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Covid-19: Staff Safety at DVLA Offices

Volume 698: debated on Wednesday 30 June 2021

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the safety of staff at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s offices in Swansea during the covid-19 outbreak. (901788)

We work very closely with the Department for Transport and share the view that the safety of staff at the DVLA is paramount. That is why the DFT has implemented weekly covid testing for everyone, hired more than 30 new cleaners and installed thermal imaging cameras to carry out temperature checks on all people entering the building.

I am glad to hear that the Minister is so in touch with the DVLA, but can I enlighten him on an issue? A staff rep at DVLA has been subjected to a tirade of online abuse for standing up for colleagues’ safety. Much of that abuse has been shared on the social media accounts of some DVLA managers. The DVLA is refusing to remove an online petition that includes threats to the rep’s safety. Will the Minister join me in condemning this abuse and, in his conversations with Department for Transport colleagues, encourage them to not only distance themselves from that abuse, but ensure that the DVLA removes all the abusive contact immediately?

I am not aware of the specific examples, but I am happy to join the hon. Lady in condemning all kinds of online abuse against absolutely anyone. I have been the victim of online abuse myself, and I am sure that the hon. Lady has—I assume that most of us have—and I would never ever support the abuse of anyone online, whatever their views or their position in some form of industrial dispute. I would just gently point out, though, that 60,000 items are received by the DVLA every day that have to be dealt with in person, and many of them are coming from the most vulnerable members of society, so I hope, notwithstanding the issues around online abuse, that the Public and Commercial Services Union will quickly draw this dispute to a close.