No 3rd Runway Coalition letter to Chris Grayling, asking him to ensure adherence to Civil Service Code, correcting factual errors
The No 3rd Runway Coalition have written the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to point out that civil servants and Ministers need to adhere to the Civil Service and Ministerial Codes of behaviour. These require correction of factual errors. The Coalition understand that, at Heathrow’s recent Business Summits, the airport’s publicity material about the estimated economic benefits of a 3rd runway has been misleading, claiming benefits far higher than the official Government figures published by the DfT. Heathrow claims benefits, generated by the runway, of £211 billion for the UK over 60 years. However, the figures from the DfT indicated that the maximum gross benefit could be £74 billion, over 60 years, with a Net Present Valuation (i.e. after all costs have been accounted for) of somewhere between £3 bn and a LOSS of £2.2bn, over 60 years. The Coalition understands that civil servants have attended the Heathrow summits, and failed to point out this inaccuracy. Also that DfT civil servants (and possibly Ministers) will be attending the Heathrow Business Summits of 8th November (at Heathrow) and 23rd November (in Derby). The Coalition is asking for assurance from Mr Grayling that any civil servants and Ministers attending will identify Heathrow’s erroneous claims and correct them, by spelling out to summit attendees the Government’s own figures.
Ministers and Civil Servants Told To Stop Breaching Codes Of Practice In Selling Heathrow Expansion
8.11.2017 (No 3rd Runway Coalition)
The No 3rd Runway Coalition has written to the Rt. Hon Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, seeking assurances that both civil servants and Ministers will observe their respective codes of behaviour, in relation to their attendance at Heathrow Business Summits on 23rd November, in Debry, and throughout the programme of summits to be held throughout 2018.
This follows reports that, at previous Business Summits in 2017, Heathrow’s publicity material about the estimated economic benefits of a third runway has been misleading, claiming benefits (£211bn) far higher than the official Government figures (a maximum of £74bn), as published by the Department for Transport.
Civil servants and ministers who were present at these summits failed to identify the inaccuracies and correct the misleading impression given to the audience. Their failure to call the audience’s attention to the Government’s estimated benefits amounted to an endorsement of Heathrow’s misleadingly high estimates.
Paul McGuinness, Chair of the No 3rd Runway Coalition, said:
“The Ministerial Code requires honesty and the Civil Service Code requires impartiality; and it is therefore wholly unacceptable, and in breach of the required standards, for either to sit in silence at Heathrow Business Summits, as these misleading figures are banded about. These codes can be breached through omission, as well as commission, and neither Ministers, nor civil servants, should allow themselves to be cast as colluders in Heathrow’s intentionally exaggerated claims.”
Notes for editors
- The Ministerial Code sets out the standards of behaviour for Ministers and incorporates the Seven Principles of Public Life. One of these principles, Honesty, states that “Holders of public office should be truthful”.
- The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants. They must abide by the core values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. In relation to honesty civil servants must “set out the facts and relevant issues truthfully, and correct any errors as soon as possible”. Civil servants must not “deceive or knowingly mislead ministers, Parliament or others”.
- At Heathrow’s previous Business Summits (12 May 2017 in Newquay, 15 June 2017 in Liverpool, 5 July 2017 in Wales, 8 September 2017 in Newcastle and 18 October 2017 in Edinburgh), Heathrow has publicised a figure of £211billion, as representing the estimated economic benefit of a third runway.
The list of summits in 2018 can be found here http://www.heathrowbusinesssummit.co.uk/2018
Ministers, including members of the Cabinet, have attended the summits, including: Chris Grayling MP, Alun Cairns MP and Lord Callanan (when aviation minister).
The maximum estimated accumulated gross benefit over 60 years of a Heathrow third runway, being “£112 – £211 Billion” was published in the Airports Commission’s interim report in 2014, but then significantly revised downward in the Airports Commission’s definitive, final report to a maximum possible gross benefit of £147 billion, over sixty years.
However, both ﬁgures were derived using what the Commission described as a ‘novel’ approach to capturing possible wider beneﬁts, which its own economic advisers said should be treated with caution given likely double counting and inexplicable results.
Indeed, by October 2016, the DfT’s “Further Review and Sensitivities Report” stated £61 billion (over sixty years) to be the maximum, gross, economy-wide beneﬁt that could possibly be derived from an expanded Heathrow, with a possible Net Present Value (i.e. when all costs are accounted for) in the range of £0.2 billion £6.1 billion.
However, on 24th October 2017, the Government stated £74 billion, spread over 60 years, to be its latest estimate of maximum, gross, economy-wide beneﬁt, with a Net Present Value of between £3bn and minus £2.2bn, over 60 years.
“Revised Draft Airports National Policy Statement” https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/revised-draft-airports-national-policy-statement
These figures are far lower than the economic benefit claimed by Heathrow.
- The No 3rd Runway Coalition (https://www.no3rdrunwaycoalition.co.uk/), the largest grouping opposing Heathrow expansion, is a growing coalition of MPs, local authorities, trade unions and residents backed by more than 18 local campaign groups. It continues to challenge the Government to drop plans for an additional runway at Heathrow Airport.
Rt. Hon Chris Grayling MP
Secretary of State for Transport
Great Minster House
33 Horseferry Rd
London SW1P 4DR
Date: 6 November 2017
Our Ref: N3RC\Grayling\061117L
Dear Mr Grayling,
BENEFITS OF A THIRD HEATHROW RUNWAY: CIVIL SERVICE AND MINISTERIAL CODES
We understand that, at Heathrow’s recent Business Summits, the airport’s publicity material about the estimated economic benefits of a third runway has been misleading, claiming benefits far higher than the official Government figures published by your department.
Heathrow claims benefits of £211bn over 60 years, whereas the Government’s corresponding figure is a maximum gross benefit of £74bn, over 60 years, with a Net Present Valuation (i.e. after all costs have been accounted for) of somewhere between £3bn and a loss of £2.2bn, over sixty years.
It appears that civil servants have attended these summits, and failed to point out this inaccuracy. We also understand that civil servants from your department (and possibly Ministers) will be attending the Heathrow Business Summits of 8th November (at Heathrow) and 23rd November (in Derby).
In order that attendance by civil servants and, if applicable, Ministers does not amount to endorsement of these misleading claims, and so as to ensure observance of both the Civil Service and Ministerial Codes, we seek your assurance that any attending civil servants and Ministers will identify Heathrow’s erroneous claims and correct them, by spelling out the Government’s own figures to summit attendees.
Chair, No Third Runway Coalition
The Civil Service Code states:
- set out the facts and relevant issues truthfully, and correct any errors as soon as possible