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
Prime Minister
Made on: 13 December 2017
Made by: Mrs Theresa May (Prime Minister)
Commons

Committee on Standards in Public Life - 17th report on intimidation in public life

Today, I welcome the publication of the report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life on their review of the intimidation of Parliamentary Candidates.

I would like to place on record my thanks to the Committee for its thorough consideration of these issues. In July, I asked the Committee to undertake this review into the issue of abuse and intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates, including those who stood in the 2017 General Election campaign. The issue was highlighted by those across the political spectrum. Whilst robust debate is fundamental in an open democracy, threats to candidates and property goes well beyond that which should be regarded as acceptable by those in public life, and abuse will not be tolerated.

The Committee has consulted widely and members of both Houses, from across all parties, were invited to contribute. Today’s report addresses the roles of the main actors – in social media, the law, policing and prosecution, and political parties – and proposes a package of recommendations for both immediate and longer-term action. We will be giving full and thorough consideration to its recommendations. The Government plans to issue a response to the review in due course. This House may also wish to debate and consider the Committee’s recommendations.

The Committee’s report provides a body of evidence showing the extent and seriousness of the problem. It considers the risks to freedom of speech, diversity, and debate and to our representative democracy if action is not taken. We need to protect our freedom of speech and the vitality of our political system, and the freedom and diversity of participation in that system, as well as ensuring the integrity of the democratic process.

The report finds that intimidation is not a new phenomenon, but its scale and intensity, which has been accelerated by social media, is a serious issue.

It is not just politicians who have experienced unwarranted abuse – it has included journalists and other prominent figures in public life. Everyone deserves to be treated with tolerance and respect, and the British liberties of freedom of speech and freedom of association must always operate within the law. All those in public life need to demonstrate their opposition to intimidation and call it out, and report it when they see it. We must all work together to combat this issue.

Copies of the report have been laid in the Journal Office, the Printed Paper Office and deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 13 December 2017
Made by: Boris Johnson (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs )
Commons

The ongoing campaign against Daesh

Daesh no longer hold significant territory in Iraq or Syria. Thanks to the courage and resolve of the Iraqi Security Forces, our partners in Syria and the unwavering support of the 74 member Global Coalition, in which we play a leading role, millions of people have been liberated from Daesh’s control in both Iraq and Syria.

Daesh is failing, but not yet beaten. They continue to pose a threat to Iraq from across the Syrian border and as an insurgent presence. It is also a global terrorist network. Daesh has the ability to plan and inspire terrorist attacks at home and abroad. Therefore, we will act to protect the UK and our allies, as long as necessary.

We must be prepared for Daesh to change its form by returning to its insurgent roots and making ever stronger efforts to lure more adherents to its ideology. So we will continue to tackle Daesh on simultaneous fronts, which includes preventing the return of foreign terrorist fighters to their country of origin, including the UK and Europe. We will continue to degrade Daesh’s poisonous propaganda, decrease their ability to generate revenue and deny them a safe haven online.

It is vital that we also address the underlying causes of Daesh’s rise. To truly defeat Daesh requires long-term work to address the grievances it feeds off.

That is why we will continue to work with and support the Government of Iraq in its efforts to deliver the reforms and reconciliation needed to rebuild public trust in the Iraqi state and unite all Iraqis against extremism, including giving them the security, jobs and opportunities they deserve.

In Syria, Asad created the space for Daesh by releasing extremist prisoners and by causing untold suffering to his people. His brutality is evident in the siege and bombardment of almost 400,000 people in Eastern Ghouta, which is a replication of the Aleppo siege this time last year. We remain committed to securing a political settlement that ends the conflict and brings about a transition away from Asad. To this end, we welcome the agreement in Riyadh of a new Syrian opposition negotiating team and the resumption of UN-mediated peace talks in Geneva this month.

The ranks of the Global Coalition continue to grow as more and more countries answer the call to action against Daesh. We will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to protect the British people and our allies.

WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 13 December 2017
Made by: Mr David Davis (Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)
Commons

Procedures for the Approval and Implementation of EU Exit Agreements

The UK will exit the EU on 29 March 2019. We are currently negotiating the terms of our withdrawal (and hope shortly to move on to the terms of our future relationship). This note sets out the role of Parliament in approving the resulting agreements and how they will be brought into force.

Background

There will be at least two agreements.

A Withdrawal Agreement will be negotiated under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) whilst the UK is a member of the EU. It will set out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (including an agreement on citizens’ rights, Northern Ireland and any financial settlement), as well as the details of any implementation period agreed between both sides.

Article 50(2) of the TEU sets out that the Withdrawal Agreement should take account of the terms for the departing Member State’s future relationship with the EU. At the same time as we negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement, we will therefore also negotiate the terms for our future relationship.

However as the Prime Minister made clear in her Florence speech, the European Union considers that it is not “legally able to conclude an agreement with the UK as an external partner while it is itself still part of the European Union”. This is because the EU treaties require that the agreement governing our future relationship can only be legally concluded once the UK is a third country (i.e. once it has left the EU). So the Withdrawal Agreement will be followed shortly after we have left by one or more agreements covering different aspects of the future relationship.

How will the Withdrawal Agreement be approved and brought into force?

The Withdrawal Agreement will need to be signed by both parties and concluded by the EU and ratified by the UK before it can enter into force. The UK approval and EU approval processes can operate in parallel.

The EU’s Chief Negotiator, Michel Barnier, has said that he wants to have finalised the Withdrawal Agreement by October 2018. In Europe, the agreement will then require the consent of the European Parliament and final sign off by the Council acting by a qualified majority. It will not require separate approval or ratification by the individual Member States.

In the UK, the Government has committed to hold a vote on the final deal in Parliament as soon as possible after the negotiations have concluded. This vote will take the form of a resolution in both Houses of Parliament and will cover both the Withdrawal Agreement and the terms for our future relationship. The Government will not implement any parts of the Withdrawal Agreement - for example by using Clause 9 of the European Union (Withdrawal) bill - until after this vote has taken place.

In addition to this vote, the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (CRAG) normally requires the Government to place a copy of any treaty subject to ratification before both Houses of Parliament for a period of at least 21 sitting days, after which the treaty may be ratified unless there is a resolution against this. If the House of Commons resolves against ratification the Government can lay a statement explaining why it considers the treaty should still be ratified and there is then a further 21 sitting days during which the House of Commons may decide whether to resolve again against ratification. The Government is only able to ratify the agreement if the House of Commons does not resolve against the agreement.

If Parliament supports the resolution to proceed with the Withdrawal Agreement and the terms for our future relationship, the Government will bring forward a Withdrawal Agreement & Implementation Bill to give the Withdrawal Agreement domestic legal effect. The Bill will implement the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement in UK law as well as providing a further opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny. This legislation will be introduced before the UK exits the EU and the substantive provisions will only take effect from the moment of exit. Similarly, we expect any steps taken through secondary legislation to implement any part of the Withdrawal Agreement will only be operational from the moment of exit, though preparatory provisions may be necessary in certain cases.

How will the agreement governing the UK’s future relationship with the EU be approved and brought into force?

As described above, the agreement governing our future relationship with the EU can only be legally concluded once the UK has left the EU. This may take the form of a single agreement or a number of agreements covering different aspects of the relationship.

Whatever their final form, agreements on the future relationship are likely to require the consent of the European Parliament and conclusion by the Council. If both the EU and Member States are exercising their competences in an agreement, Member States will also need to ratify it.

In the UK, the Government will introduce further legislation where it is needed to implement the terms of the future relationship into UK law, providing yet another opportunity for proper parliamentary scrutiny.

The CRAG process is also likely to apply to agreements on our future relationship, depending on the final form they take.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Lord Ashton of Hyde (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Lords

Post-Council Written Ministerial Statement for Telecoms, Transport and Energy Council

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

The Telecoms, Transport and Energy (TTE) Council took place in Brussels on 4 and 5 December 2017. The UK’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU represented the interests of the UK at the Telecoms session of this Council, which took place on 4 December.

Telecoms

The Member States unanimously agreed a General Approach on the proposals laying down the renegotiated regulatory framework for the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). This was the only item put forward by the Presidency for which a formal agreement was required. A scrutiny waiver was secured from the European Scrutiny Committee (House of Commons), and the European Union Committee (House of Lords) had cleared this item from scrutiny ahead of the Council.

The main policy debate at the Council centred on the Commission's Initiative on the Free Flow of Data proposal. The Commission’s aim is for this file to be completed by mid-2018, and there was significant support from most member states for work to be expedited, with the expectation that an informal mandate for trilogue discussions could be agreed at Coreper on 20 December.

The Council agreed a 5G Spectrum Roadmap, a non-binding document which sets out milestones for the release of Spectrum necessary for enabling 5G technologies. The UK agreed with the proposed timetable.

The Presidency also provided a progress update on the e-Privacy regulation information on the progress of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC).

Council conclusions were adopted on the review of the EU Cybersecurity Strategy and draft Council Action Plan for their implementation. The UK supported their adoption.

Other

The Council received information from the Bulgarian delegation, as the incoming presidency for the first half of 2018, setting out their work programme for the next six months. They highlighted a number of priorities for their presidency, aimed primarily at moving the Digital Single Market agenda forward during 2018 including:

  • Proceeding with informal trilogue discussions with the European Parliament on the proposal for EECC;

  • Reaching political agreement on BEREC, advancing the discussions at this Council

  • Continue to to progress both Free Flow of Fata , e-Privacy and Cybersecurity.

The next Council is scheduled for 7-8 June 2018 with Telecoms expected to take place on 8 June.



WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity)
Lords

Animal Welfare

My Right Hon Friend the Secretary of State (Michael Gove) has today made the following statement.

I am delighted to publish today a draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill which will reflect the principle of animal sentience in domestic law and increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty tenfold, from six months to five years in England and Wales.

This draft Bill will embed the principle that animals are sentient beings, capable of feeling pain and pleasure, more clearly than ever before in domestic law. There was never any question that our policies on animal welfare are driven by the fact that animals are sentient beings, and I am keen to reinforce this in legislation as we leave the EU.

The Government is committed to raising animal welfare standards, and to ensuring animals will not lose any recognitions or protections once we leave the EU. The draft Bill I am publishing makes our recognition of animal sentience clear. It contains an obligation, directed towards government, to pay regard to the welfare needs of animals when formulating and implementing government policy.

This provision does not apply to Ministers in the devolved governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I look forward to working closely with my devolved colleagues and I will be exploring with them the best way forward on this important matter, including whether they wish to take a similar or different approach.

In addition we will not tolerate cruelty against animals and we will give the courts the tools they need to deal with abhorrent acts of animal cruelty. This draft Bill increases the maximum penalty for animal welfare offences in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 from six months to five years’ imprisonment.

This applies to the most serious offences under the Act – causing unnecessary suffering, illegally mutilating an animal, illegally docking a dog’s tail, illegal poisoning and encouraging an animal fight. My proposed increased maximum penalties will also apply to convictions relating to attacks on service animals, including guide dogs, police and military dogs. This provision will apply in England and Wales.

The draft Bill that I am publishing today is subject to a seven week consultation, ending on 31st January. It is part of a wider programme to deliver world-leading standards of animal welfare in the years ahead. We are making CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses, banning plastic microbeads which harm marine life, and have set out proposals for a total ban on ivory sales which contribute to the poaching of elephants. This is the start of our ambition to set a global gold standard for animal welfare as we leave the EU.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS340
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State , Ministry of Defence)
Lords

Afghanistan - Locally Employed Staff

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Armed Forces (The Rt Hon Mark Lancaster) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In June 2013, the Government decided that it would draw down employment of its Locally Employed Staff in Afghanistan by the end of 2017 and put policies in place to support those affected. I am responsible for overseeing and assuring the delivery of these policies on behalf of the interested Government Departments.

In terms of the implementation of these policies, the Ministry of Defence will have made the last of its local staff redundant by the end of the year, allowing them to access one of the three generous packages under our Ex-Gratia Redundancy scheme: these comprise financial support for 18 months, training and financial support for five years, or, for those in eligible roles, relocation to the UK.

So far, over 800 former staff have benefitted from one of our redundancy options. Under the training offer some of our local staff are studying to be doctors or lawyers, completing their high school education, or improving their English language skills. In some cases, former staff members have chosen to gift their training to a family member, which has in many cases provided wives and daughters with the opportunity for further education or upskilling. These individuals will be better placed to play their part in working for a brighter future for their country.

The scheme has relocated more than 385 former staff and their families to the UK, and we expect around another 60 families to relocate over the next year or so. Of the 385, 12 individuals received Ex-Gratia compensation payments for injuries they sustained whilst working with UK forces. These were paid before they had decided to relocate to the UK and, some months ago, we initiated work to review the payments to adjust them for the different economic conditions of life in the UK. These were extremely brave people who worked alongside our soldiers on patrol, and who in some cases suffered profoundly life-changing injuries as a result of improvised explosive devices or small arms fire. The UK Government recognises that it has a special debt of gratitude to these individuals and we aim to complete this review by the spring of next year, giving priority to the more severely disabled cases.

Additionally, our Intimidation Policy continues to support all former staff who experience intimidation within Afghanistan as a result of their employment with the UK. This policy is delivered by an expert team based in Kabul, including a member of either the Home Office Constabulary or MOD Police to investigate the claims. This dedicated team has now assisted over 400 staff by providing bespoke security advice and, in over 30 cases, funding relocations to safe areas within Afghanistan. The level of intimidation faced has not so far been such that an individual has had to be relocated to the UK in order to ensure their safety. However, the changing security position in Afghanistan is kept under careful review.

The Government remains confident that the UK’s arrangements for addressing intimidation concerns meet our commitment to protect our former locally employed staff and we have taken a number of steps to assure these arrangements. Notably, I chair a cross-Government Locally Employed Civilian Assurance Committee. This plays a valuable role in scrutinising the application of the Intimidation Policy and ensuring that it is effectively administered and that Afghan staff who feel threatened due to their employment by the UK are properly supported. Members include peers from the House of Lords, a suitably experienced Police detective, and a former local staff member who provides invaluable insight and advice. More recently, we have also welcomed the former Chief of Defence Staff, Lord Stirrup, and the Bishop of Colchester into our ranks. The Committee has met five times, most recently looking at the line between what justifies relocation within Afghanistan and to the UK, and at whether our Intimidation Investigation Unit makes a reasonable assessment of the danger to an individual when the intimidation concern is first raised with the Unit. The 14 cases that have been reviewed by the Committee to date demonstrate that the intimidation policy was effectively applied on these occasions. We recognise that this is a relatively small sample and will continue to review cases until we are confident that we have reasonable evidence that the policy is being properly applied. The Department has accepted a number of areas where arrangements need to be fine-tuned and has taken action accordingly. The Committee has also kept under review the security situation in Afghanistan as it relates to the risk of intimidation and the viability of mitigation measures. No issues have so far been raised in this respect.

As an additional layer of assurance, a barrister from outside the Department, and more recently a member of the Government Legal Service, have continued to conduct regular reviews of at least 20% of closed intimidation cases to ensure that the decisions are robust. The most recent review took place in November this year and concluded that the decisions taken by the investigation unit are fair and appropriate.

It is the Government’s belief that our Ex-Gratia Redundancy Scheme and Intimidation Policy remain fit for purpose and properly meet our responsibilities to men and women who played such an important part in our efforts to bring peace and security to Afghanistan.

WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Lord Callanan (Minister of State for Exiting the European Union)
Lords

General Affairs Council December 2017

I will be attending the General Affairs Council in Brussels on 12 December 2017 to represent the UK’s interests. Until we leave the European Union, we remain committed to fulfilling our rights and obligations as a full member.

The provisional agenda includes:

Preparation of the European Council, 14 to 15 December 2017: Draft conclusions

The Estonian Presidency will present the final draft conclusions on the agenda for the December European Council.

European Council follow-up

The Presidency will provide an update on the implementation of the October European Council (OEC) Conclusions. The OEC agenda included: Migration; Digital; Defence; and External Relations, which involved discussions on Turkey, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Iran.

Legislative programming - Joint declaration on interinstitutional programming

Following the exchange of views on the 2018 Commission Work Programme at the November General Affairs Council, the Presidency will present the ‘Joint Declaration’ of the European Parliament, European Commission and Council of Ministers, which sets out the priorities for 2018.

European Semester 2018 - Annual Growth Survey

The Commission launched this year’s European Semester on 22 November and is due to present this year’s Annual Growth Survey.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS336
WS
Department of Health
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Lord O'Shaughnessy (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health)
Lords

Update on organ donation in England

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

In October 2017, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s intention to change the law on organ donation in England by introducing the principle of “opt-out consent”, in a bid to save the lives of the 6,500 people currently waiting for an organ transplant.

Today the Government has launched a consultation to begin an open conversation about this change to opt-out organ donation, including how to encourage more conversations about personal decisions and what role families should have when their relative has consented to donate.

Currently, 80 percent of people say they would be willing to donate their organs but only 36 percent register to become an organ donor. Three people die every day in need of a suitable organ. Figures from NHS Blood and Transplant show that around 1100 families in the UK decided not to allow organ donation because they were unsure, or did not know whether their relatives would have wanted to donate an organ or not. The Government’s intention is that changing the system to an opt-out model of consent will mean more viable organs become available for use in the NHS, potentially saving thousands of lives.

The consultation is open for the next three months, providing an opportunity for as many people as possible in England to give their views, including people from religious groups, patient groups, the clinical transplant community, and black, Asian and other minority communities.

It is important to ensure that moving to an opt-out system of consent will honour a person’s decision on what happens to their body after death, and the consultation seeks views on how we can make sure this is the case.

The consultation also seeks views on a number of related issues, including ways in which it can be made easier for people to register their decision on organ and tissue donation. The consultation invites views on the potential impact proposals could have on certain groups who have protected characteristics in law such as disability, race, religion or belief. Questions are asked to help determine how family members should be involved in confirming decisions in future. The Government also proposes a number of exclusions and safeguards to the general rule of consent under the proposed new system. This includes the position of children, people with limited mental capacity, the armed forces and temporary residents.

The consultation is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/introducing-opt-out-consent-for-organ-and-tissue-donation-in-england . An Impact Assessment has been published alongside the consultation and can be accessed in the same place as the link above on gov.uk and is also attached.

The outcome of the consultation will inform the Government’s next steps and its proposals for legislation to bring the new system of consent into effect.

Impact Assessment (PDF Document, 706.68 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS338
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Baroness Sugg (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport)
Lords

EU Transport Council

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

I attended the only formal Transport Council under the Estonian Presidency (the Presidency) in Brussels on Tuesday 5th December.

First, the Council noted the Presidency’s progress report, summarising discussions to date at official level, on Phase One of the Mobility Package. Work has focused on proposals designed to improve the clarity and enforcement of the EU road transport market (the 'market pillar') and proposals on the application of social legislation in road transport (the 'social pillar'). I broadly supported the progress made, emphasised the UK’s commitment to a constructive safety-first approach to updating the rules, but also registered concerns over the proposed extension of scope of part of the regulations to small vans.

Following this, the Council adopted three sets of Council Conclusions: on progress in Trans-European Network-Transport (TEN-T) and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the Digitalisation of Transport, and the mid-term evaluation of Galileo, EGNOS and European GNSS Agency.

Next, the Presidency held a policy debate on the “road charging pillar” of the Mobility Package. The proposals to amend the existing Directives on HGV road tolls and user charges ('Eurovignette') and the interoperability of electronic road toll systems ('EETS') set out rules for charging vehicles using the road (but do not mandate such charging) and promote better functioning of charging across national barriers. The UK broadly welcomed provisions on improving the functioning and enforcement of electronic road tolling systems. However, the UK said we were opposed to proposals to broaden the scope of EU charging rules to include cars, and had concerns about the proposed phasing-out of time-based road charging and measures mandating hypothecation of revenues from congestion charging.

Following this, the Council noted the Presidency’s progress report on official level discussions on Safeguarding Competition in Air Transport. The UK did not dispute the need for fair competition but urged caution on proposals for regulatory measures; it was important to avoid potential negative impacts on the liberalised aviation market, connectivity, consumers, and Member States’ bilateral aviation agreements with third countries.

Under Any Other Business, several items were discussed. Notably, Commissioner Bulc presented the Commission’s recently published second phase of the Mobility Package, provided an update on the implementation of the extensive Aviation Strategy, alongside a Communication on Military Mobility, and noted progress on rail passenger rights negotiations; Finland called for reconsideration of the Summertime Directive; Germany updated on the second high-level group on automated and connected cars; Poland drew attention to the 2018 International Maritime Days; France promoted her proposed declaration at the upcoming “one planet” summit calling on the IMO to adopt an ambitious strategy for the decarbonisation of international shipping; and Bulgaria presented transport plans for her incoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS337
WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Karen Bradley (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Post-Council Written Ministerial Statement for Telecoms, Transport and Energy Council

The Telecoms, Transport and Energy (TTE) Council took place in Brussels on 4 and 5 December 2017. The UK’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU represented the interests of the UK at the Telecoms session of this Council, which took place on 4 December.

Telecoms

The Member States unanimously agreed a General Approach on the proposals laying down the renegotiated regulatory framework for the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). This was the only item put forward by the Presidency for which a formal agreement was required. A scrutiny waiver was secured from the European Scrutiny Committee (House of Commons), and the European Union Committee (House of Lords) had cleared this item from scrutiny ahead of the Council.

The main policy debate at the Council centred on the Commission's Initiative on the Free Flow of Data proposal. The Commission’s aim is for this file to be completed by mid-2018, and there was significant support from most member states for work to be expedited, with the expectation that an informal mandate for trilogue discussions could be agreed at Coreper on 20 December.

The Council agreed a 5G Spectrum Roadmap, a non-binding document which sets out milestones for the release of Spectrum necessary for enabling 5G technologies. The UK agreed with the proposed timetable.

The Presidency also provided a progress update on the e-Privacy regulation information on the progress of the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC).

Council conclusions were adopted on the review of the EU Cybersecurity Strategy and draft Council Action Plan for their implementation. The UK supported their adoption.

Other

The Council received information from the Bulgarian delegation, as the incoming presidency for the first half of 2018, setting out their work programme for the next six months. They highlighted a number of priorities for their presidency, aimed primarily at moving the Digital Single Market agenda forward during 2018 including:

  • Proceeding with informal trilogue discussions with the European Parliament on the proposal for EECC;

  • Reaching political agreement on BEREC, advancing the discussions at this Council

  • Continue to to progress both Free Flow of Fata , e-Privacy and Cybersecurity.

The next Council is scheduled for 7-8 June 2018 with Telecoms expected to take place on 8 June.

WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Michael Gove (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Commons

Animal Welfare

I am delighted to publish today a draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill which will reflect the principle of animal sentience in domestic law and increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty tenfold, from six months to five years in England and Wales.

This draft Bill will embed the principle that animals are sentient beings, capable of feeling pain and pleasure, more clearly than ever before in domestic law. There was never any question that our policies on animal welfare are driven by the fact that animals are sentient beings, and I am keen to reinforce this in legislation as we leave the EU.

The Government is committed to raising animal welfare standards, and to ensuring animals will not lose any recognitions or protections once we leave the EU. The draft Bill I am publishing makes our recognition of animal sentience clear. It contains an obligation, directed towards government, to pay regard to the welfare needs of animals when formulating and implementing government policy.

This provision does not apply to Ministers in the devolved governments of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. I look forward to working closely with my devolved colleagues and I will be exploring with them the best way forward on this important matter, including whether they wish to take a similar or different approach.

In addition we will not tolerate cruelty against animals and we will give the courts the tools they need to deal with abhorrent acts of animal cruelty. This draft Bill increases the maximum penalty for animal welfare offences in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 from six months to five years’ imprisonment.

This applies to the most serious offences under the Act – causing unnecessary suffering, illegally mutilating an animal, illegally docking a dog’s tail, illegal poisoning and encouraging an animal fight. My proposed increased maximum penalties will also apply to convictions relating to attacks on service animals, including guide dogs, police and military dogs. This provision will apply in England and Wales.

The draft Bill that I am publishing today is subject to a seven week consultation, ending on 31st January. It is part of a wider programme to deliver world-leading standards of animal welfare in the years ahead. We are making CCTV mandatory in slaughterhouses, banning plastic microbeads which harm marine life, and have set out proposals for a total ban on ivory sales which contribute to the poaching of elephants. This is the start of our ambition to set a global gold standard for animal welfare as we leave the EU.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS335
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Mark Lancaster (Minister of State , Ministry of Defence)
Commons

Afghanistan - Locally Employed Staff

In June 2013, the Government decided that it would draw down employment of its Locally Employed Staff in Afghanistan by the end of 2017 and put policies in place to support those affected. I am responsible for overseeing and assuring the delivery of these policies on behalf of the interested Government Departments.

In terms of the implementation of these policies, the Ministry of Defence will have made the last of its local staff redundant by the end of the year, allowing them to access one of the three generous packages under our Ex-Gratia Redundancy scheme: these comprise financial support for 18 months, training and financial support for five years, or, for those in eligible roles, relocation to the UK.

So far, over 800 former staff have benefitted from one of our redundancy options. Under the training offer some of our local staff are studying to be doctors or lawyers, completing their high school education, or improving their English language skills. In some cases, former staff members have chosen to gift their training to a family member, which has in many cases provided wives and daughters with the opportunity for further education or upskilling. These individuals will be better placed to play their part in working for a brighter future for their country.

The scheme has relocated more than 385 former staff and their families to the UK, and we expect around another 60 families to relocate over the next year or so. Of the 385, 12 individuals received Ex-Gratia compensation payments for injuries they sustained whilst working with UK forces. These were paid before they had decided to relocate to the UK and, some months ago, we initiated work to review the payments to adjust them for the different economic conditions of life in the UK. These were extremely brave people who worked alongside our soldiers on patrol, and who in some cases suffered profoundly life-changing injuries as a result of improvised explosive devices or small arms fire. The UK Government recognises that it has a special debt of gratitude to these individuals and we aim to complete this review by the spring of next year, giving priority to the more severely disabled cases.

Additionally, our Intimidation Policy continues to support all former staff who experience intimidation within Afghanistan as a result of their employment with the UK. This policy is delivered by an expert team based in Kabul, including a member of either the Home Office Constabulary or MOD Police to investigate the claims. This dedicated team has now assisted over 400 staff by providing bespoke security advice and, in over 30 cases, funding relocations to safe areas within Afghanistan. The level of intimidation faced has not so far been such that an individual has had to be relocated to the UK in order to ensure their safety. However, the changing security position in Afghanistan is kept under careful review.

The Government remains confident that the UK’s arrangements for addressing intimidation concerns meet our commitment to protect our former locally employed staff and we have taken a number of steps to assure these arrangements. Notably, I chair a cross-Government Locally Employed Civilian Assurance Committee. This plays a valuable role in scrutinising the application of the Intimidation Policy and ensuring that it is effectively administered and that Afghan staff who feel threatened due to their employment by the UK are properly supported. Members include peers from the House of Lords, a suitably experienced Police detective, and a former local staff member who provides invaluable insight and advice.
More recently, we have also welcomed the former Chief of Defence Staff, Lord Stirrup, and the Bishop of Colchester into our ranks. The Committee has met five times, most recently looking at the line between what justifies relocation within Afghanistan and to the UK, and at whether our Intimidation Investigation Unit makes a reasonable assessment of the danger to an individual when the intimidation concern is first raised with the Unit. The 14 cases that have been reviewed by the Committee to date demonstrate that the intimidation policy was effectively applied on these occasions. We recognise that this is a relatively small sample and will continue to review cases until we are confident that we have reasonable evidence that the policy is being properly applied. The Department has accepted a number of areas where arrangements need to be fine-tuned and has taken action accordingly. The Committee has also kept under review the security situation in Afghanistan as it relates to the risk of intimidation and the viability of mitigation measures. No issues have so far been raised in this respect.

As an additional layer of assurance, a barrister from outside the Department, and more recently a member of the Government Legal Service, have continued to conduct regular reviews of at least 20% of closed intimidation cases to ensure that the decisions are robust. The most recent review took place in November this year and concluded that the decisions taken by the investigation unit are fair and appropriate.

It is the Government’s belief that our Ex-Gratia Redundancy Scheme and Intimidation Policy remain fit for purpose and properly meet our responsibilities to men and women who played such an important part in our efforts to bring peace and security to Afghanistan.

WS
Department of Health
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Jackie Doyle-Price (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health)
Commons

Update on organ donation in England

In October 2017, the Prime Minister announced the Government’s intention to change the law on organ donation in England by introducing the principle of “opt-out consent”, in a bid to save the lives of the 6,500 people currently waiting for an organ transplant.

Today the Government has launched a consultation to begin an open conversation about this change to opt-out organ donation, including how to encourage more conversations about personal decisions and what role families should have when their relative has consented to donate.

Currently, 80 percent of people say they would be willing to donate their organs but only 36 percent register to become an organ donor. Three people die every day in need of a suitable organ. Figures from NHS Blood and Transplant show that around 1100 families in the UK decided not to allow organ donation because they were unsure, or did not know whether their relatives would have wanted to donate an organ or not. The Government’s intention is that changing the system to an opt-out model of consent will mean more viable organs become available for use in the NHS, potentially saving thousands of lives.

The consultation is open for the next three months, providing an opportunity for as many people as possible in England to give their views, including people from religious groups, patient groups, the clinical transplant community, and black, Asian and other minority communities.

It is important to ensure that moving to an opt-out system of consent will honour a person’s decision on what happens to their body after death, and the consultation seeks views on how we can make sure this is the case.

The consultation also seeks views on a number of related issues, including ways in which it can be made easier for people to register their decision on organ and tissue donation. The consultation invites views on the potential impact proposals could have on certain groups who have protected characteristics in law such as disability, race, religion or belief. Questions are asked to help determine how family members should be involved in confirming decisions in future. The Government also proposes a number of exclusions and safeguards to the general rule of consent under the proposed new system. This includes the position of children, people with limited mental capacity, the armed forces and temporary residents.

The consultation is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/introducing-opt-out-consent-for-organ-and-tissue-donation-in-england . An Impact Assessment has been published alongside the consultation and can be accessed in the same place as the link above on gov.uk and is also attached.

The outcome of the consultation will inform the Government’s next steps and its proposals for legislation to bring the new system of consent into effect.

Impact Assessment (PDF Document, 706.68 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS332
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Chris Grayling (Secretary of State for Transport)
Commons

EU Transport Council

I attended the only formal Transport Council under the Estonian Presidency (the Presidency) in Brussels on Tuesday 5th December.

First, the Council noted the Presidency’s progress report, summarising discussions to date at official level, on Phase One of the Mobility Package. Work has focused on proposals designed to improve the clarity and enforcement of the EU road transport market (the 'market pillar') and proposals on the application of social legislation in road transport (the 'social pillar'). I broadly supported the progress made, emphasised the UK’s commitment to a constructive safety-first approach to updating the rules, but also registered concerns over the proposed extension of scope of part of the regulations to small vans.

Following this, the Council adopted three sets of Council Conclusions: on progress in Trans-European Network-Transport (TEN-T) and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the Digitalisation of Transport, and the mid-term evaluation of Galileo, EGNOS and European GNSS Agency.

Next, the Presidency held a policy debate on the “road charging pillar” of the Mobility Package. The proposals to amend the existing Directives on HGV road tolls and user charges ('Eurovignette') and the interoperability of electronic road toll systems ('EETS') set out rules for charging vehicles using the road (but do not mandate such charging) and promote better functioning of charging across national barriers. The UK broadly welcomed provisions on improving the functioning and enforcement of electronic road tolling systems. However, the UK said we were opposed to proposals to broaden the scope of EU charging rules to include cars, and had concerns about the proposed phasing-out of time-based road charging and measures mandating hypothecation of revenues from congestion charging.

Following this, the Council noted the Presidency’s progress report on official level discussions on Safeguarding Competition in Air Transport. The UK did not dispute the need for fair competition but urged caution on proposals for regulatory measures; it was important to avoid potential negative impacts on the liberalised aviation market, connectivity, consumers, and Member States’ bilateral aviation agreements with third countries.

Under Any Other Business, several items were discussed. Notably, Commissioner Bulc presented the Commission’s recently published second phase of the Mobility Package, provided an update on the implementation of the extensive Aviation Strategy, alongside a Communication on Military Mobility, and noted progress on rail passenger rights negotiations; Finland called for reconsideration of the Summertime Directive; Germany updated on the second high-level group on automated and connected cars; Poland drew attention to the 2018 International Maritime Days; France promoted her proposed declaration at the upcoming “one planet” summit calling on the IMO to adopt an ambitious strategy for the decarbonisation of international shipping; and Bulgaria presented transport plans for her incoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS331
WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Mr Steve Baker (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)
Commons

General Affairs Council December 2017

Lord Callanan, Minister of State for Exiting the European Union, has made the following statement:

I will be attending the General Affairs Council in Brussels on 12 December 2017 to represent the UK’s interests. Until we leave the European Union, we remain committed to fulfilling our rights and obligations as a full member.

The provisional agenda includes:

Preparation of the European Council, 14 to 15 December 2017: Draft conclusions

The Estonian Presidency will present the final draft conclusions on the agenda for the December European Council.

European Council follow-up

The Presidency will provide an update on the implementation of the October European Council (OEC) Conclusions. The OEC agenda included: Migration; Digital; Defence; and External Relations, which involved discussions on Turkey, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Iran.

Legislative programming - Joint declaration on interinstitutional programming

Following the exchange of views on the 2018 Commission Work Programme at the November General Affairs Council, the Presidency will present the ‘Joint Declaration’ of the European Parliament, European Commission and Council of Ministers, which sets out the priorities for 2018.

European Semester 2018 - Annual Growth Survey

The Commission launched this year’s European Semester on 22 November and is due to present this year’s Annual Growth Survey.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS333
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (The Lords Spokesperson (Department for Education) (Higher Education))
Lords

Higher Education Update

The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 (HERA) achieved Royal Assent on 27 April 2017. It set out a number of significant reforms that will improve the value for money that students receive from their investment in higher education. These include the establishment of a new regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), with a remit to drive value for money, a rigorous framework for assessing teaching and student outcomes, and provisions that make it easier for students to switch provider.

The Act also includes a power for the Government to set higher annual fee amounts for courses completed on an accelerated basis, which can be matched by higher corresponding student loan amounts. This measure will provide valuable new options to prospective students.

The way in which degrees are currently taught and studied has stayed largely unchanged for many years. The vast majority of providers offer a traditional three years of study regardless of subject, spread out across thirty weeks a year and with a long summer vacation every year. It is wrong that this is the only choice that most students have. The growing dominance of the classic three-year residential degree reflects more the convenience of the sector and financial incentives on providers than the needs of students for flexible ways of pursuing higher education. And it may be deterring some from higher education, and slowing the return of others to productive work.

Students on accelerated degree courses can secure a degree qualification in their preferred subject, studying the same content for the same number of weeks over the life of the course as the standard equivalent degree, subject to the same quality assurances. But by studying for more weeks each year, they are able to graduate within only two years, and with significantly lower student debt – good news for the student and for the taxpayer.

I believe there is significant untapped potential for accelerated courses, starting first with degrees, in higher education. They offer benefits to students of lower costs, more intensive study, and a quicker commencement or return to the workplace. Innovative providers would like to offer more of these courses but face significant financial and operational disincentives in the current system.

But for these accelerated courses to become more mainstream, we need to be upfront about why more universities are not already offering them. Many universities are concerned about changing existing models and the costs associated with doing that. This includes extra teaching hours, capacity to research, or not being able to rent out rooms over the holidays. A three-year course condensed into two is more expensive to run.

That is why I am proposing a balanced package that ensures universities are able to cover these additional costs but must charge at least 20% less in tuition for an accelerated two year degree than they can for its three year equivalent.

The launch of the OfS and the new fee arrangements will help incentivise greater provision. This in turn will give students a genuine choice of accelerated degrees across the full range of undergraduate courses.

In the debate in Parliament on the passage of the Bill, we committed to consult on the detail of our proposals. The consultation that I am launching today fulfils that commitment so far as accelerated degrees are concerned.

The proposals on which we are consulting are:

  • Arrangements enabling greater provision and take-up of accelerated degree courses will be in place in Academic Year 2019/20, subject to Parliament passing secondary legislation which sets fees and loans specific to accelerated degrees.

  • Accelerated degree courses subject to the new fee arrangements will be undergraduate first degree qualifications recognisably provided within a more intense period of study than other equivalent courses.

  • The OfS will support and encourage more providers to offer accelerated degree courses, over a more diverse range of subjects than are currently offered.

  • The OfS will also act as regulatory gatekeeper, determining whether degree courses meet the statutory definition of ‘accelerated courses’.

  • The current means-tested living cost support package (the “long course loan”) available to students whose courses last for longer than 30 weeks and three days each academic year will continue to provide maintenance for students on accelerated degrees on the same terms.

  • The annual tuition fee and loan upper limit for accelerated degree students at Approved (fee cap) providers would be set at 20% higher than the standard level. For example, based on current fee limits, the annual accelerated limit for a TEF-rated provider would be £11,100 (vs £9,250 for the three-year equivalent). This would give students who opt for accelerated degrees a £5,500 or 20% saving in the total cost of tuition fees

  • The annual tuition fee loan limit for students at Approved providers (i.e. those outside the fee cap system) would be also be set at the standard level plus 20%. For example, based on current loan limits, students at TEF-rated Approved providers would have an annual tuition fee loan limit of £7,398 (vs £6,165 for the three-year equivalent).

  • Existing quality assurance arrangements for accelerated degrees should continue to apply, including after the OfS becomes responsible for monitoring them on 1 April 2018..

This balanced package offers students significant savings on the costs of graduating, while also addressing the additional in-year costs providers incur by condensing the final standard third year of teaching into the first two years of the accelerated degree course. The 20% uplift in annual fee revenue should cover the extra costs associated with accelerated provision for most courses in most providers.

Accelerated degrees are referenced in the Industrial Strategy published last month, which notes their potential to widen choice for students. And they have enjoyed cross-party support since Shirley Williams championed them in the 1960s. In the passage of the Higher Education and Research Bill this year, MPs and peers from all sides called for government to support them. The proposals I am announcing today will remove the barriers to accelerated degrees, and make them a real choice for many more future students.

Annex A - consultation principles (PDF Document, 95.59 KB)
Annex B - assumptions and analysis (PDF Document, 141.1 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS335
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Joseph Johnson (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation )
Commons

Higher Education Update

The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 (HERA) achieved Royal Assent on 27 April 2017. It set out a number of significant reforms that will improve the value for money that students receive from their investment in higher education. These include the establishment of a new regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), with a remit to drive value for money, a rigorous framework for assessing teaching and student outcomes, and provisions that make it easier for students to switch provider.

The Act also includes a power for the Government to set higher annual fee amounts for courses completed on an accelerated basis, which can be matched by higher corresponding student loan amounts. This measure will provide valuable new options to prospective students.

The way in which degrees are currently taught and studied has stayed largely unchanged for many years. The vast majority of providers offer a traditional three years of study regardless of subject, spread out across thirty weeks a year and with a long summer vacation every year. It is wrong that this is the only choice that most students have. The growing dominance of the classic three-year residential degree reflects more the convenience of the sector and financial incentives on providers than the needs of students for flexible ways of pursuing higher education. And it may be deterring some from higher education, and slowing the return of others to productive work.

Students on accelerated degree courses can secure a degree qualification in their preferred subject, studying the same content for the same number of weeks over the life of the course as the standard equivalent degree, subject to the same quality assurances. But by studying for more weeks each year, they are able to graduate within only two years, and with significantly lower student debt – good news for the student and for the taxpayer.

I believe there is significant untapped potential for accelerated courses, starting first with degrees, in higher education. They offer benefits to students of lower costs, more intensive study, and a quicker commencement or return to the workplace. Innovative providers would like to offer more of these courses but face significant financial and operational disincentives in the current system.

But for these accelerated courses to become more mainstream, we need to be upfront about why more universities are not already offering them. Many universities are concerned about changing existing models and the costs associated with doing that. This includes extra teaching hours, capacity to research, or not being able to rent out rooms over the holidays. A three-year course condensed into two is more expensive to run.

That is why I am proposing a balanced package that ensures universities are able to cover these additional costs but must charge at least 20% less in tuition for an accelerated two year degree than they can for its three year equivalent.

The launch of the OfS and the new fee arrangements will help incentivise greater provision. This in turn will give students a genuine choice of accelerated degrees across the full range of undergraduate courses.

In the debate in Parliament on the passage of the Bill, we committed to consult on the detail of our proposals. The consultation that I am launching today fulfils that commitment so far as accelerated degrees are concerned.

The proposals on which we are consulting are:

  • Arrangements enabling greater provision and take-up of accelerated degree courses will be in place in Academic Year 2019/20, subject to Parliament passing secondary legislation which sets fees and loans specific to accelerated degrees.

  • Accelerated degree courses subject to the new fee arrangements will be undergraduate first degree qualifications recognisably provided within a more intense period of study than other equivalent courses.

  • The OfS will support and encourage more providers to offer accelerated degree courses, over a more diverse range of subjects than are currently offered.

  • The OfS will also act as regulatory gatekeeper, determining whether degree courses meet the statutory definition of ‘accelerated courses’.

  • The current means-tested living cost support package (the “long course loan”) available to students whose courses last for longer than 30 weeks and three days each academic year will continue to provide maintenance for students on accelerated degrees on the same terms.

  • The annual tuition fee and loan upper limit for accelerated degree students at Approved (fee cap) providers would be set at 20% higher than the standard level. For example, based on current fee limits, the annual accelerated limit for a TEF-rated provider would be £11,100 (vs £9,250 for the three-year equivalent). This would give students who opt for accelerated degrees a £5,500 or 20% saving in the total cost of tuition fees

  • The annual tuition fee loan limit for students at Approved providers (i.e. those outside the fee cap system) would be also be set at the standard level plus 20%. For example, based on current loan limits, students at TEF-rated Approved providers would have an annual tuition fee loan limit of £7,398 (vs £6,165 for the three-year equivalent).

  • Existing quality assurance arrangements for accelerated degrees should continue to apply, including after the OfS becomes responsible for monitoring them on 1 April 2018..

This balanced package offers students significant savings on the costs of graduating, while also addressing the additional in-year costs providers incur by condensing the final standard third year of teaching into the first two years of the accelerated degree course. The 20% uplift in annual fee revenue should cover the extra costs associated with accelerated provision for most courses in most providers.

Accelerated degrees are referenced in the Industrial Strategy published last month, which notes their potential to widen choice for students. And they have enjoyed cross-party support since Shirley Williams championed them in the 1960s. In the passage of the Higher Education and Research Bill this year, MPs and peers from all sides called for government to support them. The proposals I am announcing today will remove the barriers to accelerated degrees, and make them a real choice for many more future students.

Annex A - consultation principles (PDF Document, 95.59 KB)
Annex B - assumptions and analysis (PDF Document, 141.1 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS330
WS
Home Office
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Council decision on UNHCR Executive Committee conclusions

My rt hon Friend the Minister of State for Immigration (Brandon Lewis) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The Government has taken the decision not to opt in to EU Council Decision on UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion on machine-readable travel documents for refugees and stateless persons.

The UNHCR Conclusions urge States who have not yet done so to take necessary measures to introduce machine-readable Convention Travel Documents for refugees and stateless persons lawfully staying in their territory at the earliest convenience. The Conclusions also encourage existing national systems for civil documentation to include refugees and stateless persons and to limit fees for refugees and stateless persons. They commit Member States to further strengthening international solidarity and burden-sharing to facilitate the transition to machine-readable travel documents to refugees and stateless persons. The EU Commission published a Council Decision seeking agreement to an EU position supporting these Conclusions.

The UK already offers travel documents to recognised refugees and stateless persons which exceeds the recommendation to issue machine-readable travel documents. Home Office travel documents are machine-readable and also include a biometric chip that contains a digital facial image of the document holder, similar to the British passport. Furthermore, the UK already complies with the points on costs of refugee travel documents; we align with the 1951 and 1954 UN Conventions which state that signatory states should charge no more than is charged for a national passport.

The Government is committed to taking all opt-in decisions on a case-by-case basis, putting the national interest at the heart of the decision making process. As the UK is compliant with the Conclusions, the UK has decided not to opt in to this Council Decision.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS334
WS
Home Office
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Review of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013

My hon Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability (Victoria Atkins) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House the Home Office report on its review of the Scrap Metal dealers Act 2013 (Cm 9552).

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 was introduced in October 2013 as a response to high levels of metal theft at that time. The purpose of the Act was to reduce these thefts by strengthening regulation of the scrap metal industry. Section 18 of the Act commits the Government to review the Act within five years of commencement and to publish a report which assesses whether it has met its intended objectives and whether it is appropriate to retain or repeal it or any of its provisions.

As set out in today’s Home Office report, we are satisfied that the Act has made a positive contribution to the falls in levels of metal theft that have occurred since it was commenced. We are satisfied, therefore, that the Act should be retained.

Copies of the report are available from the Vote Office and also on the Government’s website at gov.uk.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS333
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )
Lords

Competitiveness Council, 30 November–1 December: Post-Council Statement

My hon Friend the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (Joseph Johnson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The Competitiveness Council took place on 30 November and 1 December in Brussels. The UK was represented by Lord Henley on the first day and by Jo Johnson on the second.

EU Industrial Strategy

Discussions focussed on the recent publication of a renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy. Ministers agreed that European industry needed to adapt to changes in the global economy and the digital revolution. The EU should improve investment in research and development and support for SMEs, and strengthen its internal market. The UK noted that its recently-published industrial strategy identified many of the same challenges and drivers of growth, and stressed its commitment to an open, liberal market economy based around fair competition and high standards.

A number of Member States cautioned against arbitrary targets for industrial output, emphasising that support to industry was one policy among others to boost Europe’s competitiveness alongside a commitment to free trade and access to global value chains. Others called for greater sectoral support and called for the Commission to propose a longer-term vision for EU industrial policy towards 2030. Ministers agreed Council Conclusions.

Single Digital Gateway

Ministers voted to adopt the proposed general approach on the Single Digital Gateway. Member States generally expressed support for the objectives of the proposal and agreed that easier access to good quality online information and procedures was important for the internal market. There was broad agreement that the Presidency had struck a good balance between ambition and flexibility. Voting in favour of the General Approach, the UK noted its strong support for e-government initiatives and underlined the importance of maintaining a focus on user needs. The Commission welcomed the agreement but noted the extension of the implementation period to five years.

Unified Patent Court

A number of Member States joined the Presidency and the Commission in pressing those Member States yet to complete ratification of the Unified Patent Court to finalise preparations so the court can become operational in 2018. The UK re-stated its commitment to passing the final necessary domestic legislation currently before Parliament.

European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP)

The Presidency noted the EDIDP would run from 2019 to 2020, providing €500m towards the joint development of defence prototypes and increasing European industrial competitiveness. Timelines were ambitious with a general approach anticipated at the 12 December General Affairs Council. The Commission was looking for a €1.5bn fund after 2020, covering both defence research and prototype development.

Other items

Vice President Ansip updated the Council on the implementation of the Digital Single Market. He described the paradigm-shifting and multi-faceted impact of digitalisation on the world. He urged Ministers to help progress initiatives rapidly and ambitiously. The Presidency and Commission noted the provisional agreement on geoblocking with the European Parliament.

Hungary introduced a paper expressing concern about the impact of the tobacco track and trace implementing legislation on SMEs. Commissioner Andriukaitis emphasised its importance for public health and tackling illicit tobacco trade and underlined that its impact had been considered carefully. The final text included a number of SME derogations.

The Commission presented its recent public procurement package, stressing that more strategic use of procurement could help deliver environmental and social objectives. Savings of €200bn per annum were possible through increased professionalism. The Commission confirmed that all elements were voluntary.

Ministers had a lunchtime discussion on the automotive industry; the UK and others stressed the fast-changing nature of the sector. Germany and the Commission provided an update on the SME Action programme. Bulgaria presented its plans for its Presidency.

Day Two – Space and Research

The Formal Competitiveness Council (Space and Research) took place in Brussels on 1 December. Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation represented the UK in the morning and Katrina Williams represented the UK in the afternoon.

Council conclusions on the Mid-term evaluation of the Copernicus programme

The Council adopted conclusions on the Commission’s recent mid-term evaluation of the Copernicus earth-observation space programme, which underline the importance of maintaining its free and open data policy.

EU Space Programmes

The Council then held a debate on the future direction of EU space programmes, in light of the recent mid-term evaluations. The UK outlined the links to the UK’s Industrial Strategy, highlighting the importance of international collaboration and the desire for the UK to discuss future cooperation with the EU on space programmes as soon as possible.

Council conclusions on Horizon 2020

Next was a discussion on the Council Conclusions on Horizon 2020. Ministers agreed the conclusions in document 15320/17. The UK set out its interest for an ambitious science and innovation agreement with the EU and stressed the need to focus on EU added value, simplification and international collaboration in Framework Programme 9 (FP9).

The Mission-oriented approach in the ninth EU RDI Framework Programme

The Council then discussed the Missions-Orientated Approach to FP9. The Commissioner (Moedas) encouraged Member States to engage fully in the forthcoming consultation process. The UK highlighted the need to ensure continued focus on basic research and emphasised the need to avoid duplication of efforts undertaken at national level.

Other Items

The European Commission gave an update on the European Open Science Cloud. Hungary gave an update on the Extreme Light Infrastructure project, which was on schedule to begin operations in 2018. Bulgaria then presented its presidency plans. Their priorities for science and innovation include the next Framework Programme (FP9), the future of the ITER project and the transfer of knowledge, data and research results to innovators and researchers. They will also focus on the roadmap for the governance and funding of the European Open Science Cloud and the European super computer EuroHPC.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS332
WS
Home Office
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Brandon Lewis (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Council decision on UNHCR Executive Committee conclusions

The Government has taken the decision not to opt in to EU Council Decision on UNHCR Executive Committee Conclusion on machine-readable travel documents for refugees and stateless persons.

The UNHCR Conclusions urge States who have not yet done so to take necessary measures to introduce machine-readable Convention Travel Documents for refugees and stateless persons lawfully staying in their territory at the earliest convenience. The Conclusions also encourage existing national systems for civil documentation to include refugees and stateless persons and to limit fees for refugees and stateless persons. They commit Member States to further strengthening international solidarity and burden-sharing to facilitate the transition to machine-readable travel documents to refugees and stateless persons. The EU Commission published a Council Decision seeking agreement to an EU position supporting these Conclusions.

The UK already offers travel documents to recognised refugees and stateless persons which exceeds the recommendation to issue machine-readable travel documents. Home Office travel documents are machine-readable and also include a biometric chip that contains a digital facial image of the document holder, similar to the British passport. Furthermore, the UK already complies with the points on costs of refugee travel documents; we align with the 1951 and 1954 UN Conventions which state that signatory states should charge no more than is charged for a national passport.

The Government is committed to taking all opt-in decisions on a case-by-case basis, putting the national interest at the heart of the decision making process. As the UK is compliant with the Conclusions, the UK has decided not to opt in to this Council Decision.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS329
WS
Home Office
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Victoria Atkins (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability)
Commons

Review of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013

My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House the Home Office report on its review of the Scrap Metal dealers Act 2013 (Cm 9552).

The Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013 was introduced in October 2013 as a response to high levels of metal theft at that time. The purpose of the Act was to reduce these thefts by strengthening regulation of the scrap metal industry. Section 18 of the Act commits the Government to review the Act within five years of commencement and to publish a report which assesses whether it has met its intended objectives and whether it is appropriate to retain or repeal it or any of its provisions.

As set out in today’s Home Office report, we are satisfied that the Act has made a positive contribution to the falls in levels of metal theft that have occurred since it was commenced. We are satisfied, therefore, that the Act should be retained.

Copies of the report are available from the Vote Office and also on the Government’s website at gov.uk.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS328
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )
Lords

Cape Town Convention: MAC Protocol

My hon Friend the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility (Margot James), has today made the following statement:

The UK has opted-in to a proposal authorising the EU to open negotiations on the conclusion of a Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters specific to Mining, Agricultural and Construction Equipment (the MAC Protocol)

The Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment, or Cape Town Convention (‘CTC’) as it is commonly known, is an international private law treaty which aims to reduce the cost of raising finance for certain high value mobile equipment. Three protocols to the CTC have been adopted covering aircraft, rail and space assets. The UK ratified the Aircraft Protocol in 2015. Adoption of such protocols is viewed as boosting growth in the relevant manufacturing industries (hence the UK adoption of the Aircraft Protocol).

A key feature of the CTC is to reduce the cost of raising finance through the operation of special insolvency provisions aimed at giving finance and leasing companies greater certainty and control over recovering assets subject to security or leasing agreements in the event of payment default or insolvency.

The CTC project is undertaken under the auspices of UNIDROIT, the intergovernmental organisation focused on harmonisation of private international law. UNIDROIT is currently in the process of concluding a new protocol covering mining, agricultural and construction assets.

On 23 August 2017, ahead of the meeting of the second session of the Committee of Governmental Experts on 2 – 6 October 2017, the Council presented a draft Council Decision to authorise the Commission to open negotiations on the conclusion of the MAC Protocol together with draft negotiating directives.

We fully recognise the importance of international efforts to reduce the cost of raising finance for equipment vital for economic growth, particularly in lower and middle income countries where financing costs can significantly inhibit investment and development. Reduced financing costs will also lead to increased demand, providing a boost to manufacturing including UK businesses in the mining, agricultural and construction sectors. The three sectors are all major exporters from the UK with certain niche manufacturers selling up to 95% of their production overseas. Between them the three industries employ over 50,000 people in the UK. They are vital elements of our industrial strategy. Preliminary economic assessment of the MAC Protocol suggests the benefits may amount to $32 – $48 billion annually for developing countries and $36 - $50 billion annually for developed countries.

After due consideration the Government has decided to opt in to negotiating mandate as proposed by the Council.

As the negotiating mandate is currently restricted so as to preserve the EU negotiating position it is not therefore depositable within Parliament.

The Government will continue to work with the Scrutiny Committees if and when it considers whether to opt in to a Council Decision to sign and conclude the MAC Protocol. I will also update Parliament on the Government’s opt-in decisions at these stages.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS331
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Home Office
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Economic crime and anti-corruption

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

Economic crime and corruption do great harm to individuals, businesses, the integrity of our financial system and the UK’s international reputation. We must do more on economic crime to safeguard our prosperity, and the UK’s reputation as a world-leading place to do business.

The Government is making a step-change in its response to the threat. A broad and deep public-private partnership is at the heart of this new approach. The Minister of State for Security will become the Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime. Further, the Government will:

  • Establish a new Ministerial Economic Crime Strategic Board chaired by the Home Secretary, to agree strategic priorities across Government; ensure resources are allocated to deliver those priorities; and scrutinise performance and impact against the economic crime threat.
  • Create a new multi-agency National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) hosted in the National Crime Agency to task and coordinate the law enforcement response, working in the closest possible partnership with the private sector.
  • Create a dedicated team to use the power in the Criminal Finances Act 2017 to forfeit criminal money held in suspended bank accounts.
  • Legislate to give the National Crime Agency powers to directly task the Serious Fraud Office, who will continue to operate as an independent organisation.
  • Publish draft legislation on the creation of a register of the beneficial ownership of overseas companies and other entities that own property in the UK or participate in Government contracts.
  • Reform of the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regime, in partnership with the private sector, law enforcement and regulators, to reduce tick-box compliance, direct the regime to focus on the highest threats, help firms better protect themselves and improve law enforcement outcomes.
  • Review disclosure procedures to explore how to make prosecutorial processes more effective and efficient. The Attorney-General will lead this work.
  • Support a Law Commission review of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to identify improvements to our powers to confiscate proceeds of crime.

In addition, the Government is today publishing the UK’s first cross-government Anti-Corruption Strategy, and the Prime Minister has appointed John Penrose MP as her Anti-Corruption Champion. A copy will be available from Gov.UK and placed in the House Library.

The Strategy provides a framework to guide UK government efforts against corruption both domestically and internationally for the period up to 2022. It sets six priorities to:

  • reduce the insider threat in high risk domestic sectors (ports and borders, prisons, policing, defence);
  • strengthen the integrity of the UK as a centre of global finance;
  • promote integrity across the public and private sectors;
  • reduce corruption in public procurement and grants;
  • improve the business environment globally; and
  • work with other countries to combat corruption.

There will be ministerial oversight of implementation and my department will provide an annual written update to parliament on progress.

To support the delivery of these commitments, responsibility for the Joint Anti-Corruption Unit will transfer from the Cabinet Office to the Home Office. This change will be effective immediately.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS329
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HM Treasury
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Implementation of Help to Save Accounts

My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Stephen Barclay) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The government is committed to supporting people at all income levels and all stages of life to save.

Help to Save is a government backed savings account to help working people on low incomes build up their savings. They will be able to pay in up to £50 a month and receive a 50% government bonus on their savings.

Subject to the approval of the House, Help to Save will begin with a trial in January 2018, rolling out in stages to increasing numbers and available to all those eligible from October 2018 at the latest.

Introducing it in this controlled way will allow HM Revenue and Customs to thoroughly test and develop it at every stage so that it provides the best customer experience possible, and a quality service for savers over the lifetime of the scheme.

From January, HM Revenue and Customs will start to invite Working Tax Credits customers into the trial, gradually increasing their numbers, with the expectation that Universal Credit customers will start to be invited in from April. Eligible customers will still have the full 5 years to register for Help to Save from the end of the trial, and the overall cost of the programme to government will be the same.

Today regulations will be laid in the Commons which will set out the detail of how Help to Save will operate. The draft regulations were subject to a consultation and a summary of the responses and changes made have today been published at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-legislation-help-to-save-accounts

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS330
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Joseph Johnson (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Competitiveness Council, 30 November–1 December: Post-Council Statement

The Competitiveness Council took place on 30 November and 1 December in Brussels. The UK was represented by Lord Henley on the first day and by Jo Johnson on the second.

EU Industrial Strategy

Discussions focussed on the recent publication of a renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy. Ministers agreed that European industry needed to adapt to changes in the global economy and the digital revolution. The EU should improve investment in research and development and support for SMEs, and strengthen its internal market. The UK noted that its recently-published industrial strategy identified many of the same challenges and drivers of growth, and stressed its commitment to an open, liberal market economy based around fair competition and high standards.

A number of Member States cautioned against arbitrary targets for industrial output, emphasising that support to industry was one policy among others to boost Europe’s competitiveness alongside a commitment to free trade and access to global value chains. Others called for greater sectoral support and called for the Commission to propose a longer-term vision for EU industrial policy towards 2030. Ministers agreed Council Conclusions.

Single Digital Gateway

Ministers voted to adopt the proposed general approach on the Single Digital Gateway. Member States generally expressed support for the objectives of the proposal and agreed that easier access to good quality online information and procedures was important for the internal market. There was broad agreement that the Presidency had struck a good balance between ambition and flexibility. Voting in favour of the General Approach, the UK noted its strong support for e-government initiatives and underlined the importance of maintaining a focus on user needs. The Commission welcomed the agreement but noted the extension of the implementation period to five years.

Unified Patent Court

A number of Member States joined the Presidency and the Commission in pressing those Member States yet to complete ratification of the Unified Patent Court to finalise preparations so the court can become operational in 2018. The UK re-stated its commitment to passing the final necessary domestic legislation currently before Parliament.

European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP)

The Presidency noted the EDIDP would run from 2019 to 2020, providing €500m towards the joint development of defence prototypes and increasing European industrial competitiveness. Timelines were ambitious with a general approach anticipated at the 12 December General Affairs Council. The Commission was looking for a €1.5bn fund after 2020, covering both defence research and prototype development.

Other items

Vice President Ansip updated the Council on the implementation of the Digital Single Market. He described the paradigm-shifting and multi-faceted impact of digitalisation on the world. He urged Ministers to help progress initiatives rapidly and ambitiously. The Presidency and Commission noted the provisional agreement on geoblocking with the European Parliament.

Hungary introduced a paper expressing concern about the impact of the tobacco track and trace implementing legislation on SMEs. Commissioner Andriukaitis emphasised its importance for public health and tackling illicit tobacco trade and underlined that its impact had been considered carefully. The final text included a number of SME derogations.

The Commission presented its recent public procurement package, stressing that more strategic use of procurement could help deliver environmental and social objectives. Savings of €200bn per annum were possible through increased professionalism. The Commission confirmed that all elements were voluntary.

Ministers had a lunchtime discussion on the automotive industry; the UK and others stressed the fast-changing nature of the sector. Germany and the Commission provided an update on the SME Action programme. Bulgaria presented its plans for its Presidency.

Day Two – Space and Research

The Formal Competitiveness Council (Space and Research) took place in Brussels on 1 December. Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation represented the UK in the morning and Katrina Williams represented the UK in the afternoon.

Council conclusions on the Mid-term evaluation of the Copernicus programme

The Council adopted conclusions on the Commission’s recent mid-term evaluation of the Copernicus earth-observation space programme, which underline the importance of maintaining its free and open data policy.

EU Space Programmes

The Council then held a debate on the future direction of EU space programmes, in light of the recent mid-term evaluations. The UK outlined the links to the UK’s Industrial Strategy, highlighting the importance of international collaboration and the desire for the UK to discuss future cooperation with the EU on space programmes as soon as possible.

Council conclusions on Horizon 2020

Next was a discussion on the Council Conclusions on Horizon 2020. Ministers agreed the conclusions in document 15320/17. The UK set out its interest for an ambitious science and innovation agreement with the EU and stressed the need to focus on EU added value, simplification and international collaboration in Framework Programme 9 (FP9).

The Mission-oriented approach in the ninth EU RDI Framework Programme

The Council then discussed the Missions-Orientated Approach to FP9. The Commissioner (Moedas) encouraged Member States to engage fully in the forthcoming consultation process. The UK highlighted the need to ensure continued focus on basic research and emphasised the need to avoid duplication of efforts undertaken at national level.

Other Items

The European Commission gave an update on the European Open Science Cloud. Hungary gave an update on the Extreme Light Infrastructure project, which was on schedule to begin operations in 2018. Bulgaria then presented its presidency plans. Their priorities for science and innovation include the next Framework Programme (FP9), the future of the ITER project and the transfer of knowledge, data and research results to innovators and researchers. They will also focus on the roadmap for the governance and funding of the European Open Science Cloud and the European super computer EuroHPC.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS327
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Margot James (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Commons

Cape Town Convention: MAC Protocol

The UK has opted-in to a proposal authorising the EU to open negotiations on the conclusion of a Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters specific to Mining, Agricultural and Construction Equipment (the MAC Protocol)

The Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment, or Cape Town Convention (‘CTC’) as it is commonly known, is an international private law treaty which aims to reduce the cost of raising finance for certain high value mobile equipment. Three protocols to the CTC have been adopted covering aircraft, rail and space assets. The UK ratified the Aircraft Protocol in 2015. Adoption of such protocols is viewed as boosting growth in the relevant manufacturing industries (hence the UK adoption of the Aircraft Protocol).

A key feature of the CTC is to reduce the cost of raising finance through the operation of special insolvency provisions aimed at giving finance and leasing companies greater certainty and control over recovering assets subject to security or leasing agreements in the event of payment default or insolvency.

The CTC project is undertaken under the auspices of UNIDROIT, the intergovernmental organisation focused on harmonisation of private international law. UNIDROIT is currently in the process of concluding a new protocol covering mining, agricultural and construction assets.

On 23 August 2017, ahead of the meeting of the second session of the Committee of Governmental Experts on 2 – 6 October 2017, the Council presented a draft Council Decision to authorise the Commission to open negotiations on the conclusion of the MAC Protocol together with draft negotiating directives.

We fully recognise the importance of international efforts to reduce the cost of raising finance for equipment vital for economic growth, particularly in lower and middle income countries where financing costs can significantly inhibit investment and development. Reduced financing costs will also lead to increased demand, providing a boost to manufacturing including UK businesses in the mining, agricultural and construction sectors. The three sectors are all major exporters from the UK with certain niche manufacturers selling up to 95% of their production overseas. Between them the three industries employ over 50,000 people in the UK. They are vital elements of our industrial strategy. Preliminary economic assessment of the MAC Protocol suggests the benefits may amount to $32 – $48 billion annually for developing countries and $36 - $50 billion annually for developed countries.

After due consideration the Government has decided to opt in to negotiating mandate as proposed by the Council.

As the negotiating mandate is currently restricted so as to preserve the EU negotiating position it is not therefore depositable within Parliament.

The Government will continue to work with the Scrutiny Committees if and when it considers whether to opt in to a Council Decision to sign and conclude the MAC Protocol. I will also update Parliament on the Government’s opt-in decisions at these stages.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS326
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HM Treasury
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Stephen Barclay (The Economic Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Implementation of Help to Save Accounts

The government is committed to supporting people at all income levels and all stages of life to save.

Help to Save is a government backed savings account to help working people on low incomes build up their savings. They will be able to pay in up to £50 a month and receive a 50% government bonus on their savings.

Subject to the approval of the House, Help to Save will begin with a trial in January 2018, rolling out in stages to increasing numbers and available to all those eligible from October 2018 at the latest.

Introducing it in this controlled way will allow HM Revenue and Customs to thoroughly test and develop it at every stage so that it provides the best customer experience possible, and a quality service for savers over the lifetime of the scheme.

From January, HM Revenue and Customs will start to invite Working Tax Credits customers into the trial, gradually increasing their numbers, with the expectation that Universal Credit customers will start to be invited in from April. Eligible customers will still have the full 5 years to register for Help to Save from the end of the trial, and the overall cost of the programme to government will be the same.

Today regulations will be laid in the Commons which will set out the detail of how Help to Save will operate. The draft regulations were subject to a consultation and a summary of the responses and changes made have today been published at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-legislation-help-to-save-accounts

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS324
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Home Office
Made on: 11 December 2017
Made by: Amber Rudd (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Commons

Economic crime and anti-corruption

Economic crime and corruption do great harm to individuals, businesses, the integrity of our financial system and the UK’s international reputation. We must do more on economic crime to safeguard our prosperity, and the UK’s reputation as a world-leading place to do business.

The Government is making a step-change in its response to the threat. A broad and deep public-private partnership is at the heart of this new approach. The Minister of State for Security will become the Minister of State for Security and Economic Crime. Further, the Government will:

  • Establish a new Ministerial Economic Crime Strategic Board chaired by the Home Secretary, to agree strategic priorities across Government; ensure resources are allocated to deliver those priorities; and scrutinise performance and impact against the economic crime threat.
  • Create a new multi-agency National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) hosted in the National Crime Agency to task and coordinate the law enforcement response, working in the closest possible partnership with the private sector.
  • Create a dedicated team to use the power in the Criminal Finances Act 2017 to forfeit criminal money held in suspended bank accounts.
  • Legislate to give the National Crime Agency powers to directly task the Serious Fraud Office, who will continue to operate as an independent organisation.
  • Publish draft legislation on the creation of a register of the beneficial ownership of overseas companies and other entities that own property in the UK or participate in Government contracts.
  • Reform of the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) regime, in partnership with the private sector, law enforcement and regulators, to reduce tick-box compliance, direct the regime to focus on the highest threats, help firms better protect themselves and improve law enforcement outcomes.
  • Review disclosure procedures to explore how to make prosecutorial processes more effective and efficient. The Attorney-General will lead this work.
  • Support a Law Commission review of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to identify improvements to our powers to confiscate proceeds of crime.

In addition, the Government is today publishing the UK’s first cross-government Anti-Corruption Strategy, and the Prime Minister has appointed John Penrose MP as her Anti-Corruption Champion. A copy will be available from Gov.UK and placed in the House Library.

The Strategy provides a framework to guide UK government efforts against corruption both domestically and internationally for the period up to 2022. It sets six priorities to:

  • reduce the insider threat in high risk domestic sectors (ports and borders, prisons, policing, defence);
  • strengthen the integrity of the UK as a centre of global finance;
  • promote integrity across the public and private sectors;
  • reduce corruption in public procurement and grants;
  • improve the business environment globally; and
  • work with other countries to combat corruption.

There will be ministerial oversight of implementation and my department will provide an annual written update to parliament on progress.

To support the delivery of these commitments, responsibility for the Joint Anti-Corruption Unit will transfer from the Cabinet Office to the Home Office. This change will be effective immediately.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS325
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Ministry of Defence
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State, Ministry of Defence)
Lords

Correction

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Defence (Gavin Williamson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I wish to inform the House that an error has been identified in the answer I gave to the hon. Member for East Devon (Sir Hugo Swire) in Defence Oral Questions on 27 November 2017, Official Report, column 21, on the subject of funding defence nuclear capabilities.

To clarify, the UK’s nuclear deterrent has always been funded from the Defence budget.

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Defence)
Commons

Correction

I wish to inform the House that an error has been identified in the answer I gave to the hon. Member for East Devon (Sir Hugo Swire) in Defence Oral Questions on 27 November 2017, Official Report, column 21, on the subject of funding defence nuclear capabilities.

To clarify, the UK’s nuclear deterrent has always been funded from the Defence budget.

WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Lords

Foreign Affairs Council (Foreign and Defence Ministers): 11 December

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

I will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (Foreign and Development Ministers) on 11 December. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative (HRVP) of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The meeting will be held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council

The agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) is expected to include Iraq, the Middle East; as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo under any other business. There will be a lunch focused on the G5 Sahel Joint Force and a joint FAC and FAC (Development) session on the recent European Union-African Union (AU-EU) Summit. There will be a short FAC (Development) in the afternoon.

The HRVP is expected to open the meeting with introductory remarks on the Eastern Partnership Summit, Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), Libya, Zimbabwe and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Iraq

Ministers will discuss the situation in Iraq, including winning the peace post-Daesh and managing recent tensions between Baghdad and the Kurdish Region. The EEAS will provide an update on the EU Iraq Strategy that is due to be released in January. We will underline the need to continue de-escalating tensions between Baghdad and Erbil, ensuring that all parties focus on the fight against Daesh, preventing its re-emergence and working together to build a more stable, prosperous and inclusive future for all of Iraq’s people, including Iraqi Kurds.

Middle East

Ministers will discuss developments in the Middle East. We continue to be concerned by the humanitarian situation in Yemen and continued restrictions on commercial and humanitarian supplies entering Yemen while understanding Saudi Arabia’s legitimate security concerns. The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have both engaged on this pressing matter. We are also concerned by the recent developments in Yemen which underline the need for a comprehensive political solution. We will encourage European partners to work with us to find solutions.

G5 Sahel Joint Force

Ministers will meet representatives of countries which have stood up the G5 Sahel Joint Force - Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.

EU-Africa

Ministers will discuss the outcomes of the EU-AU Summit and follow-up to the Conclusions the Summit adopted on 30 November. The UK will note the opportunity that Zimbabwe has to embrace a free and democratic future. We have shared, with EU and Five Eyes partners, our expectations for the new Government in order for the international community to re-engage and provide support: free and fair elections, economic and political reform, commitment to human rights and a clear message that Zimbabwe is open to international trade and investment.

FAC (Development)

Development Ministers will discuss next steps on Aid for Trade following the publication of the European Commission’s Communication on ‘Achieving Prosperity through Trade and Investment: Updating the 2007 Joint EU Strategy on Aid for Trade.’ This discussion will focus on how EU cooperation can help developing economies take better advantage of trade opportunities as a means to finance their own way out of poverty.

The FAC is also expected to adopt Conclusions on Thailand and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It hopes to adopt the Council Decision launching PESCO and identify initial PESCO projects.

WS
Department for International Development
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Lord Bates (Minister of State for International Development)
Lords

Tailored Review of ICAI

My Rt Hon Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development, has today made the following statement:

I am today publishing a mandated review of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), in accordance with my responsibility as the Minister accountable to Parliament for it. In line with standard Cabinet Office guidance the review examined the case for ICAI to exist and assessed its efficiency and governance arrangements.

In recognition of ICAI’s role as a scrutiny body, an independent Challenge Panel was appointed to ensure the objectivity and impartiality of the review process, and included members of the National Audit Office and Institute for Government. The Cabinet Office was satisfied that the review demonstrated an appropriate level of independence. The review acknowledges the importance of ICAI’s independence and its recommendations have been formulated to ensure this is preserved. The review gathered evidence from a wide range of stakeholders, drawn from Parliament, government, the wider development sector and ICAI itself.

The review concluded that ICAI is necessary and that it should continue to be delivered by ICAI in its current form as a Non-Departmental Public Body with advisory functions. ICAI’s functions are of particular importance given the statutory obligation for independent evaluation of the impact and value for money of aid arising from the 2015 International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act.

The review found that ICAI’s work has contributed to increasing the impact and value for money of UK aid, and that ICAI is appreciated across the development sector for its scrutiny of aid impact. The review made a number of recommendations for further improving ICAI’s effectiveness, including by developing improved measures of its own performance and by adopting a more consultative approach to developing recommendations that will increase their value.

Though the review found that ICAI should continue in its current form, it recommended changes to its delivery model to improve both its efficiency and effectiveness, including making its Chief Commissioner full-time. The review also assessed ICAI’s governance arrangements and found them to be largely in-line with best practice for public bodies.

I am grateful to all those who contributed to the review, which will be placed in the libraries of both Houses and is available online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tailored-review-of-the-independent-commission-for-aid-impact-icai

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS325
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Department of Health
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Lord O'Shaughnessy (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health)
Lords

Inquiry into the issues raised by the Paterson case

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Health has made the following written statement:

Ian Paterson, a consultant breast surgeon who was employed by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT), and had practising privileges in the independent sector at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston, was found guilty in April this year of 17 counts of wounding with intent. He was sentenced to jail for 20 years.

The Government is appalled by the actions of Ian Paterson and the harm that has affected a significant number of patients. The disclosures about the seriousness and extent of his malpractice are deeply and profoundly shocking.

The Government committed to ensuring lessons were learnt in the interest of patient protection and safety, both in the independent sector and the NHS.

Today, I am announcing the establishment of an independent, Non-Statutory Inquiry into the circumstances and practices surrounding Ian Paterson that have affected so many patients. I have asked The Right Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich to chair the Inquiry.

The Inquiry should be informed by the victims of Paterson and families’ concerns, and seek to learn from their experience. Therefore, the Inquiry will look at the local care and treatment for private patients in the Solihull area, and review current and past practices to establish if safeguards for patients treated at independent healthcare providers have fallen short of the standards the public has a right to expect. This will help to inform the broader lessons applicable to care provided by the independent healthcare sector across the country.

The Inquiry is likely to consider issues including, but not limited to:

  • the responsibility for the quality of care in the independent sector; appraisal, revalidation and multi-disciplinary working in the independent sector

  • information sharing, reporting of activity and raising concerns between the independent sector and the NHS;

  • and the role of insurers of independent sector providers (including sharing of data), and arrangements for medical indemnity cover for clinicians in the independent sector.

The Inquiry will also draw on issues raised in previous relevant reports about Paterson.

It is not intended to revisit the evidence that we already have about Paterson and that led to his conviction.

The terms of reference and other arrangements relating to the inquiry will be published in due course after a period of engagement.

The Inquiry will be formally established from January 2018 and will report in summer 2019.

I am confident that Bishop Graham will oversee a thorough and independent non-statutory inquiry and deliver his recommendations swiftly.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS323
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Home Office
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules

My rt hon Friend the Minister of State for Immigration (Brandon Lewis) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, copies of which will be available in the Vote Office.

The offer the UK makes to highly-skilled international leaders in science, research digital technology and the arts is being enhanced by doubling the number of Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) places to 2000 visas per year.

As announced in the Autumn Budget, and to support our ambitions on innovation and research and development, the changes also include provisions to enable internationally recognised global leaders in science, as well as those in digital technology, and the arts and creative sectors, endorsed under the Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) route, to apply for settlement after 3 years, amend Tier 2 rules to allow for faster switching for Tier 4 students below PhD level, while also making it easier to employ international researchers and members of established research teams by relaxing the labour market test under Tier 2. The changes also provide for additional flexibility within our settlement rules to enable scientists and researchers who are called to assist with humanitarian and environmental crises to be absent from the UK for more than 180 days, if required.

The changes make other amendments to the settlement rules for work routes, for consistency. These relate to the 180-day absence provision, breaks in employment, time spent in the Crown Dependencies, and the calculation of the qualifying period.

The rules for entrepreneurs are being simplified following customer feedback, to make them clearer and easier to follow (the requirements themselves are largely unchanged).

We continue to improve and modernise the UK’s border and immigration system, which will now include moves toward further digitisation. These changes are required to facilitate the planned move toward introducing immigration permissions issued in electronic form. This will also allow trials to be undertaken that will test the operation of any new system. The rules are also being changed to permit holders of standard visit visas to transit the UK rather than having to get a different type of visa. This builds on the work, begun in April 2015, to simplify the Immigration Rules for visitors.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS327
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Home Office
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

The National Transfer Scheme

My rt hon Friend the Minister of State for Immigration (Brandon Lewis) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The Government remains committed to helping and supporting children in need of international protection. In the year ending September 2017, the UK granted asylum or another form of leave to almost 9,000 children and nearly 49,000 children since 2010. Last month, we published a safeguarding strategy which sets out our vision and commitment to caring for and supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children. We look forward to working with partners to implement the actions in that strategy.

We have seen a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the UK in recent years and this has placed pressure on a small number of local authorities; particularly those - such as Kent and Croydon. On 1 July 2016, the Government launched the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The NTS is a voluntary scheme that supports local authorities to transfer responsibility for unaccompanied children who are already in the UK to another local authority. The scheme seeks to achieve a fairer allocation of caring responsibilities across the country so that all children get the care and support they need.

The NTS has made significant progress. As at 1 October 2017, the scheme had transferred 555 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to other local authorities. The Government is very grateful for the way that participating local authorities have volunteered to care for unaccompanied children through the NTS. However, it is clear that there is more to do to ensure that no local authority is asked to look after more children than its local services can cope with and that the children receive the right level of care. There are approximately 4,500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children in local authority care in England and a small number of local authorities continue to look after a disproportionately high number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

The NTS is underpinned by provisions in the Immigration Act 2016. However, these provisions currently only apply to English local authorities, which makes it difficult for the other nations of the UK to participate.

I am pleased to be able to announce that the Government is introducing secondary legislation to extend the NTS to the whole of the United Kingdom. The statutory instrument provides a legislative base for transfer arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This will allow the relevant authorities in each nation of the UK to participate in the NTS and ensure it is a truly national scheme. The NTS is voluntary and participation will remain a decision for each respective authority. We are committed to working closely with relevant authorities and partners to ensure the NTS takes account of the unique circumstances in each nation of the UK. However, we hope that by introducing this statutory instrument, we will encourage more local authorities to step forward and volunteer to support these children.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS326
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )
Lords

Statement on Energy Policy

My hon friend Richard Harrington (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) has made the following written ministerial statement:

Today we have announced our next steps for the development of advanced nuclear technologies in the UK. The advanced nuclear sector has the potential to play an important part in the UK’s Industrial Strategy building on our existing economic strengths and competitive advantages in nuclear while shaping new advanced nuclear markets and contributing to tackling the Clean Growth Grand Challenge. To help deliver this, the Government will be providing up to £56m for advanced nuclear technologies over the next 3 years.

The Government launched the first phase of the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) competition in March 2016 as an evidence-gathering phase with the goal of gauging market interest among technology developers, utilities, and potential investors. That exercise is now closed.

My department received expressions of interest from 33 eligible participants. Officials have worked with these participants to understand the technological and commercial viability of new reactors in development. As an information gathering process, phase one did not involve down-selection. All eligible participants were given the opportunity to engage with the Government to inform policy development.

This exercise provided valuable insight into the advanced nuclear technologies market. We are grateful to the participation of all entrants.

What we have learnt

Phase one demonstrated that SMRs could potentially play an important part of a broader nuclear market. There is a large variety of potential technologies. These comprise technologies which range in scale between micro, small and medium scale reactors and which span technology types from conventional water-cooled reactors, to 4th generation reactors using novel fuels and coolants, as well as fusion reactor concepts. Given this breadth, the Government believes that “SMR”, as commonly understood, is too narrow a description for technologies coming forward after the current generation of nuclear power stations. Instead the Government considers this to be the “Advanced Nuclear” market.

Engagement with competition participants helped shape our thinking for the next steps for advanced nuclear policy. Three key requests came through. The first was that technology developers need better and earlier access to Regulators in order to address regulatory requirements by design and to provide confidence to potential investors. The second was support to turn new developers’ ideas into detailed designs, bridging the investment gap between innovation and commercialisation. The third request was to create the right market conditions to enable developers to bring new reactors to market as commercially viable businesses.

Advanced Nuclear Technologies – Next Steps

The competition demonstrated that there is the potential for the UK to become a world-leader in developing the next generations of nuclear technologies. The UK’s nuclear sector is well placed to compete globally in this emerging market. The policies announced today are intended as the first steps to achieve that potential.

We are providing up to £7m of funding to regulators to build the capability and capacity needed to assess and license small and novel reactor designs, as announced in the Clean Growth Strategy. This funding will also provide support for pre-licensing engagement between vendors and regulators.

Over the next three years we will also provide funding to support advanced reactors through a two-stage Advanced Modular Reactor Programme. Up to £4m in Stage 1 will support around 8 reactor vendors to carry out detailed technical and commercial feasibility studies. Subject to Stage 1 demonstrating clear value for money through a formal re-approval process with the Treasury, up to £40m of further funding could then support 3-4 vendors to accelerate the development of their designs. Up to a further £5m may also be made available to regulators to support this.

The Government will also continue to work closely with the advanced nuclear industry stakeholders to foster the market conditions needed to enable developers to bring privately-financed small and novel reactors to market. A crucial element of this is demonstrating commercial viability – in particular, the ability of new designs and delivery mechanisms to attract investment and generate cost-competitive electricity.

Therefore the Government is setting up an Expert Finance Group to advise how small and advanced reactor projects could raise investment in the UK. By bringing together nuclear and financial sector expertise we anticipate that this group will help demonstrate the commercial proposition of small reactors in the emerging nuclear market. The Group will be asked to report in the Spring.

Subject to further evidence on the commercial viability of advanced nuclear technologies, we will continue to look closely at other market failures which inhibit new reactors competing in our diverse energy markets.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS322
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )
Lords

Statement on Energy Infrastructure

My hon friend Richard Harrington (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) has made the following written ministerial statement:

Nuclear power generation

New nuclear power stations have an important role to play. As confirmed in the Industrial Strategy, nuclear is a vital part of our energy mix, providing low carbon power now and into the future. The Government’s framework to bring forward new nuclear power stations was established in the 2008 White Paper on Nuclear Power, as was the principle the Government should take active steps to help facilitate the construction of new nuclear.

The overarching National Policy Statement (“NPS”) for Energy (“EN-1”) published in July 2011, made clear that nuclear power is a low-carbon, proven technology which can play an important role increasing the resilience and diversity of the UK’s energy system. The assessment of the need for new electricity generation carried out to support EN-1 remains valuable and continues to be relevant.

My Department’s annual updated energy and emissions projections state that by 2035 overall demand for electricity is expected to have increased. Therefore, with a number of the existing coal and nuclear fleet due to close by 2030, new nuclear power generation remains key to meeting our 2050 obligations. This is in line with the 2017 Clean Growth Strategy. Government has noted previously that there are technical and commercial barriers to deploying other technologies to produce the same annual generation as that of nuclear power. The need for the UK to continue to transition to a low-carbon electricity market is underlined by the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”) Paris Agreement. The Government believes that it is important that there is a strong pipeline of new nuclear power to contribute to the UK’s future energy system.

Government consultation

Government has today published a Consultation on the Process and Criteria for Designating Potentially Suitable Sites in a National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power between 2026-2035. This begins the process towards designating a new National Policy Statement (“the new NPS”) applicable to nuclear plants expected to be deployed after 2025 and capable of deployment by the end of 2035 and with over 1GW of single-reactor electricity generating capacity.

Nuclear National Policy Statements

Applicability of EN-6

Government considers that the current nuclear NPS, EN-6, only “has effect” for the purposes of section 104 of the Planning Act 2008 (“the Act”) for development which forms parts of a project able to demonstrate expected deployment by the end of 2025. Applications for a Development Consent Order under the Act will be considered in the first instance by an Examining Authority appointed by the Secretary of State to consider any specific project proposals. For the purpose of the applicability of EN-6, Government considers “deployment” to mean the point when a generating station first begins to feed the electricity it generates into the national grid, noting this will likely be at a point before full commercial operation.

For projects yet to apply for development consent and due to deploy beyond 2025, Government continues to give its strong in principle support to project proposals at those sites currently listed in EN-6. Even if EN-6 is considered not to have effect under section 104 of the Act for such a project, section 105 of the Act would apply to the decision on whether or not to grant development consent for the project.

Government is confident that both EN-1 and EN-6 incorporate information, assessments and statements which will continue to be important and relevant for projects which will deploy after 2025, including statements concerning the need for nuclear power – as well as environmental and other assessments that continue to be relevant for those projects. As such, in deciding whether or not to grant development consent to such a project, the Secretary of State would be required, under section 105(2)(c) of the Act, to have regard to the content of EN-1 and EN-6, unless they have been suspended or revoked. In respect of matters where there is no relevant change of circumstances it is likely that significant weight would be given to the policy in EN-1 and EN-6.

Applicability of the new NPS

The new NPS, once designated, will “have effect” for the purposes of section 104 of the Act for development which forms parts of a project able to demonstrate expected deployment after 2025 and before the end of 2035.

The Government also considers that a published new NPS in draft form would be considered as relevant to a decision on whether or not to grant development consent under section 105 of the Act.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS321
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Home Office
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Brandon Lewis (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules

My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, copies of which will be available in the Vote Office.

The offer the UK makes to highly-skilled international leaders in science, research digital technology and the arts is being enhanced by doubling the number of Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) places to 2000 visas per year.

As announced in the Autumn Budget, and to support our ambitions on innovation and research and development, the changes also include provisions to enable internationally recognised global leaders in science, as well as those in digital technology, and the arts and creative sectors, endorsed under the Tier 1 (Exceptional talent) route, to apply for settlement after 3 years, amend Tier 2 rules to allow for faster switching for Tier 4 students below PhD level, while also making it easier to employ international researchers and members of established research teams by relaxing the labour market test under Tier 2. The changes also provide for additional flexibility within our settlement rules to enable scientists and researchers who are called to assist with humanitarian and environmental crises to be absent from the UK for more than 180 days, if required.

The changes make other amendments to the settlement rules for work routes, for consistency. These relate to the 180-day absence provision, breaks in employment, time spent in the Crown Dependencies, and the calculation of the qualifying period.

The rules for entrepreneurs are being simplified following customer feedback, to make them clearer and easier to follow (the requirements themselves are largely unchanged).

We continue to improve and modernise the UK’s border and immigration system, which will now include moves toward further digitisation. These changes are required to facilitate the planned move toward introducing immigration permissions issued in electronic form. This will also allow trials to be undertaken that will test the operation of any new system. The rules are also being changed to permit holders of standard visit visas to transit the UK rather than having to get a different type of visa. This builds on the work, begun in April 2015, to simplify the Immigration Rules for visitors.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS319
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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Lord Gardiner of Kimble (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, and Lords Minister)
Lords

December Agriculture and Fisheries pre-Council Statement

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

Agriculture and Fisheries Council will take place on December 11-12 in Brussels.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for fisheries will be reaching a political agreement on Atlantic and North Sea total allowable catches and quotas for 2018.

The primary focus for agriculture will be a presentation from the European Commission on ‘The Future of Food and Farming’.

There are currently five items scheduled under ‘Any other business’:

- stakeholder conference on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and its future: "Beyond 2020: Supporting Europe's coastal states communities"

- implementation of the landing obligation, choke species risk in January 2019

- outcome of the conference on "Modern Biotechnologies in Agriculture: Paving the way for responsible innovation"

- outcome of the high-level conference on African swine fever (ASF) (Prague, 8-9 November 2017)

- tackling unfair trading practices with an aim to achieve a more balanced food supply chain and strengthen the farmers' position.

On 23 June 2016, 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. During this period the Government will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU legislation. The outcome of these negotiations will determine what arrangements apply in relation to EU legislation in future once the UK has left the EU.

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Home Office
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Brandon Lewis (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

The National Transfer Scheme

The Government remains committed to helping and supporting children in need of international protection. In the year ending September 2017, the UK granted asylum or another form of leave to almost 9,000 children and nearly 49,000 children since 2010. Last month, we published a safeguarding strategy which sets out our vision and commitment to caring for and supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children. We look forward to working with partners to implement the actions in that strategy.

We have seen a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in the UK in recent years and this has placed pressure on a small number of local authorities; particularly those - such as Kent and Croydon. On 1 July 2016, the Government launched the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children. The NTS is a voluntary scheme that supports local authorities to transfer responsibility for unaccompanied children who are already in the UK to another local authority. The scheme seeks to achieve a fairer allocation of caring responsibilities across the country so that all children get the care and support they need.

The NTS has made significant progress. As at 1 October 2017, the scheme had transferred 555 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children to other local authorities. The Government is very grateful for the way that participating local authorities have volunteered to care for unaccompanied children through the NTS. However, it is clear that there is more to do to ensure that no local authority is asked to look after more children than its local services can cope with and that the children receive the right level of care. There are approximately 4,500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking and refugee children in local authority care in England and a small number of local authorities continue to look after a disproportionately high number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

The NTS is underpinned by provisions in the Immigration Act 2016. However, these provisions currently only apply to English local authorities, which makes it difficult for the other nations of the UK to participate.

I am pleased to be able to announce that the Government is introducing secondary legislation to extend the NTS to the whole of the United Kingdom. The statutory instrument provides a legislative base for transfer arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This will allow the relevant authorities in each nation of the UK to participate in the NTS and ensure it is a truly national scheme. The NTS is voluntary and participation will remain a decision for each respective authority. We are committed to working closely with relevant authorities and partners to ensure the NTS takes account of the unique circumstances in each nation of the UK. However, we hope that by introducing this statutory instrument, we will encourage more local authorities to step forward and volunteer to support these children.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS318
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Department for International Development
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Penny Mordaunt (Secretary of State for International Development)
Commons

Tailored Review of ICAI

I am today publishing a mandated review of the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI), in accordance with my responsibility as the Minister accountable to Parliament for it. In line with standard Cabinet Office guidance the review examined the case for ICAI to exist and assessed its efficiency and governance arrangements.

In recognition of ICAI’s role as a scrutiny body, an independent Challenge Panel was appointed to ensure the objectivity and impartiality of the review process, and included members of the National Audit Office and Institute for Government. The Cabinet Office was satisfied that the review demonstrated an appropriate level of independence. The review acknowledges the importance of ICAI’s independence and its recommendations have been formulated to ensure this is preserved. The review gathered evidence from a wide range of stakeholders, drawn from Parliament, government, the wider development sector and ICAI itself.

The review concluded that ICAI is necessary and that it should continue to be delivered by ICAI in its current form as a Non-Departmental Public Body with advisory functions. ICAI’s functions are of particular importance given the statutory obligation for independent evaluation of the impact and value for money of aid arising from the 2015 International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act.

The review found that ICAI’s work has contributed to increasing the impact and value for money of UK aid, and that ICAI is appreciated across the development sector for its scrutiny of aid impact. The review made a number of recommendations for further improving ICAI’s effectiveness, including by developing improved measures of its own performance and by adopting a more consultative approach to developing recommendations that will increase their value.

Though the review found that ICAI should continue in its current form, it recommended changes to its delivery model to improve both its efficiency and effectiveness, including making its Chief Commissioner full-time. The review also assessed ICAI’s governance arrangements and found them to be largely in-line with best practice for public bodies.

I am grateful to all those who contributed to the review, which will be placed in the libraries of both Houses and is available online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tailored-review-of-the-independent-commission-for-aid-impact-icai

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS321
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Sir Alan Duncan (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Foreign Affairs Council (Foreign and Defence Ministers): 11 December

I will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (Foreign and Development Ministers) on 11 December. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative (HRVP) of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The meeting will be held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council

The agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) is expected to include Iraq, the Middle East; as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo under any other business. There will be a lunch focused on the G5 Sahel Joint Force and a joint FAC and FAC (Development) session on the recent European Union-African Union (AU-EU) Summit. There will be a short FAC (Development) in the afternoon.

The HRVP is expected to open the meeting with introductory remarks on the Eastern Partnership Summit, Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), Libya, Zimbabwe and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Iraq

Ministers will discuss the situation in Iraq, including winning the peace post-Daesh and managing recent tensions between Baghdad and the Kurdish Region. The EEAS will provide an update on the EU Iraq Strategy that is due to be released in January. We will underline the need to continue de-escalating tensions between Baghdad and Erbil, ensuring that all parties focus on the fight against Daesh, preventing its re-emergence and working together to build a more stable, prosperous and inclusive future for all of Iraq’s people, including Iraqi Kurds.

Middle East

Ministers will discuss developments in the Middle East. We continue to be concerned by the humanitarian situation in Yemen and continued restrictions on commercial and humanitarian supplies entering Yemen while understanding Saudi Arabia’s legitimate security concerns. The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have both engaged on this pressing matter. We are also concerned by the recent developments in Yemen which underline the need for a comprehensive political solution. We will encourage European partners to work with us to find solutions.

G5 Sahel Joint Force

Ministers will meet representatives of countries which have stood up the G5 Sahel Joint Force - Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.

EU-Africa

Ministers will discuss the outcomes of the EU-AU Summit and follow-up to the Conclusions the Summit adopted on 30 November. The UK will note the opportunity that Zimbabwe has to embrace a free and democratic future. We have shared, with EU and Five Eyes partners, our expectations for the new Government in order for the international community to re-engage and provide support: free and fair elections, economic and political reform, commitment to human rights and a clear message that Zimbabwe is open to international trade and investment.

FAC (Development)

Development Ministers will discuss next steps on Aid for Trade following the publication of the European Commission’s Communication on ‘Achieving Prosperity through Trade and Investment: Updating the 2007 Joint EU Strategy on Aid for Trade.’ This discussion will focus on how EU cooperation can help developing economies take better advantage of trade opportunities as a means to finance their own way out of poverty.

The FAC is also expected to adopt Conclusions on Thailand and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It hopes to adopt the Council Decision launching PESCO and identify initial PESCO projects.

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Department of Health
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Mr Philip Dunne (Minister of State for Health)
Commons

Inquiry into the issues raised by the Paterson case

Ian Paterson, a consultant breast surgeon who was employed by the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT), and had practising privileges in the independent sector at Spire Parkway and Spire Little Aston, was found guilty in April this year of 17 counts of wounding with intent. He was sentenced to jail for 20 years.

The Government is appalled by the actions of Ian Paterson and the harm that has affected a significant number of patients. The disclosures about the seriousness and extent of his malpractice are deeply and profoundly shocking.

The Government committed to ensuring lessons were learnt in the interest of patient protection and safety, both in the independent sector and the NHS.

Today, I am announcing the establishment of an independent, Non-Statutory Inquiry into the circumstances and practices surrounding Ian Paterson that have affected so many patients. I have asked The Right Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich to chair the Inquiry.

The Inquiry should be informed by the victims of Paterson and families’ concerns, and seek to learn from their experience. Therefore, the Inquiry will look at the local care and treatment for private patients in the Solihull area, and review current and past practices to establish if safeguards for patients treated at independent healthcare providers have fallen short of the standards the public has a right to expect. This will help to inform the broader lessons applicable to care provided by the independent healthcare sector across the country.

The Inquiry is likely to consider issues including, but not limited to:

  • the responsibility for the quality of care in the independent sector; appraisal, revalidation and multi-disciplinary working in the independent sector

  • information sharing, reporting of activity and raising concerns between the independent sector and the NHS;

  • and the role of insurers of independent sector providers (including sharing of data), and arrangements for medical indemnity cover for clinicians in the independent sector.

The Inquiry will also draw on issues raised in previous relevant reports about Paterson.

It is not intended to revisit the evidence that we already have about Paterson and that led to his conviction.

The terms of reference and other arrangements relating to the inquiry will be published in due course after a period of engagement.

The Inquiry will be formally established from January 2018 and will report in summer 2019.

I am confident that Bishop Graham will oversee a thorough and independent non-statutory inquiry and deliver his recommendations swiftly.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS320
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Richard Harrington (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )
Commons

Statement on Energy Policy

Today we have announced our next steps for the development of advanced nuclear technologies in the UK. The advanced nuclear sector has the potential to play an important part in the UK’s Industrial Strategy building on our existing economic strengths and competitive advantages in nuclear while shaping new advanced nuclear markets and contributing to tackling the Clean Growth Grand Challenge. To help deliver this, the Government will be providing up to £56m for advanced nuclear technologies over the next 3 years.

The Government launched the first phase of the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) competition in March 2016 as an evidence-gathering phase with the goal of gauging market interest among technology developers, utilities, and potential investors. That exercise is now closed.

My department received expressions of interest from 33 eligible participants. Officials have worked with these participants to understand the technological and commercial viability of new reactors in development. As an information gathering process, phase one did not involve down-selection. All eligible participants were given the opportunity to engage with the Government to inform policy development.

This exercise provided valuable insight into the advanced nuclear technologies market. We are grateful to the participation of all entrants.

What we have learnt

Phase one demonstrated that SMRs could potentially play an important part of a broader nuclear market. There is a large variety of potential technologies. These comprise technologies which range in scale between micro, small and medium scale reactors and which span technology types from conventional water-cooled reactors, to 4th generation reactors using novel fuels and coolants, as well as fusion reactor concepts. Given this breadth, the Government believes that “SMR”, as commonly understood, is too narrow a description for technologies coming forward after the current generation of nuclear power stations. Instead the Government considers this to be the “Advanced Nuclear” market.

Engagement with competition participants helped shape our thinking for the next steps for advanced nuclear policy. Three key requests came through. The first was that technology developers need better and earlier access to Regulators in order to address regulatory requirements by design and to provide confidence to potential investors. The second was support to turn new developers’ ideas into detailed designs, bridging the investment gap between innovation and commercialisation. The third request was to create the right market conditions to enable developers to bring new reactors to market as commercially viable businesses.

Advanced Nuclear Technologies – Next Steps

The competition demonstrated that there is the potential for the UK to become a world-leader in developing the next generations of nuclear technologies. The UK’s nuclear sector is well placed to compete globally in this emerging market. The policies announced today are intended as the first steps to achieve that potential.

We are providing up to £7m of funding to regulators to build the capability and capacity needed to assess and license small and novel reactor designs, as announced in the Clean Growth Strategy. This funding will also provide support for pre-licensing engagement between vendors and regulators.

Over the next three years we will also provide funding to support advanced reactors through a two-stage Advanced Modular Reactor Programme. Up to £4m in Stage 1 will support around 8 reactor vendors to carry out detailed technical and commercial feasibility studies. Subject to Stage 1 demonstrating clear value for money through a formal re-approval process with the Treasury, up to £40m of further funding could then support 3-4 vendors to accelerate the development of their designs. Up to a further £5m may also be made available to regulators to support this.

The Government will also continue to work closely with the advanced nuclear industry stakeholders to foster the market conditions needed to enable developers to bring privately-financed small and novel reactors to market. A crucial element of this is demonstrating commercial viability – in particular, the ability of new designs and delivery mechanisms to attract investment and generate cost-competitive electricity.

Therefore the Government is setting up an Expert Finance Group to advise how small and advanced reactor projects could raise investment in the UK. By bringing together nuclear and financial sector expertise we anticipate that this group will help demonstrate the commercial proposition of small reactors in the emerging nuclear market. The Group will be asked to report in the Spring.

Subject to further evidence on the commercial viability of advanced nuclear technologies, we will continue to look closely at other market failures which inhibit new reactors competing in our diverse energy markets.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS317
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: Richard Harrington (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )
Commons

Statement on Energy Infrastructure

Nuclear power generation

New nuclear power stations have an important role to play. As confirmed in the Industrial Strategy, nuclear is a vital part of our energy mix, providing low carbon power now and into the future. The Government’s framework to bring forward new nuclear power stations was established in the 2008 White Paper on Nuclear Power, as was the principle the Government should take active steps to help facilitate the construction of new nuclear.

The overarching National Policy Statement (“NPS”) for Energy (“EN-1”) published in July 2011, made clear that nuclear power is a low-carbon, proven technology which can play an important role increasing the resilience and diversity of the UK’s energy system. The assessment of the need for new electricity generation carried out to support EN-1 remains valuable and continues to be relevant.

My Department’s annual updated energy and emissions projections state that by 2035 overall demand for electricity is expected to have increased. Therefore, with a number of the existing coal and nuclear fleet due to close by 2030, new nuclear power generation remains key to meeting our 2050 obligations. This is in line with the 2017 Clean Growth Strategy. Government has noted previously that there are technical and commercial barriers to deploying other technologies to produce the same annual generation as that of nuclear power. The need for the UK to continue to transition to a low-carbon electricity market is underlined by the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC”) Paris Agreement. The Government believes that it is important that there is a strong pipeline of new nuclear power to contribute to the UK’s future energy system.

Government consultation

Government has today published a Consultation on the Process and Criteria for Designating Potentially Suitable Sites in a National Policy Statement for Nuclear Power between 2026-2035. This begins the process towards designating a new National Policy Statement (“the new NPS”) applicable to nuclear plants expected to be deployed after 2025 and capable of deployment by the end of 2035 and with over 1GW of single-reactor electricity generating capacity.

Nuclear National Policy Statements

Applicability of EN-6

Government considers that the current nuclear NPS, EN-6, only “has effect” for the purposes of section 104 of the Planning Act 2008 (“the Act”) for development which forms parts of a project able to demonstrate expected deployment by the end of 2025. Applications for a Development Consent Order under the Act will be considered in the first instance by an Examining Authority appointed by the Secretary of State to consider any specific project proposals. For the purpose of the applicability of EN-6, Government considers “deployment” to mean the point when a generating station first begins to feed the electricity it generates into the national grid, noting this will likely be at a point before full commercial operation.

For projects yet to apply for development consent and due to deploy beyond 2025, Government continues to give its strong in principle support to project proposals at those sites currently listed in EN-6. Even if EN-6 is considered not to have effect under section 104 of the Act for such a project, section 105 of the Act would apply to the decision on whether or not to grant development consent for the project.

Government is confident that both EN-1 and EN-6 incorporate information, assessments and statements which will continue to be important and relevant for projects which will deploy after 2025, including statements concerning the need for nuclear power – as well as environmental and other assessments that continue to be relevant for those projects. As such, in deciding whether or not to grant development consent to such a project, the Secretary of State would be required, under section 105(2)(c) of the Act, to have regard to the content of EN-1 and EN-6, unless they have been suspended or revoked. In respect of matters where there is no relevant change of circumstances it is likely that significant weight would be given to the policy in EN-1 and EN-6.

Applicability of the new NPS

The new NPS, once designated, will “have effect” for the purposes of section 104 of the Act for development which forms parts of a project able to demonstrate expected deployment after 2025 and before the end of 2035.

The Government also considers that a published new NPS in draft form would be considered as relevant to a decision on whether or not to grant development consent under section 105 of the Act.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS316
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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 07 December 2017
Made by: George Eustice (The Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)
Commons

December Agriculture and Fisheries pre-Council Statement

Agriculture and Fisheries Council will take place on December 11-12 in Brussels.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for fisheries will be reaching a political agreement on Atlantic and North Sea total allowable catches and quotas for 2018.

The primary focus for agriculture will be a presentation from the European Commission on ‘The Future of Food and Farming’.

There are currently five items scheduled under ‘Any other business’:

- stakeholder conference on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and its future: "Beyond 2020: Supporting Europe's coastal states communities"

- implementation of the landing obligation, choke species risk in January 2019

- outcome of the conference on "Modern Biotechnologies in Agriculture: Paving the way for responsible innovation"

- outcome of the high-level conference on African swine fever (ASF) (Prague, 8-9 November 2017)

- tackling unfair trading practices with an aim to achieve a more balanced food supply chain and strengthen the farmer's position.

On 23 June 2016, 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. During this period the Government will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU legislation. The outcome of these negotiations will determine what arrangements apply in relation to EU legislation in future once the UK has left the EU.

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Department of Health
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Lord O'Shaughnessy (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health)
Lords

NHS Pay: Response to the Resolution of the House, 13 September 2017

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health has made the following written statement:

We know pay restraint has been challenging for staff but it has helped the NHS to recruit an additional 32,300 professionally qualified clinical staff since 2010.

Increasing pressures on the NHS due to, amongst other things, an ageing population and changing public expectations continue to create increased demand and activity and this means that there have been shortages of some groups. We have been working hard to tackle this.

Since 2010 there are 10,100 more nurses on our wards. There are currently over 52,000 nurses in training. In addition, since September 2014 more than 2,400 nurses have completed the Return to Practice Scheme.

This year there were nearly two applicants for every available nurse training place. On 4 December UCAS published their end-of-cycle data which shows 22,575 applicants with confirmed places to study pre-registration nursing and midwifery in England from August 2017. These figures show there still is strong demand for nursing and midwifery courses. There were more 18 to 20 year olds from England accepted to nursing courses than ever before from August 2017.

We have already confirmed that the across-the-board 1% public sector pay policy will no longer apply to pay awards for 2018-19. This is due to a recognition that in some parts of the public sector flexibility to go above the one per cent may be required to ensure continued delivery of world class public services.

At the budget we announced that, in order to protect frontline services in the NHS, we are committing to fund pay awards as part of a pay deal for NHS staff on the Agenda for Change contract, including nurses, midwives and paramedics.

We will make final decisions on funding at the appropriate time after listening to the Pay Review Bodies who will, as is usual practice, consider written and oral evidence from a range of stakeholders, not just from the government. They will look at issues such as recruitment, retention and affordability, and will then come back with a recommendation. We expect their reports in May next year.

Public sector pay packages will continue to recognise workers’ vital contributions, while also being affordable and fair to taxpayers as a whole.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS319
WS
Department of Health
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Mr Jeremy Hunt (Secretary of State for Health)
Commons

NHS Pay: Response to the Resolution of the House, 13 September 2017

We know pay restraint has been challenging for staff but it has helped the NHS to recruit an additional 32,300 professionally qualified clinical staff since 2010.

Increasing pressures on the NHS due to, amongst other things, an ageing population and changing public expectations continue to create increased demand and activity and this means that there have been shortages of some groups. We have been working hard to tackle this.

Since 2010 there are 10,100 more nurses on our wards. There are currently over 52,000 nurses in training. In addition, since September 2014 more than 2,400 nurses have completed the Return to Practice Scheme.

This year there were nearly two applicants for every available nurse training place. On 4 December UCAS published their end-of-cycle data which shows 22,575 applicants with confirmed places to study pre-registration nursing and midwifery in England from August 2017. These figures show there still is strong demand for nursing and midwifery courses. There were more 18 to 20 year olds from England accepted to nursing courses than ever before from August 2017.

We have already confirmed that the across-the-board 1% public sector pay policy will no longer apply to pay awards for 2018-19. This is due to a recognition that in some parts of the public sector flexibility to go above the one per cent may be required to ensure continued delivery of world class public services.

At the budget we announced that, in order to protect frontline services in the NHS, we are committing to fund pay awards as part of a pay deal for NHS staff on the Agenda for Change contract, including nurses, midwives and paramedics.

We will make final decisions on funding at the appropriate time after listening to the Pay Review Bodies who will, as is usual practice, consider written and oral evidence from a range of stakeholders, not just from the government. They will look at issues such as recruitment, retention and affordability, and will then come back with a recommendation. We expect their reports in May next year.

Public sector pay packages will continue to recognise workers’ vital contributions, while also being affordable and fair to taxpayers as a whole.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS314
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (The Lords Spokesperson (Department for Education) (Higher Education))
Lords

Government asset sale

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (Jo Johnson) has made the following written ministerial statement.

Today, I can update on the Government’s sale of part of the pre-2012, commonly known as ‘Plan One’, English student loan book.

The sale included loans issued by English Local Authorities under the previous (pre-2012) system, specifically those that entered repayment between 2002 and 2006.

Throughout the process, Government’s decision on whether to proceed remained subject to market conditions and a final value for money assessment. I can update Parliament that the transaction achieved a value of £1.7bn, exceeding the HMT Green Book valuation.

Ministers will shortly be laying before Parliament a report on the sale in accordance with Section 4 of the Sale of Student Loans Act 2008. This will provide more detail on the sale arrangements and the extent to which they give value according to HM Treasury Green Book rules.

In advance of that, I would like to reiterate the points I have made previously about the impact of the sale on borrowers and on Government policy.

The position of all borrowers, including those whose loans have been sold, will not change as a result of the sale. The sale does not and cannot in any way alter the mechanisms and terms of repayment: sold loans will continue to be serviced by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Student Loans Company (SLC) on the same basis as equivalent unsold loans. Purchasers have no right to change any of the current loan arrangements or to contact borrowers directly. Those whose loans have been sold will be notified in writing by the Student Loans Company within 3 months, for information only. No action will be required. Government has no plans to change, or to consider changing, the terms of pre-2012 loans.



This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS317
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Joseph Johnson (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation )
Commons

Higher Education: Response to the Resolution of the House, 13 September 2017

On 13 September 2017, the House agreed the motion that the Higher Education (Higher Amount) (England) Regulations 2016 (S.I., 2016, No. 1206) and the Higher Education (Basic Amount) (England) Regulations 2016 (S.I., 2016, No. 1205), both dated 13 December 2016, copies of which were laid before this House on 15 December 2016, in the last Session of Parliament, be revoked. These Regulations cover maximum fee caps for the current academic year, 2017/18.

The Government listened carefully to the views expressed in the House on 13 September 2017, and to those expressed by young people and their parents. I therefore made a Written Ministerial Statement to the House on 9 October 2017 setting out changes to higher education student finance which will benefit students further in 2018.

In that statement, I confirmed that the Government had decided to maintain maximum tuition fees at their current level for the 2018/19 academic year. This means that the maximum level of tuition fees for a full-time course will remain at £9,250 for the next academic year (2018/19). This is around £300 less than it would have been had the maximum fee been uprated with inflation.

I also confirmed changes to the earnings threshold above which borrowers are required to make contributions to the costs of their education. From April 2018, the repayment threshold for loan repayments will increase from its current level of £21,000 to £25,000 from the 2018-19 financial year. Thereafter the threshold will be adjusted annually in line with average earnings. These changes apply to those who have taken out, or will take out, loans for full-time and part-time undergraduate courses in the post-2012 system. They also apply to those who have taken out, or will take out, an advanced learner loan for a further education course.

Increasing thresholds will put more money in the pockets of borrowers by lowering their monthly repayments with the greatest overall lifetime benefit for those on middle incomes. Borrowers earning less than the repayment threshold (currently £21,000 a year, rising to £25,000 for 2018-19) will continue to be exempt from repayments.

Following the Written Ministerial Statement to the House on 9 October, I can now make a further announcement on student finance arrangements for higher education students undertaking a course of study in the 2018/19 academic year beginning in August 2018.

Maximum grants and loans for living and other costs will be increased by forecast inflation (3.2%) in 2018/19. And for the first time, students starting part-time degree level courses from 1 August 2018 onwards will qualify for loans for living costs.

Further details of the student support package for 2018/19 are set out in the attached document.

I expect to lay regulations implementing changes to student finance for undergraduates and postgraduates for 2018/19 early in 2018. These regulations will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny. The Department of Health will be making a separate announcement on changes to student finance for postgraduate healthcare students and dental hygiene and dental therapy students in 2018/19.

These announcements build on the Government’s existing reforms to Higher Education, which have delivered a 25% increase in university funding per student per degree since 2012. University funding per student is today at the highest level it has ever been in the last 30 years.

We have world class universities accessed by a record number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and a progressive funding system which ensures that costs continue to be split fairly between graduates and the taxpayer. The entry rate for disadvantaged 18 year olds is already at a record high this year, and significantly higher than at the end of the 2016 cycle. People recognise that degrees from our universities provide a route to rewarding and well-paid jobs, and that is why more people are deciding to go to university than ever before.

We will build on those strengths through our planned reforms, which seek to improve the quality of teaching and incentivise universities to focus on graduate outcomes through the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework.

We will be consulting shortly on widening provision of accelerated degrees to enable students to study more intensively, obtain degrees at lower cost, and secure a quicker entry or return to the workplace.

And the Government is committed to conducting a major review of funding across tertiary education to ensure a joined-up system that works for everyone. As current and significant reforms move into implementation, this review will look at how we can ensure that our post-18 education system is accessible to all; and is supported by a funding system that provides value for money and works for both students and taxpayers, incentivises choice and competition across the sector, and encourages the development of the skills that we need as a country.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS312
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Joseph Johnson (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation )
Commons

Government asset sale

Today, I can update on the Government’s sale of part of the pre-2012, commonly known as ‘Plan One’, English student loan book.

The sale included loans issued by English Local Authorities under the previous (pre-2012) system, specifically those that entered repayment between 2002 and 2006.

Throughout the process, Government’s decision on whether to proceed remained subject to market conditions and a final value for money assessment. I can update Parliament that the transaction achieved a value of £1.7bn, exceeding the HMT Green Book valuation.

Ministers will shortly be laying before Parliament a report on the sale in accordance with Section 4 of the Sale of Student Loans Act 2008. This will provide more detail on the sale arrangements and the extent to which they give value according to HM Treasury Green Book rules.

In advance of that, I would like to reiterate the points I have made previously about the impact of the sale on borrowers and on Government policy.

The position of all borrowers, including those whose loans have been sold, will not change as a result of the sale. The sale does not and cannot in any way alter the mechanisms and terms of repayment: sold loans will continue to be serviced by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Student Loans Company (SLC) on the same basis as equivalent unsold loans. Purchasers have no right to change any of the current loan arrangements or to contact borrowers directly. Those whose loans have been sold will be notified in writing by the Student Loans Company within 3 months, for information only. No action will be required. Government has no plans to change, or to consider changing, the terms of pre-2012 loans.



This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS313
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Viscount Younger of Leckie (The Lords Spokesperson (Department for Education) (Higher Education)))
Lords

Higher Education: Response to the Resolution of the House, 13 September 2017

On 13 September 2017, the House agreed the motion that the Higher Education (Higher Amount) (England) Regulations 2016 (S.I., 2016, No. 1206) and the Higher Education (Basic Amount) (England) Regulations 2016 (S.I., 2016, No. 1205), both dated 13 December 2016, copies of which were laid before this House on 15 December 2016, in the last Session of Parliament, be revoked. These Regulations cover maximum fee caps for the current academic year, 2017/18.

The Government listened carefully to the views expressed in the House on 13 September 2017, and to those expressed by young people and their parents. I therefore made a Written Ministerial Statement to the House on 9 October 2017 setting out changes to higher education student finance which will benefit students further in 2018.

In that statement, I confirmed that the Government had decided to maintain maximum tuition fees at their current level for the 2018/19 academic year. This means that the maximum level of tuition fees for a full-time course will remain at £9,250 for the next academic year (2018/19). This is around £300 less than it would have been had the maximum fee been uprated with inflation.

I also confirmed changes to the earnings threshold above which borrowers are required to make contributions to the costs of their education. From April 2018, the repayment threshold for loan repayments will increase from its current level of £21,000 to £25,000 from the 2018-19 financial year. Thereafter the threshold will be adjusted annually in line with average earnings. These changes apply to those who have taken out, or will take out, loans for full-time and part-time undergraduate courses in the post-2012 system. They also apply to those who have taken out, or will take out, an advanced learner loan for a further education course.

Increasing thresholds will put more money in the pockets of borrowers by lowering their monthly repayments with the greatest overall lifetime benefit for those on middle incomes. Borrowers earning less than the repayment threshold (currently £21,000 a year, rising to £25,000 for 2018-19) will continue to be exempt from repayments.

Following the Written Ministerial Statement to the House on 9 October, I can now make a further announcement on student finance arrangements for higher education students undertaking a course of study in the 2018/19 academic year beginning in August 2018.

Maximum grants and loans for living and other costs will be increased by forecast inflation (3.2%) in 2018/19. And for the first time, students starting part-time degree level courses from 1 August 2018 onwards will qualify for loans for living costs.

Further details of the student support package for 2018/19 are set out in the attached document.

I expect to lay regulations implementing changes to student finance for undergraduates and postgraduates for 2018/19 early in 2018. These regulations will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny. The Department of Health will be making a separate announcement on changes to student finance for postgraduate healthcare students and dental hygiene and dental therapy students in 2018/19.

These announcements build on the Government’s existing reforms to Higher Education, which have delivered a 25% increase in university funding per student per degree since 2012. University funding per student is today at the highest level it has ever been in the last 30 years.

We have world class universities accessed by a record number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and a progressive funding system which ensures that costs continue to be split fairly between graduates and the taxpayer. The entry rate for disadvantaged 18 year olds is already at a record high this year, and significantly higher than at the end of the 2016 cycle. People recognise that degrees from our universities provide a route to rewarding and well-paid jobs, and that is why more people are deciding to go to university than ever before.

We will build on those strengths through our planned reforms, which seek to improve the quality of teaching and incentivise universities to focus on graduate outcomes through the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework.

We will be consulting shortly on widening provision of accelerated degrees to enable students to study more intensively, obtain degrees at lower cost, and secure a quicker entry or return to the workplace.

And the Government is committed to conducting a major review of funding across tertiary education to ensure a joined-up system that works for everyone. As current and significant reforms move into implementation, this review will look at how we can ensure that our post-18 education system is accessible to all; and is supported by a funding system that provides value for money and works for both students and taxpayers, incentivises choice and competition across the sector, and encourages the development of the skills that we need as a country.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS318
WS
Department of Health
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Mr Philip Dunne (Minister of State for Health)
Commons

Agenda of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council: 8 December 2017

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Lord O'Shaughnessy) has made the following statement:

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will meet on 8 December in Brussels.

For the health part of the meeting there will be three main agenda items on the Draft Council Conclusions on Health in Digital Society; the Draft Council Conclusions on the cross border aspects in alcohol policy; and Pharmaceutical Policy in the EU – which will cover the following:

  • Report on the State of Paediatric Medicines in the EU – 10 Years of the EU Paediatric Regulation – Information by the commission.
  • Issues related to European Patients Access to treatment – Information from the Romanian Delegation.
  • Lack of drug availability in Greece – Information from the Greek delegation.

Under Any Other Business, there will also be reports on:

  • Valproate and teratogenic medicinal products – Information from the Belgian delegation.
  • State of Health in the EU – Information from the Commission, OECD, and the European Observatory.
  • Annual Growth Survey 2018 – Information from the Commission.
  • Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Disease – Information from the Commission.
  • Outcome of the high level meeting ‘AMR: One Health Action Plan and evidence based policy making’ (Brussels, 23 November 2017) – Information from the Presidency.
  • Work Programme of the Incoming Presidency – Information from the Bulgarian Delegation.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS311
WS
Department of Health
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Lord O'Shaughnessy (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health)
Lords

Agenda of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council: 8 December 2017

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will meet on 8 December in Brussels.

For the health part of the meeting there will be three main agenda items on the Draft Council Conclusions on Health in Digital Society; the Draft Council Conclusions on the cross border aspects in alcohol policy; and Pharmaceutical Policy in the EU – which will cover the following:

  • Report on the State of Paediatric Medicines in the EU – 10 Years of the EU Paediatric Regulation – Information by the commission.
  • Issues related to European Patients Access to treatment – Information from the Romanian Delegation.
  • Lack of drug availability in Greece – Information from the Greek delegation.

Under Any Other Business, there will also be reports on:

  • Valproate and teratogenic medicinal products – Information from the Belgian delegation.
  • State of Health in the EU – Information from the Commission, OECD, and the European Observatory.
  • Annual Growth Survey 2018 – Information from the Commission.
  • Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Disease – Information from the Commission.
  • Outcome of the high level meeting ‘AMR: One Health Action Plan and evidence based policy making’ (Brussels, 23 November 2017) – Information from the Presidency.
  • Work Programme of the Incoming Presidency – Information from the Bulgarian Delegation.
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS316
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Margot James (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Commons

EU Insolvency Regulation

The UK has opted in to the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council updating the lists of insolvency proceedings and insolvency office-holders in Annexes A and B to Regulation (EU) 2015/848 on insolvency proceedings. The UK had previously opted in to the underlying Regulation on insolvency proceedings in 2015. Amendments to the annexes of the Regulation trigger a new opt-in decision.

The annexes list the different insolvency procedures and insolvency office-holders in each Member State governed by the Regulation. Amendments are made from time to time to reflect changes to Member States’ domestic insolvency laws. The current proposal relates to new Belgian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Latvian and Portuguese insolvency procedures and the amendments are considered necessary to ensure that the lists of Member States’ domestic insolvency laws are kept up to date. My officials have reviewed the new procedures and agree with the European Commission’s assessment that they properly fall within the scope of insolvency proceedings governed by the Regulation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS310
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy )
Lords

EU Insolvency Regulation

My hon Friend the Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility (Margot James), has today made the following statement:

The UK has opted in to the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council updating the lists of insolvency proceedings and insolvency office-holders in Annexes A and B to Regulation (EU) 2015/848 on insolvency proceedings. The UK had previously opted in to the underlying Regulation on insolvency proceedings in 2015. Amendments to the annexes of the Regulation trigger a new opt-in decision.

The annexes list the different insolvency procedures and insolvency office-holders in each Member State governed by the Regulation. Amendments are made from time to time to reflect changes to Member States’ domestic insolvency laws. The current proposal relates to new Belgian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Latvian and Portuguese insolvency procedures and the amendments are considered necessary to ensure that the lists of Member States’ domestic insolvency laws are kept up to date. My officials have reviewed the new procedures and agree with the European Commission’s assessment that they properly fall within the scope of insolvency proceedings governed by the Regulation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS315
WS
Home Office
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Justice and Home Affairs pre-Council statement

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

The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council of Ministers will meet on 7 and 8 December in Brussels. I will represent the UK for Interior day. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, the rt hon David Lidington MP will represent the UK for Justice day.

Interior day (07 December) will begin with an exchange of views on the interim report and recommendations of the High-level Expert Group on Radicalisation (HLEG-R), which was set up to consider how best to address radicalisation in EU Member States. The non-EU Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG) will present to Council their assessment of the terrorist threat in the EU, and update on recent capability developments, including on work needed to improve cooperation with the law enforcement community. I will intervene positively in support of HLEG-R and CTG activities.

This will be followed by a discussion on cooperation between Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and EU JHA agencies. This work aims to join up the activity of JHA agencies more effectively with EU security and defence missions in third countries. The Commission will identify lessons that can be learnt from existing cooperation, such as Operation Sophia (tackling migrant traffickers in the Central Mediterranean) for other CSDP operations and JHA agencies. The UK supports improving cooperation in this area and I will endorse this work-stream.

The Commission will update on the state of play on implementation of the Directive on the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. The UK has the most developed capability for processing PNR data in Europe and will continue to offer advice and support to Member States in the development of their own capabilities.

There will be a progress report on the technical discussions on improving interoperability of EU information systems, following the recommendations made by a High Level Expert Group in June. The Commission is also expected to set out the principles behind their forthcoming legislative proposal on this issue. The UK supports efforts to improve interoperability of EU information systems, but we will need to scrutinise the proposal when it is published.

This will be followed by a progress report from the Presidency on negotiations on the reform of the Common European Asylum System. The UK has not opted in to the majority of these measures, and I am unlikely to intervene on this item.

The Presidency will then seek a General Approach on the proposed EU-LISA Regulation. The Government has opted in to the draft Regulation and has no concerns with the text, but as the proposals have not cleared Parliamentary Scrutiny, I will abstain on the vote in Council.

At a working lunch Ministers will debate the strengthening of the Schengen area which is likely to focus on improving Schengen border management through a variety of coordinated actions, including the proposed Schengen internal borders legislative package which was published in September. The UK does not participate in the Schengen border free zone and I will not intervene in this discussion.

In the afternoon, the Presidency will provide an update on discussions exploring the implications of the Court of Justice of the European Union judgment in the TELE2 / Watson case from December 2016, and the circumstances in which Member States can require the retention of communications data. The UK continues to play a leading role in these discussions. I will update the Council on the proposed UK approach reflecting the principles set out in our consultation, launched on 30 November, on new safeguards for the use of communications data.

In addition, there will be a policy debate on best practice in tackling encrypted data. The UK is supportive of work in this area and is keen to ensure that law enforcement can access the data they need to protect the public, but that any proposals do not weaken internet security or jeopardise existing good cooperation with service providers.

Finally the Council will received updates on the Third meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group which took place in Bern on 13 November 2017; the outcomes of the EU Internet Forum meeting on 6 December; and the Presidency’s mid-term review of the JHA strategic guidelines. The incoming Bulgarian Presidency will also give a presentation on their work programme and priorities.

Justice day (08 December) will begin with the Presidency seeking a General Approach on the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) Directive and the Regulation regarding exchange of information on third country nationals (ECRIS-TCN). There appears to be broad agreement on the text prior to the JHA Council, which the Government can support, although as the proposals have not cleared Parliamentary Scrutiny, we will abstain on any vote in Council.

A second General Approach will be sought on Justice day for the proposed Regulation on mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders. Whilst there is not yet agreement among Member States on whether this should take the form of a Regulation or a Directive, we expect the Presidency to seek a Qualified Majority on the basis of a Regulation. The UK remains neutral on this question. This proposal has not yet cleared Parliamentary Scrutiny and so we will abstain should there be a vote.

There will be an update from the Presidency to Ministers on progress on the EU accession to the European Convention of Human Rights, following ECJ Opinion 2/13 in December 2014. Although progress has been slow, the responsible working group in the Council has now held a first discussion on all but one of the issues raised by the Court’s opinion. The outstanding issue is the question of whether Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) would fall within the jurisdiction of the ECtHR after accession; a paper on this is expected from the Commission. The Presidency is expected to ask the Commission for an update on the timing of this paper, but no questions will be posed of Ministers.

The lunchtime discussion will be on preparations for the next e-justice strategy and action plan.

Justice day will resume with a policy debate on the recast Brussels IIa Regulation. The Presidency will be asking Ministers to confirm that the recast Brussels IIa Regulation should abolish for all types of judgments the procedure by which judgments from one country are recognised for enforcement in another (known as exequatur) and that the method by which this is done should be considered further by the negotiations working group. The UK continues to support the abolition of exequatur subject to the inclusion of sufficient safeguards.

Finally, there will be a policy debate on the draft proposals for a Directive on Preventive Restructuring, Second Chance and Insolvency Proceedings. The Presidency has set out conclusions for agreement by Ministers on the future direction of work. The UK is generally supportive of these conclusions.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS314
WS
Home Office
Made on: 06 December 2017
Made by: Amber Rudd (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Commons

Justice and Home Affairs pre-Council statement

The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council of Ministers will meet on 7 and 8 December in Brussels. I will represent the UK for Interior day. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, the rt hon David Lidington MP will represent the UK for Justice day.

Interior day (07 December) will begin with an exchange of views on the interim report and recommendations of the High-level Expert Group on Radicalisation (HLEG-R), which was set up to consider how best to address radicalisation in EU Member States. The non-EU Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG) will present to Council their assessment of the terrorist threat in the EU, and update on recent capability developments, including on work needed to improve cooperation with the law enforcement community. I will intervene positively in support of HLEG-R and CTG activities.

This will be followed by a discussion on cooperation between Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and EU JHA agencies. This work aims to join up the activity of JHA agencies more effectively with EU security and defence missions in third countries. The Commission will identify lessons that can be learnt from existing cooperation, such as Operation Sophia (tackling migrant traffickers in the Central Mediterranean) for other CSDP operations and JHA agencies. The UK supports improving cooperation in this area and I will endorse this work-stream.

The Commission will update on the state of play on implementation of the Directive on the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. The UK has the most developed capability for processing PNR data in Europe and will continue to offer advice and support to Member States in the development of their own capabilities.

There will be a progress report on the technical discussions on improving interoperability of EU information systems, following the recommendations made by a High Level Expert Group in June. The Commission is also expected to set out the principles behind their forthcoming legislative proposal on this issue. The UK supports efforts to improve interoperability of EU information systems, but we will need to scrutinise the proposal when it is published.

This will be followed by a progress report from the Presidency on negotiations on the reform of the Common European Asylum System. The UK has not opted in to the majority of these measures, and I am unlikely to intervene on this item.

The Presidency will then seek a General Approach on the proposed EU-LISA Regulation. The Government has opted in to the draft Regulation and has no concerns with the text, but as the proposals have not cleared Parliamentary Scrutiny, I will abstain on the vote in Council.

At a working lunch Ministers will debate the strengthening of the Schengen area which is likely to focus on improving Schengen border management through a variety of coordinated actions, including the proposed Schengen internal borders legislative package which was published in September. The UK does not participate in the Schengen border free zone and I will not intervene in this discussion.

In the afternoon, the Presidency will provide an update on discussions exploring the implications of the Court of Justice of the European Union judgment in the TELE2 / Watson case from December 2016, and the circumstances in which Member States can require the retention of communications data. The UK continues to play a leading role in these discussions. I will update the Council on the proposed UK approach reflecting the principles set out in our consultation, launched on 30 November, on new safeguards for the use of communications data.

In addition, there will be a policy debate on best practice in tackling encrypted data. The UK is supportive of work in this area and is keen to ensure that law enforcement can access the data they need to protect the public, but that any proposals do not weaken internet security or jeopardise existing good cooperation with service providers.

Finally the Council will received updates on the Third meeting of the Central Mediterranean Contact Group which took place in Bern on 13 November 2017; the outcomes of the EU Internet Forum meeting on 6 December; and the Presidency’s mid-term review of the JHA strategic guidelines. The incoming Bulgarian Presidency will also give a presentation on their work programme and priorities.

Justice day (08 December) will begin with the Presidency seeking a General Approach on the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) Directive and the Regulation regarding exchange of information on third country nationals (ECRIS-TCN). There appears to be broad agreement the text prior to the JHA Council, which the Government can support, although as the proposals have not cleared Parliamentary Scrutiny, we will abstain on any vote in Council.

A second General Approach will be sought on Justice day for the proposed Regulation on mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders. Whilst there is not yet agreement among Member States on whether this should take the form of a Regulation or a Directive, we expect the Presidency to seek a Qualified Majority on the basis of a Regulation. The UK remains neutral on this question. This proposal has not yet cleared Parliamentary Scrutiny and so we will abstain should there be a vote.

There will be an update from the Presidency to Ministers on progress on the EU accession to the European Convention of Human Rights, following ECJ Opinion 2/13 in December 2014. Although progress has been slow, the responsible working group in the Council has now held a first discussion on all but one of the issues raised by the Court’s opinion. The outstanding issue is the question of whether Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) would fall within the jurisdiction of the ECtHR after accession; a paper on this is expected from the Commission. The Presidency is expected to ask the Commission for an update on the timing of this paper, but no questions will be posed of Ministers.

The lunchtime discussion will be on preparations for the next e-justice strategy and action plan.

Justice day will resume with a policy debate on the recast Brussels IIa Regulation. The Presidency will be asking Ministers to confirm that the recast Brussels IIa Regulation should abolish for all types of judgments the procedure by which judgments from one country are recognised for enforcement in another (known as exequatur) and that the method by which this is done should be considered further by the negotiations working group. The UK continues to support the abolition of exequatur subject to the inclusion of sufficient safeguards.

Finally, there will be a policy debate on the draft proposals for a Directive on Preventive Restructuring, Second Chance and Insolvency Proceedings. The Presidency has set out conclusions for agreement by Ministers on the future direction of work. The UK is generally supportive of these conclusions.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS309
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 05 December 2017
Made by: Mel Stride (The Financial Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Protocol to the Double Taxation Convention between the United Kingdom and the Swiss Federal Council

A Protocol to the 1977 Double Taxation Convention with Switzerland was signed on 30 November 2017. The text of the Protocol has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and has been made available on HM Revenue and Customs’ pages of the Gov.UK website. The text will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS308
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 05 December 2017
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Protocol to the Double Taxation Convention between the United Kingdom and the Swiss Federal Council

My right honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mel Stride) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A Protocol to the 1977 Double Taxation Convention with Switzerland was signed on 30 November 2017. The text of the Protocol has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and has been made available on HM Revenue and Customs’ pages of the Gov.UK website. The text will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS313
WS
Wales Office
Made on: 05 December 2017
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Wales)
Lords

Macur Review Report

My Right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Wales (Alun Cairns) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

On 17 March 2016 my predecessor, the right honourable member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, announced the publication of the Report of Lady Justice Macur’s Independent Review of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the abuse of children in care in the former county council areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd in North Wales since 1974.

Amongst other reasons, the Report was redacted to avoid prejudicing ongoing and upcoming criminal prosecutions and trials. Most of the redactions in this category concerned the former North Wales Police superintendent, Gordon Anglesea. Following his criminal trial at Mold Crown Court, on 4 October Gordon Anglesea was sentenced at Mold Crown Court to twelve years’ custody for an indecent assault against one boy and three indecent assaults against another boy. On 15 December 2016 Anglesea died in HMP Rye Hill.

In light of Gordon Anglesea’s death, there is no reason for his name to continue to be redacted and I have today laid a revised version of the Macur Review Report with references to Gordon Anglesea reinstated. The other redactions in the Report remain.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 05 December 2017
Made by: Lord Ashton of Hyde (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Lords

Heritage Statement

My hon. Friend the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism, has today made the following statement in the House of Commons.

I am today publishing a Heritage Statement, setting out the direction and priorities for the heritage sector in the coming years.

The Statement builds on the commitments we made in last year’s Culture White Paper. It links the heritage agenda to our wider agendas and strategies for industry, for regeneration and placemaking, for skills, for the environment, and for an internationalist, outward-looking Britain. It applies to England only, except where it relates to international issues and UK-wide policies and programmes.

The Statement is structured around four key themes: places, people, international, and sustainability and resilience. It focuses on areas where the government can help to support and develop the heritage sector and add value to the work of heritage organisations and the many thousands of specialists, professionals and volunteers who care for and manage our heritage.

The Heritage Statement is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-heritage-statement-2017.

WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 05 December 2017
Made by: Baroness Buscombe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Agenda of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) 7th December 2017, Brussels

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

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will take place on 7th December 2017 in Brussels. Damian Hinds, Minister of State for Employment, will represent the UK.

The Council will be invited to agree a partial General approach on the revision of Regulations on coordination of social security systems – Long-Term Care and Family Benefits (883/04 and 987/09).

The Council will be invited to agree a General approach on the European Accessibility Act.

The Council will receive a progress report on the draft Directive on equal treatment (Art. 19) and the draft Directive on work-life balance.

The Council will be invited to give political agreement to the Directive on Maritime Labour Convention (implementing a Social Partner Agreement).

As part of the Semester process the European Commission will present the Annual Growth Survey 2018, the draft Joint Employment Report, the Alert Mechanism Report and the draft Recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area. They will also seek the views and approval of Member States on the employment and social aspects of the Recommendation on the euro area.

The Council will be invited to adopt Council Conclusions on the following three topics: the Future of Work: Making it e-Easy; enhancing community-based support and care for independent living; and on enhanced measures to reduce horizontal gender segregation in education and employment.

Under any other business, the Commission will present information on the EU Action Plan 2017-2019 on tackling the gender pay gap and on concluding the year of focused actions to eliminate gender-based violence. The Swedish delegation and the Commission will present information on the Social Summit (Gothenburg, 17th November 2017) and the Bulgarian delegation will present the work programme of its incoming Presidency.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS310
WS
Wales Office
Made on: 05 December 2017
Made by: Alun Cairns (Secretary of State for Wales )
Commons

Macur Review Report

On 17 March 2016 my predecessor, the right honourable member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, announced the publication of the Report of Lady Justice Macur’s Independent Review of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the abuse of children in care in the former county council areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd in North Wales since 1974.

Amongst other reasons, the Report was redacted to avoid prejudicing ongoing and upcoming criminal prosecutions and trials. Most of the redactions in this category concerned the former North Wales Police superintendent, Gordon Anglesea. Following his criminal trial at Mold Crown Court, on 4 October Gordon Anglesea was sentenced at Mold Crown Court to twelve years’ custody for an indecent assault against one boy and three indecent assaults against another boy. On 15 December 2016 Gordon Anglesea died in HMP Rye Hill.

In light of Gordon Anglesea’s death there is no reason for his name to continue to be redacted, except where there is any risk that victims, witness or other individuals might be identified. I have today therefore laid a revised version of the Macur Review Report with references to Gordon Anglesea reinstated except where an ongoing risk has been identified. The other redactions in the Report remain.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 05 December 2017
Made by: John Glen (Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism)
Commons

Heritage Statement

I am today publishing a Heritage Statement, setting out the direction and priorities for the heritage sector in the coming years.

The Statement builds on the commitments we made in last year’s Culture White Paper. It links the heritage agenda to our wider agendas and strategies for industry, for regeneration and placemaking, for skills, for the environment, and for an internationalist, outward-looking Britain. It applies to England only, except where it relates to international issues and UK-wide policies and programmes.

The Statement is structured around four key themes: places, people, international, and sustainability and resilience. It focuses on areas where the government can help to support and develop the heritage sector and add value to the work of heritage organisations and the many thousands of specialists, professionals and volunteers who care for and manage our heritage.

The Heritage Statement is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-heritage-statement-2017.