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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Written Statement Indentifying Number – Every written statement in the House of Commons and House of Lords has a WSID per parliamentary session.
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WS
Wales Office
Made on: 19 January 2017
Made by: Alun Cairns (Secretary of State for Wales )
Commons

Wales Bill: Memorandum of Analysis of English Votes for English Laws in relation to Government amendments made in the House of Lords

I am pleased to announce the publication of analysis of English Votes for English Laws in relation to Government amendments to the Wales Bill during its passage through the House of Lords.

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

The memorandum provides an assessment of tabled Government amendments to the Wales Bill, for the purposes of English Votes for English Laws, ahead of Commons Consideration of Lords Amendments (CCLA). The Department’s assessment is the amendments do not change the territorial application of the Bill.

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

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

WS
Wales Office
Made on: 19 January 2017
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales)
Lords

Wales Bill: Memorandum of Analysis of English Votes for English Laws in relation to Government amendments made in the House of Lords

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Wales (Alun Cairns MP) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement today:

I am pleased to announce the publication of analysis of English Votes for English Laws in relation to Government amendments to the Wales Bill during its passage through the House of Lords.

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

The memorandum provides an assessment of tabled Government amendments to the Wales Bill, for the purposes of English Votes for English Laws, ahead of Commons Consideration of Lords Amendments (CCLA). The Department’s assessment is the amendments do not change the territorial application of the Bill.

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

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

WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 19 January 2017
Made by: Lord Prior of Brampton (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

MANAGEMENT OF OVERSEAS OWNED PLUTONIUM IN THE UK

My honourable friend the Parlimentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Energy and Industry (Jesse Norman) has made the following written ministerial statement:

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has agreed to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA):-

  1. Taking ownership of 600 kg of material previously owned by a Spanish utility.
  2. Taking ownership of 5 kg of material previously owned by a German organisation.

These transactions, which have been agreed by the Euratom Supply Agency, will not result in any new plutonium being brought into the UK, and will not therefore increase the overall amount of plutonium in the UK.

The Department has agreed to these transactions on the grounds that they offer a cost-effective and beneficial arrangement, which allows the UK to gain national control over more of the civil plutonium located in the UK, and facilitates conclusion of outstanding contracts with the Spanish and German counterparties. The revenue from the transaction is also expected to be of significant benefit to the UK and sufficient to cover the cost of the long term management of the additional plutonium.

The UK has committed to publish annual figures for national holdings of civil plutonium at the end of each calendar year to improve transparency and public confidence. The most recently published data for 2015 can be found at the following link, published on the 14th November 2016:

http://www.onr.org.uk/safeguards/iaeauk.htm

This data will be updated in due course to reflect the changes described above.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS422
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 19 January 2017
Made by: Jesse Norman (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State , Minister for Energy and Industry)
Commons

MANAGEMENT OF OVERSEAS OWNED PLUTONIUM IN THE UK

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has agreed to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA):-

  1. Taking ownership of 600 kg of material previously owned by a Spanish utility.
  2. Taking ownership of 5 kg of material previously owned by a German organisation.

These transactions, which have been agreed by the Euratom Supply Agency, will not result in any new plutonium being brought into the UK, and will not therefore increase the overall amount of plutonium in the UK.

The Department has agreed to these transactions on the grounds that they offer a cost-effective and beneficial arrangement, which allows the UK to gain national control over more of the civil plutonium located in the UK, and facilitates conclusion of outstanding contracts with the Spanish and German counterparties. The revenue from the transaction is also expected to be of significant benefit to the UK and sufficient to cover the cost of the long term management of the additional plutonium.

The UK has committed to publish annual figures for national holdings of civil plutonium at the end of each calendar year to improve transparency and public confidence. The most recently published data for 2015 can be found at the following link, published on the 14th November 2016:

http://www.onr.org.uk/safeguards/iaeauk.htm

This data will be updated in due course to reflect the changes described above.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS425
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 18 January 2017
Made by: Ben Gummer (Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General)
Commons

Advance from the Contingencies Fund on behalf of the Department for Exiting the European Union

In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced that additional funding would be made available to the Department for Exiting the European Union for the 2016-17 financial year. However, as is normal in machinery of government moves, full legal and financial responsibility does not transfer between Departments until the legislation related to the relevant Supply Estimates receives Royal Assent. Until then the main exporting Department for the function, the Cabinet Office, must seek an advance on behalf of the new Department.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £42,700,000 for this new expenditure will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate. Pending that approval, expenditure estimated at £42,700,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 18 January 2017
Made by: Lord Henley (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Levy 2016/17

My honourable Friend The Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work (Penny Mordaunt 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 2016/17, the third year of the DMPS, is £40.4m. This includes £5.2m to accommodate a levy shortfall last year. The amount will be payable by active insurers by the end of March 2017.

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 two successful years of operation, assisting many sufferers of Diffuse Mesothelioma. The second Annual Report for the scheme was published on 29 November 2016 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: HCWS420
WS
Home Office
Made on: 18 January 2017
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Hillsborough: Bishop James Jones Review

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

In April 2016, at the conclusion of the fresh inquests into the deaths which resulted from the Hillsborough stadium disaster on 15 April 1989, Bishop James Jones was commissioned by my predecessor, the Rt Hon Member for Maidenhead, to produce a report on the Hillsborough families’ experiences.

Since then Bishop James has met many of the Hillsborough families and discussed his review. Those discussions have helped shape the terms of reference for the review (attached), which I am publishing today.

It is envisaged that Bishop James Jones will complete his review and produce his report in spring 2017. This report will then be published.

Terms of Reference (PDF Document, 178.19 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS419
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 18 January 2017
Made by: Penny Mordaunt (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme Levy 2016/17

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 2016/17, the third year of the DMPS, is £40.4m. This includes £5.2m to accommodate a levy shortfall last year. The amount will be payable by active insurers by the end of March 2017.

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 two successful years of operation, assisting many sufferers of Diffuse Mesothelioma. The second Annual Report for the scheme was published on 29 November 2016 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: HLWS424
WS
Home Office
Made on: 18 January 2017
Made by: Amber Rudd (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Commons

Hillsborough: Bishop James Jones Review

In April 2016, at the conclusion of the fresh inquests into the deaths which resulted from the Hillsborough stadium disaster on 15 April 1989, Bishop James Jones was commissioned by my predecessor, the Rt Hon Member for Maidenhead, to produce a report on the Hillsborough families’ experiences.

Since then Bishop James has met many of the Hillsborough families and discussed his review. Those discussions have helped shape the terms of reference for the review (attached), which I am publishing today.

It is envisaged that Bishop James Jones will complete his review and produce his report in spring 2017. This report will then be published.

Terms of Reference (PDF Document, 178.19 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS423
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 17 January 2017
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State, Ministry of Defence)
Lords

Phalanx Availability Contract - Contingent Liability

The Minister for Defence Procurement (Harriett Baldwin) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Secretary of State for Defence has retrospectively laid before Parliament a Ministry of Defence (MOD) Departmental Minute describing the Contingent Liability within the Phalanx Close In Weapons System Availability Contract with Babcock Marine.

The Departmental Minute describes the Contingent Liability that the MOD will hold as a result of placing the new Phalanx availability contract, which will provide continuous support to the Navy’s Operational Fleet of ships. The maximum contingent liability against the MOD is therefore £268 million over the two year life of the contract.

It is usual to allow a period of fourteen sitting days prior to accepting a Contingent Liability, to provide Members of Parliament with an opportunity to raise any questions. I apologise but on this occasion it was not possible to do so.

However, a break in the contract with Babcock Marine would have resulted in potential severe operational impact to the support of Phalanx, particularly those on-board ships deployed on operations and requiring contractor support to repair them. As such, and by exception, I approved the awarding of the new support contract with Babcock Marine from 22 December 2016; to come into effect from 31 December 2016. This ensures that support provided to Phalanx was not interrupted.

In accordance with the procedures established for cases of special urgency, the Department wrote to the Chairs of the Public Accounts Committee and the Defence Committee on 23 December 2016, in advance of incurring this liability, inviting them to respond with any objections. No such objections have been received.

I apologise that the Ministry of Defence did not allow fourteen sitting days for Members of Parliament to signify an objection. Contracts of this type do not normally fall within the Parliamentary notification requirement, and it only became apparent that this contract was different late in the process. I have asked Ministry of Defence officials to ensure that these exceptions are identified earlier in future.

The Treasury has approved the proposal. If, during the period of fourteen Parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which the Minute was laid before Parliament, a member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or by otherwise raising the matter in parliament, I undertake to examine the objection and respond to the member concerned.

WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 17 January 2017
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Homelessness Reduction Bill

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

I am today updating the House on a commitment I made at Second Reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill – the Member for Harrow East’s Private Members’ Bill – to fund the costs of the Bill in line with the new burdens doctrine.

I can confirm that the Government will provide £48m to local government to meet the new burdens costs associated with the Bill over the course of the Spending Review. It is estimated that offsetting savings to local authorities will mean there are no costs thereafter. This reflects the cost of the Bill in its current form. I will continue to monitor the Bill as it proceeds through the House and will update the new burdens assessment as appropriate once the Bill is in its final form.

Estimated new burdens costs of the Homelessness Reduction Bill

Year

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

Net cost

£35.4m*

£12.1m*

£0

* Rounding means these are summed to £48m

The Government has been working with local councils and the Local Government Association to test the methodology behind the estimated costs, as well as the core assumptions within it.

We will continue to work with local councils and the Local Government Association to develop the distribution model for the funding. This will reflect differing need in different authorities.

I also intend to consider the case for making available a small amount of further funding for local authorities in high-pressure areas to manage the transition to the new duties in the Bill.

This would be in addition to the level of funding provided to meet our commitment to fund new burdens.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS418
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 17 January 2017
Made by: Mr Marcus Jones (Minister for Local Government )
Commons

Homelessness Reduction Bill

I am today updating the House on a commitment I made at Second Reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill – the Member for Harrow East’s Private Members’ Bill – to fund the costs of the Bill in line with the new burdens doctrine.

I can confirm that the Government will provide £48m to local government to meet the new burdens costs associated with the Bill over the course of the Spending Review. It is estimated that offsetting savings to local authorities will mean there are no costs thereafter. This reflects the cost of the Bill in its current form. I will continue to monitor the Bill as it proceeds through the House and will update the new burdens assessment as appropriate once the Bill is in its final form.

Estimated new burdens costs of the Homelessness Reduction Bill

Year

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

Net cost

£35.4m*

£12.1m*

£0

* Rounding means these are summed to £48m

The Government has been working with local councils and the Local Government Association to test the methodology behind the estimated costs, as well as the core assumptions within it.

We will continue to work with local councils and the Local Government Association to develop the distribution model for the funding. This will reflect differing need in different authorities.

I also intend to consider the case for making available a small amount of further funding for local authorities in high-pressure areas to manage the transition to the new duties in the Bill.

This would be in addition to the level of funding provided to meet our commitment to fund new burdens.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS421
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 17 January 2017
Made by: Mr Philip Hammond (The Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Commons

Charter for Budget Responsibility autumn 2016 update

Today I have laid before Parliament an updated Charter for Budget Responsibility. The updated Charter sets out a new fiscal framework, changes to the operation of the welfare cap, and minor amendments to text on the operation of debt management.

The updated Charter laid today was published in draft on 23 November 2016. The Charter was first published in draft as it includes modified guidance to the Office for Budget Responsibility. Under Section 6(4) of the Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011, if the Treasury proposes to modify the guidance to the Office for Budget Responsibility included in the Charter, a draft of the modified guidance must be published at least 28 days before the modified Charter is laid before Parliament.

Since publishing the Charter in draft one operational amendment has been made, requiring the Debt Management Office to produce a debt management report annually rather than as part of the Budget Report. This change has been made to facilitate the move to a single fiscal event. The change does not modify guidance to the Office for Budget Responsibility.

A debate and vote in the House of Commons on the updated Charter has been scheduled for Tuesday 24 January 2017.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS420
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 17 January 2017
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

Charter for Budget Responsibility autumn 2016 update

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

Today I have laid before Parliament an updated Charter for Budget Responsibility. The updated Charter sets out a new fiscal framework, changes to the operation of the welfare cap, and minor amendments to text on the operation of debt management.

The updated Charter laid today was published in draft on 23rd November 2016. The Charter was first published in draft as it includes modified guidance to the Office for Budget Responsibility. Under Section 6(4) of the Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011, if the Treasury proposes to modify the guidance to the Office for Budget Responsibility included in the Charter, a draft of the modified guidance must be published at least 28 days before the modified Charter is laid before Parliament.

Since publishing the Charter in draft one operational amendment has been made, requiring the Debt Management Office to produce a debt management report annually rather than as part of the Budget Report. This change has been made to facilitate the move to a single fiscal event. The change does not modify guidance to the Office for Budget Responsibility.

A debate and vote in the House of Commons on the updated Charter has been scheduled for Tuesday 24th January 2017.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS417
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 17 January 2017
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

OBR Fiscal sustainability report 2017

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

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has today published its sixth Fiscal Sustainability Report (FSR), fulfilling its legal obligation to publish an analysis of the sustainability of the long-term public finances and an assessment of the public sector balance sheet at least once every two years. The report was laid before Parliament earlier today and copies are available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

The FSR provides us with insight into how long-term economic and demographic trends, including our ageing population, are likely to impact the public finances over the next half century, without mitigating action. These long run projections are based on OBR assumptions of unchanged policy beyond the medium term horizon. They are therefore not the OBR’s predictions of what will happen – but an illustrative projection of what may happen, if the government did not take action.

In producing these projections the OBR must make stylised assumptions, and as they note, many of these assumptions are subject to a high degree of uncertainty. The results are highly sensitive to these assumptions, and this is particularly the case over the 50 year horizon in the FSR. For example, the OBR project that debt to GDP by 2066-67 could be between 40% of GDP higher or 101% of GDP lower than the central projection, depending on which assumptions are used to underpin projected growth in healthcare spending.

Their findings must be interpreted in this context. However, the FSR’s underlying conclusion is clear: fiscal sustainability will come under increasing pressure from both demographic change and the need to improve efficiency and productivity over the next 50 years. It is important that action continues to be taken to address demographic pressures and improve efficiency, particularly in the health sector.

While the FSR’s fundamental message is unchanged from previous reports, changes to the assumptions underpinning this year’s projections drive higher projected spending than in previous reports. Higher projected spending, alongside higher initial borrowing and debt, feeds through, in turn, to higher projected borrowing and debt by the end of the projections.

In terms of specifics, the FSR projects that spending on the State Pension will rise from 5.0% of GDP in 2021-22 to 7.1% of GDP by 2066-67, putting significant pressure on taxpayers. To ensure that the State Pension remains sustainable and fair across generations, the government is carrying out its first review of State Pension age. The government will consider all the evidence – including an independent report by John Cridland - before formally responding by publishing its Review by 7 May 2017.

The FSR also projects that health spending will rise from 6.9% of GDP in 2021-22 to 12.6% of GDP in 2066-67, due to the inclusion of non-demographic cost pressures in the OBR’s analysis for the first time. As the OBR note, there is significant uncertainty around this long-term projection, and it does not take into account the impact of any government action to address projected cost pressures in future Parliaments. We are taking steps over this Parliament to improve the efficiency of the NHS. This includes funding for the NHS’s Five Year Forward View Plan, which sets out its vision for a sustainable long-term future for the NHS, and its proposals for reforms to help it meet future challenges. Decisions on funding in the longer-term will be for future governments to take.

Overall, the FSR demonstrates that the situation would be far graver without the significant progress made by this government since 2010. The deficit the government inherited in 2010 stood at 10% of GDP. We have now brought down the deficit by almost two-thirds of GDP and, by 2021-22, the OBR forecast that borrowing will have fallen to its lowest level in two decades. In 2018-19, the OBR forecast debt to fall as a share of GDP for the first time since 2000-01. The magnitude of the long-term fiscal sustainability challenge faced by the UK is similar to many other advanced economies, according to international institutions. Debt is projected to reach 141% of GDP in the US by 2046, and could reach over 180% of GDP in Germany by 2060. This compares to about 125% of GDP in the UK by 2046-47 and rising to about 200% of GDP by 2060-61 as projected in this year’s FSR.

Nonetheless, despite significant progress made to repair the public finances since 2010, today’s OBR projections suggest that, without further policy change, debt will reach over 234% of GDP by 2066-67 and continue on its upwards trajectory thereafter, driven by increased age-related spending.

Clearly, this would not be a responsible course of action. This provides the motivation for the fiscal framework that the government set out at Autumn Statement 2016. We must continue to reduce the deficit and get debt falling over the medium-term. And we must bring the public finances to balance at the earliest possible date in the next Parliament. The debate and vote on the new fiscal framework will take place next week, enshrining these commitments to fiscal responsibility into law.

As we look towards the next Parliament, ensuring that the public finances remain sustainable will continue to be one of this government’s key priorities. In consideration of this fact, at Autumn Statement 2016, the Chancellor announced his intention to review public spending priorities and other commitments for the next Parliament in light of the evolving fiscal position at the next Spending Review. Fiscal discipline today will help us tackle any future economic shocks and reduce the burden of debt on future generations. Increasing life-expectancies and other economic trends will continue to pose challenges for the public finances. In response, we will continue to control public spending and grow the potential of the UK economy, including by targeting increased investment in infrastructure to increase the UK’s long run productivity challenge.

The FSR is yet another important example of the credibility and transparency that the independent OBR brings to the public finances, as recognised recently by the IMF’s Fiscal Transparency Evaluation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS416
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 17 January 2017
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport)
Lords

HS2 Phase One: Government Response to the Lords Select Committee Report

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

I am today publishing the Department’s response to the Special Report from the House of Lords Select Committee for the HS2 Phase One hybrid Bill that was published on 15 December 2017.

The Lords Select Committee was tasked with considering petitions from those specially and directly affected by the Bill and subsequent additional provisions to the Bill. Their First Special Report concludes the Committee deliberations which began in May 2016. The Lords Select Committee considered 822 petitions lodged against the HS2 Phase One hybrid Bill. Of these, the locus of 278 petitions was successfully challenged. Of the remaining 544 petitions the Select Committee heard 314 petitions in formal session, with the remainder withdrawing, or choosing not to appear before the Select Committee, mainly as a result of successful prior negotiation with HS2 Ltd.

The Select Committee’s recent report summarises their hearings and contains modifications to the Bill powers, directions for action by the Promoter in a number of specific cases and more general recommendations on what actions the Promoter should take on a range of other issues.

In responding to the Select Committee we have confined our response to those areas of the report where the Select Committee has requested the Government take action or where we believe a further clarification would be beneficial.

Alongside the response to the Select Committee report, we are also publishing the Statement of Reasons Command Paper. The Statement of Reasons is required by Parliamentary Standing Order 83A in order to assist the House of Lords during the 3rd Reading of the HS2 Phase One hybrid Bill. This document summarises the work that has already been done to assess, control and mitigate the environmental impacts of HS2 Phase One, and explains why the Government continues to take the view that the HS2 Phase One project is worthy of Parliament’s support.

Copies of the Response to the Select Committee can be found on the GOV.UK. website. Copies of the Statement of Reasons will be made available in the libraries of both Houses.

CM 9396 (PDF Document, 1.8 MB)
CM 9398 (PDF Document, 2.16 MB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS413
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 17 January 2017
Made by: Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity )
Lords

Outcomes from the 66th meeting of the International Whaling Commission

My Hon Friend the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (George Eustice) has today made the following statement.

I was unable to attend last year’s meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC66) on the 24-28 October 2016 in Slovenia but there was a strong UK delegation present.

This meeting marked the 70th anniversary of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling and the 30th anniversary of the global moratorium on commercial whaling. I am happy to report that all UK objectives for this meeting were achieved and, as always, the UK worked tirelessly behind the scenes to influence and support crucial decisions intended to improve the conservation and welfare of cetaceans. The UK also ensured its long standing opposition to commercial whaling and whaling under Special Permit (scientific whaling) was made clear at every appropriate opportunity. As with previous meetings, there was the need for careful negotiation at times but overall the dialogue was constructive despite the fundamental differences in views.

I was pleased that a number of important Resolutions were adopted. In particular, IWC adopted a Resolution on the need for action to address the alarming decline in the critically endangered Vaquita. In line with the agreed position of EU Member States, the UK voted in support of the proposal. This was aligned with the UK’s negotiating position and represents a good outcome. The Vaquita, a small cetacean found in Mexico, is under significant pressure from bycatch driven by the illegal trade in the Totoaba. With an estimated population size of only 59 individuals, action is needed now and so I was encouraged that Parties were able to put aside their disagreements on whether the scope of the IWC extended to small cetaceans in order to make this important statement.

I was also encouraged to see decisions taken on further modernisation of the organisation through institutional and governance improvements agreed by consensus, and the expansion of research efforts into important threats to cetaceans such as contaminants passed by a vote. These are important steps forward. In line with the agreed position of EU Member States, the UK supported both of these proposals. This was aligned with the UK’s negotiating position and represents a good outcome.

Reflecting on previous unsuccessful proposals for “small-type coastal whaling”, Japan proposed a process for intersessional dialogue to address issues relating to fundamental differences of positions within the IWC. An informal process to discuss such issues was established. The UK will maintain a careful watching brief on this matter.

I was disappointed that Japan announced its intention to begin a new 12 year programme of whaling under Special Permit in the North Pacific. In collaboration with other EU Member States, the UK will ensure a strong coordinated statement is made in response to this announcement. The UK will continue to oppose the issuing of Special Permits on the basis that there is no justification for lethal scientific research on whales. I was, however, pleased that a Resolution was passed that should help strengthen the role of the IWC in considering Special Permits, albeit not by consensus. In line with the agreed position of EU Member States, the UK voted in support of the proposal. This was aligned with the UK’s negotiating position and represents a good outcome.

A proposal brought forward by Japan, Cambodia and Ghana to create a fund to strengthen the capacity of Governments of Limited Means to participate in the IWC did not achieve consensus. Because consensus could not be reached with Parties, EU Member States were instructed to abstain from the vote. A number of other anti-whaling countries also abstained. The Resolution passed which is an acceptable outcome for the UK; although we will keep the development of the fund under close scrutiny to ensure appropriate safeguards and restrictions are in place.

Once again I am pleased to report that the UK, in line with the agreed position of EU Member States, voted in favour of establishing a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. Unfortunately the proposal failed to gain the three-quarters majority required for adoption. This will be re-tabled at the next meeting in 2018, which was announced as being hosted by Brazil.

Finally, I was pleased that the UK led work to progress the consideration of non-hunting threats to cetacean welfare was well received. A number of important recommendations were proposed to allow this important and groundbreaking work to continue. These were agreed by consensus meaning the UK can continue working closely with NGOs and academia to move this to the next stage.

In conclusion, this was a successful meeting and the UK made clear its continued strong opposition to commercial and scientific whaling. We now turn our attention to building for the 2018 meeting in Brazil, and will be working very closely with civil society in order to continue developing and delivering tangible improvements to the conservation and welfare of cetaceans globally.

On 23 June, the EU referendum took place and the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the European Union and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force. Within IWC, until exit is concluded, the UK will continue to operate as part of the EU. Once we leave the EU, we will regain the ability to speak and vote independently at IWC and will be able to form broader coalitions to promote the conservation of whales and cetaceans.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS414
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Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 17 January 2017
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Lords

WINTER FLOODING 2015/2016

My Hon Friend the Minister of State for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse (Andrew Percy) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would first like to thank all of those who supported local communities in the wake of the flooding in December 2015 and early January 2016. It is important that we recognise the enormous amount of effort that has gone into supporting households, businesses and communities repair and recover from these floods.

In the days that followed those storms, the Government very quickly identified that the immediate priority was to respond to the urgent needs of those affected and we have paid out almost £300 million to help householders, communities and businesses to get back on their feet. Furthermore, we have supported repairs to vital transport links, including getting the A591 in Cumbria open ahead of schedule, as well as improving flood defences and providing match funding for charity appeals.

Alongside this early response, Ministers informed the House of our intention to apply to the European Union Solidarity Fund. We submitted our initial application on 26 February 2016. The application was made within the 12 week deadline and included a provisional estimate of the cost of direct damage incurred by the floods in December 2015 and early January 2016.

The European Union Solidarity Fund is limited in principle to non-insurable damage and does not compensate for private losses, such as damage to private property. Long-term action – such as lasting reconstruction, economic redevelopment and prevention – are not eligible for support. In the case of a regional application, the Solidarity Fund retrospectively reimburses Member States for 2.5% of the direct costs associated with the damage incurred. As the assistance received is therefore dependent on the extent of the costs incurred, it has been important that we ensure the application represents our best estimate of the damage. Subsequent to the initial application, my department continued to work extensively with devolved administrations, local authorities and other government departments to refine and update our cost analysis and comply with the complex rules of the Fund. As a result of that work, the Government finalised the UK’s application to the European Union Solidarity Fund in September 2016.

The Commission has now completed its assessment of our application and has proposed to the European Parliament and Council that the UK receives a notional €60 million in assistance (subject to approval by the two bodies). However, owing to the costs involved in making an application and the effect of clawback through the UK rebate, the overall net benefit to the UK is only estimated to be €17 million (circa £15 million). This will be further offset by a payment of £14.5m that the UK is legally obliged to make to the EU in respect of the UK’s 2007 application (by then Labour Government) for Solidarity Fund assistance following the serious floods that year. The Commission carried out an assurance review in 2010 and 2011 to verify that all of the expenditure incurred was eligible. The UK Government is obliged to repay funding where there was ineligible spending under the Labour administration. Consequently, this funding does not offer additional support, but is only eligible to reimburse a small portion of the extensive financial support that has already been given‎ by the Government to the areas affected.

The UK Government continues to stand squarely behind those flooded, working with local authorities to ensure households and businesses receive all eligible support. Furthermore, we are focused not only on ensuring the recovery from these floods, but also on preventing future damage – we are exceeding our manifesto commitment by building 1,500 new flood defence schemes that will better protect 300,000 more homes.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS412
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HM Treasury
Made on: 17 January 2017
Made by: Mr David Gauke (The Chief Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

OBR Fiscal sustainability report 2017

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has today published its sixth Fiscal Sustainability Report (FSR), fulfilling its legal obligation to publish an analysis of the sustainability of the long-term public finances and an assessment of the public sector balance sheet at least once every two years. The report was laid before Parliament earlier today and copies are available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

The FSR provides us with insight into how long-term economic and demographic trends, including our ageing population, are likely to impact the public finances over the next half century, without mitigating action. These long run projections are based on OBR assumptions of unchanged policy beyond the medium term horizon. They are therefore not the OBR’s predictions of what will happen – but an illustrative projection of what may happen, if the government did not take action.

In producing these projections the OBR must make stylised assumptions, and as they note, many of these assumptions are subject to a high degree of uncertainty. The results are highly sensitive to these assumptions, and this is particularly the case over the 50 year horizon in the FSR. For example, the OBR project that debt to GDP by 2066-67 could be between 40% of GDP higher or 101% of GDP lower than the central projection, depending on which assumptions are used to underpin projected growth in healthcare spending.

Their findings must be interpreted in this context. However, the FSR’s underlying conclusion is clear: fiscal sustainability will come under increasing pressure from both demographic change and the need to improve efficiency and productivity over the next 50 years. It is important that action continues to be taken to address demographic pressures and improve efficiency, particularly in the health sector.

While the FSR’s fundamental message is unchanged from previous reports, changes to the assumptions underpinning this year’s projections drive higher projected spending than in previous reports. Higher projected spending, alongside higher initial borrowing and debt, feeds through, in turn, to higher projected borrowing and debt by the end of the projections.

In terms of specifics, the FSR projects that spending on the State Pension will rise from 5.0% of GDP in 2021-22 to 7.1% of GDP by 2066-67, putting significant pressure on taxpayers. To ensure that the State Pension remains sustainable and fair across generations, the government is carrying out its first review of State Pension age. The government will consider all the evidence – including an independent report by John Cridland - before formally responding by publishing its Review by 7 May 2017.

The FSR also projects that health spending will rise from 6.9% of GDP in 2021-22 to 12.6% of GDP in 2066-67, due to the inclusion of non-demographic cost pressures in the OBR’s analysis for the first time. As the OBR note, there is significant uncertainty around this long-term projection, and it does not take into account the impact of any government action to address projected cost pressures in future Parliaments. We are taking steps over this Parliament to improve the efficiency of the NHS. This includes funding for the NHS’s Five Year Forward View Plan, which sets out its vision for a sustainable long-term future for the NHS, and its proposals for reforms to help it meet future challenges. Decisions on funding in the longer-term will be for future governments to take.

Overall, the FSR demonstrates that the situation would be far graver without the significant progress made by this government since 2010. The deficit the government inherited in 2010 stood at 10% of GDP. We have now brought down the deficit by almost two-thirds of GDP and, by 2021-22, the OBR forecast that borrowing will have fallen to its lowest level in two decades. In 2018-19, the OBR forecast debt to fall as a share of GDP for the first time since 2000-01. The magnitude of the long-term fiscal sustainability challenge faced by the UK is similar to many other advanced economies, according to international institutions. Debt is projected to reach 141% of GDP in the US by 2046, and could reach over 180% of GDP in Germany by 2060. This compares to about 125% of GDP in the UK by 2046-47 and rising to about 200% of GDP by 2060-61 as projected in this year’s FSR.

Nonetheless, despite significant progress made to repair the public finances since 2010, today’s OBR projections suggest that, without further policy change, debt will reach over 234% of GDP by 2066-67 and continue on its upwards trajectory thereafter, driven by increased age-related spending.

Clearly, this would not be a responsible course of action. This provides the motivation for the fiscal framework that the government set out at Autumn Statement 2016. We must continue to reduce the deficit and get debt falling over the medium-term. And we must bring the public finances to balance at the earliest possible date in the next Parliament. The debate and vote on the new fiscal framework will take place next week, enshrining these commitments to fiscal responsibility into law.

As we look towards the next Parliament, ensuring that the public finances remain sustainable will continue to be one of this government’s key priorities. In consideration of this fact, at Autumn Statement 2016, the Chancellor announced his intention to review public spending priorities and other commitments for the next Parliament in light of the evolving fiscal position at the next Spending Review. Fiscal discipline today will help us tackle any future economic shocks and reduce the burden of debt on future generations. Increasing life-expectancies and other economic trends will continue to pose challenges for the public finances. In response, we will continue to control public spending and grow the potential of the UK economy, including by targeting increased investment in infrastructure to increase the UK’s long run productivity challenge.

The FSR is yet another important example of the credibility and transparency that the independent OBR brings to the public finances, as recognised recently by the IMF’s Fiscal Transparency Evaluation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS419
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Ministry of Defence
Made on: 17 January 2017
Made by: Harriett Baldwin (Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence)
Commons

Phalanx Availability Contract - Contingent Liability

The Secretary of State for Defence has retrospectively laid before Parliament a Ministry of Defence (MOD) Departmental Minute describing the Contingent Liability within the Phalanx Close In Weapons System Availability Contract with Babcock Marine.

The Departmental Minute describes the Contingent Liability that the MOD will hold as a result of placing the new Phalanx availability contract, which will provide continuous support to the Navy’s Operational Fleet of ships. The maximum contingent liability against the MOD is therefore £268 million over the two year life of the contract.

It is usual to allow a period of fourteen sitting days prior to accepting a Contingent Liability, to provide Members of Parliament with an opportunity to raise any questions. I apologise but on this occasion it was not possible to do so.

However, a break in the contract with Babcock Marine would have resulted in potential severe operational impact to the support of Phalanx, particularly those on-board ships deployed on operations and requiring contractor support to repair them. As such, and by exception, I approved the awarding of the new support contract with Babcock Marine from 22 December 2016; to come into effect from 31 December 2016. This ensures that support provided to Phalanx was not interrupted.

In accordance with the procedures established for cases of special urgency, the Department wrote to the Chairs of the Public Accounts Committee and the Defence Committee on 23 December 2016, in advance of incurring this liability, inviting them to respond with any objections. No such objections have been received.

I apologise that the Ministry of Defence did not allow fourteen sitting days for Members of Parliament to signify an objection. Contracts of this type do not normally fall within the Parliamentary notification requirement, and it only became apparent that this contract was different late in the process. I have asked Ministry of Defence officials to ensure that these exceptions are identified earlier in future.

The Treasury has approved the proposal. If, during the period of fourteen Parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which the Minute was laid before Parliament, a member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or by otherwise raising the matter in parliament, I undertake to examine the objection and respond to the member concerned.

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