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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Written Statement Indentifying Number – Every written statement in the House of Commons and House of Lords has a WSID per parliamentary session.
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WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Media Matters

On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to vary certain conditions put in place in 1981 by the then Secretary of State for Trade. The changes proposed by News UK would allow The Times and The Sunday Times to share journalistic resources, subject to the agreement of each newspaper’s editor.

Having considered News UK’s application and representations made following an Invitation to Comment issued by DCMS on 17 January, I announced, in a Written Ministerial Statement dated 11 April, that I was minded to accept News UK’s application to vary the 1981 conditions. However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I also noted that the existing governance arrangements lacked clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities. Following discussions between News UK and Officials, News UK submitted revised undertakings which substantially meet my concerns.

On 27 June, as required by legislation, I issued a further consultation notice seeking views on the changes to News UK’s revised undertakings. Two responses were received. Neither response raised any issues that would warrant me seeking further modifications to the Undertakings from News UK. Accordingly, I have today formally decided to accept the new Undertakings and have today issued a Notice of Acceptance. A copy of the Notice of Acceptance with the final signed undertakings and the revised articles of association of Times Newspapers Ltd (TNL) and Times Newspapers Holding Ltd (TNHL) will be published on the Government website. My Department will shortly publish in the Issues Note circulated to News UK prior to the discussions with Officials.

The new undertakings creates an explicit requirement for the CMA and the Secretary of State to monitor the effectiveness of the obligations placed on News UK and the TNHL Independent National Directors (INDs). As part of this, I can confirm that in line with the Government's commitments on the handling of media merger cases, that DCMS will publish a non-confidential version of the reports from the TNHL INDs which have to be submitted to DCMS and the CMA annually.

WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

Government Chemist Review 2018

My hon Friend the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation (Chris Skidmore) has today made the following statement:

The twenty-second Annual Review of the Government Chemist has been received. The Review will be placed in the Libraries of the House plus those of the Devolved Administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland. The Review will also be laid before the Scottish Parliament.

The Government Chemist is the Referee Analyst named in Acts of Parliament. The Government Chemist’s team carry out analysis in high-profile or legally disputed cases. A diverse range of referee analysis work was carried out during 2018, which included pioneering work undertaken to detect mycotoxins in sultanas and Brazil nuts; pesticides in animal feed; formaldehyde in food contact materials and molecular biology approaches to support “consumer as analyst” devices for food testing.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1791
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

Consumer Update

My Rt hon friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Greg Clark) has today made the following statement:

Last week, on Thursday 18 July, I gave a speech at the Social Market Foundation which considered three current challenges in relation to competition. The speech is available on the department’s website at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/competition-rules-must-continue-to-evolve-with-emergence-of-digital-platforms.

First, reducing consumer harm caused by the “loyalty penalty” in sectors such as cash savings, mortgages, household insurance, mobile phone contracts and broadband. Second, addressing the new competition issues that are arising in digital markets, including in relation to the market power of large platforms. Third, harnessing the power of competition to raising the UK’s productivity.

In conjunction with this speech, the Government last week brought forward publications relating to the role and performance of the UK’s competition institutions. Together, these pave the way for further consideration of potential reforms to address the challenges identified.

Strategic Steer to the Competition and Markets Authority

On Thursday 18 July, I published the Government’s Strategic Steer to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). For each Parliament the Government issues a non-binding Strategic Steer to the CMA. The intention of the Steer is to support the CMA in achieving its legal duties and objectives to promote competition, both within and outside the UK, for the benefit of consumers and the UK economy. The Steer provides a transparent statement of how the Government sees competition fitting with its wider objectives for the economy alongside the CMA’s accountability framework.

Review of Aspects of Competition Law

I also laid before Parliament on 18 July the review of aspects of the law on competition as required under sections 46 and 56 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. The review considers the effectiveness of competition enforcement and changes made to the competition regime by the 2013 Act.

The review finds that the direction of travel is broadly positive. More competition cases are being opened, merger reviews and market studies are being brought to conclusion more quickly, and stakeholder views suggest a good degree of confidence in the regime.

The review notes that we need to consider how well-equipped the UK’s competition framework is to respond to current and future competition challenges. In its upcoming Competition Green Paper, the Government will take a wide-ranging look at the institutions, powers and tools that promote and enforce competition in the UK.

Consultation on the Statutory Audit Services Market

The Government has also published a consultation in response to the statutory audit services market study by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

We have a problem with audit quality, as has been recognised and analysed by Sir John Kingman’s review, the BEIS Select Committee, the CMA and, more recently, the Financial Reporting Council itself.This is why it is right that we continuously review our audit regime to maintain the UK’s world-leading position.

In October 2018, I asked Lord Tyrie, Chair of the CMA, to consider what can be done to improve competition in the statutory audit sector. I took this action because I want the UK to continue to benefit from a high quality, competitive and resilient audit services market. Good governance underpins our modern Industrial Strategy and audits are a vital contributor to the trust and confidence required in a modern economy.

The CMA’s final report concluded that the statutory audit market has fallen short of what the UK needs in a modern economy, and made a series of compelling and wide-reaching recommendations to improve quality and increase choice in the audit market. I am most grateful to Lord Tyrie and his colleagues for their detailed and comprehensive study, which captures evidence and views from a wide variety of stakeholders. I share their concerns, and I am pleased that this study complements a wider body of work being undertaken to improve audit quality. Most importantly, we have endorsed Sir John Kingman’s recommendation to replace the Financial Reporting Council with an independent statutory regulator with a new mandate and powers.

The government is committed to creating a fit-for-purpose and proportionate regulatory regime that delivers a competitive and resilient audit market that works for shareholders, investors and the wider public. I would welcome views on the CMA’s final proposals. I would also strongly encourage proposals from the sector outlining what they believe could be done to address the CMA’s concerns on a voluntary basis ahead of regulatory intervention. The Government will then develop a full set of proposals for reform taking account of both the recommendations from the CMA and the outcome of Sir John Kingman’s Review of the Financial Reporting Council. I do not believe that the government need wait on the outcome of Sir Donald Brydon’s review of the purpose of audit before continuing with the process of reform of the audit market.

The consultation document will be placed in the Libraries of the House and is available on the Gov.UK website. The consultation is open for 8 weeks and I look forward to the continued contribution of interested parties.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1794
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Local government update

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

In my written statement of 1 November 2018 (HCWS 1058) to the House, I committed to set out in due course the specific circumstances in which I would be prepared to issue a formal invitation to councils under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, to submit proposals for the establishment of new unitary councils.

Today I am confirming the circumstances in which I would be prepared to issue such an invitation; how I intend to assess any unitary proposals councils make in response; and our continued approach to any proposals two or more district councils may make to merge in order to form a new larger district council.

Locally-led changes to the structure of local government, whether in the form of unitarisation or district mergers, can – with local support – be an appropriate means of ensuring more sustainable local government and local service delivery, enhanced local accountability, and empowered local communities. This statement today continues the Government’s commitment to supporting those councils that wish to combine, to serve their communities better and will consider unitarisation and mergers between councils when locally requested.

However, I recognise that unitarisation may not be appropriate everywhere. I also recognise that it is essential that any local government restructuring should be on the basis of locally led proposals and should not involve top-down Whitehall solutions being imposed on areas. The Government does not support top-down unitary restructuring. This has been the Government’s consistent approach since 2010.

Today, I want to provide further clarity for those councils who might consider the possibility of restructuring, by setting out the factors councils should consider and the processes to be followed – including with regard to local support.

For councils wishing to restructure to form unitary local government, the first step of the statutory process as set out under the 2007 Act is for me to issue an invitation to councils to submit proposals. There are two circumstances in which I will consider issuing such an invitation.

The first circumstance is where the following two conditions are met:

  1. There is a local request for an invitation.
  2. That I consider that the request demonstrates local opinion is coalescing around a single option which is reasonably likely to meet the existing publicly announced criteria for unitarisation.

In forming my view I would carefully consider the request, including the groups making and supporting it and their reasons for so doing. Where I issue an invitation, I would do so to all those councils that I consider to have regard to the area concerned, whether or not they were among those who had made the original request.

The second circumstance is where I consider that doing so would be appropriate given the specific circumstances of the area, including in relation to the long-term sustainability of local services. This is the situation in which my predecessor, the Rt Hon Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), issued an invitation to the councils in Northamptonshire.

Following such an invitation, it would be for the councils concerned to decide whether to develop and submit proposals for unitarisation, either individually or jointly by two or more councils.

I confirm that I will assess any locally-led unitary proposal that I receive against the criteria for unitarisation which we announced to Parliament in 2017 and which I and my predecessor have consistently used since then. These criteria state that subject to Parliamentary approval a proposal can be implemented, with or without modification, if I conclude that across the area as a whole the proposal is likely to:

  • improve the area's local government;
  • command a good deal of local support across the area; and
  • cover an area that provides a credible geography for the proposed new structures, including that any new unitary council’s population would be expected to be in excess of 300,000.

On district council mergers, I confirm that where two or more district councils submit a proposal to merge, I will assess this against the criteria for mergers which we announced to Parliament in November 2017 and which we have used since then. The statutory process for such mergers does not involve my inviting proposals, and I recognise that particularly small district councils may wish to propose merging as a natural next step following a number of years of successful joint working, sharing of services and senior management teams.

The criteria for district council mergers are that, subject to Parliamentary approval, a proposal to merge would be implemented if I had reached a judgement in the round that if so implemented it would be likely to:

  • improve the area’s local government;

  • command local support, in particular that the merger is proposed by all councils which are to be merged and there is evidence of a good deal of local support; and

  • the area is a credible geography, consisting of two or more existing local government areas that are adjacent, and which, if established, would not pose an obstacle to locally-led proposals for authorities to combine to serve their communities better and would facilitate joint working between local authorities.

This statement is intended to provide clarity to councils and communities and help ensure that time and effort are not wasted on pursuing proposals which are unlikely to get the go ahead. It is important that those seeking to pursue locally led proposals are confident that there is a broad basis of common local support for the proposals to avoid unnecessary local conflict and distraction from the delivery of quality public services. The statement underlines the need for any proposals to be innovative, improve services, enhance accountability, have local support and deliver financial sustainability if they are to be taken forward.

Moreover, restructuring is only one of the different ways that councils can move forward. Joint working with other councils and partners could also be an appropriate and sustainable way forward. Such joint working can take a variety of forms ranging from adopting joint plans, setting up joint committees, and sharing back office services, to establishing Combined Authorities, and may extend across county boundaries. Those in an area will know what is best – the very essence of localism to which the Government remains committed.

WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

Energy Update

My Rt hon friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Greg Clark) has today made the following statement:

On 27 June, the UK became the first major economy in the world to legislate to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Achieving this target will require significant changes in the way we produce, deliver and use energy. We will need to harness the power of innovation and new technology to ensure the energy system remains flexible and resilient. We will need to provide confidence to businesses across the country to invest in a greener future by maintaining clear and stable policy frameworks. We will also have to ensure that as we move to cut greenhouse gas emissions across the economy, the security of our energy supplies is never in doubt and energy costs are kept low for all households and businesses.

As we set out on the path to reach net zero emissions, the government is today outlining a series of important reforms across the energy system. These include new approaches to how low-carbon infrastructure is financed, potential changes to the retail energy market so it works better for all consumers, a new strategy for tackling fuel poverty and significant changes to the way we set the detailed rules that govern the energy system.

The action we are taking today is only a first step. Continuous action over the next three decades by successive governments will be required if we are to end the UK’s contribution to global warming and inspire the necessary action at a global level.

The government has today published the following public consultations and reviews:

Regulated Asset Base financing model for new nuclear projects

The government committed in January 2019 to publish an assessment of the Regulated Asset Base model as a means of financing new nuclear projects. We are today publishing that assessment as part of a public consultation on the Regulated Asset Base model. The purpose of this consultation is to set out the basis for our assessment and to seek views from a range of interested parties on how it could be implemented within the current energy system in such a way that allows new nuclear to be built at low cost to consumers. The consultation includes a set of core principles that have resulted from our feasibility assessment and considers important issues such as the approach to risk-sharing under such a model. This consultation will be open for responses until 14 October 2019.

Business models for Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) projects

As we committed to in the CCUS Action Plan, we are today publishing a consultation on how we can bring CCUS projects to market in the years ahead. This is an important step in order to meet our Action Plan commitment of delivering the UK’s first CCUS project from the mid-2020s. The consultation seeks views on possible CCUS business models for industry, power, and carbon dioxide transport and storage, as well as a framework to support hydrogen production with CCUS. The consultation sets out the risks that are inherent in first of a kind CCUS projects, and the possible delivery and coordination challenges of deploying CCUS at scale. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

The re-use of oil and gas assets for Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) projects

This consultation fulfils the government commitment in the CCUS Action Plan to identify existing oil and gas infrastructure that has the potential for re-use and to develop a policy to support the development of CCUS in the UK. It seeks views on whether government should introduce a discretionary power for the Secretary of State to remove the decommissioning liability from previous oil and gas asset owners if assets are transferred to CCUS projects; and on changing guidance from the Oil and Gas Authority and government to encourage owners and operators of oil and gas assets to propose a period of suspension prior to decommissioning in circumstances in which there is a reasonable prospect of the asset being acquired by a CCUS project. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Flexible and responsive energy retail markets

The consultation is issued in partnership with Ofgem and sets out a vision for the future energy retail market, the key challenges which the government and Ofgem wish to address, and the outcomes the retail energy market needs to deliver for all consumers. This includes how the regulatory framework may need to change to facilitate the introduction of innovative products and services that may face barriers today and could support our transition to a greener future. The consultation assesses the case for making reforms which could remove market distortions so as to improve the functioning of the energy retail market as a dynamic and competitive sector. The consultation also outlines how the energy retail market can benefit all consumers, ensuring they are able to secure a fair deal and receive a good level of customer service. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Reforming energy industry codes

This consultation seeks to address the fact that the way the detailed rules governing the energy system are managed may be frustrating the shift towards a greener future. The consultation suggests creating a new function to translate the government’s vision for the energy system into a strategic direction for codes, as well as giving code administrators more power to change codes, ensuring that vision can be delivered. We propose creating a new process that allows for greater agility in how codes and code changes are governed. We also set out an approach that will ensure we can deliver rules that are clear, accessible and simpler. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Fuel Poverty Strategy

We are consulting on proposed reforms to the 2015 Fuel Poverty Strategy to ensure that the actions we are taking to support people out of fuel poverty are as effective as possible. This includes a potential change to the way that fuel poverty is measured to ensure that we are able to include all those living in fuel poverty. We also propose making changes to ensure that those most at risk from living in a cold home get the support they need by aligning our fuel poverty policies with medical evidence. We are also proposing a new principle which would ensure that policies contributing to the fuel poverty target are complementary to other government priorities such as the Clean Growth Strategy. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Capacity Market five-year review and consultation on proposals for Capacity Market emissions limits

We are today publishing a five-year review of the Capacity Market mechanism. This review has found that the scheme is working effectively and performance against the original objectives has been achieved. In considering the future of the scheme, we propose focusing on specific areas of the scheme that will need to change as we maintain security of electricity supply while also moving towards net zero emissions. One of the first steps we propose to take is to implement a restriction on the most polluting types of energy generation, such as coal, within the Capacity Market by introducing new carbon emissions limits. To implement these changes, we are today issuing a public consultation on carbon emission limits within the scheme. This consultation will be open for responses until 2 September 2019.

Facilitating energy efficiency in the electricity system

Increasing our ambition on improving energy efficiency across the UK energy system will be vital if we are to reach net zero emissions. The Electricity Demand Reduction pilot evaluation we are publishing today has concluded that energy efficiency projects are not yet ready to enter the GB Capacity Market. We are therefore publishing a Call for Evidence on market barriers to energy efficiency, and how we can create new markets for energy efficiency and secure its role in the wider energy market. This includes considering how energy efficiency could help reduce the requirement for network reinforcement and help compliment the growth in distributed generation. This Call for Evidence will be open for responses until 25 September 2019.

Funding for advanced nuclear technologies

In addition to the above consultations, we are today announcing that we are developing proposals to invest government money in the creation of innovative small modular reactors (SMRs) which are less expensive to build than traditional nuclear power plants. As stated to this house on 17 January, we have received a proposal from a consortium of businesses, led by Rolls-Royce, who have proposed a significant joint investment of more than £500m focused on designing a first-of-a-kind SMR. The consortium expects to more than match any Government funding both by direct investment and by raising funds from third party organisations that wish to invest.

The government can today confirm that the Consortium’s proposal has been accepted into Wave 3 of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The Challenge is to design a working model that could be operational by the early 2030s. We are looking to make an initial award of up to £18m to the Rolls-Royce-led consortium in early Autumn 2019. This is subject to final decisions to invest, including business case and other approvals, and this consortium representing the best option for pursuing this technology. The Rolls-Royce led consortium believes this new technology could create 40,000 jobs at its peak and each power station could produce enough clean energy to power 750,000 homes.

This money is alongside up to £45 million to be invested in the second phase of the Advanced Modular Reactor programme, with project bids currently under consideration.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency plan shortly to publish their modernised guidance for developers of SMRs on their Generic Design Assessment, the process through which reactor designs are scrutinised by the regulators prior to further necessary regulatory steps, including site specific assessment and issuing of site licence and environmental permits, to enable subsequent deployment.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1789
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

Business Update

My hon Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility (Kelly Tolhurst) has today made the following statement:

The Good Work Plan sets out the Government’s vision for the future of the UK labour market and how we will implement the Taylor Review recommendations. It forms an integral part of the modern Industrial Strategy and this Government’s long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK and to develop better jobs for all. We are now delivering the next phase of the Good Work Plan.

Flexibility has been a key factor behind the success of our labour market, but we are aware there are a small minority of employers who transfer too much risk to the individual, sometimes to the detriment of their financial security and personal wellbeing. The Taylor Review termed this ‘one-sided flexibility’. The Low Pay Commission found that this was particularly relevant for low paid, vulnerable workers and has made recommendations to Government. We are committed to tackling the problem and on 19 July we launched a consultation with proposals to:

  • provide a right to reasonable notice of working hours – with the aim to give workers more certainty about their shifts and work patterns so they can have more control over their working lives.

  • provide workers with compensation for shifts cancelled without reasonable notice – The Low Pay Commission found that the practice of cancelling shifts at the last minute, sometimes on arrival at work or partway through a shift was not uncommon.

Earlier this year, the Government also consulted on measures to prevent the misuse of confidentiality clauses in cases of sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. This followed unacceptable cases of their misuse as evidenced in the media, inquiries by the Women and Equalities Select Committee and individuals’ responses to our consultation. These cases highlighted the seriousness of abuse that has taken place and the impact this has had on the lives of individuals.

We have now published the Government Response and will be legislating on the proposals we consulted on, and in some cases going even further. For example, for the first time, no provision in an employment contract will be able to prevent someone from disclosing information to the police or to regulated health and care and legal professionals. The proposals will increase clarity on the limitations of confidentiality clauses, increase protections for vulnerable individuals and ensure employers use confidentiality clauses appropriately.

The Government also recently consulted on proposals to extend redundancy protections for pregnant women and new mothers returning to work. We have now published the Government Response to this consultation.

Any form of discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers is unacceptable and unlawful. Despite this, evidence from the Women and Equalities Select Committee, amongst others, suggests that new mothers are still being unfairly forced out of work. We are therefore taking action and are committing to extending the redundancy protection period that currently exists for pregnant women for a further six months once a new mother has returned to work. The Government response also looks at how we can increase awareness amongst pregnant women and new mothers of their maternity rights. As part of this the Government will establish a taskforce which will make recommendations on what improvements can be made to the information available to employers and families.

The reforms we have announced are the next important step in delivering on the Good Work Plan, ensuring we have a labour market that is fit for purpose. We recognise that the world of work is changing and are delivering the necessary reforms to ensure the UK labour market can adapt effectively, and support the needs of both workers and employers.

Copies of the referenced consultations and Government responses will be placed in the Libraries of the House and will be available electronically on the GOV.UK website.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1788
WS
Home Office
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Sajid Javid (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Commons

Terrorism

I am today announcing changes to the terrorism threat level system. As recommended in the Operational Improvement Review, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre have taken an increased role in assessing all form of terrorism, irrespective of the ideology that inspires them.

The national threat level system will now take account of the assessments from all forms of terrorism, including Islamist, Northern Ireland, and extreme right-wing. The threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland will remain separate from the national threat level.

Also, to ensure clarity in the threat level system, I am also announcing the change in definition of the LOW, SUBSTANTIAL and CRITICAL threat levels. The threat levels will now be defined as below:

• CRITICAL meaning an attack is highly likely in the near future
• SEVERE meaning an attack is highly likely
• SUBSTANTIAL meaning an attack is likely
• MODERATE meaning an attack is possible but not likely
• LOW meaning an attack is highly unlikely

The changes made today do not affect the current threat level. The threat level to the UK from terrorism remains at SEVERE, and the threat level to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland-related terrorism also remains at SEVERE, meaning that an attack is highly likely.

Threat levels are designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack. They are a tool for security practitioners working across different sectors and the police to use in determining what protective security response may be required. They also keep the public informed and give context to the protective security measures which we all encounter in our daily lives.

There remains a real and serious threat against the United Kingdom from terrorism and I would ask the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to the police regardless of the threat level.

The decision to change the terrorism threat levels are taken by taken by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre independent from Ministers. The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre set the national threat level and the Security Service set the Northern Ireland-related Terrorism in Northern Ireland threat level. These are based on the very latest intelligence, considering factors such as capability, intent and timescale. Threat levels are kept under constant review.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1756
WS
Home Office
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Mr Nick Hurd (The Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service)
Commons

Revision of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (‘PACE’) Codes of Practice C and H

I am today laying before the House an order under section 67(7A) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (‘PACE’) to amend PACE Codes C and H, which govern the detention, treatment and questioning of suspects by the police. Copies of the revised Codes C and H will also be laid.

These revisions, which will come into operation on 21 August 2019, are being introduced to ensure that the menstrual needs of female and transgender detainees, and the health, hygiene and welfare needs of all individuals in police custody are protected. The new codes include the following revisions:

• Each female detainee must be asked if they require or are likely to require any menstrual products whilst they are in custody. They must be told that they will be provided free of charge and that replacement products are available.

• Custody officers must ask all detainees if they wish to speak in private with a member of custody staff about any matter concerning their personal needs relating to health, hygiene and welfare; if the detainee wishes, this member of staff may be of the same sex. These changes provide an opportunity for female detainees to raise issues about their menstrual needs and also for all detainees to raise issues relating to other health and hygiene needs such as products that may be required for incontinence. If detainees wish to take this opportunity to raise health and hygiene needs, necessary arrangements should be provided/made as soon as practicable.

• The changes highlight that the clothing and personal effects that detainees may retain include menstrual and other health, hygiene and welfare products. A decision to withhold any such products must be subject to a further specific risk assessment.

• Access to toilet and washing facilities must now also take account of the detainee’s dignity. For example, in cells subject to CCTV monitoring, privacy in the toilet area should be ensured by any appropriate means and detainees should be made aware of this when they are placed in the cell.

• The changes make it explicit that strip searches and intimate searches of detainees must take due regard of their dignity. This includes the detainee’s health, hygiene and welfare needs including menstruation.

• The above provisions around health, hygiene and welfare products take into account the possible needs of transgender individuals.

These revisions were prompted by concerns raised by the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) that in some cases women were being left without basic menstrual products in police cells.

They received overwhelming support following a public consultation last year, and we have subsequently sought and secured the agreement of my Rt Hon Friend the member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, in her role as Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, that these straightforward revisions to the Codes can be brought into force as soon as possible, as per the commitments made by the then government during the introduction of section 67(7A) of PACE in 2003, without the approval of a resolution by each House.

I am grateful for the work and support of partners across the policing system, ICVA, and dedicated custody staff across the country. We all share a commitment to ensuring the dignity of detainees, and these changes will help ensure the needs of individuals are met across the board.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1760
WS
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Seema Kennedy (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care)
Commons

Advancing our Health: Prevention in the 2020s

Further to the Prevention Vision published on 5 November 2018, I wish to inform the House of the publication of the green paper, Advancing our Health: Prevention in the 2020s. The consultation will launch today and will run for 12 weeks.

For the first 70 years of the NHS, we have been successful in helping people live longer. Life expectancy has increased by almost 30 years over the past century. Cancer survival rates are up, mortality rates from heart disease and stroke are down.

Despite this progress, over 20% of our lives are spent in poor health. On average, men born today can expect to live 16 years in poor health and women 19 years. There is also a clear social gradient, with people in deprived areas living shorter lives in poorer health. Now we must move from thinking about life span to health span: the number of years we can expect to live healthy, independent lives.

The NHS is already making good progress, placing prevention at the heart of its Long-Term Plan and supported by our record £20.5bn additional investment. In the years ahead, the challenge is to deliver on these commitments, to move from a national treatment service (focussed on illness) to a national wellness service (focussed on good health), and to work even more closely with local authorities who have specific responsibilities around prevention and influence many of the determinants of good health.

As well as modernising prevention services, we also need to lay the foundations for good health across society and make healthy choices easier. This is because less than a quarter of our health is shaped by the services we receive.

Our health is our greatest asset. Just as we save for our retirement, we should be investing in our health throughout life. We know that some people find this easier than others. Not because of innate differences in their values or beliefs, but because of differences in their experiences and circumstances. We believe that everybody has the right to a solid foundation on which to build their health. This means giving our children a good start and growing the conditions for good health throughout life.

When it comes to living a healthy life, the modern world presents many challenges. It can feel like the odds are stacked against us. This green paper is not about nannying but making healthier choices easier for people, so they are empowered to make decisions that are right for them and their families. To live a healthy, happier life, evidence suggests our focus should be on: eating a healthy diet, being physically active, being smoke-free and taking care of our mental health.

The commitments in the green paper help us towards our mission of healthy, happier lives. We aim to publish a government response by Spring 2020, setting out our proposals in more detail.

Health is a shared responsibility. Only by working together can we achieve our vision of healthier, happier lives for everyone.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1758
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Commons

Consumer Update

Last week, on Thursday 18 July, I gave a speech at the Social Market Foundation which considered three current challenges in relation to competition. The speech is available on the department’s website at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/competition-rules-must-continue-to-evolve-with-emergence-of-digital-platforms.

First, reducing consumer harm caused by the “loyalty penalty” in sectors such as cash savings, mortgages, household insurance, mobile phone contracts and broadband. Second, addressing the new competition issues that are arising in digital markets, including in relation to the market power of large platforms. Third, harnessing the power of competition to raising the UK’s productivity.

In conjunction with this speech, the Government last week brought forward publications relating to the role and performance of the UK’s competition institutions. Together, these pave the way for further consideration of potential reforms to address the challenges identified.

Strategic Steer to the Competition and Markets Authority

On Thursday 18 July, I published the Government’s Strategic Steer to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). For each Parliament the Government issues a non-binding Strategic Steer to the CMA. The intention of the Steer is to support the CMA in achieving its legal duties and objectives to promote competition, both within and outside the UK, for the benefit of consumers and the UK economy. The Steer provides a transparent statement of how the Government sees competition fitting with its wider objectives for the economy alongside the CMA’s accountability framework.

Review of Aspects of Competition Law

I also laid before Parliament on 18 July the review of aspects of the law on competition as required under sections 46 and 56 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. The review considers the effectiveness of competition enforcement and changes made to the competition regime by the 2013 Act.

The review finds that the direction of travel is broadly positive. More competition cases are being opened, merger reviews and market studies are being brought to conclusion more quickly, and stakeholder views suggest a good degree of confidence in the regime.

The review notes that we need to consider how well-equipped the UK’s competition framework is to respond to current and future competition challenges. In its upcoming Competition Green Paper, the Government will take a wide-ranging look at the institutions, powers and tools that promote and enforce competition in the UK.

Consultation on the Statutory Audit Services Market

The Government has also published a consultation in response to the statutory audit services market study by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

We have a problem with audit quality, as has been recognised and analysed by Sir John Kingman’s review, the BEIS Select Committee, the CMA and, more recently, the Financial Reporting Council itself.This is why it is right that we continuously review our audit regime to maintain the UK’s world-leading position.

In October 2018, I asked Lord Tyrie, Chair of the CMA, to consider what can be done to improve competition in the statutory audit sector. I took this action because I want the UK to continue to benefit from a high quality, competitive and resilient audit services market. Good governance underpins our modern Industrial Strategy and audits are a vital contributor to the trust and confidence required in a modern economy.

The CMA’s final report concluded that the statutory audit market has fallen short of what the UK needs in a modern economy, and made a series of compelling and wide-reaching recommendations to improve quality and increase choice in the audit market. I am most grateful to Lord Tyrie and his colleagues for their detailed and comprehensive study, which captures evidence and views from a wide variety of stakeholders. I share their concerns, and I am pleased that this study complements a wider body of work being undertaken to improve audit quality. Most importantly, we have endorsed Sir John Kingman’s recommendation to replace the Financial Reporting Council with an independent statutory regulator with a new mandate and powers.

The government is committed to creating a fit-for-purpose and proportionate regulatory regime that delivers a competitive and resilient audit market that works for shareholders, investors and the wider public. I would welcome views on the CMA’s final proposals. I would also strongly encourage proposals from the sector outlining what they believe could be done to address the CMA’s concerns on a voluntary basis ahead of regulatory intervention. The Government will then develop a full set of proposals for reform taking account of both the recommendations from the CMA and the outcome of Sir John Kingman’s Review of the Financial Reporting Council. I do not believe that the government need wait on the outcome of Sir Donald Brydon’s review of the purpose of audit before continuing with the process of reform of the audit market.

The consultation document will be placed in the Libraries of the House and is available on the Gov.UK website. The consultation is open for 8 weeks and I look forward to the continued contribution of interested parties.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1754
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Department for Education
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Chris Skidmore (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Higher Education Student Finance

I am announcing details of student finance arrangements for higher education students undertaking a course of study in the 2020/21 academic year starting on 1 August 2020.

Maximum tuition fees for the 2020/21 academic year in England will be maintained at the levels that apply in the 2019/20 academic year, the third year in succession that fees have been frozen. This means that the maximum level of tuition fees for a standard full-time course will remain at £9,250 for the 2020/21 academic year.

Maximum undergraduate loans for living costs will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020/21. And the same increase will apply to maximum disabled students’ allowances for students with disabilities undertaking full-time and part-time undergraduate courses in 2020/21. Maximum grants for students with child or adult dependants who are attending full-time undergraduate courses in 2020/21 will also increase by forecast inflation in 2020/21.

We are also increasing support for students undertaking postgraduate courses in 2020/21. Maximum loans for students starting master’s degree and doctoral degree courses from 1 August 2020 onwards will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020/21. And the same increase will apply to the maximum disabled students’ allowance for postgraduate students with disabilities in 2020/21.

Further details of the student support package for 2020/21 are set out in the attached document.

I expect to lay regulations implementing changes to student finance for undergraduates and postgraduates for 2020/21 late in 2019 or early in 2020. These regulations will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.

The Government will consider the recommendations of the independent panel to the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, published on 30 May 2019, and will conclude the review at the Spending Review later this year.

Higher Education Student Finance for 2020/21

1) Fees for full-time and part-time undergraduate students.

Maximum fees for full-time and part-time undergraduate courses will remain at 2019/20 levels in 2020/21.

The maximum fee for standard full-time courses offered by Approved (Fee Cap) Providers with an Access and Participation Plan (APP) and a Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Award (TEF) will remain at £9,250 in 2020/21.

The maximum fee for full-time accelerated degree courses offered by Approved (Fee Cap) Providers with an APP and a TEF will remain at £11,100 in 2020/21.

The maximum fee for part-time courses offered by Approved (Fee Cap) Providers with an APP and a TEF will remain at £6,935 in 2020/21.

Lower maximum fees will remain at 2019/20 levels in 2020/21 for (i) courses offered by providers without an APP and/or a TEF and (ii) overseas study years, work placement years and short final years of full-time courses.

Students undertaking courses at Approved (Fee Cap) Providers will be able to apply for up-front tuition fee loans to meet the full costs of their tuition.

Maximum fees for undergraduate courses offered by Approved Providers are not capped. Students undertaking courses at Approved Providers will be able to apply for up-front tuition fee loans towards the costs of their tuition which will remain at 2019/20 levels in 2020/21: up to £6,165 for a standard full-time course; up to £7,400 for a full-time accelerated degree course and up to £4,625 for a part-time course.

2) Living costs support for full-time undergraduate students.

Loans for living costs for new full-time students and continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016.

Maximum loans for living costs for new full-time students and eligible continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020/21.

The maximum loan for living costs for 2020/21 will be £9,203 for students living away from home and studying outside London. The equivalent loan rate for students living away from home and studying in London will be £12,010; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £7,747; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £10,539.

Loans for living costs for new full-time students and continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 who are eligible for benefits.

Maximum loans for living costs for new full-time students and eligible continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016, and who are eligible for benefits, will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020/21.

The maximum loan for living costs for 2020/21 will be £10,490 for students who are eligible for benefits who are living away from home and studying outside London. The equivalent loan rate for students who are eligible for benefits who are living away from home and studying in London will be £13,098; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £9,140; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £11,732.

Loans for living costs for new full-time students and continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 who are aged 60 or over on the first day of the first academic year of their course.

The maximum loan for living costs in 2020/21 for new full-time students and eligible continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 who are aged 60 or over on the first day of the first academic year of their course, will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £3,893.

Maintenance grants and special support grants for full-time students who started their courses before 1 August 2016.

The maximum maintenance grant and special support grant for eligible full-time students who started their courses on or after 1 September 2012 but before 1 August 2016, will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £3,801 in 2020/21.

The maximum maintenance grant and special support grant for eligible full-time students who started their courses before 1 September 2012 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £3,489 in 2020/21.

Loans for living costs for full-time students who started their courses before 1 August 2016.

Maximum loans for living costs for eligible students who started their courses on or after 1 September 2012 but before 1 August 2016, will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020/21.

The maximum loan for living costs will be £6,597 for students who are living away from home and studying outside London. The equivalent loan rate for students living away from home and studying in London will be £9,205; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £5,247; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £7,837.

Loans for living costs for eligible students who started their courses before 1 September 2012.

Maximum loans for living costs for eligible students who started their courses before 1 September 2012 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020/21.

The maximum loan for living costs will be £5,938 for students who are living away from home and studying outside London. The equivalent loan rate for students living away from home and studying in London will be £8,309; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £4,604; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £7,068.

Long Courses Loans.

Maximum long courses (living costs) loans for new and continuing students who are attending full-time courses that are longer than 30 weeks and 3 days during the academic year will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020/21.

3) Targeted support for undergraduate students with dependants and undergraduate students with disabilities.

Dependants’ Grants.

Maximum dependants’ grants (adult dependants’ grant, childcare grant and parents’ learning allowance) will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020/21 for all new and continuing full-time undergraduate students.

The maximum adult dependants’ grant will be increased to £3,094 in 2020/21.

The maximum childcare grant payable in 2020/21, which covers 85% of actual childcare costs up to a specified limit, will be increased to £174.22 per week for one child only and £298.69 per week for two or more children.

The maximum parents’ learning allowance payable in 2020/21 will be increased to £1,766.

Disabled Students’ Allowances.

Maximum grants for undergraduate students with disabilities will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020/21.

For a full-time course: to £23,258 for a non-medical personal helper, £5,849 for major items of specialist equipment and £1,954 for other disability related expenditure.

For a part-time course: to £17,443 for a non-medical personal helper, £5,849 for major items of specialist equipment and £1,465 for other disability related expenditure.

4) Support for part-time undergraduate students.

Fee and course grants for students who started part-time courses before 1 September 2012.

Maximum fee and course grants for students who started part-time courses before 1 September 2012 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020/21. Maximum fee grants will be increased to £959, £1,150 or £1,442, depending on the intensity of study of the course. The maximum course grant will be increased to £314.

Loans for living costs for new part-time students and continuing part-time students starting degree level courses on or after 1 August 2018.

Maximum loans for living costs for new part-time students and continuing part-time students who started degree level courses on or after 1 August 2018 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020/21.

The maximum loan for living costs for 2020/21 will be £9,203 for students living away from home and studying outside London. The equivalent loan rate for students living away from home and studying in London will be £12,010; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £7,747; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £10,539.

Part-time students qualify for a proportion of the full-time loan for living costs depending on their intensity of study compared with a full-time course.

5) Support for postgraduate students.

Loans for students undertaking postgraduate master’s degree courses.

Maximum loans for new students starting postgraduate master’s degree courses in 2020/21 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £11,222.

Loans for students undertaking postgraduate doctoral degree courses.

Maximum loans for new students starting postgraduate doctoral degree courses in 2020/21 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £26,445.

Disabled Students’ Allowance.

The maximum grant for postgraduate students with disabilities will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £20,580 in 2020/21.

More details of Higher Education student finance arrangements for the 2020/21 academic year will be published on Government websites in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1759
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Home Office
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Mr Nick Hurd (The Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service)
Commons

Consultation on the introduction of statutory guidance to the police for firearms licensing

Today, I am publishing a public consultation on the introduction of statutory guidance to the police on firearms licensing. The proposed guidance aims to ensure that the highest standards of public safety are maintained in the firearms licensing process, improving consistency between police forces and in court when licensing decisions are appealed. It is being introduced following a recommendation made by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services in September 2015, which found that police forces were not always following the Home Office firearms guidance, resulting in inconsistent application of the law.

We have acted on this recommendation and the Policing and Crime Act 2017 made provision for the Home Secretary to issue statutory guidance to the police on their firearms licensing functions. The police will have a duty to have regard to the guidance, which will include existing safeguards relating to firearms ownership, such as police background checks or the criteria around applicants with a history of domestic violence.

The draft guidance in the consultation also contains new proposals on the arrangements for assessing the medical suitability of firearms applicants, following consideration of how the system is currently operating, and concerns raised about the variation in practice across the country. It is important that the arrangements support doctors in providing the necessary medical information to the police who have responsibility for firearms licensing, and that the police are able to require sight of the medical information before they proceed to grant the firearm certificate. I am seeking views on these arrangements from all those with an interest so that we can ensure the system operates as effectively as possible. It is vitally important to ensure that those in possession of firearms are medically fit, to safeguard the public and the firearm certificate holder themselves.

The consultation is seeking views from police forces, firearms owners and other interested parties and the wider public on the contents of the proposed statutory guidance. I am also consulting the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, as required by the legislation. I will consider very carefully the views which are put forward during the consultation, which will last for a period of eight weeks, following which the Home Office will publish the new statutory guidance. I am committed to efficient and effective operation of the firearms licensing system, and once the statutory guidance has been in place for a suitable period, I intend to review the operation of the new medical arrangements to ensure they are working effectively.

Copies of the consultation along with the draft guidance and Impact Assessment will be made available on Gov.uk and will be placed in both Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1757
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 23 July 2019
Made by: Chris Skidmore (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Government Chemist Review 2018

The twenty-second Annual Review of the Government Chemist has been received. The Review will be placed in the Libraries of the House plus those of the Devolved Administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland. The Review will also be laid before the Scottish Parliament.

The Government Chemist is the Referee Analyst named in Acts of Parliament. The Government Chemist’s team carry out analysis in high-profile or legally disputed cases. A diverse range of referee analysis work was carried out during 2018, which included pioneering work undertaken to detect mycotoxins in sultanas and Brazil nuts; pesticides in animal feed; formaldehyde in food contact materials and molecular biology approaches to support “consumer as analyst” devices for food testing.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1755
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 22 July 2019
Made by: James Brokenshire (The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Local government update

In my written statement of 1 November 2018 (HCWS 1058) to the House, I committed to set out in due course the specific circumstances in which I would be prepared to issue a formal invitation to councils under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, to submit proposals for the establishment of new unitary councils.

Today I am confirming the circumstances in which I would be prepared to issue such an invitation; how I intend to assess any unitary proposals councils make in response; and our continued approach to any proposals two or more district councils may make to merge in order to form a new larger district council.

Locally-led changes to the structure of local government, whether in the form of unitarisation or district mergers, can – with local support – be an appropriate means of ensuring more sustainable local government and local service delivery, enhanced local accountability, and empowered local communities. This statement today continues the Government’s commitment to supporting those councils that wish to combine, to serve their communities better and will consider unitarisation and mergers between councils when locally requested.

However, I recognise that unitarisation may not be appropriate everywhere. I also recognise that it is essential that any local government restructuring should be on the basis of locally led proposals and should not involve top-down Whitehall solutions being imposed on areas. The Government does not support top-down unitary restructuring. This has been the Government’s consistent approach since 2010.

Today, I want to provide further clarity for those councils who might consider the possibility of restructuring, by setting out the factors councils should consider and the processes to be followed – including with regard to local support.

For councils wishing to restructure to form unitary local government, the first step of the statutory process as set out under the 2007 Act is for me to issue an invitation to councils to submit proposals. There are two circumstances in which I will consider issuing such an invitation.

The first circumstance is where the following two conditions are met:

  1. There is a local request for an invitation.
  2. That I consider that the request demonstrates local opinion is coalescing around a single option which is reasonably likely to meet the existing publicly announced criteria for unitarisation.

In forming my view I would carefully consider the request, including the groups making and supporting it and their reasons for so doing. Where I issue an invitation, I would do so to all those councils that I consider to have regard to the area concerned, whether or not they were among those who had made the original request.

The second circumstance is where I consider that doing so would be appropriate given the specific circumstances of the area, including in relation to the long-term sustainability of local services. This is the situation in which my predecessor, the Rt Hon Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), issued an invitation to the councils in Northamptonshire.

Following such an invitation, it would be for the councils concerned to decide whether to develop and submit proposals for unitarisation, either individually or jointly by two or more councils.

I confirm that I will assess any locally-led unitary proposal that I receive against the criteria for unitarisation which we announced to Parliament in 2017 and which I and my predecessor have consistently used since then. These criteria state that subject to Parliamentary approval a proposal can be implemented, with or without modification, if I conclude that across the area as a whole the proposal is likely to:

  • improve the area's local government;
  • command a good deal of local support across the area; and
  • cover an area that provides a credible geography for the proposed new structures, including that any new unitary council’s population would be expected to be in excess of 300,000.

On district council mergers, I confirm that where two or more district councils submit a proposal to merge, I will assess this against the criteria for mergers which we announced to Parliament in November 2017 and which we have used since then. The statutory process for such mergers does not involve my inviting proposals, and I recognise that particularly small district councils may wish to propose merging as a natural next step following a number of years of successful joint working, sharing of services and senior management teams.

The criteria for district council mergers are that, subject to Parliamentary approval, a proposal to merge would be implemented if I had reached a judgement in the round that if so implemented it would be likely to:

  • improve the area’s local government;

  • command local support, in particular that the merger is proposed by all councils which are to be merged and there is evidence of a good deal of local support; and

  • the area is a credible geography, consisting of two or more existing local government areas that are adjacent, and which, if established, would not pose an obstacle to locally-led proposals for authorities to combine to serve their communities better and would facilitate joint working between local authorities.

This statement is intended to provide clarity to councils and communities and help ensure that time and effort are not wasted on pursuing proposals which are unlikely to get the go ahead. It is important that those seeking to pursue locally led proposals are confident that there is a broad basis of common local support for the proposals to avoid unnecessary local conflict and distraction from the delivery of quality public services. The statement underlines the need for any proposals to be innovative, improve services, enhance accountability, have local support and deliver financial sustainability if they are to be taken forward.

Moreover, restructuring is only one of the different ways that councils can move forward. Joint working with other councils and partners could also be an appropriate and sustainable way forward. Such joint working can take a variety of forms ranging from adopting joint plans, setting up joint committees, and sharing back office services, to establishing Combined Authorities, and may extend across county boundaries. Those in an area will know what is best – the very essence of localism to which the Government remains committed.

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 22 July 2019
Made by: Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Commons

Energy Update

On 27 June, the UK became the first major economy in the world to legislate to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Achieving this target will require significant changes in the way we produce, deliver and use energy. We will need to harness the power of innovation and new technology to ensure the energy system remains flexible and resilient. We will need to provide confidence to businesses across the country to invest in a greener future by maintaining clear and stable policy frameworks. We will also have to ensure that as we move to cut greenhouse gas emissions across the economy, the security of our energy supplies is never in doubt and energy costs are kept low for all households and businesses.

As we set out on the path to reach net zero emissions, the government is today outlining a series of important reforms across the energy system. These include new approaches to how low-carbon infrastructure is financed, potential changes to the retail energy market so it works better for all consumers, a new strategy for tackling fuel poverty and significant changes to the way we set the detailed rules that govern the energy system.

The action we are taking today is only a first step. Continuous action over the next three decades by successive governments will be required if we are to end the UK’s contribution to global warming and inspire the necessary action at a global level.

The government has today published the following public consultations and reviews:

Regulated Asset Base financing model for new nuclear projects

The government committed in January 2019 to publish an assessment of the Regulated Asset Base model as a means of financing new nuclear projects. We are today publishing that assessment as part of a public consultation on the Regulated Asset Base model. The purpose of this consultation is to set out the basis for our assessment and to seek views from a range of interested parties on how it could be implemented within the current energy system in such a way that allows new nuclear to be built at low cost to consumers. The consultation includes a set of core principles that have resulted from our feasibility assessment and considers important issues such as the approach to risk-sharing under such a model. This consultation will be open for responses until 14 October 2019.

Business models for Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) projects

As we committed to in the CCUS Action Plan, we are today publishing a consultation on how we can bring CCUS projects to market in the years ahead. This is an important step in order to meet our Action Plan commitment of delivering the UK’s first CCUS project from the mid-2020s. The consultation seeks views on possible CCUS business models for industry, power, and carbon dioxide transport and storage, as well as a framework to support hydrogen production with CCUS. The consultation sets out the risks that are inherent in first of a kind CCUS projects, and the possible delivery and coordination challenges of deploying CCUS at scale. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

The re-use of oil and gas assets for Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) projects

This consultation fulfils the government commitment in the CCUS Action Plan to identify existing oil and gas infrastructure that has the potential for re-use and to develop a policy to support the development of CCUS in the UK. It seeks views on whether government should introduce a discretionary power for the Secretary of State to remove the decommissioning liability from previous oil and gas asset owners if assets are transferred to CCUS projects; and on changing guidance from the Oil and Gas Authority and government to encourage owners and operators of oil and gas assets to propose a period of suspension prior to decommissioning in circumstances in which there is a reasonable prospect of the asset being acquired by a CCUS project. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Flexible and responsive energy retail markets

The consultation is issued in partnership with Ofgem and sets out a vision for the future energy retail market, the key challenges which the government and Ofgem wish to address, and the outcomes the retail energy market needs to deliver for all consumers. This includes how the regulatory framework may need to change to facilitate the introduction of innovative products and services that may face barriers today and could support our transition to a greener future. The consultation assesses the case for making reforms which could remove market distortions so as to improve the functioning of the energy retail market as a dynamic and competitive sector. The consultation also outlines how the energy retail market can benefit all consumers, ensuring they are able to secure a fair deal and receive a good level of customer service. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Reforming energy industry codes

This consultation seeks to address the fact that the way the detailed rules governing the energy system are managed may be frustrating the shift towards a greener future. The consultation suggests creating a new function to translate the government’s vision for the energy system into a strategic direction for codes, as well as giving code administrators more power to change codes, ensuring that vision can be delivered. We propose creating a new process that allows for greater agility in how codes and code changes are governed. We also set out an approach that will ensure we can deliver rules that are clear, accessible and simpler. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Fuel Poverty Strategy

We are consulting on proposed reforms to the 2015 Fuel Poverty Strategy to ensure that the actions we are taking to support people out of fuel poverty are as effective as possible. This includes a potential change to the way that fuel poverty is measured to ensure that we are able to include all those living in fuel poverty. We also propose making changes to ensure that those most at risk from living in a cold home get the support they need by aligning our fuel poverty policies with medical evidence. We are also proposing a new principle which would ensure that policies contributing to the fuel poverty target are complementary to other government priorities such as the Clean Growth Strategy. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Capacity Market five-year review and consultation on proposals for Capacity Market emissions limits

We are today publishing a five-year review of the Capacity Market mechanism. This review has found that the scheme is working effectively and performance against the original objectives has been achieved. In considering the future of the scheme, we propose focusing on specific areas of the scheme that will need to change as we maintain security of electricity supply while also moving towards net zero emissions. One of the first steps we propose to take is to implement a restriction on the most polluting types of energy generation, such as coal, within the Capacity Market by introducing new carbon emissions limits. To implement these changes, we are today issuing a public consultation on carbon emission limits within the scheme. This consultation will be open for responses until 2 September 2019.

Facilitating energy efficiency in the electricity system

Increasing our ambition on improving energy efficiency across the UK energy system will be vital if we are to reach net zero emissions. The Electricity Demand Reduction pilot evaluation we are publishing today has concluded that energy efficiency projects are not yet ready to enter the GB Capacity Market. We are therefore publishing a Call for Evidence on market barriers to energy efficiency, and how we can create new markets for energy efficiency and secure its role in the wider energy market. This includes considering how energy efficiency could help reduce the requirement for network reinforcement and help compliment the growth in distributed generation. This Call for Evidence will be open for responses until 25 September 2019.

Funding for advanced nuclear technologies

In addition to the above consultations, we are today announcing that we are developing proposals to invest government money in the creation of innovative small modular reactors (SMRs) which are less expensive to build than traditional nuclear power plants. As stated to this house on 17 January, we have received a proposal from a consortium of businesses, led by Rolls-Royce, who have proposed a significant joint investment of more than £500m focused on designing a first-of-a-kind SMR. The consortium expects to more than match any Government funding both by direct investment and by raising funds from third party organisations that wish to invest.

The government can today confirm that the Consortium’s proposal has been accepted into Wave 3 of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The Challenge is to design a working model that could be operational by the early 2030s. We are looking to make an initial award of up to £18m to the Rolls-Royce-led consortium in early Autumn 2019. This is subject to final decisions to invest, including business case and other approvals, and this consortium representing the best option for pursuing this technology. The Rolls-Royce led consortium believes this new technology could create 40,000 jobs at its peak and each power station could produce enough clean energy to power 750,000 homes.

This money is alongside up to £45 million to be invested in the second phase of the Advanced Modular Reactor programme, with project bids currently under consideration.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency plan shortly to publish their modernised guidance for developers of SMRs on their Generic Design Assessment, the process through which reactor designs are scrutinised by the regulators prior to further necessary regulatory steps, including site specific assessment and issuing of site licence and environmental permits, to enable subsequent deployment.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1752
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 22 July 2019
Made by: Kelly Tolhurst (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility)
Commons

Business Update

The Good Work Plan sets out the Government’s vision for the future of the UK labour market and how we will implement the Taylor Review recommendations. It forms an integral part of the modern Industrial Strategy and this Government’s long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK and to develop better jobs for all. We are now delivering the next phase of the Good Work Plan.

Flexibility has been a key factor behind the success of our labour market, but we are aware there are a small minority of employers who transfer too much risk to the individual, sometimes to the detriment of their financial security and personal wellbeing. The Taylor Review termed this ‘one-sided flexibility’. The Low Pay Commission found that this was particularly relevant for low paid, vulnerable workers and has made recommendations to Government. We are committed to tackling the problem and on 19 July we launched a consultation with proposals to:

  • provide a right to reasonable notice of working hours – with the aim to give workers more certainty about their shifts and work patterns so they can have more control over their working lives.
  • provide workers with compensation for shifts cancelled without reasonable notice – The Low Pay Commission found that the practice of cancelling shifts at the last minute, sometimes on arrival at work or partway through a shift was not uncommon.

Earlier this year, the Government also consulted on measures to prevent the misuse of confidentiality clauses in cases of sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. This followed unacceptable cases of their misuse as evidenced in the media, inquiries by the Women and Equalities Select Committee and individuals’ responses to our consultation. These cases highlighted the seriousness of abuse that has taken place and the impact this has had on the lives of individuals.

We have now published the Government Response and will be legislating on the proposals we consulted on, and in some cases going even further. For example, for the first time, no provision in an employment contract will be able to prevent someone from disclosing information to the police or to regulated health and care and legal professionals. The proposals will increase clarity on the limitations of confidentiality clauses, increase protections for vulnerable individuals and ensure employers use confidentiality clauses appropriately.

The Government also recently consulted on proposals to extend redundancy protections for pregnant women and new mothers returning to work. We have now published the Government Response to this consultation.

Any form of discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers is unacceptable and unlawful. Despite this, evidence from the Women and Equalities Select Committee, amongst others, suggests that new mothers are still being unfairly forced out of work. We are therefore taking action and are committing to extending the redundancy protection period that currently exists for pregnant women for a further six months once a new mother has returned to work. The Government response also looks at how we can increase awareness amongst pregnant women and new mothers of their maternity rights. As part of this the Government will establish a taskforce which will make recommendations on what improvements can be made to the information available to employers and families.

The reforms we have announced are the next important step in delivering on the Good Work Plan, ensuring we have a labour market that is fit for purpose. We recognise that the world of work is changing and are delivering the necessary reforms to ensure the UK labour market can adapt effectively, and support the needs of both workers and employers.

Copies of the referenced consultations and Government responses will be placed in the Libraries of the House and will be available electronically on the GOV.UK website.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1751
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 22 July 2019
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Communities update

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

On Saturday 20th July I published By deeds and their results: How we will strengthen our communities and nation’.

The document sets out the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s vision for stronger communities, explaining why communities matter, what strong communities look like, and what government and partners can do to support their creation.

It also signals the intention that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government work with other government departments to champion the importance of communities in every aspect of society, and focus its future work on building stronger communities across the country.

When communities are strong, society is strong. Communities can improve health and wellbeing, enable economic prosperity, help improve the local environment, and provide support in times of crisis. But eight years on from the Localism Act – the last piece of legislation focused on supporting communities – the challenges facing communities have evolved, and the time is right to assess and change the way in which government can support communities. This is particularly necessary given the long-term divisions which have been exposed following the vote on the UK’s future membership of the European Union.

‘By deeds and their results’ commits the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to several actions, including:

  • Holding a national conversation with communities across England about their view of who we are as a nation, their vision for the future of their community and our country, and what local and national government can and should be doing to support their community to thrive. We want government and all public bodies to renew their understanding of their role in building stronger communities – this should be informed by direct conversations with people, in partnership with our existing local democratic institutions. The conversation will commence following the UK’s formal departure from the European Union.
  • Establishing a series of Civic Deal pilots to test how government put into practice the principles in By deeds and their results. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will work jointly with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on these pilots. We will work with each pilot to consider how government activities can be better aligned and co-ordinated to support communities in identifying and delivering their own priorities.
  • Publishing a Communities White Paper to renew government’s focus on building stronger communities across England. This will consider, for example, how community rights are strengthened, promoted and made easier to take up; how funding for communities can be more simplified, integrated and less risk averse; and how communities can best shape local services and decision-making more broadly. The final scope of the White Paper will be developed in partnership with communities, including through the national conversation and Civic Deal pilots.

By deeds and their results is underpinned by four pillars, that will inform all work to strengthen communities across our department:

  1. Trust, connectedness and local pride;
  2. Active citizenship and local control;
  3. Shared community spaces;
  4. Shared prosperity, with no community left behind.

This publication represents the next step in an ongoing conversation with communities that will shape the department’s future activity. By working in partnership with all stakeholders – including other government departments, councils, businesses, faith groups and civil society organisations – we can create an environment that supports and enables stronger communities to flourish.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1786
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 22 July 2019
Made by: James Brokenshire (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Housing update

The housing landscape has fundamentally changed since the introduction of the Housing Act 1988 – an Act that covers both the social and the private rented sector, as well as providing the tenure framework for a number of other landlords. With one in five households now in the private rented sector, with more families with children and older people renting their homes, it is time for a generational change to renting which better meets the needs of this important market.

Yesterday therefore, my Department launched a number of consultations, which will take forward this Government’s commitment to protect tenants, support landlords, drive up standards in the rental sector and make the housing market fairer for everyone.

Cracking down on rogue landlords

The Government is determined that those renting their homes are not forced into inadequate or unsafe housing. The majority of landlords and property agents in the private rented sector provide decent and well-managed accommodation, but there is a small number who knowingly flout their legal obligations and rent out substandard accommodation. These few criminals account for a disproportionate amount of the 25% of private rented homes which are non-decent.

The Prime Minister committed to widen access to information on the database of rogue landlords and property agents to tenants. In its current form, the database is viewable only to local authorities. It is targeted at the most serious and prolific criminals, those who have been convicted of specified banning order offences such as failure to make a property habitable when instructed by the local authority, through to serious crimes such as specified drug and sexual offences.

Our consultation, ‘Rogue Landlord Database Reform: Widening Access and Considering the Scope of the Database of Rogue Landlords and Property Agents’, seeks views on how to open-up the database so tenants can know more about the landlord who they plan to, from or already rent from. We also want to consider the scope of the database, this consultation therefore also seeks views on whether the database should cover a wider range of relevant criminal, civil and housing regulation breaches to help further raise standards across the sector.

Abolishing section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions and supporting landlords to reclaim their property

On 15 April, I announced plans to abolish section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, putting an end to so-called ‘no fault’ evictions and giving tenants the certainty that they will not be asked to leave their home without a valid reason.

The Government wants to deliver a balanced and effective tenancy regime that is fair to both landlords and tenants and yesterday published ‘A New Deal for Renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants’. This consultation seeks views on how tenancies should operate in future. It is the first step in a journey that will deliver on our commitment to bring greater fairness and transparency to tenants and ensure they have the security they need to plan for the future.

The consultation also proposes three new grounds and asks for views on the current grounds for eviction and how they can be improved. Landlords should have confidence that they will be able to regain possession of their property if they need to, and the consultation further explores whether the courts could use the accelerated procedure for dealing with possession order applications under some or all of the mandatory grounds in section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.

Taken together, the reforms proposed across these two consultations will build on government action to drive up standards across the sector, deliver the rental sector the country deserves and needs, and create a housing market that works for everyone.

Protecting residents of park homes

Finally, we have also published a consultation seeking views on how the fit and proper person test for park homes sites will work in practice. In the Government response to the review of park homes legislation, we committed to introducing the test subject to a technical consultation to ensure the effective operation of the test. When implemented, the test will strengthen local authorities’ powers to target the worst offenders and remove unscrupulous and criminal site operators from the park homes sector.

I am making a copy of all consultations available in the Library.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1749
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 22 July 2019
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Housing update

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

The housing landscape has fundamentally changed since the introduction of the Housing Act 1988 – an Act that covers both the social and the private rented sector, as well as providing the tenure framework for a number of other landlords. With one in five households now in the private rented sector, with more families with children and older people renting their homes, it is time for a generational change to renting which better meets the needs of this important market.

Yesterday therefore, my Department launched a number of consultations, which will take forward this Government’s commitment to protect tenants, support landlords, drive up standards in the rental sector and make the housing market fairer for everyone.

Cracking down on rogue landlords

The Government is determined that those renting their homes are not forced into inadequate or unsafe housing. The majority of landlords and property agents in the private rented sector provide decent and well-managed accommodation, but there is a small number who knowingly flout their legal obligations and rent out substandard accommodation. These few criminals account for a disproportionate amount of the 25% of private rented homes which are non-decent.

The Prime Minister committed to widen access to information on the database of rogue landlords and property agents to tenants. In its current form, the database is viewable only to local authorities. It is targeted at the most serious and prolific criminals, those who have been convicted of specified banning order offences such as failure to make a property habitable when instructed by the local authority, through to serious crimes such as specified drug and sexual offences.

Our consultation, ‘Rogue Landlord Database Reform: Widening Access and Considering the Scope of the Database of Rogue Landlords and Property Agents’, seeks views on how to open-up the database so tenants can know more about the landlord who they plan to, from or already rent from. We also want to consider the scope of the database, this consultation therefore also seeks views on whether the database should cover a wider range of relevant criminal, civil and housing regulation breaches to help further raise standards across the sector.

Abolishing section 21 ‘no-fault’ evictions and supporting landlords to reclaim their property

On 15 April, I announced plans to abolish section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, putting an end to so-called ‘no fault’ evictions and giving tenants the certainty that they will not be asked to leave their home without a valid reason.

The Government wants to deliver a balanced and effective tenancy regime that is fair to both landlords and tenants and yesterday published ‘A New Deal for Renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants’. This consultation seeks views on how tenancies should operate in future. It is the first step in a journey that will deliver on our commitment to bring greater fairness and transparency to tenants and ensure they have the security they need to plan for the future.

The consultation also proposes three new grounds and asks for views on the current grounds for eviction and how they can be improved. Landlords should have confidence that they will be able to regain possession of their property if they need to, and the consultation further explores whether the courts could use the accelerated procedure for dealing with possession order applications under some or all of the mandatory grounds in section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.

Taken together, the reforms proposed across these two consultations will build on government action to drive up standards across the sector, deliver the rental sector the country deserves and needs, and create a housing market that works for everyone.

Protecting residents of park homes

Finally, we have also published a consultation seeking views on how the fit and proper person test for park homes sites will work in practice. In the Government response to the review of park homes legislation, we committed to introducing the test subject to a technical consultation to ensure the effective operation of the test. When implemented, the test will strengthen local authorities’ powers to target the worst offenders and remove unscrupulous and criminal site operators from the park homes sector.

I am making a copy of all consultations available in the Library.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1787
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 22 July 2019
Made by: James Brokenshire (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Communities update

On Saturday 20th July I published By deeds and their results: How we will strengthen our communities and nation’.

The document sets out the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s vision for stronger communities, explaining why communities matter, what strong communities look like, and what government and partners can do to support their creation.

It also signals the intention that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government work with other government departments to champion the importance of communities in every aspect of society, and focus its future work on building stronger communities across the country.

When communities are strong, society is strong. Communities can improve health and wellbeing, enable economic prosperity, help improve the local environment, and provide support in times of crisis. But eight years on from the Localism Act – the last piece of legislation focused on supporting communities – the challenges facing communities have evolved, and the time is right to assess and change the way in which government can support communities. This is particularly necessary given the long-term divisions which have been exposed following the vote on the UK’s future membership of the European Union.

‘By deeds and their results’ commits the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to several actions, including:

  • Holding a national conversation with communities across England about their view of who we are as a nation, their vision for the future of their community and our country, and what local and national government can and should be doing to support their community to thrive. We want government and all public bodies to renew their understanding of their role in building stronger communities – this should be informed by direct conversations with people, in partnership with our existing local democratic institutions. The conversation will commence following the UK’s formal departure from the European Union.
  • Establishing a series of Civic Deal pilots to test how government put into practice the principles in By deeds and their results. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will work jointly with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on these pilots. We will work with each pilot to consider how government activities can be better aligned and co-ordinated to support communities in identifying and delivering their own priorities.
  • Publishing a Communities White Paper to renew government’s focus on building stronger communities across England. This will consider, for example, how community rights are strengthened, promoted and made easier to take up; how funding for communities can be more simplified, integrated and less risk averse; and how communities can best shape local services and decision-making more broadly. The final scope of the White Paper will be developed in partnership with communities, including through the national conversation and Civic Deal pilots.

By deeds and their results is underpinned by four pillars, that will inform all work to strengthen communities across our department:

  1. Trust, connectedness and local pride;
  2. Active citizenship and local control;
  3. Shared community spaces;
  4. Shared prosperity, with no community left behind.

This publication represents the next step in an ongoing conversation with communities that will shape the department’s future activity. By working in partnership with all stakeholders – including other government departments, councils, businesses, faith groups and civil society organisations – we can create an environment that supports and enables stronger communities to flourish.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1750
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