Written statements

Government Ministers and a small number of other Members of the two Houses can make a written statement to one or both Houses.

Written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. They also reproduced in the next edition of the Daily Report and of Hansard in the relevant House.

Written statements made before 17 November 2014 were published only in Hansard:

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Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 27 April 2017
Made by: Lord Bridges of Headley (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)
Lords

General Affairs Council April 2017

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Exiting the European Union (Mr David Jones) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union (Mr David Jones): I attended the General Affairs Council on 25 April 2017. The meeting was held in Luxembourg and chaired by the Maltese Presidency.

The meeting was dedicated to cohesion policy and the agenda items included: Modification of the Common Provisions Regulation; Bringing Cohesion Policy Closer to Citizens; and Council Conclusions on Macro-Regional Strategies.

A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2017/04/25/

Modification of the Common Provisions Regulation

The Presidency provided an update on the proposed revision of the Common Provisions Regulation, which sought to provide a higher level of EU cohesion funding in response to natural disasters. The Committee of Permanent Representatives had agreed a compromise and a discussion between the European Parliament, the Council and European Commission was scheduled for 3 May.

The Presidency also provided an update on the ‘Omnibus’ regulation proposed by the European Commission to simplify cohesion funding and announced that it would begin discussions with the European Parliament on this matter as soon as possible.

Council Conclusions on Bringing Cohesion Policy Closer to Citizens

The Presidency reiterated its views on the benefits of cohesion policy but recognised that funding pressures continued and that a lack of awareness of the EU’s contributions towards cohesion policy remained. I intervened to welcome the improvements to cohesion funding during the current period but recognised that further innovation should be encouraged. I also recalled the Prime Minister’s commitment that the UK would seek a fair settlement of its rights and obligations during the negotiations on the UK’s departure from the EU.

Council Conclusions on Macro-Regional Strategies
The Presidency highlighted progress in developing macro-regional strategies.

Discussions on the conclusions were agreed.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS620
WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 27 April 2017
Made by: Mr David Jones (The Minister of State for Exiting the European Union )
Commons

General Affairs Council April 2017

The Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union (Mr David Jones): I attended the General Affairs Council on 25 April 2017. The meeting was held in Luxembourg and chaired by the Maltese Presidency.

The meeting was dedicated to cohesion policy and the agenda items included: Modification of the Common Provisions Regulation; Bringing Cohesion Policy Closer to Citizens; and Council Conclusions on Macro-Regional Strategies.

A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2017/04/25/

Modification of the Common Provisions Regulation

The Presidency provided an update on the proposed revision of the Common Provisions Regulation, which sought to provide a higher level of EU cohesion funding in response to natural disasters. The Committee of Permanent Representatives had agreed a compromise and a discussion between the European Parliament, the Council and European Commission was scheduled for 3 May.

The Presidency also provided an update on the ‘Omnibus’ regulation proposed by the European Commission to simplify cohesion funding and announced that it would begin discussions with the European Parliament on this matter as soon as possible.

Council Conclusions on Bringing Cohesion Policy Closer to Citizens

The Presidency reiterated its views on the benefits of cohesion policy but recognised that funding pressures continued and that a lack of awareness of the EU’s contributions towards cohesion policy remained. I intervened to welcome the improvements to cohesion funding during the current period but recognised that further innovation should be encouraged. I also recalled the Prime Minister’s commitment that the UK would seek a fair settlement of its rights and obligations during the negotiations on the UK’s departure from the EU.

Council Conclusions on Macro-Regional Strategies
The Presidency highlighted progress in developing macro-regional strategies.

Discussions on the conclusions were agreed.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS614
WS
Home Office
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Immigration

My hon Friend the Minister of State for Immigration (Robert Goodwill) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

In 2016, the UK granted asylum or another form of leave to over 8,000 children. By the end of 2016, the UK had resettled more than 5,000 people under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme and the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme, as part of our commitment to taking 23,000 people by 2020. Our resettlement schemes allow children to be resettled with their family members, thereby discouraging them from making perilous journeys to Europe alone. In 2016, we transferred over 900 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from within Europe to the UK, including more than 750 from France as part of the UK’s comprehensive support for the Calais camp clearance. And over 200 children have already arrived in the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016. The UK has pledged over £2.3 billion in aid in response to the events in Syria and the region - our largest ever humanitarian response to a single crisis. Within Europe, the UK has also established a £10 million Refugee Children’s Fund to support the needs of vulnerable refugee and migrant children arriving in Europe. The fund includes targeted support to meet the specific needs of unaccompanied and separated children.

In my Written Ministerial Statement of 8 February 2017 I announced that, following consultation with local authorities, the Government would transfer the specified number of 350 unaccompanied children from Europe to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016.

The Government has very recently become aware that, due to an administrative error as part of collating the figures, one region pledged 130 places which were not accounted for in setting the specified number. As part of the consultation local authorities were asked to let their Strategic Migration Partnerships know how many places they could offer, and then the Strategic Migration Partnerships provided the regional number to the Home Office. The Home Office continued to work with the Strategic Migration Partnerships throughout the consultation process, and believed that two regions in England had not provided responses after the consultation closed. Both of these regions had already stepped up to take a number of children from over-burdened councils elsewhere in the country so it was assumed they would continue to support the national transfer scheme as and when they could, but were not able to provide specific numbers which the Home Office could then allocate to section 67 cases. The Home Office recently discovered that one of the regions had sent a return and we are now including their pledges in the specified number for the purposes of section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016.

In order to ensure the specified number of children to be transferred is a true reflection of the responses to that consultation, I am today announcing that, in accordance with section 67 of the Immigration Act, the Government is increasing the specified number from 350 to 480. As outlined in my original statement, the specified number includes over 200 children already transferred from France as part of the Calais camp clearance. It does not include children transferred to the UK pursuant to the family reunion criteria of the Dublin III Regulation.

The Government remains fully committed to the implementation of our commitment under section 67 to transfer unaccompanied children to the UK from Europe and no eligible child has been refused transfer to the UK as a result of this error. The Home Secretary has written to her counterparts in France, Greece and Italy and we are working closely with Member States, as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and NGO partners so we can identify and transfer children to the UK as soon as possible. Home Office officials have met with their counterparts in each of the countries in the past few weeks to plan future transfers. We have secondees in Greece and Italy working on transfers of unaccompanied children to the UK under both the Dublin III Regulation and section 67 and we published the criteria for future transfers on 10 March. Over the coming months, the Government will continue to work with EU Member States and partners to implement section 67.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS619
WS
Home Office
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Immigration

In 2016, the UK granted asylum or another form of leave to over 8,000 children. By the end of 2016, the UK had resettled more than 5,000 people under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme and the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme, as part of our commitment to taking 23,000 people by 2020. Our resettlement schemes allow children to be resettled with their family members, thereby discouraging them from making perilous journeys to Europe alone. In 2016, we transferred over 900 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from within Europe to the UK, including more than 750 from France as part of the UK’s comprehensive support for the Calais camp clearance. And over 200 children have already arrived in the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016. The UK has pledged over £2.3 billion in aid in response to the events in Syria and the region - our largest ever humanitarian response to a single crisis. Within Europe, the UK has also established a £10 million Refugee Children’s Fund to support the needs of vulnerable refugee and migrant children arriving in Europe. The fund includes targeted support to meet the specific needs of unaccompanied and separated children.

In my Written Ministerial Statement of 8 February 2017 I announced that, following consultation with local authorities, the Government would transfer the specified number of 350 unaccompanied children from Europe to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016.

The Government has very recently become aware that, due to an administrative error as part of collating the figures, one region pledged 130 places which were not accounted for in setting the specified number. As part of the consultation local authorities were asked to let their Strategic Migration Partnerships know how many places they could offer, and then the Strategic Migration Partnerships provided the regional number to the Home Office. The Home Office continued to work with the Strategic Migration Partnerships throughout the consultation process, and believed that two regions in England had not provided responses after the consultation closed. Both of these regions had already stepped up to take a number of children from over-burdened councils elsewhere in the country so it was assumed they would continue to support the national transfer scheme as and when they could, but were not able to provide specific numbers which the Home Office could then allocate to section 67 cases. The Home Office recently discovered that one of the regions had sent a return and we are now including their pledges in the specified number for the purposes of section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016.

In order to ensure the specified number of children to be transferred is a true reflection of the responses to that consultation, I am today announcing that, in accordance with section 67 of the Immigration Act, the Government is increasing the specified number from 350 to 480. As outlined in my original statement, the specified number includes over 200 children already transferred from France as part of the Calais camp clearance. It does not include children transferred to the UK pursuant to the family reunion criteria of the Dublin III Regulation.

The Government remains fully committed to the implementation of our commitment under section 67 to transfer unaccompanied children to the UK from Europe and no eligible child has been refused transfer to the UK as a result of this error. The Home Secretary has written to her counterparts in France, Greece and Italy and we are working closely with Member States, as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and NGO partners so we can identify and transfer children to the UK as soon as possible. Home Office officials have met with their counterparts in each of the countries in the past few weeks to plan future transfers. We have secondees in Greece and Italy working on transfers of unaccompanied children to the UK under both the Dublin III Regulation and section 67 and we published the criteria for future transfers on 10 March. Over the coming months, the Government will continue to work with EU Member States and partners to implement section 67.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS613
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Lords

Provision of Equipment to Syria Civil Defence and the Free Syrian Police

My right Honourable Friend, the Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Boris Johnson), has made the following written Ministerial statement:

The situation in Syria remains extremely fragile. An estimated 400,000 people have been killed since the war began six years ago, many of them innocent civilians. The Asad regime continues to use the most barbaric military methods and tactics available, including the use of indiscriminate artillery fire, chemical weapons and barrel bombs. The UK remains committed to doing all it can to promote a political settlement to end the conflict, to alleviate the humanitarian suffering, and to protect UK national security through countering terrorist and extremist threats.

In June 2016, my predecessor, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, issued Written Ministerial Statements setting out our plans to give equipment to Syria Civil Defence and the Free Syrian Police teams operating in opposition-controlled areas of Syria. The UK subsequently distributed the equipment to both teams along with comprehensive training packages. Syria Civil Defence teams have now saved over 70,000 lives by rescuing civilians trapped in damaged buildings, fighting fires and providing emergency first aid. The Free Syrian Police continues its valuable work to prevent looting and to support the distribution of humanitarian aid. Other international donors have contributed to both initiatives.

The UK intends to continue its support to these programmes by increasing their communications capability and mobility of the teams, providing more targeted operational equipment – whether for search and rescue, or tracing explosives – as well as building up the capacity of these organisations to deliver on the ground. We intend give £2 million in equipment to Syria Civil Defence and £4 million in equipment to the Free Syrian Police. For Syria Civil Defence, the list of equipment includes: cutting and rescue tools; personal protective gear including helmets; uniforms; communications equipment; medical supplies; equipment for the disposal of unexploded ordinance; office supplies; vehicles; and fire fighting equipment. For the Free Syrian Police, the list of equipment includes: vehicles; communications kit; traffic signs and cones; uniforms; and generators. We expect to spend £19 million this financial year on both programmes of support.

The use of these funds to cover the costs of the equipment has been approved by members of the Middle East and North Africa Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) Regional Board. The list of equipment has been scrutinised to ensure that the provision of this equipment is consistent with export controls and complies with our international obligations. Recipients have been carefully selected to prevent equipment being given to those involved in extremist activities or human rights abuses. All equipment transfers are approved by HMG immediately before delivery. All our assistance is carefully calibrated and legal, is aimed at alleviating human suffering and supporting moderate groups and is regularly monitored and evaluated. We monitor the situation on the ground carefully.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS618
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Lords

Provision of Equipment to Moderate Armed Opposition Border Force and Medical Units

My right Honourable Friend, the Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Boris Johnson), has made the following written Ministerial statement:

The situation in Syria remains extremely fragile. An estimated 400,000 people have been killed since the war began six years ago, many of them innocent civilians. The Asad regime continues to use the most barbaric military methods and tactics available, including the use of indiscriminate artillery fire, chemical weapons and barrel bombs. The UK remains committed to doing all it can to promote a political settlement to end the conflict, to alleviate the humanitarian suffering, and to protect UK national security through countering terrorist and extremist threats.

In November 2015, my predecessor, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, issued Written Ministerial Statements setting out our plans to give equipment and training to groups selected from the Moderate Armed Opposition’s (MAO) Southern Front, creating a Border Force and Casualty Evacuation capability in Opposition controlled areas of southern Syria. The Southern Front Border Force (SF-BFOR) working together with other MAO groups and in coordination with the Jordanian Authorities, has interdicted Jordanian citizens illegally entering Syria. They have also stopped smugglers carrying money, weapons and narcotics from Syria to Jordan, and Daesh fighters attempting to carry weapons, explosives and money in and out of the besieged area of the Yarmouk Basin. The Southern Front Casualty Evacuation capability (CASEVAC) capability is designed to provide vital medical support to the MAO and has, to date, established and equipped three medical teams with a command and control element attached to each. Primarily designed to support MAO fighters, they have provided treatment to over 100 injured MAO personnel in recent fighting in Dera’a City. These teams have also provided treatment to civilians wounded in the fighting often working alongside the Syrian Civil Defence. Other international donors have contributed to both initiatives.

The UK intends to continue its support to these programmes by providing targeted operational equipment – for patrolling and observation, and for provision of medical care to wounded fighters – as well as building the command and control capacity. We will give £3,438,338.54 in equipment to SF-BFOR and £2,779,970.30 in equipment to the CASEVAC medical units. For SF-BFOR the list of equipment includes: vehicles; day/night observation aids; communications equipment; metal and line detecting equipment to find and avoid improvised explosive devices; uniforms; and combined load carrying/protective vests. The list of equipment for the CASEVAC medical units includes: vehicles; communications equipment; medical treatment equipment; uniforms; and load carrying/protective vests. We expect to spend a total of £10 million this financial year on both programmes of support.

The use of these funds to cover the costs of the programme has been approved by the Syria Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) Board, the Middle East North Africa CSSF Regional Board and Operations Committee. The equipment has been scrutinised to ensure that the provision of this equipment is consistent with export controls and complies with our international obligations. Recipients have been carefully selected and vetted to prevent equipment being given to those involved in extremist activities or human rights abuses. All equipment transfers are approved by HMG immediately before delivery. All our assistance is carefully calibrated and legal, is aimed at alleviating human suffering and supporting moderate groups and is regularly monitored and evaluated. We monitor the situation on the ground carefully.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS617
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (The Lords Spokesperson (Department for Education) (Higher Education))
Lords

English Votes for English Laws Analysis for Higher Education and Research Bill

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (Jo Johnson MP) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce the publication of the Government’s analysis of English Votes for English Laws in relation to amendments made to the Higher Education and Research Bill in the House of Lords.

The English Votes for English Laws process applies to public bills in the House of Commons. To support the process, the Government has agreed that it will provide information to assist the Speaker in considering whether to certify a Bill or any of its provisions for the purposes of English Votes for English Laws. Bill provisions that relate exclusively to England or to England and Wales, and which have a subject matter within the legislative competence of one or more of the devolved legislatures, can be certified.

The memorandum also provides an assessment of Government amendments tabled in lieu of Lords amendments, for the purposes of English Votes for English Laws. The Department’s assessment is that the amendments do not change the territorial application of the Bill.

This analysis reflects the position should all the Government amendments be accepted.

The memorandum can be found on the Bill documents page of the Parliament website at: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2016-17/highereducationandresearch.html and I have deposited a copy in the Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS616
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Commercial Secretary to The Treasury)
Lords

Finance Bill 2017

I have made a statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in my view, the provisions of the Finance Bill are compatible with the Convention rights. A copy of the statement has been placed in the Library of the House.

WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Boris Johnson (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Provision of Equipment to Syria Civil Defence and the Free Syrian Police

The situation in Syria remains extremely fragile. An estimated 400,000 people have been killed since the war began six years ago, many of them innocent civilians. The Asad regime continues to use the most barbaric military methods and tactics available, including the use of indiscriminate artillery fire, chemical weapons and barrel bombs. The UK remains committed to doing all it can to promote a political settlement to end the conflict, to alleviate the humanitarian suffering, and to protect UK national security through countering terrorist and extremist threats.

In June 2016, my predecessor, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, issued Written Ministerial Statements setting out our plans to give equipment to Syria Civil Defence and the Free Syrian Police teams operating in opposition-controlled areas of Syria. The UK subsequently distributed the equipment to both teams along with comprehensive training packages. Syria Civil Defence teams have now saved over 70,000 lives by rescuing civilians trapped in damaged buildings, fighting fires and providing emergency first aid. The Free Syrian Police continues its valuable work to prevent looting and to support the distribution of humanitarian aid. Other international donors have contributed to both initiatives.

The UK intends to continue its support to these programmes by increasing their communications capability and mobility of the teams, providing more targeted operational equipment – whether for search and rescue, or tracing explosives – as well as building up the capacity of these organisations to deliver on the ground. We intend give £2 million in equipment to Syria Civil Defence and £4 million in equipment to the Free Syrian Police. For Syria Civil Defence, the list of equipment includes: cutting and rescue tools; personal protective gear including helmets; uniforms; communications equipment; medical supplies; equipment for the disposal of unexploded ordinance; office supplies; vehicles; and fire fighting equipment. For the Free Syrian Police, the list of equipment includes: vehicles; communications kit; traffic signs and cones; uniforms; and generators. We expect to spend £19 million this financial year on both programmes of support.

The use of these funds to cover the costs of the equipment has been approved by members of the Middle East and North Africa Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) Regional Board. The list of equipment has been scrutinised to ensure that the provision of this equipment is consistent with export controls and complies with our international obligations. Recipients have been carefully selected to prevent equipment being given to those involved in extremist activities or human rights abuses. All equipment transfers are approved by HMG immediately before delivery. All our assistance is carefully calibrated and legal, is aimed at alleviating human suffering and supporting moderate groups and is regularly monitored and evaluated. We monitor the situation on the ground carefully.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS612
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Boris Johnson (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Provision of Equipment to Moderate Armed Opposition Border Force and Medical Units

The situation in Syria remains extremely fragile. An estimated 400,000 people have been killed since the war began six years ago, many of them innocent civilians. The Asad regime continues to use the most barbaric military methods and tactics available, including the use of indiscriminate artillery fire, chemical weapons and barrel bombs. The UK remains committed to doing all it can to promote a political settlement to end the conflict, to alleviate the humanitarian suffering, and to protect UK national security through countering terrorist and extremist threats.

In November 2015, my predecessor, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, issued Written Ministerial Statements setting out our plans to give equipment and training to groups selected from the Moderate Armed Opposition’s (MAO) Southern Front, creating a Border Force and Casualty Evacuation capability in Opposition controlled areas of southern Syria. The Southern Front Border Force (SF-BFOR) working together with other MAO groups and in coordination with the Jordanian Authorities, has interdicted Jordanian citizens illegally entering Syria. They have also stopped smugglers carrying money, weapons and narcotics from Syria to Jordan, and Daesh fighters attempting to carry weapons, explosives and money in and out of the besieged area of the Yarmouk Basin. The Southern Front Casualty Evacuation capability (CASEVAC) capability is designed to provide vital medical support to the MAO and has, to date, established and equipped three medical teams with a command and control element attached to each. Primarily designed to support MAO fighters, they have provided treatment to over 100 injured MAO personnel in recent fighting in Dera’a City. These teams have also provided treatment to civilians wounded in the fighting often working alongside the Syrian Civil Defence. Other international donors have contributed to both initiatives.

The UK intends to continue its support to these programmes by providing targeted operational equipment – for patrolling and observation, and for provision of medical care to wounded fighters – as well as building the command and control capacity. We will give £3,438,338.54 in equipment to SF-BFOR and £2,779,970.30 in equipment to the CASEVAC medical units. For SF-BFOR the list of equipment includes: vehicles; day/night observation aids; communications equipment; metal and line detecting equipment to find and avoid improvised explosive devices; uniforms; and combined load carrying/protective vests. The list of equipment for the CASEVAC medical units includes: vehicles; communications equipment; medical treatment equipment; uniforms; and load carrying/protective vests. We expect to spend a total of £10 million this financial year on both programmes of support.

The use of these funds to cover the costs of the programme has been approved by the Syria Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) Board, the Middle East North Africa CSSF Regional Board and Operations Committee. The equipment has been scrutinised to ensure that the provision of this equipment is consistent with export controls and complies with our international obligations. Recipients have been carefully selected and vetted to prevent equipment being given to those involved in extremist activities or human rights abuses. All equipment transfers are approved by HMG immediately before delivery. All our assistance is carefully calibrated and legal, is aimed at alleviating human suffering and supporting moderate groups and is regularly monitored and evaluated. We monitor the situation on the ground carefully.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS611
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Joseph Johnson (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

English Votes for English Laws Analysis for Higher Education and Research Bill

I am pleased to announce the publication of the Government’s analysis of English Votes for English Laws in relation to amendments made to the Higher Education and Research Bill in the House of Lords.

The English Votes for English Laws process applies to public bills in the House of Commons. To support the process, the Government has agreed that it will provide information to assist the Speaker in considering whether to certify a Bill or any of its provisions for the purposes of English Votes for English Laws. Bill provisions that relate exclusively to England or to England and Wales, and which have a subject matter within the legislative competence of one or more of the devolved legislatures, can be certified.

The memorandum also provides an assessment of Government amendments tabled in lieu of Lords amendments, for the purposes of English Votes for English Laws. The Department’s assessment is that the amendments do not change the territorial application of the Bill.

This analysis reflects the position should all the Government amendments be accepted.

The memorandum can be found on the Bill documents page of the Parliament website at: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2016-17/highereducationandresearch.html and I have deposited a copy in the Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS610
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 25 April 2017
Made by: Lord Henley (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Informal Meeting of Ministers of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council 3-4 April 2017, Valletta, Malta

My honourable Friend Damian Hinds MP (The Minister of State for Employment) has made the following Written Statement.

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met for the Informal Meeting of Ministers on 3rd and 4th April 2017 in Valletta, Malta; I represented the UK. The informal meeting does not tend to include legislative matters, but provides an opportunity for in-depth policy debates. The subjects for discussion are determined by the Presidency, who host the meeting.

The European Commission presented an EU roadmap for “making work pay”, which was the theme of the informal meeting. The Commission set out details of the White Paper on the Future of Europe as well as an update on expected proposals for the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The Presidency led a discussion on skills, emphasising how poor skills lead to social exclusion. Member state interventions highlighted the importance of investing to raise skill levels and improve the quality of jobs.

A plenary discussion was held on the subject of addressing inequalities in the labour market, with a focus on the challenges of responding to digitalisation, the rise in self-employment, new types of employment, and demographic change.

The Presidency gave a presentation on “moving away from benefit dependency – a Maltese perspective”, setting out how work has to be incentivised over benefits and how activation is critical. The Social Protection Committee chair outlined a framework of six key themes, including the balance between activation and income support; the provision of individualised support; and the availability of affordable services.

The final plenary of the informal considered the labour market as a vehicle for social inclusion. Member states emphasised the importance of activation for the long-term unemployed, as well as the role of access to child and social care.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS615
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 25 April 2017
Made by: Damian Hinds (Minister of State for Employment)
Commons

Informal Meeting of Ministers of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council 3-4 April 2017, Valletta, Malta

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met for the Informal Meeting of Ministers on 3rd and 4th April 2017 in Valletta, Malta; I represented the UK. The informal meeting does not tend to include legislative matters, but provides an opportunity for in-depth policy debates. The subjects for discussion are determined by the Presidency, who host the meeting.

The European Commission presented an EU roadmap for “making work pay”, which was the theme of the informal meeting. The Commission set out details of the White Paper on the Future of Europe as well as an update on expected proposals for the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The Presidency led a discussion on skills, emphasising how poor skills lead to social exclusion. Member state interventions highlighted the importance of investing to raise skill levels and improve the quality of jobs.

A plenary discussion was held on the subject of addressing inequalities in the labour market, with a focus on the challenges of responding to digitalisation, the rise in self-employment, new types of employment, and demographic change.

The Presidency gave a presentation on “moving away from benefit dependency – a Maltese perspective”, setting out how work has to be incentivised over benefits and how activation is critical. The Social Protection Committee chair outlined a framework of six key themes, including the balance between activation and income support; the provision of individualised support; and the availability of affordable services.

The final plenary of the informal considered the labour market as a vehicle for social inclusion. Member states emphasised the importance of activation for the long-term unemployed, as well as the role of access to child and social care.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS608
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 25 April 2017
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

ECOFIN: 7 - 8 April 2017

My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Philip Hammond) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

An informal meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Valletta, Malta on 7-8 April 2017. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following items:

Working Lunch

The Eurogroup President briefed Ministers on the outcomes of the 7 April meeting of the Eurogroup. Ministers discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), on the basis of the progress made with respect to the Five Presidents’ Report, and the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe.

Working Session I: Non-performing loans

Ministers were joined by Central Bank Governors to discuss the current situation of non-performing loans (NPLs) in European banks.

Working Session II: Boosting private investment in North Africa and beyond – What role for the EU institutions?

Ministers discussed ways to encourage further private investment in North Africa and beyond, given the importance of these neighbouring regions to the EU. The discussion drew on analysis by Bruegel and included participation from a number of actors in the region including the European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Working Session III: Tax certainty in a changing environment

In the context of rapid changes in the international tax system and work being conducted by the OECD and the IMF, Ministers reflected on ways to improve tax certainty in support of the EU's attractiveness as a place for doing business.

Any Other Business: IMF and G20 issues

Ahead of the April Spring Meetings in Washington DC, Ministers agreed the EU Terms of Reference for the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to be held on 20-21 April, the EU statement to the IMFC, and an updated agreement on EU coordination in the IMF.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS613
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 25 April 2017
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

ECOFIN: 21 March 2017

My right honourable friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury (David Gauke) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement

A meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 21 March 2017. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following items:

Early morning session

The Eurogroup President briefed Ministers on the outcomes of the 20 March meeting of the Eurogroup. Ministers discussed the current economic situation. The European Commission presented its review of national provisions adopted in compliance with the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (the Fiscal Compact) conducted in accordance with Article 8 of the Fiscal Compact, which was followed by an exchange of views by Ministers. Austrian Finance Minister Schelling explained his views as regard a proposed fine for the manipulation of debt statistics in Austrian Land of Salzburg, and the Polish delegation, on behalf of the Chairman of the EIB’s Board of Governors, outlined the suggested process for the upcoming election of the EIB President.”

Reduced VAT rate for electronically supplied publications (e-Publications)

Ministers discussed political issues in relation to the proposal for a Council Directive regarding rates of value added tax applied to books, newspapers and periodicals. The Proposal would give Member States the ability to apply reduced rates or a zero VAT rate to e-Publications and physical publications.

General Reverse Charge Mechanism

Ministers discussed the political issues in relation to the General Reverse Charge Mechanism (GRCM). This is a proposal for an amendment to Council Directive 2006/112/ on the common system of value added tax to allow the temporary application of a GRCM to supplies of goods and services above a certain threshold, with the aim of combatting VAT fraud.

Current financial service legislative proposals

The Council Presidency provided an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

European Semester 2017:

a) 2017 Country Reports and In-Depth Reviews

b) Implementation of Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs)

Following a presentation by the Commission, Ministers discussed the Country Reports published by the Commission on 22 February, including the assessment of CSR implementation and, where relevant, the framework of the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure. The Czech Republic, Italy and Slovenia were invited to reflect on their experiences of implementing reforms to the business environment, followed by an exchange of views.

Follow-up to the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on 17-18 March 2017 in Baden-Baden

The Presidency and the Commission informed Ministers on the outcomes of the G20 meeting.

Any other business

a) European Defence Fund

The Commission informed Ministers about its European Defence Action Plan, focusing in particular on the launch of a European Defence Fund. This item was delayed from February ECOFIN.

b) Status of implementation of financial services legislation

The Commission informed Ministers on the status of implementation of financial services legislation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS614
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 25 April 2017
Made by: Mr David Gauke (The Chief Secretary to the Treasury )
Commons

ECOFIN: 21 March 2017

A meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 21 March 2017. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following items:

Early morning session

The Eurogroup President briefed Ministers on the outcomes of the 20 March meeting of the Eurogroup. Ministers discussed the current economic situation. The European Commission presented its review of national provisions adopted in compliance with the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (the Fiscal Compact) conducted in accordance with Article 8 of the Fiscal Compact, which was followed by an exchange of views by Ministers. Austrian Finance Minister Schelling explained his views as regard a proposed fine for the manipulation of debt statistics in Austrian Land of Salzburg, and the Polish delegation, on behalf of the Chairman of the EIB’s Board of Governors, outlined the suggested process for the upcoming election of the EIB President.”

Reduced VAT rate for electronically supplied publications (e-Publications)

Ministers discussed political issues in relation to the proposal for a Council Directive regarding rates of value added tax applied to books, newspapers and periodicals. The Proposal would give Member States the ability to apply reduced rates or a zero VAT rate to e-Publications and physical publications.

General Reverse Charge Mechanism

Ministers discussed the political issues in relation to the General Reverse Charge Mechanism (GRCM). This is a proposal for an amendment to Council Directive 2006/112/ on the common system of value added tax to allow the temporary application of a GRCM to supplies of goods and services above a certain threshold, with the aim of combatting VAT fraud.

Current financial service legislative proposals

The Council Presidency provided an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

European Semester 2017:

a) 2017 Country Reports and In-Depth Reviews

b) Implementation of Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs)

Following a presentation by the Commission, Ministers discussed the Country Reports published by the Commission on 22 February, including the assessment of CSR implementation and, where relevant, the framework of the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure. The Czech Republic, Italy and Slovenia were invited to reflect on their experiences of implementing reforms to the business environment, followed by an exchange of views.

Follow-up to the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on 17-18 March 2017 in Baden-Baden

The Presidency and the Commission informed Ministers on the outcomes of the G20 meeting.

Any other business

a) European Defence Fund

The Commission informed Ministers about its European Defence Action Plan, focusing in particular on the launch of a European Defence Fund. This item was delayed from February ECOFIN.

b) Status of implementation of financial services legislation

The Commission informed Ministers on the status of implementation of financial services legislation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS606
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 25 April 2017
Made by: Mr Philip Hammond (The Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Commons

ECOFIN: 7 - 8 April 2017

An informal meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Valletta, Malta on 7-8 April 2017. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following items:

Working Lunch

The Eurogroup President briefed Ministers on the outcomes of the 7 April meeting of the Eurogroup. Ministers discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), on the basis of the progress made with respect to the Five Presidents’ Report, and the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe.

Working Session I: Non-performing loans

Ministers were joined by Central Bank Governors to discuss the current situation of non-performing loans (NPLs) in European banks.

Working Session II: Boosting private investment in North Africa and beyond – What role for the EU institutions?

Ministers discussed ways to encourage further private investment in North Africa and beyond, given the importance of these neighbouring regions to the EU. The discussion drew on analysis by Bruegel and included participation from a number of actors in the region including the European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Working Session III: Tax certainty in a changing environment

In the context of rapid changes in the international tax system and work being conducted by the OECD and the IMF, Ministers reflected on ways to improve tax certainty in support of the EU's attractiveness as a place for doing business.

Any Other Business: IMF and G20 issues

Ahead of the April Spring Meetings in Washington DC, Ministers agreed the EU Terms of Reference for the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to be held on 20-21 April, the EU statement to the IMFC, and an updated agreement on EU coordination in the IMF.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS607
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 24 April 2017
Made by: Lord Prior of Brampton (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

UPDATE ON BEIS ARMS LENGTH BODY

My honourable Friend the Minister of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy(Mr Nick Hurd) has made the following statement:

The Government has announced the sale of the UK Green Investment Bank plc (GIB) to Macquarie Group Limited (Macquarie), with a £2.3bn deal which secures a profit on the government’s investment in the bank, provides value for taxpayers and ensures GIB continues its green mission, in the private sector.

GIB has been a real success story since it was created in 2012 – the world’s first dedicated green investment bank, established to accelerate private sector investment into the UK green economy. It has fulfilled that mission, supporting almost 100 green infrastructure projects in the UK so far, and attracting £3 of third party funding for every £1 it invests. It has shown, as it set out to do, that green investment can be both green and profitable. Having demonstrated its success, the Government decided to move GIB into the private sector where it can continue its success on an even greater scale.

The deal, secured through a competitive process as set out in a Report to Parliament on 3 March 2016, will meet the objectives outlined by government of securing value for money for the taxpayer while ensuring GIB continues its green mission, free from the constraints of public sector ownership. It has the backing of GIB’s independent Board.

Under the ownership of Macquarie, one of the largest infrastructure investors in the world, GIB will invest more into the green economy than ever before, with £3bn of new investment targeted over the next three years, exceeding GIB’s track record of committing £3.4 billion of investment over the four and a half years since it was founded. GIB will become the primary vehicle for Macquarie’s renewable energy investment in the UK and Europe, allowing GIB to expand internationally.

Macquarie has today published a series of commitments over the future of GIB under their ownership, including that GIB’s green purpose and green objectives will be maintained. This is in line with the ‘special share’ in GIB to safeguard GIB’s green purposes, which will be held by five independent trustees who will have the power to approve or reject any proposed change to GIB’s green mission.

Macquarie has also committed to continue GIB’s investment approach, targeting investments across all areas of the green economy and across all stages of the project lifecycle, including the critical phases of development and construction. This will ensure GIB remains a specialist green investor supporting renewable energy investment and emissions reduction in the UK.

Macquarie is committed to maintain the GIB platform and brand, and to utilise the skills and experience of GIB employees in Edinburgh and London. GIB’s Edinburgh office will be home to a new revenue generating project delivery business providing services to the green energy portfolios of GIB and Macquarie in the UK.

The transaction value of around £2.3bn ensures that on completion, all taxpayer funding invested in GIB has been returned with a substantial profit. This comprises proceeds from the sale of around £1.7bn, with a further £0.6bn of GIB’s current outstanding commitments which will be met by Macquarie and its partners, rather than by taxpayers.

As part of the transaction, a number of GIB’s offshore wind assets will be moved into a new offshore wind investment vehicle, which GIB will manage and hold a 25% stake. Investors in this investment vehicle will be long-term institutional investors Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund 5 (MEIF5) and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). This type of transaction structure matches GIB’s existing approach to asset ownership, providing a mechanism for long-term institutional investors to invest in low carbon projects while ensuring GIB can recycle its capital into new green investments.

The Government will continue to hold a £130m portfolio of a small number of GIB’s existing investments. This portfolio will continue to be managed by GIB until these investments can be sold on in a way which returns best value for taxpayers’ money.

The Government would like to put on record its gratitude to GIB management and staff, who have all played a key role in GIB’s success, and who have worked tirelessly and professionally to support the sale process while continuing to source and finance green projects across the UK.

The sale proceeds will be received on completion of the transaction, which is expected to take around two months. The transaction is conditional on certain regulatory approvals including EU merger clearance. Under the Enterprise Act 2016, Government is required to provide a full report to Parliament on completion of the transaction.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS600
WS
Northern Ireland Office
Made on: 24 April 2017
Made by: Lord Dunlop (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland)
Lords

Northern Ireland Finances

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (James Brokenshire) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

At the point when the Assembly dissolved in January, there had been no Budget set for the Northern Ireland Executive for the 2017-18 financial year. As a result, since the end of March it has fallen to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Finance to allocate cash to Northern Ireland departments under powers provided by section 59 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Since that point, consistent with the UK Government’s ultimate responsibility for political stability in Northern Ireland, I have been working closely with the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS), in conjunction with the NICS Board, to explore the most appropriate means by which to provide further assurance around the Budget for Northern Ireland departments in the absence of an Executive.

I outline in the attached tables an indicative Budget position and set of departmental allocations, based on advice from the Head of the NICS in conjunction with the NICS Board. These allocations seek to reflect, as far as possible, their assessment as to the priorities of the political parties prior to the dissolution of the Assembly and the further allocations they consider are required within the budget available. By so doing I intend to give clarity to Northern Ireland departments as to the basis for departmental allocations in the absence of an Executive, so that Permanent Secretaries can plan and prepare to take more detailed decisions in that light.

Alongside that, I wish to make clear - as I shall also do in proceedings on the Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill - that this Government, if returned and efforts to secure the resumption of devolved government do not succeed, would ultimately be prepared to provide legislative authority for the expenditure of Northern Ireland departments for 2017-18.

The totals I set out would not constrain the future ability of an incoming Executive to adjust its priorities during the course of the year. Any future UK Government would similarly need to reflect upon the final shape of allocations in the light of the circumstances at the appropriate time.

Resource - Departmental Expenditure Limits

The resource positions begin from the indicative departmental totals set by the Permanent Secretary of the NI Department of Finance under his s59 powers. From there further allocations have been made in the light of the assessment made by the Head of the Civil Service, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Civil Service Board, as to pressures to be addressed. These totals do not include the £42m of resource provided in the March Budget, as that extra funding was allocated after the last Executive dissolved. This is in order to maintain flexibility for the any new Executive to allocate resources to meet further priorities as they deem appropriate.

Capital - Departmental Expenditure Limits

The capital position has been determined by the Head of the NICS, in conjunction with the NICS Board, based on engagement with individual departments, again reflecting the decisions and priorities of the last Executive. It includes the allocation of £114m of Financial Transactions Capital. It would make available funding for projects which were announced by the Executive as part of their 2016-17 Budget. These include the A5 and A6 road projects, the Belfast Transport Hub, and the Mother and Children’s Hospital. However it would be for individual departments to prioritise and allocate their capital budgets. As with the resource totals above, this does not include the £7m of capital provided in the March Budget.

Tables 1 and 2 (Word Document, 25.9 KB)
WS
Northern Ireland Office
Made on: 24 April 2017
Made by: James Brokenshire (Secretary of State for Northern Ireland)
Commons

Northern Ireland Finances

At the point when the Assembly dissolved in January, there had been no Budget set for the Northern Ireland Executive for the 2017-18 financial year. As a result, since the end of March it has fallen to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Finance to allocate cash to Northern Ireland departments under powers provided by section 59 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Since that point, consistent with the UK Government’s ultimate responsibility for political stability in Northern Ireland, I have been working closely with the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS), in conjunction with the NICS Board, to explore the most appropriate means by which to provide further assurance around the Budget for Northern Ireland departments in the absence of an Executive.

I outline in the attached tables an indicative Budget position and set of departmental allocations, based on advice from the Head of the NICS in conjunction with the NICS Board. These allocations seek to reflect, as far as possible, their assessment as to the priorities of the political parties prior to the dissolution of the Assembly and the further allocations they consider are required within the budget available. By so doing I intend to give clarity to Northern Ireland departments as to the basis for departmental allocations in the absence of an Executive, so that Permanent Secretaries can plan and prepare to take more detailed decisions in that light.

Alongside that, I wish to make clear - as I shall also do in proceedings on the Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill - that this Government, if returned and efforts to secure the resumption of devolved government do not succeed, would ultimately be prepared to provide legislative authority for the expenditure of Northern Ireland departments for 2017-18.

The totals I set out would not constrain the future ability of an incoming Executive to adjust its priorities during the course of the year. Any future UK Government would similarly need to reflect upon the final shape of allocations in the light of the circumstances at the appropriate time.

Resource - Departmental Expenditure Limits

The resource positions begin from the indicative departmental totals set by the Permanent Secretary of the NI Department of Finance under his s59 powers. From there further allocations have been made in the light of the assessment made by the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Civil Service Board, as to pressures to be addressed. These totals do not include the £42m of resource provided in the March Budget, as that extra funding was allocated after the last Executive dissolved. This is in order to maintain flexibility for the new Executive to allocate resources to meet further priorities as they deem appropriate.

Capital - Departmental Expenditure Limits

The capital position has been determined by the Head of the NICS, in conjunction with the NICS Board, based on engagement with individual departments, again reflecting the decisions and priorities of the last Executive. It includes the allocation of £114m of Financial Transactions Capital. It would make available funding for projects which were announced by the Executive as part of their 2016-17 Budget. These include the A5 and A6 road projects, the Belfast Transport Hub, and the Mother and Children’s Hospital. However it would be for individual departments to prioritise and allocate their capital budgets. As with the resource totals above, this does not include the £7m of capital provided in the March Budget.

Tables 1 and 2 (Word Document, 25.9 KB)
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