Written statements

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

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

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

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

Inquiry into the issues raised by the Paterson case

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statement on Energy Policy

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

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

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

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

What we have learnt

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

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

Advanced Nuclear Technologies – Next Steps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Statement on Energy Infrastructure

Nuclear power generation

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

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

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

Government consultation

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

Nuclear National Policy Statements

Applicability of EN-6

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

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

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

Applicability of the new NPS

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

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

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

December Agriculture and Fisheries pre-Council Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On 23 June 2016, the EU referendum took place and the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the European Union and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force. During this period the Government will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU legislation. The outcome of these negotiations will determine what arrangements apply in relation to EU legislation in future once the UK has left the EU.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government asset sale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government asset sale

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EU Insolvency Regulation

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

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

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

EU Insolvency Regulation

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

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

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

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

Justice and Home Affairs pre-Council statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justice and Home Affairs pre-Council statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Macur Review Report

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

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

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

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

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

Heritage Statement

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

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

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

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

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

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