My Lords, in response to the part of my noble friend Lord Rosser’s question about the cost to the UK taxpayer of this business going into administration, the Minister answered with reference only to the repatriation costs. I might say, and I will support this in a moment, that she grossly underestimates them by just doubling the Monarch costs.
What is the cost to the UK taxpayer of all the implications of the administration of this business, including the cost to public funds? ATOL is a public fund put together by the accumulation of levies on holidaymakers and travellers, as are the CAA’s funds that are being used here. Only yesterday there was an estimate in the Financial Times of the cost to the ATOL fund alone of £600 million. It is there in detail, explaining that because of the EU directive the fund will have to pay back to the people who have booked holidays in advance the cost of those holidays that they are not now going to get, and it will take it months to do it.
How much tax does Thomas Cook owe the Government in air passenger duty, VAT and other taxation that it has collected? How much will all these thousands of people who are going to be made redundant cost the Government in benefits, retraining and support? What are the implications for the pension funds? Surely the Ministers who made this decision not to give £250 million to Thomas Cook in the short term had an estimate of these figures before them. What was that estimate? How much was this going to cost the Government if they went down the road that they went down, with the inevitable result that this business went into administration?