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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Ministry of Defence
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State, Ministry of Defence)
Lords

National Memorial to British Victims of Overseas Terrorism

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Defence People and Veterans (Tobias Ellwood) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to inform Parliament that the National Memorial to British Victims of Overseas Terrorism has now been completed at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, and is open to the public to visit.

The process to select the artist and design for the Memorial began with a public online consultation in 2016. This consultation identified strong public support and set out what was important to those with an interest in the Memorial.

I am grateful to Baroness Chalker of Wallasey and the other members of the independent Panel which took forward the selection of the artists and design for the Memorial. They based their decisions on the results of the consultation in 2016.

The overarching themes of the consultation were that the Memorial should be a place of remembrance, where people could pay their respects to those who had lost their lives. It was also clear that the Memorial should be a place of contemplation and reflection, with many respondents suggesting that the Memorial should be a place of tranquillity and quiet reflection, and a place for families to visit and sit.

I am pleased with the way that the artist, Alison Wilding, and maker and sculptor, Adam Kershaw have responded to these themes, through their work, Still Water.

I am grateful also to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whose officials have delivered this project on my behalf. Those Departments that have a direct responsibility for supporting the families of victims of overseas terrorism will now work together to ensure that the families of future victims of terrorism overseas are connected with the Memorial sensitively, and by the most appropriate part of Government at the time. The new, cross-Government Victims of Terrorism Unit is well-placed to consider this work.

On 17 May 2018, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, I will be hosting a Dedication Ceremony at the site of the Memorial for families that have successfully applied online to attend. Further information, including how to apply to attend the event, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-memorial-dedication-ceremony

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Mr Tobias Ellwood (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence)
Commons

National Memorial to British Victims of Overseas Terrorism

I am pleased to inform Parliament that the National Memorial to British Victims of Overseas Terrorism has now been completed at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, and is open to the public to visit.

The process to select the artist and design for the Memorial began with a public online consultation in 2016. This consultation identified strong public support and set out what was important to those with an interest in the Memorial.

I am grateful to Baroness Chalker of Wallasey and the other members of the independent Panel which took forward the selection of the artists and design for the Memorial. They based their decisions on the results of the consultation in 2016.

The overarching themes of the consultation were that the Memorial should be a place of remembrance, where people could pay their respects to those who had lost their lives. It was also clear that the Memorial should be a place of contemplation and reflection, with many respondents suggesting that the Memorial should be a place of tranquillity and quiet reflection, and a place for families to visit and sit.

I am pleased with the way that the artist, Alison Wilding, and maker and sculptor, Adam Kershaw have responded to these themes, through their work, Still Water.

I am grateful also to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whose officials have delivered this project on my behalf. Those Departments that have a direct responsibility for supporting the families of victims of overseas terrorism will now work together to ensure that the families of future victims of terrorism overseas are connected with the Memorial sensitively, and by the most appropriate part of Government at the time. The new, cross-Government Victims of Terrorism Unit is well-placed to consider this work.

On 17 May 2018, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Government, I will be hosting a Dedication Ceremony at the site of the Memorial for families that have successfully applied online to attend. Further information, including how to apply to attend the event, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-memorial-dedication-ceremony

WS
Department for Education
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Social Work England update

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families (Nadhim Zahawi) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My honourable friend the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care (Caroline Dinenage) and I are today launching a public consultation on the policy to establish regulations and the regulatory framework for Social Work England. The framework and the regulations within it are to be made under Part 2 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017.

Social work is a complex and challenging profession. The best social workers deliver truly excellent provision that has the power to transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

We want all social workers to be equipped to deliver outstanding services. Key to delivering on this vision is a highly skilled and expert workforce. We have developed a significant reform programme, across child and family and adult social work, to improve both the quality of social work practice, and the systems which support social workers.

A fundamental part of this reform programme is delivering on our commitment to establish Social Work England: a new, specialist regulator for social workers in England. Like the other health and social care regulators across the UK, Social Work England’s primary objective will be protection of the public. It will achieve its objective through setting professional, education and training standards for social workers, and providing assurance that those registered meet the standards, are qualified and remain fit to practise. By doing so, it will promote public confidence and trust in this vital profession.

Health and social care professional regulation is undergoing change. While the regulators are generally effective in protecting the public from serious harm, there has been criticism, including from the regulators themselves, that the system can be slow, inefficient, overly adversarial and confusing to patients and the public. Government recognises that the regulation of all healthcare professionals needs to be faster, simpler, better and less costly and is reviewing the regulation of healthcare professionals through its consultation Promoting professionalism, reforming regulation. Social Work England is at the forefront of this reform.

Therefore, the regulatory framework for Social Work England, described in this consultation, aims to take account of the latest thinking, enabling the regulator to be more streamlined, proportionate and efficient. Social Work England will be able to operate systems and processes which adapt to emerging opportunities, challenges and best practice, ensuring professional regulation reflects the changing reality of delivering social work practice safely and effectively.

The consultation will run for six weeks and ends on 21 March. It seeks views on a range of key issues. A copy of the draft regulatory framework forms part of the consultation.

Copies of the consultation document will be placed in the House Library and available on the Government’s website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?keywords=&publication_filter_option=consultations&topics%5B%5D=all&departments%5B%5D=department-for-education&official_document_status=all&world_locations%5B%5D=all&from_date=&to_date=.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS463
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Lord Young of Cookham (Lord in Waiting (Government Whip))
Lords

Infected Blood Inquiry

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am announcing today the appointment of Sir Brian Langstaff to head the public inquiry into the Infected Blood scandal. The inquiry will be established under the 2005 Inquiries Act, with full powers, including the power to compel the ​production of documents, and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath.

In relation to the appointment of the Chair, the Lord Chief Justice was asked to recommend a judge who, in his view, would be best suited to the task. The Lord Chief Justice recommended Sir Brian Langstaff: a highly respected and hugely experienced High Court judge. I have accepted the Lord Chief Justice’s recommendation.

Sir Brian will be the full time Chair of the Inquiry from 1 May following his retirement from the High Court. However, in order that those who have been affected by this tragedy face no further undue delay, he will use the intervening period to conduct a further consultation on the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference

The infected blood scandal of the ’70s and ’80s was an appalling tragedy that should never have happened. The victims of this tragedy who have endured so much pain and hardship deserve answers. It is crucial that their views are properly reflected in the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference. He will want to listen carefully to the voices of those that have suffered before making a recommendation to me on what the scope of the Inquiry should be. I will return to Parliament with the final terms of reference as soon as this process has been completed.

The Government will ensure that the inquiry has the resources that it needs to complete its work. The Inquiry will, of course, also be independent of the Government.

It is very important that the Inquiry can identify why and how this tragedy occurred and provide answers for the all victims who have suffered so terribly, and can identify lessons to be learned so that a tragedy of this scale can never happen again.

WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity)
Lords

January Agriculture and Fisheries Council

My Hon Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment (Thérèse Coffey) has today made the following statement.

I represented the United Kingdom at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 29 January in Brussels.

Council began with a presentation by the Bulgarian Presidency, outlining its work programme until the end of June. This set out that discussion on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be prioritised in Agriculture and Fisheries Council; regular updates on EU agricultural markets will continue, along with a discussion of proposals for strengthening the position of farmers in the food supply chain; and items on a Spirit Drink Regulation, forestry, animal health and veterinary medicines will also feature.

The focus of this Council was an exchange of views on the Common Agricultural Policy post 2020. Member states displayed a variety of positions regarding the future direction of the CAP. The UK committed to working closely with EU colleagues in tackling shared challenges in farming policy, and signalled future efforts by the UK Government to bring together agriculture and environment policy, such as the 25 year Environment Plan for England.

The Council moved on to EU agriculture markets, and Commissioner Hogan gave an update on the sugar, dairy and pigmeat markets. Alongside this update, the French and Belgian delegations prompted a further discussion with their ideas for releasing EU stocks of Skimmed Milk Powder. The Polish delegation requested further discussion on the EU pigmeat market. Commissioner Hogan then updated the Council on December’s WTO Ministerial Conference and trade negotiations with Mercosur.

There were four further items discussed under ‘Any other business’:

  • the German delegation presented the conclusions of the Agriculture Ministers Conference 2018 in the context of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (Berlin, 20 January 2018)

  • the French delegation presented the conclusions from the Ministerial Conference on Xylella fastidiosa (Paris, 1 December 2017)

  • the German delegation presented conclusions from the high-level meeting on African swine fever (ASF) at the International Green Week (Berlin, 19 January 2018)

  • the Czech delegation highlighted the involvement of European research in eradicating African swine fever in the EU.

On 23 June 2016, the EU referendum took place and the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Until we leave the EU, 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.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS461
WS
Leader of the House of Lords
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (The Lord Privy Seal)
Lords

Working Group on an Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy

My Rt Hon. Friend the Leader of the House of Commons has made the following statement to the House of Commons:

In November, my Rt Hon Friend the Prime Minister convened a cross-party Working Group to establish a new independent complaints and grievance procedure, in response to reports of sexual harassment and bullying in parliament.

As Chairman of the Working Group, I am pleased to confirm that all members of the Working Group and all Party Leaders have agreed a report which is being published today.

I attach a copy of the report of the Working Group to this statement for the convenience of members.

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Local government improvement improvement in Suffolk

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

On 7 November and 30 November respectively I told the House that I was minded to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval, locally-supported proposals I had received from the respective councils to merge district councils in East Suffolk and in West Suffolk, and I invited representations before I took my final decisions on these proposals.

Having carefully considered all the representations I have received and all the relevant information available to me, I am today announcing that I have decided to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval, both proposals – that is to merge Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils to become a new single district council named East Suffolk, and to merge Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council to become a new single district council named West Suffolk.

I have reached my decisions having regard to the criteria for district council mergers I announced to the House on 7 November. I am satisfied that these criteria are met and that both new district councils are likely to improve local government and service delivery in their areas, command a good deal of local support, and that each council area is a credible geography.

I now intend to prepare and lay before Parliament drafts of the necessary secondary legislation to give effect to my decisions. My intention is that if Parliament approves this legislation the new councils will be established on 1 April 2019 with the first elections to the councils held on 2 May 2019.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS462
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Mr David Lidington (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office )
Commons

Infected Blood Inquiry

I am announcing today the appointment of Sir Brian Langstaff to head the public inquiry into the Infected Blood scandal. The inquiry will be established under the 2005 Inquiries Act, with full powers, including the power to compel the ​production of documents, and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath.

In relation to the appointment of the Chair, the Lord Chief Justice was asked to recommend a judge who, in his view, would be best suited to the task. The Lord Chief Justice recommended Sir Brian Langstaff: a highly respected and hugely experienced High Court judge. I have accepted the Lord Chief Justice’s recommendation.

Sir Brian will be the full time Chair of the Inquiry from 1 May following his retirement from the High Court. However, in order that those who have been affected by this tragedy face no further undue delay, he will use the intervening period to conduct a further consultation on the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference

The infected blood scandal of the ’70s and ’80s was an appalling tragedy that should never have happened. The victims of this tragedy who have endured so much pain and hardship deserve answers. It is crucial that their views are properly reflected in the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference. He will want to listen carefully to the voices of those that have suffered before making a recommendation to me on what the scope of the Inquiry should be. I will return to Parliament with the final terms of reference as soon as this process has been completed.

The Government will ensure that the inquiry has the resources that it needs to complete its work. The Inquiry will, of course, also be independent of the Government.

It is very important that the Inquiry can identify why and how this tragedy occurred and provide answers for the all victims who have suffered so terribly, and can identify lessons to be learned so that a tragedy of this scale can never happen again.

WS
Department for Education
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Nadhim Zahawi (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Social Work England update

My honourable friend the Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care (Caroline Dinenage) and I are today launching a public consultation on the policy to establish regulations and the regulatory framework for Social Work England. The framework and the regulations within it are to be made under Part 2 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017.

Social work is a complex and challenging profession. The best social workers deliver truly excellent provision that has the power to transform the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

We want all social workers to be equipped to deliver outstanding services. Key to delivering on this vision is a highly skilled and expert workforce. We have developed a significant reform programme, across child and family and adult social work, to improve both the quality of social work practice, and the systems which support social workers.

A fundamental part of this reform programme is delivering on our commitment to establish Social Work England: a new, specialist regulator for social workers in England. Like the other health and social care regulators across the UK, Social Work England’s primary objective will be protection of the public. It will achieve its objective through setting professional, education and training standards for social workers, and providing assurance that those registered meet the standards, are qualified and remain fit to practise. By doing so, it will promote public confidence and trust in this vital profession.

Health and social care professional regulation is undergoing change. While the regulators are generally effective in protecting the public from serious harm, there has been criticism, including from the regulators themselves, that the system can be slow, inefficient, overly adversarial and confusing to patients and the public. Government recognises that the regulation of all healthcare professionals needs to be faster, simpler, better and less costly and is reviewing the regulation of healthcare professionals through its consultation Promoting professionalism, reforming regulation. Social Work England is at the forefront of this reform.

Therefore, the regulatory framework for Social Work England, described in this consultation, aims to take account of the latest thinking, enabling the regulator to be more streamlined, proportionate and efficient. Social Work England will be able to operate systems and processes which adapt to emerging opportunities, challenges and best practice, ensuring professional regulation reflects the changing reality of delivering social work practice safely and effectively.

The consultation will run for six weeks and ends on 21 March. It seeks views on a range of key issues. A copy of the draft regulatory framework forms part of the consultation.

Copies of the consultation document will be placed in the House Library and available on the Government’s website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?keywords=&publication_filter_option=consultations&topics%5B%5D=all&departments%5B%5D=department-for-education&official_document_status=all&world_locations%5B%5D=all&from_date=&to_date=.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS451
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Local Government improvement in Suffolk

On 7 November and 30 November respectively I told the House that I was minded to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval, locally-supported proposals I had received from the respective councils to merge district councils in East Suffolk and in West Suffolk, and I invited representations before I took my final decisions on these proposals.

Having carefully considered all the representations I have received and all the relevant information available to me, I am today announcing that I have decided to implement, subject to Parliamentary approval, both proposals – that is to merge Suffolk Coastal and Waveney district councils to become a new single district council named East Suffolk, and to merge Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council to become a new single district council named West Suffolk.

I have reached my decisions having regard to the criteria for district council mergers I announced to the House on 7 November. I am satisfied that these criteria are met and that both new district councils are likely to improve local government and service delivery in their areas, command a good deal of local support, and that each council area is a credible geography.

I now intend to prepare and lay before Parliament drafts of the necessary secondary legislation to give effect to my decisions. My intention is that if Parliament approves this legislation the new councils will be established on 1 April 2019 with the first elections to the councils held on 2 May 2019.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS447
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Dr Thérèse Coffey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment )
Commons

January Agriculture and Fisheries Council

I represented the United Kingdom at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 29 January in Brussels.

Council began with a presentation by the Bulgarian Presidency, outlining its work programme until the end of June. This set out that discussion on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will be prioritised in Agriculture and Fisheries Council; regular updates on EU agricultural markets will continue, along with a discussion of proposals for strengthening the position of farmers in the food supply chain; and items on a Spirit Drink Regulation, forestry, animal health and veterinary medicines will also feature.

The focus of this Council was an exchange of views on the Common Agricultural Policy post 2020. Member states displayed a variety of positions regarding the future direction of the CAP. The UK committed to working closely with EU colleagues in tackling shared challenges in farming policy, and signalled future efforts by the UK Government to bring together agriculture and environment policy, such as the 25 year Environment Plan for England.

The Council moved on to EU agriculture markets, and Commissioner Hogan gave an update on the sugar, dairy and pigmeat markets. Alongside this update, the French and Belgian delegations prompted a further discussion with their ideas for releasing EU stocks of Skimmed Milk Powder. The Polish delegation requested further discussion on the EU pigmeat market. Commissioner Hogan then updated the Council on December’s WTO Ministerial Conference and trade negotiations with Mercosur.

There were four further items discussed under ‘Any other business’:

  • the German delegation presented the conclusions of the Agriculture Ministers Conference 2018 in the context of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (Berlin, 20 January 2018)

  • the French delegation presented the conclusions from the Ministerial Conference on Xylella fastidiosa (Paris, 1 December 2017)

  • the German delegation presented conclusions from the high-level meeting on African swine fever (ASF) at the International Green Week (Berlin, 19 January 2018)

  • the Czech delegation highlighted the involvement of European research in eradicating African swine fever in the EU.

On 23 June 2016, the EU referendum took place and the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Until we leave the EU, 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.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS449
WS
Leader of the House
Made on: 08 February 2018
Made by: Andrea Leadsom (The Leader of the House of Commons)
Commons

Working Group on an Independent Complaints and Grievance Policy

In November, my Rt Hon Friend the Prime Minister convened a cross-party Working Group to establish a new independent complaints and grievance procedure, in response to reports of sexual harassment and bullying in parliament.

As Chairman of the Working Group, I am pleased to confirm that all members of the Working Group and all Party Leaders have agreed a report which is being published today.

I attach a copy of the report of the Working Group to this statement for the convenience of members.

Working Group Report (PDF Document, 428.64 KB)
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Nadhim Zahawi (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Schools and Early Years Update

Following the two public consultations my Department ran recently, I am pleased to announce my intention to lay regulations in the House later today that will introduce net earned income thresholds under Universal Credit for free school meals, the early years pupil premium, and the early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

This approach is consistent with how other government departments have set criteria for other ‘passported’ benefits.

The changes will come into force on 1 April 2018 for the start of the school summer term. Under our proposals, we estimate that by 2022 around 50,000 more children will benefit from a free school meal compared to the previous benefits system. In addition, we will apply transitional protection to anyone currently receiving free school meals.

These changes do not affect the criteria for universal infant free school meals, which will continue to be available to all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 regardless of parental income.

For free school meals and the early years pupil premium we are introducing a net earnings threshold of £7,400 per annum. A typical family earning around £7,400 per annum would, depending on their exact circumstances, have a total household income of between £18,000 and £24,000 once benefits are taken into account.

For the early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds, we are introducing a net earnings threshold of £15,400 per annum. Under this new threshold, we estimate that by 2023 around 7,000 more children will benefit from the two-year-old entitlement compared to the previous benefits system.

The Government’s responses to these consultations have been published on the Department for Education’s website, and copies of the Regulations will be laid shortly.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS446
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Schools and Early Years Update

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families (Nadhim Zahawi) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Following the two public consultations my Department ran recently, I am pleased to announce my intention to lay regulations in the House later today that will introduce net earned income thresholds under Universal Credit for free school meals, the early years pupil premium, and the early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds.

This approach is consistent with how other government departments have set criteria for other ‘passported’ benefits.

The changes will come into force on 1 April 2018 for the start of the school summer term. Under our proposals, we estimate that by 2022 around 50,000 more children will benefit from a free school meal compared to the previous benefits system. In addition, we will apply transitional protection to anyone currently receiving free school meals.

These changes do not affect the criteria for universal infant free school meals, which will continue to be available to all pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2 regardless of parental income.

For free school meals and the early years pupil premium we are introducing a net earnings threshold of £7,400 per annum. A typical family earning around £7,400 per annum would, depending on their exact circumstances, have a total household income of between £18,000 and £24,000 once benefits are taken into account.

For the early education entitlement for disadvantaged two-year-olds, we are introducing a net earnings threshold of £15,400 per annum. Under this new threshold, we estimate that by 2023 around 7,000 more children will benefit from the two-year-old entitlement compared to the previous benefits system.

The Government’s responses to these consultations have been published on the Department for Education’s website, and copies of the Regulations will be laid shortly.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS459
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Mr Philip Hammond (The Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Commons

ECOFIN: 23 January 2018

A meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 23 January 2018. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following:

Early Morning Session

The Eurogroup President provided briefing to Ministers on the outcomes of the 22 January meeting of the Eurogroup, and the Commission provided an update on the current economic situation in the EU.

Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)

The Council held a policy debate on the deepening of the EMU.

Current Financial Services Legislative Proposals

The Presidency presented information on the current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

VAT: Simplification of Rates and Simplification for SME’s

The Commission presented proposals to reform the rules on VAT rates and structures, and to simplify VAT obligations for SMEs.

Presidency Work Programme

The Bulgarian Presidency presented its work programme for January to June 2018.

European Semester 2018

The Council adopted the Council conclusions on the Annual Growth Survey 2018 and the Council conclusions on the Alert Mechanism Report 2018. The Council also approved a Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area.

Action Plan to Tackle Non-Performing Loans in Europe

The Council exchanged views on a factual report by the Commission regarding the implementation of the action plan to tackle non-performing loans in Europe.

AOB: EU List of Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions for Tax Purposes

The Council approved a report by the EU Code of Conduct Group (Business Taxation) to de-list 8 jurisdictions from the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes that was agreed at December 2017 ECOFIN.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS445
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

ECOFIN: 23 January 2018

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

A meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 23 January 2018. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following:

Early Morning Session

The Eurogroup President provided briefing to Ministers on the outcomes of the 22 January meeting of the Eurogroup, and the Commission provided an update on the current economic situation in the EU.

Deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)

The Council held a policy debate on the deepening of the EMU.

Current Financial Services Legislative Proposals

The Presidency presented information on the current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

VAT: Simplification of Rates and Simplification for SME’s

The Commission presented proposals to reform the rules on VAT rates and structures, and to simplify VAT obligations for SMEs.

Presidency Work Programme

The Bulgarian Presidency presented its work programme for January to June 2018.

European Semester 2018

The Council adopted the Council conclusions on the Annual Growth Survey 2018 and the Council conclusions on the Alert Mechanism Report 2018. The Council also approved a Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area.

Action Plan to Tackle Non-Performing Loans in Europe

The Council exchanged views on a factual report by the Commission regarding the implementation of the action plan to tackle non-performing loans in Europe.

AOB: EU List of Non-Cooperative Jurisdictions for Tax Purposes

The Council approved a report by the EU Code of Conduct Group (Business Taxation) to de-list 8 jurisdictions from the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes that was agreed at December 2017 ECOFIN.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS458
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Defence)
Commons

Ministry of Defence Votes A Annual Estimate 2018-19

The Ministry of Defence Votes A Estimate 2018-19, has been laid before the House today as HC730. This outlines the maximum numbers of personnel to be maintained for each Service in the Armed Forces during Financial Year 2018-19.

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State for Defence, (Ministry of Defence), Lords))
Lords

Ministry of Defence Votes A Annual Estimate 2018-19

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

The Ministry of Defence Votes A Estimate 2018-19, has been laid before the House today as HC730. This outlines the maximum numbers of personnel to be maintained for each Service in the Armed Forces during Financial Year 2018-19.

WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Baroness Buscombe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Financial Guidance and Claims Bill (Contingencies Fund Advance)

My honourable Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion (Guy Opperman MP) has made the following Written Statement

The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill currently before Parliament provides for an arms-length non-departmental public body, known as the Single Finance Guidance Body, to take on the functions currently delivered by the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.

Our intention, subject to Parliamentary approval, is to launch the new body in autumn 2018. In order to avoid delay in the launch, expenditure is required in advance of the Bill receiving Royal Assent to cover the costs associated with the commencement of the recruitment of the Chair and Chief Executive of the body, including the staffing costs of the DWP Public Appointments Team, any media advertising, and miscellaneous administration costs. Advertising for the posts will be clear that the roles are dependent on the successful passage of the Bill through Parliament.

Parliamentary approval for resources of £ 30,000 for this new service will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Work and Pensions. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £ 30,000 will be met by repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS456
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )
Lords

Modern Working Practices

My hon Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Andrew Griffiths) has today made the following statement:

On 11 July 2017 the Government published The Review of Modern Working Practices, which was led by Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts) at the request of my Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister.

The Government set out in the Industrial Strategy, published in November, a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK by focusing on the five foundations of productivity: Ideas, People, Infrastructure, Business Environment and Places. Good work and developing better jobs for everyone in the British economy is at the centre of our Industrial Strategy vision.

Building on the Industrial Strategy, today the Government is publishing a full response to the Taylor Review, setting out how we intend to develop further the strength of the UK labour market and ensure it meets the challenges and opportunities presented by new ways of working and innovative business models. Alongside the full response, we are publishing four public consultations, which seek views on how to implement a series of proposals to enhance workers’ rights and ensure that the labour market is working for everybody.

The four consultations cover proposed changes on agency workers, employment status, enforcement and increasing transparency.

We are taking forward work on the vast majority of the Review recommendations, and the plans we are outlining build on our pledge to not only protect, but enhance, workers’ rights. Copies of the Government Response and consultations will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS455
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Guy Opperman (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion)
Commons

Financial Guidance and Claims Bill (Contingencies Fund Advance)

The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill currently before Parliament provides for an arms-length non-departmental public body, known as the Single Finance Guidance Body, to take on the functions currently delivered by the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.

Our intention, subject to Parliamentary approval, is to launch the new body in autumn 2018. In order to avoid delay in the launch, expenditure is required in advance of the Bill receiving Royal Assent to cover the costs associated with the commencement of the recruitment of the Chair and Chief Executive of the body, including the staffing costs of the DWP Public Appointments Team, any media advertising, and miscellaneous administration costs. Advertising for the posts will be clear that the roles are dependent on the successful passage of the Bill through Parliament.

Parliamentary approval for resources of £ 30,000 for this new service will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Work and Pensions. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £ 30,000 will be met by repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS443
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 07 February 2018
Made by: Andrew Griffiths (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy )
Commons

Modern Working Practices

On 11 July 2017 the Government published The Review of Modern Working Practices, which was led by Matthew Taylor (Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts) at the request of my Rt hon Friend the Prime Minister.

The Government set out in the Industrial Strategy, published in November, a long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK by focusing on the five foundations of productivity: Ideas, People, Infrastructure, Business Environment and Places. Good work and developing better jobs for everyone in the British economy is at the centre of our Industrial Strategy vision.

Building on the Industrial Strategy, today the Government is publishing a full response to the Taylor Review, setting out how we intend to develop further the strength of the UK labour market and ensure it meets the challenges and opportunities presented by new ways of working and innovative business models. Alongside the full response, we are publishing four public consultations, which seek views on how to implement a series of proposals to enhance workers’ rights and ensure that the labour market is working for everybody.

The four consultations cover proposed changes on agency workers, employment status, enforcement and increasing transparency.

We are taking forward work on the vast majority of the Review recommendations, and the plans we are outlining build on our pledge to not only protect, but enhance, workers’ rights. Copies of the Government Response and consultations will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS442
WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Lord Ashton of Hyde (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport )
Lords

Sustainability of the press

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Right Honourable Matt Hancock MP, has today made the following statement in the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister is today announcing that the Government will be establishing an external review, looking into the sustainability of high quality journalism, including the national, regional and local press.

Robust high quality journalism is important for public debate, scrutiny, and ultimately for democratic political discourse. Yet the press currently faces an uncertain future. Print circulations have declined, with readerships moving online, and the shift from print to digital advertising has led to a loss of revenue for the press. The Government is determined to ensure that the UK has a vibrant, independent and plural free press, which is able to provide high quality journalism as one of the cornerstones of our public debate. As per our manifesto, we are committed to making sure content creators are appropriately rewarded for the content they make available online, and ensure there is a sustainable business model for high quality media online. The review will help us deliver on these commitments.

We have already commissioned research to look into the current state of the local and national press markets. The review will bring together experts who will be able to assess the many factors affecting the health of the UK’s news sector. These factors include the impact of the digital advertising supply chain, the role of content and data in the market, click-bait and the role played by the online platforms.

The review will publish a report and a range of recommendations for the industry and Government to consider. The report is expected to be published later this year.

I have published a summary of the scope of this review on GOV.UK. The Terms of Reference, chair and panel will all be announced in the coming months.



WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Lord Young of Cookham (Lord in Waiting (Government Whip))
Lords

Committee on Standards in Public Life

The Minister for the Constitution has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In July 2017, the Prime Minister asked the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life to undertake a review into the issue of abuse and intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates, including those who stood in the 2017 General Election campaign. Concerns were highlighted by those across the political spectrum. The Committee published a comprehensive report in December.

The Government would like to thank the Committee of Standards in Public Life again for their considered and thorough report. The Prime Minister has today announced some initial measures based on the Committee’s findings and the Government will be publishing a substantive response in due course.

As the Prime Minister notes today, in public life, and increasingly in private conversations too, it is becoming harder and harder to conduct any political discussion, on any issue, without it descending into tribalism and rancour. Social media and digital communication – which in themselves can and should be forces for good in our democracy – are being exploited and abused, often anonymously. British democracy has always been robust and oppositional. But a line is crossed when disagreement descends into intimidation.

Individuals standing for elected office

It cannot be right that people looking to participate in our democracy are subject to abuse and intimidation for doing so. The Government will therefore consult in due course on the introduction of a new offence in electoral law on intimidating candidates and campaigners. We also propose to remove the requirement for candidates for local government to include their home addresses on ballot papers, if they do not wish to do so. This extends the protection already offered to parliamentary candidates.

Online content

We want users to be better informed about how reported social media content is dealt with. We will establish a new Annual Internet Safety Transparency Report, to improve our understanding of the offensive content being reported, how social media companies are responding to complaints, and what content is being removed.

The Prime Minister has today called on social media companies to set out how they will respond to the recommendations in the report, and we have been encouraged by the positive response we have seen thus far. It is welcome that social media companies have agreed to take forward the recommendation for a ‘pop up’ social media reporting team for election campaigns and they will actively provide advice and support to Parliamentary candidates.

Political parties

The report has a number of recommendations for political parties, which they will wish to consider carefully. The Prime Minister has noted that the Conservative Party is putting in place a new code of conduct for members and supporters that puts respect and decency at its core. The Prime Minister is encouraging the leaders of other parties to follow this example.

Law, police and prosecutors

The Committee made a number of recommendations for national police leadership bodies, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing, on devolved operational policing matters. Both the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College will be responding to the Committee’s report separately, but we are pleased to confirm that they will implement each of the recommendations in the report that refer to them.

Some of these issues touch on devolved matters, and the UK Government will liaise with our colleagues in the Devolved Administrations accordingly.

A more detailed response will be published by the Government in due course. Ministers would welcome further feedback from Parliamentary colleagues, and the House may wish to debate and consider these matters further.

I have placed in the Library a copy of the Prime Minister’s speech from today.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Matt Hancock (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Sustainability of the press

The Prime Minister is today announcing that the Government will be establishing an external review, looking into the sustainability of high quality journalism, including the national, regional and local press.

Robust high quality journalism is important for public debate, scrutiny, and ultimately for democratic political discourse. Yet the press currently faces an uncertain future. Print circulations have declined, with readerships moving online, and the shift from print to digital advertising has led to a loss of revenue for the press. The Government is determined to ensure that the UK has a vibrant, independent and plural free press, which is able to provide high quality journalism as one of the cornerstones of our public debate. As per our manifesto, we are committed to making sure content creators are appropriately rewarded for the content they make available online, and ensure there is a sustainable business model for high quality media online. The review will help us deliver on these commitments.

We have already commissioned research to look into the current state of the local and national press markets. The review will bring together experts who will be able to assess the many factors affecting the health of the UK’s news sector. These factors include the impact of the digital advertising supply chain, the role of content and data in the market, click-bait and the role played by the online platforms.

The review will publish a report and a range of recommendations for the industry and Government to consider. The report is expected to be published later this year.

I have published a summary of the scope of this review on GOV.UK. The Terms of Reference, chair and panel will all be announced in the coming months.

WS
Prime Minister
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Mrs Theresa May (Prime Minister)
Commons

Clarification

During Prime Minister’s Questions on 24 January I understand that the monthly 12 hour figures I used, while accurate and drawn directly from data published by the relevant NHS authorities in England and Wales, are not directly comparable (Official report column 256).

I should have used the latest annual data which shows that 3.4% patients waited over 12 hours in Wales last year, compared to 1.3% in England, and the latest monthly data on A&E performance which shows that 85.1% of patients in England were seen within 4 hours in December 2017 compared to 78.9% in Wales.

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Local Government Finance

Local Government Finance

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

Yesterday, I laid before the House, the ‘Report on Local Government Finance (England) 2018–19’, which represents the annual local government finance settlement for local authorities in England.

I would like to thank all colleagues in the House, council leaders and officers, who contributed to the consultation after the provisional settlement was published before Christmas.

My Ministers and I have engaged extensively with the sector, including offering a teleconference to all local authorities, and holding meetings with representative groups including the Local Government Association and with councils and MPs. Representations from almost 160 organisations or individuals have been carefully considered before finalising the settlement.

This settlement is the third year of a four year offer which was accepted by 97% of councils in return for publishing efficiency plans. This settlement sees two years of real terms increases in available resources to local government: £44.3 billion in 2017-18 to £45.6 billion in 2019-20.

The current business rates retention scheme is yielding strong results. Local authorities estimate that in 2017-18 they will keep around £1.3 billion in business rates growth, which we expect will be maintained into 2018-19 and 2019-20. This is on top of the core settlement funding I am announcing today.

I commend local authorities for their work in securing efficiency savings supported by the long term certainty of the multi-year settlement. Councils continue to seek to maximise public value for every pound invested in public services. Of course, there is further for all councils to go. To help this, I am extending the capital receipts flexibility programme for a further 3 years. This scheme gives local authorities the freedom to use capital receipts from the sale of their own assets to support transformation and unlock efficiency savings. We will also continue to work with the sector to help them increase transparency and share best practice supporting greater progress in delivering increased efficiency over the coming year. I expect this to have a tangible impact on the steps councils take to promote efficiency by 2019-20.

Social Care

I recognise the need to prioritise spending on social care services that councils provide to our elderly and vulnerable citizens. This is why we announced an additional £2 billion at Spring Budget 2017 for adult social care over the three years from 2017-18. This year we have seen how this money has enabled councils to increase provider fees, provide for more care packages and reduce delayed transfer of care.

And, having listening to representations since the provisional settlement, I am today announcing a further £150 million in 2018-19 for an Adult Social Care Support Grant. This will be taken from anticipated underspend in existing departmental budgets, and will not affect existing revenue commitments made ‎to local government. This will be allocated according to relative needs and we will expect to see councils use it to build on their progress so far in supporting sustainable local care markets.

With this, and other measures, the Government has given councils access to £9.4 billion dedicated funding for adult social care over three years.

This is a long-term challenge that requires a sustainable settlement for the future. The publication of a Green Paper this summer setting out our proposals for reform sets us on the path to securing a resilient and sustainable system.

In Children’s Social Care too, it is important to understand cost drivers as well as service quality and efficiency in a highly complex and critical service area. The Government has invested £200 million since 2014 in the Innovation Programme and Partners in Practice Programme, as well as £920 million in the Troubled Families Programme, to help the children’s social care sector innovate and re-design service delivery to achieve higher quality, improve family outcomes and secure better value for money.

I also recognise the good work that local authorities do in caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children. I have therefore made £19m available to local authorities in 2017/18 from within existing budgets, including the Controlling Migration Fund, to develop the skills and capacity to be able to support these very vulnerable children.

Protecting residents from excessive council tax rises

Under the Localism Act 2011 and as re-affirmed in the Government’s 2017 manifesto, councils can set whatever council tax rates they wish, but they need the direct consent of local people if they wish to impose an excessive rise. This year, that referendum threshold is set in line with inflation at 3%. In addition, local authorities with responsibility for social care may levy a precept to spend exclusively on adult social care. As announced last year, this precept equates to up to 6% over three years, from 2017-18 to 2019-20, with a maximum increase of 3% in the first two years and 2% in the final year. This settlement strikes a balance on council tax between the need to relieve pressure on local services, including social care, while also recognising that many households face their own pressures.

New Homes Bonus

Local authorities are instrumental in ensuring the building of homes this country needs. By the end of 2018-19, we will have allocated £7 billion in New Homes Bonus payments to reward the building of 1,400,000 homes since the scheme was introduced in 2011. We recognise the need for continuity and certainty on New Homes Bonus, and therefore for the year ahead there will be no new changes to the way New Homes Bonus works. The New Homes Bonus baseline will be maintained at 0.4 per cent and £947.5 million in New Homes Bonus payments will be paid in 2018-19.

Rural Funding

I am committed to ensuring the needs of rural areas are met and recognise the particular costs of providing services in sparse rural areas. So in 2018-19, in response to representations made since the provisional settlement, I will increase the Rural Services Delivery Grant by £31 million - £16 million more than proposed in the provisional settlement. This will take the total to £81 million, a little over the 2016-17 level and the highest it has ever been.

2019-20 and later years

To meet the challenges of the future we need an updated and more responsive distribution methodology. We have published a formal consultation on a review of relative needs and resources and aim to implement its findings in 2020-21. There have been widespread calls for a thorough, evidence-based review, and we will deliver this. The review will examine the cost of delivering services across the country, including rural areas, and will consider which factors should be taken into account when considering a local authority’s relative resources.

Following the delay to the implementation of 100% business rates retention and reforms to the local government finance system, I acknowledge concerns around ‘negative RSG’. We will be looking at fair and affordable options that will address the problem of negative RSG that occurs in 2019-20, and will formally consult on proposals ahead of next year’s settlement.

We will also work towards implementing the next phase of our business rates retention reforms in 2020-21 to support the long held objective for local authorities of greater self-sufficiency and financial sustainability. This will give local councils the levers and incentives they need to grow their local economies. Local authorities will be able to keep more business rates, to the value of the Revenue Support Grant, the Greater London Authority Transport Grant, the Rural Services Delivery Grant and the Public Health Grant. Overall, this is equivalent to 75% retention at 2019-20 levels. Local authorities will then be able to keep the equivalent share of business rates growth on their baseline levels from 2020-21, when the system is reset. The Government intends to use the intervening period to develop a set of measures that support a smooth transition of funding for public health services from a grant to retained business rates.

Ahead of this, we will continue to test out aspects of the future business rates retention system in a broad range of authorities right across the country. And, to help us take forward our continued long-term plan to let local government keep 100% of its business rates, in 2018-19 we will continue to pilot 100% business rates retention in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, the West Midlands, West of England and Cornwall, introduce a London pilot, and will take forward ten further 100% business rates retention pilots. These are Berkshire, Derbyshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Kent and Medway, Leeds City Region, Lincolnshire, Solent Authorities, Suffolk and Surrey. The ten pilot areas will cover 89 local authorities in total.

I recognise that there is disappointment among those areas that were unsuccessful in their pilot applications this year and I am pleased to confirm that I intend to open a further bidding round for pilots in 2019/20. Further information on this will be published in due course.

Conclusion

Local government delivers vital services at the heart of the communities they serve. This settlement strikes a balance between relieving growing pressure on local government whilst ensuring that hard-pressed taxpayers do not face excessive bills. We have listened to representations made and delivered on these requests: two years of real terms increases in resources, more freedom and fairness, and greater certainty to plan and secure value for money.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS451
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Chloe Smith (Minister for the Constitution)
Commons

Committee on Standards in Public Life

In July 2017, the Prime Minister asked the independent Committee on Standards in Public Life to undertake a review into the issue of abuse and intimidation experienced by Parliamentary candidates, including those who stood in the 2017 General Election campaign. Concerns were highlighted by those across the political spectrum. The Committee published a comprehensive report in December.

The Government would like to thank the Committee of Standards in Public Life again for their considered and thorough report. The Prime Minister has today announced some initial measures based on the Committee’s findings and the Government will be publishing a substantive response in due course.

As the Prime Minister notes today, in public life, and increasingly in private conversations too, it is becoming harder and harder to conduct any political discussion, on any issue, without it descending into tribalism and rancour. Social media and digital communication – which in themselves can and should be forces for good in our democracy – are being exploited and abused, often anonymously. British democracy has always been robust and oppositional. But a line is crossed when disagreement descends into intimidation.

Individuals standing for elected office

It cannot be right that people looking to participate in our democracy are subject to abuse and intimidation for doing so. The Government will therefore consult in due course on the introduction of a new offence in electoral law on intimidating candidates and campaigners. We also propose to remove the requirement for candidates for local government to include their home addresses on ballot papers, if they do not wish to do so. This extends the protection already offered to parliamentary candidates.

Online content

We want users to be better informed about how reported social media content is dealt with. We will establish a new Annual Internet Safety Transparency Report, to improve our understanding of the offensive content being reported, how social media companies are responding to complaints, and what content is being removed.

The Prime Minister has today called on social media companies to set out how they will respond to the recommendations in the report, and we have been encouraged by the positive response we have seen thus far. It is welcome that social media companies have agreed to take forward the recommendation for a ‘pop up’ social media reporting team for election campaigns and they will actively provide advice and support to Parliamentary candidates.

Political parties

The report has a number of recommendations for political parties, which they will wish to consider carefully. The Prime Minister has noted that the Conservative Party is putting in place a new code of conduct for members and supporters that puts respect and decency at its core. The Prime Minister is encouraging the leaders of other parties to follow this example.

Law, police and prosecutors

The Committee made a number of recommendations for national police leadership bodies, including the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College of Policing, on devolved operational policing matters. Both the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the College will be responding to the Committee’s report separately, but we are pleased to confirm that they will implement each of the recommendations in the report that refer to them.

Some of these issues touch on devolved matters, and the UK Government will liaise with our colleagues in the Devolved Administrations accordingly.

A more detailed response will be published by the Government in due course. Ministers would welcome further feedback from Parliamentary colleagues, and the House may wish to debate and consider these matters further.

I have placed in the Library a copy of the Prime Minister’s speech from today.

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Local Government Finance

Local Government Finance

Yesterday, I laid before the House, the ‘Report on Local Government Finance (England) 2018–19’, which represents the annual local government finance settlement for local authorities in England.

I would like to thank all colleagues in the House, council leaders and officers, who contributed to the consultation after the provisional settlement was published before Christmas.

My Ministers and I have engaged extensively with the sector, including offering a teleconference to all local authorities, and holding meetings with representative groups including the Local Government Association and with councils and MPs. Representations from almost 160 organisations or individuals have been carefully considered before finalising the settlement.

This settlement is the third year of a four year offer which was accepted by 97% of councils in return for publishing efficiency plans. This settlement sees two years of real terms increases in available resources to local government: £44.3 billion in 2017-18 to £45.6 billion in 2019-20.

The current business rates retention scheme is yielding strong results. Local authorities estimate that in 2017-18 they will keep around £1.3 billion in business rates growth, which we expect will be maintained into 2018-19 and 2019-20. This is on top of the core settlement funding I am announcing today.

I commend local authorities for their work in securing efficiency savings supported by the long term certainty of the multi-year settlement. Councils continue to seek to maximise public value for every pound invested in public services. Of course, there is further for all councils to go. To help this, I am extending the capital receipts flexibility programme for a further 3 years. This scheme gives local authorities the freedom to use capital receipts from the sale of their own assets to support transformation and unlock efficiency savings. We will also continue to work with the sector to help them increase transparency and share best practice supporting greater progress in delivering increased efficiency over the coming year. I expect this to have a tangible impact on the steps councils take to promote efficiency by 2019-20.

Social Care

I recognise the need to prioritise spending on social care services that councils provide to our elderly and vulnerable citizens. This is why we announced an additional £2 billion at Spring Budget 2017 for adult social care over the three years from 2017-18. This year we have seen how this money has enabled councils to increase provider fees, provide for more care packages and reduce delayed transfer of care.

And, having listening to representations since the provisional settlement, I am today announcing a further £150 million in 2018-19 for an Adult Social Care Support Grant. This will be taken from anticipated underspend in existing departmental budgets, and will not affect existing revenue commitments made ‎to local government. This will be allocated according to relative needs and we will expect to see councils use it to build on their progress so far in supporting sustainable local care markets.

With this, and other measures, the Government has given councils access to £9.4 billion dedicated funding for adult social care over three years.

This is a long-term challenge that requires a sustainable settlement for the future. The publication of a Green Paper this summer setting out our proposals for reform sets us on the path to securing a resilient and sustainable system.

In Children’s Social Care too, it is important to understand cost drivers as well as service quality and efficiency in a highly complex and critical service area. The Government has invested £200 million since 2014 in the Innovation Programme and Partners in Practice Programme, as well as £920 million in the Troubled Families Programme, to help the children’s social care sector innovate and re-design service delivery to achieve higher quality, improve family outcomes and secure better value for money.

I also recognise the good work that local authorities do in caring for unaccompanied asylum seeking children. I have therefore made £19m available to local authorities in 2017/18 from within existing budgets, including the Controlling Migration Fund, to develop the skills and capacity to be able to support these very vulnerable children.

Protecting residents from excessive council tax rises

Under the Localism Act 2011 and as re-affirmed in the Government’s 2017 manifesto, councils can set whatever council tax rates they wish, but they need the direct consent of local people if they wish to impose an excessive rise. This year, that referendum threshold is set in line with inflation at 3%. In addition, local authorities with responsibility for social care may levy a precept to spend exclusively on adult social care. As announced last year, this precept equates to up to 6% over three years, from 2017-18 to 2019-20, with a maximum increase of 3% in the first two years and 2% in the final year. This settlement strikes a balance on council tax between the need to relieve pressure on local services, including social care, while also recognising that many households face their own pressures.

New Homes Bonus

Local authorities are instrumental in ensuring the building of homes this country needs. By the end of 2018-19, we will have allocated £7 billion in New Homes Bonus payments to reward the building of 1,400,000 homes since the scheme was introduced in 2011. We recognise the need for continuity and certainty on New Homes Bonus, and therefore for the year ahead there will be no new changes to the way New Homes Bonus works. The New Homes Bonus baseline will be maintained at 0.4 per cent and £947.5 million in New Homes Bonus payments will be paid in 2018-19.

Rural Funding

I am committed to ensuring the needs of rural areas are met and recognise the particular costs of providing services in sparse rural areas. So in 2018-19, in response to representations made since the provisional settlement, I will increase the Rural Services Delivery Grant by £31 million - £16 million more than proposed in the provisional settlement. This will take the total to £81 million, a little over the 2016-17 level and the highest it has ever been.

2019-20 and later years

To meet the challenges of the future we need an updated and more responsive distribution methodology. We have published a formal consultation on a review of relative needs and resources and aim to implement its findings in 2020-21. There have been widespread calls for a thorough, evidence-based review, and we will deliver this. The review will examine the cost of delivering services across the country, including rural areas, and will consider which factors should be taken into account when considering a local authority’s relative resources.

Following the delay to the implementation of 100% business rates retention and reforms to the local government finance system, I acknowledge concerns around ‘negative RSG’. We will be looking at fair and affordable options that will address the problem of negative RSG that occurs in 2019-20, and will formally consult on proposals ahead of next year’s settlement.

We will also work towards implementing the next phase of our business rates retention reforms in 2020-21 to support the long held objective for local authorities of greater self-sufficiency and financial sustainability. This will give local councils the levers and incentives they need to grow their local economies. Local authorities will be able to keep more business rates, to the value of the Revenue Support Grant, the Greater London Authority Transport Grant, the Rural Services Delivery Grant and the Public Health Grant. Overall, this is equivalent to 75% retention at 2019-20 levels. Local authorities will then be able to keep the equivalent share of business rates growth on their baseline levels from 2020-21, when the system is reset. The Government intends to use the intervening period to develop a set of measures that support a smooth transition of funding for public health services from a grant to retained business rates.

Ahead of this, we will continue to test out aspects of the future business rates retention system in a broad range of authorities right across the country. And, to help us take forward our continued long-term plan to let local government keep 100% of its business rates, in 2018-19 we will continue to pilot 100% business rates retention in Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, the West Midlands, West of England and Cornwall, introduce a London pilot, and will take forward ten further 100% business rates retention pilots. These are Berkshire, Derbyshire, Devon, Gloucestershire, Kent and Medway, Leeds City Region, Lincolnshire, Solent Authorities, Suffolk and Surrey. The ten pilot areas will cover 89 local authorities in total.

I recognise that there is disappointment among those areas that were unsuccessful in their pilot applications this year and I am pleased to confirm that I intend to open a further bidding round for pilots in 2019/20. Further information on this will be published in due course.

Conclusion

Local government delivers vital services at the heart of the communities they serve. This settlement strikes a balance between relieving growing pressure on local government whilst ensuring that hard-pressed taxpayers do not face excessive bills. We have listened to representations made and delivered on these requests: two years of real terms increases in resources, more freedom and fairness, and greater certainty to plan and secure value for money.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS439
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 06 February 2018
Made by: Boris Johnson (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Provision of Border Assistance to Lebanon

The United Kingdom is strongly committed to supporting Lebanon’s peace, stability and prosperity. Through a long-standing Conflict Stability and Security Fund project worth £22.6m over three years, the UK is helping the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) secure the Lebanon-Syria border. Our ambition is for Lebanon to have complete authority over its border with Syria.

In order to reach this objective, our Embassy in Beirut wish to place an order worth £319,916.61 for communications equipment to support the LAF. On 7 September 2017, I made a Written Ministerial Statement (HCWS118) in respect of our Embassy in Beirut placing an order of £1.8m for additional defensive barriers/towers as part of this project. This communications equipment will be used in the new towers to allow secure communications between troops and the headquarters of both the Land Border Regiment and the LAF.

The provision of this assistance is fully in-line with the Government’s security and stability objectives in the Middle East. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials carry out regular reviews of our programmes in Lebanon to ensure funding is not directed to non-state actors.

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 05 February 2018
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Extending buildings upwards to create new homes

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

The Government is committed to ensuring the planning system supports the delivery of more homes where they are needed. The opportunity for new homes is not always an empty plot, or the redevelopment of a derelict site. As set out in the White Paper, “Fixing our broken housing market”, it is important that development uses the space that is available efficiently, and avoids building at low densities especially in areas of high demand such as London. The Government recognises that one of the ways to achieve this is to build up rather than build out, using the space above existing buildings to create new homes.

Alongside the White Paper, the Government confirmed its intention to bring forward policy changes to support this objective, which this Written Ministerial Statement sets out.

Planning policies and decisions should respond positively to suitable opportunities to use the airspace above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes. They should allow residential and commercial premises to extend upwards, where such extensions would be consistent with the prevailing height and form of neighbouring properties and the overall street scene, are well-designed (including complying with any local design policies and standards), respect the privacy of neighbours and can maintain safe access and egress for occupiers.

Policies and decisions on upwards extensions should take into account national and local policies, as well as relevant legal requirements, including relating to the conservation of heritage assets such as listed buildings and conservation areas. This will ensure councils can continue to protect valued areas of open space and the character of residential neighbourhoods, and stop unwanted garden grabbing.

The Government will be consulting on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, including changes to incorporate building up to ensure effective use of land for current and future homeowners. Appropriate guidance will be produced in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS449
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 05 February 2018
Made by: Baroness Sugg (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport )
Lords

Notification of a Contingent Liability

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

I have today laid before Parliament a Departmental Minute describing a Contingent Liability (CL) of £4 million associated with Solum JV.

Solum JV was created in 2008 to help Network Rail (NR) deliver its agreed housing target. Since its formation, the Solum JV has delivered over 200 housing units, has c.200 more under construction (to complete by 2021) and a pipeline of c.1500 further units, subject to planning and other approvals.

This counter-indemnity, for which NR’s CL of £4m will be matched by its JV partner, Kier, will cover further multiple residential developments being built by the JV, initially at Twickenham and Walthamstow (Phase 2) stations.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of fourteen Parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which this minute was laid before the House, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or a Motion relating to the Minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS447
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 05 February 2018
Made by: Baroness Sugg (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport )
Lords

Support for Maritime Training

My Honourable Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport (Nusrat Ghani) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I am proud that the United Kingdom has one of the most vibrant and competitive maritime sectors in the World. We are an outward-looking, global trading maritime nation proud of our maritime history but forward looking and ambitious for our future.

Our success though relies above all else on our workforce. The United Kingdom is recognised all over the World for its leading maritime education and training and for the very best seafarers that are produced. Our well-trained and skilled cadets are responsible for many of our vital needs bringing them efficiently and safely to our shores.

I am therefore pleased to announce that we will be doubling Government’s financial support for maritime training, the so-called SMarT fund, from £15 million to £30 million to introduce a new SMarT Plus option. I am committed to continue building capacity and diversity within our maritime workforce so it can capitalise on every opportunity the market provides. I recognise the importance of transferable skills and the essential role seafarers play in supporting the wider maritime sector when they return from sea to shore based careers. Increasing our support for maritime training is essential in order for our great maritime nation to maintain its global position as a market leader. This is never more important than it is today as we prepare to leave the EU and take an even more global outlook.

Seafarers are highly skilled professionals entering STEM related careers. SMarT Plus funding will be available from April 2018 and will also support the Year of Engineering though stimulating the availability of training opportunities for deck, engine and electro-technical cadets. The 2018/19 cohort of SMarT Plus cadets will begin their on-ship training in the months before we leave the EU.

A key strength of the UK's maritime sector is our strong relationship with industry. I value the work of the UK Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus International and the Merchant Navy Training Board in developing and refining the SMarT Plus proposal in conjunction with my department’s officials. An opportunity was clearly identified to create a resurgence in maritime training and increase the competitiveness of SMarT. There is no shortage of people applying for cadetships and it is only right that we capitalise on this momentum and create the conditions for more UK training and employment opportunities within the maritime sector. I am delighted to be working with the maritime industry and trade unions and together we will build a stronger UK maritime workforce.

Notes:

  • SMarT Plus is a package that will see SMarT funding doubled, over a 7 year period, from £15m to £30m per year
  • This will enable the cadet intake to increase from 750 to 1200 each year.
  • In return, shipping companies will create additional UK training positions and commit to employ newly qualified SMarT Plus officers.
  • This will enable SMarT Plus officers to gain the 12 months sea time experience that is required to enable them to progress to their 2nd Certificate of Competency.
  • UK officers holding a 2nd Certificate of Competency are particularly valued throughout industry. Their quality, leadership and training makes them highly employable.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS444
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 05 February 2018
Made by: Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Extending buildings upwards to create new homes

The Government is committed to ensuring the planning system supports the delivery of more homes where they are needed. The opportunity for new homes is not always an empty plot, or the redevelopment of a derelict site. As set out in the White Paper, “Fixing our broken housing market”, it is important that development uses the space that is available efficiently, and avoids building at low densities especially in areas of high demand such as London. The Government recognises that one of the ways to achieve this is to build up rather than build out, using the space above existing buildings to create new homes.

Alongside the White Paper, the Government confirmed its intention to bring forward policy changes to support this objective, which this Written Ministerial Statement sets out.

Planning policies and decisions should respond positively to suitable opportunities to use the airspace above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes. They should allow residential and commercial premises to extend upwards, where such extensions would be consistent with the prevailing height and form of neighbouring properties and the overall street scene, are well-designed (including complying with any local design policies and standards), respect the privacy of neighbours and can maintain safe access and egress for occupiers.

Policies and decisions on upwards extensions should take into account national and local policies, as well as relevant legal requirements, including relating to the conservation of heritage assets such as listed buildings and conservation areas. This will ensure councils can continue to protect valued areas of open space and the character of residential neighbourhoods, and stop unwanted garden grabbing.

The Government will be consulting on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, including changes to incorporate building up to ensure effective use of land for current and future homeowners. Appropriate guidance will be produced in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS438
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 05 February 2018
Made by: Sir Alan Duncan (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Foreign Affairs Council – 22 January 2018

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

Foreign Affairs Council

EU Ministers discussed the Cotonou Agreement, Libya and the Middle East Peace Process. In her introductory remarks the HRVP spoke about her recent visit to Cuba, as well as Syria and Iran. Member States raised DRC, Tunisia, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Council of Europe.

Cotonou Agreement

Ministers held an initial exchange about a future agreement between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries (ACP); the current Cotonou Agreement is due to expire on 29 February 2020. Ministers expressed their broad support for the Commission's approach to move towards an umbrella agreement at ACP level combined with three regional tailored partnerships for Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Ministers underlined the importance of building on the experience gained through cooperation under the existing Cotonou Agreement, in particular on political dialogue and on migration. Discussions on the negotiating mandate will continue within relevant Council preparatory bodies, with a view to adopting a decision authorising the opening of negotiations and the negotiating directives within the first semester of 2018.

Libya

Ministers discussed the current situation in Libya. The UN Secretary General's Special Representative, Ghassam Salamé (SRSG), who joined by video conference for part of the session, gave an overview of the state of play of the political process, including progress towards the adoption of a new Constitution and the forthcoming elections. He received the full support of Ministers in his efforts to bring about unity and reconciliation in the country. Ministers discussed the importance of EU engagement in Libya as a way of supporting the UN in its efforts to bring about political stability, as well as those UN agencies working to address the situation of migrants in Libya. Ministers also highlighted the importance of continuing to work with countries of origin, in particular in the Sahel region.

I intervened to underline the UK’s support for the SRSG, including his efforts to tackle modern slavery and people trafficking. I also emphasised the need for proper technical, legal,
and political preparations in advance of any elections.

Middle East Peace Process

Ministers discussed the latest developments in the Middle East Peace Process and looked at how the EU could help to ensure engagement by all the relevant players in order to advance
the peace process.

In the margins of the Council meeting, Ministers held an informal lunch with the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. This was an opportunity for the European Union to reiterate its united and clear messages on the importance of preserving a two-state solution and the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states.

Also in the margins, the President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) briefed Ministers on the proposal for an EIB subsidiary to focus on development outside Europe. There will be further discussion among Development Ministers next month.
Ministers agreed a number of measures without discussion:

The Council adopted conclusions on Zimbabwe;
The Council adopted conclusions on sanctions on Venezuela;
The Council adopted conclusions on sanctions on North Korea;
The Council adopted conclusions on the Integrated Approach to External Conflict and Crises;
The Council adopted EU priorities for cooperation with the Council of Europe;
The Council approved upgraded generic standards of behaviour for Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations;
The Council agreed exercise specifications for the EU crisis management military exercises in 2018 (MILEX 18);
The Council adopted a decision on the promotion of effective arms export controls;
The Council authorised Europol to release to third countries and third parties, the operational action plans which are part of the EU policy cycle for organised and serious international crime (Justice and Home Affairs);
The Council adopted a decision on the position to be taken on behalf of the EU within the EU-Ukraine Association Council and within the trade committee configuration (Trade);
The Council agreed to withdraw its appeals against six judgments by the European Court of Justice related to imports of biodiesel originating from Argentina and Indonesia (Trade);
The Council decided to publish the mandate given to the Commission on 13 November 2017 to modernise the existing association agreement with Chile (Trade);
The Council authorised the EU Railway Agency to open negotiations on the participation of Switzerland (Transport);
The Council adopted a decision on an aviation agreement with Morocco (Transport);
The Council decided not to object to Commission regulation on the use of bisphenol A in varnishes and coatings (Health);
The Council appointed members of the Court of Auditors.

WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 05 February 2018
Made by: Chris Grayling (Secretary of State for Transport)
Commons

Notification of a Contingent Liability

I have today laid before Parliament a Departmental Minute describing a Contingent Liability (CL) of £4 million associated with Solum JV.

Solum JV was created in 2008 to help Network Rail (NR) deliver its agreed housing target. Since its formation, the Solum JV has delivered over 200 housing units, has c.200 more under construction (to complete by 2021) and a pipeline of c.1500 further units, subject to planning and other approvals.

This counter-indemnity, for which NR’s CL of £4m will be matched by its JV partner, Kier, will cover further multiple residential developments being built by the JV, initially at Twickenham and Walthamstow (Phase 2) stations.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of fourteen Parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which this minute was laid before the House, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or a Motion relating to the Minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS437
WS
Department for International Development
Made on: 02 February 2018
Made by: Penny Mordaunt (Secretary of State for International Development)
Commons

Global Education

Developing countries have made huge strides in expanding schooling in recent decades, so that most children are now able to access primary education. The UK has contributed to this impressive achievement: between 2015 and 2017, we supported over 7million children, including in some of the toughest places in the world.

However, the world is still facing a learning crisis – half of the world’s children are expected to finish primary school without learning basic numeracy and literacy. This amounts to around 387million children who will not be able to fulfil their potential.

We have a moral obligation to help every child get a decent education – but it is also firmly in the UK’s national interest. Educated populations are an essential element of prosperous and stable countries which will be the UK’s future trading partners.

The UK is a world leader in support for education in developing countries and, together with France, we have designated 2018 as the Global Year of Learning.

DFID’s new education policy, which I am launching today, sets out my three priorities for action to ensure more children are learning the basics:

  1. We will support efforts to drive up the quality of teaching in developing countries. Skilled, reliable teachers need to be the norm everywhere.

  1. We will support education systems to stand on their own two feet, using resources effectively to ensure children learn.

  1. We will prioritise children with disabilities, children affected by crises and hard-to-reach girls.

During this Global Year of Learning, I will also be drawing attention to other aspects of the learning crisis. At the Disability Summit in July I will highlight the plight of children with disabilities; at UNGA in September, I will call on governments to stamp out violence against children in school; and at the World Bank annual meetings in October, I will focus on the role that education plays in driving human capital and prosperity.

Today I can confirm that the UK will boost its contribution to £75million per year for each of the next three years to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). This will be an almost 50% increase in our annual contribution to the GPE and demonstrates our determination to show leadership internationally to get children learning. This funding will provide quality education to 880,000 children each year. Our investment will be used to drive improved performance and efficiency and we have capped our investment at 15% of the overall GPE budget. This new commitment comes in addition to the vital work of DFID directly through its sizable bilateral programmes on education.

I am proud to of the role the UK is playing globally and proud to lead a Department which is dedicated to making a difference in children’s lives.

A copy of the policy document will be placed in the Library of the House for the availability of Members.

WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 02 February 2018
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )
Lords

Energy Policy

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

I hereby give notice of the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s intention to seek an advance from the Contingencies Fund in the amount of £2,275,000 for FY 2017/18 to provide financial cover to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

This cash advance from the Contingencies Fund is required in order to enable ONR to establish a new domestic civil nuclear safeguards regime ahead of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and Euratom on 29th March 2019. This is in line with the written ministerial statements made by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 14th September 2017 and 11th January 2018. The work necessary includes recruitment and training of additional safeguards officers and installation of a new safeguards IT system.

ONR has already begun some preparatory work to deliver the regime but requires this cash advance to move to its next phase of project implementation which includes financial commitments towards recruitment and asset purchases, to be able to deliver the regime ahead of day 1 of exit.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £2,275,000 for this new service will be sought in an Estimate for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £2,275,000 will be met via repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

The cash advance will be repaid upon receiving Royal Assent for the Nuclear Safeguards Bill and the Supply and Appropriation Bill.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS445
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 02 February 2018
Made by: Richard Harrington (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) )
Commons

Energy Policy

I hereby give notice of the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s intention to seek an advance from the Contingencies Fund in the amount of £2,275,000 for FY 2017/18 to provide financial cover to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

This cash advance from the Contingencies Fund is required in order to enable ONR to establish a new domestic civil nuclear safeguards regime ahead of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and Euratom on 29th March 2019. This is in line with the written ministerial statements made by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 14th September 2017 and 11th January 2018. The work necessary includes recruitment and training of additional safeguards officers and installation of a new safeguards IT system.

ONR has already begun some preparatory work to deliver the regime but requires this cash advance to move to its next phase of project implementation which includes financial commitments towards recruitment and asset purchases, to be able to deliver the regime ahead of day 1 of exit.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £2,275,000 for this new service will be sought in an Estimate for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £2,275,000 will be met via repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

The cash advance will be repaid upon receiving Royal Assent for the Nuclear Safeguards Bill and the Supply and Appropriation Bill.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS435
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 02 February 2018
Made by: Ms Nusrat Ghani (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State)
Commons

Support for Maritime Training

I am proud that the United Kingdom has one of the most vibrant and competitive maritime sectors in the World. We are an outward-looking, global trading maritime nation proud of our maritime history but forward looking and ambitious for our future.

Our success though relies above all else on our workforce. The United Kingdom is recognised all over the World for its leading maritime education and training and for the very best seafarers that are produced. Our well-trained and skilled cadets are responsible for many of our vital needs bringing them efficiently and safely to our shores.

I am therefore pleased to announce that we will be doubling Government’s financial support for maritime training, the so-called SMarT fund, from £15 million to £30 million to introduce a new SMarT Plus option. I am committed to continue building capacity and diversity within our maritime workforce so it can capitalise on every opportunity the market provides. I recognise the importance of transferable skills and the essential role seafarers play in supporting the wider maritime sector when they return from sea to shore based careers. Increasing our support for maritime training is essential in order for our great maritime nation to maintain its global position as a market leader. This is never more important than it is today as we prepare to leave the EU and take an even more global outlook.

Seafarers are highly skilled professionals entering STEM related careers. SMarT Plus funding will be available from April 2018 and will also support the Year of Engineering though stimulating the availability of training opportunities for deck, engine and electro-technical cadets. The 2018/19 cohort of SMarT Plus cadets will begin their on-ship training in the months before we leave the EU.

A key strength of the UK's maritime sector is our strong relationship with industry. I value the work of the UK Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus International and the Merchant Navy Training Board in developing and refining the SMarT Plus proposal in conjunction with my department’s officials. An opportunity was clearly identified to create a resurgence in maritime training and increase the competitiveness of SMarT. There is no shortage of people applying for cadetships and it is only right that we capitalise on this momentum and create the conditions for more UK training and employment opportunities within the maritime sector. I am delighted to be working with the maritime industry and trade unions and together we will build a stronger UK maritime workforce.

Notes:

  • SMarT Plus is a package that will see SMarT funding doubled, over a 7 year period, from £15m to £30m per year
  • This will enable the cadet intake to increase from 750 to 1200 each year.
  • In return, shipping companies will create additional UK training positions and commit to employ newly qualified SMarT Plus officers.
  • This will enable SMarT Plus officers to gain the 12 months sea time experience that is required to enable them to progress to their 2nd Certificate of Competency.
  • UK officers holding a 2nd Certificate of Competency are particularly valued throughout industry. Their quality, leadership and training makes them highly employable.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS436
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 01 February 2018
Made by: Mr David Gauke (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Justice and Home Affairs Post Council Statement

The first meeting of EU Interior and Justice Ministers during the Bulgarian Presidency took place on 25 and 26 January in Sofia. Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Bulgaria, Emma Hopkins, and a senior Government official represented the UK for Interior day. I represented the UK for justice day.

Interior day began with a debate on European Asylum Policy. The Presidency set out its objective to conclude negotiations on the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) package, including Dublin IV, by the end of June. Member States supported the aim of concluding negotiations by June but there remains a lack of consensus on the inclusion of burden sharing mechanisms in Dublin IV. The UK continues to support a comprehensive approach to migration but does not support a mandatory redistribution system within the EU and has not opted into the Dublin IV Regulation.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed the Global UN Compact on Migration (GCM), which will be negotiated in the UN over the next six months. The discussion aimed to initiate consideration on the alignment of Member States’ positions on the principles of the GCM text. The UK is committed to agreeing a global framework for a new approach to orderly, safe and regular global migration. The UK reaffirmed the Government’s principles that underline our approach to achieving this, in particular that refugees should seek protection in the first safe country they can reach; that a distinction needs to be maintained between economic migrants and refugees; and that states have the right to control their borders and the duty to accept their citizens back.

Interior day ended with a discussion on Integrated Border Management. Member States highlighted priorities for co-operation among the relevant authorities and agencies involved in border security and with third countries to help secure the Union's external border. These priorities related specifically to implementation of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA) and related EU databases – the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). The UK recognises the importance of increased border security across the EU, however the UK is not part of the border aspects of the Schengen agreement and therefore does not participate in the EBCGA, EES or the ETIAS.

Justice day began with a consideration of the issues relevant to future cooperation between the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and other partner agencies and offices of the EU, such as Europol, Eurojust and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Member States agreed on the importance of clear working relationships, with a clear delimitation of responsibilities so that the EPPO does not limit or encroach upon other agencies’ competences. The Government has been clear that we will not participate in an EPPO and did not opt-in to the Regulation.

The day continued with a discussion on the Brussels IIa recast Regulation. Member States agreed that the continued requirement for exequatur in some family cases was a significant obstacle to the operation of the system and should be abolished. Similarly, it was agreed that the grounds for refusal of recognition of a judgment should be limited, which is of particular importance where children are concerned.

The Commission presented an update on the progress of the forthcoming legislative proposal on cross-border law enforcement access to e-evidence held by communications service providers. The Commission aims to present the proposal to the JHA Council in March. The Government will consider its position and whether to opt in to the proposal when it is published. The Commission also provided an update on the Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online which was signed in June 2016 by major social media companies and aims to ensure illegal hate speech is removed within 24 hours. The Commission detailed the progress made by social media companies and explained their intention to expand the number of signatories to the Code.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed the justice issues raised by artificial intelligence, in particular on questions of liability. Member States broadly agreed on the need for clear, but light touch, rules on liability which would create certainty to allow investment decisions to be taken without over-regulating and discouraging innovation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS434
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 01 February 2018
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Ministry of Justice Spokesperson)
Lords

Justice and Home Affairs Post Council Statement

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (David Gauke) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The first meeting of EU Interior and Justice Ministers during the Bulgarian Presidency took place on 25 and 26 January in Sofia. Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Bulgaria, Emma Hopkins, and a senior Government official represented the UK for Interior day. I represented the UK for justice day.

Interior day began with a debate on European Asylum Policy. The Presidency set out its objective to conclude negotiations on the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) package, including Dublin IV, by the end of June. Member States supported the aim of concluding negotiations by June but there remains a lack of consensus on the inclusion of burden sharing mechanisms in Dublin IV. The UK continues to support a comprehensive approach to migration but does not support a mandatory redistribution system within the EU and has not opted into the Dublin IV Regulation.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed the Global UN Compact on Migration (GCM), which will be negotiated in the UN over the next six months. The discussion aimed to initiate consideration on the alignment of Member States’ positions on the principles of the GCM text. The UK is committed to agreeing a global framework for a new approach to orderly, safe and regular global migration. The UK reaffirmed the Government’s principles that underline our approach to achieving this, in particular that refugees should seek protection in the first safe country they can reach; that a distinction needs to be maintained between economic migrants and refugees; and that states have the right to control their borders and the duty to accept their citizens back.

Interior day ended with a discussion on Integrated Border Management. Member States highlighted priorities for co-operation among the relevant authorities and agencies involved in border security and with third countries to help secure the Union's external border. These priorities related specifically to implementation of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCGA) and related EU databases – the Entry/Exit System (EES) and the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). The UK recognises the importance of increased border security across the EU, however the UK is not part of the border aspects of the Schengen agreement and therefore does not participate in the EBCGA, EES or the ETIAS.

Justice day began with a consideration of the issues relevant to future cooperation between the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and other partner agencies and offices of the EU, such as Europol, Eurojust and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Member States agreed on the importance of clear working relationships, with a clear delimitation of responsibilities so that the EPPO does not limit or encroach upon other agencies’ competences. The Government has been clear that we will not participate in an EPPO and did not opt-in to the Regulation.

The day continued with a discussion on the Brussels IIa recast Regulation. Member States agreed that the continued requirement for exequatur in some family cases was a significant obstacle to the operation of the system and should be abolished. Similarly, it was agreed that the grounds for refusal of recognition of a judgment should be limited, which is of particular importance where children are concerned.

The Commission presented an update on the progress of the forthcoming legislative proposal on cross-border law enforcement access to e-evidence held by communications service providers. The Commission aims to present the proposal to the JHA Council in March. The Government will consider its position and whether to opt in to the proposal when it is published. The Commission also provided an update on the Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online which was signed in June 2016 by major social media companies and aims to ensure illegal hate speech is removed within 24 hours. The Commission detailed the progress made by social media companies and explained their intention to expand the number of signatories to the Code.

Over lunch, Ministers discussed the justice issues raised by artificial intelligence, in particular on questions of liability. Member States broadly agreed on the need for clear, but light touch, rules on liability which would create certainty to allow investment decisions to be taken without over-regulating and discouraging innovation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS443
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 01 February 2018
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Housing Infrastructure Fund

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

Today (1 February 2018) the Government announces that we will invest £866 million to help unlock up to 200,000 new homes through 133 Marginal Viability Fund projects, within the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

The Government has set out a plan that puts us on track to increase housing supply to 300,000 homes a year and this first wave of funding from the £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund is part of a comprehensive programme to fix the broken housing market.

This investment will fund key local infrastructure projects including new roads, cycle paths, flood defences and land remediation work where it is needed for new housing to be built. Without this financial support, these projects would struggle to go ahead or take years for work to begin, delaying the homes these communities need.

The Marginal Viability Fund was available to all single and lower tier local authorities in England to bid into.

We received 430 bids from local authorities, worth almost £14 billion in total. This shows how much local authorities are willing to step up to fix the broken housing market, and we are committed to supporting this ambition. Bids went through a rigorous assessment process and were assessed on the basis of their strategic approach, value for money and the ability of the projects to be delivered. We are putting infrastructure at the heart of housing delivery – committed to bringing communities, local authorities and the private sector together to solve this problem.

The second component of the Housing Infrastructure Fund - the Forward Fund - is available to the uppermost tier of local authorities in England to bid into, and aims to pump prime a small number of strategic and high-impact infrastructure projects. Expressions of interest for ‘Forward Funding’ are being assessed and the best proposals will be shortlisted to go through to co-development shortly. Local authorities will submit their final business cases and successful bids announced from Autumn 2018 onwards.

The full list of successful Marginal Viability Fund projects, and the indicative amount we are awarding (subject to final financial clarifications) can be found on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government website at

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/housing-infrastructure-fund

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS440
WS
Home Office
Made on: 01 February 2018
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Faith Practices

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

The Government has today published the independent review into the application of Sharia law in England and Wales. The review has been laid before the House (Cm 9560). Copies of the report will be available from the Vote Office and it is also available on the Home Office website.

The review was commissioned by the then Home Secretary in May 2016 and was chaired by Professor Mona Siddiqui, an internationally renowned expert in Islamic and inter-religious studies. Professor Siddiqui was supported by a review panel of experts that included experienced family law barrister Sam Momtaz QC, retired high court judge Sir Mark Hedley, and specialist family law solicitor Anne Marie Hutchinson OBE QC. The panel was advised by two religious and theological experts, Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi and Imam Qari Asim.

Sharia law has no jurisdiction in England and Wales and the decisions of Sharia councils are not legally binding. The review focused on whether and to what extent the application of Sharia law by Sharia councils may be incompatible with the law in England and Wales. This included ways in which Sharia law may be being misused or exploited in a way that may discriminate against certain groups, undermine shared values and cause social harms.

To gather evidence the review team issued a public call for evidence and ran a number of oral evidence sessions. During the course of the review, the review chair and panel heard evidence from stakeholders including users of Sharia councils, women’s rights groups, academics, lawyers and Sharia councils. I am grateful to Professor Siddiqui for the thoroughness of her review and for the review team’s comprehensive report.

The review found that most of the work of Sharia councils concerns Islamic divorces, and that the applicants are mostly women. While there are a number of reasons women desire an Islamic divorce, a significant driver is because some Muslim couples do not have a civil marriage as well as an Islamic ceremony. The review also found evidence of a range of practices across Sharia councils, both positive and negative. The review concludes with a series of recommendations to Government.

The review made three recommendations:

  • Recommendation 1 (legislative change): amendments to marriage law to (a) ensure that civil marriages are conducted before or at the same time as the Islamic marriage ceremony and (b) establish the right to a civil divorce.
  • Recommendation 2 (building understanding): proposes developing programmes to (i) raise Muslim couples’ awareness that Islamic marriages do not afford them the protections under the law that come with a civil marriage because their partnership is not recognised as a legal marriage; and (ii) encourages Muslim couples that have or are having an Islamic marriage to register for a civil marriage as well.
  • Recommendation 3 (regulation of Sharia councils): proposes regulating Sharia councils through the creation of a State established body that would create a Code of Practice for Sharia councils to accept and implement.

The Government will carefully consider the review’s findings. The review team’s failure to reach a unanimous agreement on recommendation three (regulation of Sharia councils) demonstrates the complexity of the issues. The Government considers that the proposal to create a State-facilitated or endorsed regulation scheme for Sharia councils would confer upon them legitimacy as alternative forms of dispute resolution. The Government does not consider there to be a role for the State to act in this way. Britain has a long tradition of freedom of worship and religious tolerance and regulation could add legitimacy to the perception of the existence of a parallel legal system even though the outcomes of Sharia Councils have no standing in civil law, as the independent review has made clear. Many people of different faiths follow religious codes and practices and benefit from their guidance. The Government has no intention of changing this position and for this reason cannot accept recommendation three.

The review found some evidence of Sharia councils forcing women to make concessions to gain a divorce, of inadequate safeguarding policies, and a failure to signpost applicants to legal remedies. This is not acceptable. Where Sharia councils exist, they must abide by the law. Legislation is in place to protect the rights of women and prevent discriminatory practice. The Government will work with the appropriate regulatory authorities to ensure that this legislation and the protections it establishes are being enforced fully and effectively.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS442
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 01 February 2018
Made by: Lord Young of Cookham (Lord in Waiting (Government Whip))
Lords

Cabinet Committees and Implementation Task Forces

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today I am publishing the updated list of Cabinet Committees and Implementation Task Forces (ITFs). The updated list includes several key changes:

• Housing Taskforce: the ITF will now be chaired by the Prime Minister.
• Industrial Strategy Taskforce; a new ITF has been established to oversee the delivery of the Industrial Strategy
• Rough Sleeping and Homelessness Reduction Taskforce: a new ITF has been established to coordinate action to reduce homelessness and halve rough sleeping over the course of the Parliament.

Copies of the associated documents will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and published on GOV.UK

WS
Home Office
Made on: 01 February 2018
Made by: Amber Rudd (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Commons

Faith Practices

The Government has today published the independent review into the application of Sharia law in England and Wales. The review has been laid before the House (Cm 9560). Copies of the report will be available from the Vote Office and it is also available on the Home Office website.

The review was commissioned by the then Home Secretary in May 2016 and was chaired by Professor Mona Siddiqui, an internationally renowned expert in Islamic and inter-religious studies. Professor Siddiqui was supported by a review panel of experts that included experienced family law barrister Sam Momtaz QC, retired high court judge Sir Mark Hedley, and specialist family law solicitor Anne Marie Hutchinson OBE QC. The panel was advised by two religious and theological experts, Imam Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi and Imam Qari Asim.

Sharia law has no jurisdiction in England and Wales and the decisions of Sharia councils are not legally binding. The review focused on whether and to what extent the application of Sharia law by Sharia councils may be incompatible with the law in England and Wales. This included ways in which Sharia law may be being misused or exploited in a way that may discriminate against certain groups, undermine shared values and cause social harms.

To gather evidence the review team issued a public call for evidence and ran a number of oral evidence sessions. During the course of the review, the review chair and panel heard evidence from stakeholders including users of Sharia councils, women’s rights groups, academics, lawyers and Sharia councils. I am grateful to Professor Siddiqui for the thoroughness of her review and for the review team’s comprehensive report.

The review found that most of the work of Sharia councils concerns Islamic divorces, and that the applicants are mostly women. While there are a number of reasons women desire an Islamic divorce, a significant driver is because some Muslim couples do not have a civil marriage as well as an Islamic ceremony. The review also found evidence of a range of practices across Sharia councils, both positive and negative. The review concludes with a series of recommendations to Government.

The review made three recommendations:

  • Recommendation 1 (legislative change): amendments to marriage law to (a) ensure that civil marriages are conducted before or at the same time as the Islamic marriage ceremony and (b) establish the right to a civil divorce.
  • Recommendation 2 (building understanding): proposes developing programmes to (i) raise Muslim couples’ awareness that Islamic marriages do not afford them the protections under the law that come with a civil marriage because their partnership is not recognised as a legal marriage; and (ii) encourages Muslim couples that have or are having an Islamic marriage to register for a civil marriage as well.
  • Recommendation 3 (regulation of Sharia councils): proposes regulating Sharia councils through the creation of a State established body that would create a Code of Practice for Sharia councils to accept and implement.

The Government will carefully consider the review’s findings. The review team’s failure to reach a unanimous agreement on recommendation three (regulation of Sharia councils) demonstrates the complexity of the issues. The Government considers that the proposal to create a State-facilitated or endorsed regulation scheme for Sharia councils would confer upon them legitimacy as alternative forms of dispute resolution. The Government does not consider there to be a role for the State to act in this way. Britain has a long tradition of freedom of worship and religious tolerance and regulation could add legitimacy to the perception of the existence of a parallel legal system even though the outcomes of Sharia Councils have no standing in civil law, as the independent review has made clear. Many people of different faiths follow religious codes and practices and benefit from their guidance. The Government has no intention of changing this position and for this reason cannot accept recommendation three.

The review found some evidence of Sharia councils forcing women to make concessions to gain a divorce, of inadequate safeguarding policies, and a failure to signpost applicants to legal remedies. This is not acceptable. Where Sharia councils exist, they must abide by the law. Legislation is in place to protect the rights of women and prevent discriminatory practice. The Government will work with the appropriate regulatory authorities to ensure that this legislation and the protections it establishes are being enforced fully and effectively.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS432
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 01 February 2018
Made by: Mr David Lidington (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office)
Commons

Cabinet Committees and Implementation Task Forces

Today I am publishing the updated list of Cabinet Committees and Implementation Task Forces (ITFs). The updated list includes several key changes:

• Housing Taskforce: the ITF will now be chaired by the Prime Minister.
• Industrial Strategy Taskforce; a new ITF has been established to oversee the delivery of the Industrial Strategy
• Rough Sleeping and Homelessness Reduction Taskforce: a new ITF has been established to coordinate action to reduce homelessness and halve rough sleeping over the course of the Parliament.

Copies of the associated documents will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and published on GOV.UK

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 01 February 2018
Made by: Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Housing Infrastructure Fund

Today (1 February 2018) the Government announces that we will invest £866 million to help unlock up to 200,000 new homes through 133 Marginal Viability Fund projects, within the Housing Infrastructure Fund.

The Government has set out a plan that puts us on track to increase housing supply to 300,000 homes a year and this first wave of funding from the £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund is part of a comprehensive programme to fix the broken housing market.

This investment will fund key local infrastructure projects including new roads, cycle paths, flood defences and land remediation work where it is needed for new housing to be built. Without this financial support, these projects would struggle to go ahead or take years for work to begin, delaying the homes these communities need.

The Marginal Viability Fund was available to all single and lower tier local authorities in England to bid into.

We received 430 bids from local authorities, worth almost £14 billion in total. This shows how much local authorities are willing to step up to fix the broken housing market, and we are committed to supporting this ambition. Bids went through a rigorous assessment process and were assessed on the basis of their strategic approach, value for money and the ability of the projects to be delivered. We are putting infrastructure at the heart of housing delivery – committed to bringing communities, local authorities and the private sector together to solve this problem.

The second component of the Housing Infrastructure Fund - the Forward Fund - is available to the uppermost tier of local authorities in England to bid into, and aims to pump prime a small number of strategic and high-impact infrastructure projects. Expressions of interest for ‘Forward Funding’ are being assessed and the best proposals will be shortlisted to go through to co-development shortly. Local authorities will submit their final business cases and successful bids announced from Autumn 2018 onwards.

The full list of successful Marginal Viability Fund projects, and the indicative amount we are awarding (subject to final financial clarifications) can be found on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government website at

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/housing-infrastructure-fund

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS433
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 31 January 2018
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State ( Ministry of Defence))
Lords

Defence Equipment Plan

My hon. Friend the Minister for Defence Procurement (Mr Guto Bebb) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to place in the Library of the House this year’s financial summary of the Defence Equipment Plan. This is the sixth consecutive annual publication of the equipment plan summary, and demonstrates the Ministry of Defence’s investment and the need to continue progress in driving improvements, reform and efficiency, with a plan to spend £180 billion on equipment and support over the decade out to 2026-27 which will provide our Armed Forces with the capability they need.

The Government remains committed to the Defence Budget increasing by 0.5% above inflation each year and the Department is focusing on where best to invest across the entire Defence programme in order to remain on top of an ever-changing and increasing threat environment. However, it was evident following the 2016 annual planning cycle that both uncertainty and risk had increased in the Equipment Plan. It did not, unfortunately, prove possible to address these issues satisfactorily in the 2017 Annual Budget Cycle (ABC17), as a result of which, the Equipment Plan emerging from ABC17 contains a high level of financial risk and an imbalance between cost and budget.

These risks have informed the Department’s work on the National Security Capability Review and associated work in the 2018 Annual Budget Cycle. The Department recently launched the Modernising Defence Programme. We aim to use this work to deliver better military capability and value for money in a sustainable and affordable way, and to ensure that defence capabilities complement other national security capabilities in the most effective way.

WS
Home Office
Made on: 31 January 2018
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Police Funding

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

My rt hon Friend, the Home Secretary, has today laid before the House, the Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2018/19 (HC 745) for the approval of the House. The report sets out the Home Secretary’s determination for 2018/19 of the aggregate amount of grant that she proposes to pay under section 46(2) of the Police Act 1996.

Before announcing the Government’s proposals, I visited or spoke with every police force in England and Wales to better understand the demands they face and how these can best be managed. I saw for myself the exceptional attitude and hard work of police officers and staff around the country. I have also carefully considered the responses to the consultation on the provisional Police Grant Report.

The Government is committed to protecting the public and providing the resources necessary for the police to do their critical work. We have listened to the police and recognised the demands they face. That is why I can confirm that the allocations that have been laid before the House today are the same as those proposed in my Statement of 19 December 2017. These proposals increase total investment in the police system by up to £450m year on year in 2018/19.

In 2018/19, we will provide each Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) with the same amount of core Government grant funding as in 2017/18. Protecting police grant means PCCs retain the full benefit from any additional local Council Tax income.

Alongside this, we are providing flexibility to PCCs in England to increase their Band D precept by up to £12 in 2018/19 without the need to call a local referendum, equivalent to up to £1 per month for a typical Band D household. These changes give PCCs the flexibility to increase their funding by up to around £270m next year. Each PCC who uses this flexibility will be able to increase their direct resource funding by at least an estimated 1.6%, maintaining their funding in real terms. Most PCCs are intending to use the new precept flexibility.

We will also increase investment in national policing priorities such as police technology and Special Grant by around £130m compared to 2017/18. This reflects our commitment to support the police to deliver a modern digitally enabled workforce, and to manage major events such as the Commonwealth Summit and terrorist attacks. We will maintain the size of the Police Transformation Fund at £175 million in order to help drive police reform.

Counter-terrorism police will receive a £50m (7%) increase in like for like funding when compared to 2017/18. This will enable the counter-terrorism budget to increase to at least £757m, including £29m for an uplift in armed policing from the Police Transformation Fund. This is a significant additional investment in the vital work of counter-terrorism police officers across the country. PCCs will be notified of force allocations separately. These will not be made public for security reasons.

In addition to the police funding settlement, the Government is taking decisive action to tackle the increasingly sophisticated cyber threat we face through the National Cyber Security Strategy, which is supported by a £1.9billion programme of transformational investment from 2016 to 2021. The Law Enforcement response to tackling cyber crime is an essential element of our national strategy, with the Home Office investing £30m of National Cyber Security Programme funding in 2017/18 to support and develop the law enforcement response at the national, regional and local level. We will continue to invest in law enforcement capability throughout the lifetime of the programme.

As I set out in my statement of 19 December, the increase in funding to PCCs in 2018/19 must be matched by a serious commitment from PCCs and chief constables to reform by improving productivity and efficiency to deliver a better, more transparent service to the public. Since that statement, I have written to the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and the National Police Chiefs Council seeking their proposals to deliver further efficiencies. Following these proposals, we will agree appropriate milestones for delivery in 2018. If the police deliver clear and substantial progress against the agreed milestones on productivity and efficiency in 2018, then the Government intends to maintain the protection of a broadly flat police grant in 2019/20 and repeat the same flexibility of the precept, i.e. allowing PCCs to increase their Band D precept by a further up to £12 in 2019/20. This approach gives policing the opportunity to make major improvements in efficiency, and use those gains to improve services to the public.

Since December, the Home Office has continued to work with the police to identify potential procurement savings. We have identified a further £20m of potential procurement savings starting in 2018/19, taking the total to over £120m.

In December I highlighted the opportunity for policing to save up to 1 hour per officer shift through mobile digital working, potentially releasing the equivalent of 11,000 police officers who can be deployed to meet changing demands. Since December I have established a small team who will work with the police through 2018 to audit the level of opportunity from mobile working, identify which approaches work best, highlight best practice, and help forces and the Home Office take the right decisions to maximise the gains from the use of mobile digital working.

We are also today publishing comparable national information on the financial reserves held by PCCs to assist the public in holding PCCs to account. As at March 2017 PCCs held usable resource reserves of over £1.6bn. This compares to £1.4bn in 2011. Current reserves held represent 15% of annual police funding to PCCs. There are wide variations between forces with Gwent for example holding 42% and Northumbria holding close to 7%. This is public money and the public are entitled to more information around police plans for reserves and how those plans will support more effective policing. So I am also today writing to PCCs setting out new guidance requiring them to publish their reserves strategies in plain English, with a clear justification for each reserve held.

I have set out in a separate document (attached) the tables illustrating how we propose to allocate the police funding settlement between the different funding streams and between Police & Crime Commissioners for 2018/19. These documents are intended to be read together.

Police funding settlement tables (PDF Document, 74.34 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS439
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