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
Treasury
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Ministerial equivalence and exemption directions in financial services for the European Union and the European Economic Area

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

The Equivalence Determinations for Financial Services and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019/541), includes a power for ministers, for up to twelve months after exit day, to make equivalence directions and exemption directions for the European Union and EEA member states.

I have today laid before Parliament ministerial directions which exercise the power in 4 specific areas, to help ensure that the UK will have a functioning regulatory regime for financial services in all scenarios.

The first direction determines that the EU-adopted International Financial Reporting Standards are equivalent to UK accounting standards and can continue to be used, for example, to prepare financial statements for requirements under the Transparency Directive, and to prepare a prospectus under the Prospectus Directive. This delivers on a commitment made by the government in November 2018.

HM Treasury, the European Union and the EEA European Free Trade Association countries have decided to provide exemptions for central banks and certain public bodies under certain prudential regulations in the area of financial services in the event that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without an agreement. Therefore, directions have been made exempting these EU and EEA bodies from certain requirements under UK law in force after exit.

These measures are important for avoiding disruption to the financial services sector, and the businesses and individuals relying on it, in the event that the United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union without an agreement.

Copies of the directions are available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office and will be published alongside The Equivalence Determinations for Financial Services and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 on Legislation.gov.uk.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1512
WS
Treasury
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: John Glen (The Economic Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Ministerial equivalence and exemption directions in financial services for the European Union and the European Economic Area

The Equivalence Determinations for Financial Services and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019/541), includes a power for ministers, for up to twelve months after exit day, to make equivalence directions and exemption directions for the European Union and EEA member states.

I have today laid before Parliament ministerial directions which exercise the power in 4 specific areas, to help ensure that the UK will have a functioning regulatory regime for financial services in all scenarios.

The first direction determines that the EU-adopted International Financial Reporting Standards are equivalent to UK accounting standards and can continue to be used, for example, to prepare financial statements for requirements under the Transparency Directive, and to prepare a prospectus under the Prospectus Directive. This delivers on a commitment made by the government in November 2018.

HM Treasury, the European Union and the EEA European Free Trade Association countries have decided to provide exemptions for central banks and certain public bodies under certain prudential regulations in the area of financial services in the event that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without an agreement. Therefore, directions have been made exempting these EU and EEA bodies from certain requirements under UK law in force after exit.

These measures are important for avoiding disruption to the financial services sector, and the businesses and individuals relying on it, in the event that the United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union without an agreement.

Copies of the directions are available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office and will be published alongside the Equivalence Determinations for Financial Services and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 on Legislation.gov.uk.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1475
WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (Ministry of Justice spokesperson)
Lords

The Times/Sunday Times

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Rt Hon Jeremy Wright) has made the following Written Statement:


On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to vary certain conditions put in place in 1981 by the then Secretary of State for Trade. The changes proposed by News UK would allow The Times and The Sunday Times to share journalistic resources, subject to the agreement of each newspaper’s editor. The application proposed no other changes to the 1981 conditions. As set out in the Invitation to Comment which my department published on 18 January 2019, this was treated as an application by News UK to replace the 1981 conditions with new undertakings in accordance with Schedule 18 to the Communications Act 2003.

I have considered this application in my quasi-judicial role regarding media merger cases. Having considered News UK’s application and the representations made to the Invitation to Comment, I have concluded that there has been a material change in circumstances since 1981 that warrants me considering the application. I have also concluded that the change of circumstances justifies the variation, as the effect of News UK’s proposed changes would not, in my view, materially impact on the public interest considerations contained in Section 58 Enterprise Act 2002.

I am, therefore, minded to accept News UK’s application. However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I have noted that the existing governance arrangements - agreed in 1981 - lack clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities. Before agreeing the application I am therefore of the view that these arrangements need to be suitably updated and enhanced to better reflect current corporate best practice.

I have asked DCMS officials to discuss these issues with News UK and to consider new proposals from News UK to update the proposed undertakings to address my concerns. I will update the House in due course on these discussions. Should News UK be able to offer revised undertakings which meet my concerns, I will, as required in legislation, consult on the final form of the undertakings before deciding whether or not to accept them.

WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Lord Young of Cookham (Lord in Waiting (Government Whip))
Lords

Public Appointments Order in Council - April 2019

My honourable friend the Minister for Implementation (Oliver Dowden) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today I wish to inform the House that the Privy Council has made a revised Order in Council that makes provision for an independent Commissioner to monitor the procedures adopted by appointing authorities when making appointments to public bodies. This revokes the Order made in November 2017 and provides an amended Schedule of bodies and offices to be regulated by the Commissioner. Regulation by the Commissioner in accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments is an important part of ensuring that those appointments made by Government Ministers which are subject to regulation are made in an open, fair and transparent manner.

The revised Order in Council has been gazetted in the Edinburgh, London and Belfast Gazettes and published on the website of the Privy Council Office. Changes to the Schedule reflect where public bodies have been created, renamed, dissolved or subject to machinery of government changes since November 2017. A copy of the Order in Council has been placed in the libraries of both houses.

We have only added bodies to the Schedule where they legally exist as of the date of the Order being made. This means that two bodies previously announced by the Government have not been included in this revised order: the Holocaust Memorial Centre Ltd and the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA). The former is soon to be established as an arms length body of Government. At that point, it can be treated as a regulated body by notification to the Commissioner under section 2 (3) of the Order in Council. The TRA has already been notified to the Commissioner under this section who has confirmed that it will be treated as a regulated body as soon as it exists. In the meantime, interim appointments to the TRA have been made in line with the Governance Code and principles on Public Appointments. The TRA will be the only arms length body of the Department for International Trade and will appear as such on the schedule of the Order in Council when it is next updated.

We will conduct a comprehensive review of the Order in Council later this year to ensure consistency in the Schedule and the types of bodies included. This will provide a further opportunity to add the two bodies above and any other newly created bodies to the Schedule as appropriate, and the subsequent Order in Council will be published. Thereafter, we intend to undertake an annual refresh of the Order.

WS
Department for Education
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Teacher Training Skills Test

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for School Standards (Nick Gibb) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would like to set out for the House some actions my department is taking to resolve an error we have identified in the marking scheme of one of the professional skills tests for prospective teachers.

The skills tests assess the core skills that teachers need to fulfil their professional role in schools. This is to ensure all teachers are competent in numeracy and literacy, regardless of their specialism.

All current and prospective trainee teachers must pass the skills tests in numeracy and literacy before they can be recommended for the award of qualified teacher status (QTS). Trainee teachers must pass the skills tests before they start their course of initial teacher training.

Since February 2018, candidates have been able to take unlimited test attempts, with the first three attempts offered free of charge.

The design of the skills tests is the responsibility of the Standards and Testing Agency (STA). The agency recently reviewed all marking schemes in operation for the skills tests and discovered an error in one test. This test was immediately taken out of use and the STA have confirmed that there are no errors in the remaining marking schemes that are in operation.

The error applies to a marking scheme for one of the literacy skills tests and has resulted in a small number of candidates failing their literacy test when they should have passed. The incorrect marking scheme for this test has been in operation for at least ten years. We know that just over 200 candidates were affected by the error between September 2017 and November 2018, approximately 150 of whom went on to pass their literacy test.

We will offer a payment to compensate candidates affected for any expenses they may have incurred in having to retake the test. My department will make best endeavours to contact candidates affected by the marking scheme error. Any candidates who think they may have been affected can also contact the skills test helpline by emailing support@sta.psionline.com

It is regrettable that this error has prevented some candidates from progressing their applications to teacher training. My department is taking swift action to make sure that those affected are supported to progress their applications.

The Chief Executive of the STA has assured me that there are no remaining marking scheme errors and that the schemes will be quality assured on a regular basis to prevent further errors.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1511
WS
Home Office
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (The Minister of State, Home Office)
Lords

Immigration

My rt hon Friend the Minister of State for Immigration (Caroline Nokes) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The EU Settlement Scheme is an integral part of protecting the rights of EU citizens who have made their homes here in the UK, giving them an easy way of demonstrating their status in this country so that in years to come we do not find ourselves in a position where people have issues making clear the rights that they have. The scheme, which is free of charge, is performing well and over 400,000 EU citizens have already applied, with over 50,000 applications received on the opening weekend.

The Home Office receives a large number of enquiries in relation to the Scheme. When responding to generic enquiries, responses are sent in batches. The process for this is such that recipients would not normally be able to see the other email addresses. Regrettably, it has come to my attention that on Sunday 7 April three emails were sent that did not follow the appropriate procedure and 240 email addresses were made visible to other recipients. No other personal data was included in the communication.

We have written to all individuals who received this email to apologise. The Departmental Data Protection Officer has been informed and the Department has voluntarily notified the Information Commissioner’s Office of the incident. An internal review is also underway to determine the details of what happened and the lessons that need to be learned.

The Home Office takes its data protection responsibilities very seriously and is committed to the continued improvement of its performance against the UK’s high data protection standards. As a Department we have been taking steps to ensure we have the culture, processes and systems in place to treat the public’s personal data appropriately.

As a further immediate step we have put in place strict controls on the use of bulk emails when communicating with members of the public to ensure this does not happen again as lessons are learned. An independent review of the Department’s compliance with its data protection obligations has also been commissioned which will be led by Non-Executive Director Sue Langley and will report in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1508
WS
Treasury
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Operation of the UK’s Counter-Terrorist Asset Freezing Regime:1 October 2018 to 31 December 2018

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

Under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010 (TAFA 2010), the Treasury is required to prepare a quarterly report regarding its exercise of the powers conferred on it by Part 1 of TAFA 2010. This written statement satisfies that requirement for the period 1 October 2018 to 31 December 2018.

This report also covers the UK’s implementation of the UN’s ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida asset freezing regime (ISIL-AQ), and the operation of the EU’s asset freezing regime under EU Regulation (EC) 2580/2001 concerning external terrorist threats to the EU (also referred to as the CP 931 regime).

Under the ISIL-AQ asset freezing regime, the UN has responsibility for designations and the Treasury, through the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida (Asset-Freezing) Regulations 2011.

Under EU Regulation 2580/2001, the EU has responsibility for designations and OFSI has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under Part 1 of TAFA 2010.

A new EU asset freezing regime under EU Regulation (2016/1686) was implemented on 22 September 2016. This permits the EU to make autonomous Al-Qaida and ISIL (Da’esh) listings. One new designation under the regime was made during this quarter, and is recorded in the fifth column of the annexed table entitled ‘New Designations in this Quarter’.

The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 will help ensure that UK counterterrorist sanctions powers remain a useful tool for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to consider utilising, while also meeting the UK’s international obligations.

Under the Act, a designation could be made where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the person or group is or has been involved in a defined terrorist activity and that designation is appropriate. This approach is in line with the UK’s current approach under UN and EU sanctions and would be balanced by procedural protections such as the ability of designated persons to challenge the Government in court.

The annexed tables set out the key asset-freezing activity in the UK during the quarter.

Frozen funds table (PDF Document, 215.31 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1509
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Nick Gibb (The Minister of State for School Standards)
Commons

Teacher Training Skills Test

I would like to set out for the House some actions my department is taking to resolve an error we have identified in the marking scheme of one of the professional skills tests for prospective teachers.

The skills tests assess the core skills that teachers need to fulfil their professional role in schools. This is to ensure all teachers are competent in numeracy and literacy, regardless of their specialism.

All current and prospective trainee teachers must pass the skills tests in numeracy and literacy before they can be recommended for the award of qualified teacher status (QTS). Trainee teachers must pass the skills tests before they start their course of initial teacher training.

Since February 2018, candidates have been able to take unlimited test attempts, with the first three attempts offered free of charge.

The design of the skills tests is the responsibility of the Standards and Testing Agency (STA). The agency recently reviewed all marking schemes in operation for the skills tests and discovered an error in one test. This test was immediately taken out of use and the STA have confirmed that there are no errors in the remaining marking schemes that are in operation.

The error applies to a marking scheme for one of the literacy skills tests and has resulted in a small number of candidates failing their literacy test when they should have passed. The incorrect marking scheme for this test has been in operation for at least ten years. We know that just over 200 candidates were affected by the error between September 2017 and November 2018, approximately 150 of whom went on to pass their literacy test.

We will offer a payment to compensate candidates affected for any expenses they may have incurred in having to retake the test. My department will make best endeavours to contact candidates affected by the marking scheme error. Any candidates who think they may have been affected can also contact the skills test helpline by emailing support@sta.psionline.com

It is regrettable that this error has prevented some candidates from progressing their applications to teacher training. My department is taking swift action to make sure that those affected are supported to progress their applications.

The Chief Executive of the STA has assured me that there are no remaining marking scheme errors and that the schemes will be quality assured on a regular basis to prevent further errors.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1472
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State, Ministry of Defence )
Lords

Service Complaints Ombudsman - Annual Report 2018

My right hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence People and Veterans (Tobias Ellwood) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to lay before Parliament today the Service Complaints Ombudsman’s annual report for 2018 on the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of the Service complaints system.

This report is published by Nicola Williams and covers the third year of operation of the reformed Service complaints system and the work of her office in 2018.

The findings of the report and the new recommendations made will now be fully considered by the Ministry of Defence, and a formal response to the Ombudsman will follow once that work is complete.

WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, and Lords Minister)
Lords

April Agriculture and Fisheries Council

My Rt Hon Friend Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) has today made the following statement:

Agriculture and Fisheries Council takes place in Luxembourg on 15 April.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for agriculture will be on the Post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package. Ministers will exchange views on the green architecture elements in the Regulation on CAP Strategic Plans.

Council will also exchange views on the agricultural aspects of the Commission’s strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy, the market situation, and the Task Force in Rural Africa, an expert group set up by the European Commission.

There are currently four items scheduled for discussion under ‘any other business’:

  • information from the Presidency on research and agriculture.

  • information from the Commission on the Declaration on Smart and Sustainable Digital Future for European Agriculture and Rural Areas.

  • information from the Slovakian delegation on the Renewable Energy Directive post-2020.

  • information from the Netherlands delegation on the EU Action against Deforestation and Forest Degradation.
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Oliver Dowden (Minister for Implementation )
Commons

Public Appointments Order in Council - April 2019

Today I wish to inform the House that the Privy Council has made a revised Order in Council that makes provision for an independent Commissioner to monitor the procedures adopted by appointing authorities when making appointments to public bodies. This revokes the Order made in November 2017 and provides an amended Schedule of bodies and offices to be regulated by the Commissioner. Regulation by the Commissioner in accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments is an important part of ensuring that those appointments made by Government Ministers which are subject to regulation are made in an open, fair and transparent manner.

The revised Order in Council has been gazetted in the Edinburgh, London and Belfast Gazettes and published on the website of the Privy Council Office. Changes to the Schedule reflect where public bodies have been created, renamed, dissolved or subject to machinery of government changes since November 2017. A copy of the Order in Council has been placed in the libraries of both houses.

We have only added bodies to the Schedule where they legally exist as of the date of the Order being made. This means that two bodies previously announced by the Government have not been included in this revised order: the Holocaust Memorial Centre Ltd and the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA). The former is soon to be established as an arms length body of Government. At that point, it can be treated as a regulated body by notification to the Commissioner under section 2 (3) of the Order in Council. The TRA has already been notified to the Commissioner under this section who has confirmed that it will be treated as a regulated body as soon as it exists. In the meantime, interim appointments to the TRA have been made in line with the Governance Code and principles on Public Appointments. The TRA will be the only arms length body of the Department for International Trade and will appear as such on the schedule of the Order in Council when it is next updated.

We will conduct a comprehensive review of the Order in Council later this year to ensure consistency in the Schedule and the types of bodies included. This will provide a further opportunity to add the two bodies above and any other newly created bodies to the Schedule as appropriate, and the subsequent Order in Council will be published. Thereafter, we intend to undertake an annual refresh of the Order.

WS
Treasury
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: John Glen (The Economic Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Operation of the UK’s Counter-Terrorist Asset Freezing Regime:1 October 2018 to 31 December 2018

Under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010 (TAFA 2010), the Treasury is required to prepare a quarterly report regarding its exercise of the powers conferred on it by Part 1 of TAFA 2010. This written statement satisfies that requirement for the period 1 October 2018 to 31 December 2018.

This report also covers the UK’s implementation of the UN’s ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida asset freezing regime (ISIL-AQ), and the operation of the EU’s asset freezing regime under EU Regulation (EC) 2580/2001 concerning external terrorist threats to the EU (also referred to as the CP 931 regime).

Under the ISIL-AQ asset freezing regime, the UN has responsibility for designations and the Treasury, through the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida (Asset-Freezing) Regulations 2011.

Under EU Regulation 2580/2001, the EU has responsibility for designations and OFSI has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under Part 1 of TAFA 2010.

A new EU asset freezing regime under EU Regulation (2016/1686) was implemented on 22 September 2016. This permits the EU to make autonomous Al-Qaida and ISIL (Da’esh) listings. One new designation under the regime was made during this quarter, and is recorded in the fifth column of the annexed table entitled ‘New Designations in this Quarter’.

The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 will help ensure that UK counterterrorist sanctions powers remain a useful tool for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to consider utilising, while also meeting the UK’s international obligations.

Under the Act, a designation could be made where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the person or group is or has been involved in a defined terrorist activity and that designation is appropriate. This approach is in line with the UK’s current approach under UN and EU sanctions and would be balanced by procedural protections such as the ability of designated persons to challenge the Government in court.

The annexed tables set out the key asset-freezing activity in the UK during the quarter.

Frozen funds table (PDF Document, 215.31 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1470
WS
Home Office
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Caroline Nokes (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Immigration

The EU Settlement Scheme is an integral part of protecting the rights of EU citizens who have made their homes here in the UK, giving them an easy way of demonstrating their status in this country so that in years to come we do not find ourselves in a position where people have issues making clear the rights that they have. The scheme, which is free of charge, is performing well and over 400,000 EU citizens have already applied, with over 50,000 applications received on the opening weekend.

The Home Office receives a large number of enquiries in relation to the Scheme. When responding to generic enquiries, responses are sent in batches. The process for this is such that recipients would not normally be able to see the other email addresses. Regrettably, it has come to my attention that on Sunday 7 April three emails were sent that did not follow the appropriate procedure and 240 email addresses were made visible to other recipients. No other personal data was included in the communication.

We have written to all individuals who received this email to apologise. The Departmental Data Protection Officer has been informed and the Department has voluntarily notified the Information Commissioner’s Office of the incident. An internal review is also underway to determine the details of what happened and the lessons that need to be learned.

The Home Office takes its data protection responsibilities very seriously and is committed to the continued improvement of its performance against the UK’s high data protection standards. As a Department we have been taking steps to ensure we have the culture, processes and systems in place to treat the public’s personal data appropriately.

As a further immediate step we have put in place strict controls on the use of bulk emails when communicating with members of the public to ensure this does not happen again as lessons are learned. An independent review of the Department’s compliance with its data protection obligations has also been commissioned which will be led by Non-Executive Director Sue Langley and will report in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1471
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Mr Tobias Ellwood (Minister of State, Ministry of Defence)
Commons

Service Complaints Ombudsman - Annual Report 2018

I am pleased to lay before Parliament today the Service Complaints Ombudsman’s annual report for 2018 on the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of the Service complaints system.

This report is published by Nicola Williams and covers the third year of operation of the reformed Service complaints system and the work of her office in 2018.

The findings of the report and the new recommendations made will now be fully considered by the Ministry of Defence, and a formal response to the Ombudsman will follow once that work is complete.

WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Mr Robert Goodwill (Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)
Commons

April Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Agriculture and Fisheries Council takes place in Luxembourg on 15 April.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for agriculture will be on the Post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform package. Ministers will exchange views on the green architecture elements in the Regulation on CAP Strategic Plans.

Council will also exchange views on the agricultural aspects of the Commission’s strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy, the market situation, and the Task Force in Rural Africa, an expert group set up by the European Commission.

There are currently four items scheduled for discussion under ‘any other business’:

  • information from the Presidency on research and agriculture.

  • information from the Commission on the Declaration on Smart and Sustainable Digital Future for European Agriculture and Rural Areas.

  • information from the Slovakian delegation on the Renewable Energy Directive post-2020.

  • information from the Netherlands delegation on the EU Action against Deforestation and Forest Degradation.

WS
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Made on: 11 April 2019
Made by: Jeremy Wright (Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
Commons

The Times/Sunday Times

On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to vary certain conditions put in place in 1981 by the then Secretary of State for Trade. The changes proposed by News UK would allow The Times and The Sunday Times to share journalistic resources, subject to the agreement of each newspaper’s editor. The application proposed no other changes to the 1981 conditions. As set out in the Invitation to Comment which my department published on 18 January 2019, this was treated as an application by News UK to replace the 1981 conditions with new undertakings in accordance with Schedule 18 to the Communications Act 2003.

I have considered this application in my quasi-judicial role regarding media merger cases. Having considered News UK’s application and the representations made to the Invitation to Comment, I have concluded that there has been a material change in circumstances since 1981 that warrants me considering the application. I have also concluded that the change of circumstances justifies the variation, as the effect of News UK’s proposed changes would not, in my view, materially impact on the public interest considerations contained in Section 58 Enterprise Act 2002.

I am, therefore, minded to accept News UK’s application. However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I have noted that the existing governance arrangements - agreed in 1981 - lack clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities. Before agreeing the application I am therefore of the view that these arrangements need to be suitably updated and enhanced to better reflect current corporate best practice.

I have asked DCMS officials to discuss these issues with News UK and to consider new proposals from News UK to update the proposed undertakings to address my concerns. I will update the House in due course on these discussions. Should News UK be able to offer revised undertakings which meet my concerns, I will, as required in legislation, consult on the final form of the undertakings before deciding whether or not to accept them.

WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 10 April 2019
Made by: Baroness Sugg (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport)
Lords

Rail Update

My Right Honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Grayling) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I am updating the House on the East Midlands, South Eastern and West Coast Partnership franchise competitions.

I am pleased to inform the House that, following rigorous competition, I intend to award the next East Midlands Railway franchise to Abellio East Midlands pending successful completion of a standstill period of at least 10 days.

The franchise is due to start on 18 August 2019 and will run for eight years, until 21 August 2027, with an extension of two years callable at my discretion.

Passengers, local authorities, businesses and other stakeholders across the country contributed to a highly demanding and challenging specification for this new franchise. Bidders were invited to demonstrate how they would meet this specification, and I am very pleased that we have agreed a plan with Abellio East Midlands for them to exceed these expectations.

Abellio East Midlands will oversee the introduction of brand-new trains, entirely replacing the existing intercity fleet with more reliable and comfortable trains. Passengers will benefit from an 80% increase in the number of morning peak seats into Nottingham, Lincoln and St Pancras. Passengers will also see faster journey times over long-distances, with a new express service from Corby through Luton into London.

The East Midlands Railway will be at the forefront of the Government’s commitment to deliver a cleaner, greener rail network. Abellio East Midlands will trial hydrogen fuel cell trains on the Midland Main Line and will run zero-carbon pilots at six stations along the route.

The new franchise will also deliver a fairer deal for passengers. Over £17 million will be invested in improving station facilities across the route, including to deliver accessibility improvements. Abellio East Midlands will also deliver an additional 916 extra car park spaces and 1,050 cycle spaces.

Passengers will benefit from the provision of free Wi-Fi throughout the franchise, both on-trains and at stations, and a significant uplift to the current ticketing system, with the introduction of smart, flexible ticketing options, including to provide better value for those who travel regularly but less than five days a week, as well as improved ticket-buying facilities and nine newly staffed stations.

The new East Midlands Railway franchise will also introduce enhanced delay repay compensation, with passengers able to claim compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late.

We look forward to working closely with Abellio East Midlands to ensure they deliver the high-quality services that passengers expect and deserve from the railway and the East Midlands Railway franchise.

With regards to the South Eastern franchise competition, I am also today updating the House that my Department is negotiating a short-term extension to the current franchise agreement with Govia while we make a decision on the competition. This will ensure continuity of services for passengers until 10 November 2019, with an option to extend the agreement further to April 2020.

We are due to award the West Coast Partnership in June.

Alongside this, there is a root-and-branch review of the railway underway, independently chaired by Keith Williams. This will make ambitious recommendations before the end of the year to reform the structure of the whole rail industry to prioritise passengers’ and taxpayers’ interests.

The next East Midlands Railway franchise and the ongoing competitions include significant improvements for passengers and steps to bring track and train closer together. From 2020, we will begin to roll-out further reforms, advised by the Rail Review, across the country. We will be guided by the approaches that deliver benefits to passengers and other rail users soonest. Awarding the new East Midlands Railway franchise is part of that strategy.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1502
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 10 April 2019
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State, Ministry of Defence)
Lords

Report into Armed Forces’ Standards and Values

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Ministry of Defence and our Armed Forces expect the highest standards from our personnel. The vast majority not only meet, but exceed these standards on a daily basis in all manner of challenging situations, wherever they are deployed, reinforcing the values on which we pride ourselves. However, it is clear that in a number of cases the standards and values we expect are not being met.

The Ministry of Defence and our Armed Forces are absolutely clear that there is no place for sexual offending or sexual harassment across the Services. Inappropriate behaviour is unacceptable and it stands in stark contrast with everything the Armed Forces represent. Anyone found to have committed a sexual offence will be dealt with appropriately and will face the full force of the law. To ensure our Service personnel are adhering to the highest standards, I have commissioned Air Marshal Michael Wigston, Deputy Commander for Capability at HQ Air Command, to conduct an urgent Report into inappropriate behaviour, to include sexual harassment, across the Services.

The objectives of the Report are threefold: to understand the current evidence regarding inappropriate behaviour across the Services; to make recommendations on what can be done to ensure and reassure that the Armed Forces are an inclusive and modern employer; and, to identify areas for further action, including potential improvements to controls, processes or policy. The Air Marshal will provide me with a Report of his findings and recommendations by mid-May. Once the recommendations have been considered and implementation plans have been agreed, the House will be updated.

WS
Treasury
Made on: 10 April 2019
Made by: Lord Bates (Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Public Sector Exit Payment Cap

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

Today, I have launched a consultation on the draft regulations to implement the public sector exit payment cap. The government introduced powers to cap exit payments in the public sector at £95,000 in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.

Public servants deserve to be properly rewarded for the vital work they do. That is why the government announced the biggest public sector pay rise in ten years last summer, with most going to the lowest paid nurses, teachers and police officers.

However, the way we reward public servants must be proportionate and fair to taxpayers. The very high exit payments we have seen granted to some highly-paid public sector employees in recent years clearly breach these principles. It is right that the government acts on this to give taxpayers the confidence their money is being spent properly.

This consultation sets out the proposed method for implementing the cap, including which bodies should be in scope.

The consultation can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/restricting-exit-payments-in-the-public-sector

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS1503
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 10 April 2019
Made by: Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Defence)
Commons

Report into Armed Forces’ Standards and Values

The Ministry of Defence and our Armed Forces expect the highest standards from our personnel. The vast majority not only meet, but exceed these standards on a daily basis in all manner of challenging situations, wherever they are deployed, reinforcing the values on which we pride ourselves. However, it is clear that in a number of cases the standards and values we expect are not being met.

The Ministry of Defence and our Armed Forces are absolutely clear that there is no place for sexual offending or sexual harassment across the Services. Inappropriate behaviour is unacceptable and it stands in stark contrast with everything the Armed Forces represent. Anyone found to have committed a sexual offence will be dealt with appropriately and will face the full force of the law. To ensure our Service personnel are adhering to the highest standards, I have commissioned Air Marshal Michael Wigston, Deputy Commander for Capability at HQ Air Command, to conduct an urgent Report into inappropriate behaviour, to include sexual harassment, across the Services.

The objectives of the Report are threefold: to understand the current evidence regarding inappropriate behaviour across the Services; to make recommendations on what can be done to ensure and reassure that the Armed Forces are an inclusive and modern employer; and, to identify areas for further action, including potential improvements to controls, processes or policy. The Air Marshal will provide me with a Report of his findings and recommendations by mid-May. Once the recommendations have been considered and implementation plans have been agreed, the House will be updated.

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