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 Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 23 November 2017
Made by: Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity )
Lords

Animal Welfare

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

This Government is committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare. As the Prime Minister has set out, we will make the United Kingdom a world leader in the care and protection of animals.

It has been suggested that the vote last week on New Clause 30 of the EU Withdrawal Bill somehow signalled a weakening in the protection of animals - that is wrong. Voting against the amendment was not a vote against the idea that animals are sentient and feel pain - that is a misconception.

Ministers explained on the floor of the house that this Government’s policies on animal welfare are driven by our recognition that animals are indeed sentient beings and we are acting energetically to reduce the risk of harm to animals – whether on farms or in the wild. The vote against New Clause 30 was the rejection of a faulty amendment, which would not have achieved its stated aims of providing appropriate protection for animals.

The Prime Minister has made clear that we will strengthen our animal welfare rules. This government will ensure that any necessary changes required to UK law are made in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU. The Withdrawal Bill is not the right place to address this, however we are considering the right legislative vehicle.

We are already proposing primary legislation to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years, and the creation of a new statutory, independent body to uphold environmental standards.

The current EU instrument – Article 13 – has not delivered the progress we want to see. It does not have direct effect in law – in practice its effect is very unclear and it has failed to prevent practices across the EU which are cruel and painful to animals.

In contrast, here in the UK, we are improving animal welfare standards without EU input and beyond the scope of Article 13. We are making CCTV mandatory in all slaughterhouses – a requirement which goes above and beyond any EU rule. We will consult on draft legislation to jail animal abusers for up to five years – more than almost every other European nation. We propose combatting elephant poaching with a ban on the ivory trade which is more comprehensive than anywhere else in Europe. Our ban on microbeads which harm marine animals has been welcomed by Greenpeace as “the strongest in the world”, and is certainly the strongest in Europe.

Once we have left the EU there is even more we could do. EU rules prevent us from restricting or banning the live export of animals for slaughter. EU rules also restrict us from cracking down on puppy smuggling or banning the import of puppies under 6 months. Article 13 has not stopped any of these practices – but leaving the EU gives us the chance to do much better. We hope to say more in these areas next year.

This government will continue to promote and enhance animal welfare, both now and after we have left the EU.

WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 23 November 2017
Made by: Michael Gove (The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs )
Commons

Animal Welfare

This Government is committed to the very highest standards of animal welfare. As the Prime Minister has set out, we will make the United Kingdom a world leader in the care and protection of animals.

It has been suggested that the vote last week on New Clause 30 of the EU Withdrawal Bill somehow signalled a weakening in the protection of animals - that is wrong. Voting against the amendment was not a vote against the idea that animals are sentient and feel pain - that is a misconception.

Ministers explained on the floor of the house that this Government’s policies on animal welfare are driven by our recognition that animals are indeed sentient beings and we are acting energetically to reduce the risk of harm to animals – whether on farms or in the wild. The vote against New Clause 30 was the rejection of a faulty amendment, which would not have achieved its stated aims of providing appropriate protection for animals.

The Prime Minister has made clear that we will strengthen our animal welfare rules. This government will ensure that any necessary changes required to UK law are made in a rigorous and comprehensive way to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU. The Withdrawal Bill is not the right place to address this, however we are considering the right legislative vehicle.

We are already proposing primary legislation to increase maximum sentences for animal cruelty from six months to five years, and the creation of a new statutory, independent body to uphold environmental standards.

The current EU instrument – Article 13 – has not delivered the progress we want to see. It does not have direct effect in law – in practice its effect is very unclear and it has failed to prevent practices across the EU which are cruel and painful to animals.

In contrast, here in the UK, we are improving animal welfare standards without EU input and beyond the scope of Article 13. We are making CCTV mandatory in all slaughterhouses – a requirement which goes above and beyond any EU rule. We will consult on draft legislation to jail animal abusers for up to five years – more than almost every other European nation. We propose combatting elephant poaching with a ban on the ivory trade which is more comprehensive than anywhere else in Europe. Our ban on microbeads which harm marine animals has been welcomed by Greenpeace as “the strongest in the world”, and is certainly the strongest in Europe.

Once we have left the EU there is even more we could do. EU rules prevent us from restricting or banning the live export of animals for slaughter. EU rules also restrict us from cracking down on puppy smuggling or banning the import of puppies under 6 months. Article 13 has not stopped any of these practices – but leaving the EU gives us the chance to do much better. We hope to say more in these areas next year.

This government will continue to promote and enhance animal welfare, both now and after we have left the EU.

WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 22 November 2017
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

The Labour Market and the Economy

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

The Government is pleased to accept all of the rate recommendations as set out in the Low Pay Commission’s autumn report 2017. The Low Pay Commission is an internationally renowned independent and expert body which conducts extensive analysis and stakeholder research in order to make its minimum wage rate recommendations.

The Low Pay Commission has recommended that:

  • The National Living Wage (for workers aged 25 and over) should increase from £7.50 to £7.83;
  • The rate for 21-24 year olds should increase from £7.05 to £7.38;
  • The rate for 18-20 year olds should increase from £5.60 to £5.90;
  • The rate for 16-17 year olds should increase from £4.05 to £4.20; and
  • The apprentice rate (for apprentices aged under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship) should increase from £3.50 to £3.70.

The Low Pay Commission has also recommended that the accommodation offset increases from the current rate of £6.40 to £7.00 from 1 April 2018.

We welcome the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation of an increase to the National Living Wage rate such that it remains on path to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020.

Further to this, economic indicators have enabled the Low Pay Commission to be more ambitious when setting the youth rates, within their remit of recommending rates which do not damage the employment prospects of younger workers. Those entitled to the 21-24 age rate will see the fastest percentage increase since 2006. Similarly, those entitled to the 18-20 age rate will see the fastest increase since 2004.

These increases are due to come into effect from April 2018, subject to Parliamentary approval. The Government intends to lay implementing Regulations before Parliament in due course.

Copies will be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office and from the BEIS website at www.beis.gov.uk.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS266
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 22 November 2017
Made by: Margot James (Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility )
Commons

The Labour Market and the Economy

The Government is pleased to accept all of the rate recommendations as set out in the Low Pay Commission’s autumn report 2017. The Low Pay Commission is an internationally renowned independent and expert body which conducts extensive analysis and stakeholder research in order to make its minimum wage rate recommendations.

The Low Pay Commission has recommended that:

  • The National Living Wage (for workers aged 25 and over) should increase from £7.50 to £7.83;
  • The rate for 21-24 year olds should increase from £7.05 to £7.38;
  • The rate for 18-20 year olds should increase from £5.60 to £5.90;
  • The rate for 16-17 year olds should increase from £4.05 to £4.20; and
  • The apprentice rate (for apprentices aged under 19 or in the first year of their apprenticeship) should increase from £3.50 to £3.70.

The Low Pay Commission has also recommended that the accommodation offset increases from the current rate of £6.40 to £7.00 from 1 April 2018.

We welcome the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation of an increase to the National Living Wage rate such that it remains on path to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020.

Further to this, economic indicators have enabled the Low Pay Commission to be more ambitious when setting the youth rates, within their remit of recommending rates which do not damage the employment prospects of younger workers. Those entitled to the 21-24 age rate will see the fastest percentage increase since 2006. Similarly, those entitled to the 18-20 age rate will see the fastest increase since 2004.

These increases are due to come into effect from April 2018, subject to Parliamentary approval. The Government intends to lay implementing Regulations before Parliament in due course.

Copies will be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office and from the BEIS website at www.beis.gov.uk.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS265
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 21 November 2017
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

General Affairs Council November 2017

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

A meeting of the General Affairs Council (Cohesion) was held in Brussels on 15 November 2017. The UK was represented by Rory O’Donnell (Counsellor for Regions, Agriculture and Fisheries) from the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union.

The General Affairs Council focussed on an exchange of views based on the 7th Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion; and on updates on the modification of the Common Provisions Regulation.

Modification of the Commons Provisions Regulation

The Estonian Presidency provided an update on proposed changes to 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.

7th Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion

The Council discussed conclusions from the cohesion report, which assesses the EU’s Cohesion Policy in recent years and recognises the need for greater visibility in its implementation. This report called for further simplification and flexibility in the period beyond 2020. A discussion between Member States on the themes raised in the report was held. Member States particularly focussed on efforts for simplification and harmonisation, on the principle of national co-financing and on the rule of law.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS262
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 21 November 2017
Made by: Baroness Fairhead (Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion)
Lords

POST-COUNCIL WRITTEN MINISTERIAL STATEMENT: TRADE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COUNCIL 10 NOVEMBER 2017

My Rt hon Friend the Minister of State for Trade Policy (Greg Hands) has today made the following statement.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) took place in Brussels on 10 November 2017. I represented the UK at the meeting. A summary of the discussions follows:

On the state of play of preparations for the 11th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, there was broad agreement that an outcome on fisheries subsidies was still possible. However, it would be important to continue to press for further progress on issues such as digital trade. I stressed the need for realism but not resignation and called for continued ambition.

On the state of play of EU trade negotiations with Mexico and Mercosur, attendees were reminded of their importance. The Commission assured the meeting that revised market access offers would be shared as soon as possible. All present agreed that the end of 2017 presented a unique opportunity to conclude these deals.

Commissioner Malmström presented the Commission report on implementation of EU free trade agreements, accompanied by info sheets on the implementation of a number of trade agreements. Her main messages were that trade had increased across the board, the EU utilisation of trade preferences could be better, and that trade had to work for everyone.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS264
WS
Home Office
Made on: 21 November 2017
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Toxicology

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

In January 2017 Randox Testing Services (RTS) informed Greater Manchester Police (GMP) that there may have been manipulation of test results at their laboratories. Ongoing police investigations have since uncovered that the same manipulation may also have occurred at Trimega Laboratories Ltd (Trimega). The police are making an announcement about their criminal investigation today. When GMP has concluded its investigation, the Government will consider what lessons can be learned to ensure public confidence in forensic science used in court proceedings. I am providing an update on the police investigation and the cross-government work to manage the impact of this investigation. My honourable friend, Dominic Raab MP, will be overseeing the process for reviewing any impact on individual cases in the courts and will work closely with other Government ministers from departments impacted by the outcome of this investigation.

The purpose of this Statement is to inform people potentially affected by these issues about next steps, including what action they can take.

The toxicology tests involved are used to detect the presence of drugs and in some cases alcohol in an individual’s hair, blood or urine. The alleged manipulation raises doubts about the reliability of some test results, which may have been subsequently relied on in court proceedings (criminal, coroners and family). At this time the Ministry of Justice does not believe that any civil cases are affected by this issue, but continues to keep this under review as more information emerges from the investigation. The results may also have been used by local authorities when making child protection decisions outside the court process, or by private employers for the purpose of drug and alcohol testing of their employees.

The Government recognises the seriousness of this issue and the potential impact on public confidence in the use of forensic science within the justice system. The senior judiciary are aware and Government officials are working with the police to monitor the scale of the issue, as information emerges.

Trimega

Results from all tests carried out by Trimega between 2010 and 2014 are currently being treated as potentially unreliable although it is not clear how many tests from Trimega during that period may have been manipulated. The number of Trimega’s customers affected (such as local authorities, individuals, legal representatives and employers) is unknown. It may never be possible to identify them all, due to poor record-keeping practices. Samples from Trimega cannot be retested, because of the extremely limited chain of custody records and the natural degradation over time of any remaining original samples.

The Department for Education (DfE) has asked all local authorities in England to review their records to establish whether they commissioned tests from Trimega and to consider whether any action is necessary to fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities. It is unlikely that decisions about the welfare of children will have been taken solely on the basis of toxicology test results. However, DfE has asked local authorities to assure themselves that the rationale for decisions made about children’s safety and wellbeing is not now called into question.

Social care is devolved to Wales and the Welsh Government. Welsh local authorities have duties and responsibility for the care, protection and wellbeing of Welsh children and young adults. Welsh ministers have subsequently been informed and will also be asking Welsh local authorities to review their case files to identify potential cases where test results by Trimega were relied on.

The Government fully understands that people who had a case heard in the family court may have concerns. Form C650 – Application notice to vary or set aside an order in relation to children - has been created (available online at https://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/FormFinder.do). This form enables individuals to apply to the court to vary or discharge the final court order. No fee is payable where Form C650 is used. Individuals are encouraged to seek legal advice from a solicitor or an organisation like Citizens Advice before making any application to the court. The existing legislative provisions for assessing suitability for legal aid will apply. Further information about the court process is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/forensic-toxicology-tests.

Where a private employer has commissioned a test, individuals are encouraged to seek legal advice on the options available to them. They may also wish to consult their professional body or union, which may be able to provide assistance.

RTS

Most drug tests from RTS between 2013 and 2017 are being treated as potentially unreliable. RTS was mainly commissioned by individual police forces when investigating criminal offences. This includes cases subsequently referred to the coroner following an investigation into a suspicious death. They have also been commissioned to undertake hair-strand tests for drugs and alcohol in the civil and family jurisdictions. RTS is cooperating fully with the police to manage the impact of this issue, and has contacted all its customers to make them aware. The NPCC is coordinating a national plan in response to the impact on criminal and coroners’ cases. In the majority of these cases, the original samples remain available for independent retesting, which is being managed through a prioritisation process. The police, CPS and coroners will contact affected individuals once the outcome of the retests is known.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS265
WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 21 November 2017
Made by: Lord Callanan (Minister of State for Exiting the European Union)
Lords

Relocation of the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority

My hon. Friend, Mr Robin Walker, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, has made the following statement:

On 20 November 2017, the EU27 decided the new host cities of two London based EU Agencies, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA).

Following a vote in the margins of the General Affairs Council (Art. 50) meeting, it has been announced that the EMA will relocate to Amsterdam; and that the EBA will move to Paris.

The Government values the contribution made by all staff working in the EMA and EBA in supporting the work of the EU. We appreciate that this announcement will affect individual staff, and we encourage the Commission and other EU institutions to recognise the contribution made by all staff, including UK nationals, and honour their commitments to their staff.

We recognise that the location of the European Union’s agencies is a matter for the European Union. In seeking a new future economic partnership with the EU, we will discuss how best to continue cooperation in the fields of medicines regulation and banking regulation, in the best interests of patients, citizens and business, both in the UK and the EU. Until we have left the EU, the UK remains a member of the EU with all the rights and obligations that membership entails, including full participation in the activities of the Agencies.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS263
WS
Home Office
Made on: 21 November 2017
Made by: Mr Nick Hurd (The Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service)
Commons

Toxicology

In January 2017 Randox Testing Services (RTS) informed Greater Manchester Police (GMP) that there may have been manipulation of test results at their laboratories. Ongoing police investigations have since uncovered that the same manipulation may also have occurred at Trimega Laboratories Ltd (Trimega). The police are making an announcement about their criminal investigation today. When GMP has concluded its investigation, the Government will consider what lessons can be learned to ensure public confidence in forensic science used in court proceedings. I am providing an update on the police investigation and the cross-government work to manage the impact of this investigation. My honourable friend, Dominic Raab MP, will be overseeing the process for reviewing any impact on individual cases in the courts and will work closely with other Government ministers from departments impacted by the outcome of this investigation.

The purpose of this Statement is to inform people potentially affected by these issues about next steps, including what action they can take.

The toxicology tests involved are used to detect the presence of drugs and in some cases alcohol in an individual’s hair, blood or urine. The alleged manipulation raises doubts about the reliability of some test results, which may have been subsequently relied on in court proceedings (criminal, coroners and family). At this time the Ministry of Justice does not believe that any civil cases are affected by this issue, but continues to keep this under review as more information emerges from the investigation. The results may also have been used by local authorities when making child protection decisions outside the court process, or by private employers for the purpose of drug and alcohol testing of their employees.

The Government recognises the seriousness of this issue and the potential impact on public confidence in the use of forensic science within the justice system. The senior judiciary are aware and Government officials are working with the police to monitor the scale of the issue, as information emerges.

Trimega

Results from all tests carried out by Trimega between 2010 and 2014 are currently being treated as potentially unreliable although it is not clear how many tests from Trimega during that period may have been manipulated. The number of Trimega’s customers affected (such as local authorities, individuals, legal representatives and employers) is unknown. It may never be possible to identify them all, due to poor record-keeping practices. Samples from Trimega cannot be retested, because of the extremely limited chain of custody records and the natural degradation over time of any remaining original samples.

The Department for Education (DfE) has asked all local authorities in England to review their records to establish whether they commissioned tests from Trimega and to consider whether any action is necessary to fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities. It is unlikely that decisions about the welfare of children will have been taken solely on the basis of toxicology test results. However, DfE has asked local authorities to assure themselves that the rationale for decisions made about children’s safety and wellbeing is not now called into question.

Social care is devolved to Wales and the Welsh Government. Welsh local authorities have duties and responsibility for the care, protection and wellbeing of Welsh children and young adults. Welsh ministers have subsequently been informed and will also be asking Welsh local authorities to review their case files to identify potential cases where test results by Trimega were relied on.

The Government fully understands that people who had a case heard in the family court may have concerns. Form C650 – Application notice to vary or set aside an order in relation to children - has been created (available online at https://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/HMCTS/FormFinder.do). This form enables individuals to apply to the court to vary or discharge the final court order. No fee is payable where Form C650 is used. Individuals are encouraged to seek legal advice from a solicitor or an organisation like Citizens Advice before making any application to the court. The existing legislative provisions for assessing suitability for legal aid will apply. Further information about the court process is available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/forensic-toxicology-tests.

Where a private employer has commissioned a test, individuals are encouraged to seek legal advice on the options available to them. They may also wish to consult their professional body or union, which may be able to provide assistance.

RTS

Most drug tests from RTS between 2013 and 2017 are being treated as potentially unreliable. RTS was mainly commissioned by individual police forces when investigating criminal offences. This includes cases subsequently referred to the coroner following an investigation into a suspicious death. They have also been commissioned to undertake hair-strand tests for drugs and alcohol in the civil and family jurisdictions. RTS is cooperating fully with the police to manage the impact of this issue, and has contacted all its customers to make them aware. The NPCC is coordinating a national plan in response to the impact on criminal and coroners’ cases. In the majority of these cases, the original samples remain available for independent retesting, which is being managed through a prioritisation process. The police, CPS and coroners will contact affected individuals once the outcome of the retests is known.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS262
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 21 November 2017
Made by: Greg Hands (Minister of State for Trade Policy)
Commons

POST-COUNCIL WRITTEN MINISTERIAL STATEMENT: TRADE FOREIGN AFFAIRS COUNCIL 10 NOVEMBER 2017

The EU Foreign Affairs Council (Trade) took place in Brussels on 10 November 2017. I represented the UK at the meeting. A summary of the discussions follows:

On the state of play of preparations for the 11th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, there was broad agreement that an outcome on fisheries subsidies was still possible. However, it would be important to continue to press for further progress on issues such as digital trade. I stressed the need for realism but not resignation and called for continued ambition.

On the state of play of EU trade negotiations with Mexico and Mercosur, attendees were reminded of their importance. The Commission assured the meeting that revised market access offers would be shared as soon as possible. All present agreed that the end of 2017 presented a unique opportunity to conclude these deals.

Commissioner Malmström presented the Commission report on implementation of EU free trade agreements, accompanied by info sheets on the implementation of a number of trade agreements. Her main messages were that trade had increased across the board, the EU utilisation of trade preferences could be better, and that trade had to work for everyone.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS263
WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 21 November 2017
Made by: Mr Robin Walker (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)
Commons

Relocation of the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority

On 20 November 2017, the EU27 decided the new host cities of two London based EU Agencies, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Banking Authority (EBA).

Following a vote in the margins of the General Affairs Council (Art. 50) meeting, it has been announced that the EMA will relocate to Amsterdam; and that the EBA will move to Paris.

The Government values the contribution made by all staff working in the EMA and EBA in supporting the work of the EU. We appreciate that this announcement will affect individual staff, and we encourage the Commission and other EU institutions to recognise the contribution made by all staff, including UK nationals, and honour their commitments to their staff.

We recognise that the location of the European Union’s agencies is a matter for the European Union. In seeking a new future economic partnership with the EU, we will discuss how best to continue cooperation in the fields of medicines regulation and banking regulation, in the best interests of patients, citizens and business, both in the UK and the EU. Until we have left the EU, the UK remains a member of the EU with all the rights and obligations that membership entails, including full participation in the activities of the Agencies.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS261
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 21 November 2017
Made by: Margot James (Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility )
Commons

General Affairs Council November 2017

A meeting of the General Affairs Council (Cohesion) was held in Brussels on 15 November 2017. The UK was represented by Rory O’Donnell (Counsellor for Regions, Agriculture and Fisheries) from the UK Permanent Representation to the European Union.

The General Affairs Council focussed on an exchange of views based on the 7th Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion; and on updates on the modification of the Common Provisions Regulation.

Modification of the Commons Provisions Regulation

The Estonian Presidency provided an update on proposed changes to 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.

7th Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion

The Council discussed conclusions from the cohesion report, which assesses the EU’s Cohesion Policy in recent years and recognises the need for greater visibility in its implementation. This report called for further simplification and flexibility in the period beyond 2020. A discussion between Member States on the themes raised in the report was held. Member States particularly focussed on efforts for simplification and harmonisation, on the principle of national co-financing and on the rule of law.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS264
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 20 November 2017
Made by: Mr Philip Hammond (The Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Commons

Notification of Contingent Liability

The Governor of the Bank of England requested on 20 November 2017 to raise the limit on purchases that may be undertaken by the Asset Purchase Facility (APF). This will ensure that the Term Funding Scheme (TFS) can continue to lend central bank reserves to banks and building societies at rates close to Bank Rate during a defined drawdown period, which will close at the end of February 2018.

When the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) first introduced the scheme in August 2016, I agreed with the Governor of the Bank of England that total TFS drawings would be determined by usage of the scheme. I have therefore authorised an increase in the total size of the APF of £25 billion to £585 billion, in order to accommodate expected usage of the TFS by the end of the drawdown period.

In line with the requirements in the MPC remit, the amendments to the APF that could affect the allocation of credit and pose risks to the Exchequer have been discussed with Treasury officials. The risk control framework previously agreed with the Treasury will remain in place.

The Government will continue to indemnify the Bank and the APF from any losses arising out of, or in connection with, the Facility. If the liability is called, provision for any payment will be sought through the normal Supply procedure.

A full departmental Minute is laid in the House of Commons providing more detail on this contingent liability.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS260
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 20 November 2017
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Notification of Contingent Liability

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

The Governor of the Bank of England requested on 20 November 2017 to raise the limit on purchases that may be undertaken by the Asset Purchase Facility (APF). This will ensure that the Term Funding Scheme (TFS) can continue to lend central bank reserves to banks and building societies at rates close to Bank Rate during a defined drawdown period, which will close at the end of February 2018.

When the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) first introduced the scheme in August 2016, I agreed with the Governor of the Bank of England that total TFS drawings would be determined by usage of the scheme. I have therefore authorised an increase in the total size of the APF of £25 billion to £585 billion, in order to accommodate expected usage of the TFS by the end of the drawdown period.

In line with the requirements in the MPC remit, the amendments to the APF that could affect the allocation of credit and pose risks to the Exchequer have been discussed with Treasury officials. The risk control framework previously agreed with the Treasury will remain in place.

The Government will continue to indemnify the Bank and the APF from any losses arising out of, or in connection with, the Facility. If the liability is called, provision for any payment will be sought through the normal Supply procedure.

A full departmental Minute is laid in the House of Commons providing more detail on this contingent liability.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS261
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 16 November 2017
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Schools and Early Years update

Today the Government is launching a public consultation on its proposed approach to revising the entitlement criteria for free school meals and the early years pupil premium, in light of the national roll out of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is replacing a number of qualifying benefits for free school meals, such as Job Seeker’s Allowance, Child’s Tax Credit and Income Support.

Subject to the outcome of this consultation, we propose to introduce a net earned income threshold of £7,400 per annum for those in receipt of Universal Credit. A typical family earning around £7,400 per annum would, depending on their exact circumstances, have a total household income between £18,000 and £24,000 once benefits are taken into account. A threshold of £7,400 will increase the free school meals cohort by approximately 5% once Universal Credit is fully rolled out and in steady state. This equates to approximately 50,000 additional pupils being eligible to receive a nutritious free school meal than currently.

Furthermore, to ensure that no child who currently benefits from a free school meal loses this entitlement as a result of this criteria change, we aim to protect current beneficiaries’ eligibility up until the end of the roll-out of Universal Credit. From that point on, all children should retain this protection for the rest of their current phase of education.

The economic eligibility criteria for the early years pupil premium are the same as for free school meals. We believe that this consistency is important so that the most disadvantaged families benefit from this additional funding across the whole age range. As such, we propose to apply the same threshold as mentioned above for free school meals to the early years pupil premium, and to mirror the protection arrangements for current beneficiaries during the UC roll-out period.

If, following the public consultation and subject to the will of the House, the Government decides to take forward its proposals, we expect the revised regulations to come into force in April 2018.

The ‘Eligibility for free school meals and early years pupil premium under Universal Credit’ consultation will commence today and run for eight weeks. The consultation document containing full details of the proposals and inviting responses will be published on the Department for Education’s website. Copies of the consultation document will also be placed in the House Libraries.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS259
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 16 November 2017
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Schools and Early Years update

My Honourable Friend, the Minister of State for Children and Families (Robert Goodwill), has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today the Government is launching a public consultation on its proposed approach to revising the entitlement criteria for free school meals and the early years pupil premium, in light of the national roll out of Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is replacing a number of qualifying benefits for free school meals, such as Job Seeker’s Allowance, Child’s Tax Credit and Income Support.

Subject to the outcome of this consultation, we propose to introduce a net earned income threshold of £7,400 per annum for those in receipt of Universal Credit. A typical family earning around £7,400 per annum would, depending on their exact circumstances, have a total household income between £18,000 and £24,000 once benefits are taken into account. A threshold of £7,400 will increase the free school meals cohort by approximately 5% once Universal Credit is fully rolled out and in steady state. This equates to approximately 50,000 additional pupils being eligible to receive a nutritious free school meal than currently.

Furthermore, to ensure that no child who currently benefits from a free school meal loses this entitlement as a result of this criteria change, we aim to protect current beneficiaries’ eligibility up until the end of the roll-out of Universal Credit. From that point on, all children should retain this protection for the rest of their current phase of education.

The economic eligibility criteria for the early years pupil premium are the same as for free school meals. We believe that this consistency is important so that the most disadvantaged families benefit from this additional funding across the whole age range. As such, we propose to apply the same threshold as mentioned above for free school meals to the early years pupil premium, and to mirror the protection arrangements for current beneficiaries during the UC roll-out period.

If, following the public consultation and subject to the will of the House, the Government decides to take forward its proposals, we expect the revised regulations to come into force in April 2018.

The ‘Eligibility for free school meals and early years pupil premium under Universal Credit’ consultation will commence today and run for eight weeks. The consultation document containing full details of the proposals and inviting responses will be published on the Department for Education’s website. Copies of the consultation document will also be placed in the House Libraries.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS260
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 16 November 2017
Made by: Lord Young of Cookham (Lord in Waiting (Government Whip))
Lords

Social Care Update

The First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today the Government is setting out plans to publish a Green Paper by summer recess 2018 presenting its proposals to reform care and support for older people. Reform of this vital sector has been a controversial issue for many years, but the realities of an ageing society mean that we must reach a sustainable settlement for the long-term.

To achieve reform where previous attempts have failed, we must look more broadly than social care services alone, and not focus narrowly on questions of means-testing, important though these are. Our vision for care must also incorporate the wider networks of support and services which help older people to live independently, including the crucial role of housing and the interaction with other public services. It must consider how care is provided at present and challenge the system to embrace new technology, innovation and workforce models which can deliver better quality and value.

To deliver a lasting solution, it is right that we take the time needed to debate these complex issues and listen to a range of perspectives to build consensus. For this reason, over the coming months, we will work with experts, stakeholders and people using care and support services to shape the long-term reform which is urgently needed. The Government has already established an Inter-Ministerial Group to oversee development of the Green Paper, and as part of this initial engagement we have asked a number of independent experts in this area to provide their views to the group. The Government will also engage closely with representatives from local government, the NHS, the voluntary sector and care providers, as well as with people who use care and support, to underpin development of the Green Paper. And when the Green Paper is published, it will then be subject to a full public consultation, providing a further opportunity for interested parties to give their views.

We recognise that many MPs and Peers are already engaging in the debate about the future of care and support, and we want to hear their views. I am therefore writing today to invite the Chairs of relevant All Party Parliamentary Groups to meet with me in the coming weeks to listen to their perspectives and priorities for the reform agenda.

Whilst the Green Paper will focus on care for older people, the Government recognises both the challenges faced by people of working age with care needs and the many common questions about the sustainability of the care system. Many of the discussions on the Green Paper reforms will impact on care and support for adults of all ages. However, to ensure that issues for working-age adults with care needs are considered in their own right, the Government will take forward a parallel programme of work, led jointly by the Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government, which will focus on this group. This work will also be overseen by the Inter-Ministerial Group to ensure alignment with the Green Paper.

The Green Paper presents a unique opportunity to build consensus around reforms which can last. There is no escaping that building a sustainable care and support system will require choices about what that system should provide and how it is paid for. But getting this right promises a better system that everyone can have confidence in, where people understand their responsibilities, can prepare for the future, and know that the care they receive will be to a high standard and help them maintain their independence and wellbeing.

WS
Northern Ireland Office
Made on: 16 November 2017
Made by: Lord Duncan of Springbank (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland)
Lords

Northern Ireland Universal Credit implementation - non-consensual conception exception

My Honourable Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Chloe Smith) has today made the following statement:

In the light of recent questions in the House, I wish to set out the policy and respective responsibilities regarding the non-consensual conception exception to the policy to provide additional support in Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit, and its interaction with Northern Ireland criminal law.

There has been particular focus on section 5 of the Criminal Law Act (NI) 1967. This provides that where a relevant offence has been committed, it shall be the duty of every other person who knows or believes that the offence has been committed and that has information which is likely to secure, or to be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of any person for that offence, to give the information, otherwise they shall be guilty of an offence, unless they have a reasonable excuse. This provision is not new, nor has it been affected in any way by the implementation of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland. Its implications for those who are victims of crime, including rape, date back to 1967. And as criminal law is a devolved matter, the UK Government has no role in determining the appropriateness of this particular provision, nor in proposing any amendment to it. What is more, we understand that there has not been a single prosecution of a victim of rape under section 5 of the 1967 Act in 50 years. That means that there is no recorded case where it has been considered that those limbs of the prosecutorial test have been met since 1967.

As to the non-consensual conception exception more broadly, it is an important part of the two-child limit policy. It is in place to protect those who are not always able to make choices about the number of children in their family. But given its complex and sensitive nature, great care is taken in its application right across the United Kingdom. And we have worked with the Department for Communities, given that the administration of Universal Credit is a devolved matter, to ensure the same is true in Northern Ireland.

In particular, the legal position is made very clear on the forms and guidance for Child Tax Credits and Universal Credit, so that both the claimant and the third party professional are clear before any disclosure is made:

“Please be aware, that in Northern Ireland, if the third party knows or believes that a relevant offence (such as rape) has been committed, the third party will normally have a duty to inform the police of any information that is likely to secure, or to be of material assistance in securing, the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of someone for that offence”.

In addition, claimants applying for this exception will be told that they do not have to tell the third party professional the name of the child’s other biological parent. Nor is there a requirement on the approved third party professional to seek any further evidence to confirm the circumstances around the conception of the child beyond what the claimant has described to them. The role of a third party professional will simply be to confirm, by ticking boxes on a form, that the claimant has made a declaration to them which is consistent with the criteria for the non-consensual conception exception in relation to their child. No officials of either the UK Government or the Northern Ireland Civil Service will question a claimant about an incident. You can find details of the guidance and the forms online (https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/publications/form-ncc1niis-support-child-conceived-without-your-consent).

Taken as a whole, therefore, the implementation of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland has been undertaken in a way that reflects the interests of claimants on the one hand, and the interests of those taxpayers who support themselves solely through work on the other. Ultimately, however, given the devolution settlement, the questions raised are properly for a restored Northern Ireland Executive.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS259
WS
Northern Ireland Office
Made on: 16 November 2017
Made by: Chloe Smith (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland)
Commons

Northern Ireland Universal Credit implementation - non-consensual conception exception

In the light of recent questions in the House, I wish to set out the policy and respective responsibilities regarding the non-consensual conception exception to the policy to provide additional support in Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit, and its interaction with Northern Ireland criminal law.

There has been particular focus on section 5 of the Criminal Law Act (NI) 1967. This provides that where a relevant offence has been committed, it shall be the duty of every other person who knows or believes that the offence has been committed and that has information which is likely to secure, or to be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of any person for that offence, to give the information, otherwise they shall be guilty of an offence, unless they have a reasonable excuse. This provision is not new, nor has it been affected in any way by the implementation of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland. Its implications for those who are victims of crime, including rape, date back to 1967. And as criminal law is a devolved matter, the UK Government has no role in determining the appropriateness of this particular provision, nor in proposing any amendment to it. What is more, we understand that there has not been a single prosecution of a victim of rape under section 5 of the 1967 Act in 50 years. That means that there is no recorded case where it has been considered that those limbs of the prosecutorial test have been met since 1967.

As to the non-consensual conception exception more broadly, it is an important part of the two-child limit policy. It is in place to protect those who are not always able to make choices about the number of children in their family. But given its complex and sensitive nature, great care is taken in its application right across the United Kingdom. And we have worked with the Department for Communities, given that the administration of Universal Credit is a devolved matter, to ensure the same is true in Northern Ireland.

In particular, the legal position is made very clear on the forms and guidance for Child Tax Credits and Universal Credit, so that both the claimant and the third party professional are clear before any disclosure is made:

“Please be aware, that in Northern Ireland, if the third party knows or believes that a relevant offence (such as rape) has been committed, the third party will normally have a duty to inform the police of any information that is likely to secure, or to be of material assistance in securing, the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of someone for that offence”.

In addition, claimants applying for this exception will be told that they do not have to tell the third party professional the name of the child’s other biological parent. Nor is there a requirement on the approved third party professional to seek any further evidence to confirm the circumstances around the conception of the child beyond what the claimant has described to them. The role of a third party professional will simply be to confirm, by ticking boxes on a form, that the claimant has made a declaration to them which is consistent with the criteria for the non-consensual conception exception in relation to their child. No officials of either the UK Government or the Northern Ireland Civil Service will question a claimant about an incident. You can find details of the guidance and the forms online (https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/publications/form-ncc1niis-support-child-conceived-without-your-consent).

Taken as a whole, therefore, the implementation of Universal Credit in Northern Ireland has been undertaken in a way that reflects the interests of claimants on the one hand, and the interests of those taxpayers who support themselves solely through work on the other. Ultimately, however, given the devolution settlement, the questions raised are properly for a restored Northern Ireland Executive.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS257
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 16 November 2017
Made by: Damian Green (First Secretary of State)
Commons

Social Care Update

Today the Government is setting out plans to publish a Green Paper by summer recess 2018 presenting its proposals to reform care and support for older people. Reform of this vital sector has been a controversial issue for many years, but the realities of an ageing society mean that we must reach a sustainable settlement for the long-term.

To achieve reform where previous attempts have failed, we must look more broadly than social care services alone, and not focus narrowly on questions of means-testing, important though these are. Our vision for care must also incorporate the wider networks of support and services which help older people to live independently, including the crucial role of housing and the interaction with other public services. It must consider how care is provided at present and challenge the system to embrace new technology, innovation and workforce models which can deliver better quality and value.

To deliver a lasting solution, it is right that we take the time needed to debate these complex issues and listen to a range of perspectives to build consensus. For this reason, over the coming months, we will work with experts, stakeholders and people using care and support services to shape the long-term reform which is urgently needed. The Government has already established an Inter-Ministerial Group to oversee development of the Green Paper, and as part of this initial engagement we have asked a number of independent experts in this area to provide their views to the group. The Government will also engage closely with representatives from local government, the NHS, the voluntary sector and care providers, as well as with people who use care and support, to underpin development of the Green Paper. And when the Green Paper is published, it will then be subject to a full public consultation, providing a further opportunity for interested parties to give their views.

We recognise that many MPs and Peers are already engaging in the debate about the future of care and support, and we want to hear their views. I am therefore writing today to invite the Chairs of relevant All Party Parliamentary Groups to meet with me in the coming weeks to listen to their perspectives and priorities for the reform agenda.

Whilst the Green Paper will focus on care for older people, the Government recognises both the challenges faced by people of working age with care needs and the many common questions about the sustainability of the care system. Many of the discussions on the Green Paper reforms will impact on care and support for adults of all ages. However, to ensure that issues for working-age adults with care needs are considered in their own right, the Government will take forward a parallel programme of work, led jointly by the Department of Health and the Department for Communities and Local Government, which will focus on this group. This work will also be overseen by the Inter-Ministerial Group to ensure alignment with the Green Paper.

The Green Paper presents a unique opportunity to build consensus around reforms which can last. There is no escaping that building a sustainable care and support system will require choices about what that system should provide and how it is paid for. But getting this right promises a better system that everyone can have confidence in, where people understand their responsibilities, can prepare for the future, and know that the care they receive will be to a high standard and help them maintain their independence and wellbeing.

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