Written statements

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

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

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

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WS
Department for Education
Made on: 15 December 2017
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Advice and guidance for schools and colleges

My honourable friend the Minister of State for Children and Families (Robert Goodwill) has made the following written ministerial statement.

Today the Government is launching a public consultation on proposed changes to its Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) statutory guidance. All schools and colleges in England must have regard to this guidance when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

KCSIE sets out the legal duties that schools and colleges must comply with, together with good practice guidance on what schools and colleges should do in order to keep children safe. The guidance is extensive, covering what staff should know and do to safeguard children, the management of safeguarding in schools and colleges, safer recruitment and responding to allegations of abuse against staff.

It is important that this guidance is regularly updated to reflect current concerns and best practice. KCSIE was last updated in September 2016 and the time is right to update this guidance again. The consultation document explains a number of proposed changes to KCSIE. The aim is to help schools and colleges better understand what they are required to do by law and what we strongly advise they should do in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

The consultation will last for 10 weeks, closing on 22 February 2018. Following the public consultation, we expect to publish revised guidance, for information, early in the summer term 2018 and for this to come into force in September 2018, at the start of the new school year.

The proposed changes include providing further guidance on sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges. As well as consulting on these changes the government is also today publishing more detailed departmental advice on this issue.

Children and young people must be protected from sexual violence and sexual harassment, and schools and colleges are under a legal duty to safeguard their pupils.

The detailed advice we have published today should help schools and colleges take swift and proportionate action to keep children safe and support victims of abuse.

The advice sets out what sexual violence and sexual harassment look like, the legal responsibilities of schools and colleges and effective safeguarding practice and principles to support schools and colleges in their decision making process when there is a report of sexual violence or sexual harassment.

The issue of sexual violence and sexual harassment in schools was the subject of an inquiry by the Women and Equalities Committee. As part of its response to the Committee’s recommendations, the Department for Education set up an advisory group to review existing departmental guidance, including KCSIE and behaviour and bullying guidance. The Department has worked with the advisory group and other expert stakeholders to draft the advice document and is grateful to them for their contributions.

The consultation document, containing full details of the proposals and inviting responses and the departmental advice can be accessed via gov.uk. Copies of the consultation document and departmental advice will also be placed in the House Libraries.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS354
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Baroness Buscombe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Employment and Support Allowance

My Right Honourable Friend [The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions] (The Rt. Hon. David Gauke MP) has made the following Written Statement.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced in 2008. In 2011 the Department began reassessing people claiming pre-existing incapacity benefits to see whether they were eligible for ESA. The previous benefits included Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Income Support.

In 2013, the Department was made aware of individual cases which were transferred in error to contributory ESA, rather than to income-related ESA, and therefore which may have had an unidentified entitlement to additional premia, such as the enhanced disability premium. These premia are only payable to those on income-related benefits. From 2014 additional guidance was put in place to ensure all claims transitioning from that point forward were more fully assessed for both contributory and income-related benefits, and therefore the relevant premia paid.

At the time officials did not identify the need to explore the potential impact of the earlier error. This was reconsidered in the light of analysis following the preliminary Fraud and Error statistics published in May 2016. In February 2017, ministers were first informed of the results of this analysis and a sampling exercise began in preparation for a full repayment process. The Department has already started contacting individuals to establish if there has been an underpayment of premia. A small number of claims have already been corrected and the appropriate arrears have been paid.

As a result of the sampling exercise, the Department estimates that around 75,000 claimants may have been underpaid. This amounts to about 5% of those people who transferred over from incapacity benefits, or around 3% of the current ESA caseload.

We realise how important it is to get this matter fixed. The Department has established a special team to begin contacting all individuals whom we believe may be affected. There is therefore no need for individuals to independently contact the department on this matter. Once an individual is contacted and subject to establishing the relevant information, we expect to make a decision on each case and repay the appropriate arrears within 12 weeks. The Department expects to complete the review and correct cases during the course of 2018/19.

This relates to a specific group that transferred to contributory ESA between 2011 and 2014, for which applicable underpayments will now be corrected and paid. Arrears are payable to those who qualify from 21 October 2014 following an Upper Tier Tribunal ruling in the case of LH v SSWP on that date. Under Section 27 of the Social Security Act 1998, when a tribunal establishes the meaning of a legislative provision, payments of arrears which pre-date the tribunal ruling are barred.

The Department is reviewing its processes to ensure any lessons are learnt and that this error is avoided in the future.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS356
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Mr David Gauke (The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
Commons

Employment and Support Allowance

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced in 2008. In 2011 the Department began reassessing people claiming pre-existing incapacity benefits to see whether they were eligible for ESA. The previous benefits included Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance and Income Support.

In 2013, the Department was made aware of individual cases which were transferred in error to contributory ESA, rather than to income-related ESA, and therefore which may have had an unidentified entitlement to additional premia, such as the enhanced disability premium. These premia are only payable to those on income-related benefits. From 2014 additional guidance was put in place to ensure all claims transitioning from that point forward were more fully assessed for both contributory and income-related benefits, and therefore the relevant premia paid.

At the time officials did not identify the need to explore the potential impact of the earlier error. This was reconsidered in the light of analysis following the preliminary Fraud and Error statistics published in May 2016. In February 2017, ministers were first informed of the results of this analysis and a sampling exercise began in preparation for a full repayment process. The Department has already started contacting individuals to establish if there has been an underpayment of premia. A small number of claims have already been corrected and the appropriate arrears have been paid.

As a result of the sampling exercise, the Department estimates that around 75,000 claimants may have been underpaid. This amounts to about 5% of those people who transferred over from incapacity benefits, or around 3% of the current ESA caseload.

We realise how important it is to get this matter fixed. The Department has established a special team to begin contacting all individuals whom we believe may be affected. There is therefore no need for individuals to independently contact the department on this matter. Once an individual is contacted and subject to establishing the relevant information, we expect to make a decision on each case and repay the appropriate arrears within 12 weeks. The Department expects to complete the review and correct cases during the course of 2018/19.

This relates to a specific group that transferred to contributory ESA between 2011 and 2014, for which applicable underpayments will now be corrected and paid. Arrears are payable to those who qualify from 21 October 2014 following an Upper Tier Tribunal ruling in the case of LH v SSWP on that date. Under Section 27 of the Social Security Act 1998, when a tribunal establishes the meaning of a legislative provision, payments of arrears which pre-date the tribunal ruling are barred.

The Department is reviewing its processes to ensure any lessons are learnt and that this error is avoided in the future.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS350
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Sir Alan Duncan (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council

My Honourable Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) has made the following written Ministerial Statement:

On Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 November, I chaired the sixth meeting of the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council in London. The Council was attended by elected leaders and representatives from Anguilla, Ascension Island, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St Helena, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Tristan da Cunha and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The key themes discussed at this year’s Council included post-hurricane reconstruction and recovery in the Overseas Territories; environment and climate change; the implications for the Overseas Territories of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union; developing tangible change for the Overseas Territories and their citizens; anti-corruption, beneficial ownership and tax transparency; governance, human rights and child safeguarding; and health. Ministerial colleagues from the Departments for International Development, Exiting the European Union, Health, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Her Majesty’s Treasury attended the discussions. Territory leaders also met the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development. I held bilateral meetings with Territory leaders. The Minister of State for Europe and the Americas (The Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan MP) met Members of the Falklands Islands Legislative Assembly.

The Council agreed a communiqué which identified priorities and set out a number of important commitments and areas for joint work in the year ahead. On the important subject of disaster recovery, the UK reiterated its commitment to work in partnership with the Governments of the Territories affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We welcomed the additional £15m of UK support for early recovery in addition to the £62m investment in relief so far; and the Prime Minister’s announcement on 28 November of a further £70m in grants and up to £300m of loan guarantees to support long-term reconstruction in the worst- affected Territories. We discussed the private sector’s important role in driving economic recovery, and the need for the Overseas Territories to have disaster preparedness policies in place that are fit for purpose.

We continued our dialogue on the implications for the Overseas Territories of Brexit, and reiterated our objective to achieve a deal in the negotiations that works for all parts of the UK family. We will seek to ensure the security and economic sustainability of the Overseas Territories is preserved and, where possible, strengthened post Brexit. We welcomed the progress made by those Overseas Territories with financial centres to implement the bilateral arrangements for law enforcement exchange of beneficial ownership information, and committed to review the effectiveness of the first six months of their operation. We also welcomed the Overseas Territories’ cooperation in international efforts to promote tax transparency and tackle financial crime, as well as their constructive engagement with the EU Code of Conduct Group and the Global Forum for Asset Recovery. We reiterated our commitment to show leadership in tackling corruption.

The communiqué reflects the commitment of the Governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK to continue to work in partnership to achieve the vision set out in the June 2012 White Paper: The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability.

In line with our commitment in the White Paper, we will continue to report to Parliament on progress by Government departments in implementing the commitments in the communiqué.

A copy of the communiqué has been published on the GOV.UK website.

I have arranged for the communiqué to be placed in the House Library.

WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Lords

Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council

On Tuesday 28 and Wednesday 29 November, I chaired the sixth meeting of the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council in London. The Council was attended by elected leaders and representatives from Anguilla, Ascension Island, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, St Helena, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Tristan da Cunha and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The key themes discussed at this year’s Council included post-hurricane reconstruction and recovery in the Overseas Territories; environment and climate change; the implications for the Overseas Territories of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union; developing tangible change for the Overseas Territories and their citizens; anti-corruption, beneficial ownership and tax transparency; governance, human rights and child safeguarding; and health. Ministerial colleagues from the Departments for International Development, Exiting the European Union, Health, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and Her Majesty’s Treasury attended the discussions. Territory leaders also met the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development. I held bilateral meetings with Territory leaders. The Minister of State for Europe and the Americas (The Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan MP) met Members of the Falklands Islands Legislative Assembly.

The Council agreed a communiqué which identified priorities and set out a number of important commitments and areas for joint work in the year ahead. On the important subject of disaster recovery, the UK reiterated its commitment to work in partnership with the Governments of the Territories affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We welcomed the additional £15m of UK support for early recovery in addition to the £62m investment in relief so far; and the Prime Minister’s announcement on 28 November of a further £70m in grants and up to £300m of loan guarantees to support long-term reconstruction in the worst- affected Territories. We discussed the private sector’s important role in driving economic recovery, and the need for the Overseas Territories to have disaster preparedness policies in place that are fit for purpose.

We continued our dialogue on the implications for the Overseas Territories of Brexit, and reiterated our objective to achieve a deal in the negotiations that works for all parts of the UK family. We will seek to ensure the security and economic sustainability of the Overseas Territories is preserved and, where possible, strengthened post Brexit. We welcomed the progress made by those Overseas Territories with financial centres to implement the bilateral arrangements for law enforcement exchange of beneficial ownership information, and committed to review the effectiveness of the first six months of their operation. We also welcomed the Overseas Territories’ cooperation in international efforts to promote tax transparency and tackle financial crime, as well as their constructive engagement with the EU Code of Conduct Group and the Global Forum for Asset Recovery. We reiterated our commitment to show leadership in tackling corruption.

The communiqué reflects the commitment of the Governments of the Overseas Territories and the UK to continue to work in partnership to achieve the vision set out in the June 2012 White Paper: The Overseas Territories: Security, Success and Sustainability.

In line with our commitment in the White Paper, we will continue to report to Parliament on progress by Government departments in implementing the commitments in the communiqué.

A copy of the communiqué has been published on the GOV.UK website.

I have arranged for the communiqué to be placed in the House Library.

Joint Ministerial Council 2017 Communique (PDF Document, 743.78 KB)
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (The Minister of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Advice and guidance for schools and colleges

Today the Government is launching a public consultation on proposed changes to its Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) statutory guidance. All schools and colleges in England must have regard to this guidance when carrying out their duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

KCSIE sets out the legal duties that schools and colleges must comply with, together with good practice guidance on what schools and colleges should do in order to keep children safe. The guidance is extensive, covering what staff should know and do to safeguard children, the management of safeguarding in schools and colleges, safer recruitment and responding to allegations of abuse against staff.

It is important that this guidance is regularly updated to reflect current concerns and best practice. KCSIE was last updated in September 2016 and the time is right to update this guidance again. The consultation document explains a number of proposed changes to KCSIE. The aim is to help schools and colleges better understand what they are required to do by law and what we strongly advise they should do in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

The consultation will last for 10 weeks, closing on 22 February 2018. Following the public consultation, we expect to publish revised guidance, for information, early in the summer term 2018 and for this to come into force in September 2018, at the start of the new school year.

The proposed changes include providing further guidance on sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges. As well as consulting on these changes the government is also today publishing more detailed departmental advice on this issue.

Children and young people must be protected from sexual violence and sexual harassment, and schools and colleges are under a legal duty to safeguard their pupils.

The detailed advice we have published today should help schools and colleges take swift and proportionate action to keep children safe and support victims of abuse.

The advice sets out what sexual violence and sexual harassment look like, the legal responsibilities of schools and colleges and effective safeguarding practice and principles to support schools and colleges in their decision making process when there is a report of sexual violence or sexual harassment.

The issue of sexual violence and sexual harassment in schools was the subject of an inquiry by the Women and Equalities Committee. As part of its response to the Committee’s recommendations, the Department for Education set up an advisory group to review existing departmental guidance, including KCSIE and behaviour and bullying guidance. The Department has worked with the advisory group and other expert stakeholders to draft the advice document and is grateful to them for their contributions.

The consultation document, containing full details of the proposals and inviting responses and the departmental advice can be accessed via gov.uk. Copies of the consultation document and departmental advice will also be placed in the House Libraries.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS351
WS
Home Office
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Amber Rudd (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Commons

Justice and Home Affairs post-Council statement

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

On Interior Day (07 December) a General Approach was agreed on the proposed EU-LISA regulation. The government has opted into the draft Regulation and is content with the text. I abstained on the vote due to a Parliamentary Scrutiny Reserve.

The next item was a progress report on improving interoperability of EU information systems, following the recommendations made by a High Level Expert Group in June. The Commission previewed legislation to be proposed next week, which will include the creation of a single “hit-no-hit” search interface. In general terms, the UK supports efforts to improve interoperability of EU systems, but we will scrutinise these proposals in further detail when they are released.

Ministers then exchanged views on the interim report and recommendations of the High-level Expert Group on Radicalisation (HLEG-R). I intervened to share UK learning following the 2017 attacks, including the importance of working with local communities as highlighted in the newly published Anderson report. I voiced support for proposed new Commission structures, suggesting benefit in a research function and an EU wide strategic communications network.

The non-EU Counter Terrorism Group (CTG) followed with a presentation to the Council, in which they covered their assessment of the terrorism threat in the EU, and set out in further detail their plans for future counter terrorism cooperation including with Europol. I intervened to support the ongoing CTG activities in this space.

This was followed by a discussion on cooperation between Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and EU JHA agencies. This centred around lessons to be learned from existing cooperation between JHA agencies and EU security and defence missions in third countries, with Operation Sophia (tackling migrant traffickers in the Central Mediterranean) the focus. Work is continuing to implement the lessons learned and improve cooperation.

The Commission then gave an update on the state of play on transposition and implementation of the Directive on the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. The Commission noted that not all Member States were on track to meet the implementation deadline. The UK has the most developed capacity for processing PNR data in Europe and will continue to offer advice and support to Member States in the development of their own capabilities.

This was followed by a short presentation from the Bulgarian delegation on the work programme for their upcoming Presidency. The overarching aim of their Presidency is to preserve unity and solidarity within the EU, noting that they will prioritise security-related issues, especially those relating to data, during their Presidency.

The Presidency then gave a progress update on negotiations of legislative proposals on the reform of the Common European Asylum System. The Commission noted their ambition to adopt EU Asylum Agency and Eurodac legislation by March 2018.

The working lunch discussed strengthening of the Schengen area. Ministers had a detailed discussion on how to improve Schengen border management, including through the proposed Schengen borders legislative package. The UK does not participate in the Schengen border free zone and I did not intervene in this discussion.

Following lunch, the Presidency presented views on restricted data retention and targeted data access. The discussion focused on the need for a common approach, whilst taking account of the importance of data retention to law enforcement agencies. I intervened to update the Council on the principles of the UK response to the Court of Justice of the European Union judgement in the TELE2 / Watson case from December 2016, as set out in our consultation, launched on 30 November, on new safeguards for the use of communications data.

The Commission also provided an update on its proposals for technical measures to help law enforcement address issues related to encrypted data, which was followed by a short discussion on best practice in this area. I intervened to encourage closer engagement with service providers, and the need to press industry to find technical solutions.

Interior day ended with the Council receiving updates on the outcomes of the EU Internet Forum meeting on 6 December, and the Presidency’s review of the JHA strategic guidelines. The Swiss delegation also gave an update on the third meeting of the Central Mediterranean Group, which took place in Bern on 13 November.

Justice day (08 December) began with agreement by Ministers to a General Approach on the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) Directive and the Regulation regarding exchange of information on third country nationals (ECRIS-TCN). During a discussion on fingerprint thresholds, the Secretary of State for Justice intervened to indicate that the UK can accept the position reached, but also to express regret that the agreed text was not more ambitious, supporting the review clause in the text. While the UK can support the General Approach, as the proposals had not cleared Parliamentary Scrutiny, Secretary of State for Justice abstained on the vote.

A General Approach was then also agreed on the proposed Regulation on mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders. Despite some disagreement between Member States on whether this should take the form of a Regulation or a Directive, this was passed by a Qualified Majority. The proposal had not cleared Parliamentary Scrutiny.

This was followed by a discussion on the recast of the Brussels IIa Regulation, in which Ministers agreed to abolish exequatur for all decision in matters of parental responsibility, whilst retaining sufficient safeguards to ensure the best interests of the child and the right of defence were preserved. The Secretary of State for Justice highlighted the benefits for citizens and families that the change would bring in reducing time, cost and complexity for those in often difficult personal circumstances.

At lunch, there was a discussion about the next e-Justice Strategy and Action Plan.

The Presidency then introduced a paper on the Insolvency, restructuring and second chance Directive, setting out political guidelines on three issues; there was broad support for an optional viability test and general support for a mechanism to govern creditor voting rights. Member States were largely split on a proposed 3 year discharge period. The UK emphasised the potential benefit here for European economies and supported all three guidelines.

The Commission set out that it would continue to work towards an agreement for the EU to accede to the European Court of Human Rights, taking into account the concerns of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which had found the previous draft accession agreement contrary to the EU Treaties. The Commission gave no indication of a likely timescale, and noted that the issues raised by the Court were politically and legally complex to resolve.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS348
WS
Home Office
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Justice and Home Affairs post-Council statement

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

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

On Interior Day (07 December) a General Approach was agreed on the proposed EU-LISA regulation. The government has opted into the draft Regulation and is content with the text. I abstained on the vote due to a Parliamentary Scrutiny Reserve.

The next item was a progress report on improving interoperability of EU information systems, following the recommendations made by a High Level Expert Group in June. The Commission previewed legislation to be proposed next week, which will include the creation of a single “hit-no-hit” search interface. In general terms, the UK supports efforts to improve interoperability of EU systems, but we will scrutinise these proposals in further detail when they are released.

Ministers then exchanged views on the interim report and recommendations of the High-level Expert Group on Radicalisation (HLEG-R). I intervened to share UK learning following the 2017 attacks, including the importance of working with local communities as highlighted in the newly published Anderson report. I voiced support for proposed new Commission structures, suggesting benefit in a research function and an EU wide strategic communications network.

The non-EU Counter Terrorism Group (CTG) followed with a presentation to the Council, in which they covered their assessment of the terrorism threat in the EU, and set out in further detail their plans for future counter terrorism cooperation including with Europol. I intervened to support the ongoing CTG activities in this space.

This was followed by a discussion on cooperation between Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) operations and EU JHA agencies. This centred around lessons to be learned from existing cooperation between JHA agencies and EU security and defence missions in third countries, with Operation Sophia (tackling migrant traffickers in the Central Mediterranean) the focus. Work is continuing to implement the lessons learned and improve cooperation.

The Commission then gave an update on the state of play on transposition and implementation of the Directive on the use of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. The Commission noted that not all Member States were on track to meet the implementation deadline. The UK has the most developed capacity for processing PNR data in Europe and will continue to offer advice and support to Member States in the development of their own capabilities.

This was followed by a short presentation from the Bulgarian delegation on the work programme for their upcoming Presidency. The overarching aim of their Presidency is to preserve unity and solidarity within the EU, noting that they will prioritise security-related issues, especially those relating to data, during their Presidency.

The Presidency then gave a progress update on negotiations of legislative proposals on the reform of the Common European Asylum System. The Commission noted their ambition to adopt EU Asylum Agency and Eurodac legislation by March 2018.

The working lunch discussed strengthening of the Schengen area. Ministers had a detailed discussion on how to improve Schengen border management, including through the proposed Schengen borders legislative package. The UK does not participate in the Schengen border free zone and I did not intervene in this discussion.

Following lunch, the Presidency presented views on restricted data retention and targeted data access. The discussion focused on the need for a common approach, whilst taking account of the importance of data retention to law enforcement agencies. I intervened to update the Council on the principles of the UK response to the Court of Justice of the European Union judgement in the TELE2 / Watson case from December 2016, as set out in our consultation, launched on 30 November, on new safeguards for the use of communications data.

The Commission also provided an update on its proposals for technical measures to help law enforcement address issues related to encrypted data, which was followed by a short discussion on best practice in this area. I intervened to encourage closer engagement with service providers, and the need to press industry to find technical solutions.

Interior day ended with the Council receiving updates on the outcomes of the EU Internet Forum meeting on 6 December, and the Presidency’s review of the JHA strategic guidelines. The Swiss delegation also gave an update on the third meeting of the Central Mediterranean Group, which took place in Bern on 13 November.

Justice day (08 December) began with agreement by Ministers to a General Approach on the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) Directive and the Regulation regarding exchange of information on third country nationals (ECRIS-TCN). During a discussion on fingerprint thresholds, the Secretary of State for Justice intervened to indicate that the UK can accept the position reached, but also to express regret that the agreed text was not more ambitious, supporting the review clause in the text. While the UK can support the General Approach, as the proposals had not cleared Parliamentary Scrutiny, Secretary of State for Justice abstained on the vote.

A General Approach was then also agreed on the proposed Regulation on mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders. Despite some disagreement between Member States on whether this should take the form of a Regulation or a Directive, this was passed by a Qualified Majority. The proposal had not cleared Parliamentary Scrutiny.

This was followed by a discussion on the recast of the Brussels IIa Regulation, in which Ministers agreed to abolish exequatur for all decision in matters of parental responsibility, whilst retaining sufficient safeguards to ensure the best interests of the child and the right of defence were preserved. The Secretary of State for Justice highlighted the benefits for citizens and families that the change would bring in reducing time, cost and complexity for those in often difficult personal circumstances.

At lunch, there was a discussion about the next e-Justice Strategy and Action Plan.

The Presidency then introduced a paper on the Insolvency, restructuring and second chance Directive, setting out political guidelines on three issues; there was broad support for an optional viability test and general support for a mechanism to govern creditor voting rights. Member States were largely split on a proposed 3 year discharge period. The UK emphasised the potential benefit here for European economies and supported all three guidelines.

The Commission set out that it would continue to work towards an agreement for the EU to accede to the European Court of Human Rights, taking into account the concerns of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which had found the previous draft accession agreement contrary to the EU Treaties. The Commission gave no indication of a likely timescale, and noted that the issues raised by the Court were politically and legally complex to resolve.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS353
WS
Department of Health
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Lord O'Shaughnessy (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health)
Lords

Draft health and care workforce strategy for England

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

I wish to update Parliament that on 13th December 2017, Health Education England published the consultation: 'Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future’ a draft health and care workforce strategy for England to 2027.

This draft strategy is for consultation with stakeholders and the public more widely and is the product of the whole national health system, including NHS England, NHS Improvement and Public Health England.

It announces system-wide reviews to assess the impact of technological changes on clinical professionals and on how best to support the informal workforce, made up of family, friends, carers and patients themselves, in the future.

Further information on the consultation and how to participate can be found at:

https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/planning-commissioning/workforce-strategy

I attach a copy of the draft strategy.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS345
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Lord Young of Cookham (Lord in Waiting (Government Whip))
Lords

Government accountability and transparency

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

Since 2010, the Government has been at the forefront of opening up data to allow Parliament, the public and the media to hold public bodies to account. Such online transparency is crucial accountability for delivering the best value for money, to cutting waste and inefficiency, and to ensuring every pound of taxpayers’ money is spent in the best possible way. Indeed, such data has allowed those working within central and local government to identify savings and stop excessive spending they did not otherwise know about.

The sunlight of transparency also acts in itself as an important check and balance, and helps ensure the highest standards of public life amongst elected representatives and officials. Alongside this, open data has great potential to deliver better public services through innovative uses of digital and mobile technology.

This moves away from more bureaucratic processes under previous Administrations, such as Public Service Agreements, Departmental Strategic Objectives and Comprehensive Performance Assessments, which were time consuming for public servants and opaque to the outside world.

Open data and transparency

Today a new webpage will go live on gov.uk that will, for the first time, bring together in one place a comprehensive list of the core transparency data published by all government departments, alongside details on how that data is prepared.

We have published new guidelines that clarify not only what core transparency data will be published by central government and how frequently; but also how we will ensure it is available in the most usable format and is easy to find.

This new landing page and publication guidance will help people find and navigate the information they need more easily and reaffirms our commitment to continue to drive forward the transparency agenda.

This guidance represents the minimum requirements which are common to all central government departments: many departments can and do go further.

Single Departmental Plans

We are also publishing today a refreshed set of Single Departmental Plans across government. These set out each government department’s objectives and how they will achieve them. Taken together, they show how departments are working to deliver the Government's programme.

Single Departmental Plans are important tools for transparency and accountability. They allow the public to track the Government’s progress and performance against a number of indicators. They also indicate which Ministers and senior officials are responsible for delivering each objective.

Ministerial Accountability

Under the terms of the Ministerial Code, Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises or could reasonably be perceived to arise between their Ministerial position and their private interests. Today we are publishing an updated List of Ministers’ Interests which captures those interests relevant to Ministers’ responsibilities; it should be read alongside the two Parliamentary Registers.

We are also publishing an update report on the handling of Ministers’ Interest from Sir Alex Allan, the Prime Minister’s Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests, alongside an updated List of Ministerial Responsibilities and the regular quarterly disclosure of Ministers’ gifts, hospitality, overseas travel and meetings with external organisations.

The Government is also publishing agendas and the meeting notes of the first two meetings of the Coordination Committee between the Government and the DUP, as well as the terms of reference.

Diversity in public appointments

The Cabinet Office is also today publishing an action plan for improving the diversity of public appointments. Getting the balance right when making public appointments is a key part of ensuring we have public services which understand and respond to the needs of the population they serve.

In 2013, Government set an aspiration that 50 per cent of new public appointments made each year should go to women. Good progress has been made – 49 per cent new appointments made in 2016-17 went to women.

However, up until now we have had very little data on the make-up of existing bodies. This report sets out the record of each department, and the steps we are taking to ensure public bodies accurately reflect the diversity of 21st Century Britain with a new strategy and new aspirations for increasing diversity in public appointments.

Transparency of senior officials and special advisers

Special advisers are a critical part of the team supporting Ministers. They add a political dimension to the advice and assistance available to Ministers while reinforcing the impartiality of the permanent Civil Service by distinguishing the source of political advice and support. The Cabinet Office is today publishing the annual list of special advisers and their cost.

Special advisers are temporary civil servants. They represent 0.05 per cent of the Civil Service pay bill. There are 88 special advisers across the whole of government; the total Civil Service has 423,000 civil servants.

Departments are also publishing routine quarterly data on gifts and hospitality, received by special advisers, as well as information on meetings with senior media figures.

Alongside quarterly data on the travel and expenses of senior officials, the Government is also publishing today the transparency returns on senior public sector pay, as well as updated guidance on the controls for remuneration of senior civil servants and ministerial appointments to public bodies.

The Government will also shortly be publishing new figures on gender pay differentials across the Civil Service.

Copies of the associate documents are being placed in the Library of the House and will be published on gov.uk.

WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Chris Skidmore (Minister for the Constution)
Commons

Government accountability and transparency

Since 2010, the Government has been at the forefront of opening up data to allow Parliament, the public and the media to hold public bodies to account. Such online transparency is crucial accountability for delivering the best value for money, to cutting waste and inefficiency, and to ensuring every pound of taxpayers’ money is spent in the best possible way. Indeed, such data has allowed those working within central and local government to identify savings and stop excessive spending they did not otherwise know about.

The sunlight of transparency also acts in itself as an important check and balance, and helps ensure the highest standards of public life amongst elected representatives and officials. Alongside this, open data has great potential to deliver better public services through innovative uses of digital and mobile technology.

This moves away from more bureaucratic processes under previous Administrations, such as Public Service Agreements, Departmental Strategic Objectives and Comprehensive Performance Assessments, which were time consuming for public servants and opaque to the outside world.

Open data and transparency

Today a new webpage will go live on gov.uk that will, for the first time, bring together in one place a comprehensive list of the core transparency data published by all government departments, alongside details on how that data is prepared.

We have published new guidelines that clarify not only what core transparency data will be published by central government and how frequently; but also how we will ensure it is available in the most usable format and is easy to find.

This new landing page and publication guidance will help people find and navigate the information they need more easily and reaffirms our commitment to continue to drive forward the transparency agenda.

This guidance represents the minimum requirements which are common to all central government departments: many departments can and do go further.

Single Departmental Plans

We are also publishing today a refreshed set of Single Departmental Plans across government. These set out each government department’s objectives and how they will achieve them. Taken together, they show how departments are working to deliver the Government's programme.

Single Departmental Plans are important tools for transparency and accountability. They allow the public to track the Government’s progress and performance against a number of indicators. They also indicate which Ministers and senior officials are responsible for delivering each objective.

Ministerial Accountability

Under the terms of the Ministerial Code, Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises or could reasonably be perceived to arise between their Ministerial position and their private interests. Today we are publishing an updated List of Ministers’ Interests which captures those interests relevant to Ministers’ responsibilities; it should be read alongside the two Parliamentary Registers.

We are also publishing an update report on the handling of Ministers’ Interest from Sir Alex Allan, the Prime Minister’s Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests, alongside an updated List of Ministerial Responsibilities and the regular quarterly disclosure of Ministers’ gifts, hospitality, overseas travel and meetings with external organisations.

The Government is also publishing agendas and the meeting notes of the first two meetings of the Coordination Committee between the Government and the DUP, as well as the terms of reference.

Diversity in public appointments

The Cabinet Office is also today publishing an action plan for improving the diversity of public appointments. Getting the balance right when making public appointments is a key part of ensuring we have public services which understand and respond to the needs of the population they serve.

In 2013, Government set an aspiration that 50 per cent of new public appointments made each year should go to women. Good progress has been made – 49 per cent new appointments made in 2016-17 went to women.

However, up until now we have had very little data on the make-up of existing bodies. This report sets out the record of each department, and the steps we are taking to ensure public bodies accurately reflect the diversity of 21st Century Britain with a new strategy and new aspirations for increasing diversity in public appointments.

Transparency of senior officials and special advisers

Special advisers are a critical part of the team supporting Ministers. They add a political dimension to the advice and assistance available to Ministers while reinforcing the impartiality of the permanent Civil Service by distinguishing the source of political advice and support. The Cabinet Office is today publishing the annual list of special advisers and their cost.

Special advisers are temporary civil servants. They represent 0.05 per cent of the Civil Service pay bill. There are 88 special advisers across the whole of government; the total Civil Service has 423,000 civil servants.

Departments are also publishing routine quarterly data on gifts and hospitality, received by special advisers, as well as information on meetings with senior media figures.

Alongside quarterly data on the travel and expenses of senior officials, the Government is also publishing today the transparency returns on senior public sector pay, as well as updated guidance on the controls for remuneration of senior civil servants and ministerial appointments to public bodies.

The Government will also shortly be publishing new figures on gender pay differentials across the Civil Service.

Copies of the associate documents are being placed in the Library of the House and will be published on gov.uk.

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Defence)
Commons

Single Source Procurement Legislation: Review

Section 37 of the Defence Reform Act (2014) requires me to carry out a review of the single source procurement legislation (the DRA and the Single Source Contract Regulations 2014) within three years of it coming into force on 18 December 2014. In meeting this obligation, I would like to express my appreciation for the work and support provided by the Single Source Regulations Office (SSRO) which undertook an extensive consultation process with stakeholders from mid-2016 onwards. I have had regard to the recommendations on changes to the legislation provided by the SSRO in June 2017.

Following further engagement with the SSRO and industry, my review of the legislation has now been completed. It identified a number of areas where changes to the legislation could improve the operation of the regime. Further work will now be needed on the detail of how these could be implemented. In particular, we will need to assure ourselves that the changes result in the intended benefits without imposing unnecessary additional burdens on the Ministry of Defence or suppliers, and that the benefits justify the use of Parliament’s time. I will make a further statement on this in early 2018.

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Mr Tobias Ellwood (Under Secretary of State for Defence)
Commons

The Air Cadet Aerospace Offer

A review of gliding and developments within the Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Cadets suggests that a revised Air Cadet Aerospace Offer is overdue. The RAF Air Cadets, in 2017 and beyond, are offering more comprehensive training opportunities to complement cadet gliding and flying that, in light of the broader use of digital technologies, ensure the Air Cadet Offer is looking to the future.

The RAF Air Cadets continue to offer a wide range of excellent activities and opportunities to young people to broaden their experience, improve their confidence and equip them with the skills to succeed, both professionally and personally. Previously, the AIR in Air Cadet has largely been associated with gliding, flying scholarship and air experience activity. In 2017 – and as we look to the future – this places insufficient recognition on broader aviation activities offered alongside flying, with cadets being trained in a number of associated aerospace subjects, which offer the possibility of achieving recognised qualifications or contributing to a CV. In line with wider RAF transformation, we are also considering further cadet learning in emerging areas and technologies such as:

  • Remote-piloting;
  • Space – with potential linkages to the National Space Centre; and
  • Through links to the RAF 100 legacy ‘Trenchard Group’, which seeks to transform our training and education offer: airspace control, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

We are modernising to provide wider aerospace and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) experience and qualifications that benefit both cadets and industry in emerging aerospace technology areas. Furthermore there is industry interest in providing aerospace experience shown through linkages with cadets at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Syerston Aerospace camps.

The current generation of cadets and volunteer staff view this positively. It follows that gliding will, in future, be just one part of a useful array of qualifications and experience available to cadets in the aerospace field.

To broaden cadets’ perspectives, a National Aerospace Camp took place in August 2017, following the success of the two previous camps in 2015 and 2016. This brought together over 200 cadets from every corner of the United Kingdom to provide a tailored training programme, focusing on aerospace, aviation, engineering and flying. Alongside many visits to specialist and unique MOD, RAF and aviation establishments; cadets were involved in training in remote-control helicopter flying, radio, synthetic simulator training and air traffic control.

The RAF Air Cadets are in collaboration with the Aviation Skills Partnership, to provide pathways into the aerospace sector. A national hub will be created for the RAF Air Cadets and their adult volunteers, as part of the RAF100 legacy, to engage with modern learning, upskilling, accreditation and development through aerospace subjects. The Aaron Aerospace Academy will be built at RAF Syerston and is intended to form part of a national network of aerospace academies, in the coming years, with state of the art facilities.

Throughout the financial year 2016/17 a total of 17,600 cadets had powered flying experiences in the Grob Tutor, with additional opportunities expected as part of a new Air Experience Flight based in Northern Ireland. A further 2,000 have flown in front-line aircraft during training sorties. Tutor flying is now better integrated as part of the wider training programme as, since the gliding relaunch, the utilisation of Part Task Trainer (PTT) simulators has been realigned, with simulated gliding training a pre-cursor to both gliding and Tutor powered flying qualifications. Each Volunteer Gliding School (VGS) now incorporates at least one PTT and, in addition, five Aerospace Ground Schools equipped with PTTs have been established in locations where full VGS’ were previously closed.

Glider recovery rates are now steady and predictable, allowing a total of nearly 3,000 glider sorties to be conducted since recovery of the fleet began. 22 Viking gliders have been recovered so far and gliders have been assigned to Syerston, Little Rissington, Upavon and Tern Hill. Current plans are that up to 15 Vigilant gliders will be delivered, of which six have been recovered so far, with two having been assigned to Topcliffe and the remainder operating at Syerston. These VGS units are now starting to offer wings courses, as they did prior to the pause in flying. More VGS will be regenerated in the coming months.

The review identified that a smaller fleet can be effectively used to potentially improve availability and extend the service life of the gliders. Accordingly, the recovery plans, focusing on contractor capacity and value for money, will now deliver up to 60 Viking gliders, rather than the 73 previously anticipated. As such the revised numbers will deliver the required output – that of giving Air Cadets the opportunity of gaining gliding experience as part of the wider aerospace offer – and will not impact the number of VGS squadrons agreed in March 2016, or the size of the Volunteer Instructor cadre required to support it.

A modern Air Cadet Aerospace Offer should focus on achieving an appropriate balance of gliding, flying, simulation, STEM and front line air experience, making best use of the assets that the RAF have to offer, whilst also looking to the future. The RAF remains extremely grateful for the hard work, time and energy of the volunteers that support the Air Cadets in driving forward this transformation of the Air Cadet Aerospace Offer.

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Earl Howe (Ministter of State, Ministry of Defence)
Lords

Single Source Procurement Legislation: Review

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

Section 37 of the Defence Reform Act (2014) requires me to carry out a review of the single source procurement legislation (the DRA and the Single Source Contract Regulations 2014) within three years of it coming into force on 18 December 2014. In meeting this obligation, I would like to express my appreciation for the work and support provided by the Single Source Regulations Office (SSRO) which undertook an extensive consultation process with stakeholders from mid-2016 onwards. I have had regard to the recommendations on changes to the legislation provided by the SSRO in June 2017.

Following further engagement with the SSRO and industry, my review of the legislation has now been completed. It identified a number of areas where changes to the legislation could improve the operation of the regime. Further work will now be needed on the detail of how these could be implemented. In particular, we will need to assure ourselves that the changes result in the intended benefits without imposing unnecessary additional burdens on the Ministry of Defence or suppliers, and that the benefits justify the use of Parliament’s time. I will make a further statement on this in early 2018.

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State, Ministry of Defence)
Lords

The Air Cadet Aerospace Offer

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

A review of gliding and developments within the Royal Air Force (RAF) Air Cadets suggests that a revised Air Cadet Aerospace Offer is overdue. The RAF Air Cadets, in 2017 and beyond, are offering more comprehensive training opportunities to complement cadet gliding and flying that, in light of the broader use of digital technologies, ensure the Air Cadet Offer is looking to the future.

The RAF Air Cadets continue to offer a wide range of excellent activities and opportunities to young people to broaden their experience, improve their confidence and equip them with the skills to succeed, both professionally and personally. Previously, the AIR in Air Cadet has largely been associated with gliding, flying scholarship and air experience activity. In 2017 – and as we look to the future – this places insufficient recognition on broader aviation activities offered alongside flying, with cadets being trained in a number of associated aerospace subjects, which offer the possibility of achieving recognised qualifications or contributing to a CV. In line with wider RAF transformation, we are also considering further cadet learning in emerging areas and technologies such as:

  • Remote-piloting;
  • Space – with potential linkages to the National Space Centre; and
  • Through links to the RAF 100 legacy ‘Trenchard Group’, which seeks to transform our training and education offer: airspace control, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

We are modernising to provide wider aerospace and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) experience and qualifications that benefit both cadets and industry in emerging aerospace technology areas. Furthermore there is industry interest in providing aerospace experience shown through linkages with cadets at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Syerston Aerospace camps.

The current generation of cadets and volunteer staff view this positively. It follows that gliding will, in future, be just one part of a useful array of qualifications and experience available to cadets in the aerospace field.

To broaden cadets’ perspectives, a National Aerospace Camp took place in August 2017, following the success of the two previous camps in 2015 and 2016. This brought together over 200 cadets from every corner of the United Kingdom to provide a tailored training programme, focusing on aerospace, aviation, engineering and flying. Alongside many visits to specialist and unique MOD, RAF and aviation establishments; cadets were involved in training in remote-control helicopter flying, radio, synthetic simulator training and air traffic control.

The RAF Air Cadets are in collaboration with the Aviation Skills Partnership, to provide pathways into the aerospace sector. A national hub will be created for the RAF Air Cadets and their adult volunteers, as part of the RAF100 legacy, to engage with modern learning, upskilling, accreditation and development through aerospace subjects. The Aaron Aerospace Academy will be built at RAF Syerston and is intended to form part of a national network of aerospace academies, in the coming years, with state of the art facilities.

Throughout the financial year 2016/17 a total of 17,600 cadets had powered flying experiences in the Grob Tutor, with additional opportunities expected as part of a new Air Experience Flight based in Northern Ireland. A further 2,000 have flown in front-line aircraft during training sorties. Tutor flying is now better integrated as part of the wider training programme as, since the gliding relaunch, the utilisation of Part Task Trainer (PTT) simulators has been realigned, with simulated gliding training a pre-cursor to both gliding and Tutor powered flying qualifications. Each Volunteer Gliding School (VGS) now incorporates at least one PTT and, in addition, five Aerospace Ground Schools equipped with PTTs have been established in locations where full VGS’ were previously closed.

Glider recovery rates are now steady and predictable, allowing a total of nearly 3,000 glider sorties to be conducted since recovery of the fleet began. 22 Viking gliders have been recovered so far and gliders have been assigned to Syerston, Little Rissington, Upavon and Tern Hill. Current plans are that up to 15 Vigilant gliders will be delivered, of which six have been recovered so far, with two having been assigned to Topcliffe and the remainder operating at Syerston. These VGS units are now starting to offer wings courses, as they did prior to the pause in flying. More VGS will be regenerated in the coming months.

The review identified that a smaller fleet can be effectively used to potentially improve availability and extend the service life of the gliders. Accordingly, the recovery plans, focusing on contractor capacity and value for money, will now deliver up to 60 Viking gliders, rather than the 73 previously anticipated. As such the revised numbers will deliver the required output – that of giving Air Cadets the opportunity of gaining gliding experience as part of the wider aerospace offer – and will not impact the number of VGS squadrons agreed in March 2016, or the size of the Volunteer Instructor cadre required to support it.

A modern Air Cadet Aerospace Offer should focus on achieving an appropriate balance of gliding, flying, simulation, STEM and front line air experience, making best use of the assets that the RAF have to offer, whilst also looking to the future. The RAF remains extremely grateful for the hard work, time and energy of the volunteers that support the Air Cadets in driving forward this transformation of the Air Cadet Aerospace Offer.

WS
Attorney General
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (HM Advocate General for Scotland )
Lords

Protection for victims of sexual offences in court

The Government is committed to ensuring that victims are supported throughout the criminal justice system. This is particularly so for victims of sexual violence: a devastating and traumatic crime.

Sections 41 to 43 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 Act came into force in 2000 and provide critical protection for complainants in sex offence cases by tightly restricting the circumstances in which the defence can introduce evidence relating to the complainant’s sexual history.

There is a general prohibition on the use of sexual history evidence by the defence in sex offence trials. There are very limited circumstances in which the law allows such evidence to be introduced, but crucially section 41 prevents the use of sexual history by the defence to discredit the complainant. The defence must make an application to the court to introduce evidence or questions of a complainant’s sexual history, which is then decided upon by the judge in that case.

The Government wants to be sure that the law is working as it should, and strikes the right balance between protecting complainants and ensuring the defendant’s right to a fair trial. That is why we have undertaken a study to look at how the law in this area is working in practice.

Earlier this year, the then Lord Chancellor and I asked the Crown Prosecution Service to undertake an analysis of rape cases finalised in 2016 to determine the frequency and outcome of applications, under section 41.

This study looked at 309 such cases and found that in 92% of them – the overwhelming majority – no evidence of the complainant’s sexual history was introduced by the defence. Additionally, applications to introduce such evidence were only made in 13% of these cases. These findings strongly indicate that the law is working as it should, and strikes a careful balance between the need to protect complainants and ensuring that defendants receive a fair trial, consistent with the common law and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Whilst this is reassuring, we want to do more to provide vulnerable victims – and the public at large – with complete confidence in our criminal justice system. The Government is committed to ensuring that victims are treated with dignity and fairness in court. We are therefore taking additional steps to ensure the law continues to function effectively. These steps include the launch of new mandatory CPS prosecutor training and updated legal guidance; discussing with representatives of the Bar and solicitors the opportunity to improve training for criminal practitioners on section 41; a review by the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee of their rules in this area; and improved data collection.

Throughout this study we have listened to the views of victims’ groups and stakeholders, and engaged with them on raising awareness of section 41 and ensuring its effective operation. We will continue to engage with them on this issue.

Further details of the study are set out in a report that accompanies this statement. The measures we are taking are in addition to our wider work to support victims and witnesses in sexual offences cases. This wider work includes the roll-out of pre-recorded cross-examination for vulnerable witnesses in sexual offence cases, the introduction of new guidance for Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, and our commitment to publish a victims’ strategy in early 2018. The Government has also committed to publish a draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill and provide an additional £20 million to provide support to victims and to organisations combatting domestic abuse.

Copies of the report have been laid before both Houses and the full report is available here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/limiting-the-use-of-complainants-sexual-history-in-sexual-offence-cases

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS349
WS
Attorney General
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Attorney General)
Commons

Protection for victims of sexual offences in court

The Government is committed to ensuring that victims are supported throughout the criminal justice system. This is particularly so for victims of sexual violence: a devastating and traumatic crime.

Sections 41 to 43 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 Act came into force in 2000 and provide critical protection for complainants in sex offence cases by tightly restricting the circumstances in which the defence can introduce evidence relating to the complainant’s sexual history.

There is a general prohibition on the use of sexual history evidence by the defence in sex offence trials. There are very limited circumstances in which the law allows such evidence to be introduced, but crucially section 41 prevents the use of sexual history by the defence to discredit the complainant. The defence must make an application to the court to introduce evidence or questions of a complainant’s sexual history, which is then decided upon by the judge in that case.

The Government wants to be sure that the law is working as it should, and strikes the right balance between protecting complainants and ensuring the defendant’s right to a fair trial. That is why we have undertaken a study to look at how the law in this area is working in practice.

Earlier this year, the then Lord Chancellor and I asked the Crown Prosecution Service to undertake an analysis of rape cases finalised in 2016 to determine the frequency and outcome of applications, under section 41.

This study looked at 309 such cases and found that in 92% of them – the overwhelming majority – no evidence of the complainant’s sexual history was introduced by the defence. Additionally, applications to introduce such evidence were only made in 13% of these cases. These findings strongly indicate that the law is working as it should, and strikes a careful balance between the need to protect complainants and ensuring that defendants receive a fair trial, consistent with the common law and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Whilst this is reassuring, we want to do more to provide vulnerable victims – and the public at large – with complete confidence in our criminal justice system. The Government is committed to ensuring that victims are treated with dignity and fairness in court. We are therefore taking additional steps to ensure the law continues to function effectively. These steps include the launch of new mandatory CPS prosecutor training and updated legal guidance; discussing with representatives of the Bar and solicitors the opportunity to improve training for criminal practitioners on section 41; a review by the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee of their rules in this area; and improved data collection.

Throughout this study we have listened to the views of victims’ groups and stakeholders, and engaged with them on raising awareness of section 41 and ensuring its effective operation. We will continue to engage with them on this issue.

Further details of the study are set out in a report that accompanies this statement. The measures we are taking are in addition to our wider work to support victims and witnesses in sexual offences cases. This wider work includes the roll-out of pre-recorded cross-examination for vulnerable witnesses in sexual offence cases, the introduction of new guidance for Independent Sexual Violence Advisors, and our commitment to publish a victims’ strategy in early 2018. The Government has also committed to publish a draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill and provide an additional £20 million to provide support to victims and to organisations combatting domestic abuse.

Copies of the report have been laid before both Houses and the full report is available here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/limiting-the-use-of-complainants-sexual-history-in-sexual-offence-cases

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS343
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State, Ministry of Defence)
Lords

Grant-in-Kind of Equipment to the Jordanian Armed Forces

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

I have today laid before the House a Departmental Minute describing a package of equipment that the UK intends to provide to the Jordanian Armed Forces. The value of the package is estimated at £2,562,500.

The provision of equipment will be treated as a grant-in-kind. Following correspondence from the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee in 2016, Departments which previously treated these payments as gifts have undertaken to notify the House of Commons of any such grant-in-kind of a value exceeding £300,000 and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from making the grant until fourteen parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.

The grant-in-kind in this case comprises vehicles, furniture and IT equipment, generators and a range of personal-issue items. The granting of this equipment will support the Jordanian Defence & Borders Programme and is fundamental to the aims of the Government Strategy for Jordan. Delivery of targeted areas of equipment support is an integral part of the approach in order to assist Jordan in developing the capability to protect its borders. The activity is in support of the National Security Council objectives and is funded through the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund administered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence.

Subject to completion of the Departmental Minute process, the equipment is expected to be delivered in early 2018.

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Defence)
Commons

Grant-in-Kind of Equipment to the Jordanian Armed Forces

I have today laid before the House a Departmental Minute describing a package of equipment that the UK intends to provide to the Jordanian Armed Forces. The value of the package is estimated at £2,562,500.

The provision of equipment will be treated as a grant-in-kind. Following correspondence from the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee in 2016, Departments which previously treated these payments as gifts have undertaken to notify the House of Commons of any such grant-in-kind of a value exceeding £300,000 and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from making the grant until fourteen parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.

The grant-in-kind in this case comprises vehicles, furniture and IT equipment, generators and a range of personal-issue items. The granting of this equipment will support the Jordanian Defence & Borders Programme and is fundamental to the aims of the Government Strategy for Jordan. Delivery of targeted areas of equipment support is an integral part of the approach in order to assist Jordan in developing the capability to protect its borders. The activity is in support of the National Security Council objectives and is funded through the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund administered by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Defence.

Subject to completion of the Departmental Minute process, the equipment is expected to be delivered in early 2018.

WS
Department for Education
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System )
Lords

Social Mobility Action Plan: Delivering Equality of Opportunity through Education

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

Today, 14 December 2017, I am publishing Unlocking Talent; Fulfilling Potential: A plan for improving social mobility through education.

This is an ambitious plan to put social mobility at the heart of education policy, helping to make Britain fit for the future. It sits alongside the work of other Departments, and brings together a coherent, concerted approach to begin to level up opportunity right across the education system.

Our education reforms are raising standards in schools: compared to 2010 there are now 1.9 million more pupils in good and outstanding schools. Our introduction of a central focus on phonics is transforming literacy rates for young children. There are record numbers of young people in education or training and more disadvantaged young people going to university.

But, in our country today, where you start still all too often determines where you finish. And while talent is spread evenly across the country, opportunity is not. If we are to make this a country which truly works for everyone, there is much more to be done to deliver equality of opportunity for every child, regardless of who they are or where they live.

We are under no illusion that this will be easy. Nor that education can do it alone. But it does play a vital role – equality of opportunity starts with education.

This plan will deliver action targeted towards the people and the places where it is needed most through five key ambitions. Firstly, there is an overarching ambition to provide additional support to parts of the country that need it to ensure no community is “left behind”. Then there are four life stage ambitions:

Ambition 1: Close the word gap in the early years: children with strong foundations start school in a position to progress, but too many children fall behind early. We need to tackle development gaps, especially key early language and literacy skills, including by boosting investment in English hubs and professional development for early years professionals.

Ambition 2: Close the attainment gap in school while continuing to raise standards for all: the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers is closing. But these pupils still remain behind their peers. We will build on recent reforms, and raise standards in the areas that need it most. This will include more support for teachers early in their careers, providing clear pathways to progression, and getting more great teachers in areas where there remain significant challenges.

Ambition 3: High quality post-16 education choices for all young people: we have more people going to university than ever before, including more disadvantaged young people, but we need to expand access further to the best universities. We are delivering a skills revolution including working with business to make technical education world class, backed by an extra £500 million pounds investment at the March 2017 Budget.

Ambition 4: Everyone achieving their full potential in rewarding careers: employment has grown, but we need to improve access for young people from lower income backgrounds to networks of advice, information and experiences of work through a new type of partnership with businesses and employers. We will also support adults to retrain/upskill.

To achieve these ambitions, we are shifting the way we work. We are focusing on what works: putting evidence and the heart of our approach, embedding and extending successful reforms, and spreading best practice.

We are also shifting focus on building lasting success through partnership: asking employers, education professionals, voluntary groups and many others to step up and join a united effort across the country to put social mobility at the heart of their work too.

Improving opportunity for the next generation of young people is one of the great challenges of our time; everyone must play their part. But the prize is huge: a country in which talent and potential are what matters more. A country where everyone can be at their best.

The plan will be published on the Department for Education’s website and copies will also be placed in the House Libraries.

Unlocking Talent; Fulfilling Potential (PDF Document, 2.63 MB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS347
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Grenfell Tower fire six months on

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

Today marks six months since the Grenfell Tower tragedy and I am sure I speak for the whole House when I say our thoughts very much remain with those affected.

A national memorial service will take place at St Paul’s Cathedral today to mark this, which the Prime Minister, Ministerial colleagues and I will attend. This will provide the opportunity for us to remember those who tragically lost their lives and I hope offer some comfort to the bereaved and survivors. I am determined those who lost their lives, their families and friends, the survivors and the community will not be forgotten and are supported in getting the help they need and deserve.

On 11 December I wrote to all colleagues with an update on some of the work being undertaken to support those affected and I plan, with Mr Speaker’s permission, to make an Oral Statement to the House before recess.

Above all, I am determined that the lessons of the Grenfell fire are learnt and never forgotten so that a tragedy like this can never, ever happen again.

WS
Department for Education
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Justine Greening (The Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities)
Commons

Social Mobility Action Plan: Delivering Equality of Opportunity through Education

Today, 14 December 2017, I am publishing Unlocking Talent; Fulfilling Potential: A plan for improving social mobility through education.

This is an ambitious plan to put social mobility at the heart of education policy, helping to make Britain fit for the future. It sits alongside the work of other Departments, and brings together a coherent, concerted approach to begin to level up opportunity right across the education system.

Our education reforms are raising standards in schools: compared to 2010 there are now 1.9 million more pupils in good and outstanding schools. Our introduction of a central focus on phonics is transforming literacy rates for young children. There are record numbers of young people in education or training and more disadvantaged young people going to university.

But, in our country today, where you start still all too often determines where you finish. And while talent is spread evenly across the country, opportunity is not. If we are to make this a country which truly works for everyone, there is much more to be done to deliver equality of opportunity for every child, regardless of who they are or where they live.

We are under no illusion that this will be easy. Nor that education can do it alone. But it does play a vital role – equality of opportunity starts with education.

This plan will deliver action targeted towards the people and the places where it is needed most through five key ambitions. Firstly, there is an overarching ambition to provide additional support to parts of the country that need it to ensure no community is “left behind”. Then there are four life stage ambitions:

Ambition 1: Close the word gap in the early years: children with strong foundations start school in a position to progress, but too many children fall behind early. We need to tackle development gaps, especially key early language and literacy skills, including by boosting investment in English hubs and professional development for early years professionals.

Ambition 2: Close the attainment gap in school while continuing to raise standards for all: the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers is closing. But these pupils still remain behind their peers. We will build on recent reforms, and raise standards in the areas that need it most. This will include more support for teachers early in their careers, providing clear pathways to progression, and getting more great teachers in areas where there remain significant challenges.

Ambition 3: High quality post-16 education choices for all young people: we have more people going to university than ever before, including more disadvantaged young people, but we need to expand access further to the best universities. We are delivering a skills revolution including working with business to make technical education world class, backed by an extra £500 million pounds investment at the March 2017 Budget.

Ambition 4: Everyone achieving their full potential in rewarding careers: employment has grown, but we need to improve access for young people from lower income backgrounds to networks of advice, information and experiences of work through a new type of partnership with businesses and employers. We will also support adults to retrain/upskill.

To achieve these ambitions, we are shifting the way we work. We are focusing on what works: putting evidence and the heart of our approach, embedding and extending successful reforms, and spreading best practice.

We are also shifting focus on building lasting success through partnership: asking employers, education professionals, voluntary groups and many others to step up and join a united effort across the country to put social mobility at the heart of their work too.

Improving opportunity for the next generation of young people is one of the great challenges of our time; everyone must play their part. But the prize is huge: a country in which talent and potential are what matters more. A country where everyone can be at their best.

The plan will be published on the Department for Education’s website and copies will also be placed in the House Libraries.

Unlocking Talent; Fulfilling Potential (PDF Document, 2.63 MB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS341
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Grenfell Tower fire six months on

Today marks six months since the Grenfell Tower tragedy and I am sure I speak for the whole House when I say our thoughts very much remain with those affected.

A national memorial service will take place at St Paul’s Cathedral today to mark this, which the Prime Minister, Ministerial colleagues and I will attend. This will provide the opportunity for us to remember those who tragically lost their lives and I hope offer some comfort to the bereaved and survivors. I am determined those who lost their lives, their families and friends, the survivors and the community will not be forgotten and are supported in getting the help they need and deserve.

On 11 December I wrote to all colleagues with an update on some of the work being undertaken to support those affected and I plan, with Mr Speaker’s permission, to make an Oral Statement to the House before recess.

Above all, I am determined that the lessons of the Grenfell fire are learnt and never forgotten so that a tragedy like this can never, ever happen again.

WS
Department of Health
Made on: 14 December 2017
Made by: Mr Philip Dunne (Minister of State for Health)
Commons

Draft health and care workforce strategy for England

I wish to update Parliament that on 13th December 2017, Health Education England published the consultation: 'Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future’ a draft health and care workforce strategy for England to 2027.

This draft strategy is for consultation with stakeholders and the public more widely and is the product of the whole national health system, including NHS England, NHS Improvement and Public Health England.

It announces system-wide reviews to assess the impact of technological changes on clinical professionals and on how best to support the informal workforce, made up of family, friends, carers and patients themselves, in the future.

Further information on the consultation and how to participate can be found at:

https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/planning-commissioning/workforce-strategy

I attach a copy of the draft strategy.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS347
WS
Leader of the House of Lords
Made on: 13 December 2017
Made by: Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Lord Privy Seal)
Lords

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 13 December 2017
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs )
Lords

The ongoing campaign against Daesh

My Right Honourable Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Boris Johnson), has made the following written Ministerial statement:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 13 December 2017
Made by: Lord Callanan (Minister of State for Exiting the European Union)
Lords

Procedures for the Approval and Implementation of EU Exit Agreements

My Rt Hon. Friend, David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, has made the following statement:

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

Background

There will be at least two agreements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS342
WS
Prime Minister
Made on: 13 December 2017
Made by: Mrs Theresa May (Prime Minister)
Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ongoing campaign against Daesh

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Procedures for the Approval and Implementation of EU Exit Agreements

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

Background

There will be at least two agreements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS337
WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 12 December 2017
Made by: Lord Ashton of Hyde (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Lords

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

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

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

Telecoms

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

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

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

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

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

Other

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

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

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

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

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



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

Animal Welfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Afghanistan - Locally Employed Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Affairs Council December 2017

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

The provisional agenda includes:

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

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

European Council follow-up

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

Legislative programming - Joint declaration on interinstitutional programming

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

European Semester 2018 - Annual Growth Survey

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

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

Update on organ donation in England

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU Transport Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Telecoms

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

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

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

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

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

Other

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

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

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

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

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

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

Animal Welfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Afghanistan - Locally Employed Staff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update on organ donation in England

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU Transport Council

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General Affairs Council December 2017

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

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

The provisional agenda includes:

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

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

European Council follow-up

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

Legislative programming - Joint declaration on interinstitutional programming

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

European Semester 2018 - Annual Growth Survey

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

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

Higher Education Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The proposals on which we are consulting are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Higher Education Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The proposals on which we are consulting are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Council decision on UNHCR Executive Committee conclusions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU Industrial Strategy

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

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

Single Digital Gateway

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

Unified Patent Court

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

European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP)

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

Other items

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

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

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

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

Day Two – Space and Research

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

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

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

EU Space Programmes

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

Council conclusions on Horizon 2020

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

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

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

Other Items

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

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

Council decision on UNHCR Executive Committee conclusions

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

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

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

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

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

Review of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Cape Town Convention: MAC Protocol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Economic crime and anti-corruption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Implementation of Help to Save Accounts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU Industrial Strategy

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

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

Single Digital Gateway

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

Unified Patent Court

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

European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP)

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

Other items

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

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

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

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

Day Two – Space and Research

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

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

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

EU Space Programmes

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

Council conclusions on Horizon 2020

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

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

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

Other Items

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

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

Cape Town Convention: MAC Protocol

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Implementation of Help to Save Accounts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Economic crime and anti-corruption

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Correction

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

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

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

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

Correction

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

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

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

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

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

I will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (Foreign and Development Ministers) on 11 December. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative (HRVP) of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Sec