Written statements

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

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

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

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Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 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.

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
WS
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
WS
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
WS
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.

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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.

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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.

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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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