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Marine Management Organisation

Volume 492: debated on Wednesday 20 May 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what provision he has made to ensure business continuity during the transition period from the Marine and Fisheries Agency to the Marine Management Organisation; (275640)

(2) whether any financial incentives are being offered to staff in the London headquarters of the Marine and Fisheries Agency who are unable to relocate to Tyneside to stay in post during the organisation's transition period for reasons of business continuity rather than to seek early redeployment to another Civil Service post in London.

Robust action is being taken by the Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA) to ensure business continuity during the period of relocation of its headquarters to Tyneside and in preparing for the establishment of a new Marine Management Organisation. This includes plans for the timely recruitment of new staff to replace existing staff who will not be relocating. This recruitment will take into account the need for some periods of parallel running between the Tyneside and London offices for a number of teams to allow for training and knowledge transfer.

Recognising the need to retain key staff during the transition period in order to ensure the necessary knowledge transfer, the MFA has instigated a ‘Transition Allowance’. This will be payable to those MFA HQ staff identified as being in key roles and/or with specialist knowledge/skills who have opted not to relocate with their posts and who are prepared to delay their redeployment to another civil service post. It recognises the need to retain key people within the agency’s HQ for an extended period to ensure business continuity and help train new staff.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will ensure that all staff in the new Marine Management Organisation will be eligible to apply for the same posts staff in the Marine and Fisheries Agency are eligible to apply for, with particular reference to posts advertised only within his Department; (275642)

(2) whether staff in the Marine Management Organisation will be eligible to apply for all posts in the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

There is an established scheme by which non-departmental public bodies, such as the new Marine Management Organisation (MMO), can be accredited to have access to civil service vacancies. My officials are applying for such accreditation on behalf of the MMO to become effective when the organisation is vested. Initial enquiries reveal that there is no reason why this should not be granted. This will enable MMO staff to apply, on merit, for civil service posts via the civil service ‘Jobs Online’ facility.

MMO staff will be able to apply for DEFRA vacancies that are advertised on the ‘Jobs Online’ site in the same way that MFA staff currently can. Similarly, staff in the MMO will be able to apply for posts in the Department of Energy and Climate Change advertised on ‘Jobs Online’ in the usual way.

The Cabinet Office Statement of Practice (COSOP) which governs the transfer of civil servants between Departments, suggests that departments should provide an opportunity for staff to return to their original department if they wish. The MFA is currently exploring with DEFRA how this opportunity might be provided to MMO staff in the future.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) when the first posts in the Marine and Fisheries Agency earmarked for transfer to the Marine Management Organisation will relocate from London to Tyneside; and when the remaining posts will relocate; (275643)

(2) when he expects to make an announcement of the specific location of the headquarters building for the Marine Management Organisation.

I hope to be able to announce the new headquarters building shortly.

The Marine and Fisheries Agency is developing a relocation and recruitment plan for the Tyneside headquarters office. Any relocation of existing staff from London to the new HQ site, or transfer of posts to be filled by newly recruited staff in Tyneside, will be progressed in line with this plan. Current thinking is that relocation and recruitment would take place between July and November 2009. This is a broad timeline and some individual relocations may need to happen either earlier or later in order to reflect, where appropriate, personal circumstances.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what provision has been made for (a) financial and (b) other assistance for staff in the coastal offices of the Marine and Fisheries Agency who are considering applying for vacancies in the new Tyneside headquarters of the Marine Management Organisation; (275644)

(2) whether his Department has offered financial assistance to headquarters staff in the Marine and Fisheries Agency to relocate from London to Tyneside.

Financial assistance is being offered to headquarters staff in the Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA) to relocate with their existing posts from London to Tyneside. This assistance is in line with the relocation arrangements operated in my Department which are derived from, and consistent with, the financial assistance outlined centrally by the Cabinet Office for civil service relocations.

The operational need to provide assistance, financial or otherwise, to relocations sought by members of staff from the MFA coastal offices, will be considered as part of the detailed relocation and recruitment plans being developed by the Agency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he has taken to ensure that the future management of the Marine Management Organisation meets commitments given to staff in the Marine and Fisheries Agency, with particular reference to (a) trade union recognition, (b) training and development opportunities and eligibility to apply for posts in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. (275645)

Staff would transfer to the MMO with the contractual terms and conditions applying at the time of transfer under either Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) or the equivalent Cabinet Office protocol for transfers of civil servants between departments.

Rights to trade union representation will remain exactly as they are now and although the issues around recognition and training and development would be matters for the new MMO management board to take forward, there are no intentions to change the existing arrangements. On eligibility to apply for posts in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, I refer the hon. Member to my answer to his previous question numbered 275642.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate he has made of the minimum time required for the shadow Marine Management Organisation body to exist before vestment of the Marine Management Organisation in order to ensure an effective transition from executive agency to non-departmental public body status; (275647)

(2) if he will make it his policy to ensure that no shadow body for the Marine Management Organisation will be established before Royal Assent has been given to the Marine and Coastal Access Bill;

(3) when he expects the shadow Marine Management Organisation body to be created; and when he expects the chair and the chief executive officer of the Marine Management Organisation to be appointed to the shadow body.

The chair, board and chief executive officer of the Marine Management Organisation will be formally appointed following commencement of Clause 1 of the Marine and Coastal Access Act.

In the meantime, I am seeking to appoint a chair and CEO “designate” contingent on the Bill receiving Royal Assent, to assist with the preparations for creating the Marine Management Organisation. There are existing principles which govern the setting up of shadow bodies and the appointments required, covered in Chapter 2 of HM Treasury's 'Managing Public Money' which can be found at:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/psr_managingpublicmoney_publication.htm.

My Department will operate in accordance with these principles.

I recognise the importance of making these appointments in good time to assist with the creation of the Marine Management Organisation, in line with the principles outlined above. Plans are in place to ensure the effective transition from an executive agency to non-departmental public body status.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many days his officials and consultants in the (a) Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and (b) Marine and Fisheries Agency spent in (i) Tyneside and (ii) each other candidate location before the announcement to relocate the headquarters of the Marine Management Organisation from London. (275649)

Following extensive research undertaken on each of the shortlisted locations, officials from DEFRA and the Marine and Fisheries Agency, accompanied by KPMG consultants, spent a day in each location, including Tyneside. The visits provided further insights into the business and quality of life indicators used to derive the short-list. Information on the findings from the visits is set out in the KPMG report, copies of which are in the House Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the (a) grade and (b) salary is of each post in (i) his Department and (ii) the Marine and Fisheries Agency working to establish the Marine Management Organisation and its headquarters in Tyneside; and when these posts were created; (275686)

(2) which posts attract temporary additional responsibility allowance in relation to the creation of the Marine Management Organisation and the relocation of headquarters; for how long these allowances have been granted; how many have been granted for more than six months; and for what reasons these posts have not been advertised on promotion in fair and open recruitment competitions.

The work to prepare for the establishment of a new Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and to relocate the Marine and Fisheries Agency (MFA) Headquarters are two separate projects. The relocation of the MFA Headquarters would be taking place regardless of any decisions to create a new MMO. Both projects are being delivered by an Implementation Team based in the MFA. The breakdown of posts currently in the implementation team provided below reflects resourcing of both activities and includes the Programme Management Office.

Salary range

£

£

1 x Senior Civil Servant

57,300

116,000

2 x Grade 6

56,139

67,504

3 x Grade 7

46,184

55,976

2 x Senior Executive Officer

34,336

41,851

2 x Higher Executive Officer

29,191

34,326

3 x Executive Officer

24,439

28,846

1 x Consultant Project Officers

Support for creation of the MMO, including preparations for cross-Government sponsorship arrangements, is also being provided by a further Grade 7 post based in DEFRA. Some limited specialist HR expertise is also being provided by DEFRA to support the recruitment of staff in Tyneside and redeployment of existing MFA staff where appropriate.

The Implementation Team has changed in size and profile at various stages of the project to reflect changing workloads, but broadly speaking a core project team consisting of six to eight posts has been in place in the MFA since the beginning of 2008-09. Additional resource has been recruited to the project since the beginning of 2009 to support activity during this implementation year.

Three of the above posts are being delivered by members of staff who are receiving Temporary Additional Responsibility Allowance (TARA), all of which have been granted for longer than six months. The decision was taken not to fill these posts permanently with members of staff at the substantive grade required because of the relocation of the MFA Headquarters and the time-limited need of the implementation work.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether there have been any recent changes to the timetable for the completion of the vestment of the Marine Management Organisation by 1 April 2010. (275689)

In common with any major programme of this type, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) implementation activity is under constant review with minor revisions to plans, approaches, and specific delivery dates. However, there have been no significant changes to the timetable for vesting the MMO and my officials are still working to a vesting date of 1 April 2010.