Written statements

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

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

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

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Written Statement Indentifying Number – Every written statement in the House of Commons and House of Lords has a WSID per parliamentary session.
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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%.

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Department for Transport
Made on: 23 April 2018
Made by: Ms Nusrat Ghani (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport)
Commons

Light Dues 2018-19

A strong and growing maritime industry is vital to the economy of the United Kingdom and it is critical that we treasure and protect this vital artery if we are to remain a world-leading maritime centre.

The work of the General Lighthouse Authorities, which provide and maintain marine aids to navigation and respond to new wrecks and navigation dangers in some of the busiest waters in the world, is crucial to underpinning that vision whilst maintaining our vigorous safety record and continuously improving standards of safety.

Reductions in the three General Lighthouse Authorities’ running costs have enabled the UK to reduce light dues for four successive years. For 2017-18 I intend to freeze light dues rates at 37½p per net registered tonne. This will mean that light dues will have fallen by 28 per cent in real terms since 2010.

Light dues rates will continue to be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that the General Lighthouse Authorities are challenged to provide an effective and efficient service which offers value for money to light dues payers.

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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 19 April 2018
Made by: Rishi Sunak (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Local Government)
Commons

Local Government Finance: Response to the Resolution of the House, 28th March 2018

I am writing in response to the Opposition Day Debate on ‘Reductions in Local Government Funding’ of 28 March and the resolution of the House made that day. This Government recognises the vital role of local government in delivering the front-line services which communities across the country rely on. I am writing to the House to confirm the support this Government is providing to ensure Councils have the resources they need to deliver vital local services.

In February, the 2018/19 Local Government Finance Settlement set out the resources available to councils in England. This is the third year of a four year offer which was approved by Parliament, as was the case in both preceding years. The multi-year settlement was also overwhelmingly accepted by Councils, 97 per cent of whom took up the offer in return for publishing efficiency plans. It has provided greater certainty, allowing Councils to plan ahead and secure value for money.

Through the settlement, Local Government has been given access to £45.1 billion in 2018-19 and £45.6 billion in 2019-20. This is an overall increase since 17-18 of £1.3 billion. This recognises both the growing pressure on local government’s services and higher-than-expected inflation levels. For adult social care in particular, a further £150 million was provided for 2018/19, which we expect will help support sustainable local care markets, in addition to the £2 billion announced at Spring Budget 2017. With this, and other measures, the Government has given councils access to £9.4 billion dedicated funding for adult social care over three years.

Informed by the representations received from Councils, organisations and members of the public, we are ensuring that the sector is equipped to drive economic growth, to think and act creatively and to deliver for their residents. We are clear that is about more than just the funding. Through additional flexibilities and responsibilities, we are responding to the sector’s request for more control over the money they raise as well as the tools to make this money go further.

Local authorities already have a strong incentive to grow their economies through 50 per cent business rates retention and benefit from the additional income that growth in their business rates brings. Over 150 local authorities in sixteen pilot areas are incentivised further by retaining 100 per cent of their growth in business rates.

We are also looking towards the future. We are undertaking a review of local authorities’ relative needs and resources to address concerns about the fairness of current funding distributions. The consultation has now closed and my Department is carefully assessing over 300 responses from a wide range of stakeholders. We have sought the views of councils, representative associations and others to capture the key factors which should be included in a new funding formula and we will continue to collaborate with local government on this. We aim to implement its findings in 2020-21.

Local government also has a vital role to play in helping the broken housing market. The recent allocation of £866 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund for 133 local authority projects will help to deliver some 200,000 additional homes, and we have also announced an additional £1 billion of borrowing headroom to enable local authorities in the highest value areas to build more homes for social and affordable rent.

We further announced last month the 45 areas across England we are working with to develop Forward Funding infrastructure projects, with up to £4.1 billion of funding available to unlock a potential 400,000 homes. These are strategic, long term projects which will deliver housing not just for now, but for generations to come - creating new settlements, growing places and supporting local authority ambition for growth and regeneration.

This Government remains firmly committed to ensuring local government has the support and resource it needs to deliver its services effectively and efficiently, whilst protecting hard-working taxpayers from excessive council tax rises.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS609
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Home Office
Made on: 19 April 2018
Made by: Mr Nick Hurd (The Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service)
Commons

Police Funding

Following the debate on police funding held in this House on 28 March 2018 and the motion of this House, the Government wishes to highlight that it is committed to protecting the public and providing the resources necessary for the police to do their critical work. At the 2015 Spending Review, the Government protected overall police spending (the combination of Government grants to Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs), police precept, and spending on national priorities such as the Police Transformation Fund) in real terms. Counter-Terrorism police grant was also specifically protected.

Before taking decisions on the 2018/19 settlement, the Government was determined to ensure that we continued to enable the police to respond to changing demands on them. I visited or spoke with every police force in England and Wales to better understand the demands they face and how these can best be managed. I saw for myself the exceptional attitude and hard work of police officers and staff around the country, and listened to the evidence about the genuine increases in demand they are facing.

Crime as traditionally measured by the Independent Crime Survey for England and Wales – widely regarded as the best long-term measure of the crime people experience – is down by more than a third since 2010 and by more than two thirds since its peak in 1995. However, we recognise that there have been material changes in the demands on policing since the 2015 Spending Review. Demand on the police from crimes reported to them has grown and shifted to more complex and resource intensive work such as investigating child sexual exploitation and modern slavery. At the same time the terrorist threat has changed.

We included four key elements in the police funding settlement for 2018/19 to enable the police to respond effectively: an increase in funding, greater future funding certainty, clear opportunities for substantial improvements in productivity and efficiency, and greater financial transparency to ensure effective use is made of police financial reserves.

Following the Spending Review in 2015, the Government committed to protecting force level funding in cash terms over the Spending Review period, when police precept and Government grant are taken together. The 2018/19 settlement changed this by enabling every PCC to maintain their funding in real terms. This was achieved by a combination of protecting the Government grant to PCCs in cash terms (compared to 2017/18) so PCCs retain the full benefit from any additional local precept income, and increasing flexibility to raise precept without calling a referendum (in England). The vast majority of PCCs used the additional flexibility to increase precept, resulting in an over £280m increase in funding in 2018/19. In addition, many PCCs have set out proposals to use this extra funding to improve frontline policing.

We are also increasing investment in national policing priorities such as police technology and Special Grant by around £130m in 2018/19 compared to 2017/18. This reflects our commitment to support the police to deliver a modern digitally enabled workforce, and to manage major events such as the Commonwealth Summit and terrorist attacks. We are maintaining the size of the Police Transformation Fund at £175 million in order to help drive police reform.

Counter-terrorism police is receiving a £50m (7%) increase in like for like funding when compared to 2017/18, enabling the counter-terrorism budget to increase to £757m, including £29m for the uplift in armed policing from the Police Transformation Fund. Once the armed uplift programme is complete, there will be around 7,000 armed officers in England and Wales which exceeds the number of firearms officers in 2010. This is a significant additional investment in the vital work of counter-terrorism police officers across the country. These specialist armed officers will be better trained and equipped than ever before to deal with the full range of complex terrorist attacks.

Separately, the Home Office has also provided £9.8m in Special Grant funding to cover the costs of the police response to the Manchester Arena attack and a further £7.6m to support the costs in London.

Overall, police funding across the system is increasing by around £460m year on year, including police precept. The House of Commons debated and voted for the police funding settlement on 7 February, as is done on an annual basis.

The motion debated by the House on 28 March referenced the UK Statistics Authority’s recent work on police funding statements. The Government recognises that police funding is a complex topic and is committed to presenting and explaining police funding clearly. The UK Statistics Authority suggested the Home Office should produce a regular analysis of police funding in line with the principles set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics. The Home Office Chief Statistician is currently considering how this could be achieved.

Police leaders rightly highlighted to me that one year of additional financial support would not be sufficient to mitigate the challenges the police face. It is also important that PCCs and Chief Constables can plan effectively. Therefore the Government committed at the police settlement to protect police grant in cash terms, and repeat the additional precept flexibility in 2019/20, so long as significant progress is made this year on efficiency and productivity. This approach gives policing the opportunity to make major improvements in efficiency, and use those gains to improve services to the public.

Efficiency and productivity are essential to a sustainable plan to enable the police to manage challenging demands. Since the police funding settlement, I have been working with the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and the National Police Chiefs Council to agree concrete proposals to save around £120m through better procurement and use of shared services. We are also working with the police to deliver the benefits of better, digitally enabled working. The motion debated on 28 March called for 10,000 additional officers. The motion did not make reference to efficiency or productivity. If all forces could deliver the same one hour per officer per day of productivity benefits from mobile working as the best in a recent sample with eight forces, this has the potential to free up the equivalent of 11,000 extra officers nationally to provide the proactive policing that committed police officers want to deliver. The Government believes that it is essential that we work with the police to realise these productivity benefits, rather than focusing on extra funding or having a sterile debate on officer numbers alone.

We are also encouraging the police to make effective and prudent use of their financial reserves. As at March 2017 PCCs held usable resource reserves of over £1.6bn. This compares to £1.4bn in 2011. Current reserves held represent 15% of annual police funding to PCCs. There are good reasons for holding reserves, including to invest in better ICT to help officers work smartly. However, PCCs’ plans for using their reserves must be robust and open to public scrutiny. That is why we set out new guidance in January requiring them to publish their reserves strategies in plain English, with a clear justification for each reserve held, as well as publishing national information on the level of reserves held.

Taken together, the Government has listened to the police, we have substantially increased police funding in 2018/19, we have demonstrated our complete commitment to protecting the public from terrorism, and we have provided the police with the tools to respond to changing demand.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS608
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 19 April 2018
Made by: Boris Johnson (Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Expansion of UK diplomatic network in the Commonwealth

Global Britain is this government’s ambition to increase the UK’s national security, prosperity and influence, signalling our resolve to remain a big and influential player on the world stage.

In March, I announced plans to open around 10 new sovereign missions over the next two years, drawing on additional funding granted to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to enhance our diplomatic capability overseas.

During the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London this week, I am announcing the location of nine new missions: six High Commissions in Lesotho (Maseru); Swaziland (Mbabane); the Bahamas (Nassau); Tonga (Nuku’Alofa); Samoa (Apia); Vanuatu (Port Vila); and a further three missions, in Antigua and Barbuda (St John’s); Grenada (St George’s); and St Vincent & the Grenadines (Kingstown). These new missions will strengthen the UK’s diplomatic influence in the Commonwealth and help to deliver the UK’s security and prosperity objectives.

This expansion of our diplomatic network in the Commonwealth, which marks the beginning of the UK’s two-year tenure as Chair, demonstrates our commitment to making an even greater success of this historic and important network of like-minded friends.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS607
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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 18 April 2018
Made by: Andrew Griffiths (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility )
Commons

General Affairs Council: April 2018

My right honourable friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Henley) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I attended the General Affairs Council (Cohesion) on 12 April 2018. The meeting was held in Luxembourg and chaired by the Bulgarian Presidency.

The meeting was dedicated to the strategic context and priorities for post-2020 cohesion policy, and included an information session from the Commission on communicating cohesion policy.

A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2018/04/12/

The General Affairs Council discussed the future direction of cohesion policy in the next Multiannual Financial Framework. Ministers and their representatives from Member States presented their positions on the strategic context and priorities for post-2020, with a view to influencing the Commission’s proposals. Member States particularly focussed on efforts for simplification, harmonisation, the strategic framework for future cohesion policy, and the principle of national co-financing. I intervened to reflect on the lessons learnt from the UK’s experience of implementing cohesion policy and provide some suggestions for a future cohesion policy.

The Commission provided an update on how cohesion policy has been, and could be, better communicated to the public.

The Bulgarian Presidency provided an update on non-legislative and legislative items.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS606
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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 17 April 2018
Made by: Dr Thérèse Coffey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment)
Commons

Salisbury update

Following the indiscriminate and reckless use of a nerve agent in Salisbury on 4 March 2018, decontamination work is starting this week to bring a small number of potentially contaminated sites back into safe use for the people of Salisbury and its visitors. A lot of preparatory work has been completed already and these plans will now be discussed with the local community and businesses.

In total nine sites, three of which are in the city centre, have been identified as requiring some level of specialist decontamination. The focus will be on returning public spaces to full use as soon as possible, but only where it is safe to do so. The government will work closely with both the affected businesses and the victims of this appalling act as detailed plans are put into effect.

In the case of London Road Cemetery, after extensive investigations and testing, it has been established that it was not contaminated and is therefore being fully reopened to the public today.

The other sites will remain secured and the current scientific assessment is that the remainder of Salisbury is safe for residents and visitors. Public Health England have reaffirmed that the risk to the general public is low.

The community will begin to see more activity from this week and overall it will take some months before all sites are decontaminated and returned to normal use. During this time some cordons will be expanded to ensure safety and allow workers access to the sites with specialist equipment. This will be kept to a minimum wherever possible and the community will be kept informed as work progresses on each site.

The decontamination work is being planned and overseen by my Department with additional specialist advice from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Public Health England, the Department for Health and Social Care, the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence. The work will be delivered in partnership with Wiltshire Council with support from the Ministry of Defence, who are providing specialist teams to carry out the work on the sites. In some cases they will be supported by other government specialists or specialist contractors.

The government is basing its approach on the best scientific evidence and advice to ensure all decontamination is carried out in a thorough and careful way. Thanks to detailed information gathered during the investigation and the clear scientific understanding of how the agent works and is spread, the likely level of contamination at each site is known.

Specialists have developed tailored decontamination plans for each site. To refine these plans, specialist personnel will be collecting additional samples from some sites, building on testing carried out during the investigation. This information will be used to ensure the plans are correct and that decontamination will be effective.

The decontamination work will involve a process of testing, removal of items which could be contaminated and that might harbour residual amounts of the agent, chemical cleaning and retesting. All waste will be safely removed and incinerated and each site will not be released until decontamination is complete.

This work to bring the closed sites back into public use will go hand-in-hand with the £2.5 million already announced on 27 March to support businesses, boost tourism and meet unexpected costs in the response and recovery effort in the city.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS604
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Made on: 17 April 2018
Made by: Mr Robin Walker (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)
Commons

General Affairs Council, 17 April 2018

Sir Tim Barrow (Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union) will attend the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 17 April 2018 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:

Reform of the Electoral Act

The Bulgarian Presidency will discuss a Council decision to make changes to the electoral law governing European Parliamentary elections. The Presidency will ask Member States whether they can support the proposal.

Rule of Law in Poland / Article 7(1) Treaty of the European Union (TEU) Reasoned Proposal

The Commission will provide Ministers with its analysis of Poland’s official response to the ‘Reasoned Proposal’ issued by the Commission in December 2017.

Any other business - Enlargement package

The Commission will present its Annual Enlargement Package for the six Western Balkan countries and Turkey, which is scheduled for publication on 17 April.


This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS605
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Department for Transport
Made on: 17 April 2018
Made by: Ms Nusrat Ghani (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport )
Commons

Greenhouse gases from international shipping

On 13th April the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed a comprehensive strategy to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions (GHGs) from international shipping. The United Kingdom, led by the Department for Transport, played a leading role in the negotiations, pushing for an ambitious and credible outcome that would enable shipping to play its part in meeting the Paris Agreement temperature goals.

The strategy is a major milestone for the shipping industry, which is now the first global sector to have set an absolute emissions reduction target.

The strategy includes:

  • A commitment to phase out GHGs from international shipping as soon as possible during this century;
  • A target of at least 50% reduction, and an aim for 100% reduction, in total GHG emissions from shipping by 2050;
  • A target of at least a 40% improvement in carbon intensity of ships by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% in 2050; and
  • A list of possible short-, mid- and long term emission reduction measures with a commitment to develop a work-plan for implementation to deliver emission reductions before 2023.

The United Kingdom was at the forefront of a coalition of high ambition countries working with other Member States, industry and non-governmental organisations to agree ambitious quantified emission reduction targets for the sector.

Countries will now, through the IMO, commence work on implementing the strategy. The UK, through the Department for Transport will continue to work with other IMO Member States, industry and Civil Society to establish what practical and technical steps need to be taken to deliver the emission reduction targets. A revised version of the strategy is due to be adopted in 2023.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS603
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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Made on: 16 April 2018
Made by: Sajid Javid (Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Building Safety Update

In my update on building safety on 15th March 2018, I informed the House that a glazed fire door from Grenfell Tower manufactured by Manse Masterdor, around five years ago, and marketed to resist fire for at least 30 minutes failed testing after approximately 15 minutes.

The Government immediately sought advice from the independent Expert Panel on the test findings to see whether any action was required as a result. The Panel consulted representatives from the Metropolitan Police, the Government’s Chief Scientific Advisers and the National Fire Chiefs’ Council. Following that, the Expert Panel advised that there was no change to the fire safety advice that the public should follow, and further investigations into doors from Manse Masterdor and others should be undertaken.

As I outlined in the statement on 15th March, we have taken forward further investigations. These investigations are focusing on fire doors manufactured by Manse Masterdor, this company is no longer trading and is not associated with organisations of a similar name.

We are engaging with the industry, and have also established a Technical Group of experts who are able to provide us with specialist advice on fire doors.

We have secured capacity to test fire doors at accredited test houses and testing is ongoing.

We are working closely with Devolved Administrations and are engaging with local authorities who are supporting us in our investigation.

We continue to consult the Expert Panel as these investigations progress. I committed to updating the House before the end of April and can confirm that at the present time, the Expert Panel’s advice remains unchanged.

As a result of my department’s investigations to date, the Expert Panel has advised me that further testing is required, which will take time. I intend to update the House further as and when the Expert Panel provides further advice, or no later than the end of May.

I want to reassure Honorable 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.

As part of our wider effort to ensure that people are safe now and in the future I commissioned an independent review, led by Dame Judith Hackitt to look at the regulatory framework around construction, maintenance and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety. The Government welcomed an interim report, published in December 2017, and has already taken action to implement some of its recommendations, including by recently publishing a consultation on the use of desktop studies to assess the fire performance of construction products. A final report is expected in the late spring and the Government stands ready to consider and respond to this report. Public safety is paramount and I will continue to keep the House updated on progress.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS602
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Ministry of Defence
Made on: 16 April 2018
Made by: Guto Bebb (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence)
Commons

Mechanised Infantry Vehicle

I am pleased to inform the House that on 31 March the British Army took a major step forward in securing a potential deal to get a fleet of new armoured vehicles by re-joining the Boxer programme, which could support at least 1,000 British jobs. The UK will re-join the programme and explore options to equip the Army with the state-of-the-art 8x8 troop carriers (Mechanised Infantry Vehicles) to modernise its vehicle fleet. The UK played a major role in the design, development and testing of Boxer, and would reassume the rights it had as an original project partner, thus allowing the option for the vehicle to be built and exported from the UK. The intention would be for at least 60% of the manufacturing to be within British industry, sustaining and developing UK industrial capabilities, facilities and skills.

A capable Mechanised Infantry Vehicle is integral to the Army’s new Strike brigades. The Ministry of Defence (MOD) conducted a comprehensive market analysis of Mechanised Infantry Vehicles in-service, entering service and in development. The analysis was guided by the British Army’s requirements and how best to deliver them. The Boxer is the stand-out performer across a wide range of requirements including protected mobility, capacity, flexibility, utility and agility, and is a worthy choice for the British Army, who deserve the very best equipment. With the ability to rapidly adapt to suit our soldiers’ needs and perform across multiple climates and terrains, the Boxer would provide the British Army with a credible medium capability, enabling Commanders to provide an appropriate level of response to emerging threats.

The MOD is now taking forward negotiations with the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) and Artec to look at options to purchase the vehicles. Any deal will be subject to commercial negotiation and assessment in 2019 and the aim is to have the first vehicles in service with the Army in 2023.

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 16 April 2018
Made by: Sir Alan Duncan (Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Foreign Affairs Council- 16 April 2018

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 16 April. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini. The meeting will be held in Luxembourg.

The FAC will discuss current affairs, Russia, Iran, Syria, Western Balkans and the European Neighbourhood Instrument.

Foreign Affairs Council

Russia

Ministers will have a substantive discussion of the EU’s five Principles on Russia to follow up on the robust conversation at the March European Council on the challenges Russia poses, particularly in light of the Salisbury incident. The five Principles are full implementation of Minsk Agreements; closer ties with Russia’s former Soviet neighbours; strengthening EU resilience to Russian threats; selective engagement with Russia on certain issues; and support for people-to-people contacts.

Western Balkans

Ministers will discuss the political situation in the Western Balkans ahead of the EU28-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia. We can expect the discussions to focus on the EU-facilitated dialogue on Kosovo/Serbia as well as the risks of instability in Bosnia and Herzegovina, if there is no agreement on electoral reform ahead of October’s elections.

Iran

Ministers will discuss shared concerns around Iran’s destabilising regional activity and the EU’s role in responding to this.

Syria

Ministers will discuss recent developments in Syria.

European Neighbourhood Instrument

Ministers will discuss the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) and the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF). The UK will have leave the EU before the MFF comes into effect and does not therefore expect to have a strong say in decisions but will note the importance of dedicated funding for the European Neighbourhood in the next MFF.

Council Conclusions

The FAC is expected to adopt Conclusions on Syria, South Sudan, malicious cyber activities and chemical disarmament and non-proliferation.

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Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 16 April 2018
Made by: Richard Harrington (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Business and Industry )
Commons

Energy Policy

I hereby give notice of the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s intention to seek an advance from the Contingencies Fund in the amount of £4,626,000 for FY 2018/19 to provide financial cover to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

This cash advance is sought to enable the ONR to undertake project activities planned for FY 2018/19 (i.e. from April 2018 onwards) to ensure the UK can have a domestic nuclear safeguards regime that meets international nuclear safeguards standards in place from day one of exit.

ONR has already made progress towards delivering this regime with financial support provided from the previous Contingencies Fund advance, notice of which was given on 02 February, and which covered the period up to the end of March 2018.

The Government’s commitment to establish a new domestic safeguards regime was announced on 14th September 2017 and forms a vital part of this Department’s EU Exit preparations for the UK’s nuclear industry.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £4,626,000 for this new service will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £4,626,000 will be met via repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

The cash advance will be repaid upon receiving Royal Assent on the Nuclear Safeguards Bill and the Supply and Appropriation Bill.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS599
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Treasury
Made on: 29 March 2018
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (The Chief Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Employer Supported Childcare

This government is providing more help with the cost of childcare to working parents than ever before. As well as introducing Tax-Free Childcare in April 2017, the government has doubled the free childcare available to working parents of 3 and 4 year olds in England to 30 hours a week, and increased the support available through Universal Credit to cover up to 85% of childcare costs. In 2019/20 the government will spend around £6 billion on childcare support – a record amount.

Since opening the Childcare Choices service through which parents apply for 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare more than 370,000 customers have successfully applied and are now using the service. Of these, more than 335,000 parents are eligible for 30 hours free childcare. Over 210,000 have a Tax-Free Childcare account. The government will encourage more parents to take up the offer they are entitled to.

Parents can apply via the Childcare Choices service for both 30 hours free childcare and Tax-Free Childcare. The application is straightforward and can be accessed via: https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk/.

Tax-Free Childcare is a fairer and better targeted system than childcare vouchers. Through Tax-Free Childcare all families who are eligible can get support regardless of who their employer is, or whether they are self-employed, and support is based on the number of children in a family, rather than the number of parents. Tax-Free Childcare is targeted at a similar income population as childcare vouchers but will provide support to nearly 1 million more families compared to the number currently using vouchers.

The decision to phase out childcare vouchers and directly contracted childcare, and replace this support with Tax-Free Childcare was made in 2013, and received parliamentary approval through the Childcare Payments Act 2014.

Today the government has made The Income Tax (Limited Exemptions for Qualifying Childcare Vouchers and other Childcare) (Relevant Day) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/462). These Regulations set 4th October 2018 as the date when childcare vouchers and directly contracted childcare, part of Employer Supported Childcare, will close to new entrants. After that date, parents who are already using vouchers can continue to do so for as long as they remain with their employer, and their employer continues to offer the scheme.

To reflect concerns about the timing of the closure of childcare vouchers and the transition to Tax-Free Childcare, the government has decided to keep childcare vouchers open for a further six months until October. This will allow more time for Tax-Free Childcare to bed in, for awareness to increase and for families to understand the support they can receive under the scheme. Now that Tax-Free Childcare is fully rolled out, the government will keep it under review to ensure it is delivering the support needed for working families.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS595
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Treasury
Made on: 29 March 2018
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (The Chief Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Convergence Programme

Article 121 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) requires the UK to send an annual Convergence Programme to the European Commission reporting upon its fiscal situation and policies. The UK’s Convergence Programme will be sent to the European Commission by 30 April. This deadline was set in accordance with the European Semester timetable for both Convergence and National Reform Programmes. The UK will continue to have all of the rights, obligations and benefits that membership brings up until the point we leave the EU, and as such the Government will continue to submit the UK’s Convergence Programme until that time.

Section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993 requires that the content of the Convergence Programme must be drawn from an assessment of the UK’s economic and budgetary position which has been presented to Parliament by the Government for its approval. This assessment is based on the Autumn Budget 2017 report and the most recent Office for Budget Responsibility’s Economic and Fiscal Outlook and it is this content, not the Convergence Programme itself, which requires the approval of the House for the purposes of the Act.

Article 121, along with Article 126 of the TFEU, is the legal basis for the Stability and Growth Pact, which is the co-ordination mechanism for EU fiscal policies and requires Member States to avoid excessive government deficits. Although the UK participates in the Stability and Growth Pact, by virtue of its protocol to the treaty opting out of the euro, it is only required to "endeavour to avoid" excessive deficits. Unlike the euro area Member States, the UK is not subject to sanctions at any stage of the European Semester process.

Subject to the progress of parliamentary business, debates will be held soon in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, in order for both Houses to approve this assessment before the Convergence Programme is sent to the Commission. While the Convergence Programme itself is not subject to Parliamentary approval or amendment, I will deposit a copy of the document in the Libraries of both Houses and copies will be available through the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office in advance of the debates.

The UK's Convergence Programme will be available electronically via HM Treasury’s website prior to it being sent to the European Commission.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS596
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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 Defence
Made on: 29 March 2018
Made by: Mr Tobias Ellwood (Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence)
Commons

Inspection of the Royal Military Police's Investigations into Overseas Deaths

The Armed Forces Act 2011, requires Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to inspect, and report to the Secretary of State, on the independence and effectiveness of investigations carried out by each of the three Service Police Forces. Their most recent inspection considered the effectiveness, oversight and governance of the Royal Military Police investigations into overseas deaths. I have laid a copy of their report in the House today.

I consider this report to be positive and provides assurance from an independent civilian authority that the Royal Military Police investigates overseas deaths effectively. HMICFRS has made four recommendations and identified a number of areas for improvement. The Ministry of Defence and the Royal Military Police will continue to develop a plan to address these.

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Department for Education
Made on: 29 March 2018
Made by: Nadhim Zahawi (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families)
Commons

Condition Improvement Fund 2018 to 2019 outcome

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System (Lord Agnew) has made the following written ministerial statement.

Today, I am announcing the allocation of £514 million for 1,556 Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) projects across 1,299 academies and sixth-form colleges, to maintain and improve the condition of the education estate. This investment forms part of the government’s plan to ensure that every child has the opportunity of a place at a good school, whatever their background.

This announcement includes £38 million in specific projects supported by the Healthy Pupils Capital Fund (HPCF). This is additional funding provided from the revenue generated from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL). These projects will facilitate an improvement in children’s physical and mental health by increasing and improving access to and use of relevant facilities, such as: kitchen refurbishment, dining halls, changing rooms, repairs and improvements to sports facilities like sports halls, swimming pools and hydro-therapy pools.

Details of today’s announcement are being sent to all applicants and a list of successful projects will be published on GOV.UK. Copies will be placed in the House Libraries.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS592
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Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 29 March 2018
Made by: Esther McVey (The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions)
Commons

Welfare Reform

This Government is committed to providing young people with the support they need to get started with their working lives. We do this through providing financial support when it is needed, and support to either ‘earn or learn’ – delivered through the simplified Universal Credit (UC) benefits system. In line with this aim, I am today announcing that the Government will amend regulations so that all 18-21 year olds will be entitled to claim support for housing costs in UC.

Currently, 18-21 year olds who make a new claim to UC in UC Full Service areas need to meet certain requirements in order to receive housing support. The change I am announcing today means that young people on benefits will be assured that if they secure a tenancy, they will have support towards their housing costs in the normal way.

Young people in return will have a Youth Obligation – an intensive package of labour market support for 18-21 year-olds looking to get into work. We are committed to providing targeted support for young people so that everyone, no matter what their start in life, is given the very best chance of getting into work.

This decision ensures that there are no unintended barriers to young people accessing housing on the basis of their age alone and getting into work, and is in line with the Government’s launch of the Homelessness Reduction Act and our commitment to eradicating rough sleeping by 2027.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS590
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Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 29 March 2018
Made by: Matt Hancock (Secretary of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

Independent Review of S4C

Last year the Government appointed Euryn Ogwen Williams to lead an independent review of the Welsh language broadcaster, S4C. We commissioned this independent review to ensure that S4C has a strong and successful future in delivering high quality content for Welsh speaking audiences.

I am pleased today to announce the publication of the S4C independent review, ‘Building an S4C for the future’. I would like to record my thanks to Euryn for his excellent work in considering S4C’s remit, governance and funding in accordance with the terms of reference.

I am today laying before Parliament the independent review, together with the Government’s response to the review which states that we accept all of the review’s recommendations for Government.

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