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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WS
Home Office
Made on: 19 January 2018
Made by: Amber Rudd (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Commons

Migration

The UK and France share a special relationship. The operation of juxtaposed controls, provided for by bilateral agreements, is an essential element of our border strategy. Since the juxtaposed controls were introduced, the number of asylum claims made in the UK has decreased dramatically. Before the controls were in place, asylum claims reached over 84,000 a year, three times higher than the 26,617 claims in 2016/17. The reduction in claims we have seen has significantly reduced the impact on public services and the UK taxpayer – with every reduction by 10,000 asylum claims saving the UK at least £70 million in costs.

Juxtaposed controls play a hugely important role in protecting our national security and have significant economic value for both the UK and France – creating a smooth border and making trade more efficient. Having UK border controls based in France allows Border Force officers to check passengers and freight destined for the UK in France, ensuring we can take action against illegal migrants, those trying to smuggle people into the UK and criminals attempting to bring illegal goods into the country, before they reach British soil.

Yesterday, we signed a supplementary agreement that demonstrates the UK and France’s long-term commitment to the future of the juxtaposed controls, recognising that they are in the common interest. This Treaty with France - the Treaty between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the French Republic Concerning the Reinforcement of Cooperation for the Coordinated Management of their Shared Border, Recognising the Importance of Cooperation at the Juxtaposed Controls – is established to sit alongside the Le Touquet and Canterbury treaties and will come into force on 1 February 2018. In securing the future of juxtaposed controls in this way we are able to strengthen operational cooperation, both in northern France and further upstream, to reduce the illegal flows into France. The Treaty will not affect the operation of our juxtaposed controls, but demonstrates the UK and France’s long term commitment to their successful operation, and secures some of the mechanisms that we need to further strengthen our joint capabilities to prevent the formation of any new migrant camps.

Building on the successful cooperation of the clearance and relocation of the migrant camp in Calais in 2016, the UK and France have now agreed a comprehensive ‘whole of route’ approach to migration. The aim is to reduce the number of migrants making the dangerous and illegal journey to northern France and manage the pressure on our shared border from those who do travel. The elements are to:

  • jointly work upstream in source and transit countries to discourage migrants who do not have any lawful basis for doing so from making the dangerous journey to northern France;
  • invest in strengthening our shared border through investment in port security and infrastructure and further improving operational cooperation with France; and,
  • work to ensure that migrants who have travelled illegally to Northern France are able to quickly claim asylum in France so we can meet our international obligations.

The UK has a shared interest in cooperating with France to manage migratory pressures. The support announced as part of the UK France Summit will help ensure migrant camps do not reform and that those willing to engage with the asylum system in France can claim asylum there. It also includes working with France to facilitate the return of migrants with no legal right to be in Europe to countries further upstream where they can be lawfully admitted.

Our cooperation with France on migration and our shared border is a long term commitment. Just as we invest in our borders around the rest of the UK, it is only right that we constantly monitor whether there is more we can be doing at the UK border controls in France and Belgium. Signing the Treaty yesterday ensures a continuation of operational cooperation in a number of ways. It reaffirms both parties’ commitments to the operation of procedures for determining the Member State responsible for an asylum claim under the Dublin III Regulation. It establishes a new coordination centre for operational cooperation at our shared border and strengthens cooperation on returns. It sets up a strategic dialogue and commits both countries to working towards joint practical measures in countries upstream, further demonstrating our commitment and leadership on this agenda. These practical measures will help to reduce flows to northern France and underpin our joint commitment to fight modern slavery and human trafficking.

In addition, the UK and France recognise their humanitarian responsibilities towards unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children. In 2016, the UK transferred over 750 unaccompanied minors from France as part of our comprehensive support for the Calais camp clearance. We have also announced a number of further measures in respect of unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children:

  • France, Greece and Italy will now be able to refer unaccompanied children who arrived in Europe before 18 January 2018 to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016. The Government had previously insisted on the previous eligibility date of 20 March 2016 to avoid establishing an open-ended relocation scheme from Europe, as this would increase the pull factor that puts children’s lives at risk. After extensive discussion with France, Greece and Italy, we have agreed to amend the eligibility date on an exceptional basis to ensure we can transfer the circa. 260 remaining unaccompanied children and meet our obligation under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016. Over 220 children are already here and we are fully committed to transferring the specified number of 480 children as soon as possible, in line with our published policy. The specified number of 480 under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 remains unchanged following the UK France Summit.
  • The allocation of a £3.6M development fund, as part of the UK’s overall £45.5M funding commitment, which the UK intends to use to work with France to identify projects which support genuine claims through the Dublin process and ensure that those with no prospect of transferring to the UK are informed of their options.
  • The strengthening of cooperation with France on the operation of the Dublin Regulation, including shorter timescales for decisions and transfers. These commitments apply whilst both the UK and France are participants in the Dublin Regulation.
  • The deployment of a UK Liaison Officer to France by 1 April 2018.

The Government has not agreed to any new obligations to take more unaccompanied children from Europe. The commitments set out in the Treaty and this Written Ministerial Statement will improve joint working with France and support the delivery of existing obligations.

The deal that we have done yesterday recognises the importance of the juxtapose controls for both the UK and France, and seals confirmation by President Macron to ensuring that we work together to operate them as efficiently as possible, and sets up a new phase of cooperation that will enable us to break the cycle of camps forming in northern France.

We have a shared interest in cooperating with France on our whole of route approach to migration and the commitments set out at the UK France Summit and in this Written Ministerial Statement further underline the value of our enduring strategic relationship.

WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 19 January 2018
Made by: Baroness Buscombe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Welfare

My Right Honourable Friend the The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (The Rt. Hon.Esther McVey MP) has made the following Written Statement.

Supporting people with mental health conditions is a top priority for this Government. We are committed to ensuring our welfare system is a strong safety net for those who need it. That is why we spend over £50 billion a year supporting people with disabilities and health conditions –more than ever before.

Disabled people and people with health conditions, including mental health conditions, deserve the very best support. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) replaced the out-dated Disability Living Allowance (DLA) system, with 66% of PIP recipients with mental health conditions receiving the higher rate of the benefit, compared to just 22% under DLA.

On 21st December 2017 the High Court published its judgment in the judicial review challenge against regulation 2(4) of the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 S.I. 2017/194. The Regulations reversed the effect of the Upper Tribunal judgment in MH.

I wish to inform the House that, after careful consideration, I have decided not to appeal the High Court judgment. My Department will now take all steps necessary to implement the judgment in MH in the best interests of our claimants, working closely with disabled people and key stakeholders over the coming months.

Although I and my Department accept the High Court’s judgment, we do not agree with some of the detail contained therein. Our intention has always been to deliver the policy intent of the original regulations, as approved by Parliament, and to provide the best support to claimants with mental health conditions.

The Department for Work and Pensions will now undertake an exercise to go through all affected cases in receipt of PIP and all decisions made following the judgment in MH to identify anyone who may be entitled to more as a result of the judgment. We will then write to those individuals affected, and all payments will be backdated to the effective date in each individual claim.

I hope that by making this statement it is clear that the Government is committed to improving the lives of people with mental health conditions.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS414
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 19 January 2018
Made by: Esther McVey (The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
Commons

Welfare

Supporting people with mental health conditions is a top priority for this Government. We are committed to ensuring our welfare system is a strong safety net for those who need it. That is why we spend over £50 billion a year supporting people with disabilities and health conditions –more than ever before.

Disabled people and people with health conditions, including mental health conditions, deserve the very best support. Personal Independence Payment (PIP) replaced the out-dated Disability Living Allowance (DLA) system, with 66% of PIP recipients with mental health conditions receiving the higher rate of the benefit, compared to just 22% under DLA.

On 21st December 2017 the High Court published its judgment in the judicial review challenge against regulation 2(4) of the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 S.I. 2017/194. The Regulations reversed the effect of the Upper Tribunal judgment in MH.

I wish to inform the House that, after careful consideration, I have decided not to appeal the High Court judgment. My Department will now take all steps necessary to implement the judgment in MH in the best interests of our claimants, working closely with disabled people and key stakeholders over the coming months.

Although I and my Department accept the High Court’s judgment, we do not agree with some of the detail contained therein. Our intention has always been to deliver the policy intent of the original regulations, as approved by Parliament, and to provide the best support to claimants with mental health conditions.

The Department for Work and Pensions will now undertake an exercise to go through all affected cases in receipt of PIP and all decisions made following the judgment in MH to identify anyone who may be entitled to more as a result of the judgment. We will then write to those individuals affected, and all payments will be backdated to the effective date in each individual claim.

I hope that by making this statement it is clear that the Government is committed to improving the lives of people with mental health conditions.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS407
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Defence)
Commons

UK Military Support

I wish to inform the House of the Government’s intent to deploy three CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopters to Mali to provide logistical support to French operations in the Sahel region, following French requests for additional support for Operation BARKHANE. This deployment forms an important element of our agreement at the Sandhurst Summit to work more closely with the French to counter terrorism and instability in the Sahel, and strengthen our cooperation in this region. We will continue to co-ordinate the deployment with the French and update the House in due course.

WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Lucy Frazer QC) has made the following Written Statement.

"Together with the senior judiciary, the Government is committed to modernising the justice system. HM Courts & Tribunals Service’s long-term reform programme is already delivering benefits by making access to justice quicker and easier whilst ensuring fairness. HM Courts & Tribunals Service’s £1 billion reform programme is ambitious, ensuring justice is accessible but proportionate and making use of the technology available in the modern world. It will provide modern IT and processes, and focused services to support those who require court services. It covers all jurisdictions and touches every aspect of the system, including making more effective use of its physical places, spaces and buildings.

Courts and tribunals estate

It is important that when the programme of reform is complete we have the right buildings in the right places that can take full advantage of the opportunities that modernisation brings. They should be flexible, efficient and offer the best possible environment for those who seek justice, and our approach should reflect the greater use of digital services.

I am, today, announcing the publication of six separate, but related, consultations about the HM Courts & Tribunals Service estate.

Consultation on future estates strategy

The first consultation, Fit for the future: Transforming the Courts and Tribunals Estate, provides an outline of reform activities which are either underway or planned. It outlines the three core principles behind our approach – ensuring access to justice, providing value for money for the taxpayer and ensuring efficiency in the long term – and a proposed approach to future consultations on changes to the estate as HMCTS reform initiatives deliver results.

Consultations on court closure proposals

While consideration of the demands on the courts and tribunals estate in the context of reform is important, we also need to assess the existing estate to make sure it is efficient and offers value for money to taxpayers now. To this end, a key consideration in management of the estate is that we only operate buildings that we need, eliminating duplication and overlapping service provision, with the savings recycled back into the reform programme.

I am therefore, today announcing five separate consultations on proposals to close eight courts. These proposals are being made under the existing courts and tribunals estates principles and current processes and workloads.

The courts are:

  • Banbury Magistrates’ and County Court and Maidenhead Magistrates’ Court (in a single consultation for the court estate in the Thames Valley),
  • Cambridge Magistrates’ Court,
  • Chorley Magistrates’ Court and Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court (in a single consultation for the court estate in Lancashire),
  • Northallerton Magistrates’ Court, and
  • Wandsworth County Court, and Blackfriars Crown Court (in a single consultation for the court estate in London).

All consultations will begin on 18 January 2018 and run for 10 weeks. A response to the consultations will be published following proper consideration of all views submitted.

A copy of the consultation documents will be placed in the Libraries of both houses."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS412
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Lucy Frazer (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service

Together with the senior judiciary, the Government is committed to modernising the justice system. HM Courts & Tribunals Service’s long-term reform programme is already delivering benefits by making access to justice quicker and easier whilst ensuring fairness. HM Courts & Tribunals Service’s £1 billion reform programme is ambitious, ensuring justice is accessible but proportionate and making use of the technology available in the modern world. It will provide modern IT and processes, and focused services to support those who require court services. It covers all jurisdictions and touches every aspect of the system, including making more effective use of its physical places, spaces and buildings.

Courts and tribunals estate

It is important that when the programme of reform is complete we have the right buildings in the right places that can take full advantage of the opportunities that modernisation brings. They should be flexible, efficient and offer the best possible environment for those who seek justice, and our approach should reflect the greater use of digital services.

I am, today, announcing the publication of six separate, but related, consultations about the HM Courts & Tribunals Service estate.

Consultation on future estates strategy

The first consultation, Fit for the future: Transforming the Courts and Tribunals Estate, provides an outline of reform activities which are either underway or planned. It outlines the three core principles behind our approach – ensuring access to justice, providing value for money for the taxpayer and ensuring efficiency in the long term – and a proposed approach to future consultations on changes to the estate as HMCTS reform initiatives deliver results.

Consultations on court closure proposals

While consideration of the demands on the courts and tribunals estate in the context of reform is important, we also need to assess the existing estate to make sure it is efficient and offers value for money to taxpayers now. To this end, a key consideration in management of the estate is that we only operate buildings that we need, eliminating duplication and overlapping service provision, with the savings recycled back into the reform programme.

I am therefore, today announcing five separate consultations on proposals to close eight courts. These proposals are being made under the existing courts and tribunals estates principles and current processes and workloads.

The courts are:

  • Banbury Magistrates’ and County Court and Maidenhead Magistrates’ Court (in a single consultation for the court estate in the Thames Valley),
  • Cambridge Magistrates’ Court,
  • Chorley Magistrates’ Court and Fleetwood Magistrates’ Court (in a single consultation for the court estate in Lancashire),
  • Northallerton Magistrates’ Court, and
  • Wandsworth County Court, and Blackfriars Crown Court (in a single consultation for the court estate in London).

All consultations will begin on 18 January 2018 and run for 10 weeks. A response to the consultations will be published following proper consideration of all views submitted.

A copy of the consultation documents will be placed in the Libraries of both houses.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS405
WS
Home Office
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Amber Rudd (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Commons

Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (01 September 2017 to 30 November 2017)

Section 19(1) of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (the Act) requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of her TPIM powers under the Act during that period.

The level of information provided will always be subject to slight variations based on operational advice.

TPIM notices in force (as of 30 November 2017)

7

TPIM notices in respect of British citizens (as of 30 November 2017)

6

TPIM notices extended (during the reporting period)

2

TPIM notices revoked (during the reporting period)

0

TPIM notices revived (during the reporting period)

0

Variations made to measures specified in TPIM notices (during the reporting period)

10

Applications to vary measures specified in TPIM notices refused (during the

reporting period)

0

The number of current subjects relocated under TPIM legislation (as of 30

November 2017)

7

The TPIM Review Group (TRG) keeps every TPIM notice under regular and formal review. The most recent TRG meetings took place on 4, 6, 26 and 27 September. The next round of TRG’s will take place during December 2017.

On 11 October 2017 a TPIM subject was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment following an earlier guilty plea to two breaches of the association measure of the TPIM notice.

The case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v LF [2017] EWHC 26859 (Admin) was heard at the High Court between 17 and 21 July 2017. In a judgment dated 30 October 2017 Mrs Justice Laing upheld the Secretary of State’s decision to impose a TPIM notice on LF. In the same judgment Mrs Justice Laing ordered a minor variation to LF’s police reporting requirement. This judgment can be found at www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2017/2685.html

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS403
WS
Home Office
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Mr Ben Wallace (The Minister of State for Security)
Commons

Criminal Finances: EU directive on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment

The Government has decided that the UK will not opt in to the Directive on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment.

The UK’s domestic legislation is already compliant with the majority of the Directive’s measures, and in relation to the offences and sentences set out in the Directive, the UK goes further than the standards set within the Directive for:

  • The effective cooperation for the fraudulent use of payment instruments, and;
  • The preparatory offences, the use of information systems and other tools to support fraudulent use.

Following careful consideration we have concluded that there would be no benefit to the UK opting in to this measure.

The UK strongly supports international efforts to tackle fraud. The UK works closely with other EU Member States and will continue to do so despite the decision not to opt in. The UK has consistently advocated that international cooperation is required to tackle fraud, and we are committed to supporting Member States, and other countries, in this regard.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS402
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs )
Lords

Foreign Affairs Council: 22 January

My Right Honourable Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Alan Duncan), has made the following written Ministerial statement:

I will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 January. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini. The meeting will be held in Brussels.

The agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) is expected to include a breakfast with the President of the European Investment Bank as well as discussions on the Post Cotonou Agreement, Libya and the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP). There will be a lunch with the President of the Palestinian National Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas.

The HRVP is expected to cover Iran, Conclusions on Iraq, Zimbabwe, the Integrated Approach of the EU Global Strategy and EU priorities at the Council of Europe in her introductory remarks.

Post Cotonou

Ministers will discuss developments in the negotiations on a post 2020 agreement with the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) which will replace the current Cotonou Agreement.

Libya

The EUVP will debrief on the outcomes from the European Union - African Union - United Nations (EU-AU-UN) Taskforce meeting that took place on 14 December and outline the next steps. A substantial discussion on Libya will follow covering politics, migration, counter-terrorism and Common Security and Defence Policy. Ministers will discuss the latest political developments, including obstacles in the peace process, perhaps with particular reference to the challenges facing the UN Special Representative Ghassan Salame.
We will be encouraging EU members to continue supporting the UN-led process and will continue to offer our support to the EU-AU-UN Taskforce.

MEPP

Ministers will host Palestinian President Abbas for a lunch and discuss prospects for the MEPP, including longstanding EU support for a negotiated two-state solution and EU support for Palestinian reconciliation.

Council Conclusions

The FAC is expected to adopt Conclusions on Iraq, Zimbabwe and the Integrated Approach of the EU Global Strategy.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS408
WS
Home Office
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (01 September 2017 to 30 November 2017)

My rt hon Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Amber Rudd) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

Section 19(1) of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (the Act) requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of her TPIM powers under the Act during that period.

The level of information provided will always be subject to slight variations based on operational advice.

TPIM notices in force (as of 30 November 2017)

7

TPIM notices in respect of British citizens (as of 30 November 2017)

6

TPIM notices extended (during the reporting period)

2

TPIM notices revoked (during the reporting period)

0

TPIM notices revived (during the reporting period)

0

Variations made to measures specified in TPIM notices (during the reporting period)

10

Applications to vary measures specified in TPIM notices refused (during the

reporting period)

0

The number of current subjects relocated under TPIM legislation (as of 30

November 2017)

7

The TPIM Review Group (TRG) keeps every TPIM notice under regular and formal review. The most recent TRG meetings took place on 4, 6, 26 and 27 September. The next round of TRG’s will take place during December 2017.

On 11 October 2017 a TPIM subject was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment following an earlier guilty plea to two breaches of the association measure of the TPIM notice.

The case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v LF [2017] EWHC 26859 (Admin) was heard at the High Court between 17 and 21 July 2017. In a judgment dated 30 October 2017 Mrs Justice Laing upheld the Secretary of State’s decision to impose a TPIM notice on LF. In the same judgment Mrs Justice Laing ordered a minor variation to LF’s police reporting requirement. This judgment can be found at www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2017/2685.html

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS411
WS
Home Office
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Criminal Finances: EU directive on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment

My rt hon Friend the Minister of State for Security (Ben Wallace) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The Government has decided that the UK will not opt in to the Directive on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment.

The UK’s domestic legislation is already compliant with the majority of the Directive’s measures, and in relation to the offences and sentences set out in the Directive, the UK goes further than the standards set within the Directive for:

  • The effective cooperation for the fraudulent use of payment instruments, and;
  • The preparatory offences, the use of information systems and other tools to support fraudulent use.

Following careful consideration we have concluded that there would be no benefit to the UK opting in to this measure.

The UK strongly supports international efforts to tackle fraud. The UK works closely with other EU Member States and will continue to do so despite the decision not to opt in. The UK has consistently advocated that international cooperation is required to tackle fraud, and we are committed to supporting Member States, and other countries, in this regard.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS410
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy )
Lords

Departmental Contingent Liability Notification (HM Land Registry Digital Mortgage Service)

My Rt hon Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Greg Clark), has today made the following statement:

Today I will lay before Parliament a Departmental Minute describing a new digital mortgage service, to be launched by HM Land Registry (HMLR) in 2018, and a resulting contingent liability.

It is normal practice when a Government Department proposes to undertake a contingent liability of £300,000 and above, for which there is no specific statutory authority, for the Department concerned to present Parliament with a minute giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances. It is also normal for the Department to refrain from incurring the liability until fourteen parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.

HMLR’s new digital mortgage service will enable borrowers to sign mortgage deeds digitally, speed up the re-mortgage process and improve the customer experience. A new liability risk arises with this service because HMLR will certify the identity of a borrower when that person provides a digital signature in advance of registration. This liability sits outside of the scope of HMLR’s existing statutory compensation scheme (Schedule 8, Land Registration Act 2002).

The risk of the new liability occurring is considered low. The new process, where the borrower's identity has to be verified through GOV.UK Verify combined with HMLR’s independent security processes, should in fact reduce the overall risk of fraud. To date GOV.UK Verify has not identified a single example of fraud despite in excess of 1.25m citizens’ accounts having been created using the GOV.UK Verify service.

As with the existing indemnity, any costs incurred from this extension will be covered by HMLR’s resources as a Trading Fund.

Subject to no objections being received, I intend to authorise the proposal to undertake contingent liability for the digital mortgage service, after the usual fourteen parliamentary sitting days.


The Government will be taking further steps to improve the home buying and selling process, following the publication last year of a call for evidence.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS409
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Baroness Buscombe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Levy 2017/18

My honourable Friend the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work (Sarah Newton MP) has made the following Written Statement.

The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (Levy) Regulations 2014 require active employers’ liability insurers to pay an annual levy based on their relative market share for the purpose of meeting the costs of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS). This is in line with the commitment by the insurance industry to fund a scheme of last resort for sufferers of diffuse mesothelioma who have been unable to trace their employer or their employer’s insurer.

I can announce today that the total amount of the levy to be charged for 2017/18, the fourth year of the DMPS, is £33.5m. The amount will be payable by active insurers by the end of March 2018.

Individual active insurers will be notified in writing of their payment amount (i.e. their share of the levy), together with how the amount was calculated and payment arrangements. Insurers should be aware that it is a legal requirement to pay the levy within the set timescales.

I am pleased that the DMPS has seen three successful years of operation, assisting many sufferers of Diffuse Mesothelioma. The third Annual Report for the scheme was published on 30 November 2017 and is available on the gov.uk website. I hope that members of both Houses will welcome this announcement and give the DMPS their continued support.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS407
WS
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Lord O'Shaughnessy (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health)
Lords

Health Technology Update

My hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Jackie Doyle-Price) has made the following statement:

On Monday 15 January 2018 EMIS Group PLC (“EMIS”) notified NHS Digital regarding under-reporting of issues with their general practice clinical systems provided under the General Practice Systems of Choice (GPSoC) contract.

The Department of Health and Social Care was informed by NHS Digital who manages the contract on Tuesday 16 January. EMIS has today (Thursday 18 January 2018) informed the London Stock Exchange of this matter.

EMIS’s Chief Medical Officer has confirmed that an internal clinical safety review found no issues of concern. A review by NHS Digital’s clinical safety team has found no evidence that patient safety has been put at risk.

NHS Digital is conducting a detailed investigation to establish both the cause and accountability for the under reporting with the full cooperation of EMIS. Any settlement or other actions will be dependent on the outcome of this process. NHS Digital will also consider what lessons can be learned more widely.

I will provide a further update to Parliament once this important work is complete.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS406
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy )
Commons

Departmental Contingent Liability Notification (HM Land Registry Digital Mortgage Service)

Today I will lay before Parliament a Departmental Minute describing a new digital mortgage service, to be launched by HM Land Registry (HMLR) in 2018, and a resulting contingent liability.

It is normal practice when a Government Department proposes to undertake a contingent liability of £300,000 and above, for which there is no specific statutory authority, for the Department concerned to present Parliament with a minute giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances. It is also normal for the Department to refrain from incurring the liability until fourteen parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.

HMLR’s new digital mortgage service will enable borrowers to sign mortgage deeds digitally, speed up the re-mortgage process and improve the customer experience. A new liability risk arises with this service because HMLR will certify the identity of a borrower when that person provides a digital signature in advance of registration. This liability sits outside of the scope of HMLR’s existing statutory compensation scheme (Schedule 8, Land Registration Act 2002).

The risk of the new liability occurring is considered low. The new process, where the borrower's identity has to be verified through GOV.UK Verify combined with HMLR’s independent security processes, should in fact reduce the overall risk of fraud. To date GOV.UK Verify has not identified a single example of fraud despite in excess of 1.25m citizens’ accounts having been created using the GOV.UK Verify service.

As with the existing indemnity, any costs incurred from this extension will be covered by HMLR’s resources as a Trading Fund.

Subject to no objections being received, I intend to authorise the proposal to undertake contingent liability for the digital mortgage service, after the usual fourteen parliamentary sitting days.


The Government will be taking further steps to improve the home buying and selling process, following the publication last year of a call for evidence.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS401
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Sir Alan Duncan (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs )
Commons

Foreign Affairs Council: 22 January

I will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 January. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini. The meeting will be held in Brussels.

The agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) is expected to include a breakfast with the President of the European Investment Bank as well as discussions on the Post Cotonou Agreement, Libya and the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP). There will be a lunch with the President of the Palestinian National Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas.

The HRVP is expected to cover Iran, Conclusions on Iraq, Zimbabwe, the Integrated Approach of the EU Global Strategy and EU priorities at the Council of Europe in her introductory remarks.

Post Cotonou

Ministers will discuss developments in the negotiations on a post 2020 agreement with the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP) which will replace the current Cotonou Agreement.

Libya

The EUVP will debrief on the outcomes from the European Union - African Union - United Nations (EU-AU-UN) Taskforce meeting that took place on 14 December and outline the next steps. A substantial discussion on Libya will follow covering politics, migration, counter-terrorism and Common Security and Defence Policy. Ministers will discuss the latest political developments, including obstacles in the peace process, perhaps with particular reference to the challenges facing the UN Special Representative Ghassan Salame.
We will be encouraging EU members to continue supporting the UN-led process and will continue to offer our support to the EU-AU-UN Taskforce.

MEPP

Ministers will host Palestinian President Abbas for a lunch and discuss prospects for the MEPP, including longstanding EU support for a negotiated two-state solution and EU support for Palestinian reconciliation.

Council Conclusions

The FAC is expected to adopt Conclusions on Iraq, Zimbabwe and the Integrated Approach of the EU Global Strategy.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS404
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Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Levy 2017/18

The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (Levy) Regulations 2014 require active employers’ liability insurers to pay an annual levy based on their relative market share for the purpose of meeting the costs of the Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (DMPS). This is in line with the commitment by the insurance industry to fund a scheme of last resort for sufferers of diffuse mesothelioma who have been unable to trace their employer or their employer’s insurer.

I can announce today that the total amount of the levy to be charged for 2017/18, the fourth year of the DMPS, is £33.5m. The amount will be payable by active insurers by the end of March 2018.

Individual active insurers will be notified in writing of their payment amount (i.e. their share of the levy), together with how the amount was calculated and payment arrangements. Insurers should be aware that it is a legal requirement to pay the levy within the set timescales.

I am pleased that the DMPS has seen three successful years of operation, assisting many sufferers of Diffuse Mesothelioma. The third Annual Report for the scheme was published on 30 November 2017 and is available on the gov.uk website. I hope that members of both Houses will welcome this announcement and give the DMPS their continued support.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS400
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Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 18 January 2018
Made by: Jackie Doyle-Price (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health)
Commons

Health Technology Update

On Monday 15 January 2018 EMIS Group PLC (“EMIS”) notified NHS Digital regarding under-reporting of issues with their general practice clinical systems provided under the General Practice Systems of Choice (GPSoC) contract.

The Department of Health and Social Care was informed by NHS Digital who manages the contract on Tuesday 16 January. EMIS has today (Thursday 18 January 2018) informed the London Stock Exchange of this matter.

EMIS’s Chief Medical Officer has confirmed that an internal clinical safety review found no issues of concern. A review by NHS Digital’s clinical safety team has found no evidence that patient safety has been put at risk.

NHS Digital is conducting a detailed investigation to establish both the cause and accountability for the under reporting with the full cooperation of EMIS. Any settlement or other actions will be dependent on the outcome of this process. NHS Digital will also consider what lessons can be learned more widely.

I will provide a further update to Parliament once this important work is complete.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS399
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 16 January 2018
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs )
Lords

Foreign Affairs Council – 11 December 2017

My Right Honourable Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Sir Alan Duncan), has made the following written Ministerial statement:

I attended the Foreign Affairs Council on 11 December, which was followed by a FAC (Development). The Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini. The meeting was held in Brussels.

Ministers met the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, in the margins of the Council. The meeting was an opportunity for the European Union to reiterate its united and clear messages on the status of Jerusalem as future capital of two states, the importance of preserving a two-state solution and, on regional issues, the need to continue implementing the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal).

Foreign Affairs Council

EU Foreign Ministers discussed the Middle East, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), G5 Sahel Force and jointly, with Development Ministers, EU-Africa relations. Development Ministers discussed Aid for Trade.

The HRVP, in her introductory comments, also spoke about Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), Libya, her visit to Burma and Bangladesh and the Eastern Partnership Summit. I spoke about the historic opportunity in Zimbabwe and the need for the right policy mix to respond to developments there.

Middle East

The Council held discussions on the latest developments in the wider Middle East. I set out the UK position on Jerusalem, settlements, final status and the two state solution. Member States agreed to continue to respect the international consensus on Jerusalem including on the location of their diplomatic representations until the final status of Jerusalem is resolved. Ministers considered how the EU could limit escalation and preserve stability in the region, as well as consolidate progress in countries such as Lebanon.

Ministers expressed their concern at the serious deterioration of the situation in Yemen, which was witnessing the onset of a grave humanitarian catastrophe. They agreed to continue working to re-invigorate UN-led efforts towards a political solution to the conflict in Yemen in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

Ministers recalled the continued EU support for the efforts of UN Special Envoy de Mistura in Syria.

Ministers underlined the importance of continuing and strengthening the EU's engagement on Iraq. The HRVP and the Commission are expected to present a proposal for a new strategy in January 2018.

Sahel

Ministers representing the Sahel countries set out their security and humanitarian needs. EU Ministers agreed that more needed to be done given the shared interests in the region.

EU-Africa relations

In a joint session with Foreign and Development Ministers, Ministers underlined the importance of the EU-Africa Summit and the need to continue working with African partners in an inclusive way.

Development - Aid for trade

The Council discussed the updated strategy on aid for trade which aims to improve the integration of developing countries into the international trading system and to enable trade and investment to contribute to reducing poverty.


Ministers agreed a number of measures without discussion:
The Council adopted a decision establishing Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO);
The Council adopted conclusions on DRC;
The Council adopted conclusions on Thailand;
The Council extended sanctions against the DRC
The Council agreed rules of procedure for the Joint Committee established by the Cooperation agreement on partnership and development between the European Union and the Afghanistan;
The Council adopted a decision to support the global reporting mechanism on illicit small arms and light weapons and other illicit conventional weapons and ammunition to reduce the risk of their illicit trade (‘iTrace III’);
The Council took note of the 19th Annual Report on EU exports of military technology and equipment;
The Council decided to provide support to the African, Asia-Pacific and Latin America and Caribbean regions to participate in the high-level fissile material (such as highly enriched uranium or plutonium) cut-off treaty expert preparatory group consultative process;
The Council approved a draft EU-China statement on climate change and clean energy;
The Council adopted conclusions on the European Court of Auditors' Special Report on the Bêkou EU trust fund;
The Council adopted conclusions on the 2016 Report on the Gender Action Plan II.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS403
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Home Office
Made on: 16 January 2018
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Opt-In Decision: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2016/794 for the purpose of establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) watchlist

My rt hon Friend the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service (Nick Hurd) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The Government has decided not to opt-in to the proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2016/794 for the purpose of establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) watchlist.

As the UK does not participate in ETIAS itself, we do not expect to have direct access to the watchlist through this process. The Government also notes that there are a number of issues still to be resolved with regard to how the watchlist will be hosted by Europol and how it will function. As such, it is not clear whether opting-in could place any additional obligations on the UK. For these reasons, the Government has decided not to opt-in to the amending Regulation at this time.

Not opting in will not affect the operability of the Europol Regulation for the UK.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS405
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