Iran-Israel Update

Jeremy Quin Excerpts
Monday 15th April 2024

(1 week, 1 day ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Defence Committee.

Jeremy Quin Portrait Sir Jeremy Quin (Horsham) (Con)
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Notwithstanding the sheer scale of the Iranian attack, multi-layered air defence proved effective. Are we ensuring that we are passing any learnings we have picked up on to Ukraine for the use of its own defence, and, in a more hostile and dangerous world, with the ever-increasing proliferation of missile and drone technology, are we reviewing our own air defence assets and capabilities to support our allies—and, indeed, closer to home—if ever required?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank my right hon. Friend for his excellent question. He is right about the importance of air defence, which is why it has repeatedly been one of the key capabilities that we have sought to provide to Ukraine—that is something we have led on for some time. Ditto, some of the new contracts that we have placed to replenish UK stockpiles, most recently this year, also cover air defence missiles. More broadly, my right hon. Friend is right that we need to ensure our industrial production here in the UK is geared to produce the capabilities we need, whether for our own use or for Ukraine’s. I am pleased to say that the Defence Secretary is working with the industry to ensure that supply chain is there to meet those needs.

Action Against Houthi Maritime Attacks

Jeremy Quin Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd January 2024

(3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call the Chair of the Defence Committee.

Jeremy Quin Portrait Sir Jeremy Quin (Horsham) (Con)
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I welcome what my right hon. Friend says about diplomatic and humanitarian efforts, and indeed cutting off the supply of arms. I particularly welcome what he says about the effectiveness of the strikes that have already taken place. However, does he agree that in order to protect civilian shipping, this may need to be a prolonged and persistent targeted campaign alongside our allies?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I thank my right hon. Friend for his question. I want to be absolutely clear that no decision has been taken to embark on a sustained campaign of the nature that he mentioned—these were limited strikes, specifically in response to threats that we perceived—but we do reserve the right to take action in self-defence, as I have said. Crucially, the military action is just one part of a broader strategy, including diplomacy, sanctions and other things; we will use all levers to bring about an end to the disruption and the illegality that the Houthis are causing.

Defending the UK and Allies

Jeremy Quin Excerpts
Monday 15th January 2024

(3 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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I am not entirely sure that I agree with the hon. Gentleman’s characterisation of the situation. I agree that Russia must pay for the long-term reconstruction of Ukraine and I have been clear about that. On the G7 leaders call at the end of last year, I was the one who raised this issue and, as a result, the G7 have collectively tasked Finance Ministers with exploring all lawful routes to ensure that Russian assets are made available for that purpose. We are working at pace to identify all options for seizing those assets, and I reassure him that we are ensuring, in conjunction with our international allies, that the measures will be safe, robust and compliant with the international rule of law. Again, it is the UK, together with the US, that has been leading that conversation in the G7.

Jeremy Quin Portrait Sir Jeremy Quin (Horsham) (Con)
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Houthi attacks on shipping are a global problem, and it is right that we acted, alongside our partners. Where close allies did not participate in those airstrikes, we still need them to act and act alongside us. Will we encourage them to redouble their efforts to interdict arms smuggling from Iran into Yemen and therefore help to degrade further the military capacity of the Houthis?

Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point, and we will continue to work with our allies. I hope he will have seen the statement put out by about a dozen of our allies after the strikes reiterating their support for what we have done. He will know that there was non-operational support from a handful of other countries, together with the much larger coalition of nations that are involved, in different ways, in Operation Prosperity Guardian. Where other countries can play a part in interdicting Iranian shipments, bringing stability to the region and protecting international shipping, we of course want to work with them. The Defence Secretary and the Foreign Secretary are having those conversations as we speak.

Oral Answers to Questions

Jeremy Quin Excerpts
Wednesday 13th December 2023

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister
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The most pressing issue facing families is the cost of living. That is why this Government have delivered what we said, which was to halve inflation, and not only that; we are supplementing it with significant tax cuts, which will benefit working families from January—£450 for a typical person in work—demonstrating that we are absolutely on the side of hard-working families. This Government are cutting their taxes.

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin (Horsham) (Con)
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Breast cancer survival rates have improved, but we need to go further on harder-to-reach cancers. In Parliament this afternoon, there is a drop-in session on lobular breast cancer and the research we need. Could my right hon. Friend or his excellent new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care find time in their busy diaries to join us?

Independent Review of Governance and Accountability in the Civil Service

Jeremy Quin Excerpts
Monday 13th November 2023

(5 months, 1 week ago)

Written Statements
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Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Jeremy Quin)
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Today we have published in full the Independent Review of Governance and Accountability in the Civil Service. This review was commissioned in July 2022 and was led by the right hon. Lord Maude of Horsham.

The Government are committed to ensuring we are best placed to take long term decisions, and implement them for the British people. Our reform agenda is rooted in the principles set out in the Declaration of Government Reform, which envisaged the Independent Review on Accountability. In a speech I gave at Policy Exchange in July, I updated our reform agenda reflecting my renewed focus on people, place, and technology.

Lord Maude’s proposals aim to improve efficiency, clarify accountabilities, and change structures in the Civil Service. There are some issues highlighted in the review on which the Government are proud of action already underway. For example, we have introduced a training programme for Ministers; we are undertaking a review of the 125 most significant public bodies to improve efficiency and performance; and we are strengthening the process to identify new chairs and board members of public bodies to develop and support a strong pipeline of candidates.

However, a number of long-term recommendations, if implemented now, would serve to detract from the focus on the Prime Minister’s five critical priorities. For example, we will not take forward the recommendation for a significant restructure of the machinery of central Government or alter the role of Cabinet Secretary.

This is a welcome contribution and we will now consider the recommendations carefully and respond in due course. In the meantime, I have requested that a copy of the review be deposited in the Libraries of the Houses of Parliament.

[HCWS30]

Public Sector Fraud Authority: Annual Report 2022-23

Jeremy Quin Excerpts
Monday 13th November 2023

(5 months, 1 week ago)

Written Statements
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Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Jeremy Quin)
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The Minister of State, Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG, has today made the following statement:

Fraud against the public sector is a crime that impacts us all. Unfortunately the public sector is just as affected by this hidden crime as other sectors. It affects the quality and quantity of public services as every pound stolen by fraudsters is one pound less spent on vital public services, such as schools or hospitals or on reducing the burden of tax.

The Government are committed to tackling fraudsters head on. The Prime Minister in his previous position as Chancellor, announced in the March 2022 spring statement £24.7 million of funding over three years for the establishment and building of a new counter fraud authority: the Public Sector Fraud Authority (PSFA) was launched in August 2022.

In its first year, the PSFA set 21 objectives which are published in the 2022-23 ‘Building For Success’ document available at www.gov.uk'>www.gov.uk. The PSFA is today publishing its annual report which outlines the progress and performance of the PSFA in 2022-23. This includes meeting 20 of the published objectives and surpassing its savings target of £180 million in audited benefits, delivering savings of £311 million for the public in 2022-23. The PSFA has also partnered with Quantexa and Deloitte using cutting edge technology to fight fraud, as well as hosting the International Public Sector Fraud Forum, inviting our Five Eyes allies to the Imperial War Museum to share expertise in this vital area.

The annual report will be available on www.gov.uk and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.

[HCWS29]

Shared Services Connected Ltd: Sale of Cabinet Office Stake

Jeremy Quin Excerpts
Tuesday 24th October 2023

(6 months ago)

Written Statements
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Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Jeremy Quin)
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I am pleased to announce that the Cabinet Office has exercised its option to sell its 25% stake in Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL) to its joint venture partner, Sopra Steria Group SA, which owns the remaining 75% stake. The sale is expected to complete in early November.

Sale of the stake will generate cash proceeds of £82.3 million payable on completion. Of the £57 million proceeds retained by the Cabinet Office, up to £45 million of the proceeds will be reinvested into accelerating programmes that increase cross-Government productivity. This will include a particular emphasis on digital capability across Government.

The change in ownership arrangements is expected to affect neither the management nor staff of SSCL. Sopra Steria has confirmed that SSCL will remain a key component of Sopra Steria’s UK family of businesses and that there will be no impact on services to customers.

Background and rationale

The SSCL joint venture was established in 2013 as part of a strategy to consolidate and transform the provision of shared business support services to central Government and the wider public sector. Founding customers included the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency.

Over the last 10 years, SSCL has successfully expanded its customer base to cover other public sector bodies including the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence, Metropolitan Police and the Construction Industry Training Board. Revenue has grown from £123 million in the year to 31 December 2014 to £292 million in the year to 31 December 2022.

It had always been envisaged that the Cabinet Office might one day sell its stake. When the joint venture was established, Sopra Steria granted the Cabinet Office a put option exercisable in 2022 and 2023.

The sale follows a review triggered by the approaching expiry of the put option. The Cabinet Office concluded that SSCL had been a successful joint venture delivering significant savings and value to the Government and the taxpayer, that the business was now well-established and that it was time for it to move to the next stage in its evolution. The sale price was based on an independent valuation advisory report and exceeds the Cabinet Office’s retention value. As at 31 March 2023, the carrying value of the stake and related put option in the Cabinet Office accounts was some £48.2 million.

Fiscal Impacts

The impact on the fiscal aggregates, in line with fiscal forecasting convention, are not discounted to present value. The net impact of the sale on a selection of fiscal metrics is summarised as follows:

Metric

Impact

Sale proceeds

£82.3 million

Hold valuation

The price achieved is above retention value

Public Sector Net Borrowing

The sale will generate cross-Government productivity savings and reduce future debt interest costs for Government, offset by the loss of dividends Government might otherwise have received from its shareholding

Public Sector Net Debt

Immediate reduction of £25.3 million—£82.3-£57 million

Public Sector Net Liabilities

Immediately improved by £34.1 million—£82.3-£48.2 million—less the extent to which the £57 million retained by the Cabinet Office is spent

Public Sector Net Financial Liabilities

Immediately improved by £34.1 million—£82.3-£48.2 million—less the extent to which the £57 million retained by the Cabinet Office is spent



[HCWS1087]

Infected Blood Inquiry

Jeremy Quin Excerpts
Monday 23rd October 2023

(6 months ago)

Written Statements
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Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Jeremy Quin)
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The Infected Blood Inquiry Chair has announced that the inquiry’s final report has been delayed from autumn 2023 and will now be published in March 2024. I recognise the calls for urgency from those who have suffered and continue to suffer, and I remain committed to responding to the inquiry as quickly as the Government are able to do so. However, it is only reasonable that the Government’s response is fully informed by Sir Brian’s final report.

I am aware that for some the inquiry, as well as the ongoing parliamentary and public interest in this important issue, has meant reliving painful memories and feelings of loss and grief. I have been deeply moved to hear of the suffering and trauma that each individual has encountered as a result of this tragedy.

The timetable of the inquiry is a matter for the independent Chair and the Government support his desire to complete the inquiry’s vital work quickly but with the necessary thoroughness. The Government continue to fully support the inquiry in its important work and are working hard to be ready to respond.

I will update Parliament as soon as it is appropriate.

[HCWS1082]

Oral Answers to Questions

Jeremy Quin Excerpts
Thursday 7th September 2023

(7 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) (Lab)
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11. What recent steps he has taken to implement the interim recommendations of the infected blood inquiry.

Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Jeremy Quin)
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It was a privilege to appear before the infected blood inquiry on 25 July. You, Madam Deputy Speaker, referred to birthdays earlier and I believe that that was the birthday of the right hon. Lady, but she shared it with us in the inquiry—she was there in person for the hearings. At the inquiry, I shared the work the Government are undertaking to consider the interim recommendations and I look forward to receiving the final report in the autumn.

Diana Johnson Portrait Dame Diana Johnson
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It was good to see the Paymaster General, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House and the Chancellor at those reconvened hearings. Sir Brian Langstaff made it very clear that his interim report on compensation was the last word that he was going to make on compensation. The Government have also accepted the moral case for compensation. What progress has now been made on Sir Brian’s recommendation on extending the interim payments to those who were not included in the first tranche of interim payments last year?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
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As the right hon. Lady knows, we are working through this. There is more work to be done. It is a mammoth undertaking, as she knows, and we are looking forward to the final report and putting our response into that context.

Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith
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“Working through this” is not good enough. Several families in my constituency have lost partners or parents as a result of the infected blood scandal and they are frustrated by the delay and obfuscation. One of my constituents told me:

“The lack of transparency is causing great stress and anxiety to those of us at the heart of this NHS treatment disaster who have already waited decades for our loss and suffering to be recognised.”

One person is dying every four days. This is becoming urgent. Will the Government commit to a full compensation scheme as quickly as possible?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
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We commit to responding as soon as we can to the final report. The hon. Gentleman is right that we have accepted the moral case for compensation. After the final report comes through, we will be bringing out our response as swiftly as we can.

Selaine Saxby Portrait Selaine Saxby (North Devon) (Con)
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9. What assessment he has made with Cabinet colleagues of the progress made on moving Afghan people from hotels to settled accommodation.

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Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
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13. How many days of sick leave due to mental health were taken by civil servants in 2022.

Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Jeremy Quin)
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Civil service sickness absence data are published annually. The latest data indicate that an average of 2.3 working days were lost per staff year due to mental ill health for the year ending 31 March 2022.

Philip Hollobone Portrait Mr Hollobone
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I understand that nearly three quarters of a million civil service working days were lost due to alleged stress and mental health reasons, and that that figure is 40% up on the year before. Of course those with genuine mental health needs need appropriate support but, given that many civil servants enjoy pay and pension packages way in excess of what many people can get in the private sector, what steps are the Government taking to ensure that only those with genuine mental health conditions are granted a leave of absence?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
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I know my hon. Friend will be aware that there has been, in both the private and public sectors, a large spike in all sickness absence this year, because of course the comparative data were with the pandemic period. The good news for him is that the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that sickness absence for all forms is lower in the most recent period in central Government Departments than it is in the private sector. We work with people who are unwell, using occupational health and employee assistance provision to ensure that they get the support that they need. We continue to wish to drive down the numbers of people who are off for ill health and to ensure that those who are unwell get the support that they require, but we work with them.

Sarah Olney Portrait Sarah Olney (Richmond Park) (LD)
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14. What assessment he has made with Cabinet colleagues of the potential impact of the border target operating model on the price of (a) meat, (b) fresh produce and (c) other foodstuffs.

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Gagan Mohindra Portrait Mr Gagan Mohindra (South West Hertfordshire) (Con)
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15. What steps his Department is taking to maintain public services during industrial action.

Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Jeremy Quin)
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Cabinet Office Ministers have, through Cobra, been assisting Departments in their responses to industrial action. When there is a spate of industrial action across the public sector, which causes huge disruption to our constituents, it is particularly important that we act together, and the Cabinet Office assists Departments in their planning.

Gagan Mohindra Portrait Mr Mohindra
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Like many of my constituents, I commute to London daily via rail and have had to deal with another summer of disruption caused by ASLEF and the RMT, while students are applying for jobs with unconfirmed grades from unmarked exam papers and junior doctors continue to strike. What is the Minister’s Department doing to end the strikes and get those people back to work so that we can continue to clear the backlogs and reduce the inflation that they claim to be striking against?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
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My hon. Friend is right: it is outrageous that his constituents can have their lives totally upended by strikes and by militant unions. We will, of course, respect the right to strike, but we have a duty to protect the lives and livelihoods of the British people. That is what our minimum service levels legislation aims to do. It is a pity that the Labour party will not support it.

Steven Bonnar Portrait Steven Bonnar (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (SNP)
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The Labour party governs in Wales and the Tories are in charge here in England, while Scotland is the only place in the UK to avoid any strikes in our NHS. That is because Scotland has had and will continue to have the fairest and best pay deals in the UK thanks to the Scottish Government. The Scottish Health Minister recently offered to mediate in the fresh talks between the UK Government and junior doctors. Has the Minister considered that approach given the incompetence of his colleagues?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
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We will take absolutely no lessons from the SNP on how to govern countries—I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman looks at the news about what is going on in Scotland or hears about it when he visits his constituency. We have in this country a Government of whom we can be proud. I am not certain that that is the view of the Scottish people.

Ruth Cadbury Portrait Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab)
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16. What steps he is taking with Cabinet colleagues to help ensure value for money in public procurement.

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Mary Robinson Portrait Mary Robinson (Cheadle) (Con)
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19. What steps his Department is taking to help prevent public sector fraud.

Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Jeremy Quin)
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I am delighted that, in its first year of operation, the Public Sector Fraud Authority is expected to surpass its initial targets, as part of the overall £3 billion recovery of fraud over the last two years referred to by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. More widely, the Government have invested £1 billion in fraud and error reduction since 2022, and we continue to be recognised as a world leader in combating public sector fraud.

Mary Robinson Portrait Mary Robinson
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We know that whistleblowers are responsible for uncovering almost half of all fraud—fraud that costs the public sector an estimated £40 billion a year—yet our laws to protect and support them are not working. If we want to tackle public sector fraud, we need to encourage more people to come forward. Will my right hon. Friend agree to meet me to discuss how we can better support whistleblowers and tackle this vast expense to the public purse?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
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I am very happy to meet my hon. Friend, or one of my ministerial colleagues will. I can reassure her that we do wish to support whistleblowers. It is important that they are supported in doing what they do. We certainly respect and are grateful for information shared by whistleblowers. It is just part of the system, though, and it is important that we continue to use AI to ensure that we can track down fraud across the public sector.

Ruth Cadbury Portrait Ruth Cadbury (Brentford and Isleworth) (Lab)
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T1. If he will make a statement on his departmental responsibilities.

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Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Ogmore) (Lab)
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T5.   Although the police data leak in Northern Ireland was caused by human error, it raises wider concerns about cyber-security and data for our public service workers. I have been approached by constituents who work particularly within policing. They would like some reassurance that the Cabinet Office is working with forces across England and Wales to ensure that those types of data breaches do not happen again, and that the Cabinet Office will do more work on securing people’s personal data, particularly when they are working in services such as the police force.

Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Jeremy Quin)
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The hon. Gentleman is right to say that this issue is local to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, but he is also right—I fully acknowledge this—that there may be questions to learn across Government about how we make certain that people’s data is secure. It is critical that individuals working and providing a service to the country know that their data is secure. I agree with him on that, and I have had discussions with officials about what we can to do ensure we can give that reassurance.

Andrew Selous Portrait Andrew Selous (South West Bedfordshire) (Con)
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Will the Cabinet Office convene an inter-ministerial committee —between the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, and the Treasury—to consider what to do where we have built tens of thousands of houses but section 106 money has not been allocated for adequate health facilities? This is a problem across our country and on both sides of the House. I hope we will solve it for the future with what we are doing with the Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill and the infrastructure levy, but there is a legacy problem that needs the attention of the Cabinet Office. Given its co-ordinating role in Government, that would be a very useful thing for the Department to do, and an extremely necessary one.

Mary Glindon Portrait Mary Glindon  (North Tyneside) (Lab)
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T6.   Cleaning and security staff in three Whitehall Departments are now striking over a poverty pay offer by the outsourced contractor ISS. What are Ministers doing to help resolve that dispute with the Public and Commercial Services Union, and to end the race to the bottom for the pay and terms and conditions of vital workers due to outsourcing?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
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I am sorry that strike action is ongoing. Ultimately, this is a matter between the employees and their employer.

Anna Firth Portrait Anna Firth (Southend West) (Con)
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Will the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs update the House on the Northern Ireland legacy legislation?

Jessica Morden Portrait Jessica Morden  (Newport East) (Lab)
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T7.   Further to the question on the infected blood inquiry from my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull North (Dame Diana Johnson), why will the Government not get on with extending the interim payments now, as they could do and as was recommended by Sir Brian Langstaff? It is absolutely shameful to delay that any longer, and there is no excuse.

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
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I have heard many times from the hon. Lady about this subject and about her constituents. She speaks about it passionately in this House and has done so for a number of years. I come back to my earlier answer: we paid interim compensation last year, as the House is aware, and the second interim report has come through. I am expecting the final report in the autumn, putting us in a place to respond as swiftly as possible once it is received.

Anum Qaisar Portrait Ms Anum Qaisar (Airdrie and Shotts) (SNP)
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Yesterday marked a year since the Prime Minister’s predecessor took office, and as you may remember, Madam Deputy Speaker, a lettuce ended up outlasting her. Due to Tory economic mismanagement, that same lettuce would now cost around 20% more. The cost of food might not be an issue for the Prime Minister, who is the richest MP in the House of Commons, but it is a concern for my constituents. What discussions have Ministers had with Cabinet colleagues on tackling food insecurity?

Diana Johnson Portrait Dame Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab)
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I am going to have another go: why is it that the Minister has not been able even to implement recommendation 17 of the second interim report, which is to set up a bespoke psychological service for those infected and affected, when other nations of the United Kingdom have been able to do that? Why has England been left out? Why have the Government not been able to do that?

Jeremy Quin Portrait Jeremy Quin
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That issue is being taken forward, as the right hon. Lady knows, by the Department of Health and Social Care. I know it has made substantial progress on exactly such a scheme, and I look forward to it making an announcement in due course.

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP)
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The forthcoming by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West will be the first in Scotland under the new requirement for voter identification. We know that thousands of voters in England were disenfranchised at council elections because they did not have a passport or driving licence. What specific steps is the Cabinet Office taking to make sure that the voters of Rutherglen and Hamilton West, who want to turn out in their thousands to elect Katy Loudon as their MP, are not prevented from doing so because they are too poor to own a passport or driving licence?

Supporting Civil Service Impartiality through Due Diligence Guidance

Jeremy Quin Excerpts
Thursday 20th July 2023

(9 months, 1 week ago)

Written Statements
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Jeremy Quin Portrait The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Jeremy Quin)
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This Government are committed to protecting free speech, the impartiality of the civil service and ensuring taxpayer money is not used to fund speakers who have expressed or supported extremist views.

I have instructed the Cabinet Office to review and update cross-civil service diversity network due diligence and impartiality guidance and the Cabinet Office guidance on learning and events in the Cabinet Office. I expect the guidance to be reissued in the early autumn but have withdrawn the current guidance until that review is complete.

Given that this guidance has been the subject of previous parliamentary interest I wished to inform the House.

Ministers and MPs on all sides of the House have an obligation to help support the impartiality of the civil service. I believe we also have a role in ensuring civil servants are provided with support so that they can be reassured that in organising taxpayer funded or supported events they have taken appropriate steps to prevent that impartiality being called into question.

For this reason guidance was developed to help avoid civil servants (acting on behalf of cross-Government diversity networks) or Cabinet Office officials issuing invitations to individuals or organisations who have expressed or supported extremist views being advertised as speakers at taxpayer funded or supported events, which might lead to the impartiality of the civil service being called into question or its reputation otherwise brought into disrepute.

It has become apparent that the issued guidance may have been adapted for utilisation in areas for which purpose it was not intended and may also be at risk of being misinterpreted by implementing bodies outside of the Cabinet Office. It is important that we protect civil service impartiality but not in a way that could result in adverse unintended consequences. I am equally committed to protecting free speech and I have considered the way in which the guidance has been implemented.

For that reason I have decided to withdraw the current guidance, review it and reissue it in the early autumn having ensured that the guidance strikes the right balance in the way it supports our civil service colleagues in protecting the service’s impartiality.

I remain committed to issuing guidance that protects both free speech and the impartiality of the civil service, whilst ensuring taxpayers are not funding speakers who have expressed or supported extremist views. These are not mutually exclusive goals. I will place any updated guidance in the House of Commons Library upon its issuance.

[HCWS991]