are among the very few absent from getting any such guarantees of minimum journey times, and thus we now have increased journey times to both Victoria and London Bridge in the new May 2018 timetable. I can only speculate as to the reasons why those stations were omitted, and I suspect that it has something to do with their position on the line, as their being the halfway point down to the Brighton line might give the managers of the rail service greater flexibility to be able to deliver on other service delivery points. Again, I would be grateful to understand the reason for this. Why did my constituents not get minimum guaranteed journey times in the way that most other rail users did?

In November 2017, the Reigate, Redhill and District Rail Users Association gave its members an opportunity to add their voice to these concerns, and a petition was raised, signed by over 2,000 local rail users, to ask the Department for Transport and GTR to readdress this weakening of services, which directly contradicted the promises made by David Scorey on behalf of GTR in 2014 and caused what I believe are unacceptable cuts to Redhill services while the majority of the Brighton main line maintained a reasonable service. Reigate, Redhill and District has subsequently suffered inordinately from the chaos following the introduction of the new timetable, enduring more cuts and cancellations during this time than other local stations. To add insult to injury, following the new timetable disruption, passengers from Reigate station, who are forced to travel via Redhill to connect to Thameslink services to London Bridge as there are now no direct Reigate to London Bridge services, have since been excluded from the GTR enhanced passenger compensation scheme, despite suffering all the inconvenience caused during the timetable introduction.

The Minister was kind enough to receive me last week and explain why the Department had taken the position that it was not going to move on the compensation issue. All I can say is that that decision has been received with enormous disappointment, and of course it is in the context of a rail service that has been endured by local people, rather than one that has served their lives in the way we would all have hoped.

I now want to turn to the central issue. There is an opportunity to address all these issues. One would hope that the substantial investment from the ministerial ​team and the £300 million that the Secretary of State has secured, in addition to the London Bridge works, to sort out the lines north of and around Croydon, will deal with an important bottleneck that has been the driver of much of the service difficulties over many years. When that is associated with the major investment into London Bridge, it becomes an almost catastrophic pinch point. I can see that the Government investment will give the opportunity, some years hence when the investment is completed, to produce better service provision, and, one would hope, to address the timetable issues.

I want to register how unhappy my constituents are about the timetable issues. When the opportunity comes to make serious improvements, after the Minister and his colleagues have addressed the capacity constraints, will he ensure that my long-suffering constituents are first in the queue for those major improvements, given the 20% reduction in the journey times on the service and the corresponding reduction in the number of trains?

The central unfairness is the underlying and long-standing issue of fares for rail users from Reigate and Redhill. This historical anomaly, which is colloquially referred to as the Redhill hump, means that tickets purchased in Reigate and Redhill are more expensive than those available at stations further down the line. It costs 47% more to get an annual all-zone ticket from Redhill than it does from Coulsdon South, which is just two stops closer to London and in zone 6. Much of the work that I did during 2015 and 2016 was to try to convince the Minister’s predecessors that pulling zone 6 down to Gatwick would be the right way to address this issue. Bringing Gatwick into zone 6—in the same way that Heathrow is within London zoning—would produce an overall increase in income from fares, to make up for what would be a nominally reduced fare income based on current usage rates, because that zoning would bring an increase in usage, as was experienced when London Underground introduced zoning in the first place. I did not succeed in my argument, however, and part of that failure was down to the wretched complexity of the management of the railway, particularly when London issues are brought in alongside the issues of Network Rail, the service provider and the Department for Transport.

When it is £204 cheaper to buy an all-zone season ticket from Three Bridges, which is five stations further away from London than Redhill, we can understand why people are beginning to notice that they are paying top dollar and over the odds for a service that has been way short of anything close to satisfactory for the past four years. It is astonishing, given that the taxpayer has invested billions in the London Bridge upgrade and that the current Secretary of State was able to secure £300 million of extra investment in this line, that the service for my constituents is getting worse and there is no prospect of improvement that I can present to them. In short, rail users in my constituency are now at the end of their tether. They are forced to pay unreasonably high fare prices for a poor and diminishing service.

The main local capital improvement—a potential new 12-car platform at Reigate station that would enable Thameslink trains to terminate there and then return to London, providing additional regular fast direct trains to London Bridge via Redhill—is on the first stage of the drawing board only due to sustained pressure from me and to the commitment of the local director of ​National Rail. The reason that we even got that far was the prospect of a development gain bonanza from a wholly inappropriate development of larger houses at Redhill aerodrome. That development would have given the developer a massive gain of well north of £1 billion, and I was planning to make a serious effort to retrieve a very good share of that utterly unmerited profit for use in major local infrastructure projects. I am grateful that, for the time being, that shocker of a green belt violation has been seen off, but the duty to address our hard and soft infrastructure deficit, following decades of strong local housing growth, remains.

One of the smaller and most urgent improvements involves enabling Reigate station to cope with its growing passenger demand. On one level, that growth represents a huge success. The number of passengers using Reigate station is growing, and we have been sustaining the growth of Reigate and the quality of life that explains why people want to live and bring up their families there. Not only does the change need making in its own right, we need to get this line working at a capacity that offers the service that it should be providing if one is to address the welcome improvements north of Croydon. I hope that the Minister will able to consider the proposal on both those grounds. I cannot find a large development to target to get investment into the local community, so I hope that he will consider the allocation of budgets within his Department’s spend, obviously on a wholly proper basis, to try to ensure that the capital infrastructure can at least be properly planned through the next stage, leaving the final decision to be made when the funds are available to construct it. If we are doing Croydon at the same time, it would make complete sense to advance that process.

Naturally, my constituents have expected me to remonstrate on their behalf and to press for service improvements to reverse the service catastrophes that the Redhill line has endured over the past four years. I have therefore had meetings with successive Secretaries of State and Rail Ministers to bring these serious matters to their direct attention and to request compensatory action of one sort of another. Through the Reigate, Redhill and District Rail Users Association, of which I have been honorary president since my election in 1997, local rail users have helped me put expert and costed proposals to Ministers and their officials.

With one small exception, I am sorry to say that all my efforts seem to have been largely in vain. My protests have been heard by successive Ministers, but none has been able to consider implementing any significant improvements, despite undertakings that they were going to try. At least one Rail Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Claire Perry), resigned her position in 2015 due to frustration over the delivery of the GTR service and the London bridge investment programme.

The only significant result that I have achieved was a partial fare freeze for some ticketholders last year as a result of an intervention by the then Rail Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool North and Cleveleys (Paul Maynard). Inevitably, the reality was not quite as widespread across all ticket types, but it was a start. In my meeting with the new Rail Minister in May, I was promised that the proposal to address the Redhill hump would be ready by the summer and that someone had been employed to work up a proposal. ​Finally, the issue seemed to be getting serious attention. However, when I met my hon. Friend the Minister last week, he advised me that the proposal was still on the drawing board and would not be ready for preliminary discussion with experts from the RRDRUA until the second half of November. Indeed, unhappily, the Minister’s only concrete news for me at that point was confirmation that compensation for the failure of the 2018 timetable introduction would definitely not be available for those using the service from Reigate.

I want to be clear that I am not asking for special treatment for local rail users. I am asking for a reasonable service, fare pricing, and equitable compensation. These four years of being told that my rail users are a priority, without any significant change, have made it very difficult for me to continue to defend to my constituents the Government’s position. Redhill and Reigate are heavily used stations that provide transport to members of the public who contribute hugely to the British economy. The cost of the disproportionate level of disruption that they have endured in recent years is incalculable, and surely greater than the cost of rectifying the anomalies that have made their commuting lives so miserable and have been so damaging to their productivity. I simply ask for reasonable treatment for them.

I am aware that many rail users throughout the UK have been hugely concerned about the Department for Transport’s role in the 2018 fiasco, but, coming after years of disruption relating to the London Bridge investment, the long-suffering Southern commuters are in a class of their own. I can fairly argue that they are a special case within the special case of Southern commuters. This has been a running sore for the people I represent within a wider overall shambles.

Where the responsibility lies is complex, arising from how the service was privatised back in the 1990s. I ask the Minister to help improve the experience of local rail users, who have been very unfairly treated. I made fair fares a central issue in my 2015 general election campaign, and I have since continued to campaign on that issue. If there is one issue, above all others, that can and should be addressed it is that, because of historical ticketing anomalies, the rail-traveling public I represent are not getting a fair economic deal from the service they are buying relative to everyone else.

I look forward to the Minister’s reply.