Minister Hammond apologises for DVA bias comments

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nils Jorgensen / Rex Features ( 1013240ai )'Stephen Hammond'Conservative Party annual conference, Manchester Central, Manchester, Britain  - 06 Oct 2009
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nils Jorgensen / Rex Features ( 1013240ai )'Stephen Hammond'Conservative Party annual conference, Manchester Central, Manchester, Britain - 06 Oct 2009

The Conservative transport minister has said sorry to staff at the Driver and Vehicle Agency in Coleraine for comments about religious bias.

Stephen Hammond made the apology in the House of Commons in response to a question from DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr last week.

Mr Paisley described wording contained in a consultation document on plans to move 300 jobs to Wales as a “smear”.

Part of the document said moving the jobs from Northern Ireland would remove any possibility of religious bias.

The claim was made in an equality assessment document, compiled to accompany the government’s consultation paper on centralising Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency operations in Swansea.

The transport minister was speaking on the day that the consultation closed to public submissions.

Mr Hammond also agreed to Mr Paisley’s request to meet DUP MPs and a delegation of staff from the Coleraine DVA to discuss the centralisation plan.

SEE P 5 FOR MORE ON THE DVA