Backbench Business

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:28 pm on 16th March 2017.

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Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Scottish National Party, Glasgow South West 4:28 pm, 16th March 2017

May I first apologise to you Mr Walker? So keen was I to raise this issue that I forgot to refer the House to the Register of Members’ Financial Interests and my position as chair of the PCS parliamentary group. I apologise for that.

A number of issues have not yet been answered. There is the question of the review criteria. I am clear, as are many hon. Members, that all 78 sites that were earmarked for closure should have been subjected to a full public consultation. The reason why is that the equality impact issue is still outstanding; there is no equality impact assessment for disabled people or the black and minority ethnic community, among others. The economic impact will certainly be hard on many areas; John Woodcock identified that, and made an excellent point on industrial injury benefit. There is also the workforce impact; we have a written answer that says that the DWP expects 750 staff posts to go. If it is hiring staff and letting 750 posts go, I suspect that there will be an employment tribunal at some stage.

We need to make sure that this is done with the correct information, and not wrong and inaccurate information. I ask the Minister to listen to the point made by my hon. Friend Stewart Malcolm McDonald about parliamentary scrutiny going forward, and to make sure that we deal with this issue on the Floor of the House. Certainly, if the Minister makes announcements, we expect that to be on the Floor of the House and not sneaked through in a written statement on a Thursday or Friday, or before a recess.

I thank you, Mr Walker, and thank all hon. Members for taking part in this important debate.