Written statements

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

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

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

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Department for International Trade
Made on: 21 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Fairhead (Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion)
Lords

Trade Continuity under a "No Deal" scenario

My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade (Dr Liam Fox) has today made the following statement.

The Government is today publishing revised guidance to UK and international businesses that use preferential trade terms under existing agreements between the EU and third countries to advise them about a scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement. While a number of our continuity agreements are likely to be concluded by exit day, it is the duty of government to produce a highly cautious list of those that both may and will not be in place in order that businesses and individuals ensure that they are prepared for every eventuality. A list of these agreements and related advice is available on gov.uk here.

If the UK leaves with a deal, under the Withdrawal Agreement the EU has agreed that it will notify treaty partners that the UK is to be treated as a Member State for the purposes of its international agreements during the Implementation Period (IP), up until December 2020. This approach provides continuity and gives businesses and international partners the certainty and confidence they want and need.

Delivering a negotiated Withdrawal Agreement with the EU remains the Government’s top priority. Nevertheless, we continue to prepare for all eventualities, including 'no deal’. Therefore, in recent months, the Government has refocussed discussions with third countries to transition trade agreements to come into effect for day one after our EU exit, should the UK leave the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement. From the outset, we have been open and transparent with the EU about this programme of work.

Scope of the Trade Continuity programme

The Government is seeking continuity for existing EU trade agreements in which the UK participates as a member of the EU. These agreements constitute around 11% of our trade[1]. These agreements also cover a wide variety of relationships, including:

  • Free Trade Agreements (FTAs);
  • Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with developing nations;
  • Association Agreements, which cover broader economic and political cooperation;
  • Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and;
  • Trade agreements with countries that are closely aligned with the EU

Businesses in the UK and partner countries are eligible for a range of preferential market access opportunities under the terms of these agreements. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • preferential duties for goods, including reductions in import tariff rates and quotas for reduced or nil rates of payable duties;
  • quotas for the import of goods with more relaxed rules of origin requirements;
  • enhanced market access for service providers;
  • protection from discrimination in public procurement opportunities across a range of sectors;
  • allowing parties to mutually recognise conformity assessment procedures;
  • the ability to complete mandatory inspections and tests on products close to the place of production; and
  • common standards on intellectual property.

The Government has been in extensive and constructive discussions with partner countries to transition these agreements to maintain their benefits and deliver as much continuity and stability as possible in our trade with these partners for businesses, consumers and investors as we leave the EU.

Progress Update

To date, the Government has signed trade agreements with Switzerland, Chile, the Faroe Islands, members of the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Economic Partnership Agreement, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The Government is also close to formal agreement on text with Fiji and Papua New Guinea (Pacific) and arrangements are being made for their signature. It is likely these agreements will be transitioned in time for day one of exit.

We have also signed Mutual Recognition Agreements that allow continuity of trade with Australia and New Zealand, and the United States. Total UK-US trade in sectors covered by the US MRA agreement is worth up to £12.8 billion, based on recent average trade flows. These important agreements boost trade as UK exporters can ensure goods are compliant with trading partners’ technical regulations before they depart the UK, saving businesses time, money and resources.

Discussions with other partners continue with the aim of replicating the effects of existing EU agreements as far as possible. We are continuing to engage with those other partner countries to conclude agreements in time for exit day. Particularly intensive discussions are, for instance, happening now with partners such as SACU+M, EEA, Canada and South Korea. Other discussions are ongoing.

Where agreements have been signed and there are significant changes to trade-related provisions of trade agreements, including to ensure operability in a UK context, they will be set out in reports to Parliament. As is already the case with the Chile, ESA and the Faroe Islands agreements, the reports will sit alongside the treaty text and explanatory memorandum, when these are laid in Parliament as part of the treaty ratification process, as set out in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. These and other relevant documents will be also placed on gov.uk when signed. Implementing legislation, including on the preferential tariffs and related rules of origin in these agreements will also be laid before Parliament. Details of these agreements will be available on gov.uk.

If the full parliamentary scrutiny processes to ratify some UK-third country agreements have not concluded by the end of March, we are considering whether there are other means through which we can bring their provisions into effect to provide the same certainty and continuity to business and stakeholders from day one.

One such option is provisional application, where the UK and the third country agree to apply a treaty, in full or in part, “provisionally” for a period of time before the full domestic scrutiny processes have completed and the treaty enters into force. Where possible, this would bridge a potential gap in coverage of preferential trade terms. The UK has used provisional application on a number of occasions in its independent treaty relations. The use of provisional application is also common practice for the EU’s international agreements.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, some agreements will not be concluded in time and therefore will not be in place for exit day. There are a range of reasons for this. Those agreements that will not be in place for exit day are Andorra, Japan, Turkey, and San Marino.

Certain countries raise specific issues in the context of transitioning trade agreements. For example, Turkey is in a unique position, being in a partial customs union with the EU. This is not, therefore, a pre-existing free trade agreement relationship that can be technically transitioned to the UK. For this reason, should the UK leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement it will not be possible to transition these arrangements on day one of exit. However, Turkey is an important partner for the UK, and we want to strengthen our trading partnership once we leave the EU. The Government is committed to exploring all options for enabling continuity of trade and will progress these with Turkey as soon as possible. For the same reasons, we will not reach trade continuity arrangements with San Marino or Andorra by 29th March in the event of a no deal.

The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement only entered into force as of 1st February 2019. In a no deal scenario, it will not be possible to have a bilateral agreement in place between the UK and Japan for 29th March. Therefore, UK-Japan trade will occur on a Most-Favoured Nation basis under WTO terms, as it did up until 31st January 2019 The Prime Ministers of Japan and the UK have, however, already agreed to secure an ambitious bilateral agreement, building on the deal already agreed between Japan and the EU, and Japan is supportive of future UK membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). We are continuing to work with Japan to realise these opportunities for a stronger trading relationship.

Additional provisions

The UK’s trade relationships are not just determined by trade agreements; we also participate in the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), which allows developing countries, including Least Developed Countries and low to lower-middle income countries to receive preferential access to the UK market. The Government fully intends to continue the existing market access provided by these unilateral preference schemes.

To do so we have taken the necessary powers through the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 to allow us to continue providing non-reciprocal reductions in tariffs to developing countries. Through this, the current beneficiaries of the EU’s GSP will be able to export to the UK after our EU exit on the same terms as at present. We will shortly be laying the necessary secondary legislation in Parliament.

This means that some countries will continue to be eligible for preferential tariff treatment under the UK’s newly established independent trade preferences scheme even if the relevant EU-partner country trade agreement has not yet been transitioned into a UK-partner country agreement.

You can find details of non-EU countries with whom we currently have in place arrangements for preferential trade, including both free trade agreements and unilateral preferences here.

[1] This 11% figure excludes Turkey (plus San Marino and Andorra) which is part of a customs union with the EU, and excludes Japan, as the Economic Partnership Agreement only came into force on 1st February 2019 and therefore business have only very recently been trading under this agreement.

[

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1352
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 21 February 2019
Made by: Dr Liam Fox (Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade)
Commons

Trade Continuity under a "No Deal" scenario

The Government is today publishing revised guidance to UK and international businesses that use preferential trade terms under existing agreements between the EU and third countries to advise them about a scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement. While a number of our continuity agreements are likely to be concluded by exit day, it is the duty of government to produce a highly cautious list of those that both may and will not be in place in order that businesses and individuals ensure that they are prepared for every eventuality. A list of these agreements and related advice is available on gov.uk here.

If the UK leaves with a deal, under the Withdrawal Agreement the EU has agreed that it will notify treaty partners that the UK is to be treated as a Member State for the purposes of its international agreements during the Implementation Period (IP), up until December 2020. This approach provides continuity and gives businesses and international partners the certainty and confidence they want and need.

Delivering a negotiated Withdrawal Agreement with the EU remains the Government’s top priority. Nevertheless, we continue to prepare for all eventualities, including 'no deal’. Therefore, in recent months, the Government has refocussed discussions with third countries to transition trade agreements to come into effect for day one after our EU exit, should the UK leave the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement. From the outset, we have been open and transparent with the EU about this programme of work.

Scope of the Trade Continuity programme

The Government is seeking continuity for existing EU trade agreements in which the UK participates as a member of the EU. These agreements constitute around 11% of our trade[1]. These agreements also cover a wide variety of relationships, including:

  • Free Trade Agreements (FTAs);
  • Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with developing nations;
  • Association Agreements, which cover broader economic and political cooperation;
  • Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and;
  • Trade agreements with countries that are closely aligned with the EU

Businesses in the UK and partner countries are eligible for a range of preferential market access opportunities under the terms of these agreements. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • preferential duties for goods, including reductions in import tariff rates and quotas for reduced or nil rates of payable duties;
  • quotas for the import of goods with more relaxed rules of origin requirements;
  • enhanced market access for service providers;
  • protection from discrimination in public procurement opportunities across a range of sectors;
  • allowing parties to mutually recognise conformity assessment procedures;
  • the ability to complete mandatory inspections and tests on products close to the place of production; and
  • common standards on intellectual property.

The Government has been in extensive and constructive discussions with partner countries to transition these agreements to maintain their benefits and deliver as much continuity and stability as possible in our trade with these partners for businesses, consumers and investors as we leave the EU.

Progress Update

To date, the Government has signed trade agreements with Switzerland, Chile, the Faroe Islands, members of the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Economic Partnership Agreement, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The Government is also close to formal agreement on text with Fiji and Papua New Guinea (Pacific) and arrangements are being made for their signature. It is likely these agreements will be transitioned in time for day one of exit.

We have also signed Mutual Recognition Agreements that allow continuity of trade with Australia and New Zealand, and the United States. Total UK-US trade in sectors covered by the US MRA agreement is worth up to £12.8 billion, based on recent average trade flows. These important agreements boost trade as UK exporters can ensure goods are compliant with trading partners’ technical regulations before they depart the UK, saving businesses time, money and resources.

Discussions with other partners continue with the aim of replicating the effects of existing EU agreements as far as possible. We are continuing to engage with those other partner countries to conclude agreements in time for exit day. Particularly intensive discussions are, for instance, happening now with partners such as SACU+M, EEA, Canada and South Korea. Other discussions are ongoing.

Where agreements have been signed and there are significant changes to trade-related provisions of trade agreements, including to ensure operability in a UK context, they will be set out in reports to Parliament. As is already the case with the Chile, ESA and the Faroe Islands agreements, the reports will sit alongside the treaty text and explanatory memorandum, when these are laid in Parliament as part of the treaty ratification process, as set out in the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. These and other relevant documents will be also placed on gov.uk when signed. Implementing legislation, including on the preferential tariffs and related rules of origin in these agreements will also be laid before Parliament. Details of these agreements will be available on gov.uk.

If the full parliamentary scrutiny processes to ratify some UK-third country agreements have not concluded by the end of March, we are considering whether there are other means through which we can bring their provisions into effect to provide the same certainty and continuity to business and stakeholders from day one.

One such option is provisional application, where the UK and the third country agree to apply a treaty, in full or in part, “provisionally” for a period of time before the full domestic scrutiny processes have completed and the treaty enters into force. Where possible, this would bridge a potential gap in coverage of preferential trade terms. The UK has used provisional application on a number of occasions in its independent treaty relations. The use of provisional application is also common practice for the EU’s international agreements.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, some agreements will not be concluded in time and therefore will not be in place for exit day. There are a range of reasons for this. Those agreements that will not be in place for exit day are Andorra, Japan, Turkey, and San Marino.

Certain countries raise specific issues in the context of transitioning trade agreements. For example, Turkey is in a unique position, being in a partial customs union with the EU. This is not, therefore, a pre-existing free trade agreement relationship that can be technically transitioned to the UK. For this reason, should the UK leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement it will not be possible to transition these arrangements on day one of exit. However, Turkey is an important partner for the UK, and we want to strengthen our trading partnership once we leave the EU. The Government is committed to exploring all options for enabling continuity of trade and will progress these with Turkey as soon as possible. For the same reasons, we will not reach trade continuity arrangements with San Marino or Andorra by 29th March in the event of a no deal.

The EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement only entered into force as of 1st February 2019. In a no deal scenario, it will not be possible to have a bilateral agreement in place between the UK and Japan for 29th March. Therefore, UK-Japan trade will occur on a Most-Favoured Nation basis under WTO terms, as it did up until 31st January 2019 The Prime Ministers of Japan and the UK have, however, already agreed to secure an ambitious bilateral agreement, building on the deal already agreed between Japan and the EU, and Japan is supportive of future UK membership of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). We are continuing to work with Japan to realise these opportunities for a stronger trading relationship.

Additional provisions

The UK’s trade relationships are not just determined by trade agreements; we also participate in the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), which allows developing countries, including Least Developed Countries and low to lower-middle income countries to receive preferential access to the UK market. The Government fully intends to continue the existing market access provided by these unilateral preference schemes.

To do so we have taken the necessary powers through the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018 to allow us to continue providing non-reciprocal reductions in tariffs to developing countries. Through this, the current beneficiaries of the EU’s GSP will be able to export to the UK after our EU exit on the same terms as at present. We will shortly be laying the necessary secondary legislation in Parliament.

This means that some countries will continue to be eligible for preferential tariff treatment under the UK’s newly established independent trade preferences scheme even if the relevant EU-partner country trade agreement has not yet been transitioned into a UK-partner country agreement.

You can find details of non-EU countries with whom we currently have in place arrangements for preferential trade, including both free trade agreements and unilateral preferences here.

[1] This 11% figure excludes Turkey (plus San Marino and Andorra) which is part of a customs union with the EU, and excludes Japan, as the Economic Partnership Agreement only came into force on 1st February 2019 and therefore business have only very recently been trading under this agreement.

[

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1319
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 21 February 2019
Made by: Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Commons

Energy Policy

As set out to the House in the statement of 6 December 2018, the European Commission was expecting to make its initial decision regarding the UK Capacity Market in early 2019. The Commission have today confirmed that they are moving onto the next phase of its investigation into the Capacity Market. This is an important first step as we work to reinstate State aid approval for the Capacity Market as soon as possible.

In their announcement the Commission confirm that the General Court of the European Union did not rule that the GB Capacity Market was incompatible with State aid rules. The Commission have also made clear that the Court ruled on procedural grounds. This was on the basis that the Commission should have opened an in-depth investigation on certain elements of the scheme related to participation by demand side response operators.

In accordance with the Court’s judgment, the Commission have therefore launched a further investigation focussing on particular elements of the Capacity Market. We understand that this investigation will cover past and future capacity payments, including deferred payments in respect of the standstill period. Since 2014 the Commission has approved State aid for six capacity markets similar to the GB scheme. We will continue to work closely with the Commission as their investigation progresses and will ensure that market participants are regularly updated.

Separately, the Commission have recently chosen to appeal the General Court’s judgment that they did not follow the proper process to conclude in 2014 that the Capacity Market was compatible with EU State aid rules. I can confirm today that the UK Government will be supporting this appeal. The appeal does not affect the Commission’s separate process for considering State aid approval for the current Capacity Market scheme.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1318
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 21 February 2019
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

Energy Policy

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

As set out to the House in the statement of 6 December 2018, the European Commission was expecting to make its initial decision regarding the UK Capacity Market in early 2019. The Commission have today confirmed that they are moving onto the next phase of its investigation into the Capacity Market. This is an important first step as we work to reinstate State aid approval for the Capacity Market as soon as possible.

In their announcement the Commission confirm that the General Court of the European Union did not rule that the GB Capacity Market was incompatible with State aid rules. The Commission have also made clear that the Court ruled on procedural grounds. This was on the basis that the Commission should have opened an in-depth investigation on certain elements of the scheme related to participation by demand side response operators.

In accordance with the Court’s judgment, the Commission have therefore launched a further investigation focussing on particular elements of the Capacity Market. We understand that this investigation will cover past and future capacity payments, including deferred payments in respect of the standstill period. Since 2014 the Commission has approved State aid for six capacity markets similar to the GB scheme. We will continue to work closely with the Commission as their investigation progresses and will ensure that market participants are regularly updated.

Separately, the Commission have recently chosen to appeal the General Court’s judgment that they did not follow the proper process to conclude in 2014 that the Capacity Market was compatible with EU State aid rules. I can confirm today that the UK Government will be supporting this appeal. The appeal does not affect the Commission’s separate process for considering State aid approval for the current Capacity Market scheme.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1351
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 21 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Buscombe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Employment and Support Allowance

My honourable Friend, the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work(Sarah Newton MP) has made the following Written Statement.

This Written Statement is a fifth update to the House on progress in reviewing and, where necessary, correcting past Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) underpayments and paying arrears following conversion from previous incapacity benefits.

Since my last update to the House in October 2018 we have made significant progress. Due to the complex nature of these cases they take considerably longer than the average ESA case to complete. To ensure we make rapid and accurate progress we have therefore increased the number of staff working on putting these cases right from around 400 to approximately 1,200. This additional resource has led to a substantial increase in the number of cases that we have reviewed, corrected and paid arrears where due.

We have made good progress and by 11 February had:

  • started 310,000 claimants on the reassessment journey;
  • paid arrears of over £328 million to 58,000 people; and,
  • completed action on 207,000 cases 1.

Based on the progress made since October we believe we are on track to complete work on the majority of the original 320,000 cases by April 2019 (Phase 1). Unfortunately, some cases where the claimant sadly died prior to the exercise starting, are taking a significant period of time to resolve due to difficulties in identifying the next of kin or executors. There are around 20,000 deceased cases included in Phase 1 that require review. While we continue to progress this work, we expect that the Department will need until the end of 2019 to complete these cases.

Following our announcement in July 2018 that we will review and pay cases back to the date they were converted from incapacity benefits to ESA, we are reviewing a further 250,000 cases (Phase 2), as set out in October. Activity in respect of this group is due to start shortly, and we aim to complete Phase 2 by the end of this year.

The cases included in this exercise were largely converted between 2011 and 2014. Revised operational guidance was put in place in October 2014 after individual cases that had been incorrectly converted came to light. As part of our commitment to correct all cases affected by this error, we decided to undertake additional testing of cases converted in 2015. This testing has shown that the error rate did not improve as quickly as expected and we therefore believe that it is prudent to review around a further 30,000 cases, that were converted from 2015 onwards. This reflects our commitment to ensure all those who may have been affected are identified and paid the arrears they are due.

The Department is publishing an updated ad hoc statistical publication today setting out further detail on the progress it has made in processing cases, including an updated estimate on forecast expenditure and the numbers affected. This will be published on Gov.uk.

These updated forecasts will feed into the Spring Statement 2019. The Department now estimates that around 600,000 cases require review and that by the end of the exercise around 210,000 arrears payments will have been made. The increase, compared to our previous estimate of 180,000, is based on assumptions made using evidence we have gathered from the checking exercise to date. The data shows an increase in the proportion of cases in error among some groups of claimants. In addition, based on sample testing we have also included an assumption of the proportion of errors likely to be identified in the further 30,000 cases that have been added to the exercise.

An updated Frequently Asked Question guide will also be deposited in the House library for further information.

1Some of these cases which were originally completed prior to our announcement in July 2018 that we will review and pay cases back to the date they were converted from incapacity benefits to ESA, will require further action.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1348
WS
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 21 February 2019
Made by: Steve Brine (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health and Primary Care)
Commons

Charges for NHS prescriptions, wigs and fabric supports

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Lords) (Baroness Blackwood) has made the following written statement:

Regulations will shortly be laid before Parliament to increase certain National Health Service charges in England from 1 April 2019.

In the 2015 Spending Review, the government committed to support the Five Year Forward View with £10 billion investment in real terms by 2020-21 to fund frontline NHS services. Alongside this, the government expects the NHS to deliver £22 billion of efficiency savings to secure the best value from NHS resources and Primary Care must play its part.

This year, therefore, we have increased the prescription charge by 20 pence from £8.80 to £9 for each medicine or appliance dispensed. To ensure that those with the greatest need, and who are not already exempt from the charge, are protected, we have frozen the cost of the prescription pre-payment certificates (PPC) for another year. The 3 month PPC remains at £29.10 and the cost of the annual PPC will stay at £104. Taken together, this means prescription charge income is expected to rise broadly in line with inflation. Charges for wigs and fabric supports will also be increased in line with inflation. Details of the revised charges for 2019-20 can be found in the table below:

Charge from 1 April 2019 (£)

Prescription Charges

Single Charge

£9.00

3 month PPC (no change)

£29.10

12 month PPC (no change)

£104.00

Wigs and Fabric Supports

Surgical Brassiere

£29.50

Abdominal or spinal support

£44.55

Stock modacrylic wig

£72.80

Partial human hair wig

£192.85

Full bespoke human hair wig

£282.00

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1315
WS
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 21 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Lords))
Lords

Publication of consultation response: extension of legal rights to personal health budgets and integrated personal budgets

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Care (Caroline Dinenage) has made the following written statement:

Today I am publishing the joint response from Government and NHS England to a recent consultation exploring extending legal rights to personal health budgets and integrated personal budgets. The response is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/personal-health-budgets-and-integrated-personal-budgets-extending-legal-rights, and a copy has also been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

Across the health and social care system, there is an ever-growing shift towards personalising care, including an increasing amount of people choosing to take on a budget. It is clear that people value being involved in the planning of their care, being able to make choices, and personalise their support in a way that best meets their bespoke needs. The evidence is clear; through personalised care, people are more satisfied, have better outcomes, and are able to explore more innovative approaches that better meet their individual needs.

The Government is therefore committed to increasing the extent to which people can exercise greater choice and control over their care. Personal health budgets, and all other features of a personalised care approach as set out within the Comprehensive Model of Personalised Care, including shared decision making and personalised care and support planning, are the key mechanisms for delivering this change.

Given this commitment, we consulted on potentially extending the legal rights to personal health budgets and integrated personal budgets, to the following five groups:

  • People with ongoing social care needs, who also make regular and ongoing use of relevant NHS services.
  • People eligible for Section 117 aftercare services and people of all ages with ongoing mental health needs who make regular and ongoing use of community based NHS mental health services.
  • People leaving the Armed Forces, who are eligible for ongoing NHS services.
  • People with a learning disability, autism or both, who are eligible for ongoing NHS care.
  • People who access wheelchair services whose posture and mobility needs impact their wider health and social care needs.

The outcome of the consultation was hugely positive, with 87% of respondents, on average, agreeing with each proposal made. At the same time, respondents outlined their positivity for personalised care more broadly, citing the positive impacts personalised care can bring to people’s lives.

We are committed to delivering an ambitious package of personalised care, that will enable up to five million people to benefit in the next decade. As part of this ambition, we now intend to take forward work to extend the legal rights to people eligible for Section 117 aftercare services, and people who access wheelchair services, whose posture and mobility needs impact their wider health and social care needs. We will also continue to further explore both the other groups we consulted on, and additional groups who we believe could also benefit from having a right to have a personal health budget.

We want personalised care to become business as usual; and the ambitious package set out in this response, the NHS Long Term Plan, and Universal Personalised Care will enable us to do this.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1349
WS
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 21 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Lords))
Lords

Charges for NHS prescriptions, wigs and fabric supports

Regulations will shortly be laid before Parliament to increase certain National Health Service charges in England from 1 April 2019.

In the 2015 Spending Review, the government committed to support the Five Year Forward View with £10 billion investment in real terms by 2020-21 to fund frontline NHS services. Alongside this, the government expects the NHS to deliver £22 billion of efficiency savings to secure the best value from NHS resources and Primary Care must play its part.

This year, therefore, we have increased the prescription charge by 20 pence from £8.80 to £9 for each medicine or appliance dispensed. To ensure that those with the greatest need, and who are not already exempt from the charge, are protected, we have frozen the cost of the prescription pre-payment certificates (PPC) for another year. The 3 month PPC remains at £29.10 and the cost of the annual PPC will stay at £104. Taken together, this means prescription charge income is expected to rise broadly in line with inflation. Charges for wigs and fabric supports will also be increased in line with inflation. Details of the revised charges for 2019-20 can be found in the table below:

Charge from 1 April 2019 (£)

Prescription Charges

Single Charge

£9.00

3 month PPC (no change)

£29.10

12 month PPC (no change)

£104.00

Wigs and Fabric Supports

Surgical Brassiere

£29.50

Abdominal or spinal support

£44.55

Stock modacrylic wig

£72.80

Partial human hair wig

£192.85

Full bespoke human hair wig

£282.00

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1350
WS
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 21 February 2019
Made by: Caroline Dinenage (Minister of State for Care)
Commons

Publication of consultation response: extension of legal rights to personal health budgets and integrated personal budgets

Today I am publishing the joint response from Government and NHS England to a recent consultation exploring extending legal rights to personal health budgets and integrated personal budgets. The response is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/personal-health-budgets-and-integrated-personal-budgets-extending-legal-rights, and a copy has also been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

Across the health and social care system, there is an ever-growing shift towards personalising care, including an increasing amount of people choosing to take on a budget. It is clear that people value being involved in the planning of their care, being able to make choices, and personalise their support in a way that best meets their bespoke needs. The evidence is clear; through personalised care, people are more satisfied, have better outcomes, and are able to explore more innovative approaches that better meet their individual needs.

The Government is therefore committed to increasing the extent to which people can exercise greater choice and control over their care. Personal health budgets, and all other features of a personalised care approach as set out within the Comprehensive Model of Personalised Care, including shared decision making and personalised care and support planning, are the key mechanisms for delivering this change.

Given this commitment, we consulted on potentially extending the legal rights to personal health budgets and integrated personal budgets, to the following five groups:

  • People with ongoing social care needs, who also make regular and ongoing use of relevant NHS services.
  • People eligible for Section 117 aftercare services and people of all ages with ongoing mental health needs who make regular and ongoing use of community based NHS mental health services.
  • People leaving the Armed Forces, who are eligible for ongoing NHS services.
  • People with a learning disability, autism or both, who are eligible for ongoing NHS care.
  • People who access wheelchair services whose posture and mobility needs impact their wider health and social care needs.

The outcome of the consultation was hugely positive, with 87% of respondents, on average, agreeing with each proposal made. At the same time, respondents outlined their positivity for personalised care more broadly, citing the positive impacts personalised care can bring to people’s lives.

We are committed to delivering an ambitious package of personalised care, that will enable up to five million people to benefit in the next decade. As part of this ambition, we now intend to take forward work to extend the legal rights to people eligible for Section 117 aftercare services, and people who access wheelchair services, whose posture and mobility needs impact their wider health and social care needs. We will also continue to further explore both the other groups we consulted on, and additional groups who we believe could also benefit from having a right to have a personal health budget.

We want personalised care to become business as usual; and the ambitious package set out in this response, the NHS Long Term Plan, and Universal Personalised Care will enable us to do this.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1316
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 21 February 2019
Made by: Sarah Newton (Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work)
Commons

Employment and Support Allowance

This Written Statement is a fifth update to the House on progress in reviewing and, where necessary, correcting past Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) underpayments and paying arrears following conversion from previous incapacity benefits.

Since my last update to the House in October 2018 we have made significant progress. Due to the complex nature of these cases they take considerably longer than the average ESA case to complete. To ensure we make rapid and accurate progress we have therefore increased the number of staff working on putting these cases right from around 400 to approximately 1,200. This additional resource has led to a substantial increase in the number of cases that we have reviewed, corrected and paid arrears where due.

We have made good progress and by 11 February had:

  • started 310,000 claimants on the reassessment journey;
  • paid arrears of over £328 million to 58,000 people; and,
  • completed action on 207,000 cases 1.

Based on the progress made since October we believe we are on track to complete work on the majority of the original 320,000 cases by April 2019 (Phase 1). Unfortunately, some cases where the claimant sadly died prior to the exercise starting, are taking a significant period of time to resolve due to difficulties in identifying the next of kin or executors. There are around 20,000 deceased cases included in Phase 1 that require review. While we continue to progress this work, we expect that the Department will need until the end of 2019 to complete these cases.

Following our announcement in July 2018 that we will review and pay cases back to the date they were converted from incapacity benefits to ESA, we are reviewing a further 250,000 cases (Phase 2), as set out in October. Activity in respect of this group is due to start shortly, and we aim to complete Phase 2 by the end of this year.

The cases included in this exercise were largely converted between 2011 and 2014. Revised operational guidance was put in place in October 2014 after individual cases that had been incorrectly converted came to light. As part of our commitment to correct all cases affected by this error, we decided to undertake additional testing of cases converted in 2015. This testing has shown that the error rate did not improve as quickly as expected and we therefore believe that it is prudent to review around a further 30,000 cases, that were converted from 2015 onwards. This reflects our commitment to ensure all those who may have been affected are identified and paid the arrears they are due.

The Department is publishing an updated ad hoc statistical publication today setting out further detail on the progress it has made in processing cases, including an updated estimate on forecast expenditure and the numbers affected. This will be published on Gov.uk.

These updated forecasts will feed into the Spring Statement 2019. The Department now estimates that around 600,000 cases require review and that by the end of the exercise around 210,000 arrears payments will have been made. The increase, compared to our previous estimate of 180,000, is based on assumptions made using evidence we have gathered from the checking exercise to date. The data shows an increase in the proportion of cases in error among some groups of claimants. In addition, based on sample testing we have also included an assumption of the proportion of errors likely to be identified in the further 30,000 cases that have been added to the exercise.

An updated Frequently Asked Question guide will also be deposited in the House library for further information.

1Some of these cases which were originally completed prior to our announcement in July 2018 that we will review and pay cases back to the date they were converted from incapacity benefits to ESA, will require further action.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1317
WS
Treasury
Made on: 20 February 2019
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (The Chief Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Public Service Pension Indexation and Revaluation 2019

Legislation governing public service pensions requires them to be increased annually by the same percentage as additional pensions (State Earnings Related Pension and State Second Pension). Public service pensions will therefore be increased from 8 April 2019 by 2.4 per cent, in line with the annual increase in the Consumer Prices Index up to September 2018, except for those public service pensions which have been in payment for less than a year, which will receive a pro-rata increase.

Separately, in the new career average public service pension schemes, pensions in accrual are revalued annually in relation to either prices or earnings depending on the terms specified in their scheme regulations. The Public Service Pensions Act 2013 requires HMT to specify a measure of prices and of earnings to be used for revaluation by these schemes.

The prices measure is the Consumer Prices Index up to September 2018. Public service schemes which rely on a measure of prices, therefore, will use the figure of 2.4 per cent for the prices element of revaluation.

The earnings measure is the Whole Economy Average Weekly Earnings (non-seasonally adjusted and including bonuses and arrears) up to September 2018. Public service schemes which rely on a measure of earnings, therefore, will use the figure of 2.8 per cent for the earnings element of revaluation.

Revaluation is one part of the amount of pension that members earn in a year and needs to be considered in conjunction with the amount of in year accrual. Typically, schemes with lower revaluation will have faster accrual and therefore members will earn more pension per year. The following list shows how the main public service schemes will be affected by revaluation:

Scheme

Police

Fire

Civil

Service

NHS

Teachers

LGPS

Armed

Forces

Judicial

Revaluation for active member

3.65%

2.8%

2.4%

3.9%

4.0%

2.4%

2.8%

2.4%

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1314
WS
Treasury
Made on: 20 February 2019
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Public Service Pension Indexation and Revaluation 2019

My right honourable friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Elizabeth Truss) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Legislation governing public service pensions requires them to be increased annually by the same percentage as additional pensions (State Earnings Related Pension and State Second Pension). Public service pensions will therefore be increased from 8 April 2019 by 2.4 per cent, in line with the annual increase in the Consumer Prices Index up to September 2018, except for those public service pensions which have been in payment for less than a year, which will receive a pro-rata increase.

Separately, in the new career average public service pension schemes, pensions in accrual are revalued annually in relation to either prices or earnings depending on the terms specified in their scheme regulations. The Public Service Pensions Act 2013 requires HMT to specify a measure of prices and of earnings to be used for revaluation by these schemes.

The prices measure is the Consumer Prices Index up to September 2018. Public service schemes which rely on a measure of prices, therefore, will use the figure of 2.4 per cent for the prices element of revaluation.

The earnings measure is the Whole Economy Average Weekly Earnings (non-seasonally adjusted and including bonuses and arrears) up to September 2018. Public service schemes which rely on a measure of earnings, therefore, will use the figure of 2.8 per cent for the earnings element of revaluation.

Revaluation is one part of the amount of pension that members earn in a year and needs to be considered in conjunction with the amount of in year accrual. Typically, schemes with lower revaluation will have faster accrual and therefore members will earn more pension per year. The following list shows how the main public service schemes will be affected by revaluation:

Scheme

Police

Fire

Civil

Service

NHS

Teachers

LGPS

Armed

Forces

Judicial

Revaluation for active member

3.65%

2.8%

2.4%

3.9%

4.0%

2.4%

2.8%

2.4%

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 20 February 2019
Made by: James Brokenshire (Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Local Government update

On 28 January, I announced £56.5 million of new funding to help councils prepare for Brexit as set out in a Written Ministerial Statement on local government Brexit funding. Part of that funding was £1.5 million in 2018/19 to local authorities facing immediate impacts from local ports.

I am today able to announce an increase of this funding from £1.5 million to £3.14 million. Its distribution to local authorities is set out in Table 1 below. This additional funding will support those authorities to plan and better mitigate against potential disruptions once we have exited the EU.

The funding will be divided between 19 district and unitary councils. These allocations are based on recent analysis and engagement and reflect a range of issues including the amount of EU goods managed and the wider strategic importance of these ports.

As part of the 28 January announcement, I retained £10 million for allocation during 2019/20 to respond to specific local costs that may only become evident in the months after we exit the EU. I will look carefully at any pressures which should be funded, including any emerging pressures relating to port functions or wider impacts on port areas.

Table 1: Allocation of funding to authorities

Port

Authority

Allocation (£)

1.Port of Dover

1. Dover

136,362

2. Folkestone and Hythe

136,362

2. Eurotunnel

Dover

136,362

Folkestone and Hythe

136,362

3. Ramsgate

3. Thanet

136,362

4. Goole

4. East Riding of Yorkshire

136,362

5. Hull

5. Hull City

136,362

6. Grimsby

6. North East Lincolnshire

136,362

7. Immingham (DBP, DfDS and C. Ro)

North East Lincolnshire

136,362

8. Portsmouth

7. Portsmouth City

136,362

9. Southampton General

8. Southampton City

136,362

10. Southampton Container

Southampton City

136,362

11. Ashford

9. Ashford

136,362

12. Ebbsfleet

10. Gravesham

136,362

11. Dartford

136,362

13. St Pancras

12. Camden

136,362

14. Manchester Airport

13. Manchester City

136,362

15. East Midlands Airport

14. North West Leicestershire

136,362

16. Stansted Airport

15. Uttlesford

136,362

17. Heathrow Airport

16. Hillingdon

136,362

18. Gatwick Airport

17. Crawley

136,362

19. Harwich

18. Tendring

136,362

20. Felixstowe

19. Suffolk Coastal

136,362

Total funding of £3,136,326.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1313
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 20 February 2019
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Local Government update

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

On 28 January, I announced £56.5 million of new funding to help councils prepare for Brexit as set out in a Written Ministerial Statement on local government Brexit funding. Part of that funding was £1.5 million in 2018/19 to local authorities facing immediate impacts from local ports.

I am today able to announce an increase of this funding from £1.5m to £3.14m. Its distribution to local authorities is set out in Table 1 below. This additional funding will support those authorities to plan and better mitigate against potential disruptions once we have exited the EU.

The funding will be divided between 19 district and unitary councils. These allocations are based on recent analysis and engagement and reflect a range of issues including the amount of EU goods managed and the wider strategic importance of these ports.

As part of the 28 January announcement, I retained £10 million for allocation during 2019/20 to respond to specific local costs that may only become evident in the months after we exit the EU. I will look carefully at any pressures which should be funded, including any emerging pressures relating to port functions or wider impacts on port areas.

Table 1: Allocation of funding to authorities

Port

Authority

Allocation (£)

1.Port of Dover

1. Dover

136,362

2. Folkestone and Hythe

136,362

2. Eurotunnel

Dover

136,362

Folkestone and Hythe

136,362

3. Ramsgate

3. Thanet

136,362

4. Goole

4. East Riding of Yorkshire

136,362

5. Hull

5. Hull City

136,362

6. Grimsby

6. North East Lincolnshire

136,362

7. Immingham (DBP, DfDS and C. Ro)

North East Lincolnshire

136,362

8. Portsmouth

7. Portsmouth City

136,362

9. Southampton General

8. Southampton City

136,362

10. Southampton Container

Southampton City

136,362

11. Ashford

9. Ashford

136,362

12. Ebbsfleet

10. Gravesham

136,362

11. Dartford

136,362

13. St Pancras

12. Camden

136,362

14. Manchester Airport

13. Manchester City

136,362

15. East Midlands Airport

14. North West Leicestershire

136,362

16. Stansted Airport

15. Uttlesford

136,362

17. Heathrow Airport

16. Hillingdon

136,362

18. Gatwick Airport

17. Crawley

136,362

19. Harwich

18. Tendring

136,362

20. Felixstowe

19. Suffolk Coastal

136,362

Total funding of £3,136,326.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1346
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 20 February 2019
Made by: Lord Young of Cookham (Lord in Waiting (Government Whip))
Lords

Reforms to Government Outsourcing

My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

Following Carillion’s liquidation in January 2018, the Government’s response ensured continuity of key public services. However, there has been increased scrutiny on the benefits and risks associated with the use of private sector to deliver public services. In light of this, we have been reviewing our outsourcing processes and considering lessons learned.

The review concluded that outsourcing, done well, can deliver significant benefits. It delivers economies of scale that mean services can be provided more efficiently, at lower cost and at better value for the taxpayer. Open and fair competition within free markets encourages creativity and innovation, meaning fresh perspectives and new solutions can be applied to existing policy challenges.

However, it also highlighted that we need to take steps to improve public service outcomes from outsourcing, increase our resilience to supplier failure and rebuild public trust in outsourcing. Today, I am pleased to announce that we have published new guidance for officials that will help government to work smarter with industry, set up contracts up for success and build a more diverse supplier base. These are:

  • Outsourcing Playbook and associated guidance - This will allow departments to make good outsourcing decisions, achieve value for money when outsourcing, and is aimed at everyone involved in the outsourcing of a public service.
  • Supplier Code of Conduct - We have reviewed and updated the Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure that it not only set out the behaviours taxpayers expect of Central Government's suppliers but includes what suppliers should expect of government.
  • Guidance on Corporate Financial Distress which suggests practical steps to take where contract managers have concerns over a supplier's financial health.

The principles of the “Outsourcing Playbook” will apply to all government outsourcing with a particular focus on complex first generation projects and subsequent generations where the service is being delivered in a different or novel way. The eleven key policies published today in the Playbook will ensure that the government gets more projects right from the start. It will promote a diverse and healthy marketplace - and we will have ‘living wills’ in the unlikely event of things going wrong.

In order to ensure that we take into account the wider social benefits to be derived from government contracts, we are extending the requirements of the Social Value Act in central government so that all major procurements will explicitly evaluate social value, where appropriate, rather than just consider it.

The Public Accounts Committee recommended that we review our approach to managing current strategic supplier risk. The revised approach will see the introduction of a new Memorandum of Understanding between the Cabinet Office and Strategic Suppliers that reflects a more mature relationship with industry, and provides greater flexibility in how Government manages situations.

In order to build the capability within Departments to outsource effectively and manage outsourced contracts, we are undertaking a programme to accredit and train 30,000 contract managers across the Civil Service by the end of 2021.

Taken together, the measures in this reform package is key to delivering value for money for taxpayers when services are outsourced, strengthening our resilience to supplier failure and rebuilding public trust in outsourcing.

A copy of the Outsourcing Playbook, Financial Distress Guidance and Supplier Code of Conduct have been placed in the library of both Houses.

WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 20 February 2019
Made by: Mr David Lidington (The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office)
Commons

Reforms to Government Outsourcing

Following Carillion’s liquidation in January 2018, the Government’s response ensured continuity of key public services. However, there has been increased scrutiny on the benefits and risks associated with the use of private sector to deliver public services. In light of this, we have been reviewing our outsourcing processes and considering lessons learned.

The review concluded that outsourcing, done well, can deliver significant benefits. It delivers economies of scale that mean services can be provided more efficiently, at lower cost and at better value for the taxpayer. Open and fair competition within free markets encourages creativity and innovation, meaning fresh perspectives and new solutions can be applied to existing policy challenges.

However, it also highlighted that we need to take steps to improve public service outcomes from outsourcing, increase our resilience to supplier failure and rebuild public trust in outsourcing. Today, I am pleased to announce that we have published new guidance for officials that will help government to work smarter with industry, set up contracts up for success and build a more diverse supplier base. These are:

  • Outsourcing Playbook and associated guidance - This will allow departments to make good outsourcing decisions, achieve value for money when outsourcing, and is aimed at everyone involved in the outsourcing of a public service.
  • Supplier Code of Conduct - We have reviewed and updated the Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure that it not only set out the behaviours taxpayers expect of Central Government's suppliers but includes what suppliers should expect of government.
  • Guidance on Corporate Financial Distress which suggests practical steps to take where contract managers have concerns over a supplier's financial health.

The principles of the “Outsourcing Playbook” will apply to all government outsourcing with a particular focus on complex first generation projects and subsequent generations where the service is being delivered in a different or novel way. The eleven key policies published today in the Playbook will ensure that the government gets more projects right from the start. It will promote a diverse and healthy marketplace - and we will have ‘living wills’ in the unlikely event of things going wrong.

In order to ensure that we take into account the wider social benefits to be derived from government contracts, we are extending the requirements of the Social Value Act in central government so that all major procurements will explicitly evaluate social value, where appropriate, rather than just consider it.

The Public Accounts Committee recommended that we review our approach to managing current strategic supplier risk. The revised approach will see the introduction of a new Memorandum of Understanding between the Cabinet Office and Strategic Suppliers that reflects a more mature relationship with industry, and provides greater flexibility in how Government manages situations.

In order to build the capability within Departments to outsource effectively and manage outsourced contracts, we are undertaking a programme to accredit and train 30,000 contract managers across the Civil Service by the end of 2021.

Taken together, the measures in this reform package is key to delivering value for money for taxpayers when services are outsourced, strengthening our resilience to supplier failure and rebuilding public trust in outsourcing.

A copy of the Outsourcing Playbook, Financial Distress Guidance and Supplier Code of Conduct have been placed in the library of both Houses.

WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 20 February 2019
Made by: Jesse Norman (Minister of State for Transport)
Commons

Drones: National campaign and extended ‘no fly’ zone around airports

My Noble Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport (Baroness Sugg) has made the following Ministerial Statement

Today I am setting out the Government’s recent action on drones, including legislative amendments to the Air Navigation Order 2016 that will be laid before Parliament today.

Last year, the Government legislated to make flying drones above 400ft or within 1km of an airport boundary illegal. This 1km restriction measure was a first step in protecting our airports and aircraft whilst the Department gathered further evidence and engaged with stakeholders through our recent consultation.

The highly irresponsible and dangerous disruption caused by drones to flights at Gatwick and Heathrow airports recently highlighted the risks. While the use of drones at Gatwick and Heathrow was already illegal, it is extremely important that regulation provides protection which reduces, as much as possible, the airspace where drones and manned aircraft can come into close proximity with each other. Therefore, the Government has decided to extend the restriction zone around airports, as announced to Parliament in January.

The amendment laid today will put into law the extension of the restriction zone around protected aerodromes where drones cannot be flown without permission. The new restriction zone will include an airport’s aerodrome traffic zone (ATZ) as well as 5km by 1km extensions from the end of runways to protect take-off and landing paths. All drones will be restricted from flying within this zone unless appropriate permission is granted.

The extended restriction zone will come into force on the 13th March this year.

In addition to legislation, it is crucial that the public are aware of the rules on the use of drones, so today we are expanding our national campaign, in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority, to boost public awareness.

The Department for Transport has today written to airports and local authorities asking them to publicise the new rules and to help to educate passengers and the public about responsible drone use. To help with this, the Department is providing a digital tool kit to explain the rules simply and clearly and to promote the Civil Aviation Authority’s Drone Safe campaign and Drone Code guidance. This includes maps detailing the new restriction zones at each individual airport.

The Government is preparing a new Drones Bill, which will give police powers to clamp down on those misusing drones and other small unmanned aircraft, including a power to access electronic data stored on drones with a warrant. In addition, the Home Office is also today announcing new stop and search powers for drones around aerodromes, which will also be included in the Bill.

These enforcement powers will complement legislation introduced last year which will require the mandatory registration of operators and the online competency testing of remote pilots for drones over 250g. These requirements will become a legal obligation in November this year and work with the new police powers to increase accountability and clamp down on irresponsible and dangerous behaviour.

The Home Office is further reviewing the UK’s response to the malicious use of drones, and will consider how best to protect the full range of the UK’s critical national infrastructure, as well as testing and evaluating technology to counter drones.

The Government will continue to work closely with industry and other partners on regulation, anticipating future innovations wherever possible in order to keep our airports secure and our airspace safe.

These actions will help to combat the misuse of drones, so that small unmanned aircraft can be used safely and securely, and continue to support the development and growth of this rapidly expanding new industry.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1310
WS
Home Office
Made on: 20 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Police Powers

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

Today I am announcing new stop and search powers for police to tackle acid attacks and the misuse of drones.

These new powers are being announced in response to the recent public consultation on extending stop and search to address the criminal misuse of unmanned aircraft (drones), laser pointers and corrosive substances.

Stop and search is an important tool for the police to prevent, detect and investigate offences, including some of the most violent and devastating, thereby helping the police to protect and safeguard the public. The use of stop and search, when proportionate, lawful, and intelligence-led, is an integral part of the policing response in tackling serious violence, and in preventing and deterring people from carrying weapons. However, it is also important that when stop and search is used it is done effectively, professionally, and, as far as possible, with community consent.

The Offensive Weapons Bill, which is currently before Parliament, will introduce the offence of possession of a corrosive substance in a public place and provisions to extend stop and search powers to cover this offence. The use of corrosive substances as a weapon can cause significant harm and injury to individuals, families and communities and we are determined to take strong action in order to prevent these horrendous attacks.

Following the incident at Gatwick Airport, the Government has been working closely with the police to examine whether they have the necessary powers to respond should the misuse of a drone cause widespread disruption to the operation of an aerodrome. The police have been clear that in certain circumstances, a power to stop and search a person in relation to offences concerning flying a drone within the restriction zone of a licensed aerodrome would enhance their ability to respond should a similar situation arise in the future. We consider such a power to be proportionate and beneficial in enabling the police to tackle incidents causing widespread disruption to the operation of aerodromes and the Government will continue to work with the police to define the detailed scope of this power.

In addition, the Government is working closely with the police to examine whether they have the appropriate powers to respond effectively to other offences, including around prisons, that might be committed using a drone. If this work reveals further meaningful operational gaps, the Government will take further legislative action.

The Government will also keep under review the adequacy of the existing powers to tackle offences related to the misuse of laser pointers.

I am grateful to the 223 individuals and organisations that responded to the consultation, including members of the public, the police service and other interested parties.

I am placing a copy of the Government response to the consultation in the House Libraries and on GOV.UK.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1343
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 20 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Sugg (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport)
Lords

Drones: National campaign and extended ‘no fly’ zone around airports

Today I am setting out the Government’s recent action on drones, including legislative amendments to the Air Navigation Order 2016 that will be laid before Parliament today.

Last year, the Government legislated to make flying drones above 400ft or within 1km of an airport boundary illegal. This 1km restriction measure was a first step in protecting our airports and aircraft whilst the Department gathered further evidence and engaged with stakeholders through our recent consultation.

The highly irresponsible and dangerous disruption caused by drones to flights at Gatwick and Heathrow airports recently highlighted the risks. While the use of drones at Gatwick and Heathrow was already illegal, it is extremely important that regulation provides protection which reduces, as much as possible, the airspace where drones and manned aircraft can come into close proximity with each other. Therefore, the Government has decided to extend the restriction zone around airports, as announced to Parliament in January.

The amendment laid today will put into law the extension of the restriction zone around protected aerodromes where drones cannot be flown without permission. The new restriction zone will include an airport’s aerodrome traffic zone (ATZ) as well as 5km by 1km extensions from the end of runways to protect take-off and landing paths. All drones will be restricted from flying within this zone unless appropriate permission is granted.

The extended restriction zone will come into force on the 13th March this year.

In addition to legislation, it is crucial that the public are aware of the rules on the use of drones, so today we are expanding our national campaign, in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority, to boost public awareness.

The Department for Transport has today written to airports and local authorities asking them to publicise the new rules and to help to educate passengers and the public about responsible drone use. To help with this, the Department is providing a digital tool kit to explain the rules simply and clearly and to promote the Civil Aviation Authority’s Drone Safe campaign and Drone Code guidance. This includes maps detailing the new restriction zones at each individual airport.

The Government is preparing a new Drones Bill, which will give police powers to clamp down on those misusing drones and other small unmanned aircraft, including a power to access electronic data stored on drones with a warrant. In addition, the Home Office is also today announcing new stop and search powers for drones around aerodromes, which will also be included in the Bill.

These enforcement powers will complement legislation introduced last year which will require the mandatory registration of operators and the online competency testing of remote pilots for drones over 250g. These requirements will become a legal obligation in November this year and work with the new police powers to increase accountability and clamp down on irresponsible and dangerous behaviour.

The Home Office is further reviewing the UK’s response to the malicious use of drones, and will consider how best to protect the full range of the UK’s critical national infrastructure, as well as testing and evaluating technology to counter drones.

The Government will continue to work closely with industry and other partners on regulation, anticipating future innovations wherever possible in order to keep our airports secure and our airspace safe.

These actions will help to combat the misuse of drones, so that small unmanned aircraft can be used safely and securely, and continue to support the development and growth of this rapidly expanding new industry.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1344
WS
Home Office
Made on: 20 February 2019
Made by: Sajid Javid (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Commons

Police Powers

Today I am announcing new stop and search powers for police to tackle acid attacks and the misuse of drones.

These new powers are being announced in response to the recent public consultation on extending stop and search to address the criminal misuse of unmanned aircraft (drones), laser pointers and corrosive substances.

Stop and search is an important tool for the police to prevent, detect and investigate offences, including some of the most violent and devastating, thereby helping the police to protect and safeguard the public. The use of stop and search, when proportionate, lawful, and intelligence-led, is an integral part of the policing response in tackling serious violence, and in preventing and deterring people from carrying weapons. However, it is also important that when stop and search is used it is done effectively, professionally, and, as far as possible, with community consent.

The Offensive Weapons Bill, which is currently before Parliament, will introduce the offence of possession of a corrosive substance in a public place and provisions to extend stop and search powers to cover this offence. The use of corrosive substances as a weapon can cause significant harm and injury to individuals, families and communities and we are determined to take strong action in order to prevent these horrendous attacks.

Following the incident at Gatwick Airport, the Government has been working closely with the police to examine whether they have the necessary powers to respond should the misuse of a drone cause widespread disruption to the operation of an aerodrome. The police have been clear that in certain circumstances, a power to stop and search a person in relation to offences concerning flying a drone within the restriction zone of a licensed aerodrome would enhance their ability to respond should a similar situation arise in the future. We consider such a power to be proportionate and beneficial in enabling the police to tackle incidents causing widespread disruption to the operation of aerodromes and the Government will continue to work with the police to define the detailed scope of this power.

In addition, the Government is working closely with the police to examine whether they have the appropriate powers to respond effectively to other offences, including around prisons, that might be committed using a drone. If this work reveals further meaningful operational gaps, the Government will take further legislative action.

The Government will also keep under review the adequacy of the existing powers to tackle offences related to the misuse of laser pointers.

I am grateful to the 223 individuals and organisations that responded to the consultation, including members of the public, the police service and other interested parties.

I am placing a copy of the Government response to the consultation in the House Libraries and on GOV.UK.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1311
WS
Treasury
Made on: 19 February 2019
Made by: Mr Philip Hammond (The Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Commons

ECOFIN: 12 February 2019

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 12 February 2019. The UK was represented by Mark Bowman (Director General, International Finance, HM Treasury). The Council discussed the following:

Early Morning Session

The Eurogroup President briefed the Council on the outcomes of the 11 February meeting of the Eurogroup, and the European Commission provided an update on the current economic situation in the EU.

European Central Bank - Executive Board Member

The Council endorsed the appointment of Philip Lane as a new member of the European Central Bank executive board.

European System of Financial Supervision Review

The Council agreed a General Approach on the review of the European system of financial supervision.

Current Financial Services Legislative Proposals

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

Decision Making in EU Taxation Policy

The Council held an exchange of views on the European Commission’s proposal to move to Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in EU taxation policy.

Fiscal Sustainability Report

The Council adopted Council conclusions on the 2018 Fiscal Sustainability Report.

Discharge of the EU Budget

The Council approved a Council recommendation to the European Parliament to discharge the Commission of the implementation of the 2017 EU budget.

EU Budget Guidelines

The Council adopted Council conclusions on the EU Budget guidelines for 2020.

AOB – Carbon Pricing and Aviation Tax

Following a presentation by the Netherlands, the Council held an exchange of views on carbon pricing and aviation tax.




This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1308
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 19 February 2019
Made by: Kit Malthouse (Minister of State for Housing)
Commons

Planning update

The National Planning Policy Framework is fundamental to delivering the homes and other development that we need, achieving high quality places and protecting our environment.

Last year we published a revised Framework, which implemented a range of reforms to help make planning more predictable and transparent, drive up quality and support delivery.

A consultation on further updates to the Framework and associated planning guidance ran from 26 October to 7 December 2018, and the Government is grateful to everyone who responded. Having considered those responses, we are making very minor changes to the text of the Framework, which are reflected in an updated version being published today. A copy of the revised Framework is available on the Department’s web site, alongside our response to the consultation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1309
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 19 February 2019
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Planning update

My Hon Friend, the Minister of State for Housing (Kit Malthouse) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The National Planning Policy Framework is fundamental to delivering the homes and other development that we need, achieving high quality places and protecting our environment.

Last year we published a revised Framework, which implemented a range of reforms to help make planning more predictable and transparent, drive up quality and support delivery.

A consultation on further updates to the Framework and associated planning guidance ran from 26 October to 7 December 2018, and the Government is grateful to everyone who responded. Having considered those responses, we are making very minor changes to the text of the Framework, which are reflected in an updated version being published today. A copy of the revised Framework is available on the Department’s web site, alongside our response to the consultation.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1341
WS
Treasury
Made on: 19 February 2019
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

ECOFIN: 12 February 2019

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

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) was held in Brussels on 12 February 2019. The UK was represented by Mark Bowman (Director General, International Finance, HM Treasury). The Council discussed the following:

Early Morning Session

The Eurogroup President briefed the Council on the outcomes of the 11 February meeting of the Eurogroup, and the European Commission provided an update on the current economic situation in the EU.

European Central Bank - Executive Board Member

The Council endorsed the appointment of Philip Lane as a new member of the European Central Bank executive board.

European System of Financial Supervision Review

The Council agreed a General Approach on the review of the European system of financial supervision.

Current Financial Services Legislative Proposals

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

Decision Making in EU Taxation Policy

The Council held an exchange of views on the European Commission’s proposal to move to Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in EU taxation policy.

Fiscal Sustainability Report

The Council adopted Council conclusions on the 2018 Fiscal Sustainability Report.

Discharge of the EU Budget

The Council approved a Council recommendation to the European Parliament to discharge the Commission of the implementation of the 2017 EU budget.

EU Budget Guidelines

The Council adopted Council conclusions on the EU Budget guidelines for 2020.

AOB – Carbon Pricing and Aviation Tax

Following a presentation by the Netherlands, the Council held an exchange of views on carbon pricing and aviation tax.




This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1342
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 19 February 2019
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State, Ministry of Defence)
Lords

Chemical Weapons Convention - Annual Statement of UK Protective Programme for 2017

The UK's chemical protection programme is designed to protect against the use of chemical weapons. Such a programme is permitted by the Chemical Weapons Convention, with which the United Kingdom is fully compliant. Under the terms of the Convention, we are required to provide information annually to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In accordance with the Government's commitment to openness, I am placing in the Library of the House a copy of the summary that has been provided to the Organisation outlining the UK's chemical protection programme in 2017.

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 19 February 2019
Made by: Mark Lancaster (Minister of State, Ministry of Defence)
Commons

Chemical Weapons Convention - Annual Statement of UK Protective Programme for 2017

My right hon. Friend the Minister in the House of Lords (The Rt Hon The Earl Howe PC) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The UK's chemical protection programme is designed to protect against the use of chemical weapons. Such a programme is permitted by the Chemical Weapons Convention, with which the United Kingdom is fully compliant. Under the terms of the Convention, we are required to provide information annually to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In accordance with the Government's commitment to openness, I am placing in the Library of the House a copy of the summary that has been provided to the Organisation outlining the UK's chemical protection programme in 2017.

WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 18 February 2019
Made by: Sir Alan Duncan (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs )
Commons

Hague Convention

The Government has decided to opt in to the European Commission's proposals for Council Decisions authorising the acceptance by certain Member States of the accession of named countries to the 1980 Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction, in the interests of the EU. The acceptances are as follows:

• Austria, Cyprus, Croatia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania and the United Kingdom to accept Dominican Republic;

• Austria, Luxembourg and Romania to accept Belarus and Uzbekistan;

• Austria to accept Ecuador and Ukraine;

• Austria and Romania to accept Honduras.

The UK has already accepted Belarus, Uzbekistan, Ecuador, Ukraine and Honduras and therefore these Council Decisions do not instruct the UK to take any action.

All EU Member States are party to the 1980 Hague Convention, the primary civil law international instrument which provides a mechanism to seek the prompt return of wrongfully removed or retained children to their country of habitual residence.

When a country wishes to accede to the Convention, it is necessary for an existing contracting state to accept that country's accession before the Convention can apply between them. It is the European Commission's view that there is exclusive competence on the EU for all matters relating to the 1980 Convention and that therefore Member States must be authorised by the EU to accept accessions by third countries and must do so collectively through Council decisions.

Although not anticipated in the proposals, the Government believes that the UK opt-in under the Protocol to Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union applies and it has therefore asserted its right to choose whether to opt in and has decided that it is in the UK's best interests to do so.

The Government believes that the wider significance of these proposals for external competence mean that it is in the UK's interests to participate fully in these negotiations, including having the ability to vote. These proposals must be agreed by unanimity within the EU Council.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1306
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 18 February 2019
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs )
Lords

Hague Convention

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

The Government has decided to opt in to the European Commission's proposals for Council Decisions authorising the acceptance by certain Member States of the accession of named countries to the 1980 Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction, in the interests of the EU. The acceptances are as follows:

• Austria, Cyprus, Croatia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania and the United Kingdom to accept Dominican Republic;

• Austria, Luxembourg and Romania to accept Belarus and Uzbekistan;

• Austria to accept Ecuador and Ukraine;

• Austria and Romania to accept Honduras.

The UK has already accepted Belarus, Uzbekistan, Ecuador, Ukraine and Honduras and therefore these Council Decisions do not instruct the UK to take any action.

All EU Member States are party to the 1980 Hague Convention, the primary civil law international instrument which provides a mechanism to seek the prompt return of wrongfully removed or retained children to their country of habitual residence.

When a country wishes to accede to the Convention, it is necessary for an existing contracting state to accept that country's accession before the Convention can apply between them. It is the European Commission's view that there is exclusive competence on the EU for all matters relating to the 1980 Convention and that therefore Member States must be authorised by the EU to accept accessions by third countries and must do so collectively through Council decisions.

Although not anticipated in the proposals, the Government believes that the UK opt-in under the Protocol to Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union applies and it has therefore asserted its right to choose whether to opt in and has decided that it is in the UK's best interests to do so.

The Government believes that the wider significance of these proposals for external competence mean that it is in the UK's interests to participate fully in these negotiations, including having the ability to vote. These proposals must be agreed by unanimity within the EU Council.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1339
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 18 February 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Probation update

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (David Gauke) has made the following Written Statement.

"I wish to inform the House regarding future arrangements for probation services in the South West and Wales.

The House will be aware that Community Rehabilitation Companies were set up just over four and a half years ago (with contracts awarded in December 2014). They were a new idea and part of probation reforms which extended supervision on licence each year to an additional 40,000 offenders released from prison sentences of less than 12 months. These companies do not deal with high-risk offenders – who are managed by the National Probation Service – but with low and medium risk offenders. They have been set up in a range of ways. There are 21 companies, the majority of which are private-sector owned with a range of voluntary sector third party suppliers. Their particular purpose is to work with low and medium risk offenders, supervise them, develop plans for them, and provide them with rehabilitative services, in order to reduce the reoffending rate.

On Thursday 14 February 2019, Working Links (Employment) Limited, and its three CRCs: Wales CRC, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire CRC, and Dorset, Devon and Cornwall CRC, went into administration. The Ministry of Justice has been in discussions with Working Links and has taken immediate action to ensure that probation services are fully protected in these areas. Our central priority is of course to protect the public, ensuring that we have the right supervision of offenders in place, and that probation staff are supported in their important work. We have undertaken significant work to determine the most sustainable option for future management of probation services in Wales and the South West and have transferred staff and services to Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC, which is owned by Seetec. This change has been made via a variation to Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC’s existing contract. Seetec has a good track record in Kent, Surrey and Sussex and we are satisfied that they are well-placed and well-equipped to take over these services and run them effectively. Plans have been implemented to ensure that probation staff and other key probation stakeholders are well-informed with regards to the transition.

We are also working towards more bespoke arrangements for the services in Wales, specifically that offender management services in Wales be transferred to HMPPS before the end of the current contractual period, to better dovetail with the future design for probation delivery in Wales. Our intentions are to transfer these services by the end of 2019, rather than the previously planned date of 2020, and we are currently working at pace with Seetec to accelerate this process.

We also recognise the impact of Working Links’ Administration upon its other public-sector contracts in the UK, and have been engaging with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Scottish Government. DWP will be working with Working Links and the Administrators to identify all participants of its programmes who are potentially affected to ensure appropriate advice and support is provided.

The Government continues to work to improve the effectiveness of the wider probation system. We have already taken action to stabilise and improve probation delivery. Last year, we announced we intended to end CRC contracts early and held a consultation on proposals to improve future probation services. We also agreed contractual changes with current CRCs to improve performance in key areas. We want to create a better system in future which will prevent these kinds of things happening again. We intend to better integrate public, private and third sector providers, putting in place a more stable and resilient probation system, which works effectively to protect the public and tackle reoffending. We will announce detailed plans later this year.

We know probation is vital to ensuring justice is done and the cycle of reoffending is broken. We will work closely with Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC and Seetec in the next weeks and months to ensure the continuation, stability and improvement of services."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1338
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 18 February 2019
Made by: Mr David Gauke (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Probation update

I wish to inform the House regarding future arrangements for probation services in the South West and Wales.

The House will be aware that Community Rehabilitation Companies were set up just over four and a half years ago (with contracts awarded in December 2014). They were a new idea and part of probation reforms which extended supervision on licence each year to an additional 40,000 offenders released from prison sentences of less than 12 months. These companies do not deal with high-risk offenders – who are managed by the National Probation Service – but with low and medium risk offenders. They have been set up in a range of ways. There are 21 companies, the majority of which are private-sector owned with a range of voluntary sector third party suppliers. Their particular purpose is to work with low and medium risk offenders, supervise them, develop plans for them, and provide them with rehabilitative services, in order to reduce the reoffending rate.

On Thursday 14 February 2019, Working Links (Employment) Limited, and its three CRCs: Wales CRC, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire CRC, and Dorset, Devon and Cornwall CRC, went into administration. The Ministry of Justice has been in discussions with Working Links and has taken immediate action to ensure that probation services are fully protected in these areas. Our central priority is of course to protect the public, ensuring that we have the right supervision of offenders in place, and that probation staff are supported in their important work. We have undertaken significant work to determine the most sustainable option for future management of probation services in Wales and the South West and have transferred staff and services to Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC, which is owned by Seetec. This change has been made via a variation to Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC’s existing contract. Seetec has a good track record in Kent, Surrey and Sussex and we are satisfied that they are well-placed and well-equipped to take over these services and run them effectively. Plans have been implemented to ensure that probation staff and other key probation stakeholders are well-informed with regards to the transition.

We are also working towards more bespoke arrangements for the services in Wales, specifically that offender management services in Wales be transferred to HMPPS before the end of the current contractual period, to better dovetail with the future design for probation delivery in Wales. Our intentions are to transfer these services by the end of 2019, rather than the previously planned date of 2020, and we are currently working at pace with Seetec to accelerate this process.

We also recognise the impact of Working Links’ Administration upon its other public-sector contracts in the UK, and have been engaging with the Department for Work and Pensions and the Scottish Government. DWP will be working with Working Links and the Administrators to identify all participants of its programmes who are potentially affected to ensure appropriate advice and support is provided.

The Government continues to work to improve the effectiveness of the wider probation system. We have already taken action to stabilise and improve probation delivery. Last year, we announced we intended to end CRC contracts early and held a consultation on proposals to improve future probation services. We also agreed contractual changes with current CRCs to improve performance in key areas. We want to create a better system in future which will prevent these kinds of things happening again. We intend to better integrate public, private and third sector providers, putting in place a more stable and resilient probation system, which works effectively to protect the public and tackle reoffending. We will announce detailed plans later this year.

We know probation is vital to ensuring justice is done and the cycle of reoffending is broken. We will work closely with Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC and Seetec in the next weeks and months to ensure the continuation, stability and improvement of services.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1305
WS
Leader of the House of Lords
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Lord Privy Seal)
Lords

Intelligence oversight: Government response to ISC reports

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

On 22 November 2018, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament published two reports: its 2017-18 Annual Report; and its report into the terror attacks in 2017, titled ‘The 2017 Attacks: What Needs to Change?’. Our thoughts remain with the victims and all those affected by the 2017 attacks in Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green.

Today, the Government is publishing its response to each of these reports. I am separately providing to the ISC a closed response to the redacted recommendations in the 2017 attacks report. I remain grateful to the Intelligence and Security Committee for its continued independent oversight and scrutiny.

Copies of the Government responses have been laid before both Houses.

WS
Department for International Development
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Lord Bates (Minister of State for International Development)
Lords

Ebola Virus Disease Response

My Rt Hon Friend, the Secretary of State for International Development, has today made the following statement:

Six months on from its formal declaration, the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains challenging to contain. I am updating the House on how the UK Government is continuing to support the response in DRC, and preparedness in neighbouring countries.

Since my Hon Friend the Minister of Africa’s statement on 20 November, elections have taken place in the DRC and a new President inaugurated. Disruption over the election period hindered response activities; as a result, there has been an increase in the number of new Ebola cases reported this year.

As of 12th February, there were 823 confirmed and probable cases. Of these, 517 people have died and 280 recovered. The response, ably led by the DRC authorities with international support directed by the World Health Organisation, has continued to expand and adapt. Approximately 7,000 contacts are currently under surveillance. The experimental vaccine, developed with UK aid following the 2014 West Africa outbreak, has been administered to over 78,000 people in DRC, including 21,000 health and frontline workers and 16,000 children. Let me pay tribute to all the DRC health workers and international experts who are dealing with this outbreak in very challenging circumstances.

Geographical shifts in the outbreak are testing the capacity of the response. As more health zones are affected and cases move further south, there is an increased likelihood of an outbreak in Goma, the provincial capital on the border with Rwanda. Preparedness work has been underway in Goma, including setting up case surveillance, an Ebola treatment centre and a laboratory.

The DRC government has just released its third Strategic Response Plan, which sets out plans for the next six months. It is quite possible that it will take longer for this outbreak to be fully contained. The UK is supporting the response through both funding and expertise. At the request of the DRC Government I am not announcing specific funding figures, to avoid putting first-line responders at further risk of attack. But let me restate that it is in our national interest to find ways of building resilience to such deadly diseases, preventing their international spread and saving lives. The UK has supported the response since the very start and will continue to do so for as long as it takes to curb the outbreak.

The critical challenge now is to break the chain of transmission in DRC. That means redoubling contact tracing; training and supporting health workers in infection prevention control; continuing the vaccination effort; and working with local communities so they can spot symptoms, report them and seek treatment. WHO is doing a good job in difficult circumstances to lead the international response. It has over 500 people deployed to DRC and is working closely with other parts of the UN system and with international NGOs including MSF, ALIMA and Oxfam to help the people of DRC tackle this deadly disease. Key areas we would like to see strengthened in the international response include leadership, co-ordination and analysis.

This will require sustained support. To date, the UK is one of the largest bilateral donors to the Ebola response in DRC and for regional preparedness efforts in Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. Others must now step up and I will be urging our international partners to do so.

In addition to funding, the UK has supported preparations for clinical trials of new therapeutic drugs which have started in Beni. The UK Public Health Rapid Support Team has played a major part in making this work possible. Technical experts have been deployed to eastern DRC, including two senior epidemiologists, a data scientist and a clinical trials specialist.

UK aid has provided WHO with six armoured vehicles to facilitate response work in such insecure operating environments. We are also backing efforts to understand and address the social and cultural dimensions of the outbreak, which in turn supports key interventions such as ensuring that burials in affected areas are conducted in a safe and dignified way.

There remains a significant risk of transmission to neighbouring countries and measures are being taken to prepare. For example, in Uganda, closest to the current outbreak, the government has already vaccinated over 3,500 health workers in high priority districts. Community sensitisation is also taking place.

In Rwanda, the UK is backing the government’s preparedness plans, including the training of health care workers, vaccination planning and the screening of more than 24 million people at Rwanda’s borders.

In South Sudan, UK support has led to the installation of an Ebola screening facility at Juba international airport. So far, over one million people at land and air borders have been screened. We are also helping to procure ambulances and sanitation equipment for isolation facilities.

The risk of Ebola to the UK population remains very low. Public Health England continues to monitor the situation daily and review the risk assessment on a two-weekly basis.

The UK is fully committed to containing this outbreak and to our longer-term efforts to combat deadly diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1331
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Justice and Home Affairs post-Council statement

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (David Gauke) has made the following Written Statement.

"The first meeting of EU Interior and Justice Ministers during the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU took place on 7 and 8 February 2019 in Bucharest. The Immigration Minister represented the UK on Interior day. I represented the UK on Justice day.

Interior day focused on counter-terrorism, policing co-operation, the Schengen area, and migration and asylum.

Interior day began with a discussion on the European Parliament’s report on the EU’s approach to Counter-terrorism. The Immigration Minister welcomed the European Parliament’s report in general, and emphasised areas - such as counter-radicalisation, tackling terrorist content online, addressing issues relating to returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters, and Aviation Security - where the UK considers that continued European cooperation is vital in the fight against terrorism. The Immigration Minister also welcomed the Committee’s call for close co-operation with the UK after Brexit. A number of Member States agreed, urging immediate Commission and Member State action to prepare contingency plans in case of no-deal, including a mechanism of continued information exchange. Some Member States also noted that Member States retained competence for national security, and noted concern about expanding the competence of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) at this time.

The policing discussion focused on mechanisms to share experience and expertise on gathering and analysing digital data. The Immigration Minister intervened to support proposals to explore developing means of identifying and sharing best practice on the recovery and analysis of digital information, during the course of the prevention and investigation of criminal activity. Most Member States also supported this work, and were keen for Europol to have a central role.

Over lunch and in the afternoon session, Ministers discussed the functioning of the Schengen border free zone, in the context of some Member States retaining internal borders, and wider migration and asylum issues. As the UK does not participate in the border free zone, the Immigration Minister did not intervene on the Schengen border discussion. There was discussion about the necessity of Schengen internal border controls. Ministers also discussed but did not agree on the possibility of a temporary redistribution mechanism pending reform of the Dublin asylum system.

Justice day began with a discussion on the future of civil judicial cooperation in the EU. The debate marked the twentieth anniversary of the Amsterdam Treaty and of the adoption of the Tampere Programme. Ministers reaffirmed the need to focus on the proper implementation of existing legislation before considering new measures. I emphasised the importance of a future relationship with the EU in this area.

There then followed a lunchtime discussion on gathering electronic evidence in criminal matters. Ministers discussed the mandates for negotiations to establish an agreement on access to electronic evidence (e-evidence) with the US, and with contracting parties to the Budapest Convention. I updated Ministers on progress towards an UK-US agreement under the US CLOUD Act.

Justice day ended with a discussion on the future of judicial cooperation in criminal matters in the EU. Ministers again emphasised the importance of proper implementation of legislation, and ensuring the current acquis works effectively."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1337
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Mr David Gauke (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Justice and Home Affairs post-Council statement

The first meeting of EU Interior and Justice Ministers during the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU took place on 7 and 8 February 2019 in Bucharest. The Immigration Minister represented the UK on Interior day. I represented the UK on Justice day.

Interior day focused on counter-terrorism, policing co-operation, the Schengen area, and migration and asylum.

Interior day began with a discussion on the European Parliament’s report on the EU’s approach to Counter-terrorism. The Immigration Minister welcomed the European Parliament’s report in general, and emphasised areas - such as counter-radicalisation, tackling terrorist content online, addressing issues relating to returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters, and Aviation Security - where the UK considers that continued European cooperation is vital in the fight against terrorism. The Immigration Minister also welcomed the Committee’s call for close co-operation with the UK after Brexit. A number of Member States agreed, urging immediate Commission and Member State action to prepare contingency plans in case of no-deal, including a mechanism of continued information exchange. Some Member States also noted that Member States retained competence for national security, and noted concern about expanding the competence of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) at this time.

The policing discussion focused on mechanisms to share experience and expertise on gathering and analysing digital data. The Immigration Minister intervened to support proposals to explore developing means of identifying and sharing best practice on the recovery and analysis of digital information, during the course of the prevention and investigation of criminal activity. Most Member States also supported this work, and were keen for Europol to have a central role.

Over lunch and in the afternoon session, Ministers discussed the functioning of the Schengen border free zone, in the context of some Member States retaining internal borders, and wider migration and asylum issues. As the UK does not participate in the border free zone, the Immigration Minister did not intervene on the Schengen border discussion. There was discussion about the necessity of Schengen internal border controls. Ministers also discussed but did not agree on the possibility of a temporary redistribution mechanism pending reform of the Dublin asylum system.

Justice day began with a discussion on the future of civil judicial cooperation in the EU. The debate marked the twentieth anniversary of the Amsterdam Treaty and of the adoption of the Tampere Programme. Ministers reaffirmed the need to focus on the proper implementation of existing legislation before considering new measures. I emphasised the importance of a future relationship with the EU in this area.

There then followed a lunchtime discussion on gathering electronic evidence in criminal matters. Ministers discussed the mandates for negotiations to establish an agreement on access to electronic evidence (e-evidence) with the US, and with contracting parties to the Budapest Convention. I updated Ministers on progress towards an UK-US agreement under the US CLOUD Act.

Justice day ended with a discussion on the future of judicial cooperation in criminal matters in the EU. Ministers again emphasised the importance of proper implementation of legislation, and ensuring the current acquis works effectively.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1302
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Mr David Gauke (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Contingencies Fund Advance

The Ministry of Justice requires an advance to discharge its commitments which are set out in its Supplementary Estimate 2018-19, laid before Parliament on February 11th 2019.

The Ministry of Justice has sought a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund of £840,000,000. Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £840,000,000 will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Ministry of Justice. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £840,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

The advance will be repaid upon Royal Assent of the Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1301
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Contingencies Fund Advance

My right honourable friend the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (David Gauke) has made the following Written Statement.

"The Ministry of Justice requires an advance to discharge its commitments which are set out in its Supplementary Estimate 2018-19, laid before Parliament on February 11th 2019.

The Ministry of Justice has sought a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund of £840,000,000. Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £840,000,000 will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Ministry of Justice. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £840,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

The advance will be repaid upon Royal Assent of the Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1336
WS
Prime Minister
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Mrs Theresa May (Prime Minister)
Commons

Intelligence oversight: Government response to ISC reports

On 22 November 2018, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament published two reports: its 2017-18 Annual Report; and its report into the terror attacks in 2017, titled ‘The 2017 Attacks: What Needs to Change?’. Our thoughts remain with the victims and all those affected by the 2017 attacks in Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green.

Today, the Government is publishing its response to each of these reports. I am separately providing to the ISC a closed response to the redacted recommendations in the 2017 attacks report. I remain grateful to the Intelligence and Security Committee for its continued independent oversight and scrutiny.

Copies of the Government responses have been laid before both Houses.

WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: James Brokenshire (Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Building safety update

Since the discovery that a Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP) composite fire door from Grenfell Tower marketed as meeting a 30 minute standard failed a test after approximately 15 minutes, Government has led a programme of work to investigate fire door performance across the market in the interest of public safety and reassurance. Today I am updating the House on actions taken.

Following consultation with representatives from the Metropolitan Police, the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisors and the National Fire Chiefs’ Council, Government’s independent Expert Panel advised that, whilst the overall risk to public safety was low, further investigations should be undertaken into other GRP composite fire door manufacturers.

During testing, a sample of GRP composite fire doors from 9 manufacturers failed to meet the required fire performance standard. The sample of fire doors failed for a range of reasons including but not restricted to performance at the glazing unit, letter box and the door frame. There was some evidence of over reliance on written assessments being used in lieu of primary tests for significant changes in hardware and ironmongery, and for the reverse side of the door. These findings clearly indicated broader failings within the industry. Government therefore took further urgent action.

My department wrote to all building control bodies highlighting the need to check that existing building regulations guidance on new GRP composite fire door installations is followed. The guidance sets out the tests which should be performed – including testing on both sides of the door - to meet building regulation requirements.

My department also notified Trading Standards of the test results and local Trading Standards are working with the individual companies concerned.

On 28 July I instructed major GRP composite fire door manufacturers to meet urgently to agree actions to tackle the failings which have been identified. As a result, the following actions have been taken:

- In August 2018 the three companies providing GRP composite fire door blanks in the UK agreed to stop production and sale of any door blanks with immediate effect. This stopped any new GRP composite fire doors from entering the market;

- In August the Association of Composite Door Manufactures (ACDM) further agreed that all GRP composite fire doors sold from their members would be removed from the market until they could demonstrate meeting the required standard. This stopped any fire doors from ACDM members already in production leaving factories;

- In August the ACDM established a collaborative testing programme to facilitate manufacturers bringing quality product meeting the required standard back to market. The ACDM provided assurance that all products brought back to market will have the required furnace test report for both sides of the door before being sold.

- The ACDM also agreed that all members of the ACDM will be required to sign up to a third party accreditation scheme carrying out additional checks on their fire doors to drive up quality across the market;

- All GRP composite manufacturers with a failed test are consulting their customers to establish an effective new building safety risk assessment. At least one manufacturer have gone beyond this providing a dedicated telephone helpline for their customers and offering meetings to help customers understand the situation;

- The ACDM is working on an industry-led plan for repair and replacement of affected doors. The ACDM is working closely with my department on their plan to ensure it can be published by industry as soon as possible.

As well as work to encourage industry action, my department has liaised closely with social housing building owners to ensure that they have been kept up to date with the fire doors investigation. To facilitate this, it has established a mechanism for local authorities and housing associations confidentially to share test results from fire door testing to inform building risk assessments and support our investigation.

Manse Masterdor, the manufacturers of the door from Grenfell Tower, went into administration in November 2014 and is therefore not part of the wider industry action outlined above. My department have been working closely with local authorities and housing associations with Manse Masterdor GRP composite fire doors in their buildings regarding replacement of these doors.

In parallel, the Expert Panel has issued guidance for building owners looking to fit or replace fire doors, which can be found on the Building Safety Programme website. The summary results of the GRP composite tests to inform building risk assessment are also now available on the Building Safety Programme website.

I can confirm that the Expert Panel advice remains unchanged and the risk to public safety remains low as even when not meeting full resistance standards fire doors will provide some protection from the spread of fire and are part of a layered fire protection systems within buildings.

The National Fire Chiefs Council continue to advise that, in the event of a fire, people should follow existing fire procedures for the building. Residents should also test their smoke alarms regularly to ensure they work and ensure that their flat front door is fitted with a working self-closing device. All doors provide some essential protection in a fire if they are properly closed.

I want to reassure Honourable Members that my department is doing all it can as quickly as possible to properly investigate these issues and to make sure that where needed appropriate action will be taken.

On the advice of the Expert Panel, investigations are on-going into the timber fire door industry. Public safety is paramount and I will continue to keep the House updated.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1300
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Building safety update

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

Since the discovery that a Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP) composite fire door from Grenfell Tower marketed as meeting a 30 minute standard failed a test after approximately 15 minutes, Government has led a programme of work to investigate fire door performance across the market in the interest of public safety and reassurance. Today I am updating the House on actions taken.

Following consultation with representatives from the Metropolitan Police, the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisors and the National Fire Chiefs’ Council, Government’s independent Expert Panel advised that, whilst the overall risk to public safety was low, further investigations should be undertaken into other GRP composite fire door manufacturers.

During testing, a sample of GRP composite fire doors from 9 manufacturers failed to meet the required fire performance standard. The sample of fire doors failed for a range of reasons including but not restricted to performance at the glazing unit, letter box and the door frame. There was some evidence of over reliance on written assessments being used in lieu of primary tests for significant changes in hardware and ironmongery, and for the reverse side of the door. These findings clearly indicated broader failings within the industry. Government therefore took further urgent action.

My department wrote to all building control bodies highlighting the need to check that existing building regulations guidance on new GRP composite fire door installations is followed. The guidance sets out the tests which should be performed – including testing on both sides of the door - to meet building regulation requirements.

My department also notified Trading Standards of the test results and local Trading Standards are working with the individual companies concerned.

On 28 July I instructed major GRP composite fire door manufacturers to meet urgently to agree actions to tackle the failings which have been identified. As a result, the following actions have been taken:

- In August 2018 the three companies providing GRP composite fire door blanks in the UK agreed to stop production and sale of any door blanks with immediate effect. This stopped any new GRP composite fire doors from entering the market;

- In August the Association of Composite Door Manufactures (ACDM) further agreed that all GRP composite fire doors sold from their members would be removed from the market until they could demonstrate meeting the required standard. This stopped any fire doors from ACDM members already in production leaving factories;

- In August the ACDM established a collaborative testing programme to facilitate manufacturers bringing quality product meeting the required standard back to market. The ACDM provided assurance that all products brought back to market will have the required furnace test report for both sides of the door before being sold.

- The ACDM also agreed that all members of the ACDM will be required to sign up to a third party accreditation scheme carrying out additional checks on their fire doors to drive up quality across the market;

- All GRP composite manufacturers with a failed test are consulting their customers to establish an effective new building safety risk assessment. At least one manufacturer have gone beyond this providing a dedicated telephone helpline for their customers and offering meetings to help customers understand the situation;

- The ACDM is working on an industry-led plan for repair and replacement of affected doors. The ACDM is working closely with my department on their plan to ensure it can be published by industry as soon as possible.

As well as work to encourage industry action, my department has liaised closely with social housing building owners to ensure that they have been kept up to date with the fire doors investigation. To facilitate this, it has established a mechanism for local authorities and housing associations confidentially to share test results from fire door testing to inform building risk assessments and support our investigation.

Manse Masterdor, the manufacturers of the door from Grenfell Tower, went into administration in November 2014 and is therefore not part of the wider industry action outlined above. My department have been working closely with local authorities and housing associations with Manse Masterdor GRP composite fire doors in their buildings regarding replacement of these doors.

In parallel, the Expert Panel has issued guidance for building owners looking to fit or replace fire doors, which can be found on the Building Safety Programme website. The summary results of the GRP composite tests to inform building risk assessment are also now available on the Building Safety Programme website.

I can confirm that the Expert Panel advice remains unchanged and the risk to public safety remains low as even when not meeting full resistance standards fire doors will provide some protection from the spread of fire and are part of a layered fire protection systems within buildings.

The National Fire Chiefs Council continue to advise that, in the event of a fire, people should follow existing fire procedures for the building. Residents should also test their smoke alarms regularly to ensure they work and ensure that their flat front door is fitted with a working self-closing device. All doors provide some essential protection in a fire if they are properly closed.

I want to reassure Honourable Members that my department is doing all it can as quickly as possible to properly investigate these issues and to make sure that where needed appropriate action will be taken.

On the advice of the Expert Panel, investigations are on-going into the timber fire door industry. Public safety is paramount and I will continue to keep the House updated.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1334
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Lords

Foreign Affairs Council – 18 February 2019

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

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 18 February. It will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini and will take place in Brussels.

Ukraine

Ministers will discuss the EU’s response to the Russian attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea and look ahead to what is likely to be a challenging election year for Ukraine. Ministers will take stock of Ukraine’s reform efforts and consider how the EU can provide socio-economic support to the Sea of Azov region. The UK will welcome the EU’s readiness to provide economic and humanitarian support to those regions most affected by the ongoing conflict. It will also reiterate the need for a collective and high profile response to Russia’s malign influence in Ukraine.

Syria

This discussion will focus on preparations for the upcoming Brussels III conference,

‘Supporting the future of Syria and the region’, taking place on 13-14 March. The conference will aim to improve humanitarian access and the protection of civilians in Syria, as well as mobilise humanitarian assistance, including for refugee-hosting countries.

Horn of Africa

Ministers will discuss the political and security situation in the Horn of Africa, including changing regional dynamics following reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The UK supports the EU proposal to review future engagement. The Council will also discuss mutual concerns about the Sudanese government’s use of violent tactics in response to protests, and the need for wider reforms; as well as the political situation in Somalia, where the EU is urging the Somali government to translate its commitment to progress into tangible results

Council Conclusions

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on Yemen, EU Human Rights Guidelines on Non-Discrimination in External Action, EU Priorities in UN Human Rights Fora in 2019, climate change diplomacy and in response to the recent European Court of Auditors report on the implementation of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRiT).

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1332
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

Energy Policy

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

Government continues to make progress in putting in place all the necessary measures to ensure that the UK can operate as an independent and responsible nuclear state upon the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom and the European Union.

The UK has now concluded all replacement international agreements required to ensure continuity for civil nuclear trade following Exit Day. These include new Nuclear Cooperation Agreements (NCAs) with Australia, Canada and the US, and Voluntary Offer Agreement and Additional Protocol safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). All of these have passed in Parliament on 19 December.

In addition to the new bilateral NCAs described above, the UK has an existing bilateral NCA with Japan which has been in place since 1998. This agreement will remain in force following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The UK and Japan are holding formal negotiations to put in place arrangements to reflect the UK’s future safeguards arrangements, with both sides confident that appropriate arrangements will be in place for March 2019 if required.

Significant progress has been made in the setting up of a domestic nuclear safeguards regime. Government’s new Domestic Safeguards Regulations are now on track to commence on Exit Day, having been debated and passed by both Houses of Parliament as of 22 January 2019.

In addition, the State System of Accounting for and Control of Nuclear Material (SSAC) has commenced parallel running alongside Euratom, processing and checking reports received from industry through the Safeguards Information Management and Reporting System (SIMRS) IT system and producing the declarations required to enable the UK to meet its international obligations. This will provide the opportunity to identify and make any necessary adjustments before 29 March 2019.

Working closely with industry, Government has been putting in place measures to address the issues that may affect the civil nuclear sector in any exit scenario. This includes laying all the necessary Statutory Instruments (SIs) required for any exit scenario, to minimise civil nuclear business disruption and ensure health and safety standards remain robust. The SIs will also ensure that no inoperabilities are retained in domestic law following the UK’s departure from the Euratom Treaty.

Today I will be depositing a report in the libraries of both Houses that sets out further details on the overall progress on the Government’s implementation of its Euratom Exit strategy, including EU negotiations, domestic operational readiness, legislation and international agreements. The report covers the three-month reporting period from 26th September to 26th December and is the second statutory report under Section 3(4) of the Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018. The next report on Euratom Exit progress is due to be deposited after the start of May 2019.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1333
WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Lord Callanan (Minister of State for Exiting the European Union)
Lords

General Affairs Council, February 2019

I will attend the General Affairs Council in Brussels on 19 February 2019 to represent the UK. Until we leave the European Union, we remain committed to fulfilling our rights and obligations as a full member.

The provisional agenda includes:

Multiannual Financial Framework 2021 - 2027

Ministers and the Commission will discuss progress on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) negotiations with the Presidency.

Preparation of the European Council 21-22 March 2019: Annotated Draft Agenda

The Council will discuss the draft agenda for the March European Council. It is expected to include: Jobs, Growth and Competitiveness; Climate Change; and External Relations.

Towards a sustainable Europe 2030

In January 2019 the Commission released a reflection paper as part of its 2019 Work Programme titled “Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030, on the follow-up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change". Ministers will discuss this paper ahead of the Sibiu Summit in May, where issues relating to Europe’s future will be discussed.

Values of the Union - Hungary / Article 7(1) TEU Reasoned Proposal

Ministers will discuss the Article 7(1) procedure in relation to Hungary.

Rule of Law in Poland / Article 7 (1) TEU Reasoned Proposal

The Commission will provide Ministers with an update on the rule of law in Poland.

WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Commons

Energy Policy

Government continues to make progress in putting in place all the necessary measures to ensure that the UK can operate as an independent and responsible nuclear state upon the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom and the European Union.

The UK has now concluded all replacement international agreements required to ensure continuity for civil nuclear trade following Exit Day. These include new Nuclear Cooperation Agreements (NCAs) with Australia, Canada and the US, and Voluntary Offer Agreement and Additional Protocol safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). All of these have passed in Parliament on 19 December.

In addition to the new bilateral NCAs described above, the UK has an existing bilateral NCA with Japan which has been in place since 1998. This agreement will remain in force following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The UK and Japan are holding formal negotiations to put in place arrangements to reflect the UK’s future safeguards arrangements, with both sides confident that appropriate arrangements will be in place for March 2019 if required.

Significant progress has been made in the setting up of a domestic nuclear safeguards regime. Government’s new Domestic Safeguards Regulations are now on track to commence on Exit Day, having been debated and passed by both Houses of Parliament as of 22 January 2019.

In addition, the State System of Accounting for and Control of Nuclear Material (SSAC) has commenced parallel running alongside Euratom, processing and checking reports received from industry through the Safeguards Information Management and Reporting System (SIMRS) IT system and producing the declarations required to enable the UK to meet its international obligations. This will provide the opportunity to identify and make any necessary adjustments before 29 March 2019.

Working closely with industry, Government has been putting in place measures to address the issues that may affect the civil nuclear sector in any exit scenario. This includes laying all the necessary Statutory Instruments (SIs) required for any exit scenario, to minimise civil nuclear business disruption and ensure health and safety standards remain robust. The SIs will also ensure that no inoperabilities are retained in domestic law following the UK’s departure from the Euratom Treaty.

Today I will be depositing a report in the libraries of both Houses that sets out further details on the overall progress on the Government’s implementation of its Euratom Exit strategy, including EU negotiations, domestic operational readiness, legislation and international agreements. The report covers the three-month reporting period from 26th September to 26th December and is the second statutory report under Section 3(4) of the Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018. The next report on Euratom Exit progress is due to be deposited after the start of May 2019.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1298
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Sir Alan Duncan (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs )
Commons

Foreign Affairs Council – 18 February 2019

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 18 February. It will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini and will take place in Brussels.

Ukraine

Ministers will discuss the EU’s response to the Russian attack on Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea and look ahead to what is likely to be a challenging election year for Ukraine. Ministers will take stock of Ukraine’s reform efforts and consider how the EU can provide socio-economic support to the Sea of Azov region. The UK will welcome the EU’s readiness to provide economic and humanitarian support to those regions most affected by the ongoing conflict. It will also reiterate the need for a collective and high profile response to Russia’s malign influence in Ukraine.

Syria

This discussion will focus on preparations for the upcoming Brussels III conference,

‘Supporting the future of Syria and the region’, taking place on 13-14 March. The conference will aim to improve humanitarian access and the protection of civilians in Syria, as well as mobilise humanitarian assistance, including for refugee-hosting countries.

Horn of Africa

Ministers will discuss the political and security situation in the Horn of Africa, including changing regional dynamics following reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The UK supports the EU proposal to review future engagement. The Council will also discuss mutual concerns about the Sudanese government’s use of violent tactics in response to protests, and the need for wider reforms; as well as the political situation in Somalia, where the EU is urging the Somali government to translate its commitment to progress into tangible results

Council Conclusions

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on Yemen, EU Human Rights Guidelines on Non-Discrimination in External Action, EU Priorities in UN Human Rights Fora in 2019, climate change diplomacy and in response to the recent European Court of Auditors report on the implementation of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRiT).

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1299
WS
Department for International Development
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Penny Mordaunt (Secretary of State for International Development)
Commons

Ebola Virus Disease Response

Six months on from its formal declaration, the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains challenging to contain. I am updating the House on how the UK Government is continuing to support the response in DRC, and preparedness in neighbouring countries.

Since my Hon Friend the Minister of Africa’s statement on 20 November, elections have taken place in the DRC and a new President inaugurated. Disruption over the election period hindered response activities; as a result, there has been an increase in the number of new Ebola cases reported this year.

As of 12th February, there were 823 confirmed and probable cases. Of these, 517 people have died and 280 recovered. The response, ably led by the DRC authorities with international support directed by the World Health Organisation, has continued to expand and adapt. Approximately 7,000 contacts are currently under surveillance. The experimental vaccine, developed with UK aid following the 2014 West Africa outbreak, has been administered to over 78,000 people in DRC, including 21,000 health and frontline workers and 16,000 children. Let me pay tribute to all the DRC health workers and international experts who are dealing with this outbreak in very challenging circumstances.

Geographical shifts in the outbreak are testing the capacity of the response. As more health zones are affected and cases move further south, there is an increased likelihood of an outbreak in Goma, the provincial capital on the border with Rwanda. Preparedness work has been underway in Goma, including setting up case surveillance, an Ebola treatment centre and a laboratory.

The DRC government has just released its third Strategic Response Plan, which sets out plans for the next six months. It is quite possible that it will take longer for this outbreak to be fully contained. The UK is supporting the response through both funding and expertise. At the request of the DRC Government I am not announcing specific funding figures, to avoid putting first-line responders at further risk of attack. But let me restate that it is in our national interest to find ways of building resilience to such deadly diseases, preventing their international spread and saving lives. The UK has supported the response since the very start and will continue to do so for as long as it takes to curb the outbreak.

The critical challenge now is to break the chain of transmission in DRC. That means redoubling contact tracing; training and supporting health workers in infection prevention control; continuing the vaccination effort; and working with local communities so they can spot symptoms, report them and seek treatment. WHO is doing a good job in difficult circumstances to lead the international response. It has over 500 people deployed to DRC and is working closely with other parts of the UN system and with international NGOs including MSF, ALIMA and Oxfam to help the people of DRC tackle this deadly disease. Key areas we would like to see strengthened in the international response include leadership, co-ordination and analysis.

This will require sustained support. To date, the UK is one of the largest bilateral donors to the Ebola response in DRC and for regional preparedness efforts in Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. Others must now step up and I will be urging our international partners to do so.

In addition to funding, the UK has supported preparations for clinical trials of new therapeutic drugs which have started in Beni. The UK Public Health Rapid Support Team has played a major part in making this work possible. Technical experts have been deployed to eastern DRC, including two senior epidemiologists, a data scientist and a clinical trials specialist.

UK aid has provided WHO with six armoured vehicles to facilitate response work in such insecure operating environments. We are also backing efforts to understand and address the social and cultural dimensions of the outbreak, which in turn supports key interventions such as ensuring that burials in affected areas are conducted in a safe and dignified way.

There remains a significant risk of transmission to neighbouring countries and measures are being taken to prepare. For example, in Uganda, closest to the current outbreak, the government has already vaccinated over 3,500 health workers in high priority districts. Community sensitisation is also taking place.

In Rwanda, the UK is backing the government’s preparedness plans, including the training of health care workers, vaccination planning and the screening of more than 24 million people at Rwanda’s borders.

In South Sudan, UK support has led to the installation of an Ebola screening facility at Juba international airport. So far, over one million people at land and air borders have been screened. We are also helping to procure ambulances and sanitation equipment for isolation facilities.

The risk of Ebola to the UK population remains very low. Public Health England continues to monitor the situation daily and review the risk assessment on a two-weekly basis.

The UK is fully committed to containing this outbreak and to our longer-term efforts to combat deadly diseases in sub-Saharan Africa.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1303
WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 14 February 2019
Made by: Mr Robin Walker (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Exiting the European Union)
Commons

General Affairs Council, February 2019

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

I will attend the General Affairs Council in Brussels on 19 February 2019 to represent the UK. Until we leave the European Union, we remain committed to fulfilling our rights and obligations as a full member.

The provisional agenda includes:

Multiannual Financial Framework 2021 - 2027

Ministers and the Commission will discuss progress on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) negotiations with the Presidency.

Preparation of the European Council 21-22 March 2019: Annotated Draft Agenda

The Council will discuss the draft agenda for the March European Council. It is expected to include: Jobs, Growth and Competitiveness; Climate Change; and External Relations.

Towards a sustainable Europe 2030

In January 2019 the Commission released a reflection paper as part of its 2019 Work Programme titled “Towards a Sustainable Europe by 2030, on the follow-up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change". Ministers will discuss this paper ahead of the Sibiu Summit in May, where issues relating to Europe’s future will be discussed.

Values of the Union - Hungary / Article 7(1) TEU Reasoned Proposal

Ministers will discuss the Article 7(1) procedure in relation to Hungary.

Rule of Law in Poland / Article 7 (1) TEU Reasoned Proposal

The Commission will provide Ministers with an update on the rule of law in Poland.

WS
Treasury
Made on: 13 February 2019
Made by: John Glen (The Economic Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Amending the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act 1993

In a Written Statement on 22 March 2018 (HCWS579) I informed Parliament that the Government intended to amend the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act 1993 to enable the Government’s agreement with Pool Re, the terrorism reinsurer, to be expanded to include business interruption losses that are not contingent on damage to commercial property. This was achieved with Royal Assent of the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act on 12 February 2019. This demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring that businesses can continue to secure insurance against the financial costs of terror attacks, and that Pool Re can maintain its position as an example world-leading partnership between government and the insurance sector.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1296
WS
Treasury
Made on: 13 February 2019
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Amending the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act 1993

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

In a Written Statement on 22 March 2018 (HCWS579) I informed Parliament that the Government intended to amend the Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act 1993 to enable the Government’s agreement with Pool Re, the terrorism reinsurer, to be expanded to include business interruption losses that are not contingent on damage to commercial property. This was achieved with Royal Assent of the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Act on 12 February 2019. This demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensuring that businesses can continue to secure insurance against the financial costs of terror attacks, and that Pool Re can maintain its position as an example world-leading partnership between government and the insurance sector.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1329
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 13 February 2019
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

Advance from the Contingencies Fund for the Competition and Markets Authority

My hon Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Kelly Tolhurst) has made the following statement:

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has sought a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund of £17,049,000 to ensure the CMA’s relocation to new offices remains on schedule.

The CMA will only receive its voted funding for this project at the Supplementary Estimate, and consequently may only draw the related cash from the Consolidated Fund after the Supply and Appropriation Act has received Royal Assent in March 2019. This requirement has arisen because the 2018-19 expenditure for the construction works at the CMA’s new offices is predominantly falling in the last quarter of this financial year.

The cash advance will ensure the project stays on track and on budget and ensure that the CMA also meets its operational needs.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £2,793,000 and capital of £14,256,000 will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the CMA. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £17,049,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1328
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 13 February 2019
Made by: Kelly Tolhurst (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility)
Commons

Advance from the Contingencies Fund for the Competition and Markets Authority

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has sought a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund of £17,049,000 to ensure the CMA’s relocation to new offices remains on schedule.

The CMA will only receive its voted funding for this project at the Supplementary Estimate, and consequently may only draw the related cash from the Consolidated Fund after the Supply and Appropriation Act has received Royal Assent in March 2019. This requirement has arisen because the 2018-19 expenditure for the construction works at the CMA’s new offices is predominantly falling in the last quarter of this financial year.

The cash advance will ensure the project stays on track and on budget and ensure that the CMA also meets its operational needs.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £2,793,000 and capital of £14,256,000 will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the CMA. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £17,049,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1295
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Sugg (Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport )
Lords

Rail update

My Honourable Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport (Andrew Jones) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I wish to inform the House that the Secretary of State for Transport has reached agreement with Stagecoach Group to continue to operate train services on the East Midlands rail franchise. This Direct Award means that passengers from London St Pancras International to Northamptonshire, the East Midlands, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and South Yorkshire will continue to be served by East Midlands Trains until 18 August 2019. If required there is an option to extend this agreement by up to a further six rail periods .

East Midlands Trains has achieved good performance and passenger satisfaction levels during the time they have been operating the franchise and the new agreement will allow for a smooth transition into the next competitively-tendered franchise. In the forthcoming months I expect East Midlands Trains to deliver the following improvements as part of the new agreement:

  • Investment of £150,000 on accessibility improvements at Stations.

  • A simplified application process for Delay Repay

As a minimum East Midlands Trains will also be expected to continue to deliver the following:

  • Good performance levels and passenger satisfaction;

  • A mobile app which provides real time information on the operation of passenger services and enables customers to book and pay for travel;

  • A 4G Wi-Fi service and provide at least 15 minutes of free access per passenger journey on standard class;

This Direct Award will ensure a smooth transition from the current operator to the next franchise which is expected to deliver significant passenger benefits including more services and seats across the franchise, in addition to better facilities and further improved accessibility at stations.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1322
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Sugg (Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport )
Lords

Response and Consultation on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing

My Honourable Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport (Nusrat Ghani) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I am today announcing to the House the launching of a consultation on statutory guidance to be issued to taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing authorities and that the Government has issued its response to the report of the Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing.

The draft statutory guidance proposes a range of robust measures to protect taxi and PHV passengers, particularly those most vulnerable. Government and licensing authorities must work together to ensure that, above all else, the taxi and PHV services the public use are safe. The consultation on this guidance will run until 22 April 2019.

The taxi and PHV trade has experienced significant and rapid changes in recent years which have brought with them benefits but have exacerbated concerns over the existing structure of the industry and the environment in which it operates. In particular, many of these changes have highlighted inconsistencies in the licencing standards, and in the rigour with which these standards are applied by some licencing authorities.

The recommendations proposed in the draft statutory guidance are a result of extensive consultation, and in particular learning from the best practice of exemplary licensing authorities. Consulting on statutory guidance is an important first step to reforming the way the taxi and PHV sector is regulated.

In addition to the statutory guidance consultation, the Government is today publishing its response to the report of the Chair of the Task and Finish Group. The Government has set out its plans to introduce legislation and bring forward the urgent reforms necessary. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chair, Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq, for his report, and the members of the group for their dedication in considering the issues facing the trade and their potential remedies.

Government will when time allows bring forward legislation to introduce national minimum standards for taxi and PHV licensing, reinforcing the consistently high standards that the statutory guidance will bring to the sector. To ensure that drivers are under the same level of scrutiny when operating away from their licensing area we will legislate to enable enforcement and compliance checks to be conducted by any licensing officer against any vehicle regardless of where they have been licensed. Where drivers or vehicles fail to meet the national minimum standards, they will be able to take appropriate action to protect the public. Underpinning these measures will be the introduction of a national licensing database to assist the sharing of relevant information between licensing authorities and other bodies necessary to ensure that all those in the trade are ‘fit and proper’ and warrant the trust that is placed in them by the public. This database will build on the work of the Local Government Association and the National Anti-Fraud Network in establishing the National Register of Revocation and Refusals.

Taxis and PHVs provide a vital community service which is used by many people; helping them get to the shops, see their friends, or go to work or school. We will work with the trade, drivers and regulators as well as passenger groups to meet the challenges the sector is expected to face in the future and ensure that change is not at the expense of a safe and well-functioning market. This work is already underway thorough the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge and the Law Commission’s consideration on enabling autonomous vehicles. I would encourage all to engage on these issues and help shape a successful sector that all can be proud of.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1323
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Sugg (Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport )
Lords

Second Additional Provision to the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill

My Honourable Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport (Nusrat Ghani) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I would like to inform the House about the introduction of a second Additional Provision to the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill, which is currently before a Select Committee.

As part of this Government’s industrial strategy we are investing in High Speed 2, a transformational infrastructure project that will improve people’s journeys, create jobs, generate economic growth and help to rebalance our country’s economy. HS2 is more than a railway and the project’s vision is to be a catalyst for economic growth. It has cross-party support and support from councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Metro Mayors and businesses who can see the transformational potential.

HS2 is making progress and the benefits are already being seen in towns and cities in advance of HS2 services. Around 2,000 businesses have been awarded HS2 contracts and over 7,000 jobs have been supported, a figure that will increase to around 30,000 at peak.

The Additional Provision proposes a number of changes to the powers in the Bill for the Select Committee’s consideration. These changes have arisen as a result of requests from petitioners, directions from the Select Committee currently considering the Bill, and further design development, principally in relation to utility works. Those directly and specially affected by these changes may petition against them, and once any petitioners have been heard, the Committee will decide whether the amendments to the Bill should be made. The main changes in the Additional Provision are as follows:

  • The lowering of the viaduct at Kings Bromley which reduces environmental effects such as visual impact;

  • A revised and more simple Handsacre junction layout, where Phase One connects to the West Coast Main Line;

  • A new traction power connection, requiring over 7 km of high voltage electricity lines, from the HS2 line at Newlands Lane to the east of the route. This change ensures the necessary resilience and redundancy required for traction power on a high speed railway;

  • Temporary and permanent power supply routes to the Whitmore and Madeley tunnels, to support the operation of the tunnel boring machines during construction and later, the operation of the tunnels;

  • A southward extension of the southern end of the tunnel at Whitmore, to avoid the need for complex surface works where the A53 crosses the route; and

  • Works at and around Crewe station including the extension of platform 5 to accommodate 400m HS2 trains. These changes support the realisation of the Crewe Hub vision.

    The Additional Provision also includes works and powers related to utilities following detailed discussion with utility companies. Other changes relate to highway safety and capacity improvements.

All of these changes require additional land to be acquired, and/or works to be carried out. In some cases land now affected is at some distance from the line of route. Full details are shown in the plans and sections deposited alongside the Additional Provision. Affected landowners will receive notification this week, including information on how to petition against the changes, should they decide to do so.

The following amendments are also included in this Additional Provision:

  • An insertion to allow easements over land to be for the benefit of a third party (i.e. utility companies) rather than for the benefit of the Secretary of State;

  • Dis-application of some sections of the Building Act 1984 in relation to demolitions which are already otherwise authorised by the Bill; and

  • Increasing the controls on the Nominated Undertaker in relation to low-volume lorry movements.

I am also publishing an Environmental Statement setting out the significant effects and mitigation from the changes in the Additional Provision, alongside a Supplementary Environmental Statement reporting new environmental information relating to the scheme. In accordance with Standing Orders, there is a public consultation on these documents which will run until 29 March 2019. The documents will be put in the Public Bill Office of the House, and will also be made available in locations open to the public in all local authorities and parishes affected by the changes.

In October 2018 I committed to updating the House regularly on the progress of HS2. I intend to make further statements to this House to update colleagues on HS2’s progress during the course of 2019.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1324
WS
Treasury
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Mr Philip Hammond (The Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Commons

ECOFIN: 12 February 2019

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will be held in Brussels on 12 February 2019. The UK will be represented by Mark Bowman (Director General, International Finance, HM Treasury). The Council will discuss the following:

Early Morning Session

The Eurogroup President will brief the Council on the outcomes of the 11 February meeting of the Eurogroup, and the European Commission will provide an update on the current economic situation in the EU.

European System of Financial Supervision Review

The Council will be invited to agree a General Approach on the review of the European system of financial supervision.

Current Financial Services Legislative Proposals

The Romanian Presidency will provide an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

Decision Making in EU Taxation Policy

The Council will hold an exchange of views on the European Commission’s proposal to move to Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in EU taxation policy.

Fiscal Sustainability Report

The Council will be invited to adopt Council conclusions on the 2018 Fiscal Sustainability Report.

Discharge of the EU Budget

The Council will be invited to approve a Council recommendation to discharge to the European Commission in respect of the 2017 EU Budget.

EU Budget Guidelines

The Council will be invited to adopt Council conclusions on the EU Budget guidelines for 2020.

AOB – Carbon Pricing and Aviation Tax

The Dutch Finance Minister will present a paper to the Council on carbon pricing and aviation tax.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1290
WS
Home Office
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office )
Lords

Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group

On 20 July 2017, the Home Secretary extended the remit of the National DNA Database Ethics Group (NDNADEG) to cover the ethical issues associated with all forensic identification techniques and renamed the group as the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG).

To support the Home Office’s strategic approach to data, and to build public trust, it has been agreed to extend the remit of the BFEG further. The group will now also be asked to consider strategic issues relating to the use of large and complex data sets by the Home Office. This will include providing independent oversight of the Data Ethics Governance Framework established to ensure balanced consideration of the use of data within the Home Office.

The Group will act within the legal framework of the Department on an advisory basis. It will not be in the remit of the Group to consider whether the Department has complied with the relevant laws, nor will the Department disclose personal data to the Group to enable it to discharge its responsibilities.

The BFEG will continue to consider the ethical aspects of:
• the application and operation of technologies which produce biometric and forensic data and identifiers;
• ethical issues relating to scientific services provided to the police service and other public bodies within the criminal justice system;
• applications for research involving access to biometric or forensic data; and
• matters relating to the management, operation and use of biometric or forensic data.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1325
WS
Treasury
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

ECOFIN: 12 February 2019

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

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will be held in Brussels on 12 February 2019. The UK will be represented by Mark Bowman (Director General, International Finance, HM Treasury). The Council will discuss the following:

Early Morning Session

The Eurogroup President will brief the Council on the outcomes of the 11 February meeting of the Eurogroup, and the European Commission will provide an update on the current economic situation in the EU.

European System of Financial Supervision Review

The Council will be invited to agree a General Approach on the review of the European system of financial supervision.

Current Financial Services Legislative Proposals

The Romanian Presidency will provide an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

Decision Making in EU Taxation Policy

The Council will hold an exchange of views on the European Commission’s proposal to move to Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) in EU taxation policy.

Fiscal Sustainability Report

The Council will be invited to adopt Council conclusions on the 2018 Fiscal Sustainability Report.

Discharge of the EU Budget

The Council will be invited to approve a Council recommendation to discharge to the European Commission in respect of the 2017 EU Budget.

EU Budget Guidelines

The Council will be invited to adopt Council conclusions on the EU Budget guidelines for 2020.

AOB – Carbon Pricing and Aviation Tax

The Dutch Finance Minister will present a paper to the Council on carbon pricing and aviation tax.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1327
WS
Home Office
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Annual Report of the National DNA Database Strategy Board

My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House the Annual Report of the National DNA Database Strategy Board for 2017/18. This report covers the National Fingerprints Database and the National DNA Database (NDNAD).

Chief Constable James Vaughan has presented the Annual Report of the National DNA Database to the Home Secretary. Publication of the Report is a statutory requirement under section 63AB(7) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 as inserted by 24 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

The Report shows the important contribution that the NDNAD and the National Fingerprint Databases (policing collections) make to supporting policing and solving crimes. I am grateful to the Strategy Board for their commitment to fulfilling their statutory functions.

A copy of the report will be made available on Gov.uk.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1326
WS
Home Office
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Mr Nick Hurd (The Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service)
Commons

Annual Report of the National DNA Database Strategy Board

My Noble Friend the Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House the Annual Report of the National DNA Database Strategy Board for 2017/18. This report covers the National Fingerprints Database and the National DNA Database (NDNAD).

Chief Constable James Vaughan has presented the Annual Report of the National DNA Database to the Home Secretary. Publication of the Report is a statutory requirement under section 63AB(7) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 as inserted by 24 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

The Report shows the important contribution that the NDNAD and the National Fingerprint Databases (policing collections) make to supporting policing and solving crimes. I am grateful to the Strategy Board for their commitment to fulfilling their statutory functions.

A copy of the report will be made available on Gov.uk.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1289
WS
Home Office
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Mr Nick Hurd (The Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service)
Commons

Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group

My Noble Friend the Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

On 20 July 2017, the Home Secretary extended the remit of the National DNA Database Ethics Group (NDNADEG) to cover the ethical issues associated with all forensic identification techniques and renamed the group as the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group (BFEG).

To support the Home Office’s strategic approach to data, and to build public trust, it has been agreed to extend the remit of the BFEG further. The group will now also be asked to consider strategic issues relating to the use of large and complex data sets by the Home Office. This will include providing independent oversight of the Data Ethics Governance Framework established to ensure balanced consideration of the use of data within the Home Office.

The Group will act within the legal framework of the Department on an advisory basis. It will not be in the remit of the Group to consider whether the Department has complied with the relevant laws, nor will the Department disclose personal data to the Group to enable it to discharge its responsibilities.

The BFEG will continue to consider the ethical aspects of:
• the application and operation of technologies which produce biometric and forensic data and identifiers;
• ethical issues relating to scientific services provided to the police service and other public bodies within the criminal justice system;
• applications for research involving access to biometric or forensic data; and
• matters relating to the management, operation and use of biometric or forensic data.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1291
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Ms Nusrat Ghani (Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport )
Commons

Second Additional Provision to the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill

I would like to inform the House about the introduction of a second Additional Provision to the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill, which is currently before a Select Committee.

As part of this Government’s industrial strategy we are investing in High Speed 2, a transformational infrastructure project that will improve people’s journeys, create jobs, generate economic growth and help to rebalance our country’s economy. HS2 is more than a railway and the project’s vision is to be a catalyst for economic growth. It has cross-party support and support from councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Metro Mayors and businesses who can see the transformational potential.

HS2 is making progress and the benefits are already being seen in towns and cities in advance of HS2 services. Around 2,000 businesses have been awarded HS2 contracts and over 7,000 jobs have been supported, a figure that will increase to around 30,000 at peak.

The Additional Provision proposes a number of changes to the powers in the Bill for the Select Committee’s consideration. These changes have arisen as a result of requests from petitioners, directions from the Select Committee currently considering the Bill, and further design development, principally in relation to utility works. Those directly and specially affected by these changes may petition against them, and once any petitioners have been heard, the Committee will decide whether the amendments to the Bill should be made. The main changes in the Additional Provision are as follows:

  • The lowering of the viaduct at Kings Bromley which reduces environmental effects such as visual impact;

  • A revised and more simple Handsacre junction layout, where Phase One connects to the West Coast Main Line;

  • A new traction power connection, requiring over 7 km of high voltage electricity lines, from the HS2 line at Newlands Lane to the east of the route. This change ensures the necessary resilience and redundancy required for traction power on a high speed railway;

  • Temporary and permanent power supply routes to the Whitmore and Madeley tunnels, to support the operation of the tunnel boring machines during construction and later, the operation of the tunnels;

  • A southward extension of the southern end of the tunnel at Whitmore, to avoid the need for complex surface works where the A53 crosses the route; and

  • Works at and around Crewe station including the extension of platform 5 to accommodate 400m HS2 trains. These changes support the realisation of the Crewe Hub vision.

    The Additional Provision also includes works and powers related to utilities following detailed discussion with utility companies. Other changes relate to highway safety and capacity improvements.

All of these changes require additional land to be acquired, and/or works to be carried out. In some cases land now affected is at some distance from the line of route. Full details are shown in the plans and sections deposited alongside the Additional Provision. Affected landowners will receive notification this week, including information on how to petition against the changes, should they decide to do so.

The following amendments are also included in this Additional Provision:

  • An insertion to allow easements over land to be for the benefit of a third party (i.e. utility companies) rather than for the benefit of the Secretary of State;

  • Dis-application of some sections of the Building Act 1984 in relation to demolitions which are already otherwise authorised by the Bill; and

  • Increasing the controls on the Nominated Undertaker in relation to low-volume lorry movements.

I am also publishing an Environmental Statement setting out the significant effects and mitigation from the changes in the Additional Provision, alongside a Supplementary Environmental Statement reporting new environmental information relating to the scheme. In accordance with Standing Orders, there is a public consultation on these documents which will run until 29 March 2019. The documents will be put in the Public Bill Office of the House, and will also be made available in locations open to the public in all local authorities and parishes affected by the changes.

In October 2018 I committed to updating the House regularly on the progress of HS2. I intend to make further statements to this House to update colleagues on HS2’s progress during the course of 2019.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1292
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Ms Nusrat Ghani (Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport )
Commons

Response and Consultation on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing

I am today announcing to the House the launching of a consultation on statutory guidance to be issued to taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing authorities and that the Government has issued its response to the report of the Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing.

The draft statutory guidance proposes a range of robust measures to protect taxi and PHV passengers, particularly those most vulnerable. Government and licensing authorities must work together to ensure that, above all else, the taxi and PHV services the public use are safe. The consultation on this guidance will run until 22 April 2019.

The taxi and PHV trade has experienced significant and rapid changes in recent years which have brought with them benefits but have exacerbated concerns over the existing structure of the industry and the environment in which it operates. In particular, many of these changes have highlighted inconsistencies in the licencing standards, and in the rigour with which these standards are applied by some licencing authorities.

The recommendations proposed in the draft statutory guidance are a result of extensive consultation, and in particular learning from the best practice of exemplary licensing authorities. Consulting on statutory guidance is an important first step to reforming the way the taxi and PHV sector is regulated.

In addition to the statutory guidance consultation, the Government is today publishing its response to the report of the Chair of the Task and Finish Group. The Government has set out its plans to introduce legislation and bring forward the urgent reforms necessary. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Chair, Professor Mohammed Abdel-Haq, for his report, and the members of the group for their dedication in considering the issues facing the trade and their potential remedies.

Government will when time allows bring forward legislation to introduce national minimum standards for taxi and PHV licensing, reinforcing the consistently high standards that the statutory guidance will bring to the sector. To ensure that drivers are under the same level of scrutiny when operating away from their licensing area we will legislate to enable enforcement and compliance checks to be conducted by any licensing officer against any vehicle regardless of where they have been licensed. Where drivers or vehicles fail to meet the national minimum standards, they will be able to take appropriate action to protect the public. Underpinning these measures will be the introduction of a national licensing database to assist the sharing of relevant information between licensing authorities and other bodies necessary to ensure that all those in the trade are ‘fit and proper’ and warrant the trust that is placed in them by the public. This database will build on the work of the Local Government Association and the National Anti-Fraud Network in establishing the National Register of Revocation and Refusals.

Taxis and PHVs provide a vital community service which is used by many people; helping them get to the shops, see their friends, or go to work or school. We will work with the trade, drivers and regulators as well as passenger groups to meet the challenges the sector is expected to face in the future and ensure that change is not at the expense of a safe and well-functioning market. This work is already underway thorough the Future of Mobility Grand Challenge and the Law Commission’s consideration on enabling autonomous vehicles. I would encourage all to engage on these issues and help shape a successful sector that all can be proud of.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1293
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 12 February 2019
Made by: Andrew Jones (Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport )
Commons

Rail update

I wish to inform the House that the Secretary of State for Transport has reached agreement with Stagecoach Group to continue to operate train services on the East Midlands rail franchise. This Direct Award means that passengers from London St Pancras International to Northamptonshire, the East Midlands, Lincolnshire, Staffordshire and South Yorkshire will continue to be served by East Midlands Trains until 18 August 2019. If required there is an option to extend this agreement by up to a further six rail periods .

East Midlands Trains has achieved good performance and passenger satisfaction levels during the time they have been operating the franchise and the new agreement will allow for a smooth transition into the next competitively-tendered franchise. In the forthcoming months I expect East Midlands Trains to deliver the following improvements as part of the new agreement:

  • Investment of £150,000 on accessibility improvements at Stations.

  • A simplified application process for Delay Repay

As a minimum East Midlands Trains will also be expected to continue to deliver the following:

  • Good performance levels and passenger satisfaction;

  • A mobile app which provides real time information on the operation of passenger services and enables customers to book and pay for travel;

  • A 4G Wi-Fi service and provide at least 15 minutes of free access per passenger journey on standard class;

This Direct Award will ensure a smooth transition from the current operator to the next franchise which is expected to deliver significant passenger benefits including more services and seats across the franchise, in addition to better facilities and further improved accessibility at stations.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1294
WS
The Senior Deputy Speaker
Made on: 11 February 2019
Made by: Lord McFall of Alcluith (Senior Deputy Speaker)
Lords

Members’ Consultation on the Implementation of the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme

Today the Privileges and Conduct Committee publishes a consultation document inviting Members of the House to submit their views on some of the changes required to incorporate into the Code of Conduct a new process for investigating allegations of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct. This builds on the significant work already completed by the Committee and the Sub-Committee on Lords Conduct, and across Parliament, to ensure that we have an effective and appropriate process for dealing with complaints against Members. Members are invited to give their views on the following specific points:

1. the balance of lay members and Lords Members to be appointed to the proposed new Conduct Committee;
2. how the House considers any sanction of Members under the new process, without reopening the substance of an investigation in debate on the floor of the House;
3. whether the names of Members cleared of complaints of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct should be published (the Committee propose that when a complaint of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct is being investigated the Member’s name will be withheld until the conclusion of the investigation of the case); and
4. longer-term, making the process for investigating and disciplining Members of the House more independent.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 4 March. Further information is on the intranet and in the consultation document. Copies of the consultation document are also available in the Printed Paper Office.

WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 11 February 2019
Made by: Baroness Buscombe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Private Pensions Update

My Right Honourable Friend, The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (The Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd MP) has made the following Written Statement.

I am pleased to announce today, two important steps to ensure millions of people have greater security in retirement.

A Stronger Pensions Regulator

Today, the Government has published its response to the consultation “Protecting Defined Benefit Pension Schemes – A Stronger Pensions Regulator”. This outlined its approach, as set out in the 2018 White Paper, to strengthen, clarify and streamline the Defined Benefit pension system.

The Government will introduce two new criminal offences to prevent and penalise mismanagement of pension schemes.

The first will target individuals who wilfully or recklessly mishandle pension schemes, endangering workers’ pensions, by such things as chronic mismanagement of a business; or allowing huge unsustainable deficits to build up; or taking huge investment risks; or a combination thereof. We will introduce a new custodial sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine for this offence. This brings the punishment in line with similar offences in financial services.

The second, which will attract an unlimited fine, will target individuals who fail to comply with a Contribution Notice, which is issued by The Pensions Regulator requiring a specified amount of money to be paid into the pension scheme by that individual. We will also introduce a new civil penalty of up to £1 million for this offence.

We have also provided an update on measures to strengthen the Regulator’s information gathering powers, such as enhancing their interview and inspection powers previously announced in the White Paper.

The changes will build on the robust system that is already in place to protect Defined Benefit pension schemes, further protecting individuals’ pensions and ensure greater clarity for employers.

The Government’s full response to the Consultation is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/protecting-defined-benefit-pension-schemes-a-stronger-pensions-regulator

10 million workers automatically enrolled into pensions

Today we announce the milestone of 10 million workers having been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension.

Automatic enrolment is transforming the savings culture of this country by normalising workplace pension saving. It is enabling millions of workers to look forward to a more secure future and a better retirement.

Between 2012 and 2017, the proportion of eligible employees saving in a workplace pension rose from 55 per cent to 84 per cent. The private sector has seen the largest increases over this period, with participation rates almost equalising among eligible men and women in 2017. The increase has also been particularly marked among younger workers and those with low earnings. Among eligible employees aged 22 to 29 years, participation increased from 35 per cent to 79 per cent; and 76 per cent of people earning £10-£20 thousand are now saving, a rise of 42 percentage points since 2012.

Employers’ support is key to the success of automatic enrolment. In the last two years, thousands of small and micro employers have enrolled eligible workers into a pension for the first time. Automatic enrolment is now business as usual.

In addition, we brought in the first of the planned increases in minimum contribution rates, in April 2018, raising the overall minimum contribution level to 5 per cent. From April 2019, the second planned increase, to a minimum 8 per cent, will enable many workers to save even more.

The government is committed to building on the 10 million milestone to support more workers, no matter what job, to save for a better retirement.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1319
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 11 February 2019
Made by: James Brokenshire (Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Integrated Communities

Britain is a great place to live and is made stronger by its diversity. However, the benefits and opportunities of our society are not felt equally by everyone. No community should feel excluded, and everyone should understand and embrace the benefits and opportunities of living in modern Britain.

In March 2018, the Government launched a consultation on the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper to obtain the views of the public and organisations on its ambitious goal to build integrated communities where people – whatever their background – can live, work, learn and socialise together based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities. The consultation ran for 12 weeks in total and closed on 5 June 2018.

I am today publishing the Government’s response to this consultation. The consultation process considered the Government’s proposed actions as laid out in the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper and presented a number of questions about the Government’s strategy for consultation. There were over 3,400 responses to the consultation, reflecting the high level of interest in building integrated communities. A breakdown of the responses to each of these questions can be found in the Government’s response.

The Government has taken the views expressed in the consultation into account when developing our next steps. These are set out in the Integrated Communities Action Plan I am also publishing today. This outlines more than 70 actions across Government to help create strong and integrated communities. This Action Plan will build the capacity of our leaders, strengthen our communities, boost English language proficiency, and give people the infrastructure they need to thrive. The views of communities will continue to be an important factor when implementing these actions.

The Action Plan sets out a framework of national priority actions to promote integration and adopts a localised approach. As the Secretary of State for Communities, one of my priorities is to help build thriving, liveable and resilient places where people get along – from our high streets to our community spaces.

I am placing a copy of both documents in the Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1286
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 11 February 2019
Made by: Chris Skidmore (Minister of State for Universities and Science (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy))
Commons

Pre-Council Written Statement, Competitiveness Council, Brussels, 18 & 19 February 2019

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary for State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Henley) has made the following statement:

The Internal Market and Industry Day of the Competitiveness Council will take place on 18 February 2019 where the Rt Hon. Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, will represent the UK; and the Research and Space Day on 19 February 2019 where Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, will represent the UK.

Day one – Internal Market and Industry

The Internal Market and Industry Day will consider a number of non-legislative items including, a competitiveness check-up focusing on the impact of EU value chain integration on competitiveness. Ministers will be asked to exchange views on the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on EU industry and to adopt Conclusions on the EU’s Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence. They will take part in a policy debate on ‘Clean Planet for all’, the EU’s strategic long-term vison for a climate-neutral economy. The non-legislative part of the agenda will finish with a European Semester policy debate on how to deliver key reforms to make the European economy more competitive and resilient in the face of global uncertainty.

Under any other business, there will be updates on the following current legislative proposals: the Company Law Package including a Directive on Digital Tools and Processes and a Directive on the Cross-border Conversions, Mergers and Divisions; the Regulation on Enforcement of Union Harmonisation Legislation on Products; and the Regulation on Promoting Fairness and Transparency for Business Users of Online Intermediation Services.

Day two – Research and Space

The Research and Space Day will begin with a session on the Horizon Europe Package during which the Council will review the progress report and exchange views on the Specific Programme implementing Horizon Europe - Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for 2021-2027.

Under any other business, the Presidency will provide information on the state of play of the Horizon Europe Package, covering the Framework Programme and its rules for participation and dissemination. The Presidency will then conclude the Council by providing information on the ITER and Euratom Programmes.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1285
WS
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 11 February 2019
Made by: Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Integrated Communities

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

Britain is a great place to live and is made stronger by its diversity. However, the benefits and opportunities of our society are not felt equally by everyone. No community should feel excluded, and everyone should understand and embrace the benefits and opportunities of living in modern Britain.

In March 2018, the Government launched a consultation on the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper to obtain the views of the public and organisations on its ambitious goal to build integrated communities where people – whatever their background – can live, work, learn and socialise together based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities. The consultation ran for 12 weeks in total and closed on 5 June 2018.

I am today publishing the Government’s response to this consultation. The consultation process considered the Government’s proposed actions as laid out in the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper and presented a number of questions about the Government’s strategy for consultation. There were over 3,400 responses to the consultation, reflecting the high level of interest in building integrated communities. A breakdown of the responses to each of these questions can be found in the Government’s response.

The Government has taken the views expressed in the consultation into account when developing our next steps. These are set out in the Integrated Communities Action Plan I am also publishing today. This outlines more than 70 actions across Government to help create strong and integrated communities. This Action Plan will build the capacity of our leaders, strengthen our communities, boost English language proficiency, and give people the infrastructure they need to thrive. The views of communities will continue to be an important factor when implementing these actions.

The Action Plan sets out a framework of national priority actions to promote integration and adopts a localised approach. As the Secretary of State for Communities, one of my priorities is to help build thriving, liveable and resilient places where people get along – from our high streets to our community spaces.

I am placing a copy of both documents in the Libraries of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1321
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 11 February 2019
Made by: Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Lords

Pre-Council Written Statement, Competitiveness Council, Brussels, 18 & 19 February 2019

The Internal Market and Industry Day of the Competitiveness Council will take place on 18 February 2019 where the Rt Hon. Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, will represent the UK; and the Research and Space Day on 19 February 2019 where Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, will represent the UK.

Day one – Internal Market and Industry

The Internal Market and Industry Day will consider a number of non-legislative items including, a competitiveness check-up focusing on the impact of EU value chain integration on competitiveness. Ministers will be asked to exchange views on the Impact of Artificial Intelligence on EU industry and to adopt Conclusions on the EU’s Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence. They will take part in a policy debate on ‘Clean Planet for all’, the EU’s strategic long-term vison for a climate-neutral economy. The non-legislative part of the agenda will finish with a European Semester policy debate on how to deliver key reforms to make the European economy more competitive and resilient in the face of global uncertainty.

Under any other business, there will be updates on the following current legislative proposals: the Company Law Package including a Directive on Digital Tools and Processes and a Directive on the Cross-border Conversions, Mergers and Divisions; the Regulation on Enforcement of Union Harmonisation Legislation on Products; and the Regulation on Promoting Fairness and Transparency for Business Users of Online Intermediation Services.

Day two – Research and Space

The Research and Space Day will begin with a session on the Horizon Europe Package during which the Council will review the progress report and exchange views on the Specific Programme implementing Horizon Europe - Framework Programme for Research and Innovation for 2021-2027.

Under any other business, the Presidency will provide information on the state of play of the Horizon Europe Package, covering the Framework Programme and its rules for participation and dissemination. The Presidency will then conclude the Council by providing information on the ITER and Euratom Programmes.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1320
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 11 February 2019
Made by: Lord Callanan (Minister of State for Exiting the European Union)
Lords

Agreement with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein

The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the Rt Hon Stephen Barclay MP, has made the following statement:

The UK has concluded discussions with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein (the ‘EEA EFTA states’), on an EEA EFTA citizens’ rights agreement that would protect the rights of UK nationals already living in the EEA EFTA states and EEA EFTA nationals already living in the UK in the event of a no deal scenario.

Delivering the deal negotiated with the EU remains the Government’s top priority. This has not changed. However, the Government must ensure the UK is prepared for every eventuality. It is the responsible thing to do.

The EEA EFTA citizens’ rights agreement would ensure that citizens would be able to continue living broadly as they do today, regardless of the outcome of negotiations with the EU. The arrangements in the agreement closely mirror the arrangements for citizens in the EEA EFTA separation agreement, published on 20 December 2018. Citizens falling within scope would have broadly the same entitlement to work, study and access public services and benefits as now. The EEA EFTA separation agreement relies on some of the provisionsof the Withdrawal Agreement which would not apply in a no deal scenario. In such a scenario, therefore, we would instead bring this no deal citizens’ rights agreement into force.

Together, these agreements will protect around 17,000 UK nationals living in these countries and approximately 15,000 nationals from these countries in the UK in any scenario.

I am depositing a copy of the agreement and an explainer in the Libraries of both Houses.

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 11 February 2019
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Lords

Informal Foreign Affairs Council – 31 January to 1 February 2019

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

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs attended the Informal Foreign Affairs Council (Gymnich) on 31 January and 1 February. It was chaired by the High Representative and Vice President of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini. The meeting was held in Bucharest, Romania.

Eastern Partnership

The discussion of the Eastern Partnership confirmed the importance of the Partnership and how much it had achieved in the last ten years with a need to keep focussing on anti-corruption, rule of law, freedom of movement and values; with cyber, stratcomms, energy security, P2P, CSDP, connectivity all cited as newer areas for future attention.

Venezuela

Foreign Ministers expressed concern about the situation in Venezuela, and agreed the importance of holding elections. Foreign Ministers recalled their Council Conclusions in May 2018, which stated that the elections were neither free nor fair, and reiterated the need for free and transparent elections respecting the Constitutional rules of Venezuela. The HRVP announced the formation of an International Contact Group for Venezuela, with the first meeting due to take place on 7 February in Montevideo.

China

Foreign Ministers had a broad discussion about China’s growing role in the world including EU-China cooperation on the JCPoA and Climate Change. There was agreement that the EU’s 2016 China Strategy remained relevant and calls for greater EU unity on shared areas of interest. Foreign Ministers also held a discussion on China with candidate countries (Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Turkey).

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1318
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Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 11 February 2019
Made by: Amber Rudd (The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
Commons

Private Pensions Update

I am pleased to announce today, two important steps to ensure millions of people have greater security in retirement.

A Stronger Pensions Regulator

Today, the Government has published its response to the consultation “Protecting Defined Benefit Pension Schemes – A Stronger Pensions Regulator”. This outlined its approach, as set out in the 2018 White Paper, to strengthen, clarify and streamline the Defined Benefit pension system.

The Government will introduce two new criminal offences to prevent and penalise mismanagement of pension schemes.

The first will target individuals who wilfully or recklessly mishandle pension schemes, endangering workers’ pensions, by such things as chronic mismanagement of a business; or allowing huge unsustainable deficits to build up; or taking huge investment risks; or a combination thereof. We will introduce a new custodial sentence of up to seven years’ imprisonment or an unlimited fine for this offence. This brings the punishment in line with similar offences in financial services.

The second, which will attract an unlimited fine, will target individuals who fail to comply with a Contribution Notice, which is issued by The Pensions Regulator requiring a specified amount of money to be paid into the pension scheme by that individual. We will also introduce a new civil penalty of up to £1 million for this offence.

We have also provided an update on measures to strengthen the Regulator’s information gathering powers, such as enhancing their interview and inspection powers previously announced in the White Paper.

The changes will build on the robust system that is already in place to protect Defined Benefit pension schemes, further protecting individuals’ pensions and ensure greater clarity for employers.

The Government’s full response to the Consultation is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/protecting-defined-benefit-pension-schemes-a-stronger-pensions-regulator

10 million workers automatically enrolled into pensions

Today we announce the milestone of 10 million workers having been automatically enrolled into a workplace pension.

Automatic enrolment is transforming the savings culture of this country by normalising workplace pension saving. It is enabling millions of workers to look forward to a more secure future and a better retirement.

Between 2012 and 2017, the proportion of eligible employees saving in a workplace pension rose from 55 per cent to 84 per cent. The private sector has seen the largest increases over this period, with participation rates almost equalising among eligible men and women in 2017. The increase has also been particularly marked among younger workers and those with low earnings. Among eligible employees aged 22 to 29 years, participation increased from 35 per cent to 79 per cent; and 76 per cent of people earning £10-£20 thousand are now saving, a rise of 42 percentage points since 2012.

Employers’ support is key to the success of automatic enrolment. In the last two years, thousands of small and micro employers have enrolled eligible workers into a pension for the first time. Automatic enrolment is now business as usual.

In addition, we brought in the first of the planned increases in minimum contribution rates, in April 2018, raising the overall minimum contribution level to 5 per cent. From April 2019, the second planned increase, to a minimum 8 per cent, will enable many workers to save even more.

The government is committed to building on the 10 million milestone to support more workers, no matter what job, to save for a better retirement.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1287