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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WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 27 November 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (Minister of State for Universities, Science , Research and Innovation)
Commons

Pre-competitveness Council Statement: 29 and 30th November

The Internal Market and Industry Day of the Competitiveness Council will take place on 29 November 2018 where the Rt Hon. Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, will represent the UK; and the Research and Space Day on 30 November 2018 where I will represent the UK.

Day one – Internal Market and Industry

The Internal Market and Industry Day will consider a number of legislative items including general approaches on the proposed Regulations on platform-to-business relations and the general safety of vehicles and a partial general approach on the proposed Single Market Programme as part of the next Multi-annual Financial Framework. The Council is expected to adopt Conclusions on a future EU Industrial Policy Strategy, and Ministers will have an exchange of views on the future of the single market.

Under any other business there will be an update on the proposed Regulation on Supplementary Protection Certificates for Medicinal Products; information from the Presidency on the Functioning of the EU on certain categories of horizontal aid; and on the REACH review in the light of industrial competitiveness; a report of the SME Envoy Network; and information from the Czech, Finnish, Danish and Irish delegations on a study entitled “Making EU Trade in Services Work for All – Enhancing Innovation and Competitiveness throughout the EU Economy”. The day will conclude with information from the incoming Romanian Presidency on its proposed work programme.

Day two – Research and Space

The Research and Space Day will begin with a session on space during which the Council will review the progress report and exchange views on the Regulation establishing the space programme of the Union.

The Council will then begin the research session with the adoption of Conclusions on the Governance of the European Research Area.

The Council will then discuss the Horizon Europe Package – Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2021-2027. The Council will seek to firstly agree on a partial general approach for the Framework programme and its rules for participation and dissemination and secondly it will discuss the progress report for the specific programme implementing Horizon Europe.

Day two will conclude with any other business. The Presidency will firstly provide information on the Evolution of Europe’s space activities: Long-term perspective (Space conference) (Graz, 5-6 November 2018). The day will conclude with information from the incoming Romanian Presidency on its proposed work programme.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1088
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 22 November 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Higher Education Student Finance

On 2 July 2018, I made a Written Ministerial Statement confirming that that maximum tuition fees for the 2019/20 academic year in England will be maintained at the levels that apply in the 2018/19 academic year, the second year in succession that fees have been frozen. This means that the maximum level of tuition fees for a full-time course will remain at £9,250 for the next academic year (2019/20).

I can now announce further details of student finance arrangements for higher education students undertaking a course of study in the 2019/20 academic year.

Maximum undergraduate loans for living costs will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2019/20. And the same increase will apply to maximum disabled students’ allowances for students with disabilities undertaking full-time and part-time undergraduate courses in 2019/20. Maximum grants for students with child or adult dependants who are attending full-time undergraduate courses in 2019/20 will also increase by forecast inflation in 2019/20.

We are also increasing support for students undertaking postgraduate courses in 2019/20. Maximum loans for students starting master’s degree and doctoral degree courses from 1 August 2019 onwards will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2019/20. And for postgraduate students with disabilities, we are increasing the maximum postgraduate disabled students’ allowance to £20,000 in 2019/20 from its current level of £10,993, which will help the most disabled postgraduate students with high support needs.

The Government has created a new form of leave for children under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs amendment). This will ensure that those children who do not qualify for refugee or humanitarian protection leave will still be able to remain in the UK long term. Those who qualify for this new form of leave will be able to study, work, access public funds and healthcare and apply for settlement after 5 years, without paying a fee. In line with this change, I can announce today that ‘Dubs Children’ starting higher education courses from 1 August 2019 onwards will be subject to home fee status and will be able to apply for student support.

Further details of the student support package for 2019/20 are set out in the attached document.

I expect to lay regulations implementing changes to student finance for undergraduates and postgraduates for 2019/20 early in 2019. These regulations will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1072
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 21 November 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

TEF reviewer appointment

I am pleased to announce today that the Secretary of State for Education has appointed Dame Shirley Pearce DBE to report on the operation of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) in line with the process set out in section 26 of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

The Review will commence in December this year and we expect the reviewer to report in summer 2019.

Dame Shirley has a distinguished track record in higher education and has made an outstanding contribution to a number of other areas of public life.

This makes her an excellent choice to lead this Review and clearly shows that she will command the confidence of HE providers.

Her detailed biography is attached, and I will deposit a copy in the House Libraries.

Further details and guidance will be published on .gov.uk.

Biography of Dame Shirley Pearce DBE (Word Document, 18.57 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1068
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 21 November 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Tailored Review of the Student Loans Company

I am announcing today the start of a Tailored Review of the Student Loans Company, a non-profit making Government-owned organisation, which disperses grants to students in universities and colleges in the UK. The SLC has been classified as an executive NDPB since 1996 and its current shareholding structure, split between Department for Education (DfE) and the devolved administrations has been in place since 2013.

As a Non-Department Public Body (NDPB) sponsored by DfE, the Student Loans Company is required to undergo a Tailored Review at least once in every parliament. The principal aims of Tailored Reviews are to ensure public bodies remain fit for purpose, are well governed and properly accountable for what they do.

The Review will provide a robust scrutiny of, and assurance on, the continuing need for the Student Loans Company – both its function and its form. It will assess the governance and control arrangements in place to ensure they are compliant with the recognised principles of good corporate governance and delivering good value for money. The structure, efficiency and effectiveness of the Student Loans Company will be considered throughout the Review.

A Challenge Panel, chaired by a DfE Non Executive Director, will examine the findings of both stages of the Review.

The Review will follow guidance published in 2016 by the Cabinet Office: ‘Tailored Reviews: guidance on reviews of public bodies’. This can be found on Gov.uk.

In conducting this Tailored Review, officials will engage with a broad range of stakeholders across the UK, including across UK Government, Devolved Administrations, business and civil society, as well as with the Student Loans Company’s own staff and management.

I shall inform the House of the outcome of the Review when it is completed and copies of the report of the Review will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1066
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 19 November 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Student finance update

The Higher Education and Research Act 2017 received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017. It set out significant reforms to help ensure that students receive value for money from their investment in higher education. The Act included a power for the Government to set specific annual fee amounts for accelerated degree courses in Regulations.

An accelerated degree is the equivalent of a standard degree in every sense but one: it is completed one year sooner than its standard equivalent. By studying for more weeks each year and taking shorter breaks between terms, accelerated students can, for example, complete the full content of a three-year degree - but graduate in two years.

In spite of the many benefits, there are currently very few accelerated degree courses available, as the current fee limit creates a financial disincentive for Higher Education providers. Accelerated degrees cost more to deliver each year than their standard equivalents because of the higher number of weeks taught each year. Providers, however, can only charge up to the maximum annual fee cap for each year of teaching, regardless of the comparative volume of teaching delivered each year.

During the passage of the 2017 Act, the Government agreed to consult on values for specific accelerated degree fee caps, with the aim of removing the financial barrier and incentivising wider provision. Our consultation proposed a 20% uplift in the annual tuition fee for accelerated degrees.

For example, the annual tuition fee for a two-year accelerated course at a TEF-rated, fee-capped university (that is, a university with an approved access and participation plan and high level quality rating) would be capped at £11,100 per year, compared with £9,250 per year for the same course taught over three years.

The total fee cost would be £22,200 for the accelerated degree, compared with £27,750 for the standard equivalent – for students, a 20% saving in tuition costs. The £22,200 total revenue for universities offers providers £3,700 more per accelerated degree (80% of the three year fee), compared with the current £18,500 maximum (67% of the three-year fee) that they can currently charge for the same two-year course.

Today the Government is publishing its response to the accelerated degrees consultation, setting out our intention to proceed with Regulations to set the new accelerated degree fee caps as soon as possible, subject to Parliamentary approval. The full text of the response can be found on Gov.uk.

These proposals apply to England only. We will also review the impact of the introduction of accelerated degrees fee caps three years after implementation. Our intention is to also bring forward Regulations providing for increased loan amounts for accelerated degree courses.

This announcement will give providers confidence that the arrangements for accelerated courses are here to stay, and are consistent with all types of current non-accelerated fee levels and caps. The higher annual fee cap for accelerated degrees will drive up provision of accelerated courses across a far greater range of providers. Wider provision will in turn offer many more students the choice of applying for an accelerated course in their preferred subject and provider.

The new accelerated degree fee cap is consistent with the Government’s overall ambitions for diverse and flexible post 18 education, currently being developed through the ongoing Review of post 18 education and funding.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1062
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 19 November 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

TEF reviewer appointment

I am pleased to announce today that the Secretary of State for Education has appointed Dame Shirley Pearce DBE to report on the operation of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) in line with the process set out in section 26 of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

The Review will commence in December this year and we expect the reviewer to report in summer 2019.

Dame Shirley has a distinguished track record in higher education and has made an outstanding contribution to a number of other areas of public life.

This makes her an excellent choice to lead this Review and clearly shows that she will command the confidence of HE providers.

I will place a copy of her detailed biography in the House Libraries.

Further details and guidance will be published on .gov.uk.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1060
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 10 October 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Competitiveness Council (Internal Market, Industry, Research and Space), 27-28th September

DAY ONE

The first day of the Competitiveness Council (Internal Market and Industry) took place on 27 September 2018.

The UK was represented by Katrina Williams, Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU. The legislative and non-legislative ‘A’ items were adopted; the UK abstained on a decision not to oppose the adoption of amendments to the Regulation on vehicle type approvals, and on the adoption of European seabass quotas.

Regional policy and competitiveness

The routine ‘Competitiveness Check-up’ on Day One focused on the role that greater convergence in productivity within Member States has to play in boosting the EU’s competitiveness. The UK joined others in support of so-called ‘Smart Specialisation’ strategies and their emphasis on innovation and comparative advantage. Some Member States welcomed the Commission’s intention to incorporate a regional element into the European Semester. Over lunch, Ministers also discussed the next Multi-annual Financial Framework in the context of competitiveness.

Artificial Intelligence

The Presidency identified priority areas for the EU on Artificial Intelligence (AI) relating to the uptake of technology, ethics and liability, and digital skills. The Commission confirmed its intention to publish an Action Plan by the end of the 2018 and recalled increased investment in AI proposed as part of the Horizon Europe and Digital Europe programmes.

An external speaker, Mr Michael Hirschbrich, urged Member States to cultivate a new, positive ‘data culture’ in Europe as a prerequisite for the EU to profit from the revolution in AI and machine learning. Germany felt this would be a challenge for the EU and would require public trust. Several delegations cautioned against over-regulating in this area and others argued that effective communication and realising the potential of new technologies in the delivery of public services would help to raise public trust and awareness.

The UK outlined its investment plans for AI, its inclusive approach to digital skills, work to establish an independent Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, and noted the importance of regulatory cooperation in this area.

Single Market

Under Any Other Business, the Commission called for the full implementation of the Geoblocking Regulation and recalled the aims of a recent Communication on the Retail Sector.

The Czech Republic and Latvia summarised the conclusions of events held this year to mark 25 years of the Single Market. Member States urged the Commission to produce a comprehensive and evidence-based assessment of the remaining barriers to trade, particularly in the area of services.

DAY TWO

Day two of the Competitiveness Council (Internal Market, Industry, Research and Space) took place on 28th September in Brussels. I represented the UK during the morning and lunch sessions of the Council. Katrina Williams, Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK’s Permanent Representation in Brussels took the UK’s seat during the afternoon session.

Progress Report and Policy Debate on the Horizon Europe Package: Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2021–2027

The Council started with a policy debate on the Horizon Europe Package: Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2021–2027. The UK called for excellence to remain the key criterion for awarding Horizon Europe funding. The UK also suggested that space should become a separate cluster outside of “Digital and Industry”, and that the secure society cluster should be divided into two distinct clusters; one for “security” elements and one for “social sciences and humanities” elements. The UK also supported the Presidency’s approach to the debate surrounding the legal base of the Horizon Europe Specific Programme, agreeing that the aim should be to reach a timely conclusion on the Horizon package.

Lunch Debate on the Horizon Europe Package – Exchange of views with EP Rapporteurs During the lunch debate the Council had an exchange of views with EP Rapporteurs Dan Nica and Christian Ehler. The UK made an intervention specifying UK’s priority areas for amendments and encouraging debate amongst MEPs at the first exchange of views on October 8th.

Strategic Planning process in relation to the Horizon Europe Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2021-2027

The Council concluded with a policy debate on the Strategic Planning process in relation to the Horizon Europe Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2021-2027. The UK made an intervention seeking to help find consensus in Council on the process and status of the plan, agreeing that broad areas for missions and partnerships should be set out in the Specific Programme and suggesting that the process for selecting specific missions and partnerships should also be included. The UK agreed that more detailed strategic content should be determined at a later date.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS949
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 10 October 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Government Asset Sale

Today, I can confirm that the Government is announcing its intention to proceed with the second sale from the “plan 1” (i.e. pre-2012) English student loan book. The sale covers loans issued by English local authorities only under the previous (pre-2012) system, specifically those which entered repayment between 2007 and 2009, with a total face value of around £3.9bn. This is the second sale of the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) loan book, and it is proceeding on the basis that there is a reasonable prospect of achieving value for money. It will only complete subject to market conditions and a final value for money assessment.

As the Government has previously made clear, the position of all graduates, including those whose loans are part of a sale, will not change as a result of the sale. A sale will not alter the mechanisms and terms of repayment and sold loans will continue to be serviced by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Student Loans Company (SLC) on the same basis as equivalent unsold loans. These protections mean that purchasers will have no right to change any of the current loan arrangements or to directly contact borrowers. Government has no plans to change, or to consider changing, the terms of pre-2012 loans.

The sale terms are expected to include a number of warranties and indemnities for sale arrangers and investors, which give rise to contingent liabilities for Government. In this case, although there is specific statutory authority for the liability under the Sale of Student Loans Act 2008, I believe it is appropriate to notify Parliament before incurring these liabilities. As a matter of record I have placed a Departmental Minute in the Libraries of both Houses describing the contingent liabilities that the Department for Education will hold on behalf of Government as a result of this second sale of the pre-2012 English student loan book. The maximum contingent liability against the Department for Education is unquantifiable and is expected to be in place for as long as there are outstanding securities.

The House will also be informed if and when a sale is completed.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS947
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 10 September 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

The 2017 Government Chemist Review

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

The Government Chemist is the Referee Analyst named in Acts of Parliament. The Government Chemist’s team carry out analysis in high-profile or legally disputed cases. A diverse range of referee analysis work was carried out during 2017, including measurement disputes relating to alfatoxins, nitrofuran contamination, authenticity, protein allergens and sulphites.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS917
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 02 July 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation )
Commons

Student Finance

EU Students

I am today confirming that eligibility rules for students from the European Union, and their family members, who commence courses in England in the Academic Year starting in August 2019 will remain unchanged. EU nationals will remain eligible for home fee status, undergraduate, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support from Student Finance England for the duration of their course under the current eligibility rules. This will provide certainty to providers and their prospective EU students.

EU students, staff and researchers make an important contribution to our universities. I want that contribution to continue and am confident – given the quality of our HE sector – that it will.

Tuition Fees

I am also confirming that maximum tuition fees for the 2019/20 academic year in England will be maintained at the levels that apply in the 2018/19 academic year, the second year in succession that fees have been frozen. Freezing maximum fees at 2018/19 levels will save students up to £255 in 2019/20.

The Government considers each year what the maximum level of tuition fees should be, and sets a cap. I have listened to the views we have heard from young people, parents, and in Parliament and, on that that basis, have decided not to increase maximum tuition fees by inflation for the 2019/20 academic year. If the Regulations setting maximum fees were not approved, providers would not be subject to maximum fees and would be free legally to charge higher fees.

The Government is committed to improving the terms on which it provides financial support to students. In addition to a freeze in fees for the second year running, the Government has increased the repayment threshold above which graduates are required to make repayments on their loans from £21,000 to £25,000 from tax year 2018-19, and rising by average earnings thereafter. This puts more money in the pockets of graduates, lowering monthly repayments for all borrowers earning above £21,000.

On 19 February, the Prime Minister launched a major review of post-18 education and funding to ensure we have a joined up education system that is accessible to all, provides value for money for both students and taxpayers, and encourages the development of the skills we need as a country.

Regulations

I am laying Regulations setting maximum fees for the 2019/20 academic year before Parliament today.

Under the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, these Regulations set maximum fee limits for those registered providers who must abide by a fee limit condition as part of their registration with the new independent regulator, the Office for Students (OfS). These providers are known as ‘Approved (Fee Cap) Providers’.

The Act requires the OfS to impose a fee limit condition and without these Regulations the new regulatory framework cannot be fully implemented. Providers can also register with the OfS in the Approved category which will not be subject to maximum fees in Regulations.

Both Houses will have the opportunity to debate these Regulations under the affirmative procedure. These Regulations do not set separate maximum fees for accelerated degrees, which are still under consideration. I expect to confirm further details on accelerated degrees in due course.

I also expect to lay Regulations setting student support arrangements for 2019/20 early in 2019 which will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.

Maximum tuition fees and fee loans for Approved (Fee Cap) Providers in 2019/20

The maximum tuition fee for full-time courses will be £9,250 in 2019/20 for providers that are registered with the OfS in the Approved (Fee Cap) category and have a current Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) award and an access and participation plan in place with the OfS. Lower maximum fee limits will apply for Approved (Fee Cap) providers that do not have a TEF award or an OfS access and participation plan.

New students and eligible continuing students who started their full-time courses on or after 1 September 2012 will be able to apply for a fee loan to meet the full costs of their tuition up to a maximum of £9,250 in 2019/20 for full-time courses at Approved (Fee Cap) providers.

The maximum tuition fee for students undertaking part-time courses at Approved (Fee Cap) providers that have a TEF award and have an OfS access and participation plan, will be £6,935 in 2019/20. Lower maximum fee limits will apply for Approved (Fee Cap) providers without a TEF award or an OfS access and participation plan.

New students and eligible continuing students who started their part-time courses on or after 1 September 2012 will be able to apply for a fee loan of up to a maximum of £6,935 to meet the full costs of their tuition in 2019/20 for part-time courses at Approved (Fee Cap) providers.

Maximum fee loans for Approved Providers in 2019/20

New students and eligible continuing students who started their full-time courses on or after 1 September 2012 and are undertaking courses at Approved providers in 2019/20 will not be subject to maximum fees in Regulations. They will however be able to apply for fee loans towards the costs of their tuition.

The maximum fee loan for new students and eligible continuing students who started their full-time courses on or after 1 September 2012 will be £6,165 in 2019/20 for those undertaking full-time courses at Approved providers that have a current TEF award or £6,000 without a TEF award.

The maximum fee loan for new students and eligible continuing students who started their part-time courses on or after 1 September 2012 will be £4,625 in 2019/20 for part-time courses at Approved providers that have a current TEF award or £4,500 without a TEF award.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS789
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 11 June 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Competitiveness Council 28-29 May 2018

The Competitiveness Council (Internal Market and Industry) took place on 28 May in Brussels. Lord Henley (Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) represented the UK.

The standing ‘competitiveness check-up’ debate focused on the linkages between internal market integration and competitiveness in the EU. The Commission argued that its analysis showed that the Single Market generates significant economic benefits across a range of sectors. The UK underlined its continuing interest in the success of the Single Market, calling for continued progress, particularly on services, and for the EU to be a force for open international trade. Other Member States picked up similar themes as well as other issues including access to finance.

The Council agreed a General Approach on the revision of the Mutual Recognition Regulation, which aims to improve the functioning of the mutual recognition principle for non-harmonised products in the Single Market. Member States were unanimous in their support for the Presidency’s compromise text and praised the balance struck between the need to support businesses trading across the EU while allowing Member States to protect their legitimate public interests.

The Commission presented its new proposal on platform to business relations, which it believed was a balanced attempt to improve transparency and predictability for users without creating undue burdens on platforms or stifling innovation. The UK responded positively but emphasised the benefits of platforms to businesses, particularly SMEs, and underlined the need to consult businesses. Other Member States generally welcomed the Commission’s approach, but the debate displayed the tension between those that have legislated in this area and those who want to avoid fragmentation in the Single Market as a result of differing national legislation. Some hinted at their preference for further regulatory measures.

The Presidency provided an update on progress in negotiations on the copyright package. Member States also responded to the UK’s ratification of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court.

The Commission presented its latest package of Digital Single Market proposals, which focus on the improved use of data at EU level as a tool to drive innovation.

Ministers discussed the opportunities and challenges of Artificial Intelligence, including the role of public and private investment, the impact on labour markets, and ethical and legal questions.

The Commission provided information on its ‘New Deal for Consumers’ proposal, confirming its ambitious timetable for adoption by May 2019. Some Member States raised the dual quality of products as a key concern.

The Commission also presented its Company Law package and a proposal amending the Supplementary Protection Certificates Regulation for the export of medicinal products.

The Presidency also provided updates on work in the area of tourism and within the SOLVIT network; the Austrian delegation presented its priorities as incoming Presidency.

The Competitiveness Council continued on 29 May covering research, innovation and space. I represented the UK.

The Council held a policy debate on the future of European space policy. The UK emphasised the global nature of the space sector and the long heritage of technical excellence and research within the European Space Agency. The UK also outlined the case for continued full involvement in EU space programmes such as Galileo and Copernicus.

The Council continued with a discussion on the Progress Report on the Regulation on establishing the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking. The UK assured the EU of our commitment to continuing collaboration in science and innovation and highlighted the importance of a continued focus of wider programmes on excellence. Following the discussion, the Council held a plenary session providing an update on the progress of the regulation.

The following sessions adopted two Council Conclusions: the first on accelerating knowledge circulation in the European Union and the second on the European Open Science Cloud.

The Council then agreed a General Approach on the Regulation on the Research and Training Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (2019-2020) complementing the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. Ministers agreed to the approach set out by the Commission.

The Council held a policy debate on research and innovation within the context of the next Multiannual Financial Framework. The UK noted the value to the EU of the UK's strength in research and innovation both in terms of results and of expertise in supporting research and innovation as well as emphasising the UK’s continuing desire to engage in European collaborative research and innovation programmes.

The Commission provided information on the outcome of the Presidency event dedicated to space (Sofia, 17-19 April 2018). The Council concluded with Austria’s presentation of its incoming Presidency work programme.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS727
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 24 May 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Pre Competiveness Council Statement

The Competitiveness Council will take place on 28 and 29 May in Brussels.

Day one – Internal Market and Industry

The Council will receive a presentation from the Commission on the ‘Competitiveness check-up’ examining linkages between the Internal Market and industrial competitiveness from a sectoral perspective. The Council will discuss the Regulation on Mutual Recognition (part of the ‘goods package’) with the Presidency hoping to reach a general approach. The Council will also hold a policy debate on the Regulation on platform to business relations.

Under AOB the Commission will provide information on recent initiatives in the Digital Single Market, the Copyright Package, the New Deal for Consumers Package, the Company Law Package, Supplementary Protection Certificates for medicinal products and the supplementary protection certificate for medicinal products. The Commission will also provide information on the outcome of initiatives and conferences in the field of tourism and provide an update on the current state of play on the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court.

Day one will conclude with information from the Austrian delegation on their incoming Presidency work programme.

Day two – Space and Research

Day two of the Competitiveness Council will start with a policy debate on the future of European space policy.

The Research sessions will begin with a progress report on the Regulation on establishing the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking. The Council will then adopt Council Conclusions on accelerating knowledge circulation in the European Union and Conclusions on the European Open Science Cloud.

During the afternoon session the Council the Council is expected to agree on the Regulation on the Regulation on the Research and Training Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (2019-2020). This will be followed by a policy debate on research and innovation within the context of the next Multiannual Financial Framework.

Under AOB, the Commission will provide information on the outcome of the Presidency event dedicated to Space (held in Sofia on 17-19 April 2018).

Day two will conclude with information from the Austrian delegation on their incoming Presidency work programme.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS701
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 23 April 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation )
Commons

Performance Targets for the Intellectual Property Office (an operating name of the Patent Office) for 2018 – 2019

As an Executive Agency and Trading Fund of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, we set targets which are agreed by Ministers and laid before Parliament. For 2018 – 2019 our targets are:

At least 85% of our customers will rate us 8/10 or higher in overall satisfaction.

We will have prepared the systems supporting our trade marks and designs services for the UK’s exit from the EU and the implementation of the EU Trade Mark Directive.

We will offer faster handling of patent applications, by providing an examination report with a search report when both are requested at the application date, and meeting at least 90% of requests for an accelerated two-month turnaround for search, publication and examination.

We will ensure that all of the Intellectual Property Office’ Statutory Instruments relating to EU exit are drafted and ready for laying as required by the legislative authorities.

60% of the businesses we reach and survey confirm that they have made an informed decision on their IP

We will deliver our part of the Creative Industries Sector Deal and alongside industry develop appropriate voluntary measures targeting: online market places, social media and digital advertising

We will develop and launch ‘The Deal’, clarifying the mutual expectations between IPO and its employees.

We will externally validate and benchmark our provision for the mental health of our people.

We will demonstrate an efficiency gain of at least 3.5%.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS610
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 12 March 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Competitiveness Council, 12 March

The Competitiveness Council (Internal Market and Industry) will take place on 12 March in Brussels. Day two on Research and Space has been cancelled.

The Council will hold an exchange of views on the European Semester 2018: Digitalisation of the EU Economy. The Council will discuss industrial policy and will look to agree upon a set of Conclusions on a future EU Industrial Policy Strategy for Competitiveness, Growth and Innovation. There will then be a discussion to mark the 25th anniversary of the Single Market. Finally, there will be a ‘competitiveness check-up’ discussion which I expect to focus on the Externalities of Regulation in Services on Manufacturing.

The Council will discuss a number of AOB points on the Industry 2030 Roundtable and the Plastic Strategy, both presented by the Commission. The Council will end with a point on Better Regulation presented by the Presidency.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS513
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 28 February 2018
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (The Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation)
Commons

Guidance to the Office for Students

The creation of the Office for Students (OfS) marks a new era for students as well as higher education regulation. On 20 February, I issued the first annual statement of Government priorities for the OfS under this new regime. This is being published today alongside the publication of the new regulatory framework - a key milestone in the delivery of the programme of reforms set out in the Higher Education and Research Act 2017 (HERA).

In my letter to the OfS, I set out the following key priorities for the OfS in its first year:

  • Creating a new regulatory system and ensuring a smooth transition – I have asked the OfS to be bold in operating the new regulatory framework, explicitly supporting diverse, innovative approaches and championing students. A key task in 2018/19 is to register current and new providers ready for full operation of the framework from August 2019, while continuing to operate the existing regulatory arrangements effectively during the transition.
  • Delivering value for money for the student and taxpayers - In order to ensure that all students receive value for money, I have asked the OfS to work with the sector to protect quality and standards, hold governing bodies to account, improve transparency, and ensure good governance, effective and efficient use of resources - including around senior staff remuneration, engaging closely with the sector on its own self-regulation in this area.
  • Student experience, quality and choice – Students’ interests should be central to the OfS’ mission. I have asked the OfS to work with the sector to promote a positive higher education experience for all students regardless of background.
  • Freedom of speech - I have asked the OfS to champion and promote freedom of speech, including calling out and challenging attempts to shut down debate such as ‘no platforming’. Free speech is essential in ensuring that higher education exposes students to new and uncomfortable ideas, and encourages robust, civil debate and challenge.
  • Prevent – I would like the OfS to continue the work HEFCE has previously done to monitor and assess how HE institutions are managing their responsibilities under the statutory Prevent duty, to safeguard students from the risk of radicalisation.
  • Access and participation – My expectation is that the OfS will promote access and participation in higher education and that this will be integral to all that the OfS does. I have asked the OfS to work with providers to seek continuous improvement in this area to encourage greater progress.
  • Industrial strategy and skills – I have asked the OfS to consider how the higher education sector can further support the Government’s broader economic policy as defined by the Industrial Strategy. Key to this will be promoting and enhancing collaboration between the higher education sector and employers, working with Government on reviewing how funding can be used to stimulate this and on reviewing the impact of apprenticeships.
  • Collaboration with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – I have asked the OfS to prioritise collaboration with UKRI to ensure a co-ordinated and strategic approach to the funding and regulation of the higher education system in England. This will include OfS leading on the teaching and student elements of the Higher Education Innovation Fund.
  • Strategic priorities for funding - The OfS’ funding priorities remain broadly consistent with those set for HEFCE in relation to Teaching Grant in previous years. I have also asked the OfS to support DfE on funding policy issues, including contributing to the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding and helping take forward the review’s recommendations.
  • Developing the OfS – I have also asked the OfS to prioritise developing as an organisation which operates effectively and efficiently, with confidence and independence in regulating the sector, involving students, following the principles of best regulatory practice, and complying with the Regulators’ Code voluntarily (until this becomes a statutory requirement).

This statement of priorities also covers areas where the Government committed to provide guidance during the passage of HERA, such as on managing risks relating to overseas providers.

Supplementary guidance to the OfS

Alongside this overall statement of Government priorities, I also issued the following supplementary guidance on the 20 February - also being published today.

  • Priorities for Access and Participation including Access and Participation Plan Guidance – This sets out how the Government expects the OfS to take forward its responsibilities for Access and Participation and informs the Access and Participation Plan Guidance, which the OfS has issued to the higher education sector today.
  • Degree Awarding Powers (DAPs) and University Title (UT) Guidance - This sets out the new high level criteria and processes for DAPs and UT, covering: the different types of DAPs authorisations; eligibility criteria for both DAPs and UT; and revocation and variation actions. The OfS must have regard to this guidance when exercising its functions.
  • Facilitating Electoral Registration - This guidance, produced by the Department for Education in collaboration with the Cabinet Office, asks the OfS to encourage providers to promote electoral registration, and help them understand potential challenges and risks that arise as a consequence of registering students.

Alongside the announcement of the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, this guidance and the work of the OfS reflects the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the higher education sector continues to be world leading, improving the opportunities for and outcomes achieved by all students from all backgrounds.

The guidance documents are being published on www.officeforstudents.org.uk/

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS483
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 19 July 2017
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Minister for Prisons, and Probation)
Commons

Justice Update

Probation services play a vital role in protecting communities and rehabilitating offenders. In delivering the sentences of the court, supervising offenders and helping them to address problems such as unemployment, homelessness and mental health issues, probation officers keep the public safe and prevent future victims of crime.

In 2014/15 the government reformed the probation system to strengthen its focus on reducing reoffending and protecting communities, and much progress has been made in implementing these reforms. For the first time around 40,000 offenders a year released from custodial sentences of less than 12 months are entitled to statutory support from probation on release, and new through-the-gate services have been introduced to improve the resettlement of released prisoners in the community. We have established 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) to supervise low and medium-risk offenders, and a National Probation Service (NPS) dedicated to protecting the public from higher-risk offenders. Staff working in the probation system deserve enormous credit for their commitment and professionalism during this period of significant change.

Nevertheless, it is clear that the current delivery of some aspects of probation services must improve. It is inevitable that such fundamental reforms to a complex public service will take some time to bed down. In addition, since the contracts were negotiated the number of offenders sentenced to community orders has fallen, and there has been an increase in the proportion of offenders assessed as posing a higher risk of harm. The result is fewer offenders are being referred to CRCs, leading to falls in CRC income to significantly below the levels expected at the time of the competition. This has made it extremely challenging for CRCs to deliver the services outlined in their contracts. In turn the NPS has seen a growth in their caseload and increased demands on its staff. That is why we have been reviewing the probation system, and why we are now taking steps to improve services.

We have recently taken urgent action to adjust the payment mechanism within the CRC contracts so it better reflects the fixed nature of most of the costs that providers incur when delivering services to offenders. This additional investment, which will see projected payments to CRCs still being no higher than originally budgeted for at the time of the reforms, will make CRC income less sensitive to changes in demand and therefore more reflective of their actual cost structures. This increased certainty about future income will enable CRCs to focus on delivering critical operational services. We are also exploring with providers further improvements that could be made to the delivery of rehabilitative services, and we will set out at a later stage any further changes we will be making as a result.

In addition we are working with the Department of Health, NHS England and Public Health England to develop a joint protocol setting out how probation, health and treatment services should work together to support those serving community sentences in England. We will seek to implement the protocol in a number of test-bed areas this year, and have agreed with the Welsh Government that we will seek to establish a similar protocol in Wales. We are also providing additional funding to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation and supporting them to introduce a new framework for the inspection of probation services from April 2018. This will provide stronger scrutiny and increased transparency of the performance of probation by introducing annual inspection of CRCs and NPS areas and the publication of individual ratings for providers.

The government remains whole-heartedly committed to reducing reoffending and protecting the public. The Transforming Rehabilitation reforms created a framework for more effective probation services and we intend to ensure they deliver the benefits of reduced reoffending. Over the coming months we will continue to work with providers to improve the delivery of probation services and we will make further statements in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS84
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