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
Cabinet Office
Made on: 22 June 2020
Made by: Michael Gove (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office )
Commons

Procurement Update

I previously provided a Written Ministerial Statement on 29 April 2020 in relation to indemnities granted for IP infringement, in respect of the designs, and against product liability claims against the manufacturers of Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System (RMVS) products through the Ventilator Challenge. I also laid a Departmental Minute before Parliament setting out the detail of these indemnities.

The Ventilator Challenge has been a resounding success, with four designs in production and over 7,500 devices delivered to the NHS. The Cabinet Office intends to grant similar indemnities in letters with other parties involved in the BlueSky Ventilators consortium. The contents of these letters are still under negotiation in the majority of cases.

It is normal practice, when a government department proposes to undertake a contingent liability in excess of £300,000 for which there is no specific statutory authority, for the Department concerned to present to Parliament a Minute giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from incurring the liability until fourteen parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the Minute, except in cases of special urgency.

Due to the urgent need to finalise the letters and release payments due to designers and manufacturers, it is not possible to allow the required 14 days’ notice prior to the liabilities going live. Any delay would result in an unacceptable delay in payments due to designers and manufacturers who are supported by a largely SME supply chain.

The precise commercial terms which have been negotiated for each supplier are, and will remain, commercially confidential. While it is difficult to estimate the potential liability exposure, it could exceed £300,000. For this reason, I am informing Parliament of these arrangements.

On this basis, I have today laid before Parliament a Departmental Minute setting out what these indemnities are.

The Treasury has approved these liabilities. However, if any Member of Parliament has concerns they can contact the Cabinet Office who will be happy to provide a response.

Departmental Minute (PDF Document, 75.18 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS300
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 22 June 2020
Made by: Alok Sharma (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
Commons

Business Update

Today, the Government will lay two separate pieces of secondary legislation to amend the Enterprise Act 2002. The first will allow the Government to intervene in qualifying mergers, including acquisitions, to maintain UK capability to combat and mitigate the impact of public health emergencies.

The second will lower the thresholds for intervention in mergers on public interest grounds for three sensitive sectors of the economy, intended to address any national security risks that may arise related to these sectors.

The Enterprise Act 2002 (Specification of Additional Section 58 Consideration) Order 2020

The Enterprise Act 2002 (Specification of Additional Section 58 Consideration) Order 2020 introduces a new public interest consideration for Government intervention in mergers and acquisitions. This new public interest consideration allows the Government to intervene in mergers involving businesses with a role in combatting or mitigating the impacts of public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The economic disruption caused by the pandemic may mean that some businesses with critical capabilities are more susceptible to takeovers – either from outwardly hostile approaches, or financially distressed companies being sold to malicious parties.

These new powers will enable the Government to intervene if a business that is directly involved in a pandemic response, for example, a vaccine research company or personal protective equipment manufacturer, finds itself the target of a takeover.

As this instrument is subject to the made affirmative procedure it has been made today and will come into effect tomorrow.

The draft Enterprise Act 2002 (Share of Supply Test) (Amendment) Order 2020

The draft Enterprise Act 2002 (Share of Supply Test) (Amendment) Order 2020 will amend the Secretary of State’s powers to scrutinise mergers in three sensitive sectors of the economy on public interest grounds: artificial intelligence, cryptographic authentication technology and advanced materials. These changes are intended to address any national security risks that may arise relating to these sectors. The Government made similar changes in 2018 for three other critical sectors: military/dual-use technologies, computing hardware and quantum technology.

Separately, the Government will lay an accompanying instrument, the Enterprise Act 2002 (Turnover Test) (Amendment) Order 2020, which will be subject to the negative resolution procedure. Together, these two instruments will add the enterprise categories to a list of ‘relevant enterprises’ which are subject to lower intervention thresholds. The turnover test for intervention in these sectors will be lowered to £1 million; and the ‘share of supply’ will be met where an enterprise supplies at least one quarter of all goods of a particular description and there is no longer a requirement for a merger to increase the share of supply.

These Orders will therefore allow the Government to intervene on public interest grounds when smaller companies in these critical sectors might be vulnerable as a consequence of a merger or takeover. They will send an important signal to those seeking to take advantage of those struggling as a result of the pandemic that the UK government is prepared to act where necessary to protect our national security.

I will also be placing copies of the non-statutory guidance relating to these amendments in the House libraries.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS301
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 22 June 2020
Made by: Gavin Williamson (The Secretary of State for Education)
Commons

Education Update

Every pupil in the country has experienced unprecedented disruption to their education as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). Those from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds will be amongst those hardest hit. The aggregate impact of lost time in education will be substantial: the scale of our response must match the scale of the challenge. Returning to normal educational routines as quickly as possible will be critical to our national recovery, which is why the government is working towards all pupils returning to school in September.

To further support pupils to catch up, the government has announced a package worth £1 billion to ensure that schools have the resources they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time, with extra support for those who need it most.

£650 million will be spent on ensuring all pupils have the chance to catch up and supporting schools to rise to the challenge. Whilst headteachers will decide how the money is spent, the Education Endowment Foundation has published guidance on effective interventions to support schools to make the best use of resources.

Alongside this universal offer, we will roll out a National Tutoring Programme, worth £350 million, which will deliver proven and successful interventions to the most disadvantaged young people, accelerating their academic progress and preventing the gap between them and their more affluent peers widening. The evidence shows that tutoring is an effective way to accelerate learning, and we therefore believe a targeted tutoring offer is the best way to narrow the gaps that risk opening up due to school closures.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS299
WS
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Made on: 22 June 2020
Made by: Lord Callanan (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Climate Change and Corporate Responsibility))
Lords

Business Update

My Right Honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Alok Sharma) has today made the following statement:

Today, the Government will lay two separate pieces of secondary legislation to amend the Enterprise Act 2002. The first will allow the Government to intervene in qualifying mergers, including acquisitions, to maintain UK capability to combat and mitigate the impact of public health emergencies.

The second will lower the thresholds for intervention in mergers on public interest grounds for three sensitive sectors of the economy, intended to address any national security risks that may arise related to these sectors.

The Enterprise Act 2002 (Specification of Additional Section 58 Consideration) Order 2020

The Enterprise Act 2002 (Specification of Additional Section 58 Consideration) Order 2020 introduces a new public interest consideration for Government intervention in mergers and acquisitions. This new public interest consideration allows the Government to intervene in mergers involving businesses with a role in combatting or mitigating the impacts of public health emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The economic disruption caused by the pandemic may mean that some businesses with critical capabilities are more susceptible to takeovers – either from outwardly hostile approaches, or financially distressed companies being sold to malicious parties.

These new powers will enable the Government to intervene if a business that is directly involved in a pandemic response, for example, a vaccine research company or personal protective equipment manufacturer, finds itself the target of a takeover.

As this instrument is subject to the made affirmative procedure it has been made today and will come into effect tomorrow.

The draft Enterprise Act 2002 (Share of Supply Test) (Amendment) Order 2020

The draft Enterprise Act 2002 (Share of Supply Test) (Amendment) Order 2020 will amend the Secretary of State’s powers to scrutinise mergers in three sensitive sectors of the economy on public interest grounds: artificial intelligence, cryptographic authentication technology and advanced materials. These changes are intended to address any national security risks that may arise relating to these sectors. The Government made similar changes in 2018 for three other critical sectors: military/dual-use technologies, computing hardware and quantum technology.

Separately, the Government will lay an accompanying instrument, the Enterprise Act 2002 (Turnover Test) (Amendment) Order 2020, which will be subject to the negative resolution procedure. Together, these two instruments will add the enterprise categories to a list of ‘relevant enterprises’ which are subject to lower intervention thresholds. The turnover test for intervention in these sectors will be lowered to £1 million; and the ‘share of supply’ will be met where an enterprise supplies at least one quarter of all goods of a particular description and there is no longer a requirement for a merger to increase the share of supply.

These Orders will therefore allow the Government to intervene on public interest grounds when smaller companies in these critical sectors might be vulnerable as a consequence of a merger or takeover. They will send an important signal to those seeking to take advantage of those struggling as a result of the pandemic that the UK government is prepared to act where necessary to protect our national security.

I will also be placing copies of the non-statutory guidance relating to these amendments in the House libraries.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS305
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 22 June 2020
Made by: Lord Agnew of Oulton (Minister of State)
Lords

Procurement Update

My Rt Hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Rt Hon Michael Gove MP) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I previously provided a Written Ministerial Statement on 29 April 2020 in relation to indemnities granted for IP infringement, in respect of the designs, and against product liability claims against the manufacturers of Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System (RMVS) products through the Ventilator Challenge. I also laid a Departmental Minute before Parliament setting out the detail of these indemnities.

The Ventilator Challenge has been a resounding success, with four designs in production and over 7,500 devices delivered to the NHS. The Cabinet Office intends to grant similar indemnities in letters with other parties involved in the BlueSky Ventilators consortium. The contents of these letters is still under negotiation in the majority of cases.

It is normal practice, when a government department proposes to undertake a contingent liability in excess of £300,000 for which there is no specific statutory authority, for the Department concerned to present to Parliament a Minute giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from incurring the liability until fourteen parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the Minute, except in cases of special urgency.

Due to the urgent need to finalise the letters and release payments due to designers and manufacturers, it is not possible to allow the required 14 days’ notice prior to the liabilities going live. Any delay would result in an unacceptable delay in payments due to designers and manufacturers who are supported by a largely SME supply chain.

The precise commercial terms which have been negotiated for each supplier are, and will remain, commercially confidential. While it is difficult to estimate the potential liability exposure, it could exceed £300,000. For this reason, I am informing Parliament of these arrangements.

On this basis, I have today laid before Parliament a Departmental Minute setting out what these indemnities are.

The Treasury have approved these liabilities. However, any concerned Member of Parliament can contact the Cabinet Office who will be happy to provide a response.

Departmental Minute (PDF Document, 75.18 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS306
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 22 June 2020
Made by: Baroness Berridge (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System)
Lords

Education Update

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education (Gavin Williamson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Every pupil in the country has experienced unprecedented disruption to their education as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). Those from the most vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds will be amongst those hardest hit. The aggregate impact of lost time in education will be substantial: the scale of our response must match the scale of the challenge. Returning to normal educational routines as quickly as possible will be critical to our national recovery, which is why the government is working towards all pupils returning to school in September.

To further support pupils to catch up, the government has announced a package worth £1 billion to ensure that schools have the resources they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time, with extra support for those who need it most.

£650 million will be spent on ensuring all pupils have the chance to catch up and supporting schools to rise to the challenge. Whilst headteachers will decide how the money is spent, the Education Endowment Foundation has published guidance on effective interventions to support schools to make the best use of resources.

Alongside this universal offer, we will roll out a National Tutoring Programme, worth £350 million, which will deliver proven and successful interventions to the most disadvantaged young people, accelerating their academic progress and preventing the gap between them and their more affluent peers widening. The evidence shows that tutoring is an effective way to accelerate learning, and we therefore believe a targeted tutoring offer is the best way to narrow the gaps that risk opening up due to school closures.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS304
WS
Treasury
Made on: 22 June 2020
Made by: Rishi Sunak (The Chancellor of the Exchequer)
Commons

Notification of Contingent Liability

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England decided at its meeting ending on 17 June to ask for an expansion in the maximum limit of purchases that may be undertaken by the Asset Purchase Facility (APF). This will encompass up to £100 billion of further purchases of gilts to support the economy.

In light of the latest economic conditions, the MPC judged further asset purchases financed by the issuance of central bank reserves should be undertaken to enable the MPC to meet its statutory objectives, and thereby support the economy. I have therefore authorised an increase in the total size of the APF of £100 billion. This will bring the maximum total size of the APF from £645 to £745 billion.

In line with the requirements in the MPC remit, the amendments to the APF that could affect the allocation of credit and pose risks to the Exchequer have been discussed with Treasury officials. The risk control framework previously agreed with the Treasury will remain in place, and HM Treasury will keep monitoring risks to public funds from the Facility through regular risk oversight meetings and enhanced information sharing with the Bank.

There will continue to be an opportunity for the Treasury to provide views to the MPC on the design of the schemes within the APF, as they affect the Government’s broader economic objectives and may pose risks to the Exchequer.

The Government will continue to indemnify the Bank and the APF from any losses arising out of, or in connection with, the facility. If the liability is called, provision for any payment will be sought through the normal supply procedure.

A full departmental Minute has been laid in the House of Commons providing more detail on this contingent liability.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS302
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 18 June 2020
Made by: Baroness Vere of Norbiton (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport)
Lords

Contingency Fund

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

I hereby give notice of the Department for Transport having drawn advances from the Contingencies Fund totalling £7,000,000,000 to enable expenditure on COVID-19 support packages for transport to be spent ahead of the passage of the Supply and Appropriation Act. The schemes include:

Emergency Measures Agreements with the Train Operating Companies; the COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant; safeguarding critical ferry freight routes; and supporting regional transport networks such as Transport for London and light rail networks. Furthermore, the Department brought-forward the payment of local authority road maintenance grants announced in the Budget. Barnett Consequentials have already been applied in the usual way to any funding on top of the Department for Transport’s current budgets.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £5,253,000,000 and additional capital of £603,000,000 and £ 1,144,000,000 of cash will be sought in a Main Estimate for the Department for Transport. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £7,000,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

The cash advance will be repaid upon receiving Royal assent of the Supply and Appropriation Bill.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS299
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 18 June 2020
Made by: Lord Keen of Elie (The Lords Spokesperson)
Lords

Youth Custody

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

"Youth offending has fallen – to 38.4% in the latest youth justice statistics – thanks to successive governments’ efforts to improve education, social care and mental health support. Clear guidance to the judiciary that custody should be an absolute last resort for children has also seen numbers fall by 78% between 2008 and 2019. There are now fewer than 700 children currently held in Young Offender Institutions, Secure Training Centres and Secure Children’s Homes. This is an unprecedented low, and down from a peak of 3,200 in October 2002.

This is a success that as a society we should be incredibly proud of. These early interventions have meant that thousands of children each year avoid heading into adulthood as criminals, into a life of crime that is much harder to break once ingrained. This Government’s efforts to support children and upgrade their life chances continue at pace – whether that be the additional funding being put into our schools or the extra support now available to children’s mental health services.

But we know there is far more still to do, particularly for those who still enter custody – a much more concentrated mix of children with complex issues, over 50% of whom have convictions for serious violence. We are spending £5 million putting each prison officer who works in the youth custody estate through a specialist degree programme, giving them a greater understanding of child and adolescent development. We have also increased the number of staff in young offender institutions by a third in the last four years.

We are investing in the development of Enhanced Support Units (ESUs) to provide specialist psychological support and services for children with the most complex needs, with ESUs now at Feltham and Wetherby YOIs. We are also working with NHS England on a new integrated approach to strengthen the provision of health care and support (‘SECURE STAIRS’) which is rolling out across the youth secure estate.

But there are elements of practice in youth custody which, frankly, have not been good enough. Today I have published two reports on the use of restraint and separation in the secure youth justice estate.

Staff in the youth estate are trained to use behaviour management and de-escalation techniques and only resort to physical restraint when there is no alternative and either their safety or that of children is at further risk.

However, keen to ensure those prison officers working with children were receiving adequate training and were using such techniques appropriately, the Government commissioned Charlie Taylor, then the Chair of the Youth Justice Board, to carry out an independent review into the use of pain-inducing restraint.

In his report, Charlie Taylor references a number of incidents in which he believes the use of a pain-inducing restraint potentially saved a child’s life. He is therefore clear that staff must retain the ability to intervene safely when there is a clear and imminent risk of serious harm to a child, themselves or another member of staff. However, he also found instances where it was used inappropriately and, now, I want to ensure the use of such restraint is proportionate and reasonable and only used when there is no other alternative.

That is why the Government has accepted all fifteen recommendations in Charlie Taylor’s report, and the Youth Custody Service has developed a programme of work which will implement them. Techniques that cause pain, albeit in order to prevent further serious harm, will no longer be taught alongside other methods to manage behaviour, to make it even clearer that these are a last resort designed only to protect children or staff from further injury. This will ensure that such techniques are only used when there is no alternative in order to prevent serious harm and therefore protect children and staff from trauma wherever possible. A panel will also be established to carefully scrutinise incidents in which a pain-inducing restraint has been used to ensure they are being used appropriately and that the welfare of children and staff is a key consideration.

The second report I have published today builds on our initial response to the thematic report on separation in Young Offender Institutions, which HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) published in January.

The findings in the report made for some challenging reading at the time and I was pleased with the exceptional effort from the Youth Custody Service in acting so swiftly to address the regime provided for separated children.

It is extremely unfortunate that at the point at which we were starting to see improvements for separated children we went into a period, that because of coronavirus, has forced us into a situation where all children in custody have unfortunately had to spend more time behind their doors than we would wish.

I accepted the overarching recommendation for a new system of separation to be implemented, which was called for by HMIP in their thematic report. As we look to restart aspects of daily life for children in custody I am determined that we do not return to the practices of old. This new, child-centred policy will draw on best practice from other establishments to ensure consistency across the youth estate.

Inappropriate use of these techniques must not happen again. Our response to these findings will help to ensure all children in custody have all the support they need to turn their lives around.

I will place a copy of both reports in the library of both Houses."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS302
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 18 June 2020
Made by: Robert Buckland (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Youth Custody

Youth offending has fallen – to 38.4% in the latest youth justice statistics – thanks to successive governments’ efforts to improve education, social care and mental health support. Clear guidance to the judiciary that custody should be an absolute last resort for children has also seen numbers fall by 78% between 2008 and 2019. There are now fewer than 700 children currently held in Young Offender Institutions, Secure Training Centres and Secure Children’s Homes. This is an unprecedented low, and down from a peak of 3,200 in October 2002.

This is a success that as a society we should be incredibly proud of. These early interventions have meant that thousands of children each year avoid heading into adulthood as criminals, into a life of crime that is much harder to break once ingrained. This Government’s efforts to support children and upgrade their life chances continue at pace – whether that be the additional funding being put into our schools or the extra support now available to children’s mental health services.

But we know there is far more still to do, particularly for those who still enter custody – a much more concentrated mix of children with complex issues, over 50% of whom have convictions for serious violence. We are spending £5 million putting each prison officer who works in the youth custody estate through a specialist degree programme, giving them a greater understanding of child and adolescent development. We have also increased the number of staff in young offender institutions by a third in the last four years.

We are investing in the development of Enhanced Support Units (ESUs) to provide specialist psychological support and services for children with the most complex needs, with ESUs now at Feltham and Wetherby YOIs. We are also working with NHS England on a new integrated approach to strengthen the provision of health care and support (‘SECURE STAIRS’) which is rolling out across the youth secure estate.

But there are elements of practice in youth custody which, frankly, have not been good enough. Today I have published two reports on the use of restraint and separation in the secure youth justice estate.

Staff in the youth estate are trained to use behaviour management and de-escalation techniques and only resort to physical restraint when there is no alternative and either their safety or that of children is at further risk.

However, keen to ensure those prison officers working with children were receiving adequate training and were using such techniques appropriately, the Government commissioned Charlie Taylor, then the Chair of the Youth Justice Board, to carry out an independent review into the use of pain-inducing restraint.

In his report, Charlie Taylor references a number of incidents in which he believes the use of a pain-inducing restraint potentially saved a child’s life. He is therefore clear that staff must retain the ability to intervene safely when there is a clear and imminent risk of serious harm to a child, themselves or another member of staff. However, he also found instances where it was used inappropriately and, now, I want to ensure the use of such restraint is proportionate and reasonable and only used when there is no other alternative.

That is why the Government has accepted all fifteen recommendations in Charlie Taylor’s report, and the Youth Custody Service has developed a programme of work which will implement them. Techniques that cause pain, albeit in order to prevent further serious harm, will no longer be taught alongside other methods to manage behaviour, to make it even clearer that these are a last resort designed only to protect children or staff from further injury. This will ensure that such techniques are only used when there is no alternative in order to prevent serious harm and therefore protect children and staff from trauma wherever possible. A panel will also be established to carefully scrutinise incidents in which a pain-inducing restraint has been used to ensure they are being used appropriately and that the welfare of children and staff is a key consideration.

The second report I have published today builds on our initial response to the thematic report on separation in Young Offender Institutions, which HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) published in January.

The findings in the report made for some challenging reading at the time and I was pleased with the exceptional effort from the Youth Custody Service in acting so swiftly to address the regime provided for separated children.

It is extremely unfortunate that at the point at which we were starting to see improvements for separated children we went into a period, that because of coronavirus, has forced us into a situation where all children in custody have unfortunately had to spend more time behind their doors than we would wish.

I accepted the overarching recommendation for a new system of separation to be implemented, which was called for by HMIP in their thematic report. As we look to restart aspects of daily life for children in custody I am determined that we do not return to the practices of old. This new, child-centred policy will draw on best practice from other establishments to ensure consistency across the youth estate.

Inappropriate use of these techniques must not happen again. Our response to these findings will help to ensure all children in custody have all the support they need to turn their lives around.

I will place a copy of both reports in the library of both Houses.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS297
WS
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 18 June 2020
Made by: Lord Bethell (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Innovation))
Lords

Contingencies Fund Advance

My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock) has made the following written statement:

The Department of Health and Social Care’s Vote on Account cash limit has been used in full between April 2020 and June 2020 to support the running costs of the department, NHS and Arm’s Length Bodies, including expenditure on the Covid-19 pandemic. This application from the Contingencies Fund is to access the budgetary cover already included in the 2020/21 Main Supply Estimate, as set out below.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £24,250,000,000 and additional capital of £750,000,000 will be sought in a Main Estimate for Department of Health and Social Care. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £25,000,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS300
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 18 June 2020
Made by: Baroness Stedman-Scott (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Pensions: Interim Guidance for “Superfunds”

My honourable Friend, The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion (Guy Opperman MP) has made the following Written Statement.

The Pensions Regulator has today published an interim regulatory regime for Defined Benefit Pension “superfunds”.

A superfund is a privately funded “for profit” consolidation vehicle, which takes over responsibility for Defined Benefit Pension Schemes liabilities from the sponsoring employer. To enter a superfund, sponsoring employers are required to pay a significant, upfront sum to improve the funding level of their scheme, in exchange for discharging their pensions liabilities.

This is an interim regime. The government will continue to develop the permanent regime before legislating, with full and proper parliamentary scrutiny in the usual way.

Operation of the interim regime will be kept under review by the government to ensure that it is properly protecting and advancing the interests of pension scheme members and the Pension Protection Fund.

The government will continue to develop a permanent regime for superfunds. This is an innovative area and market participants should not assume that the permanent regime will automatically replicate the interim regime. Alongside responses to the Defined Benefit Pension Scheme Consolidation Consultation, the government will be informed by experience gained during the interim regime when considering the features of the permanent regime, including those relating to capital adequacy. The permanent regime may include an alternative set of requirements, including more prudent requirements, compared to the interim regime, but we cannot pre-empt the parliamentary process.

The permanent regime will be designed to protect pension scheme members and the Pension Protection Fund, including by ensuring that superfunds have the necessary flexibility to continue contributing to a strong pensions ecosystem in which sponsoring companies and scheme trustees have a range of options open to them.

The government believes that superfunds have the potential to improve the likelihood of members getting their benefits in full whilst providing employers with a new, affordable option to manage their legacy pension liabilities. However, if at any point it appears that changes to the interim regime are required in order to protect and advance the interests of scheme members, the government and The Pensions Regulator will take prompt, robust action.

Today’s publication will mean that The Pensions Regulator will have a much firmer basis to take action against a superfund should they deem it a necessary and proportionate step.

The guidance can be accessed at the following address:

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/document-library/regulatory-guidance/db-superfunds

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS301
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 18 June 2020
Made by: Guy Opperman (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions & Financial Inclusion.)
Commons

Pensions: Interim Guidance for “Superfunds”

The Pensions Regulator has today published an interim regulatory regime for Defined Benefit Pension “superfunds”.

A superfund is a privately funded “for profit” consolidation vehicle, which takes over responsibility for Defined Benefit Pension Schemes liabilities from the sponsoring employer. To enter a superfund, sponsoring employers are required to pay a significant, upfront sum to improve the funding level of their scheme, in exchange for discharging their pensions liabilities.

This is an interim regime. The government will continue to develop the permanent regime before legislating, with full and proper parliamentary scrutiny in the usual way.

Operation of the interim regime will be kept under review by the government to ensure that it is properly protecting and advancing the interests of pension scheme members and the Pension Protection Fund.

The government will continue to develop a permanent regime for superfunds. This is an innovative area and market participants should not assume that the permanent regime will automatically replicate the interim regime. Alongside responses to the Defined Benefit Pension Scheme Consolidation Consultation, the government will be informed by experience gained during the interim regime when considering the features of the permanent regime, including those relating to capital adequacy. The permanent regime may include an alternative set of requirements, including more prudent requirements, compared to the interim regime, but we cannot pre-empt the parliamentary process.

The permanent regime will be designed to protect pension scheme members and the Pension Protection Fund, including by ensuring that superfunds have the necessary flexibility to continue contributing to a strong pensions ecosystem in which sponsoring companies and scheme trustees have a range of options open to them.

The government believes that superfunds have the potential to improve the likelihood of members getting their benefits in full whilst providing employers with a new, affordable option to manage their legacy pension liabilities. However, if at any point it appears that changes to the interim regime are required in order to protect and advance the interests of scheme members, the government and The Pensions Regulator will take prompt, robust action.

Today’s publication will mean that The Pensions Regulator will have a much firmer basis to take action against a superfund should they deem it a necessary and proportionate step.

The guidance can be accessed at the following address:

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/document-library/regulatory-guidance/db-superfunds

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS295
WS
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 18 June 2020
Made by: Matt Hancock (Secretary of State for Health and Social Care)
Commons

Contingencies Fund Advance

The Department of Health and Social Care’s Vote on Account cash limit has been used in full between April 2020 and June 2020 to support the running costs of the department, NHS and Arm’s Length Bodies, including expenditure on the Covid-19 pandemic. This application from the Contingencies Fund is to access the budgetary cover already included in the 2020/21 Main Supply Estimate, as set out below.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £24,250,000,000 and additional capital of £750,000,000 will be sought in a Main Estimate for Department of Health and Social Care. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £25,000,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS296
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 18 June 2020
Made by: Grant Shapps (Secretary of State for Transport)
Commons

Contingency Fund

I hereby give notice of the Department for Transport having drawn advances from the Contingencies Fund totalling £7,000,000,000 to enable expenditure on COVID-19 support packages for transport to be spent ahead of the passage of the Supply and Appropriation Act. The schemes include:

Emergency Measures Agreements with the Train Operating Companies; the COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant; safeguarding critical ferry freight routes; and supporting regional transport networks such as Transport for London and light rail networks. Furthermore, the Department brought-forward the payment of local authority road maintenance grants announced in the Budget. Barnett Consequentials have already been applied in the usual way to any funding on top of the Department for Transport’s current budgets.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £5,253,000,000 and additional capital of £603,000,000 and £ 1,144,000,000 of cash will be sought in a Main Estimate for the Department for Transport. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £7,000,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

The cash advance will be repaid upon receiving Royal assent of the Supply and Appropriation Bill.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS298
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 17 June 2020
Made by: Michael Gove (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office )
Commons

Advance from the Contingencies Fund

The Cabinet Office has sought a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund of £270,100,000.

The requirement has arisen due to increased costs relating to urgent expenditure, including that relating to the COVID-19 response.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £107,100,000 and £163,000,000 of capital has been sought in a Main Estimate for the Cabinet Office. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £270,100,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS294
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 17 June 2020
Made by: Lord True (Minister of State)
Lords

Advance from the Contingencies Fund

My Rt Hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Michael Gove) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The Cabinet Office has sought a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund of £270,100,000.

The requirement has arisen due to increased costs relating to urgent expenditure, including that relating to the COVID-19 response.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £107,100,000 and £163,000,000 of capital has been sought in a Main Estimate for the Cabinet Office. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £270,100,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS298
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 17 June 2020
Made by: Lord Grimstone of Boscobel (Minister for Investment)
Lords

Update on Trade Negotiations with Australia and New Zealand

My Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for International Trade (Liz Truss MP) has today made the following statement.

Today, the Government publishes its approach to trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, as well as providing an update on its approach to accession to Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

New Zealand and Australia rank among our closest friends. We share a language, head of state and a system of common law, and we have a proud shared history. We also have a common set of values. Like the UK, both nations have always stood up for what is right and maintained a fierce belief in the merits of trade openness, the rule of law, international co-operation, and democratic government.

But what we have never had with either is a free trade agreement. That can change now the UK has left the EU. Our future success as a country depends partly on using our new-found status as an independent trading nation to strengthen ties with old allies beyond Europe. Ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreements with old friends like Australia and New Zealand are a powerful way for us to do that and make good on the promise of Brexit.

From a purely economic perspective, deals with both countries can help deliver the things that our people care about – better jobs, higher wages, greater choice, and lower prices.

UK businesses traded £21bn worth of goods and services with Australia and New Zealand combined in 2019. Trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand could increase UK exports to Australia and New Zealand by around £1 billion – with beverages firms, the automotive industry and professional services among those expected to benefit. Opportunities for these agreements include additional access for UK services and investment, removing tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods and the chance to shape the future of digital trade.

An ambitious UK-Australia trade agreement could increase UK GDP by up to £500 million and UK workers’ wages by up to £400 million. It can enable Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to export more goods and services to Australia, building on the 13,400 UK SMEs that already exported goods there in 2018.

A cutting-edge agreement with New Zealand could increase UK workers’ wages by up to £200 million. New Zealand and the UK also share a particular ambition to work together to promote clean growth through trade – a key contribution to a low-carbon economic recovery.

But perhaps more importantly than the pure economics, both these countries are vital to the UK’s future place in the world and our future sovereign capability.

The pandemic has given oxygen to the politics of protectionism across the globe, and to those who advocate closed, statist economies. Trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand are important in helping our country and the world move beyond coronavirus.

Strengthening ties between nations who believe in free trade is a powerful way to defend the principles of open markets and international cooperation, and in doing show that free trade is still the best way forward for the world after coronavirus.

Strategically, our aim is to place the UK at the centre of a network of modern free trade agreements, turning our country into a global hub for businesses and investors who want to trade in dynamic areas of the world – especially in the Asia-Pacific.

Pivoting towards the Asia-Pacific will help diversify our trade, make our supply chains more resilient and make the UK less vulnerable to political and economic shocks in certain parts of the world. This economic security is important at a time of increased turbulence and uncertainty in the world.

It will also help us forge a leadership position among a network of countries committed to free trade – and strengthen the club of like-minded democracies who share our commitment to advance trade liberalisation, fight protectionism and defend international rules.

Australia and New Zealand are both big players in the Asia-Pacific and share our commitment to free trade. They are also prominent members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership – a club of eleven countries representing 13% of global GDP.

The UK had more than £110 billion-worth of trade in 2019 with the 11 countries in the group and we are determined to increase our trade through membership. CPTPP will help us diversify our trade and join a strong, modern trade agreement between countries committed to free and fair trade in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Both Australia and New Zealand support our membership, and free trade agreements with both countries would be an important step towards our eventual accession.

Today, the Department for International Trade is publishing three documents:

  1. UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement: the UK’s strategic approach
  2. UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement: the UK’s strategic approach
  3. An update on the UK’s position on accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

We will be placing copies in the House libraries. For Australia and New Zealand, these documents include:

  • The Government’s negotiating objectives for each trade agreement
  • A scoping assessment providing a preliminary assessment of the potential long-term economic impacts for each agreement
  • The Government’s response to the public consultations on each agreement, setting out how these have informed our policy development.

As with our whole trade agreement programme, these agreements need to work for the UK. We have been clear that future agreements with Australia and New Zealand must work for UK consumers, producers and companies. We remain committed to upholding our high environmental, labour, food safety and animal welfare standards in our trade agreements with these countries. The Government has been clear that when we are negotiating trade agreements, we will protect the National Health Service (NHS). Our objectives reinforce this.

We are engaging with the devolved administrations, crown dependencies and overseas territories to ensure that we develop agreements that works for the whole of the UK. The Government is committed to transparency and we will continue to ensure that parliamentarians, businesses, and the range of civil society stakeholders have access to information on our trade negotiations.

Negotiations with Australia and New Zealand will be carried out by video conference, ensuring that talks can progress during the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to conduct talks remotely until it is safe to conduct talks in person.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS297
WS
Department for International Trade
Made on: 17 June 2020
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (Secretary of State for International Trade)
Commons

Update on Trade Negotiations with Australia and New Zealand

Today, the Government publishes its approach to trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand, as well as providing an update on its approach to accession to Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

New Zealand and Australia rank among our closest friends. We share a language, head of state and a system of common law, and we have a proud shared history. We also have a common set of values. Like the UK, both nations have always stood up for what is right and maintained a fierce belief in the merits of trade openness, the rule of law, international co-operation, and democratic government.

But what we have never had with either is a free trade agreement. That can change now the UK has left the EU. Our future success as a country depends partly on using our new-found status as an independent trading nation to strengthen ties with old allies beyond Europe. Ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreements with old friends like Australia and New Zealand are a powerful way for us to do that and make good on the promise of Brexit.

From a purely economic perspective, deals with both countries can help deliver the things that our people care about – better jobs, higher wages, greater choice, and lower prices.

UK businesses traded £21bn worth of goods and services with Australia and New Zealand combined in 2019. Trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand could increase UK exports to Australia and New Zealand by around £1 billion – with beverages firms, the automotive industry and professional services among those expected to benefit. Opportunities for these agreements include additional access for UK services and investment, removing tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods and the chance to shape the future of digital trade.

An ambitious UK-Australia trade agreement could increase UK GDP by up to £500 million and UK workers’ wages by up to £400 million. It can enable Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to export more goods and services to Australia, building on the 13,400 UK SMEs that already exported goods there in 2018.

A cutting-edge agreement with New Zealand could increase UK workers’ wages by up to £200 million. New Zealand and the UK also share a particular ambition to work together to promote clean growth through trade – a key contribution to a low-carbon economic recovery.

But perhaps more importantly than the pure economics, both these countries are vital to the UK’s future place in the world and our future sovereign capability.

The pandemic has given oxygen to the politics of protectionism across the globe, and to those who advocate closed, statist economies. Trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand are important in helping our country and the world move beyond coronavirus.

Strengthening ties between nations who believe in free trade is a powerful way to defend the principles of open markets and international cooperation, and in doing show that free trade is still the best way forward for the world after coronavirus.

Strategically, our aim is to place the UK at the centre of a network of modern free trade agreements, turning our country into a global hub for businesses and investors who want to trade in dynamic areas of the world – especially in the Asia-Pacific.

Pivoting towards the Asia-Pacific will help diversify our trade, make our supply chains more resilient and make the UK less vulnerable to political and economic shocks in certain parts of the world. This economic security is important at a time of increased turbulence and uncertainty in the world.

It will also help us forge a leadership position among a network of countries committed to free trade – and strengthen the club of like-minded democracies who share our commitment to advance trade liberalisation, fight protectionism and defend international rules.

Australia and New Zealand are both big players in the Asia-Pacific and share our commitment to free trade. They are also prominent members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership – a club of eleven countries representing 13% of global GDP.

The UK had more than £110 billion-worth of trade in 2019 with the 11 countries in the group and we are determined to increase our trade through membership. CPTPP will help us diversify our trade and join a strong, modern trade agreement between countries committed to free and fair trade in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Both Australia and New Zealand support our membership, and free trade agreements with both countries would be an important step towards our eventual accession.

Today, the Department for International Trade is publishing three documents:

  1. UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement: the UK’s strategic approach
  2. UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement: the UK’s strategic approach
  3. An update on the UK’s position on accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

We will be placing copies in the House libraries. For Australia and New Zealand, these documents include:

  • The Government’s negotiating objectives for each trade agreement
  • A scoping assessment providing a preliminary assessment of the potential long-term economic impacts for each agreement
  • The Government’s response to the public consultations on each agreement, setting out how these have informed our policy development.

As with our whole trade agreement programme, these agreements need to work for the UK. We have been clear that future agreements with Australia and New Zealand must work for UK consumers, producers and companies. We remain committed to upholding our high environmental, labour, food safety and animal welfare standards in our trade agreements with these countries. The Government has been clear that when we are negotiating trade agreements, we will protect the National Health Service (NHS). Our objectives reinforce this.

We are engaging with the devolved administrations, crown dependencies and overseas territories to ensure that we develop agreements that works for the whole of the UK. The Government is committed to transparency and we will continue to ensure that parliamentarians, businesses, and the range of civil society stakeholders have access to information on our trade negotiations.

Negotiations with Australia and New Zealand will be carried out by video conference, ensuring that talks can progress during the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to conduct talks remotely until it is safe to conduct talks in person.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS293
WS
Department of Health and Social Care
Made on: 16 June 2020
Made by: Lord Bethell (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Innovation))
Lords

Coronavirus impact update

My Hon Friend theParliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care) (Jo Churchill) has made the following written statement:

Today, Public Health England has published the result of their work to engage with individuals and organisations within the BAME community, to hear their views, concerns and ideas about the impact of Covid-19 on their communities. As the House will know, my honourable friend, the Equalities Minister will be leading on the next steps, working with PHE and others. Copies will be deposited in the Libraries of both houses and are available on PHE’s website, https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS296
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