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
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 09 September 2019
Made by: Dominic Raab (Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

The UK Government’s response to Hurricane Dorian in The Bahamas

In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, my thoughts are with all those who have lost their lives, their homes or have been injured in The Bahamas and elsewhere. Hurricane Dorian has caused untold damage to the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama in particular. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) estimates that 15,000 people remain in need of urgent humanitarian assistance – a number which is less than was initially feared. The Government of The Bahamas have officially confirmed 43 deaths.

To help the people and the Government of The Bahamas, the UK Government has initially committed up to £1.5 million towards the immediate humanitarian response. This funding has been provided by the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF), for the delivery of critical aid supplies by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Mounts Bay, and to support CDEMA in its work to coordinate the international response. RFA Mounts Bay was pre-positioned in the region ahead of hurricane season and is carrying specialist equipment and vital aid supplies, including hygiene kits, emergency shelter kits and water. The Royal Navy Wildcat helicopter on board is airlifting supplies, conducting reconnaissance flights and assessing damage. The UK was amongst the first to provide support and we are now glad to see that the international response is ramping up.

We have deployed a team to The Bahamas to help coordinate the emergency response and ensure aid gets where it is needed. We have also deployed additional consular staff to Nassau. They, alongside Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff in London, are working with the Bahamian authorities and international partners to provide support to British nationals, and to scope what, if any, further assistance may be needed.

The number of British nationals in need of support is anticipated to be low. It is low season for tourists and we estimate there were 200-400 British nationals in the worst affected areas. As the only European mission in The Bahamas, the British High Commission in Nassau has legal responsibility to provide consular support for EU nationals. The FCO has been regularly updating its Travel Advice.

The British High Commission in Nassau is working closely with the United Nations, the United States, Canada, NGOs and other partners in the region to support the Bahamian Government. Early support was also provided by the Governor’s Office in Turks and Caicos, which is a British Overseas Territory. The Cayman Islands have also sent a helicopter (jointly funded with the FCO).

The FCO, Department for International Development, Ministry of Defence, and other departments and agencies have worked closely to prepare for the hurricane season. Since 2017, the Met Office has developed improved advisory arrangements for the Caribbean, and we have been working closely to gain a better understanding of the technical data as tropical storms develop. A team of experts from across Government was tracking this storm from its development as a tropical depression over the August Bank Holiday. This meant the UK Government was well prepared to respond quickly in support of local authorities with our resources pre-deployed in the region. We will continue to assess the situation.

Any MPs who may be concerned about the welfare of particular UK nationals in The Bahamas can contact the MPs’ Hotline, details of which have been emailed to all MPs’ offices.

WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 25 October 2018
Made by: Dominic Raab (Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)
Commons

EU Exit

Section 18 of the EU (Withdrawal) Act conferred a legal obligation for a Minister of the Crown to lay before both Houses of Parliament a statement in writing outlining the steps taken by Her Majesty’s Government to seek to negotiate an agreement, as part of the framework for the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the EU, for the United Kingdom to participate in a customs arrangement with the EU, before 31st October 2018.

The Government published a White Paper earlier this year setting out its proposal for the UK’s future relationship with the EU, including a new customs arrangement. The UK proposed the establishment of a free trade area for goods that would avoid friction at the border, protect jobs and livelihoods, and ensure that the UK and the EU could meet their commitments to Northern Ireland and Ireland through the overall future relationship. The new customs arrangement would support this by removing the need for customs checks and controls at the border between the UK and the EU, while allowing the UK to forge new trading relationships with partners around the world.

The UK would apply the EU’s tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the EU, and the UK’s tariffs and trade policy for goods intended for the UK. Mirroring the EU’s customs approach at its external border would ensure that goods entering the EU via the UK have complied with EU customs processes and the correct EU duties have been paid. This would include the UK maintaining a common customs rulebook with the EU. It would remove the need for customs declarations, routine requirements for rules of origin, and entry and exit summary declarations. Together with the wider free trade area, the new customs arrangement would preserve frictionless trade for the majority of UK goods trade, and reduce frictions for UK trade with the rest of the world through a range of unilateral and bilateral facilitations. The UK’s goal is to facilitate the greatest possible trade, whether with the EU or the rest of the world. There would need to be a phased approach to implementation of the model.

The UK recognises that this approach would need to be consistent with the integrity of the EU’s Customs Union and that the EU would need to be confident that goods cannot enter its customs territory without the correct tariff and trade policy being applied. To that end, the UK proposed that where a good reached the UK border and the destination could not be robustly demonstrated at the point of import, it would pay the higher of the UK or EU tariff. Where the good’s destination was later identified to be in the lower tariff jurisdiction, it would be eligible for a repayment from the UK Government equal to the difference between the two tariffs. The UK proposed agreeing with the EU a new trusted trader scheme to allow firms to pay the correct tariff at the UK border without needing to engage with the repayment mechanism. Both sides would need to agree the circumstances in which repayments could be granted, which is most likely to be relevant to intermediate goods. The UK also proposed agreeing a mechanism with the EU for the remittance of relevant tariff revenue, such as a tariff revenue formula, taking account of goods destined for the UK entering via the EU and goods destined for the EU entering via the UK.

To ensure that new declarations and border checks between the UK and the EU do not need to be introduced for VAT and Excise purposes, the UK also proposed the application of common cross-border processes and procedures for VAT and Excise, as well as some administrative cooperation and information exchange to underpin risk-based enforcement. These common processes and procedures would apply to the trade in goods, small parcels and to individuals travelling with goods (including alcohol and tobacco) for personal use.

The UK’s proposal is designed to make the arrangements as simple as possible for those who need to use them, and the UK would continue to explore options to use future advancements in technology to streamline the process.

As the Prime Minister set out in her update to the House of Commons on 22 October 2018, we have made good progress in negotiations with the EU on both the Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration on our future relationship. On the political declaration on our future relationship, the UK and the EU have discussed each element of the UK’s proposals, including the future customs arrangement. The UK will continue to work with the European Union on finalising the Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration on our future relationship and, as set out in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the House of Commons must vote to approve that deal before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1001
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 15 October 2018
Made by: Dominic Raab (Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union )
Commons

EU Exit

Technical Notices

As announced by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on 18 July 2018, the Government is publishing a series of technical notices. We published 25 of these notices on 23 August, 28 on 13 September, and 24 on 24 September. Last Friday, 12 October 2018, we published a further 29 notices. These notices are designed to inform people, businesses and stakeholders about steps they may need to take in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario.

Notices were published on the following areas:

Accounting and audit if there's no Brexit deal

Breeding animals if there's no Brexit deal

Classifying, labelling and packaging chemicals if there's no Brexit deal

Commercial fishing if there's no Brexit deal

Consumer rights if there's no Brexit deal

Control on mercury if there's no Brexit deal

Control on persistent organic pollutants if there's no Brexit deal

Existing free trade agreements if there's no Brexit deal

Export and import of hazardous chemicals if there's no Brexit deal

Exporting GM food and animal feed products if there's no Brexit deal

Exporting objects of cultural interest if there's no Brexit deal

Funding for British Overseas Territories if there's no Brexit deal

Geo-blocking of online content if there's no Brexit deal

Health marks on meat, fish and dairy products if there's no Brexit deal

Importing high-risk food and animal feed if there's no Brexit deal

Maintaining the continuity of waste shipments if there's no Brexit deal

Meeting climate change requirements if there's no Brexit deal

Meeting rail safety and standards if there's no Brexit deal

Plant variety rights and marketing of seed and propagating material if there's no Brexit deal

Providing services including those of a qualified professional if there's no Brexit deal

Rail transport if there’s no Brexit deal

Regulating biocidal products if there's no Brexit deal

Regulating pesticides if there's no Brexit deal

Sanctions policy if there's no Brexit deal

Structuring your business if there's no Brexit deal

Taking horses abroad if there's no Brexit deal

Trading and moving endangered species protected by CITES if there's no Brexit deal

Trading electricity if there's no Brexit deal

Trading gas with the EU if there's no Brexit deal

Notices are being published on gov.uk. These can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/how-to-prepare-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal

Copies of notices will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses to ensure all Members have access.

WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 09 October 2018
Made by: Dominic Raab (Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)
Commons

EU Exit

As announced by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on 18 July 2018, the Government is publishing a series of technical notices during August and September. On Thursday 23 August, we published 25 of these notices, and on Thursday 13th September, we published a further 28. During Parliamentary Recess on Monday 24 September, we published a further 24 technical notices. These notices are designed to inform people, businesses and stakeholders about steps they may need to take in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario.

Notices were published on the following areas:

1. Registration of veterinary medicines

2. Regulation of veterinary medicines

3. Accessing animal medicine IT systems

4. Exporting animals and animal products

5. Importing animals and animal products

6. Flights to and from the UK

7. Aviation safety

8. Aviation security

9. Trade marks and designs

10. Patents

11. Copyright

12. Exhaustion of intellectual property rights

13. European Territorial Cooperation funding

14. Generating low-carbon electricity 15.Regulating chemicals (REACH)

16. Manufacturing and marketing fertilisers

17. Producing and labelling food

18. Importing and exporting plants

19. Taking your pet abroad

20. Operating bus or coach services abroad

21. Commercial road haulage in the EU

22. Buying and selling timber

23. Vehicle insurance

24. Geographical Indicators

Notices are being published on gov.uk. These can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/how-to-prepare-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal

Copies of notices have also been placed in the Libraries of both Houses to ensure all Members have access, and we will continue to ensure that technical notices are made available to Members.

WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 13 September 2018
Made by: Dominic Raab (Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)
Commons

EU Exit

Technical Notices

As announced by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on 18 July 2018, the Government is publishing a series of technical notices during August and September. On Thursday 23 August, we published 25 of these notices. Today, on Thursday 13 September, we are publishing a further 28 technical notices, and will publish more in the coming weeks. These notices are designed to inform people, businesses and stakeholders about steps they may need to take in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario.

Notices are being published on the following areas:

  1. Accessing public sector contracts if there’s no Brexit deal.

  2. Appointing nominated persons to your business if there’s no Brexit deal.

  3. Broadcasting and video on demand if there’s no Brexit deal.

  4. Connecting Europe Facility energy funding if there's no Brexit deal.

  5. Data protection if there’s no Brexit deal.

  6. Driving in the EU if there's no Brexit deal.

  7. European Regional Development Funding if there’s no Brexit deal.

  8. European Social Fund (ESF) grants if there’s no Brexit deal.

  9. Funding for UK LIFE projects if there’s no Brexit deal.

  10. Getting an exemption from maritime security notifications if there’s no Brexit deal.

  11. Handling civil legal cases that involve EU countries if there’s no Brexit deal.

  12. Industrial emissions standards (‘Best Available Techniques’) if there’s no Brexit deal.

  13. Merger review and anti-competitive activity if there's no Brexit deal.

  14. Mobile roaming if there’s no Brexit deal.

  15. Recognition of seafarer certificates of competency if there’s no Brexit deal.

  16. Reporting CO2 emissions for new cars and vans if there’s no Brexit deal.

  17. Running an oil or gas business if there’s no Brexit deal.

  18. Satellites and space programmes if there’s no Brexit deal.

  19. Trading goods regulated under the ‘New Approach’ if there’s no Brexit deal.

  20. Trading in drug precursors if there’s no Brexit deal.

  21. Trading under the mutual recognition principle if there’s no Brexit deal.

  22. Travelling in the Common Travel Area and the associated rights of British and Irish citizens if there’s no Brexit deal.

  23. Travelling to the EU with a UK passport if there’s no Brexit deal.

  24. Travelling with a European Firearms Pass if there’s no Brexit deal.

  25. Upholding environmental standards if there’s no Brexit deal.

  26. Using and trading in fluorinated gases and ozone depleting substances if there's no Brexit deal.

  27. Vehicle type approval if there’s no UK exit deal.

  28. What telecoms businesses should do if there’s no Brexit deal.



Notices are being published on gov.uk. These can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/how-to-prepare-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal

Copies of notices will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses to ensure all Members have access, and we will continue to ensure that technical notices are made available to Members.

WS
Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 04 September 2018
Made by: Dominic Raab (Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)
Commons

EU Exit

Technical Notices

As announced by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on 18 July 2018, the Government is publishing a series of technical notices during August and September. On Thursday 23 August, we published 25 of these notices and will publish more in the coming weeks. These notices are designed to inform people, businesses and stakeholders about steps they may need to take in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario.

Notices were published on the following areas:

Overview

  • UK government's preparations for a no deal scenario

Applying for EU-funded programmes

  • The government’s guarantee for EU-funded programmes

  • Horizon 2020 funding

  • Delivering humanitarian aid programmes

Civil nuclear and nuclear research

  • Nuclear research

  • Civil nuclear regulation

Farming

  • Farm payments

  • Receiving rural development funding

Importing and exporting

  • Trade remedies

  • Trading with the EU

  • Classifying your goods in the UK Trade Tariff

  • Exporting controlled goods

Labelling products and making them safer

  • Labelling tobacco products and e-cigarettes

  • Developing genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

  • Producing and processing organic food

Money and tax

  • VAT for businesses

  • Banking, insurance and other financial services

Regulating medicines and medical equipment

  • Batch testing medicines

  • Ensuring blood and blood products are safe

  • How medicines, medical devices and clinical trials would be regulated

  • Submitting regulatory information on medical products

  • Quality and safety of organs, tissues and cells

State aid

  • State aid

Studying in the UK or EU

  • Erasmus+ in the UK

Workplace rights

  • Workplace rights



Notices were published on gov.uk during the parliamentary recess. These can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/how-to-prepare-if-the-uk-leaves-the-eu-with-no-deal

Copies of notices were also placed in the Libraries of both Houses to ensure all Members had access, and we will continue to ensure that technical notices are made available to Members.

Slides on the Framework for the UK-EU partnership

The UK negotiating team are also producing presentations for discussion with the EU, in order to inform development of the future framework.


Slides have been published in the following areas over the parliamentary recess:

  • Financial Services

  • Open and Fair Competition

These were published on gov.uk during the parliamentary recess and were also deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies can also be found here:

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS904
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 30 April 2018
Made by: Dominic Raab (Minister of State for Housing)
Commons

Carbon Monoxide Detection and Safety

Carbon monoxide which can be released if a boiler or fire is faulty or poorly maintained can be a silent killer.

The Government takes the risk and consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning seriously and we have been working closely with Eddie Hughes MP on this important life safety issue.

The Government with its agencies continues to raise awareness about the risks. For example, our national fire safety campaign helps fire and rescue services promote carbon monoxide messaging and Gas Safety Week is a national campaign to help raise awareness in homes with gas appliances.

Regulation also has an important role to play. Since 2010, our building regulations have required carbon monoxide alarms when solid fuel appliances are installed and in 2015 we introduced further regulation to require alarms when homes that have a solid fuel appliance are privately rented. The Government has consulted recently on the effectiveness of the regulations in the private rented sector.

As a result of our actions, the number of carbon monoxide poisonings has fallen and incidents are thankfully rare but we cannot be complacent.

In recent years there have been improvements in carbon monoxide alarms and the cost has fallen and government thinks it is now right to look at the requirements for carbon monoxide alarms generally to see whether they need to be strengthened.

The Government is therefore launching a review of the requirements and the evidence base which underpins these with a view to consulting by the end of the year. Any future changes in requirements would take account of the outcome of the Government’s consultation on the operation of private rented alarm regulations and the Dame Judith Hackitt independent review into Building Regulations and Fire Safety.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS636
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 29 March 2018
Made by: Dominic Raab (Minister of State for Housing)
Commons

Social Housing Update

Nearly 2 million households have been helped to realise aspirations to own their homes through the Right to Buy since 1980. The Right to Buy gives more people the opportunity to own their home, improves social mobility and provides greater financial security. It brings the benefits of home ownership to those who would otherwise not have the opportunity.

In 2012 the Right to Buy scheme was reinvigorated and the maximum discounts were increased to realistic levels. Of the 90,730 sales since April 2010, 83,272 were under the reinvigorated scheme demonstrating there is a continued substantial demand for the Right to Buy.

Our record on the provision of affordable housing is a strong one with over 357,000 affordable homes delivered since 2010. This included 257,000 homes for rent. Whilst 69,000 local authority homes have been sold since 2010, there have been 127,000 new homes provided for social rent during the same period.

The Government is committed to a step change in council house building. However, statistics released today show that while the number of homes available for social rent has increased, some local authorities have not been building enough Right to Buy replacements to match the pace of their sales. It is clear that local authorities need to increase their rate of delivery of new homes.

Helping to support this, the Chancellor announced in the Autumn Budget that we will raise the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap by a total of up to £1 billion in areas of high affordability pressure for local authorities who are ready to start building new homes. This will offer local authorities in such areas the opportunity to increase council house building to meet the needs of local communities.

Additionally, local authorities are able to bid alongside housing associations, or in partnership with them, for £9 billion Affordable Homes Programme grant funding (2016-21) to deliver a wide range of affordable homes. This includes £2 billion of additional funding announced at Autumn Budget to deliver affordable housing with funding also being made available for social rent in areas of acute affordability pressure. Alongside these programmes, we have also announced that local authorities and housing associations will be able to increase rents by up to CPI +1% from 2020. This will provide a stable investment environment to deliver new affordable homes.

In the Spring Statement we also announced a £1.67bn funding package for London, to build 26,000 more affordable homes that the capital desperately needs. This deal, as part of the government’s commitment to actively boost affordable housing supply, will overall see 116,000 more affordable homes in London and bring the total funding for affordable housing in London to £4.8bn. This move is a key part of supporting councils and housing associations in the city to build more homes at rents that are affordable to local people. This additional funding was granted on the condition that some of it will be used to deliver high quality homes for social rent. This will be in addition to continuing to deliver homes for London Affordable Rent, flexible shared ownership and rent to buy. At least two thirds of the homes built with this additional funding must be for rent.

As well as increasing investment in new social housing, we remain committed to the Right to Buy, helping people into home ownership and replacing the homes sold. This year we will be rolling out a pilot of the Right to Buy for Housing Association tenants in the Midlands. We have engaged with local authorities to get a better understanding of the barriers to delivering new homes. To help councils build more homes, we believe there is a case for greater flexibility on the use of receipts from Right to Buy sales. We will consult further with the sector on providing greater flexibility around how local authorities can use their Right to Buy receipts, and how to ensure that we continue to support local authorities to build more council homes. We will consider social housing issues as part of our work on the forthcoming Green Paper.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS594
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Ministry of Justice
Made on: 20 October 2017
Made by: Dominic Raab (Minister of State for Justice)
Commons

Justice Update

When the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of R (Unison) v Lord Chancellor on 26 July, the Government took immediate steps to stop charging fees in the Employment Tribunals. We also said that we would bring forward detailed arrangements to refund people who had paid fees. We will today be launching the first phase of the refund scheme.

We will use this first phase, which will last up to 4 weeks, to ensure that that the refund process works efficiently and effectively. From today, officials in the Ministry of Justice will be writing to an initial group of up to 1,000 people who paid fees for proceedings in the Employment Tribunals, inviting them to take part. This group will consist of people who have contacted us since the Supreme Court judgment enquiring about a refund. Those who receive a refund will also be paid interest from the date their payment was received.

We recognise that during the initial phase of the refund scheme, there is likely to be considerable interest in the details of the scheme. For those who have paid Employment Tribunals fees, but have not been invited to take part in the initial stage, we are setting up a pre-registration scheme so that they can register an interest in applying when the full scheme is rolled out. Those who wish to do so can register either by email at: ethelpwithfees@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk; or alternatively by post to the following addresses:

For proceedings in England and Wales

Employment Tribunals Central Office (England and Wales)/Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) Fees

PO Box 10218

Leicester LE1 8EG

For proceedings in Scotland

Employment Tribunals Central Office Scotland/Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) Fees

PO Box 27105

Glasgow G2 9JRX

This phase is primarily aimed at people making applications for refunds in single claims. During this period, we will also be working with the Trades Unions on how this process should be best applied to applications for refunds in larger multiple claims.

We plan to roll out the full refund scheme early in November. At that point, anyone who has paid a fee in the Employment Tribunals, whether in a single or multiple claim, will be able to claim a refund.

Those who will be eligible to apply for a refund under the scheme are:

  • People who paid a fee directly to the Employment Tribunal or Employment Appeal Tribunal, and have not been reimbursed by their opponent pursuant to an order of the Tribunal.

  • People who were ordered by the Tribunal to reimburse their opponent their fee and who can show that they have paid it.

  • Representatives (such as a Trade Union) who paid a fee on behalf of another person and have not been reimbursed by that person.

  • The lead claimant (or representative) in a multiple claim who paid a fee on behalf of the other claimants.

Further guidance will be available when the scheme is rolled out.

To receive a refund, applicants will be invited to complete an application form with their details, details of their employment tribunal claim and the fees that they paid. These details will be verified against HMCTS’s records. Where people are unable to provide full details of the fees they paid, or the details they provide do not accord with the details we hold, their application will not be refused automatically, but it may take longer to process.

Where a person is claiming for fees that they reimbursed to their opponent pursuant to a Tribunal Order, they will be asked to provide a copy of the Tribunal Order, and proof of payment. In cases where a person reimbursed their opponent under a private settlement, they will not be eligible for a refund; in such cases, the person who paid the fee to the Tribunal will be eligible for a refund.

All applicants will also be asked to sign a declaration of truth about the details they provide. Refunds will be made to the applicant’s bank account; if an individual does not have a bank account, they can contact HMCTS for alternative methods of payment.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS191
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Ministry of Justice
Made on: 26 June 2017
Made by: Dominic Raab (Minister of State for Justice)
Commons

Justice and Home Affairs Post-Council Statement

My noble friend the Justice Lords Spokesperson (Lord Keen QC of Elie) has made the following Written Statement.

"A meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council took place on 8 and 9 June in Luxembourg. The Council took place on the day of, and the day after, the General Election. I represented the UK for Justice day. The UK’s Permanent Representative to the European Union, Sir Tim Barrow, and Shona Riach, Home Office Europe Director, represented the UK for Interior day.

Justice day

The Council agreed a number of proposals without discussion on Justice day, including a number of Council Conclusions on areas including returns, children in migration and information exchange and information management including interoperability solutions.

Justice day began with the participating Member States agreeing a General Approach on the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) under enhanced cooperation. The UK has always been clear that we will not participate.

A General Approach was achieved on the Supply of Digital Content Directive. However, some concerns on a specific article remained; trilogues under the Estonian Presidency are likely to come back to these issues. I expressed the UK’s support for the Presidency’s compromise.

There was a policy debate on the European Commission (Commission) proposal for a provision on hearing the views of the child in parental responsibility cases arising from the Brussels IIa Regulation. There was broad support for such a provision. The Commission urged Member States to make progress as it would help resolve the problem of refusal of recognition and enforcement of judgments on the basis that the child had not been heard. The UK agrees that refusal of recognition and enforcement of judgments is a problem but I asked that Member States keep options open going forward, rather than committing to a provision now.

For the Insolvency Directive, the Presidency presented the Maltese Presidency’s paper on the role of national courts in restructuring procedures and the principle that debtors should remain, in whole or in part, in possession of their business. The UK supports the Directive and I welcomed the direction of travel on both issues. The Presidency concluded that Member States had shown support on both issues and work would continue at the technical level.

There was then a discussion on the Money Laundering Directive, for which a General Approach was achieved. The UK has not opted in to this proposal.

The Presidency reached a General Approach on the recast of Regulation 45/2001, which regulates the processing of personal data by EU institutions and bodies, and was being re-cast to bring it in line with the wider EU data protection package. As the proposal has not yet cleared parliamentary scrutiny in the UK, I did not give a position.

Over lunch, EU Ministers discussed ways of countering illegal hate speech online. The Commission updated the Council on the second progress report on cooperation with internet service providers. EU Ministers expressed support for the Commission’s work in this area. The Government views cooperation with internet service providers as an important step in the collective work to reduce harm caused by hate online, and I suggested producing a toolkit to help small platforms to apply the same standards as bigger providers.

After lunch, at the start of a joint session of Interior and Justice Ministers, the Council held a one minute silence to remember those killed and injured in the Manchester and London Bridge terrorist attacks. I then provided an update on the attacks. I noted the quick and effective response from our emergency services and that the investigations were ongoing. I also thanked Ministers for the many messages of condolence, and stressed the need to work together to combat radicalisation and deprive extremists of safe spaces to operate online.

The Council then moved on to discuss Criminal Justice in Cyberspace, covering e-evidence, data retention and encryption.

For e-evidence, the Commission presented a number of practical measures as well as possible legislative approaches for improving cross-border access to electronic evidence. The Government agrees we must be able to bring to justice cross-border crimes planned, facilitated or committed online irrespective of where the electronic evidence is stored. I underlined the importance of this agenda, in particular for bringing terrorists to justice and set out practical action which could help. The Presidency concluded that the Commission should continue to seek expert input whilst developing legislative proposals.

For encryption, the Commission presented an update on the challenges caused by end-to-end encryption for law enforcement, as well as the technical and legal issues.

For data retention, the Presidency provided a brief update on discussions held so far in the Friends of the Presidency group on Data Retention. The Government has played a leading role in the group and fully supports these discussions as a way of building an evidence base for the necessity of retention.

The final discussion on Justice day was focussed on safeguarding children involved in irregular migration to Europe across the Mediterranean. EU Ministers agreed that protecting children at all stages is a priority and endorsed the need for a comprehensive approach to migration.

Interior day

Interior day began with the agreement of a General Approach on the European Travel and Information Authorisation System (ETIAS). As the UK is not part of the border control aspects of the Schengen agreement, it will not take part in this proposal.

This was followed by a policy debate on the Second Generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) proposals. There was broad agreement among EU Ministers that the SIS II could be used for entering preventive alerts on children at risk of abduction and disappearance, with the caveat that clear definitions were needed. There was also some support from EU Ministers on the creation of a new alert on the SIS II for ‘inquiry checks’ against suspected criminals or terrorists.

There was then a general discussion on actions to address the migration crisis, with a focus on the EU-Turkey agreement and the Central Mediterranean. Member States were encouraged to take an active role in implementing the Malta Declaration.

Over a working lunch focused on Counter Terrorism, there was a progress update on the work of the Counter Terrorism Group followed by a presentation of fiches on data sharing with EU agencies from Counter Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove. There was also a discussion on proposals to bring together the various European bodies responsible for countering radicalisation, including the Radicalisation Awareness Network and the European Strategic Communications Network.

The afternoon session began with a debate on key operational practices and obstacles of returns policy and the use of visas as leverage. It was concluded that Member States would need to work together on returns and readmission and that the next step would be to look at where and when leverage should be used.

There was then a discussion on Information Systems and Interoperability, following the final report of the High Level Expert Group on data sharing (HLEG). The HLEG’s priorities were highlighted, including a shared biometric matching service and a common data repository, while the need to improve data quality, implement PNR and improve cooperation with Europol and Interpol were common themes in discussion.

Finally, there was an update on negotiations on the seven legislative proposals on the Common European Asylum System. Of these measures, the UK has only opted in to the recast Eurodac Regulation.

Over both days the Estonian delegation set out their priorities for their Presidency of the Council of the EU, which begins in July. The fight against terrorism and serious crime will continue to be a priority. ECRIS will remain a priority file, as will criminal justice in cyberspace and data retention. The incoming Presidency will prioritise safeguarding Schengen and free movement in the face of terrorism and mass migration, meaning that the asylum package, the Valletta Action Plan, returns, and the Blue Card Directive will be priority files, as will work on radicalisation, interoperability of EU information systems, the Entry Exit system and ETIAS. Prüm, Passenger Name Records (PNR) and a renewed mandate for EU LISA will also be high on the agenda, as will cooperation between the EU and Ukraine."

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS12
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