Written statements

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

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

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

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Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 27 April 2017
Made by: Mr David Jones (The Minister of State for Exiting the European Union )
Commons

General Affairs Council April 2017

The Minister of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union (Mr David Jones): I attended the General Affairs Council on 25 April 2017. The meeting was held in Luxembourg and chaired by the Maltese Presidency.

The meeting was dedicated to cohesion policy and the agenda items included: Modification of the Common Provisions Regulation; Bringing Cohesion Policy Closer to Citizens; and Council Conclusions on Macro-Regional Strategies.

A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2017/04/25/

Modification of the Common Provisions Regulation

The Presidency provided an update on the proposed revision of the Common Provisions Regulation, which sought to provide a higher level of EU cohesion funding in response to natural disasters. The Committee of Permanent Representatives had agreed a compromise and a discussion between the European Parliament, the Council and European Commission was scheduled for 3 May.

The Presidency also provided an update on the ‘Omnibus’ regulation proposed by the European Commission to simplify cohesion funding and announced that it would begin discussions with the European Parliament on this matter as soon as possible.

Council Conclusions on Bringing Cohesion Policy Closer to Citizens

The Presidency reiterated its views on the benefits of cohesion policy but recognised that funding pressures continued and that a lack of awareness of the EU’s contributions towards cohesion policy remained. I intervened to welcome the improvements to cohesion funding during the current period but recognised that further innovation should be encouraged. I also recalled the Prime Minister’s commitment that the UK would seek a fair settlement of its rights and obligations during the negotiations on the UK’s departure from the EU.

Council Conclusions on Macro-Regional Strategies
The Presidency highlighted progress in developing macro-regional strategies.

Discussions on the conclusions were agreed.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS614
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Home Office
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Immigration

In 2016, the UK granted asylum or another form of leave to over 8,000 children. By the end of 2016, the UK had resettled more than 5,000 people under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme and the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme, as part of our commitment to taking 23,000 people by 2020. Our resettlement schemes allow children to be resettled with their family members, thereby discouraging them from making perilous journeys to Europe alone. In 2016, we transferred over 900 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from within Europe to the UK, including more than 750 from France as part of the UK’s comprehensive support for the Calais camp clearance. And over 200 children have already arrived in the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016. The UK has pledged over £2.3 billion in aid in response to the events in Syria and the region - our largest ever humanitarian response to a single crisis. Within Europe, the UK has also established a £10 million Refugee Children’s Fund to support the needs of vulnerable refugee and migrant children arriving in Europe. The fund includes targeted support to meet the specific needs of unaccompanied and separated children.

In my Written Ministerial Statement of 8 February 2017 I announced that, following consultation with local authorities, the Government would transfer the specified number of 350 unaccompanied children from Europe to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016.

The Government has very recently become aware that, due to an administrative error as part of collating the figures, one region pledged 130 places which were not accounted for in setting the specified number. As part of the consultation local authorities were asked to let their Strategic Migration Partnerships know how many places they could offer, and then the Strategic Migration Partnerships provided the regional number to the Home Office. The Home Office continued to work with the Strategic Migration Partnerships throughout the consultation process, and believed that two regions in England had not provided responses after the consultation closed. Both of these regions had already stepped up to take a number of children from over-burdened councils elsewhere in the country so it was assumed they would continue to support the national transfer scheme as and when they could, but were not able to provide specific numbers which the Home Office could then allocate to section 67 cases. The Home Office recently discovered that one of the regions had sent a return and we are now including their pledges in the specified number for the purposes of section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016.

In order to ensure the specified number of children to be transferred is a true reflection of the responses to that consultation, I am today announcing that, in accordance with section 67 of the Immigration Act, the Government is increasing the specified number from 350 to 480. As outlined in my original statement, the specified number includes over 200 children already transferred from France as part of the Calais camp clearance. It does not include children transferred to the UK pursuant to the family reunion criteria of the Dublin III Regulation.

The Government remains fully committed to the implementation of our commitment under section 67 to transfer unaccompanied children to the UK from Europe and no eligible child has been refused transfer to the UK as a result of this error. The Home Secretary has written to her counterparts in France, Greece and Italy and we are working closely with Member States, as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and NGO partners so we can identify and transfer children to the UK as soon as possible. Home Office officials have met with their counterparts in each of the countries in the past few weeks to plan future transfers. We have secondees in Greece and Italy working on transfers of unaccompanied children to the UK under both the Dublin III Regulation and section 67 and we published the criteria for future transfers on 10 March. Over the coming months, the Government will continue to work with EU Member States and partners to implement section 67.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS613
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Boris Johnson (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Provision of Equipment to Syria Civil Defence and the Free Syrian Police

The situation in Syria remains extremely fragile. An estimated 400,000 people have been killed since the war began six years ago, many of them innocent civilians. The Asad regime continues to use the most barbaric military methods and tactics available, including the use of indiscriminate artillery fire, chemical weapons and barrel bombs. The UK remains committed to doing all it can to promote a political settlement to end the conflict, to alleviate the humanitarian suffering, and to protect UK national security through countering terrorist and extremist threats.

In June 2016, my predecessor, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, issued Written Ministerial Statements setting out our plans to give equipment to Syria Civil Defence and the Free Syrian Police teams operating in opposition-controlled areas of Syria. The UK subsequently distributed the equipment to both teams along with comprehensive training packages. Syria Civil Defence teams have now saved over 70,000 lives by rescuing civilians trapped in damaged buildings, fighting fires and providing emergency first aid. The Free Syrian Police continues its valuable work to prevent looting and to support the distribution of humanitarian aid. Other international donors have contributed to both initiatives.

The UK intends to continue its support to these programmes by increasing their communications capability and mobility of the teams, providing more targeted operational equipment – whether for search and rescue, or tracing explosives – as well as building up the capacity of these organisations to deliver on the ground. We intend give £2 million in equipment to Syria Civil Defence and £4 million in equipment to the Free Syrian Police. For Syria Civil Defence, the list of equipment includes: cutting and rescue tools; personal protective gear including helmets; uniforms; communications equipment; medical supplies; equipment for the disposal of unexploded ordinance; office supplies; vehicles; and fire fighting equipment. For the Free Syrian Police, the list of equipment includes: vehicles; communications kit; traffic signs and cones; uniforms; and generators. We expect to spend £19 million this financial year on both programmes of support.

The use of these funds to cover the costs of the equipment has been approved by members of the Middle East and North Africa Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) Regional Board. The list of equipment has been scrutinised to ensure that the provision of this equipment is consistent with export controls and complies with our international obligations. Recipients have been carefully selected to prevent equipment being given to those involved in extremist activities or human rights abuses. All equipment transfers are approved by HMG immediately before delivery. All our assistance is carefully calibrated and legal, is aimed at alleviating human suffering and supporting moderate groups and is regularly monitored and evaluated. We monitor the situation on the ground carefully.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS612
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Boris Johnson (The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Provision of Equipment to Moderate Armed Opposition Border Force and Medical Units

The situation in Syria remains extremely fragile. An estimated 400,000 people have been killed since the war began six years ago, many of them innocent civilians. The Asad regime continues to use the most barbaric military methods and tactics available, including the use of indiscriminate artillery fire, chemical weapons and barrel bombs. The UK remains committed to doing all it can to promote a political settlement to end the conflict, to alleviate the humanitarian suffering, and to protect UK national security through countering terrorist and extremist threats.

In November 2015, my predecessor, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, issued Written Ministerial Statements setting out our plans to give equipment and training to groups selected from the Moderate Armed Opposition’s (MAO) Southern Front, creating a Border Force and Casualty Evacuation capability in Opposition controlled areas of southern Syria. The Southern Front Border Force (SF-BFOR) working together with other MAO groups and in coordination with the Jordanian Authorities, has interdicted Jordanian citizens illegally entering Syria. They have also stopped smugglers carrying money, weapons and narcotics from Syria to Jordan, and Daesh fighters attempting to carry weapons, explosives and money in and out of the besieged area of the Yarmouk Basin. The Southern Front Casualty Evacuation capability (CASEVAC) capability is designed to provide vital medical support to the MAO and has, to date, established and equipped three medical teams with a command and control element attached to each. Primarily designed to support MAO fighters, they have provided treatment to over 100 injured MAO personnel in recent fighting in Dera’a City. These teams have also provided treatment to civilians wounded in the fighting often working alongside the Syrian Civil Defence. Other international donors have contributed to both initiatives.

The UK intends to continue its support to these programmes by providing targeted operational equipment – for patrolling and observation, and for provision of medical care to wounded fighters – as well as building the command and control capacity. We will give £3,438,338.54 in equipment to SF-BFOR and £2,779,970.30 in equipment to the CASEVAC medical units. For SF-BFOR the list of equipment includes: vehicles; day/night observation aids; communications equipment; metal and line detecting equipment to find and avoid improvised explosive devices; uniforms; and combined load carrying/protective vests. The list of equipment for the CASEVAC medical units includes: vehicles; communications equipment; medical treatment equipment; uniforms; and load carrying/protective vests. We expect to spend a total of £10 million this financial year on both programmes of support.

The use of these funds to cover the costs of the programme has been approved by the Syria Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) Board, the Middle East North Africa CSSF Regional Board and Operations Committee. The equipment has been scrutinised to ensure that the provision of this equipment is consistent with export controls and complies with our international obligations. Recipients have been carefully selected and vetted to prevent equipment being given to those involved in extremist activities or human rights abuses. All equipment transfers are approved by HMG immediately before delivery. All our assistance is carefully calibrated and legal, is aimed at alleviating human suffering and supporting moderate groups and is regularly monitored and evaluated. We monitor the situation on the ground carefully.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS611
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Department for Education
Made on: 26 April 2017
Made by: Joseph Johnson (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

English Votes for English Laws Analysis for Higher Education and Research Bill

I am pleased to announce the publication of the Government’s analysis of English Votes for English Laws in relation to amendments made to the Higher Education and Research Bill in the House of Lords.

The English Votes for English Laws process applies to public bills in the House of Commons. To support the process, the Government has agreed that it will provide information to assist the Speaker in considering whether to certify a Bill or any of its provisions for the purposes of English Votes for English Laws. Bill provisions that relate exclusively to England or to England and Wales, and which have a subject matter within the legislative competence of one or more of the devolved legislatures, can be certified.

The memorandum also provides an assessment of Government amendments tabled in lieu of Lords amendments, for the purposes of English Votes for English Laws. The Department’s assessment is that the amendments do not change the territorial application of the Bill.

This analysis reflects the position should all the Government amendments be accepted.

The memorandum can be found on the Bill documents page of the Parliament website at: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2016-17/highereducationandresearch.html and I have deposited a copy in the Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS610
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Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 25 April 2017
Made by: Damian Hinds (Minister of State for Employment)
Commons

Informal Meeting of Ministers of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council 3-4 April 2017, Valletta, Malta

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met for the Informal Meeting of Ministers on 3rd and 4th April 2017 in Valletta, Malta; I represented the UK. The informal meeting does not tend to include legislative matters, but provides an opportunity for in-depth policy debates. The subjects for discussion are determined by the Presidency, who host the meeting.

The European Commission presented an EU roadmap for “making work pay”, which was the theme of the informal meeting. The Commission set out details of the White Paper on the Future of Europe as well as an update on expected proposals for the European Pillar of Social Rights.

The Presidency led a discussion on skills, emphasising how poor skills lead to social exclusion. Member state interventions highlighted the importance of investing to raise skill levels and improve the quality of jobs.

A plenary discussion was held on the subject of addressing inequalities in the labour market, with a focus on the challenges of responding to digitalisation, the rise in self-employment, new types of employment, and demographic change.

The Presidency gave a presentation on “moving away from benefit dependency – a Maltese perspective”, setting out how work has to be incentivised over benefits and how activation is critical. The Social Protection Committee chair outlined a framework of six key themes, including the balance between activation and income support; the provision of individualised support; and the availability of affordable services.

The final plenary of the informal considered the labour market as a vehicle for social inclusion. Member states emphasised the importance of activation for the long-term unemployed, as well as the role of access to child and social care.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS608
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HM Treasury
Made on: 25 April 2017
Made by: Mr David Gauke (The Chief Secretary to the Treasury )
Commons

ECOFIN: 21 March 2017

A meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 21 March 2017. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following items:

Early morning session

The Eurogroup President briefed Ministers on the outcomes of the 20 March meeting of the Eurogroup. Ministers discussed the current economic situation. The European Commission presented its review of national provisions adopted in compliance with the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (the Fiscal Compact) conducted in accordance with Article 8 of the Fiscal Compact, which was followed by an exchange of views by Ministers. Austrian Finance Minister Schelling explained his views as regard a proposed fine for the manipulation of debt statistics in Austrian Land of Salzburg, and the Polish delegation, on behalf of the Chairman of the EIB’s Board of Governors, outlined the suggested process for the upcoming election of the EIB President.”

Reduced VAT rate for electronically supplied publications (e-Publications)

Ministers discussed political issues in relation to the proposal for a Council Directive regarding rates of value added tax applied to books, newspapers and periodicals. The Proposal would give Member States the ability to apply reduced rates or a zero VAT rate to e-Publications and physical publications.

General Reverse Charge Mechanism

Ministers discussed the political issues in relation to the General Reverse Charge Mechanism (GRCM). This is a proposal for an amendment to Council Directive 2006/112/ on the common system of value added tax to allow the temporary application of a GRCM to supplies of goods and services above a certain threshold, with the aim of combatting VAT fraud.

Current financial service legislative proposals

The Council Presidency provided an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

European Semester 2017:

a) 2017 Country Reports and In-Depth Reviews

b) Implementation of Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs)

Following a presentation by the Commission, Ministers discussed the Country Reports published by the Commission on 22 February, including the assessment of CSR implementation and, where relevant, the framework of the Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure. The Czech Republic, Italy and Slovenia were invited to reflect on their experiences of implementing reforms to the business environment, followed by an exchange of views.

Follow-up to the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors on 17-18 March 2017 in Baden-Baden

The Presidency and the Commission informed Ministers on the outcomes of the G20 meeting.

Any other business

a) European Defence Fund

The Commission informed Ministers about its European Defence Action Plan, focusing in particular on the launch of a European Defence Fund. This item was delayed from February ECOFIN.

b) Status of implementation of financial services legislation

The Commission informed Ministers on the status of implementation of financial services legislation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS606
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HM Treasury
Made on: 25 April 2017
Made by: Mr Philip Hammond (The Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Commons

ECOFIN: 7 - 8 April 2017

An informal meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Valletta, Malta on 7-8 April 2017. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following items:

Working Lunch

The Eurogroup President briefed Ministers on the outcomes of the 7 April meeting of the Eurogroup. Ministers discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), on the basis of the progress made with respect to the Five Presidents’ Report, and the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe.

Working Session I: Non-performing loans

Ministers were joined by Central Bank Governors to discuss the current situation of non-performing loans (NPLs) in European banks.

Working Session II: Boosting private investment in North Africa and beyond – What role for the EU institutions?

Ministers discussed ways to encourage further private investment in North Africa and beyond, given the importance of these neighbouring regions to the EU. The discussion drew on analysis by Bruegel and included participation from a number of actors in the region including the European Investment Bank (EIB), the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Working Session III: Tax certainty in a changing environment

In the context of rapid changes in the international tax system and work being conducted by the OECD and the IMF, Ministers reflected on ways to improve tax certainty in support of the EU's attractiveness as a place for doing business.

Any Other Business: IMF and G20 issues

Ahead of the April Spring Meetings in Washington DC, Ministers agreed the EU Terms of Reference for the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to be held on 20-21 April, the EU statement to the IMFC, and an updated agreement on EU coordination in the IMF.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS607
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Northern Ireland Office
Made on: 24 April 2017
Made by: James Brokenshire (Secretary of State for Northern Ireland)
Commons

Northern Ireland Finances

At the point when the Assembly dissolved in January, there had been no Budget set for the Northern Ireland Executive for the 2017-18 financial year. As a result, since the end of March it has fallen to the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Finance to allocate cash to Northern Ireland departments under powers provided by section 59 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. Since that point, consistent with the UK Government’s ultimate responsibility for political stability in Northern Ireland, I have been working closely with the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS), in conjunction with the NICS Board, to explore the most appropriate means by which to provide further assurance around the Budget for Northern Ireland departments in the absence of an Executive.

I outline in the attached tables an indicative Budget position and set of departmental allocations, based on advice from the Head of the NICS in conjunction with the NICS Board. These allocations seek to reflect, as far as possible, their assessment as to the priorities of the political parties prior to the dissolution of the Assembly and the further allocations they consider are required within the budget available. By so doing I intend to give clarity to Northern Ireland departments as to the basis for departmental allocations in the absence of an Executive, so that Permanent Secretaries can plan and prepare to take more detailed decisions in that light.

Alongside that, I wish to make clear - as I shall also do in proceedings on the Northern Ireland (Ministerial Appointments and Regional Rates) Bill - that this Government, if returned and efforts to secure the resumption of devolved government do not succeed, would ultimately be prepared to provide legislative authority for the expenditure of Northern Ireland departments for 2017-18.

The totals I set out would not constrain the future ability of an incoming Executive to adjust its priorities during the course of the year. Any future UK Government would similarly need to reflect upon the final shape of allocations in the light of the circumstances at the appropriate time.

Resource - Departmental Expenditure Limits

The resource positions begin from the indicative departmental totals set by the Permanent Secretary of the NI Department of Finance under his s59 powers. From there further allocations have been made in the light of the assessment made by the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Civil Service Board, as to pressures to be addressed. These totals do not include the £42m of resource provided in the March Budget, as that extra funding was allocated after the last Executive dissolved. This is in order to maintain flexibility for the new Executive to allocate resources to meet further priorities as they deem appropriate.

Capital - Departmental Expenditure Limits

The capital position has been determined by the Head of the NICS, in conjunction with the NICS Board, based on engagement with individual departments, again reflecting the decisions and priorities of the last Executive. It includes the allocation of £114m of Financial Transactions Capital. It would make available funding for projects which were announced by the Executive as part of their 2016-17 Budget. These include the A5 and A6 road projects, the Belfast Transport Hub, and the Mother and Children’s Hospital. However it would be for individual departments to prioritise and allocate their capital budgets. As with the resource totals above, this does not include the £7m of capital provided in the March Budget.

Tables 1 and 2 (Word Document, 25.9 KB)
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Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 24 April 2017
Made by: Matt Hancock (Minister for Digital and Culture)
Commons

Publication of the Tailored Review of Arts Council England

I am today publishing the report of the tailored review of Arts Council England. The review was first announced in the Culture White Paper in March 2016, and was officially launched on 9 August 2016.

The review’s purpose was to challenge and seek assurance of the continuing need, efficiency and good governance of Arts Council England. The review concluded that the functions of Arts Council England are necessary and should continue to be delivered by Arts Council England in its current form as a Non-Departmental Public Body.

The review found Arts Council England to be an efficient and well governed organisation that was highly regarded across the arts and culture sectors. The review made a number of recommendations for further improving the effectiveness of Arts Council England, for example through further integrating museums and libraries; further supporting skills capability and financial resilience; developing more local partnerships and strengthening the use of cultural investment as regeneration capital; strengthening the assessment of the impact of its funding; and ensuring that its funding is fully accessible in order to benefit everyone and not just the privileged few. There are recommendations too for DCMS, on providing stronger assurance that the Arts Council is investing public money effectively, and reviewing the cultural property and export license functions.

The review was carried out by DCMS, and an independent Challenge Panel was appointed to assure its robustness and impartiality. The review was carried out with the full participation of Arts Council England, and gathered evidence from a range of stakeholders from across government and the arts and culture sectors and through a public consultation. I would like to thank all those who contributed to the review.

The report will be placed in the libraries of both Houses and is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/tailored-review-of-arts-council-england

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Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 24 April 2017
Made by: Karen Bradley (Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Sky / Fox Merger

On Thursday 16 March I intervened in the proposed acquisition of Sky by 21 Century Fox on the media public interest grounds of media plurality and commitment to broadcasting standards by issuing a European Intervention Notice (EIN).

The EIN triggered the requirement for Ofcom to assess and report to me on the public interest grounds specified and for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to report to me on jurisdiction. I required Ofcom and the CMA to provide their reports to me in response to the EIN by Tuesday 16 May. Once I receive these reports, my decision-making role in this process would resume.

Given the proximity of this decision to the forthcoming general election and following discussions with the parties, Ofcom, the CMA and the Cabinet Office Propriety and Ethics team I wrote to Ofcom and the CMA on Friday 21 April to extend the period by which these reports should be submitted to Tuesday 20 June.

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Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 24 April 2017
Made by: Mr David Jones (The Minister of State for Exiting the European Union )
Commons

General Affairs Council April 2017

The General Affairs Council (GAC) on 25 April 2017 is expected to focus on: Modification of the Commons Provisions Regulation; Bringing Cohesion Policy closer to our citizens; and Implementation of EU Macro-Regional Strategies; followed by a Working lunch.

Modification of the Commons Provisions Regulation

The Presidency will provide an update on proposed changes to the legislation which governs the Common Provisions Regulation, the overarching EU regulation which governs the European Structural and Investment Funds. These are expected to be in place before our withdrawal from the EU and were proposed by the Commission as part of the Mid-Term Review of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) in order to simplify and harmonise existing regulations.

Bringing Cohesion Policy closer to our citizens

The Council will adopt conclusions which: assess the EU’s cohesion policy in recent years; recognise the need for greater visibility in its implementation; and call for further simplification and flexibility in the period beyond 2020. A discussion between Member States on the themes raised during the negotiation of the conclusions is expected.

Implementation of EU Macro-Regional Strategies

The Council will adopt conclusions on ‘EU Macro-Regional Strategies’, the frameworks for co-operation between Member States and non-Member States in tackling common challenges by better using existing EU initiatives and sources of funding.

Working lunch

Following the meeting there will be a working lunch, at which Ministers will have the opportunity to exchange views on the role of cohesion policy post 2020 with Corina Creţu, European Commissioner for Regional Policy. This is expected to be an informal discussion.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS602
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HM Treasury
Made on: 24 April 2017
Made by: Mr David Gauke (The Chief Secretary to the Treasury )
Commons

Cross government Prosperity Fund 2017 update

I wish to update the House on how the Prosperity Fund has supported global and UK prosperity in its first year and its plans for future years. As we leave the European Union the Prosperity Fund is a vital part of how the UK will be a global, outward-looking nation that is confident on the world stage and has strong, fruitful relationships with countries around the world.

On 21 July 2016 I informed the House on the aims and objectives of the £1.3bn Prosperity Fund (HCWS104) and a short paper was published on gov.uk that details how the Fund operates. The Fund uses primarily Official Development Assistance (ODA) resources to promote economic reform in ODA-eligible middle income countries, which are home to 70% of the world’s poor, contributing to a reduction in poverty. Shared prosperity is a key part of the UK Aid Strategy. The Fund has a secondary benefit of opening up opportunities for international, including UK, business.

Projects are focussed on countries and sectors identified through cross-Whitehall economic analysis as being those areas with large numbers of people living in poverty, potential for inclusive growth and where UK expertise can make a real difference.

As set out in the Fund’s Spending Round 2015 Settlement Letter the Fund is 97% ODA with a small non-ODA allocation. ODA projects must meet the primary purpose to support poverty reduction and promote sustainable economic growth.

The strategic direction for the Fund is set by a cross-government Ministerial Board supported by a director level Portfolio Board comprised of representatives from key departments. This structure reflects the cross-government nature of the Fund and ensures that programmes deliver value for money and support government objectives. Accounting Officers remain responsible for ensuring the value for money of programmes funded by the Prosperity Fund.

The Ministerial Board has met nine times since January 2016. These regular meetings have allowed it to respond promptly and flexibly to changing circumstances – for example endorsing increased funds to trade related projects after the EU referendum.

The Prosperity Fund has continued to refine its systems and processes throughout the first year in order to ensure that it succeeds. It has acted on positive feedback and helpful advice from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, the National Audit Office, and, most recently the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI).

We welcome this external scrutiny as an opportunity to test the portfolio and management systems with independent experts. As stated in our formal management response to the ICAI review, the Prosperity Fund accepts and is implementing their recommendations, many of which it had already identified through its own internal reviews.

Year one of the Prosperity Fund was designed as a transition year. The Ministerial Board allocated £55m of ODA to projects in a range of ODA eligible countries including China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria and South Africa and in areas such as financial services, infrastructure, business environment, energy, and trade and regulation. It also allocated £5m of non-ODA in support of government prosperity objectives in both ODA-eligible countries and developed markets.

In South Africa, electricity shortages have cut GDP by 2% in recent years. The Prosperity Fund piloted an innovative British technology to help address this, enabling local government, universities, businesses and utilities to save a minimum of 15% on their electricity consumption.

In Brazil, the work of the Prosperity Fund has been recently celebrated in national media as an example of the importance of international cooperation to tackle transnational bribery and reduce corruption, and has helped to shape the recently approved “10 Measures against Corruption” law in Brazil.

The Prosperity Fund financed the former Prime Minister’s anti-corruption summit in May 2016 which brought together world leaders, business and civil society to agree measures to reduce corruption. The Fund has also placed the UK at the forefront of delivering international commitments to tackle corruption such as setting up the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre, financed by the Prosperity Fund and hosted by the UK’s National Crime Agency.

The Fund is committed to meeting the UK government transparency commitments on ODA spend. Details of all year one programmes will be released on GOV.UK in mid 2017 and an annual report on the first year will be issued by autumn 2017.

The majority of the Prosperity Fund will be allocated to large, high impact, multi-year programmes. To date 18 such programmes have been endorsed by the Ministerial Board and are now being developed by UK government departments including HM Treasury, the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Many other government departments are involved in the design and delivery of individual programmes.

These programmes include country specific work in South America and Asia, regional programmes in South East Asia, and multi-country, sector specific programmes on trade reform, insurance, education and anti-corruption. The focus of all programmes is high impact and value for money. We expect the first of these to launch later in the year.

We will refresh our GOV.UK page with more information on the Fund following this update and will continue to develop these pages as the Fund progresses, including with information on programmes as they launch.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS603
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 24 April 2017
Made by: Alok Sharma (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Contribution to the Law and Order Trust Fund Afghanistan

On 23 December 2016 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office fulfilled the promise given by the former Prime Minister at the NATO Chicago Summit in 2012 to commit £70 million for each of the calendar years 2015-2017 towards Afghan National Defence and Security Force (ANDSF) sustainment. At the NATO Summit in Warsaw in 2016, the UK committed a further £210 million to sustain its commitment of £70 million per year until 2020.

The UK’s 2016 contribution, funded from the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), has been channelled through the United Nations Development Programme’s Law and Order Trust Fund Afghanistan (LOTFA) to support payroll management, Afghan National Police (ANP) salaries and Ministry of Interior (MoI) and ANP development.

The development of a capable, accountable and responsive MoI and ANP, committed to delivering rule of law, is essential to long term stability and security in Afghanistan. The ANP play a fundamental role in providing security; rule of law and public order; as well as helping to build trust in the legitimacy of the state. Due to the challenging security environment international support for Afghan policing continues to be required. The UK remains committed to supporting the development of security institutions in Afghanistan, including the ANP and MoI.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS597
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Department for International Development
Made on: 20 April 2017
Made by: Priti Patel (The Secretary of State for International Development)
Commons

International Development

In a world of serious threats to UK and global stability, Britain’s leadership on the world stage is more important than ever. When we look around the world today, people are drowning on perilous migration routes. Children are dying from preventable diseases while drug-resistant infections are brewing that threaten us here at home. Violence and conflict are pulling people back into poverty.

As we exit the EU, Britain will be more, not less, outward-looking and engaged on the world stage. Intensifying our efforts as a global leader in international development is a crucial part of this. A safer and more prosperous world, supported by our international development work, is firmly in the UK’s interest.

Our humanitarian leadership helps Britain stand tall in the world. Since the beginning of the year we have faced the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations. Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine.

The UK is a world leader on humanitarian responses and today I am announcing that the UK will increase funding to tackle humanitarian crises in both Yemen and Nigeria for this coming year. We will lead the world in supporting famine stricken areas by stepping up our emergency assistance.

The UN has described the situation in Yemen as “the largest food security emergency in the world” and last month declared that the country is now on the brink of famine. We will provide £139m for Yemen for financial year 2017-18; an increase of £27m on the £112 million delivered by the UK last year.

UK support will provide lifesaving aid to hundreds of thousands of desperate people, in recognition of the scale of the current crisis which has left some 19 million Yemenis – two thirds of the population - in urgent need of humanitarian aid.

Nigeria is one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. More than 20,000 people have been killed there since the start of Boko Haram’s violent insurgency in 2009 and millions more are in need of food, water and shelter. The UK was one of the first on the ground to respond to the humanitarian crisis in North East Nigeria. Last year alone we reached over a million people with food and provided 34,000 children suffering from malnutrition with lifesaving treatment.

We continue to lead this challenge by increasing our support this year to £100 million, making the UK the largest donor in 2017. Last year (2016), we provided around £70 million for emergency food, shelter and health care for hundreds of thousands of people displaced by Boko Haram’s violent insurgency. The funding will assist the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and International NGOs to reach the most vulnerable people displaced by Boko Haram:

  • Over 1 million people will receive food assistance
  • 60,000 children will be treated for severe acute malnutrition
  • Clean water will be provided for over 530,000 people
  • At least 100,000 children will gain access to education.

The humanitarian needs in 2017 are unprecedented. More than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. In Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, we see ambulances being used as car-bombs; girls stolen as sex slaves; children made to conduct executions, barrel bombs being dropped amongst civilians. The UK will continue to speak out against these outrages, and stand up for respect for the rules of war and for basic humanitarian principles.

This is why Britain pledged £110 million of UK aid to provide up to 1 million people in Somalia with emergency food assistance, over 600,000 starving children and pregnant and breastfeeding women with nutritional help, 1 million people with safe drinking water, and more than 1.1 million people with emergency health services. In South Sudan, where 7.5 million people are in need of assistance after famine was declared, the UK was one of the first major donors to confirm our response to a UN appeal, announcing £100 million of support less than 24 hours after the appeal was launched. This will provide: food for over 500,000 people; life-saving nutritional support to more than 27,500 children and safe drinking water for over 300,000 people.

The UK is at the forefront of the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis, providing lifesaving support to millions, supporting refugees to remain in countries in the region and enabling their hosts to accommodate them. The crisis in Syria is the UKs largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis.

The £2.46 billion provided to Syria and the region since 2012 has provided nearly 25 million food rations, over 9.5 million relief packages and over 7 million health consultations.

We co-hosted the “Supporting Syria and the Region” conference in London in February 2016, which secured the largest amount of pledges ever in one day for a humanitarian crisis. On 4-5 April this year, we co-hosted the Brussels Conference on the “Future of Syria and the Region”, which secured pledges of $9.7 billion.

I am pleased to announce the UK will pledge an additional £75 million, as part of our Brussels commitment, to help kick start economic growth and create jobs in Lebanon and Jordan over the next three years. These funds will leverage up to £250 million of concessional finance from Multilateral Development Banks, including through the Global Concessional Financing Facility.

As the global migration crisis has made clear, the challenges facing the international development system in the 21st Century go beyond anything witnessed before. More than ever, the world needs strong global institutions and leadership for today and for the future. The UK is a founding member of many of the world’s leading international organisations and we remain deeply committed to the spirit and values of the international system.

The UK will continue to champion an open, modern and innovative approach to development and will use our leading position to build a coalition for reform of the global aid system so that it is ready for the challenges of the 21st century. We are promoting investment in the poorest countries, helping them to get on the road to industrialisation. We are, driving progress on economic development and working with businesses to stimulate investment in the world’s most difficult, frontier markets, where jobs and economic opportunities are desperately needed. In the long run, it is sustainable growth, trade and investment that will provide a sustainable route to poverty reduction. Defeating poverty is a joined-up effort across the whole of Government including using the opportunity of leaving the EU to free up trade with the world’s poorest.

I also would like to update the House on how we are reforming UK Aid to maximise its impact by driving new standards and outcomes. DFID’s Economic Development Strategy sets out how Britain will establish new trade, investment and economic links and end global poverty. The Multilateral Development Review spells out how we are raising the bar, requiring more of our partners, by following the money, people and outcomes. The Bilateral Development Review confirms how DFID is reforming the entire global development system to tackle the global challenges of our time.

As a key part of this, my ministerial team and I have conducted a detailed line-by-line review of every programme in DFID’s portfolio, either already approved or in design phase. Each of these programmes has been scrutinised on the basis of their value for money and their strategic fit with the Government’s priorities for Global Britain. The savings from programmes which will not continue will be recycled to fund better value programmes aligned to our priorities, whilst still delivering our planned results and commitments.

In the 2015 Spending Review the Government announced plans to make over £400 million of efficiency savings by 2019/20. DFID will save closer to £500 million in this period, through reform of procurement and commercial practices, estates, IT and departmental pay. These changes are included in the Department’s ambitious new value for money ‘Agenda for Action’.

In addition, a comprehensive review of DFID’s management and relationship with suppliers is underway. This review will drive greater transparency and efficiencies from DFID’s suppliers through new Codes of Practice and contractual obligations; more competition, innovation and choice in our supplier market; and increased transparency of fees and costs throughout our supply chain.

These bold measures will drive value for money without compromising our commitment to being a global leader in international development. In 2015/16, it is estimated that DFID supported:

  • The immunisation of approximately 20 million children, saving 250,000 lives: we are on track to meet DFID’s commitment of immunising 76 million and saving 1.4 million lives.
  • Reaching 13.3 million children under 5, women of childbearing age and adolescent girls through our nutrition-relevant programmes; on track to meet DFID’s commitment of 50 million
  • 5.9 million women from 2012 to 2015, and 1 million women in 2015–16, to use modern methods of family planning. This gives a total of 6.9 million for the period 2012–16; on track to meet DFID’s commitment of 24 million between 2012 and 2020
  • 3.1 million children to gain a decent education; on track to meet DFID’s commitment of 11 million
  • 11.3 million people to access clean water and/or better sanitation; on track to meet DFID’s commitment of 60 million

UK taxpayers can be equally proud of our record on humanitarian response: in 2015/16 we reached 5.1 million people, including 1.6 million women and girls.

Our support has been life-saving and life changing, as shown by DFID’s leadership of the international response to Ebola in Sierra Leone. The British response to Ebola in 2015 was an example of Britain’s development impact and influence. Experts from DFID coordinated a joined-up effort across Government, bringing together the best of British expertise to defeat that disease.

UK Aid is being focused on where the need is greatest. From fragile and conflict-riven states that need help the most urgently, to protecting lives, reducing poverty, and working with governments who receive our aid to get them to step up and take responsibility for investing in their own people. When we invest in stability, jobs and livelihoods, and sound governance, we address the root causes of problems that affect us here in the UK. It is not in our national interest to simply sit on our hands and wait until these problems reach breaking point or find their way to our doorstep.

This is where our aid budget along with our world-class defence and diplomacy acts not only in the interests of the world’s poorest, but also in Britain’s long term national interest.

WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 20 April 2017
Made by: Ben Gummer (Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General)
Commons

Conduct guidance for General Election, 8 June 2017

The Prime Minister will write to ministerial colleagues providing guidance on the conduct of government business during the general election period. The Cabinet Secretary has issued parallel guidance to civil servants on their conduct during this period. The guidance comes into force on 22 April 2017.

Copies of the documents have been placed in the libraries of both Houses and on the Cabinet Office website at GOV.UK.

WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 20 April 2017
Made by: Damian Green (The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
Commons

Labour Market

The UK labour market is a great success story for this country. The latest Labour Market Statistics have shown that the UK employment level has risen to a near record high of 31.84 million, with the employment rate achieving a joint record high of 74.6%. In particular, the female employment rate is at a near record high of 69.9% whilst for older workers (50-64) the employment rate has reached a joint record high of 70.9%. The overall unemployment rate has fallen to 4.7%, the lowest rate in over a decade, alongside inactivity which is at a near record low of 21.6%. The employment rate of 16-24s who are not in full time education is at 75.4%, the highest in over 12 years. The proportion of 16-24 year olds who are not in full time education or employment is down to 5.1%, a joint record low.

Two planks of our approach to continuing to support people into work has been to enable older people to stay in the labour market for longer, and to support disabled people and people with long-term health conditions to move into and stay in work.

In February this year the Government published Fuller Working Lives: A Partnership Approach, which set out the ambition to support individuals aged 50 and over to remain in and return to the labour market and tackle the barriers to doing so. Through a combination of headline measures Government will continue to monitor progress on Fuller Working Lives.

In October last year we published Improving Lives: The Work, Health and Disability Green Paper. This set out the action we intend to take to bring about change across welfare, employers and health systems and invited views on a 10-year strategy for reform. Since publication we have run a 15-week national consultation, which closed in February 2017. We received a great response to the consultation from a wide range of disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, and organisations with an interest.

WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 20 April 2017
Made by: Penny Mordaunt (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Disability

Extending the Motability lease (following reassessment from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to Personal Independence Payment (PIP))

The Motability Scheme plays a vital role in the lives of many disabled people and their families in supporting their mobility through the provision of a car, scooter or powered wheelchair. Motability has no role in determining who should receive Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

In September 2013, the charity put in place a transitional support package, which includes up to £2,000 lump sum for those disabled people who are not entitled to the enhanced rate of the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment following reassessment from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment in order to help them remain mobile.

Over the last few months, DWP and Motability have been working closely together to explore further ways of helping disabled people.

A key focus of this work has been how best to support Motability customers who are in the process of any reconsideration or appeal.

Today I am able to announce that Motability has kindly offered to enhance their Disability Living Allowance - Personal Independence Payment Transitional Support package to allow scheme customers to retain the car for up to eight weeks after their Disability Living Allowance payments end, a significant increase from the three weeks they are allowed today.

In addition customers who are eligible for a transitional support payment will be able to retain their car for up to six months, including during the processes of reconsideration or appeal. For those who take advantage of this option, the level of transitional support payment will be reduced.

Once the full guidance for claimants is available, I will place a copy in the House Library.

PIP Rapid Re-claim

Currently, entitlement to Personal Independence Payment ends after 13 weeks for most claimants when they go abroad. On returning to the UK they must make a new claim from scratch and may need to undergo a face to face assessment. We will shortly be implementing a new, rapid re-claim process that will enable eligible former Personal Independence Payment claimants who are returning to the country to start receiving their Personal Independence Payment payments much more quickly.

Eligible claimants will be those who:

  • were in receipt of Personal Independence Payment prior to their absence abroad;
  • were out of the country for more than 13 weeks but returned within 12 months of when they left;
  • have not have reached their Award Review Date of their previous claim (typically 12 months prior to the claim end date);
  • can confirm that their needs have not changed since before their absence abroad

This new process will be implemented within the next two months. We estimate that eligible claimants will be able to access the benefit within two weeks of making a new claim on their return. By accessing financial support more quickly, where relevant, claimants will have faster access to the Motability scheme.

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 20 April 2017
Made by: Harriett Baldwin (Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence)
Commons

Contingent Liability

I have retrospectively laid before Parliament a Ministry of Defence (MOD) Departmental Minute describing the contingent liabilities within the Astute Boat 5 and 6 Whole Boat Contracts with BAE Systems Marine Ltd.

The Departmental Minute describes the Contingent Liability that the MOD will hold as a result of placing the Astute Boats 5 and 6 Whole Boat Contracts, which will provide production, test and commissioning of the fifth and sixth Astute Class submarines, HMS ANSON and HMS AGAMEMNON. The maximum contingent liability against the MOD is unquantifiable and will remain until the respective Out of Service Date of the submarine.

It is usual to allow a period of fourteen Sitting Days prior to accepting a Contingent Liability, to provide Members of Parliament an opportunity to raise any objections. I apologise, but on this occasion, it was not possible to do so.

For Boat 6 the Department was faced with exceptional sequencing from the completion of difficult negotiations. The Department faced the prospect of losing the deal and its associated £110 million savings, due to new changes to Single Source Contract Regulations introduced on 1 April 2017. As such the Secretary of State for Defence decided to proceed with the agreement, following scrutiny of the contract by the Department’s Investment Approvals Committee which confirmed that the contract offered best value for money for the taxpayer, and subsequent approval by HM Treasury.

As a result of detailed work in connection with the Boat 6 contract it has been recognised that contingent liabilities arising from the Boat 5 contract, which has hitherto been considered not to require notification to Parliament, are in fact the same as those for Boat 6 and should therefore have been notified, notwithstanding the fact that that no credible scenario has been identified in which a claim could exceed contractual limits.

Within both the Boat 5 and 6 contracts, BAE Systems Marine Ltd limited their exposure to Product Liability to £1 billion per incident and £300 million in any 12-month period. This limits the contractor’s exposure for claims by the MOD for losses associated with the product being defective or deficient, and creates an exposure for the MOD for third party claims against the contractor for losses associated with the product being defective or deficient. It is the view of the Department that the likelihood of any claim is remote.

WS
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 20 April 2017
Made by: Matt Hancock (The Minister for Digital and Culture)
Commons

Digital Economy Bill

I have placed in the Library of the House the Department’s analysis on the application of Standing Order No. 83 O of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons relating to public business in respect of the Lords amendments to the Digital Economy Bill.

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