To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the collapse of Thomas Cook. (2853)
Tabled on: 21 October 2019
The demise of Thomas Cook has hastened the urgency of taking forward reforms in the area of airline insolvency.
The Government announced in the Queen’s Speech on 14 October, that it would be taking forward an Airline Insolvency Bill. This Bill would provide for a special administration regime, alongside other reforms to enable the Civil Aviation Authority to have greater oversight of airlines in distress. This is the first step to protect passengers and the interests of the taxpayer in the event of future airline insolvency.
In addition, the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy has written to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) to ensure they prioritise, as a matter of urgency, an investigation into both the causes of the company’s failure and the conduct of its directors. The FRC will conduct a robust investigation into the preparation of the company’s accounts in compliance with these standards and seek areas where lessons may be learned.
The answer was submitted on 29 Oct 2019 at 14:59.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department taken to help ensure customers affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook receive compensation. (2854)
Tabled on: 21 October 2019
We are sympathetic to those affected by the collapse of Thomas Cook. There is an ongoing process of liquidation which is in the hands of the Official Receiver. Passengers with ATOL protection are entitled to a full refund on any future bookings and the CAA publishes the process to follow after the insolvency has taken place.
Government advise customers without ATOL protection to speak to their credit card provider or the company they booked their holiday with. Passengers should also speak to their travel insurance provider to see if they are able to claim back any of their costs.
The answer was submitted on 29 Oct 2019 at 14:54.
The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs select committee (PACAC) took evidence from the Minister for the Constitution, Kevin Stewart MP. It was mostly around voter identification, the regulation of spending and the use of social media. I am not convinced about the need for voter identification cards in case they are a barrier to people voting. Regulation gets trashed on a regular basis and fines don’t solve it. And social media is miles ahead of the legislation required to make it safe and legal. The Minister didn’t address any of these facts. The APPG on Catalonia heard from their Foreign Affairs minister, Alfred Bosch. His plea was simple. In these turbulent times the Catalan government want to sit down and talk. That is the only way to resolve the issues. He urged us to use all the diplomatic channels that we can. In the Chamber the UK Government were attempting to rerun the debate they had and lost on Saturday. The speaker schooled them on parliamentary process pointing out that the avenue they were pursuing, that of significant change in circumstances, was not appropriate as they had applied for the debate 21 minutes after the last one ended and nothing significant had happened in that time. I sat in a delegated committee on gas tariffs. It was not controversial and passed unopposed.
Not content with one session a week, PACAC met to take evidence from expert witnesses on the role of the speaker. I should have been forewarned that it was going to be a long session when I read the brief which started ‘by the civil war period’. As it turned out it lasted just over three hours but was hugely entertaining and informative. I met with representatives of Health Poverty Action to update them on drugs policy and see how we can work together to improve the current policies. I was in the chamber for the Prime Minister’s speech on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill. I get the feeling that he is light on detail and heavy on promises. I met with Digital Scotland to discuss broadband rollout in Inverclyde and the R100 programme which aims to provide 100% access to superfast broadband by 2021. The evening was scheduled to run until 22:30 but the votes at 19:00 did not go the way the UK Government wanted. The Prime Minister had wanted to railroad ahead with plans to implement legislation that will drag Scotland out of the EU, and inflict lasting harm on its economy, small and large businesses, public services, and people’s livelihoods, all the SNP MPs voted against this. The UK Government then paused the bill!
I met with Amazon to discuss the future of the plant in Inverclyde and working conditions for employees. I was on the order paper for Prime Minister’s Questions and took great consideration composing my question. They don’t come along often, and I didn’t want to squander it. The government have stock answers to many questions, and I wanted to avoid those. I asked about the availability and funding of medical cannabis. It’s an issue that this Prime Minister has been more open to than his predecessor. He responded to me by saying “I will take it up personally with him” and that is an offer I shall certainly accept. I met up with a representative of Virgin Media to discuss the continued quest to roll out the best possible local service and representatives of NoteMachine, the second largest ATM provider in the UK. We discussed the increasing policy of charging for the use of ATMs.
I had an interview with the author J.S. Rafaeli. He is researching drug policy reform for an article for vice.com which says its remit is ‘original reporting on everything that matters’. I then spoke with the Royal Mail. They highlighted the dramatic increase in parcel delivery, which fitted in well with my discussions with Amazon on Wednesday. The Queen’s speech went through and a statement was made that a General Election will be voted on next Monday. The Tory plan is to push through a bad deal with minimum scrutiny. We aren’t falling for it.
In the morning I had meetings with constituents and in the afternoon, I met with Financial Fitness and visited Belville gardens to catch up with the Our Place Our Future Roadshow. In between I met up with the Greenock Telegraph to highlight my appeal to retailers to stop selling Fireworks to the public.
Somebody once said the last honest person to enter parliament was Guy Fawkes. Four hundred and fourteen years later we still build bonfires and set of explosives to commemorate his failed attempt to blow up parliament. Given the target of his wrath you would think that Westminster would be looking to ban such proceedings, but we are not. Across the U.K. anyone over the age of 18 can purchase fireworks and set them off. The RSPCA would like to see the sale and use of fireworks restricted to specific events such as Diwali, Bonfire Night, Chinese New Year and New Year.
The Dogs Trust is the UK’s largest dog welfare charity. They care for around 15,000 stray and abandoned dogs each year through their network of 20 rehoming centres across the UK.
As a dog welfare charity, they have very negative experiences of fireworks. Fireworks, which can be loud, bright, unpredictable and difficult to escape from, can cause dogs immense stress and this has a negative impact on their welfare. Many people take great comfort from their pets and the companionship they offer. Being able to look after their pets welfare is obviously extremely important.
The findings of a Scottish Government consultation, published in October 2019 found that,
94% want tighter controls on the sale of fireworks and 93% want stronger regulations to ensure animals are not caused unnecessary suffering as a result of fireworks misuse.
Changing the legislation is complex and covers a range of legislative areas. They include consumer protection and explosives, environmental law and animal welfare law. If Westminster were to ban selling fireworks to the public that would go a long way to improving the situation.
If you must celebrate the attempt to blow up parliament can I recommend that you attend a licenced public display. They are by far the cheapest and safest way to enjoy the spectacle.