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
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Lord Ashton of Hyde (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport))
Lords

Telecommunications Council CORRECTION

This statement is to replace today's earlier statement which should have included Matt Hancock's name.

My Rt Hon Friend the Minister of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Matt Hancock) has made the following Statement:

The Telecommunications Council will take place in Brussels on 2nd December 2016. I will represent the UK at this Council. Below are the agenda items and the positions I intend to adopt.

The first item is a policy debate on the two legislative instruments and two communications that form the just published EU Commission’s Connectivity package - the European Electronic Communications Code (First reading - EM 12252/16) and Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (First reading - EM12257/16) and "5G for Europe : An Action Plan" (EM12279/16) and "Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market - Towards a European Gigabit Society" (EM12364/16). My intervention will confirm that the UK supports the plan for a Gigabit Society and emphasise the importance of the Connectivity Package in stimulating investment by the private sector in fibre-based networks and 5G. I will also set out the UK’s other priorities for the Electronic Communications Code, including respecting Member States’ competence and retaining Member States’ discretion over consumer protection and funding of the Universal Service Obligation. The Council will then be invited to adopt a General approach on Amending Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 as regards rules for wholesale roaming markets (First reading - EM). We will agree to the adoption of this general approach.

The Council will then be provided with an update from the Slovak Presidency on the Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on cross-border parcel delivery services (First reading - EM9706/16). We do not expect a debate on this item and I do not intend to intervene.

Finally, Member States will be invited to adopt a partial general approach on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations as regards the promotion of Internet connectivity in local communities (First reading - EM 12259/16). The UK intends to agree to the adoption of this partial approach. This will be followed by three items under AOB led by the Commission, the first being on fair use policy in the context of roaming services, followed by information on Digital Single Market initiatives and finally under AOB, current Internet Governance issues. We do not currently intend to intervene on any of these items.

Finally, the Maltese delegation will inform the Council of their priorities for their forthcoming Presidency before Council adjourns until the next meeting in Q2 2017.

WS
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Lord Ashton of Hyde (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Culture, Media and Sport))
Lords

Telecommunications Council

My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Karen Bradley) has made the following Statement:

The Telecommunications Council will take place in Brussels on 2nd December 2016. I will represent the UK at this Council. Below are the agenda items and the positions I intend to adopt.

The first item is a policy debate on the two legislative instruments and two communications that form the just published EU Commission’s Connectivity package - the European Electronic Communications Code (First reading - EM 12252/16) and Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (First reading - EM12257/16) and "5G for Europe : An Action Plan" (EM12279/16) and "Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market - Towards a European Gigabit Society" (EM12364/16). My intervention will confirm that the UK supports the plan for a Gigabit Society and emphasise the importance of the Connectivity Package in stimulating investment by the private sector in fibre-based networks and 5G. I will also set out the UK’s other priorities for the Electronic Communications Code, including respecting Member States’ competence and retaining Member States’ discretion over consumer protection and funding of the Universal Service Obligation. The Council will then be invited to adopt a General approach on Amending Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 as regards rules for wholesale roaming markets (First reading - EM). We will agree to the adoption of this general approach. The Council will then be provided with an update from the Slovak Presidency on the Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on cross-border parcel delivery services (First reading - EM9706/16). We do not expect a debate on this item and I do not intend to intervene. Finally, Member States will be invited to adopt a partial general approach on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations as regards the promotion of Internet connectivity in local communities (First reading - EM 12259/16). The UK intends to agree to the adoption of this partial approach. This will be followed by three items under AOB led by the Commission, the first being on fair use policy in the context of roaming services, followed by information on Digital Single Market initiatives and finally under AOB, current Internet Governance issues. We do not currently intend to intervene on any of these items. Finally, the Maltese delegation will inform the Council of their priorities for their forthcoming Presidency before Council adjourns until the next meeting in Q2 2017.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS312
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Minister of State for Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

PUBLICATION OF GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO CONSULTATION ON THE DUTY TO REPORT ON PAYMENT PRACTICES AND POLICIES, AND OF UPDATED DRAFT REGULATIONS

Today my honourable Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has made the following statement:

Successful businesses create jobs, and are essential to economic growth. Late payment harms business cash-flow, hampers investment and in extreme cases can risk businesses’ solvency. This puts a strain on any organisation, but is especially difficult for small businesses. As of June 2015, the overall level of late payment owed to small and medium sized businesses was reported as £26.8 billion. This is why it is crucial for Government to take action to create a more responsible payment culture, which enables all businesses to thrive and develop.

Today, Government will publish its response to the Duty to Report on Payment Practices and Policies consultation, and draft regulations to implement section 3 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 for large companies and large limited liability partnerships to report on their payment practices and performance.

The duty to report on payment practices and performance

Following consideration of views received from stakeholders, large companies and large limited liability partnerships (LLPs) will be required to publish information about their payment practices and performance twice per financial year on a Government web service. They will be required to report on the following:

Narrative descriptions of:

  • the organisation’s payment terms. Including - standard contractual length of time for payment of invoices, maximum contractual payment period and any changes to standard payment terms and whether suppliers have been notified or consulted on these changes
  • the organisation’s process for dispute resolution related to payment

Statistics on:

  • the average time taken to pay invoices from the date of receipt of invoice
  • the percentage of invoices paid within the reporting period which were paid in 30 days or fewer, between 31 and 60 days, and over 60 days
  • the proportion of invoices due within the reporting period which were not paid within agreed terms

Statements (i.e. a tick box) about:

  • whether an organisation offers e-invoicing
  • whether an organisation offers supply chain finance
  • whether the organisation’s practices and policies cover deducting sums from payments as a charge for remaining on a supplier’s list, and whether they have done this in the reporting period
  • whether the organisation is a member of a payment code, and the name of the code

If a company fails to publish a report as required, or publishes false information this will be a criminal offence, punishable by a fine on summary conviction.

I would like to draw Parliament’s attention to two matters:

Interest owed and paid

The regulations do not include a requirement to report on the amount of interest owed and paid, which the previous Government committed to include. Businesses have suggested that this metric could be difficult to understand and implement. The Government will keep this metric under review, taking into account any lessons that the introduction of similar metrics to public sector reporting can teach us.

Pay to Stay and Supplier Lists

During the passage of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act through Parliament the previous Government committed that these regulations would tackle so-called ‘pay to stay’ practices. These practices include instances where businesses require payments either for joining or for remaining on a supplier list.

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act allows the Government to require reporting on practices relating to payment of suppliers. As such, the draft regulations require businesses in scope to report on whether they deduct sums from payments to suppliers as a charge to remain on their list of suppliers. This does not cover all payments required from suppliers for joining or remaining on a supplier list. The Government will keep reporting on ‘pay to stay’ under review. The Small Business Commissioner, who will be in post from next year, will be able to tackle such unfair payment practices.

The benefits

This new reporting requirement for the UK’s largest companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) will shine a light on payment practices. It will increase transparency and make payment behaviour a reputational boardroom issue. The large businesses already treating suppliers fairly and paying on time can use the data to highlight their track-record. Poor payment practices and performance will be exposed, alerting organisations to issues and encouraging them to improve.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS311
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Supporting local newspapers

My Hon Friend the Minister for Local Government (Marcus Jones) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

This government remains committed to protecting the independent press from unfair competition. A healthy local democracy requires the accountability that comes from scrutiny of councils by the press and the public.

The government has sought to take action against the practice, by a small number of local authorities, of publishing local authority newspapers, which given the frequency of their publication, can push out and undermine that independent press. A small number of councils continue to breach the recommendations of the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity about the frequency of publication for council newspapers.

Further to the Written Statement of 10 March 2015, Official Report, Column 8WS we have warned a small number of local authorities about their continued failure to comply with the provisions of the publicity code.

Today I am announcing the conclusions to date of the review into the actions of three of those authorities; the London Borough of Hackney, the London Borough of Newham and the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

In each case my Rt Hon Friend, the Secretary of State is minded to exercise his powers under the Local Government Act 1986 to direct the local authorities to comply by no later than [31 January 2017] with the provision in the March 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity that: “Where local authorities do commission or publish newsletters, news sheets or similar communications, they should not issue them more frequently than quarterly”. Accordingly, the Secretary of State is today issuing to each of the three authorities a written notice of the direction he proposes to issue in each case.

In deciding to take this action, the Secretary of State has carefully considered the representations each of these local authorities has made in response to a notice given to it on 10 March 2015 of a proposed direction relating to frequency of publication of council newsletters, newssheets or similar publications. He has also considered other information available to him about each of the three council's publicity, and had regard to an Equality Statement about enforcing the 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity.

Each authority now has 14 days to make written representations to the Secretary of State about the proposed direction. Following this, the Secretary of State will take his final decision in each case about whether or not to issue the local authority with a direction. Each decision will be taken on its own merits.

I will be placing copies of the documents associated with these announcements in the Library of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS309
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Lords

LONDON BOROUGH OF TOWER HAMLETS

My rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Sajid Javid) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On the 17 December 2014, my predecessor the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government confirmed that, having considered the report of the inspection by PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets was failing to comply with its best value duty. He therefore concluded that it was both necessary and expedient for him to exercise his intervention powers. A team of Commissioners were appointed to exercise functions of the Authority in relation to the making of grants, and the appointment of persons to and the removal of persons from the statutory offices of Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer for Local Elections. The Commissioners were also tasked with overseeing an improvement plan of the Council covering steps to strengthen the Council’s core governance arrangements, publicity, contracting, property disposals to third parties and organisational cultural change.

Almost two years on, a number of challenges remain but there have been areas of significant progress. Following receipt of the Council’s third six-monthly update against its Best Value Action Plan on 20 September and a report from the Commissioners on 11 October, I am today proposing, on the recommendation of the Commissioner team, my intention to return certain functions to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

After careful consideration of the Commissioners’ report, I am satisfied that the Council is now able to exercise some of functions identified by the Commissioners in compliance with the best value duty, and that the local residents of Tower Hamlets can have confidence that this will be the case. I am therefore considering exercising my powers under section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999 to return to the Council functions in relation to grant-making, although I consider it necessary for the Commissioners to retain an oversight role over how this function is exercised for the remainder of the Direction period. Establishing new oversight arrangements in relation to grants will enable the Commissioners to advise and scrutinise the Council without clouding where ultimate responsibility lies. Finally, I am considering exercising my powers under section 15 of the 1999 Act to end the role the Commissioners have held in overseeing the Council’s processes and practices for entering into contracts. Returning these functions represents a clear milestone on Tower Hamlets Council’s road to recovery.

The Commissioners will provide oversight of the returned functions to ensure that they are exercised in accordance with the best value duty. In addition they will continue to oversee the Council’s rigorous programme of improvement in relation to strengthening its core governance arrangements, publicity, property disposals to third parties, organisational cultural change and grants. I am inviting the Council to make representations on the proposals, which will be considered as part of my final decision.

I am placing a copy of the documents associated with these announcements in the Library of the House and on my department’s website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tower-hamlets-intervention-proposed-return-of-grants-function.

.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS310
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen (Lords Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office)
Lords

Publication of Government Grant Standards

My Honourable friend the Minister for the Constitution (Chris Skidmore) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today I am publishing new standards which will ensure the effectiveness of grant management across Government. These standards will be adopted by all departments to make sure that taxpayers’ money, awarded through government grants, is properly agreed and spent.

The grants improvement programme aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of grant making across government. The programme includes incorporating recommendations from the Public Accounts Committee and Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiries into Kids Company as well as reviewing grant programmes already underway.

The standards are a transparent, robust, and proportionate solution to manage risks in the government grants process.

We need to make sure the UK taxpayer is getting value for money and grants are awarded with sufficient scrutiny and more accountability. The detailed work we have undertaken since February with government departments, research organisations and the voluntary sector has enabled us to develop these standards through a constructive and collaborative process. They will protect taxpayers’ money whilst at the same time, delivering key policy outcomes through our many partners.

The Government has engaged with a broad range of key partners, including those in the academic and research community, to understand the effect these standards will have on all sectors and to avoid any unintended consequences. Standards will also include a requirement for departments to ensure that grant agreements provide a clear outline of what the funding is to be spent on and how this would be monitored. They would put an end to grant money being wasted on activities not specified in the grant agreement, such as political lobbying.

Government grants are an important part of the funding mix for many charities. These new grants standards will protect the role of charities to speak out on behalf of the communities and people they benefit, whilst ensuring public funds are used as intended. They will help create new opportunities for the sector to work in partnership with government, increasing their social impact.

Copies of the associated documents will be placed in the Library of the House and published on gov.uk. Any future updates to the guidance will be published on gov.uk.

WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport)
Lords

Rail update - Southern

My Right Honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Grayling), has made the following Ministerial Statement.

My Department has previously announced that ‘Delay Repay 15’ will be introduced first on the Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise, and this will be available to customers from 11 December 2016. Passengers will be entitled to claim compensation if their train is delayed by 15 minutes or more, rather than 30 minutes as is now the case. This is recognised as one of the most generous compensation schemes in Europe, and this change means an even better deal for passengers. ‘Delay Repay 15’ will be included in the specification for all new franchises in future.

Southern passengers have suffered from unprecedented and sustained disruption to their journeys during 2016 through a combination of factors, including RMT industrial action, track and signal failures, and operator poor performance. In recognition of this unprecedented disruption, passengers will be able to claim one payment against their 2016 season tickets from early next year. This one-off compensation scheme recognises that passengers have suffered, and demonstrates that the Government is on their side. This will be administered by GTR.

Passengers with a Brighton to London annual season ticket, for example, will get £371 back. Quarterly, regular monthly and weekly season ticket holders will also qualify for a one-off compensation payment.

Annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly season ticket holders using any Southern routes will be able to claim through the following process:

  • In early January 2017 Southern will contact all customers on its database it believes qualify for a refund to confirm the amount due and the method of payment
  • Pre-identified customers will need to login to a web portal to provide bank details, credit card details or web account details
  • Customers do not need to contact Southern directly at this stage
  • After customers who have been pre-identified have been contacted a web portal will be made available allowing:
  • pre-identified customers to confirm the method of payment they wish to use, and;
  • customers who believe they qualify to provide details for Southern to check and, if appropriate, make payment

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS307
WS
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Matt Hancock (Minister of State for Digital and Culture)
Commons

Telecommunications Council

The Telecommunications Council will take place in Brussels on 2nd December 2016. I will represent the UK at this Council. Below are the agenda items and the positions I intend to adopt.

The first item is a policy debate on the two legislative instruments and two communications that form the just published EU Commission’s Connectivity package - the European Electronic Communications Code (First reading - EM 12252/16) and Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (First reading - EM12257/16) and "5G for Europe : An Action Plan" (EM12279/16) and "Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market - Towards a European Gigabit Society" (EM12364/16). My intervention will confirm that the UK supports the plan for a Gigabit Society and emphasise the importance of the Connectivity Package in stimulating investment by the private sector in fibre-based networks and 5G. I will also set out the UK’s other priorities for the Electronic Communications Code, including respecting Member States’ competence and retaining Member States’ discretion over consumer protection and funding of the Universal Service Obligation. The Council will then be invited to adopt a General approach on Amending Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 as regards rules for wholesale roaming markets (First reading - EM). We will agree to the adoption of this general approach. The Council will then be provided with an update from the Slovak Presidency on the Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on cross-border parcel delivery services (First reading - EM9706/16). We do not expect a debate on this item and I do not intend to intervene. Finally, Member States will be invited to adopt a partial general approach on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations as regards the promotion of Internet connectivity in local communities (First reading - EM 12259/16). The UK intends to agree to the adoption of this partial approach. This will be followed by three items under AOB led by the Commission, the first being on fair use policy in the context of roaming services, followed by information on Digital Single Market initiatives and finally under AOB, current Internet Governance issues. We do not currently intend to intervene on any of these items. Finally, the Maltese delegation will inform the Council of their priorities for their forthcoming Presidency before Council adjourns until the next meeting in Q2 2017.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS310
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Margot James (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )
Commons

PUBLICATION OF GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO CONSULTATION ON THE DUTY TO REPORT ON PAYMENT PRACTICES AND POLICIES, AND OF UPDATED DRAFT REGULATIONS

Successful businesses create jobs, and are essential to economic growth. Late payment harms business cash-flow, hampers investment and in extreme cases can risk businesses’ solvency. This puts a strain on any organisation, but is especially difficult for small businesses. As of June 2015, the overall level of late payment owed to small and medium sized businesses was reported as £26.8 billion. This is why it is crucial for Government to take action to create a more responsible payment culture, which enables all businesses to thrive and develop.

Today, Government will publish its response to the Duty to Report on Payment Practices and Policies consultation, and draft regulations to implement section 3 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 for large companies and large limited liability partnerships to report on their payment practices and performance.

The duty to report on payment practices and performance

Following consideration of views received from stakeholders, large companies and large limited liability partnerships (LLPs) will be required to publish information about their payment practices and performance twice per financial year on a Government web service. They will be required to report on the following:

Narrative descriptions of:

  • the organisation’s payment terms. Including - standard contractual length of time for payment of invoices, maximum contractual payment period and any changes to standard payment terms and whether suppliers have been notified or consulted on these changes
  • the organisation’s process for dispute resolution related to payment

Statistics on:

  • the average time taken to pay invoices from the date of receipt of invoice
  • the percentage of invoices paid within the reporting period which were paid in 30 days or fewer, between 31 and 60 days, and over 60 days
  • the proportion of invoices due within the reporting period which were not paid within agreed terms

Statements (i.e. a tick box) about:

  • whether an organisation offers e-invoicing
  • whether an organisation offers supply chain finance
  • whether the organisation’s practices and policies cover deducting sums from payments as a charge for remaining on a supplier’s list, and whether they have done this in the reporting period
  • whether the organisation is a member of a payment code, and the name of the code

If a company fails to publish a report as required, or publishes false information this will be a criminal offence, punishable by a fine on summary conviction.

I would like to draw Parliament’s attention to two matters:

Interest owed and paid

The regulations do not include a requirement to report on the amount of interest owed and paid, which the previous Government committed to include. Businesses have suggested that this metric could be difficult to understand and implement. The Government will keep this metric under review, taking into account any lessons that the introduction of similar metrics to public sector reporting can teach us.

Pay to Stay and Supplier Lists

During the passage of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act through Parliament the previous Government committed that these regulations would tackle so-called ‘pay to stay’ practices. These practices include instances where businesses require payments either for joining or for remaining on a supplier list.

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act allows the Government to require reporting on practices relating to payment of suppliers. As such, the draft regulations require businesses in scope to report on whether they deduct sums from payments to suppliers as a charge to remain on their list of suppliers. This does not cover all payments required from suppliers for joining or remaining on a supplier list. The Government will keep reporting on ‘pay to stay’ under review. The Small Business Commissioner, who will be in post from next year, will be able to tackle such unfair payment practices.

The benefits

This new reporting requirement for the UK’s largest companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) will shine a light on payment practices. It will increase transparency and make payment behaviour a reputational boardroom issue. The large businesses already treating suppliers fairly and paying on time can use the data to highlight their track-record. Poor payment practices and performance will be exposed, alerting organisations to issues and encouraging them to improve.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS309
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Commons

LONDON BOROUGH OF TOWER HAMLETS

On the 17 December 2014, my predecessor the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government confirmed that, having considered the report of the inspection by PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets was failing to comply with its best value duty. He therefore concluded that it was both necessary and expedient for him to exercise his intervention powers. A team of Commissioners were appointed to exercise functions of the Authority in relation to the making of grants, and the appointment of persons to and the removal of persons from the statutory offices of Electoral Registration Officer and Returning Officer for Local Elections. The Commissioners were also tasked with overseeing an improvement plan of the Council covering steps to strengthen the Council’s core governance arrangements, publicity, contracting, property disposals to third parties and organisational cultural change.

Almost two years on, a number of challenges remain but there have been areas of significant progress. Following receipt of the Council’s third six-monthly update against its Best Value Action Plan on 20 September and a report from the Commissioners on 11 October, I am today proposing, on the recommendation of the Commissioner team, my intention to return certain functions to the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

After careful consideration of the Commissioners’ report, I am satisfied that the Council is now able to exercise some of functions identified by the Commissioners in compliance with the best value duty, and that the local residents of Tower Hamlets can have confidence that this will be the case. I am therefore considering exercising my powers under section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999 to return to the Council functions in relation to grant-making, although I consider it necessary for the Commissioners to retain an oversight role over how this function is exercised for the remainder of the Direction period. Establishing new oversight arrangements in relation to grants will enable the Commissioners to advise and scrutinise the Council without clouding where ultimate responsibility lies. Finally, I am considering exercising my powers under section 15 of the 1999 Act to end the role the Commissioners have held in overseeing the Council’s processes and practices for entering into contracts. Returning these functions represents a clear milestone on Tower Hamlets Council’s road to recovery.

The Commissioners will provide oversight of the returned functions to ensure that they are exercised in accordance with the best value duty. In addition they will continue to oversee the Council’s rigorous programme of improvement in relation to strengthening its core governance arrangements, publicity, property disposals to third parties, organisational cultural change and grants. I am inviting the Council to make representations on the proposals, which will be considered as part of my final decision.

I am placing a copy of the documents associated with these announcements in the Library of the House and on my department’s website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tower-hamlets-intervention-proposed-return-of-grants-function.

.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS307
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Mr Marcus Jones (Minister for Local Government)
Commons

Supporting local newspapers

This government remains committed to protecting the independent press from unfair competition. A healthy local democracy requires the accountability that comes from scrutiny of councils by the press and the public.

The government has sought to take action against the practice, by a small number of local authorities, of publishing local authority newspapers, which given the frequency of their publication, can push out and undermine that independent press. A small number of councils continue to breach the recommendations of the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity about the frequency of publication for council newspapers.

Further to the Written Statement of 10 March 2015, Official Report, Column 8WS we have warned a small number of local authorities about their continued failure to comply with the provisions of the publicity code.

Today I am announcing the conclusions to date of the review into the actions of three of those authorities; the London Borough of Hackney, the London Borough of Newham and the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

In each case my Rt Hon Friend, the Secretary of State is minded to exercise his powers under the Local Government Act 1986 to direct the local authorities to comply by no later than 31 January 2017 with the provision in the March 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity that: “Where local authorities do commission or publish newsletters, news sheets or similar communications, they should not issue them more frequently than quarterly”. Accordingly, the Secretary of State is today issuing to each of the three authorities a written notice of the direction he proposes to issue in each case.

In deciding to take this action, the Secretary of State has carefully considered the representations each of these local authorities has made in response to a notice given to it on 10 March 2015 of a proposed direction relating to frequency of publication of council newsletters, newssheets or similar publications. He has also considered other information available to him about each of the three councils’ publicity, and had regard to an Equality Statement about enforcing the 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity.

Each authority now has 14 days to make written representations to the Secretary of State about the proposed direction. Following this, the Secretary of State will take his final decision in each case about whether or not to issue the local authority with a direction. Each decision will be taken on its own merits.

I will be placing copies of the documents associated with these announcements in the Library of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS308
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Chris Skidmore (Minister for the Constitution)
Commons

Publication of Government Grant Standards

Today I am publishing new standards which will ensure the effectiveness of grant management across Government. These standards will be adopted by all departments to make sure that taxpayers’ money, awarded through government grants, is properly agreed and spent.

The grants improvement programme aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of grant making across government. The programme includes incorporating recommendations from the Public Accounts Committee and Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiries into Kids Company as well as reviewing grant programmes already underway.

The standards are a transparent, robust, and proportionate solution to manage risks in the government grants process.

We need to make sure the UK taxpayer is getting value for money and grants are awarded with sufficient scrutiny and more accountability. The detailed work we have undertaken since February with government departments, research organisations and the voluntary sector has enabled us to develop these standards through a constructive and collaborative process. They will protect taxpayers’ money whilst at the same time, delivering key policy outcomes through our many partners.

The Government has engaged with a broad range of key partners, including those in the academic and research community, to understand the effect these standards will have on all sectors and to avoid any unintended consequences. Standards will also include a requirement for departments to ensure that grant agreements provide a clear outline of what the funding is to be spent on and how this would be monitored. They would put an end to grant money being wasted on activities not specified in the grant agreement, such as political lobbying.

Government grants are an important part of the funding mix for many charities. These new grants standards will protect the role of charities to speak out on behalf of the communities and people they benefit, whilst ensuring public funds are used as intended. They will help create new opportunities for the sector to work in partnership with government, increasing their social impact.

Copies of the associated documents will be placed in the Library of the House and published on gov.uk. Any future updates to the guidance will be published on gov.uk.

WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 02 December 2016
Made by: Chris Grayling (Secretary of State for Transport)
Commons

Rail update - Southern

My Department has previously announced that ‘Delay Repay 15’ will be introduced first on the Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise, and this will be available to customers from 11 December 2016. Passengers will be entitled to claim compensation if their train is delayed by 15 minutes or more, rather than 30 minutes as is now the case. This is recognised as one of the most generous compensation schemes in Europe, and this change means an even better deal for passengers. ‘Delay Repay 15’ will be included in the specification for all new franchises in future.

Southern passengers have suffered from unprecedented and sustained disruption to their journeys during 2016 through a combination of factors, including RMT industrial action, track and signal failures, and operator poor performance. In recognition of this unprecedented disruption, passengers will be able to claim one payment against their 2016 season tickets from early next year. This one-off compensation scheme recognises that passengers have suffered, and demonstrates that the Government is on their side. This will be administered by GTR.

Passengers with a Brighton to London annual season ticket, for example, will get £371 back. Quarterly, regular monthly and weekly season ticket holders will also qualify for a one-off compensation payment.

Annual, quarterly, monthly and weekly season ticket holders using any Southern routes will be able to claim through the following process:

  • In early January 2017 Southern will contact all customers on its database it believes qualify for a refund to confirm the amount due and the method of payment
  • Pre-identified customers will need to login to a web portal to provide bank details, credit card details or web account details
  • Customers do not need to contact Southern directly at this stage
  • After customers who have been pre-identified have been contacted a web portal will be made available allowing:
  • pre-identified customers to confirm the method of payment they wish to use, and;
  • customers who believe they qualify to provide details for Southern to check and, if appropriate, make payment

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS305
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Department for Education
Made on: 01 December 2016
Made by: Justine Greening (The Secretary of State for Education)
Commons

Early Years Education

The Government has today published its response to the recent consultation on changes to the funding of the free early years entitlements for three- and four-year-olds. The Government response can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/early-years-funding-changes-to-funding-for-3-and-4-year-olds

This includes the introduction of an early years national funding formula. This will provide a fairer funding system for nurseries, preschools and childminders.

We are delivering our Manifesto commitment to double the free hours of childcare provided for working parents of three- and four-year-olds, from 15 to 30 hours a week. Many parents want to go back to work, or work more hours, but can’t afford to because of the cost of childcare. This policy will make childcare more affordable and support parents to return to work, or to work more hours, if that is what they wish to do.

We are backing this with an additional £1 billion every year by 2019-20 including £300 million per year to increase Government funding rates. We are committed to allocating this record level of investment fairly and transparently so that early years providers can deliver free childcare on a sustainable and high-quality basis.

That is why we consulted on proposals to introduce a new funding system that is fair, transparent and maximises funding to providers. Our proposals to improve the way we allocate funding have been positively received and today, I can confirm our final funding policy. Key features are:

  • a new early years national funding formula from April 2017 that will increase Government funding rates in 80% of local authorities;

  • a minimum funding rate of at least £4.30 per hour for every local authority;

  • a requirement for local authorities to pass 95% of their funding to providers;

  • additional funding, worth £55m per year, to support maintained nursery schools until the end of this Parliament (2019-20);

  • a new Disability Access Fund worth £615 per child per year to support disabled three- and four-year-olds to access their early years entitlement; and

  • a requirement for all local authorities to have Inclusion Funds to channel additional support to children with Special Educational Needs.

These changes will put early years providers in a stronger position to deliver the free entitlements on a sustainable basis. They will help to ensure that every child, whatever their background and individual needs, can access the high-quality early education they need to prepare for school and improve their life chances. And from September 2017, they will support the delivery of 30 hours of free childcare to nearly 400,000 eligible working parents, thus making it easier for them to get on and balance work with their family lives.

Education lies at the heart of this government’s ambition to make this a country that works for everyone – and today we are reaffirming our commitment by announcing this new, fairer way of funding our early years. It will ensure the dedicated individuals caring for our children have the support they need to give every child the best start, especially when looking after those who are most in need.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS304
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 01 December 2016
Made by: Lord Nash (The Parliamentary Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Early Years Education

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education (Justine Greening) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government has today published its response to the recent consultation on changes to the funding of the free early years entitlements for three- and four-year-olds. The Government response can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/early-years-funding-changes-to-funding-for-3-and-4-year-olds

This includes the introduction of an early years national funding formula. This will provide a fairer funding system for nurseries, preschools and childminders.

We are delivering our Manifesto commitment to double the free hours of childcare provided for working parents of three- and four-year-olds, from 15 to 30 hours a week. Many parents want to go back to work, or work more hours, but can’t afford to because of the cost of childcare. This policy will make childcare more affordable and support parents to return to work, or to work more hours, if that is what they wish to do.

We are backing this with an additional £1 billion every year by 2019-20 including £300 million per year to increase Government funding rates. We are committed to allocating this record level of investment fairly and transparently so that early years providers can deliver free childcare on a sustainable and high-quality basis.

That is why we consulted on proposals to introduce a new funding system that is fair, transparent and maximises funding to providers. Our proposals to improve the way we allocate funding have been positively received and today, I can confirm our final funding policy. Key features are:

  • a new early years national funding formula from April 2017 that will increase Government funding rates in 80% of local authorities;

  • a minimum funding rate of at least £4.30 per hour for every local authority;

  • a requirement for local authorities to pass 95% of their funding to providers;

  • additional funding, worth £55m per year, to support maintained nursery schools until the end of this Parliament (2019-20);

  • a new Disability Access Fund worth £615 per child per year to support disabled three- and four-year-olds to access their early years entitlement; and

  • a requirement for all local authorities to have Inclusion Funds to channel additional support to children with Special Educational Needs.

These changes will put early years providers in a stronger position to deliver the free entitlements on a sustainable basis. They will help to ensure that every child, whatever their background and individual needs, can access the high-quality early education they need to prepare for school and improve their life chances. And from September 2017, they will support the delivery of 30 hours of free childcare to nearly 400,000 eligible working parents, thus making it easier for them to get on and balance work with their family lives.

Education lies at the heart of this government’s ambition to make this a country that works for everyone – and today we are reaffirming our commitment by announcing this new, fairer way of funding our early years. It will ensure the dedicated individuals caring for our children have the support they need to give every child the best start, especially when looking after those who are most in need.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS306
WS
Department for International Development
Made on: 01 December 2016
Made by: Priti Patel (The Secretary of State for International Development)
Commons

Capital payment to International Financial Institution - Contingent Liability

In 2015, the UK agreed to be a founder contributor of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). As set out in the Summer Budget 2015, HM Treasury made an initial capital instalment of US$122,180,000, and committed to subsequent payments of the same amount by the UK Government over the four years from 2017 to 2020. The UK’s overall capital contribution will total US$3,054,500,000, of which these five payments together will make up 20% of “paid-in” capital contribution requiring a cash transfer. The other 80%, $2,443,600,000, is “callable capital” – the AIIB has the right to call for payment for these shares if there is a crisis affecting the bank’s assets or loans. As the paid-in capital is an investment, in return for which we get an asset of a share of the Bank, the Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast this payment as a financial transaction. Financial transactions do not add to Public Sector Net Borrowing.

Payment of the second annual contribution of $122, 180,000 is in line with the authority provided by this House under the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (Initial Capital Contribution) Order 2015. Parliamentary approval for this will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Department for International Development.

Further, the payment of the second instalment of the capital contribution incurs with it a contingent liability. In line with the AIIB Articles of Agreement, the contingent liability rises in line with the amount of callable capital paid. As such, the UK will increase its current contingent liability of $488,720,000, incurred when the initial capital instalment was paid by a further $488,720,000 to a cumulative total contingent liability of US$977,440,000. A Departmental Minute to this effect was laid before Parliament on 1 December 2016 to give at least 14 sitting days’ notice of the intent to incur a contingent liability. The notice period will be completed on 9 January 2017.

Although the AIIB has the right to call for payment of this callable capital incurred when the initial capital instalment was paid, no such instance has occurred in any multilateral development bank in the past. If the liability were to be called, provision for any payment would be sought through the normal Supply procedure.

In joining the AIIB the UK has demonstrated its support for China’s initiative to establish the AIIB to address the historic shortage of infrastructure investment in Asia. The AIIB will support economic growth in the region and drive up living standards. The UK’s membership will deepen economic ties with Asia and create opportunities for British businesses.

WS
Home Office
Made on: 01 December 2016
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Report of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on the operation in 2015 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and Part 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006

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

In accordance with section 36(5) of the Terrorism Act 2006, David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, has prepared a report on the operation in 2015 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and Part 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006.

I am today laying this report before the House, and copies will be available in the Vote Office. It will also be published on GOV.UK.

I am grateful to David Anderson for his report. I will carefully consider its contents and the recommendations it makes, and will respond formally in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS302
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 01 December 2016
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Minister of State for Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

Twenty Second Conference of the Parties: Marrakesh Climate Change Conference

Today my honourable Friend, the Minister for State for Industry and Climate Change has made the following statement:

The annual Conference Of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations framework convention on climate change took place in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 7-18 November. The United Kingdom was represented by the Minister of State for Industry and Climate Change who has been negotiating for the UK and promoting British business. The conference was described as an ‘implementation COP’ focused on starting the process of turning the first global climate change deal, known as the Paris Agreement, into a clear blueprint for action.

The UK aims for Marrakesh were to: (a) strengthen action and ambition; (b) make progress on implementing the Paris Agreement; and (c) demonstrate the UK’s leadership on climate change. These objectives were achieved.

(A) Regarding strengthening action and ambition, there were two key outcomes:

  1. The Marrakesh Action Proclamation underlined that the global commitment to tackling climate change is irreversible, calling for raised ambition and strengthened cooperation.
  2. Announcements made by governments, businesses and other non-state actors further emphasised the global momentum and the action being taken. On behalf of the UK, Minister Hurd pledged support for many initiatives that will support countries in meeting their emissions reduction targets as the world aims to achieve carbon neutrality in the second half of the century.

(B) Regarding progress on implementing the Paris Agreement, consensus was secured on all of the areas where decisions were mandated, including the terms of reference for the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, and the Paris Committee on Capacity Building. Further progress included:

  1. The first meeting of the countries who ratified the Paris Agreement (CMA1).
  2. Discussions on detail of the rulebook to support implementation of commitments and setting a deadline to finalise by 2018 with a review in 2017;
  3. Agreement for an inclusive and transparent consultation on mitigation commitments ahead of the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018 to assess progress , in order to inform the next round of national pledges on mitigation;
  4. Agreement that the Adaptation Fund should serve the Paris Agreement subject to decisions on governance and modalities to be taken at COP24 (in 2018); and
  5. Agreement to a five year work plan on “Loss and Damage” which will start in 2017. This will include a review of the sources of finance for loss and damage but does not admit new or separate financial arrangements for loss and damage.

(C) Regarding demonstrating UK’s leadership and commitment, we:

  1. Announced that the UK had ratified the Paris Agreement. On this occasion, the Secretary of State Greg Clark reiterated that we look ahead to continuing our leadership on climate action and ensuring that British business continues to play a key role in the new global low carbon economy. We believe it will benefit the UK while we implement our industrial strategy to deliver an economy that works for all.
  2. Co-led with Australia the production and presentation of the $100bn Roadmap on behalf of donor countries, setting out how the goal of mobilising US100bn of public and private climate finance by 2020 will be achieved.
  3. Hosted a Green is GREAT pavilion, showcasing British strengths in managing the impact of climate change and providing a platform to show and sell British innovations.
  4. Underwent our second ‘Multilateral Assessment’ setting out progress to meeting our 2020 emissions reduction targets and lessons that could be shared.

The positive outcome from Marrakesh will help to implement what was agreed in Paris more effectively. It caps a year of continued momentum on climate change, including the rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement, and agreements on phasing down hydro-fluorocarbons under the Montreal Protocol and offsetting the growth in civil aviation emissions at the International Civil Aviation Organisation. From Government and private sector commitments to reduce emissions, it is clear that the economic and political drivers behind the global transition towards a low-carbon future – as well as the commercial opportunities that transition affords – remain

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS297
WS
Home Office
Made on: 01 December 2016
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Blue Card Directive

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

I am confirming the Government’s decision that the UK will not opt into the European Commission’s recent proposal for a revised Blue Card Directive, published on 7 June 2016.

The proposal seeks to increase the EU’s attractiveness to highly skilled workers from outside the EU. It runs counter to the UK’s view that decisions on who comes to the country are best framed at national level in accordance with national assessments of economic need. It would also undermine our ability to reduce net migration.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS303
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 01 December 2016
Made by: Lord Nash (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

A level (and AS) qualifications

My honourable friend the Minister of State for School Standards has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In April this year, the government announced that GCSEs and A levels in a range of languages with smaller cohorts will continue and therefore will be reformed in line with other GCSEs and A levels. This fulfils a commitment made in 2015 to work with the exam boards to ensure the continuation of these qualifications.

The reformed GCSE content for modern foreign languages, published in 2013, is suitable for all the modern languages currently available, and the exam boards are developing specifications for these GCSEs.

At A level, we have worked with the exam boards to develop specific content for modern languages with smaller cohorts. The government is today opening a consultation on this content, which will apply to A levels (and AS) in Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Greek, Modern Hebrew, Japanese, Panjabi, Persian, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish and Urdu.

The content for modern languages with smaller cohorts is largely identical to the reformed A level (and AS) content which applies to French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Italian and Russian. This was developed by the independent A Level Content Advisory Board (ALCAB), appointed by the Russell Group to meet the expectations of higher education, and was published in 2015.

This content for modern languages with smaller cohorts addresses the risks associated with the assessment of smaller numbers of candidates, including the challenges of recruiting specialist examiners. The requirement to demonstrate speaking skills is not included in the proposed content, which is consistent with current AS and A level qualifications in languages with smaller cohorts – with the single exception of Urdu (in which speaking skills are currently required). To secure a suitable level of rigour which is comparable for all modern languages, the government proposes a new requirement for modern languages with smaller cohorts. The proposed content would require students to apply language skills (reading, writing and listening) in combination, by responding to spoken and written sources addressing common subject matter.

The A level (and AS) content for modern languages with smaller cohorts will apply to courses beginning in September 2018. The current specifications for these languages will remain available for courses beginning in September 2017.

I can also confirm today that A level history of art and AS and A level statistics will continue to be offered in England following the exam board AQA’s decision not to offer these qualifications for new courses starting from September 2017. We believe there is value in having a broad range of high-quality choices available to A level students and our intention has always been that there should continue to be A levels available in these two subjects. I am therefore pleased that the Pearson exam board has confirmed that it intends to develop new AS and A levels in statistics and a new A level in history of art for teaching from September 2017.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS301
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