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.

From 17 November 2014, written statements are published below shortly after receipt in Parliament. On the day of publication, Commons statements are also available on the Today's Written Statements page.

Written statements are 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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Ministry of Justice
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy)
Lords

Justice and Home Affairs post-Council Statement

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Theresa May) has made the following statement.

“The Informal Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council was held on 29 and 30 January in Riga. I and a senior Ministry of Justice official attended on behalf of the United Kingdom. The following items were discussed.

In the context of the attacks in Paris in January, the Presidency focused the morning of Interior Day on the issue of counter terrorism and, in particular, foreign fighters. Member States, along with the Commission and the EU Counter Terrorism Coordinator, discussed how best to tackle the threat posed by those returning from Syria and Iraq, as well as efforts to tackle radicalisation. Member States, including the UK, agreed a Joint Statement which emphasised a number of issues including: the need for a strong and effective Passenger Name Records framework; the importance of effective action against illegal firearms; and the need to tackle terrorist content on the internet.

The UK urged other EU states to do more to improve the exchange of information about known criminals to keep the public safe. We highlighted that existing EU mechanisms are not fully utilised by other Member States to identify released offenders who continue to pose a public protection risk and who may try to travel across Europe and stressed that, to be able to refuse such offenders entry, Member States need to be told about them in advance. The UK also stressed the need for all Member States to retain and share information about 'spent' convictions for serious offences for appropriate lengths of time. We welcomed the continued focus on this important issue and on working together at the European level to tackle the threat but reiterated the importance of all Member States working to make progress in this area quickly.

Over lunch there was a discussion of EU migration pressures based on reporting from FRONTEX and EASO, where discussion covered the situation in Syria, the handling of asylum claims in Member States, and legal routes into the EU. The UK stressed the need to enhance cooperation with source and transit countries, in order to disrupt irregular migration flows.

After lunch, the Presidency held a joint session of Interior and Justice Ministers along with their counterparts from the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine), during which the EaP countries highlighted their progress on domestic reforms. In a common theme for many EU Member State interventions, the Commission underlined the importance of rule of law, and in particular the independence of the judiciary. Many EaP countries had made progress, but there was more to do.

Eurojust wanted to see more cooperation with EaP based on the model of their network of judicial contact points, noting that it was in talks with Ukraine and Georgia to establish them there, and hoped to see a greater level of cooperation.

On Justice Day, Ministers returned to the issue of counter terrorism to look at the judicial response, including radicalisation in prison and the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution on foreign fighters.

The Presidency then introduced its discussion paper on the scope of the data protection package, which consists of a Regulation covering the processing of personal data in most civil and commercial circumstances, and a Directive covering the processing of personal data in the context of criminal investigations and prosecution. Ministers were asked to consider whether the scope of the draft Directive should remain as proposed by the Commission or be extended to also cover processing of personal data when “maintaining law and order and the safeguarding of public security”.

The Commission argued strongly for maintaining the Directive’s original scope and noted that the Regulation had already been amended to provide greater flexibility for the public sector. The European Parliament set out its firm support for the Commission position. Whilst a few Member States supported the existing Commission proposal, the majority of Member States supported the Presidency’s proposal for an extension of the scope of the Directive. The UK, along with another Member State did not support either proposal. The UK understood the concerns of most Member States, and recognised this was an important and difficult issue. The UK put forward a compromise proposal, to limit the scope of the Directive to activities falling within those chapters of the Treaty dealing with police and judicial cooperation (i.e. Chapters 4 and 5 of Title V of Part Three of the TFEU). The meeting did not allow for a substantive discussion of the proposal, which the UK proposed should take place at expert level.

There followed a discussion on the promotion of digital solutions and tools for justice. The Commission argued that legal fragmentation across Member States was a major obstacle to a functioning Digital Single Market, with significant resultant costs suffered by businesses, in particular SMEs. This was a top priority for the Commission, and it would bring forward a package of proposals this year to supplement the data protection reforms already underway. This would include withdrawing its proposal for a Common European Sales Law and bringing forward a new measure to harmonise rules for online purchases. There was also a need to make further progress on the e-justice agenda. Many Member States called for a more ambitious e-justice agenda for both criminal and civil law.

The UK highlighted its recent paper on “The UK Vision for the EU’s Digital Economy”. On the Common European Sales Law, the UK had joined a number of other Member States in calling for the Commission to withdraw the proposal. Any modified proposal needed to be based on a proper impact assessment and consultation. There was a need for a new focus on more effective enforcement of consumer law as well as new cross-EU consumer rights specifically for digital content. The UK argued there was scope for the Commission to consider online sales issues when reviewing the Rome I Regulation.

Under AOB, Romania spoke to its joint letter with Italy calling upon the Commission to provide EU funding to support improvements in prison conditions. They argued this was an important objective with implications for EU cooperation, in particular the European Arrest Warrant and the EU framework on prisoner transfers. Finally, Spain drew attention to its conference on 25 March which would include the signing of the Convention on trafficking in human organs.”

WS
Home Office
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Mrs Theresa May (The Secretary of State for the Home Department )
Commons

Justice and Home Affairs post-Council Statement

The Informal Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council was held on 29 and 30 January in Riga. I and a senior Ministry of Justice official attended on behalf of the United Kingdom. The following items were discussed.

In the context of the attacks in Paris in January, the Presidency focused the morning of Interior Day on the issue of counter terrorism and, in particular, foreign fighters. Member States, along with the Commission and the EU Counter Terrorism Coordinator, discussed how best to tackle the threat posed by those returning from Syria and Iraq, as well as efforts to tackle radicalisation. Member States, including the UK, agreed a Joint Statement which emphasised a number of issues including: the need for a strong and effective Passenger Name Records framework; the importance of effective action against illegal firearms; and the need to tackle terrorist content on the internet.

The UK urged other EU states to do more to improve the exchange of information about known criminals to keep the public safe. We highlighted that existing EU mechanisms are not fully utilised by other Member States to identify released offenders who continue to pose a public protection risk and who may try to travel across Europe and stressed that, to be able to refuse such offenders entry, Member States need to be told about them in advance. The UK also stressed the need for all Member States to retain and share information about 'spent' convictions for serious offences for appropriate lengths of time. We welcomed the continued focus on this important issue and on working together at the European level to tackle the threat but reiterated the importance of all Member States working to make progress in this area quickly.

Over lunch there was a discussion of EU migration pressures based on reporting from FRONTEX and EASO, where discussion covered the situation in Syria, the handling of asylum claims in Member States, and legal routes into the EU. The UK stressed the need to enhance cooperation with source and transit countries, in order to disrupt irregular migration flows.

After lunch, the Presidency held a joint session of Interior and Justice Ministers along with their counterparts from the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine), during which the EaP countries highlighted their progress on domestic reforms. In a common theme for many EU Member State interventions, the Commission underlined the importance of rule of law, and in particular the independence of the judiciary. Many EaP countries had made progress, but there was more to do.

Eurojust wanted to see more cooperation with EaP based on the model of their network of judicial contact points, noting that it was in talks with Ukraine and Georgia to establish them there, and hoped to see a greater level of cooperation.

On Justice Day, Ministers returned to the issue of counter terrorism to look at the judicial response, including radicalisation in prison and the implementation of the UN Security Council Resolution on foreign fighters.

The Presidency then introduced its discussion paper on the scope of the data protection package, which consists of a Regulation covering the processing of personal data in most civil and commercial circumstances, and a Directive covering the processing of personal data in the context of criminal investigations and prosecution. Ministers were asked to consider whether the scope of the draft Directive should remain as proposed by the Commission or be extended to also cover processing of personal data when “maintaining law and order and the safeguarding of public security”.

The Commission argued strongly for maintaining the Directive’s original scope and noted that the Regulation had already been amended to provide greater flexibility for the public sector. The European Parliament set out its firm support for the Commission position. Whilst a few Member States supported the existing Commission proposal, the majority of Member States supported the Presidency’s proposal for an extension of the scope of the Directive. The UK, along with another Member State did not support either proposal. The UK understood the concerns of most Member States, and recognised this was an important and difficult issue. The UK put forward a compromise proposal, to limit the scope of the Directive to activities falling within those chapters of the Treaty dealing with police and judicial cooperation (i.e. Chapters 4 and 5 of Title V of Part Three of the TFEU). The meeting did not allow for a substantive discussion of the proposal, which the UK proposed should take place at expert level.

There followed a discussion on the promotion of digital solutions and tools for justice. The Commission argued that legal fragmentation across Member States was a major obstacle to a functioning Digital Single Market, with significant resultant costs suffered by businesses, in particular SMEs. This was a top priority for the Commission, and it would bring forward a package of proposals this year to supplement the data protection reforms already underway. This would include withdrawing its proposal for a Common European Sales Law and bringing forward a new measure to harmonise rules for online purchases. There was also a need to make further progress on the e-justice agenda. Many Member States called for a more ambitious e-justice agenda for both criminal and civil law.

The UK highlighted its recent paper on “The UK Vision for the EU’s Digital Economy”. On the Common European Sales Law, the UK had joined a number of other Member States in calling for the Commission to withdraw the proposal. Any modified proposal needed to be based on a proper impact assessment and consultation. There was a need for a new focus on more effective enforcement of consumer law as well as new cross-EU consumer rights specifically for digital content. The UK argued there was scope for the Commission to consider online sales issues when reviewing the Rome I Regulation.

Under AOB, Romania spoke to its joint letter with Italy calling upon the Commission to provide EU funding to support improvements in prison conditions. They argued this was an important objective with implications for EU cooperation, in particular the European Arrest Warrant and the EU framework on prisoner transfers. Finally, Spain drew attention to its conference on 25 March which would include the signing of the Convention on trafficking in human organs.

WS
Home Office
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Lord Bates (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office )
Lords

Immigration Act 2014 – Marriage and Civil Partnership Notice Fee Increase

My hon Friend the Minister of State for Security and Immigration (James Brokenshire) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I am pleased to inform the House of an increase in marriage and civil partnership notice fees to support the implementation of the referral and investigation scheme for proposed marriages and civil partnerships and related provisions under the Immigration Act 2014. I announced the revised fees in Parliament on Monday 19 January 2015.

Under the new scheme all proposed marriages and civil partnerships involving a non-European Economic Area national with limited or no immigration status in the UK, or who does not provide specified evidence that they are exempt from the scheme, will be referred to the Home Office.

This introduces additional costs for registration officers, who will be required to ask couples for additional information and evidence. They will also provide relevant couples with information about the scheme and refer them to the Home Office. The marriage and civil partnership notice fee in England and Wales for couples subject to referral to the Home Office under the scheme will be increased from £35 to £47 per person from 2 March 2015, subject to the commencement of the scheme from that date. This will fund the additional administrative costs for the Designated Register Offices required to perform these functions, in line with the New Burdens Doctrine.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS257
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Baroness Kramer (Minister of State)
Lords

Change to the rules for operators registering local bus services.

In March 2014 the Government consulted on its implementation of the four remedies proposed by the Competition Commission recommending changes to the existing rules for the registration of local bus services with the Traffic Commissioner. The four remedies formed part of a much wider series of recommendations made by the Competition Commission following its two year “Local bus services market investigation” which concluded in December 2011.

I am today Thursday 5 February announcing that following a review of the responses to the consultation I have decided to only progress one of the four remedies - the 14-day pre-notification period for local transport authorities. Whilst this only constitutes a partial implementation of the Competition Commission’s recommendations in this particular area, this follows full consideration of the consultation responses and the cost benefit analysis undertaken as part of the legislative process.

The implementation of the 14-day pre-notification period for local authorities makes a material contribution towards meeting the Competition Commission’s concerns in a way that builds on Government policy to promote partnership working between operators and local authorities. New entrants would have at least 14 days to operate before a reaction from the incumbent(s) as the information would be kept confidential. As identified by the Competition Commission the extra visibility to local authorities should also discourage anticompetitive reactions by an incumbent.

The consultation also sought views on the Department’s ambition to move to a fully electronic bus registration system over the next 2-3 years and invited views on how to make this happen. This will bring benefits not only to operators and local authorities in terms of reduced administrative costs and ease of updating local travel information, but also to passengers in terms of an improvement in completeness and timeliness of bus route / timetable information. There was broad support for this aim and so a move to a fully digital bus registration system will be progressed. We will be engaging with key players over the next few months to establish the best way to make this happen.

A summary of responses and the Government position has been published on GOV.UK and has been placed in the libraries of both Houses.

Consultation Doc (PDF Document, 209.22 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS256
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Lords

Foreign Affairs Council, and General Affairs Council: 9 and 10 February

My Right Honourable Friend the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) has made the following written Ministerial statement:

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 9 February and I will attend the General Affairs Council on 10 February. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and the General Affairs Council will be chaired by the Latvian Presidency. The meetings will be held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council

Africa

The FAC will be having its first strategic discussion on Africa for a number of years. To help structure the debate the EEAS has produced a paper entitled “Peace, prosperity and partnership”. The UK will use the discussion to focus on Boko Haram and Nigeria’s forthcoming presidential and regional elections. UK priorities will be to secure EU support for regional efforts, assisted by the AU, to tackle Boko Haram and to send a clear message on the importance of free, fair and peaceful elections. The UK will also reinforce the link between trade and development and peace and security and underline the importance of the EU retaining its role as a serious player on the continent. We expect that there will be Council Conclusions on this topic.

Libya

Discussions on Libya will focus on the further deterioration of the security situation and progress of the UN-led political talks. The UK’s priority will be to ensure the continued support of Member States for the efforts of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Libya, Bernardino Leon, to resolve the political crisis and pave the way for peaceful political dialogue.

Yemen

Events in Yemen are fluid and volatile. We expect discussions to focus on the latest situation in the country, including the future leadership of the country. There will be Council Conclusions on Yemen, condemning violence and urging restraint and dialogue by all parties in line with the GCC Initiative and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement signed by the Houthis and President Hadi in September 2014.

Iraq & Syria

The EEAS and Commission will present an update on the EU Syria/Iraq/ISIL Strategy. The UK will urge the Institutions to secure funding swiftly to enable the implementation of the Strategy, ahead of the March FAC. The Strategy should help focus EU efforts on areas where they can add value to the Counter ISIL Coalition and should ensure EU activity is better coordinated and aligned with other Coalition efforts.

Terrorism

The attacks in Paris, and events in Belgium and elsewhere in Europe, underline that countering terrorism is at the top of our and our EU partners’ priorities. Much of the European direct response to these attacks will focus on internal EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), as set out by EU JHA Ministers when they met on 29 January, but the EU needs to address terrorism issues outside its borders. We expect Council Conclusions on 9 February that will set out how the EU intends to implement its Foreign Fighters and Syria/Iraq/ISIL strategy. Other UK priorities will be to press for EU action in priority countries in the Middle East and Africa, to improve those countries’ aviation and border security, crisis-response capacity and management of the return of terrorist fighters, as well as to support their strategic communications and counter-radicalisation efforts.

General Affairs Council

The General Affairs Council (GAC) on 10 February is expected to focus on: the Latvian Presidency Work Programme; the EU Strategic Agenda; preparation of the European Council on 19 and 20 March 2015; and EU Structural Funds.

Latvia Presidency Work Programme

The GAC is expected to take note of the Latvian Presidency Programme which commenced on 1 January 2015. Three priorities have been identified for the Latvian Presidency: a Competitive Europe that creates growth and jobs and better responds to the needs of its people; a Digital Europe which seizes the opportunities provided by digital technologies as the basis for EU’s competitiveness and growth; and a Global Europe encompassing EU-US relations, the Eastern Partnership and renewing the EU-Central Asia strategy. There is a good degree of alignment between the UK’s priorities and those of the Latvian Presidency, particularly based around supporting growth and making European economies more competitive.

EU Strategic Agenda – Union of freedom, security and justice

The GAC will discuss the EU’s response to the horrific attacks in Paris and Belgium last month. The UK wants to see action taken at a European level to deal with aspects of the current threat from terrorism in Syria and Iraq, including: on the movement of foreign fighters and weapons through Europe; improved aviation security; tackling terrorist and extremist propaganda on line; counter radicalisation and driving a strong counter narrative; data-sharing about people convicted of terrorist offences; and urgent publication of the EU’s Strategies on Foreign Fighters and ISIL.

Preparation of the March European Council

The GAC will prepare the 19 and 20 March European Council, which the Prime Minister will attend. The March European Council agenda has not yet been released but we expect it to include: economic issues including the review of the Europe 2020 Strategy; Energy Union and; external relations issues (likely to include Ukraine).

EU Structural Funds

Ministers will discuss measures to ensure the timely adoption of the 2014-2020 EU Structural Funds programmes which are awaiting approval.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS255
WS
Home Office
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Lord Bates (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office)
Lords

Tackling Violence against Women and Girls Overseas

My hon Friend the Minister of State for Crime Prevention (Lynne Featherstone) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I would like to update the House on my work as the Ministerial Champion for Tackling Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) overseas.

Since moving back to the Home Office as the Minister for Crime Prevention, I have been able to strengthen my Ministerial Champion role by ensuring the government continues to take a coherent approach across international and domestic work to tackle violence against women and girls.

The scale of the challenge of ending violence against women and girls continues to be considerable.

Since my appointment as the International Champion, I have made a series of overseas visits, including to South Sudan, Somalia, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, India and Burma, working in partnership to encourage and drive action to address VAWG in these countries. I have also represented the UK at a number of key international forums such as the Commission on the Status of Women, making the case for VAWG to be recognised in the post-2015 Millennium development framework. I have also met, and built up strong alliances, with many in the wider community working on these issues including passionate activists and campaigners from non-governmental organisations and grassroots organisations, and diaspora communities in the UK.

In January, I undertook my final overseas visit - to India and Burma. I first visited India in my role as Ministerial Champion in 2011 and the progress that has been made since my last visit was encouraging. I was pleased to be able to secure ministers’ agreement to send written support for the Girl Summit charter to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) in a generation.

In Burma, as well as with government ministers, I met with civil society groups, women’s rights campaigners, and Aung San Suu Kyi, to discuss how violence against women and girls can be tackled; and how they could gain an equal voice in the peace process and political reforms. One thing was clear to me. They are all dedicated to making their country a better place for all Burmese people. Much of the violence against women and girls in Burma is as a result of conflict. I was encouraged to hear of the work underway to tackle this, and saw a Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative-linked training session for the Burmese Army, supported by the UK’s Defence Academy, on the UNSC 1325 commitments on women, peace and security.

I am proud of the role the UK has taken in supporting Burma, India and so many other countries to address violence against women and girls. I am also extremely proud of the achievements we have made since 2010. The UK is now positioned as a true world leader on tackling violence against women and girls. I would like to outline just a small selection of these achievements:

- We have hosted three ground-breaking global summits on addressing VAWG: (1) the ‘call to action’ to tackle violence against women and girls in humanitarian emergencies; (2) ending sexual violence in conflict; and (3) the Girl Summit focused on tackling child, early and forced marriage, and ending female genital mutilation (FGM) both in the UK and worldwide.

- These summits galvanised a huge range of financial and political commitments to act, including a ground-breaking Communiqué to agree that early action to protect girls and women in emergencies saves lives (signed by fifty governments and organisations); an International Protocol on the Investigation and Documentation of Sexual Violence; and a Girl Summit Charter on FGM and child, early and forced marriage (with 470 signatories, including 36 governments).

- I launched a flagship FGM programme in 2013 – for which the UK is the largest donor in the world - working in 17 countries to support the Africa-led movement to end FGM, aiming to see a 30% reduction of FGM in ten countries over the next five years. The momentum this generated led to the Girl Summit being held in London the following year.

- The UK has significantly scaled up its work to tackle VAWG overseas. For example, the Department for International Development has seen a 63% increase in programmes addressing these issues since 2012. We now have bilateral VAWG programmes in 29 countries.

- We have committed up to £25 million for a new programme to end child, early and forced marriage in 12 countries.

- We have seen a six-fold increase in programmes addressing VAWG in humanitarian situations. For example, the UK is now supporting a programme working across the DRC, Ethiopia, and Pakistan called ‘Protecting Adolescent Girls against Violence in Humanitarian Settings’, which will directly benefit 8615 adolescent girls

- We are investing £25 million over five years in a flagship research and innovation programme that will find out what works to prevent violence in developing countries, with a component focused on conflict and humanitarian contexts.

I am committed to continuing to address these issues here and around the world. The government is committed to publishing a review of our VAWG action plan this session, which will set out the progress we have made, domestically and internationally, over the course of this parliament.

We are making progress at home too. Since we launched our strategy, A Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls, in 2010 we have criminalised forced marriage in England and Wales; introduced new stalking offences; rolled out Clare’s Law and Domestic Violence Protection Orders to protect victims of domestic violence and announced a new offence of domestic abuse of controlling and coercive behaviour; we have driven a step-change in our efforts to end female genital mutilation, and our national prevention campaign (This is Abuse) encourages teenagers to re-think their views about rape, consent, violence and abuse; contributing to the wider cultural awareness that violence is unacceptable.

But there is still more to do. I am continuing to drive progress. Since the Girl Summit we have issued a consultation on mandatory reporting of FGM and we are now considering the responses with a view to bringing forward legislation this session. We have also established the FGM unit to drive a step change in nationwide outreach on FGM with criminal justice partners, children’s services, healthcare professionals and affected communities.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS254
WS
Home Office
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: James Brokenshire (The Minister of State for Security and Immigration )
Commons

Immigration Act 2014 – Marriage and Civil Partnership Notice Fee Increase

I am pleased to inform the House of an increase in marriage and civil partnership notice fees to support the implementation of the referral and investigation scheme for proposed marriages and civil partnerships and related provisions under the Immigration Act 2014. I announced the revised fees in Parliament on Monday 19 January 2015.

Under the new scheme all proposed marriages and civil partnerships involving a non-European Economic Area national with limited or no immigration status in the UK, or who does not provide specified evidence that they are exempt from the scheme, will be referred to the Home Office.

This introduces additional costs for registration officers, who will be required to ask couples for additional information and evidence. They will also provide relevant couples with information about the scheme and refer them to the Home Office. The marriage and civil partnership notice fee in England and Wales for couples subject to referral to the Home Office under the scheme will be increased from £35 to £47 per person from 2 March 2015, subject to the commencement of the scheme from that date. This will fund the additional administrative costs for the Designated Register Offices required to perform these functions, in line with the New Burdens Doctrine.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS235
WS
Home Office
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Lord Bates (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office )
Lords

Triennial Review of the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales

My rt hon Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Theresa May) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I am today announcing the start of the Triennial Review of the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales. Triennial reviews are part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that Non Departmental Public Bodies continue to have regular independent challenge.

The Review will examine whether there is a continuing need for the Police Advisory Board’s function and its form and whether it should continue to exist at arm’s length from Government. Should the review conclude there is a continuing need for the body, it will go on to examine whether the body is operating efficiently and whether the body’s control and governance arrangements continue to meet the recognised principles of good corporate governance. I will inform the House of the outcome of the review when it is completed.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS253
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Lord Astor of Hever (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) )
Lords

UK Commitments to the NATO Readiness Action Plan

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Michael Fallon) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

At the NATO Summit in Wales on 4 and 5 September 2014, the Alliance approved the Readiness Action Plan including the extension of the Immediate Assurance Measures which had been put in place as part of NATO’s response to the Ukraine Crisis.

As part of the continuation of the NATO Assurance Measures, I am pleased to announce that the United Kingdom will, once again, deploy four Typhoon aircraft to augment the Norwegian contribution to the NATO Baltic Air policing mission for the duration of the their rotation between May and August 2015. The four Typhoons will operate, at NATO’s request from Amari Airbase in Estonia.

Furthermore, as part of the NATO Readiness Action Plan Adaption Measures, the UK will undertake the commitment made at the Wales Summit to provide a Brigade Headquarters and a Battlegroup to become the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force Framework Nation in 2017 and become part of the on-going VJTF(L) Framework Nation roster.

WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Mr John Hayes (Minister of State for Transport)
Commons

Change to the rules for operators registering local bus services.

My Noble friend, the Minister of State for Transport (Baroness Kramer), has made the following Ministerial Statement: in March 2014 the Government consulted on its implementation of the four remedies proposed by the Competition Commission recommending changes to the existing rules for the registration of local bus services with the Traffic Commissioner. The four remedies formed part of a much wider series of recommendations made by the Competition Commission following its two year “Local bus services market investigation” which concluded in December 2011.

I am today Thursday 5 February announcing that following a review of the responses to the consultation I have decided to only progress one of the four remedies - the 14-day pre-notification period for local transport authorities. Whilst this only constitutes a partial implementation of the Competition Commission’s recommendations in this particular area, this follows full consideration of the consultation responses and the cost benefit analysis undertaken as part of the legislative process.

The implementation of the 14-day pre-notification period for local authorities makes a material contribution towards meeting the Competition Commission’s concerns in a way that builds on Government policy to promote partnership working between operators and local authorities. New entrants would have at least 14 days to operate before a reaction from the incumbent(s) as the information would be kept confidential. As identified by the Competition Commission the extra visibility to local authorities should also discourage anticompetitive reactions by an incumbent.

The consultation also sought views on the Department’s ambition to move to a fully electronic bus registration system over the next 2-3 years and invited views on how to make this happen. This will bring benefits not only to operators and local authorities in terms of reduced administrative costs and ease of updating local travel information, but also to passengers in terms of an improvement in completeness and timeliness of bus route / timetable information. There was broad support for this aim and so a move to a fully digital bus registration system will be progressed. We will be engaging with key players over the next few months to establish the best way to make this happen.

A summary of responses and the Government position has been published on GOV.UK and has been placed in the libraries of both Houses.

Consultation Doc (PDF Document, 209.22 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS234
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Mr David Lidington (Minister for Europe)
Commons

Foreign Affairs Council, and General Affairs Council: 9 and 10 February

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 9 February and I will attend the General Affairs Council on 10 February. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and the General Affairs Council will be chaired by the Latvian Presidency. The meetings will be held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council

Africa

The FAC will be having its first strategic discussion on Africa for a number of years. To help structure the debate the EEAS has produced a paper entitled “Peace, prosperity and partnership”. The UK will use the discussion to focus on Boko Haram and Nigeria’s forthcoming presidential and regional elections. UK priorities will be to secure EU support for regional efforts, assisted by the AU, to tackle Boko Haram and to send a clear message on the importance of free, fair and peaceful elections. The UK will also reinforce the link between trade and development and peace and security and underline the importance of the EU retaining its role as a serious player on the continent. We expect that there will be Council Conclusions on this topic.

Libya

Discussions on Libya will focus on the further deterioration of the security situation and progress of the UN-led political talks. The UK’s priority will be to ensure the continued support of Member States for the efforts of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Libya, Bernardino Leon, to resolve the political crisis and pave the way for peaceful political dialogue.

Yemen

Events in Yemen are fluid and volatile. We expect discussions to focus on the latest situation in the country, including the future leadership of the country. There will be Council Conclusions on Yemen, condemning violence and urging restraint and dialogue by all parties in line with the GCC Initiative and the Peace and National Partnership Agreement signed by the Houthis and President Hadi in September 2014.

Iraq & Syria

The EEAS and Commission will present an update on the EU Syria/Iraq/ISIL Strategy. The UK will urge the Institutions to secure funding swiftly to enable the implementation of the Strategy, ahead of the March FAC. The Strategy should help focus EU efforts on areas where they can add value to the Counter ISIL Coalition and should ensure EU activity is better coordinated and aligned with other Coalition efforts.

Terrorism

The attacks in Paris, and events in Belgium and elsewhere in Europe, underline that countering terrorism is at the top of our and our EU partners’ priorities. Much of the European direct response to these attacks will focus on internal EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA), as set out by EU JHA Ministers when they met on 29 January, but the EU needs to address terrorism issues outside its borders. We expect Council Conclusions on 9 February that will set out how the EU intends to implement its Foreign Fighters and Syria/Iraq/ISIL strategy. Other UK priorities will be to press for EU action in priority countries in the Middle East and Africa, to improve those countries’ aviation and border security, crisis-response capacity and management of the return of terrorist fighters, as well as to support their strategic communications and counter-radicalisation efforts.

General Affairs Council

The General Affairs Council (GAC) on 10 February is expected to focus on: the Latvian Presidency Work Programme; the EU Strategic Agenda; preparation of the European Council on 19 and 20 March 2015; and EU Structural Funds.

Latvia Presidency Work Programme

The GAC is expected to take note of the Latvian Presidency Programme which commenced on 1 January 2015. Three priorities have been identified for the Latvian Presidency: a Competitive Europe that creates growth and jobs and better responds to the needs of its people; a Digital Europe which seizes the opportunities provided by digital technologies as the basis for EU’s competitiveness and growth; and a Global Europe encompassing EU-US relations, the Eastern Partnership and renewing the EU-Central Asia strategy. There is a good degree of alignment between the UK’s priorities and those of the Latvian Presidency, particularly based around supporting growth and making European economies more competitive.

EU Strategic Agenda – Union of freedom, security and justice

The GAC will discuss the EU’s response to the horrific attacks in Paris and Belgium last month. The UK wants to see action taken at a European level to deal with aspects of the current threat from terrorism in Syria and Iraq, including: on the movement of foreign fighters and weapons through Europe; improved aviation security; tackling terrorist and extremist propaganda on line; counter radicalisation and driving a strong counter narrative; data-sharing about people convicted of terrorist offences; and urgent publication of the EU’s Strategies on Foreign Fighters and ISIL.

Preparation of the March European Council

The GAC will prepare the 19 and 20 March European Council, which the Prime Minister will attend. The March European Council agenda has not yet been released but we expect it to include: economic issues including the review of the Europe 2020 Strategy; Energy Union and; external relations issues (likely to include Ukraine).

EU Structural Funds

Ministers will discuss measures to ensure the timely adoption of the 2014-2020 EU Structural Funds programmes which are awaiting approval.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS233
WS
Home Office
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Lynne Featherstone (The Minister of State for Crime Prevention )
Commons

Tackling Violence against Women and Girls Overseas

I would like to update the House on my work as the Ministerial Champion for Tackling Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) overseas.

Since moving back to the Home Office as the Minister for Crime Prevention, I have been able to strengthen my Ministerial Champion role by ensuring the government continues to take a coherent approach across international and domestic work to tackle violence against women and girls.

The scale of the challenge of ending violence against women and girls continues to be considerable.

Since my appointment as the International Champion, I have made a series of overseas visits, including to South Sudan, Somalia, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, India and Burma, working in partnership to encourage and drive action to address VAWG in these countries. I have also represented the UK at a number of key international forums such as the Commission on the Status of Women, making the case for VAWG to be recognised in the post-2015 Millennium development framework. I have also met, and built up strong alliances, with many in the wider community working on these issues including passionate activists and campaigners from non-governmental organisations and grassroots organisations, and diaspora communities in the UK.

In January, I undertook my final overseas visit - to India and Burma. I first visited India in my role as Ministerial Champion in 2011 and the progress that has been made since my last visit was encouraging. I was pleased to be able to secure ministers’ agreement to send written support for the Girl Summit charter to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and Child, Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) in a generation.

In Burma, as well as with government ministers, I met with civil society groups, women’s rights campaigners, and Aung San Suu Kyi, to discuss how violence against women and girls can be tackled; and how they could gain an equal voice in the peace process and political reforms. One thing was clear to me. They are all dedicated to making their country a better place for all Burmese people. Much of the violence against women and girls in Burma is as a result of conflict. I was encouraged to hear of the work underway to tackle this, and saw a Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative-linked training session for the Burmese Army, supported by the UK’s Defence Academy, on the UNSC 1325 commitments on women, peace and security.

I am proud of the role the UK has taken in supporting Burma, India and so many other countries to address violence against women and girls. I am also extremely proud of the achievements we have made since 2010. The UK is now positioned as a true world leader on tackling violence against women and girls. I would like to outline just a small selection of these achievements:

- We have hosted three ground-breaking global summits on addressing VAWG: (1) the ‘call to action’ to tackle violence against women and girls in humanitarian emergencies; (2) ending sexual violence in conflict; and (3) the Girl Summit focused on tackling child, early and forced marriage, and ending female genital mutilation (FGM) both in the UK and worldwide.

- These summits galvanised a huge range of financial and political commitments to act, including a ground-breaking Communiqué to agree that early action to protect girls and women in emergencies saves lives (signed by fifty governments and organisations); an International Protocol on the Investigation and Documentation of Sexual Violence; and a Girl Summit Charter on FGM and child, early and forced marriage (with 470 signatories, including 36 governments).

- I launched a flagship FGM programme in 2013 – for which the UK is the largest donor in the world - working in 17 countries to support the Africa-led movement to end FGM, aiming to see a 30% reduction of FGM in ten countries over the next five years. The momentum this generated led to the Girl Summit being held in London the following year.

- The UK has significantly scaled up its work to tackle VAWG overseas. For example, the Department for International Development has seen a 63% increase in programmes addressing these issues since 2012. We now have bilateral VAWG programmes in 29 countries.

- We have committed up to £25 million for a new programme to end child, early and forced marriage in 12 countries.

- We have seen a six-fold increase in programmes addressing VAWG in humanitarian situations. For example, the UK is now supporting a programme working across the DRC, Ethiopia, and Pakistan called ‘Protecting Adolescent Girls against Violence in Humanitarian Settings’, which will directly benefit 8615 adolescent girls

- We are investing £25 million over five years in a flagship research and innovation programme that will find out what works to prevent violence in developing countries, with a component focused on conflict and humanitarian contexts.

I am committed to continuing to address these issues here and around the world. The government is committed to publishing a review of our VAWG action plan this session, which will set out the progress we have made, domestically and internationally, over the course of this parliament.

We are making progress at home too. Since we launched our strategy, A Call to End Violence Against Women and Girls, in 2010 we have criminalised forced marriage in England and Wales; introduced new stalking offences; rolled out Clare’s Law and Domestic Violence Protection Orders to protect victims of domestic violence and announced a new offence of domestic abuse of controlling and coercive behaviour; we have driven a step-change in our efforts to end female genital mutilation, and our national prevention campaign (This is Abuse) encourages teenagers to re-think their views about rape, consent, violence and abuse; contributing to the wider cultural awareness that violence is unacceptable.

But there is still more to do. I am continuing to drive progress. Since the Girl Summit we have issued a consultation on mandatory reporting of FGM and we are now considering the responses with a view to bringing forward legislation this session. We have also established the FGM unit to drive a step change in nationwide outreach on FGM with criminal justice partners, children’s services, healthcare professionals and affected communities.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS232
WS
Home Office
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Mrs Theresa May (The Secretary of State for the Home Department )
Commons

Triennial Review of the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales

I am today announcing the start of the Triennial Review of the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales. Triennial reviews are part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that Non Departmental Public Bodies continue to have regular independent challenge.

The Review will examine whether there is a continuing need for the Police Advisory Board’s function and its form and whether it should continue to exist at arm’s length from Government. Should the review conclude there is a continuing need for the body, it will go on to examine whether the body is operating efficiently and whether the body’s control and governance arrangements continue to meet the recognised principles of good corporate governance. I will inform the House of the outcome of the review when it is completed.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS231
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 05 February 2015
Made by: Michael Fallon (Secretary of State for Defence )
Commons

UK Commitments to the NATO Readiness Action Plan

At the NATO Summit in Wales on 4 and 5 September 2014, the Alliance approved the Readiness Action Plan including the extension of the Immediate Assurance Measures which had been put in place as part of NATO’s response to the Ukraine Crisis.

As part of the continuation of the NATO Assurance Measures, I am pleased to announce that the United Kingdom will, once again, deploy four Typhoon aircraft to augment the Norwegian contribution to the NATO Baltic Air policing mission for the duration of the their rotation between May and August 2015. The four Typhoons will operate, at NATO’s request from Amari Airbase in Estonia.

Furthermore, as part of the NATO Readiness Action Plan Adaption Measures, the UK will undertake the commitment made at the Wales Summit to provide a Brigade Headquarters and a Battlegroup to become the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force Framework Nation in 2017 and become part of the on-going VJTF(L) Framework Nation roster.

WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 04 February 2015
Made by: Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Government Whip)
Lords

GOVERNMENT FILES

My Right Honourable friend the Minister for Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Francis Maude) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I welcome the Home Secretary’s announcement today regarding the Inquiry into child sexual abuse in England and Wales.

The Cabinet Office will support the Inquiry and will work with the Home Office to ensure that Departments provide the Inquiry with all relevant information.

As the House is aware, the Cabinet Office last week released to The National Archives a file containing information about a former United Kingdom High Commissioner to Canada, Sir Peter Hayman. This file is now public. This file should have been submitted to the Review by Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC. I regret that the file was missed in error and was not submitted at the time. However, a similar set of papers was held in the Home Office and seen by Wanless and Whittam. The complete and un-redacted Cabinet Office file will be made available to Wanless and Whittam if they wish to see it, and the Inquiry. However Wanless has already confirmed that the file would not have changed the conclusions of his review.

As a result of the discovery of the Sir Peter Hayman file, the Cabinet Office has conducted additional searches of its extensive papers and files. Officials have identified four additional relevant files, one of which was marked for destruction pending further checks by the Cabinet Office and The National Archives. The Cabinet Office already has in place a process for reviewing its files scheduled for destruction. I am ensuring that relevant departments have a similar process in place. These files are being shared with the Inquiry, the Hart Inquiry, the relevant departments, and the Metropolitan Police Service. All the complete and un-redacted files will be made available to Wanless and Whittam if they wish to see them.

The files were found in a separate Cabinet Office archive of sensitive, historic papers. This archive, colloquially known as the Cabinet Secretaries’ file, was closed in 2007. It is largely un-catalogued and un-registered; a programme to review it has been underway since last year but remains in progress. Officials assure me that the available titles have now been searched and more detailed searches are ongoing. My officials will work with the Inquiry to ensure it has the assurance it requires that all papers held by the Cabinet Office have been fully examined and that relevant papers are correctly identified and disclosed.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS251
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 04 February 2015
Made by: Mr Francis Maude (Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General)
Commons

Government Files

I welcome the Home Secretary’s announcement today regarding the Inquiry into child sexual abuse in England and Wales.

The Cabinet Office will support the Inquiry and will work with the Home Office to ensure that Departments provide the Inquiry with all relevant information.

As the House is aware, the Cabinet Office last week released to The National Archives a file containing information about a former United Kingdom High Commissioner to Canada, Sir Peter Hayman. This file is now public. This file should have been submitted to the Review by Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC. I regret that the file was missed in error and was not submitted at the time. However, a similar set of papers was held in the Home Office and seen by Wanless and Whittam. The complete and un-redacted Cabinet Office file will be made available to Wanless and Whittam if they wish to see it, and the Inquiry. However Wanless has already confirmed that the file would not have changed the conclusions of his review.

As a result of the discovery of the Sir Peter Hayman file, the Cabinet Office has conducted additional searches of its extensive papers and files. Officials have identified four additional relevant files, one of which was marked for destruction pending further checks by the Cabinet Office and The National Archives. The Cabinet Office already has in place a process for reviewing its files scheduled for destruction. I am ensuring that relevant departments have a similar process in place. These files are being shared with the Inquiry, the Hart Inquiry, the relevant departments, and the Metropolitan Police Service. All the complete and un-redacted files will be made available to Wanless and Whittam if they wish to see them.

The files were found in a separate Cabinet Office archive of sensitive, historic papers. This archive, colloquially known as the Cabinet Secretaries’ file, was closed in 2007. It is largely un-catalogued and un-registered; a programme to review it has been underway since last year but remains in progress. Officials assure me that the available titles have now been searched and more detailed searches are ongoing. My officials will work with the Inquiry to ensure it has the assurance it requires that all papers held by the Cabinet Office have been fully examined and that relevant papers are correctly identified and disclosed.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS229
WS
Department of Health
Made on: 04 February 2015
Made by: Earl Howe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health)
Lords

Consultation on draft regulations and guidance to implement the cap on care costs and policy proposals for a new care and support appeals system

My Rt Hon friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb) has made the following written ministerial statement.

Today I am publishing a consultation on draft regulations and statutory guidance to introduce the cap on care costs system that will complete the historic reforms set out in the Care Act. For the first time ever, the cap will protect people from the risk of catastrophic care costs and offer more people means tested financial support towards the costs of their care. Also included in this consultation are policy proposals for a new system of appeals that will enable people to challenge certain decisions made by local authorities under the Care Act.

This consultation continues the collaborative approach we have taken throughout the care and support reform programme and seeks views on the elements of the reforms that are due to come into force in April 2016.

Part one of the consultation focuses on funding reform and seeks views on draft regulations and guidance that will introduce the cap on care costs and extend access to means-tested financial support. The draft regulations and guidance set out the detail of how we propose to implement these reforms enabling local authorities to plan and prepare for implementation. Alongside this, the consultation sets out a small number of areas that we wish to further explore.

The introduction of a cap on care costs will provide people with greater clarity about what they will be expected to contribute towards the cost of their care and what help they can expect from the state. This will not only bring people much needed protection and peace of mind, but also certainty that will enable them to better plan and prepare. The extended access to means tested financial support will mean that more people will be eligible to receive financial support from their local authority towards their care costs.

Part two of the consultation seeks views on policy proposals for a new system of appeals for care and support under the Care Act and the need for a new system. These policy proposals flow from the broad consensus of support for a right of appeal that emerged as the Act progressed through Parliament. The policy proposals set the framework for a cost effective system for people to appeal against certain decisions made by local authorities under the Act which focuses on achieving early resolution.

I am placing a copy of the documents relating to this consultation in the Library. These are also attached and are available on the Government’s website at http://careact2016.dh.gov.uk/. These comprise a consultation document, draft statutory guidance and regulations on the cap, policy proposals for an appeals system and an impact assessment.

Care Act Consultation (PDF Document, 703.43 KB)
Regulations and Potential Provisions (PDF Document, 267.29 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS250
WS
Home Office
Made on: 04 February 2015
Made by: Lord Bates (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office)
Lords

Report to Parliament on the Application of Protocols 19 and 21 to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union in Relation to EU Justice and Home Affairs Matters (1 December 2013- 30 November 2014)

My rt hon Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Theresa May) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice have prepared the Fifth Annual Report to Parliament on the Application of Protocols 19 and 21 to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (‘the Treaties’) in Relation to EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Matters. The Report, which is today being laid before the House, is submitted on behalf of both my own Department and that of the Secretary of State for Justice.

On 9 June 2008 the then Leader of the House of Lords committed to table a report in Parliament each year setting out the decisions taken by the Government in accordance with Protocol 21 (‘the Justice and Home Affairs opt-in Protocol’) and to make that report available for debate. These commitments were designed to ensure that the views of the Scrutiny Committees should inform the Government’s decision-making process.

The Minister for Europe confirmed this commitment on behalf of the Coalition Government in 2011, and this is the Fifth such Report. It covers the period 1 December 2013 to 30 November 2014. For completeness, the report also covers the application of Protocol 19 to the Treaties on the Schengen acquis integrated into the framework of the EU (‘the Schengen opt-out Protocol’).

Over the period covered in the Report, the Government took 33 decisions on UK participation in EU Justice and Home Affairs legislative proposals. Of these, the UK opted in to 21 proposals and did not opt in to 10 proposals. The Government has also taken 2 decisions to opt-out of proposals under the Schengen Opt-out Protocol during the period covered by this report. At the point of publication, 2 EU legislative proposals are subject to Ministerial and Parliamentary consideration with regard to an opt-in decision. The Report also provides an indicative list of legislative proposals which are expected to be brought forward over the next 12 months that are likely to require a decision on UK participation under the Justice and Home Affairs Opt-in or Schengen Opt-out Protocols.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS249
WS
Home Office
Made on: 04 February 2015
Made by: Lord Bates (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office )
Lords

POLICE GRANT REPORT ENGLAND AND WALES 2015/16

My hon Friend the Minister of State for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims (Mike Penning) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

My rt hon Friend, the Home Secretary, has today laid before the House, the Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2015/16 (HC 930). The Report sets out, my rt hon Friend, the Home Secretary’s determination for 2015/16 of the aggregate amount of grant that she proposes to pay under section 46(2) of the Police Act 1996, and the amount to be paid to the Greater London Authority for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime. Copies of the report are available from the Vote Office.

At the time the provisional Police Grant Report was published on 17 December 2014, I said that I was also considering whether a limited amount of Police Capital Grant would be reallocated to support the Communications Capabilities Development (CCD) programme and Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programmes (ESMCP). After careful consideration I have decided that £20m will be reallocated to support the CCD programme. This will reduce overall infrastructure costs, maintain capabilities to comply with current legislation, and develop future communications capability. More time is needed to fully define the capital requirements for ESMCP in the future and so I have decided that it is not appropriate to reallocate funding for this Programme in 2015/16.

This Statement also includes details of other funding streams that the Home Office, the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Welsh Government intend to provide to the Police in 2015/16.

The Police Grant Settlement 2015/16

Table 1: Police revenue funding 2015/16

2015-16

£m

Total General Funding:

Comprising….

Police Core Settlement

4309*

of which Home Office Police Main Grant

4136

of which National and International Capital City Grant (MOPAC)

174

Former DCLG funding

2851

of which formula funding

2818

of which Ordnance Survey

2

of which Legacy Council Tax Freeze

31

Welsh Government

135

Total Home Office Specific Grants:

822**

Comprising….

Welsh Top-up

13

Counter Terrorism Police Grant

564

Police Innovation Fund

70

Police Knowledge Fund

5

Independent Police Complaints Commission (for the transfer of integrity functions)

30

College of Policing (for direct entry schemes)

5

City of London National and International Capital City Grant

3

HMIC (for PEEL inspection regime)

9

Police Special Grant

15

Major Programmes

40

Legacy Council Tax Freeze Grants

of which 2011/12 council tax freeze grant

59

of which 2013/14 council tax freeze grant

7

of which 2014/15 council tax freeze grant

3

Police Private Finance Initiatives

73

Total Government Funding***

8190

% cash change in Total Government Funding****

-3.5%

% real change in Total Government Funding

-4.9%

* **Rounded to the nearest £m

***The police will also separately receive £434.4m in Local Council Tax Support Grant. This will be paid by the Home Office.

**** This is the difference in total central Government funding to the police compared to 2014/15. The reduction in core Government funding (i.e. funding that is damped) is 5.1%.

Table 2: Division of police capital between funding streams

2015/16 Police Capital

£m

Police Capital Grant

89.5

Police Special Capital

1

Communications Capabilities Development (CCD)

20

NPAS

10.4

Total

120.9

Table 3: Revenue allocations for England and Wales 2015/16

Local Policing Body

2015/16

HO Core (incl Rule 1)

Welsh Top-up

Welsh

Government

Ex-DCLG Formula Funding

Legacy Council Tax Grants (total from HO)

£m

Avon & Somerset

105.6

-

-

56.8

14.7

Bedfordshire

40.6

-

-

23.5

4.6

Cambridgeshire

48.8

-

-

24.5

6.0

Cheshire

61.8

-

-

45.0

8.3

City of London

18.5

-

-

33.8

0.1

Cleveland

46.4

-

-

38.8

7.7

Cumbria

28.9

-

-

31.0

4.8

Derbyshire

62.5

-

-

37.9

8.7

Devon & Cornwall

103.3

-

-

63.5

15.5

Dorset

41.5

-

-

17.4

7.3

Durham

43.0

-

-

37.2

6.1

Dyfed-Powys

31.4

6.1

12.8

0.0

-

Essex

103.4

-

-

56.3

13.1

Gloucestershire

34.6

-

-

19.6

5.6

Greater London Authority

1040.1

-

-

754.1

119.7

Greater Manchester

227.9

-

-

182.4

24.5

Gwent

43.2

-

29.7

0.0

-

Hampshire

120.7

-

-

63.5

12.9

Hertfordshire

71.8

-

-

36.6

9.5

Humberside

67.6

-

-

46.8

10.0

Kent

106.9

-

-

67.0

13.3

Lancashire

101.1

-

-

79.6

12.8

Leicestershire

65.7

-

-

39.9

8.9

Lincolnshire

38.6

-

-

20.4

6.8

Merseyside

123.2

-

-

113.5

15.6

Norfolk

50.5

-

-

28.9

9.3

North Wales

45.4

6.5

21.3

0.0

-

North Yorkshire

41.9

-

-

27.2

7.9

Northamptonshire

43.4

-

-

24.3

6.6

Northumbria

110.8

-

-

108.0

8.2

Nottinghamshire

78.4

-

-

48.4

9.7

South Wales

89.3

-

71.2

0.0

-

South Yorkshire

101.2

-

-

77.9

10.9

Staffordshire

66.9

-

-

40.2

11.3

Suffolk

41.0

-

-

23.0

6.8

Surrey

62.5

-

-

29.4

9.2

Sussex

98.4

-

-

54.2

13.2

Thames Valley

142.0

-

-

74.3

15.3

Warwickshire

31.2

-

-

17.5

5.2

West Mercia

66.7

-

-

43.6

12.0

West Midlands

252.3

-

-

181.3

19.0

West Yorkshire

172.5

-

-

130.1

16.7

Wiltshire

37.7

-

-

20.8

5.2

Total England & Wales

4309.2

12.5

135.0

2818.3

503.2

Table 4: Capital allocations for England and Wales

Local Policing Body

2015/16

£m

Avon and Somerset

2.0

Bedfordshire

0.8

Cambridgeshire

1.0

Cheshire

1.3

City of London

0.7

Cleveland

1.0

Cumbria

0.7

Derbyshire

1.2

Devon and Cornwall

2.2

Dorset

0.8

Durham

1.0

Dyfed-Powys

0.6

Essex

1.8

Gloucestershire

0.7

Greater Manchester

4.5

Gwent

0.9

Hampshire

2.3

Hertfordshire

1.1

Humberside

1.4

Kent

2.1

Lancashire

2.1

Leicestershire

1.3

Lincolnshire

0.8

Merseyside

2.6

Metropolitan

23.7

Norfolk

1.0

North Wales

0.9

North Yorkshire

0.8

Northamptonshire

0.8

Northumbria

2.5

Nottinghamshire

1.4

South Wales

1.9

South Yorkshire

2.1

Staffordshire

1.3

Suffolk

0.9

Surrey

1.2

Sussex

1.8

Thames Valley

2.9

Warwickshire

0.8

West Mercia

1.4

West Midlands

4.8

West Yorkshire

3.5

Wiltshire

0.8

Total England & Wales

89.5

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS248
WS
Department of Health
Made on: 04 February 2015
Made by: Norman Lamb (The Minister of State, Department of Health)
Commons

Consultation on draft regulations and guidance to implement the cap on care costs and policy proposals for a new care and support appeals system

Today I am publishing a consultation on draft regulations and statutory guidance to introduce the cap on care costs system that will complete the historic reforms set out in the Care Act. For the first time ever, the cap will protect people from the risk of catastrophic care costs and offer more people means tested financial support towards the costs of their care. Also included in this consultation are policy proposals for a new system of appeals that will enable people to challenge certain decisions made by local authorities under the Care Act.

This consultation continues the collaborative approach we have taken throughout the care and support reform programme and seeks views on the elements of the reforms that are due to come into force in April 2016.

Part one of the consultation focuses on funding reform and seeks views on draft regulations and guidance that will introduce the cap on care costs and extend access to means-tested financial support. The draft regulations and guidance set out the detail of how we propose to implement these reforms enabling local authorities to plan and prepare for implementation. Alongside this, the consultation sets out a small number of areas that we wish to further explore.

The introduction of a cap on care costs will provide people with greater clarity about what they will be expected to contribute towards the cost of their care and what help they can expect from the state. This will not only bring people much needed protection and peace of mind, but also certainty that will enable them to better plan and prepare. The extended access to means tested financial support will mean that more people will be eligible to receive financial support from their local authority towards their care costs.

Part two of the consultation seeks views on policy proposals for a new system of appeals for care and support under the Care Act and the need for a new system. These policy proposals flow from the broad consensus of support for a right of appeal that emerged as the Act progressed through Parliament. The policy proposals set the framework for a cost effective system for people to appeal against certain decisions made by local authorities under the Act which focuses on achieving early resolution.

I am placing a copy of the documents relating to this consultation in the Library. These are also attached and are available on the Government’s website at http://careact2016.dh.gov.uk/. These comprise a consultation document, draft statutory guidance and regulations on the cap, policy proposals for an appeals system and an impact assessment.

Care Act Consultation (PDF Document, 703.43 KB)
Regulations and Potential Provisions (PDF Document, 267.29 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS228
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 04 February 2015
Made by: Lord Freud (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions)
Lords

Better Workplace Pensions

My Right Honourable Friend The Minister for Pensions (Steve Webb MP) has made the following Written Statement.

I am pleased to announce that today I intend to lay before Parliament draft Regulations to ensure value for money in relevant occupational pension schemes, which provide money purchase benefits, through improved governance and measures to safeguard savers in qualifying schemes against high and unfair charges. I am also publishing the accompanying Government response to the October consultation on these measures, Better workplace pensions: Putting savers’ interests first.

We are committed to building a pensions system that people can save into with confidence and that will help ensure financial independence in retirement. Over 5 million people have now been automatically enrolled into workplace pension schemes. By 2018, 8 to 9 million people will be saving for the first time, or saving more towards their pension.

It is vital, therefore, that workplace pension schemes are run in the interests of members, whose savings will not be diminished by excessive charges.

Since these proposals were announced last March, we have been working closely with industry stakeholders, consumer representatives and regulators to develop the detailed regulations. Today’s Command Paper is therefore the culmination of an extensive and rigorous process of analysis and consultation. It provides a response to our recent consultation on the draft Regulations to implement our proposed governance and charges measures for qualifying schemes. It also announces the next stage of our work to ensure full disclosure of costs and charges throughout the value chain in workplace pension schemes, as we plan to publish a joint call for evidence with the Financial Conduct Authority in spring 2015.

For relevant workplace personal pension schemes, the Financial Conduct Authority will be introducing corresponding rules to control charges and to establish Independent Governance Committees from April 2015. Their rules, together with our Regulations, will ensure that savers are protected regardless of the type of workplace pension they are saving into.

Subject to Parliamentary approval, these draft Regulations will be a major step towards ensuring a positive outcome for millions of people in retirement.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS247
WS
Home Office
Made on: 04 February 2015
Made by: Mrs Theresa May (The Secretary of State for the Home Department )
Commons

Report to Parliament on the Application of Protocols 19 and 21 to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union in Relation to EU Justice and Home Affairs Matters (1 December 2013- 30 November 2014)

The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice have prepared the Fifth Annual Report to Parliament on the Application of Protocols 19 and 21 to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (‘the Treaties’) in Relation to EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Matters. The Report, which is today being laid before the House, is submitted on behalf of both my own Department and that of the Secretary of State for Justice.

On 9 June 2008 the then Leader of the House of Lords committed to table a report in Parliament each year setting out the decisions taken by the Government in accordance with Protocol 21 (‘the Justice and Home Affairs opt-in Protocol’) and to make that report available for debate. These commitments were designed to ensure that the views of the Scrutiny Committees should inform the Government’s decision-making process.

The Minister for Europe confirmed this commitment on behalf of the Coalition Government in 2011, and this is the Fifth such Report. It covers the period 1 December 2013 to 30 November 2014. For completeness, the report also covers the application of Protocol 19 to the Treaties on the Schengen acquis integrated into the framework of the EU (‘the Schengen opt-out Protocol’).

Over the period covered in the Report, the Government took 33 decisions on UK participation in EU Justice and Home Affairs legislative proposals. Of these, the UK opted in to 21 proposals and did not opt in to 10 proposals. The Government has also taken 2 decisions to opt-out of proposals under the Schengen Opt-out Protocol during the period covered by this report. At the point of publication, 2 EU legislative proposals are subject to Ministerial and Parliamentary consideration with regard to an opt-in decision. The Report also provides an indicative list of legislative proposals which are expected to be brought forward over the next 12 months that are likely to require a decision on UK participation under the Justice and Home Affairs Opt-in or Schengen Opt-out Protocols.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS227
WS
Home Office
Made on: 04 February 2015
Made by: Mike Penning (The Minister of State for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims )
Commons

Police Grant Report England and Wales 2015-16

My rt hon Friend, the Home Secretary, has today laid before the House, the Police Grant Report (England and Wales) 2015/16 (HC 930). The Report sets out, my rt hon Friend, the Home Secretary’s determination for 2015/16 of the aggregate amount of grant that she proposes to pay under section 46(2) of the Police Act 1996, and the amount to be paid to the Greater London Authority for the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime. Copies of the report are available from the Vote Office.

At the time the provisional Police Grant Report was published on 17 December 2014, I said that I was also considering whether a limited amount of Police Capital Grant would be reallocated to support the Communications Capabilities Development (CCD) programme and Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programmes (ESMCP). After careful consideration I have decided that £20m will be reallocated to support the CCD programme. This will reduce overall infrastructure costs, maintain capabilities to comply with current legislation, and develop future communications capability. More time is needed to fully define the capital requirements for ESMCP in the future and so I have decided that it is not appropriate to reallocate funding for this Programme in 2015/16.

This Statement also includes details of other funding streams that the Home Office, the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Welsh Government intend to provide to the Police in 2015/16.

The Police Grant Settlement 2015/16

Table 1: Police revenue funding 2015/16

2015-16

£m

Total General Funding:

Comprising….

Police Core Settlement

4309*

of which Home Office Police Main Grant

4136

of which National and International Capital City Grant (MOPAC)

174

Former DCLG funding

2851

of which formula funding

2818

of which Ordnance Survey

2

of which Legacy Council Tax Freeze

31

Welsh Government

135

Total Home Office Specific Grants:

822**

Comprising….

Welsh Top-up

13

Counter Terrorism Police Grant

564

Police Innovation Fund

70

Police Knowledge Fund

5

Independent Police Complaints Commission (for the transfer of integrity functions)

30

College of Policing (for direct entry schemes)

5

City of London National and International Capital City Grant

3

HMIC (for PEEL inspection regime)

9

Police Special Grant

15

Major Programmes

40

Legacy Council Tax Freeze Grants

of which 2011/12 council tax freeze grant

59

of which 2013/14 council tax freeze grant

7

of which 2014/15 council tax freeze grant

3

Police Private Finance Initiatives

73

Total Government Funding***

8190

% cash change in Total Government Funding****

-3.5%

% real change in Total Government Funding

-4.9%

* **Rounded to the nearest £m

***The police will also separately receive £434.4m in Local Council Tax Support Grant. This will be paid by the Home Office.

**** This is the difference in total central Government funding to the police compared to 2014/15. The reduction in core Government funding (i.e. funding that is damped) is 5.1%.

Table 2: Division of police capital between funding streams

2015/16 Police Capital

£m

Police Capital Grant

89.5

Police Special Capital

1

Communications Capabilities Development (CCD)

20

NPAS

10.4

Total

120.9

Table 3: Revenue allocations for England and Wales 2015/16

Local Policing Body

2015/16

HO Core (incl Rule 1)

Welsh Top-up

Welsh

Government

Ex-DCLG Formula Funding

Legacy Council Tax Grants (total from HO)

£m

Avon & Somerset

105.6

-

-

56.8

14.7

Bedfordshire

40.6

-

-

23.5

4.6

Cambridgeshire

48.8

-

-

24.5

6.0

Cheshire

61.8

-

-

45.0

8.3

City of London

18.5

-

-

33.8

0.1

Cleveland

46.4

-

-

38.8

7.7

Cumbria

28.9

-

-

31.0

4.8

Derbyshire

62.5

-

-

37.9

8.7

Devon & Cornwall

103.3

-

-

63.5

15.5

Dorset

41.5

-

-

17.4

7.3

Durham

43.0

-

-

37.2

6.1

Dyfed-Powys

31.4

6.1

12.8

0.0

-

Essex

103.4

-

-

56.3

13.1

Gloucestershire

34.6

-

-

19.6

5.6

Greater London Authority

1040.1

-

-

754.1

119.7

Greater Manchester

227.9

-

-

182.4

24.5

Gwent

43.2

-

29.7

0.0

-

Hampshire

120.7

-

-

63.5

12.9

Hertfordshire

71.8

-

-

36.6

9.5

Humberside

67.6

-

-

46.8

10.0

Kent

106.9

-

-

67.0

13.3

Lancashire

101.1

-

-

79.6

12.8

Leicestershire

65.7

-

-

39.9

8.9

Lincolnshire

38.6

-

-

20.4

6.8

Merseyside

123.2

-

-

113.5

15.6

Norfolk

50.5

-

-

28.9

9.3

North Wales

45.4

6.5

21.3

0.0

-

North Yorkshire

41.9

-

-

27.2

7.9

Northamptonshire

43.4

-

-

24.3

6.6

Northumbria

110.8

-

-

108.0

8.2

Nottinghamshire

78.4

-

-

48.4

9.7

South Wales

89.3

-

71.2

0.0

-

South Yorkshire

101.2

-

-

77.9

10.9

Staffordshire

66.9

-

-

40.2

11.3

Suffolk

41.0

-

-

23.0

6.8

Surrey

62.5

-

-

29.4

9.2

Sussex

98.4

-

-

54.2

13.2

Thames Valley

142.0

-

-

74.3

15.3

Warwickshire

31.2

-

-

17.5

5.2

West Mercia

66.7

-

-

43.6

12.0

West Midlands

252.3

-

-

181.3

19.0

West Yorkshire

172.5

-

-

130.1

16.7

Wiltshire

37.7

-

-

20.8

5.2

Total England & Wales

4309.2

12.5

135.0

2818.3

503.2

Table 4: Capital allocations for England and Wales

Local Policing Body

2015/16

£m

Avon and Somerset

2.0

Bedfordshire

0.8

Cambridgeshire

1.0

Cheshire

1.3

City of London

0.7

Cleveland

1.0

Cumbria

0.7

Derbyshire

1.2

Devon and Cornwall

2.2

Dorset

0.8

Durham

1.0

Dyfed-Powys

0.6

Essex

1.8

Gloucestershire

0.7

Greater Manchester

4.5

Gwent

0.9

Hampshire

2.3

Hertfordshire

1.1

Humberside

1.4

Kent

2.1

Lancashire

2.1

Leicestershire

1.3

Lincolnshire

0.8

Merseyside

2.6

Metropolitan

23.7

Norfolk

1.0

North Wales

0.9

North Yorkshire

0.8

Northamptonshire

0.8

Northumbria

2.5

Nottinghamshire

1.4

South Wales

1.9

South Yorkshire

2.1

Staffordshire

1.3

Suffolk

0.9

Surrey

1.2

Sussex

1.8

Thames Valley

2.9

Warwickshire

0.8

West Mercia

1.4

West Midlands

4.8

West Yorkshire

3.5

Wiltshire

0.8

Total England & Wales

89.5

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS226
WS
Department for Work and Pensions
Made on: 04 February 2015
Made by: Steve Webb (The Minister for Pensions)
Commons

Better Workplace Pensions

I am pleased to announce that today I intend to lay before Parliament draft Regulations to ensure value for money in relevant occupational pension schemes, which provide money purchase benefits, through improved governance and measures to safeguard savers in qualifying schemes against high and unfair charges. I am also publishing the accompanying Government response to the October consultation on these measures, Better workplace pensions: Putting savers’ interests first.

We are committed to building a pensions system that people can save into with confidence and that will help ensure financial independence in retirement. Over 5 million people have now been automatically enrolled into workplace pension schemes. By 2018, 8 to 9 million people will be saving for the first time, or saving more towards their pension.

It is vital, therefore, that workplace pension schemes are run in the interests of members, whose savings will not be diminished by excessive charges.

Since these proposals were announced last March, we have been working closely with industry stakeholders, consumer representatives and regulators to develop the detailed regulations. Today’s Command Paper is therefore the culmination of an extensive and rigorous process of analysis and consultation. It provides a response to our recent consultation on the draft Regulations to implement our proposed governance and charges measures for qualifying schemes. It also announces the next stage of our work to ensure full disclosure of costs and charges throughout the value chain in workplace pension schemes, as we plan to publish a joint call for evidence with the Financial Conduct Authority in spring 2015.

For relevant workplace personal pension schemes, the Financial Conduct Authority will be introducing corresponding rules to control charges and to establish Independent Governance Committees from April 2015. Their rules, together with our Regulations, will ensure that savers are protected regardless of the type of workplace pension they are saving into.

Subject to Parliamentary approval, these draft Regulations will be a major step towards ensuring a positive outcome for millions of people in retirement.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS225
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 03 February 2015
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Local Government Finance

My hon Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Kris Hopkins) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government has today laid before the House the Local Government Finance Report (England) 2015-16 and the Referendums Relating to Council Tax Increases (Principles) (England) Report 2015-16. These reports set out for each local authority in England, individual local government finance settlement funding assessments, business rates tariffs and top-ups, the basis of their distributions, and the council tax referendum principles for 2015-16.

Further to my oral statement of 18 December 2014, Official Report, Column 1590, a draft of the Local Government Finance Report was issued for consultation in December. During the consultation period, which closed on 15 January, Ministers met a number of local authorities and representative groups including the Local Government Association, London Councils, the District Councils Network and the National Association of Local Councils. I also led a phone-in discussion in which over 100 authorities participated. In addition, the consultation received numerous written responses.

Having considered the views of all those who commented on the provisional settlement, we have decided to confirm the proposals for the settlement for 2015-16 as announced. We are confirming our proposal that the council tax referendum principle for 2015-16 will be set at two per cent. In addition, we are providing a further £74 million to upper-tier authorities to recognise that councils have asked for additional support, including to help them respond to local welfare needs and to improve social care provision.

Delivering a fair settlement

Every bit of the public sector needs to do its bit to pay off the deficit left by the last Labour Government, including local government which accounts for a quarter of all public spending.

Yet we have aimed to deliver a settlement that is fair to all parts of the country, both north and south, urban and rural, city and shire. There is still significant scope for councils to deliver sensible savings – from more joint working, better procurement, ‘invest to save’ use of reserves, using transparency to find and cut waste, collecting unpaid taxes, tackling fraud, and better property management.

Even with the savings that have been made to date, English local government expects to spend over £115 billion in the current financial year. Net current expenditure by councils (excluding education due to the shift to academy funding) has risen in cash terms under this Government.

With the addition of the extra resources mentioned above, the overall change in local authorities’ spending power in 2015-16 is now -1.7 per cent. When taking into account the funds that we are providing to support local transformation, the overall final reduction is even lower – at 1.5 per cent. Councils facing the highest demand for services continue to receive substantially more funding and we are continuing to ensure that no council will face a loss of more than 6.4 per cent in their spending power in 2015-16 – the lowest level in this Parliament.

We have deliberately shifted the emphasis from keeping local authorities dependent on grant, to providing councils with the tools and incentives they need to grow their local economies and promote house building, including through business rates retention. For 2013-14, authorities’ own estimates show that over 90 per cent are expecting a growth in their business rates income, of over £400 million in total.

As well as growing their economies, the best authorities are transforming the way they do business. The Government is supporting them as they do so, achieving real savings and – importantly - improving outcomes for the people who use local services.

We also continue to recognise the challenges faced by rural communities. This Government has a clear commitment to rural areas, and consecutive settlements have helped to address the gap in urban-rural Spending Power. We expect the gap to continue to close. In the meantime, the settlement confirms another year of additional resources for the most rural authorities to recognise the challenges they face in delivering services. In 2015-16, this grant has increased to £15.5 million.

Supporting the vulnerable

The Government previously consulted on a range of options for how local welfare provision by upper-tier local authorities (i.e. London boroughs, metropolitan borough councils, unitary councils and county councils in two-tier areas) should be funded in 2015-16 following its localisation. The Department for Work and Pensions also carried out a review. The Government concluded that local authorities would continue to be able to offer local welfare assistance from within existing budgets for 2015-16, alongside a range of other services, if they judge it a priority in their area.

To assist in identifying how much of their existing funding relates to this, an amount relating to local welfare provision was separately identified in each upper-tier authority’s general grant. This totalled £130 million nationally and was distributed in line with local welfare provision funding in 2014-15. The Government has always been clear that councils should choose how best to support local welfare needs. Therefore this allocation will not be ring-fenced and we will not be placing any new duties, expectations or monitoring requirements on its use.

In response to representations during consultation, we have now decided to allocate an additional £74 million to upper tier authorities, to assist them in dealing with pressures on local welfare and health and social care. This will further help councils as they develop localised arrangements.

This extra funding is on top of £37 million of additional funding to local authorities for 2014-15 announced last week, so that they can provide additional support packages to get people home as soon as they are ready to leave hospital, and avoid the need for people to go into hospital in the first place. This Government is working to join up local public services and decentralising power and funding to local communities.

Keeping council tax down for hard-working people

We are again providing funding for councils, fire authorities and Police and Crime Commissioners to help freeze their council tax in England. We have now provided freeze funding during all five years of this Parliament. As a result, council tax in England has fallen by 11 per cent in real terms since 2010, when it had more than doubled under the last Labour Government. Indeed, the Labour-run Welsh Government which has refused to fund a council tax freeze from the Barnet consequential payments has seen soaring council tax.

We urge councils to protect tax payers up and down the country by taking the additional funding on offer for a freeze and help hard-working people with the cost of living. The council tax freeze grant from central government will be embedded into councils’ baseline funding.

For those which do not freeze, any increase of 2 per cent or more will require a binding referendum of local electorates. Local authorities which want to do so should have the courage of their convictions and seek a mandate for this. It is already the case that a council tax referendum can be held at a reduced cost in 2015-16 when combined with the General Election.

We can further announce today that any savings to the Consolidated Fund as a result of combination of a referendum with the General Election will be redirected to councils, so that the cost of a referendum to a local authority is marginal – such as the small costs of printing and counting some extra ballot papers. This demolishes the argument floated by some that holding a local referendum would result in an excessive cost.

Copies of the Reports will be available in the Vote Office. We shall be making available supporting technical information online on my Department’s website.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS246
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 03 February 2015
Made by: Kris Hopkins (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government )
Commons

Local Government Finance

The Government has today laid before the House the Local Government Finance Report (England) 2015-16 and the Referendums Relating to Council Tax Increases (Principles) (England) Report 2015-16. These reports set out for each local authority in England, individual local government finance settlement funding assessments, business rates tariffs and top-ups, the basis of their distributions, and the council tax referendum principles for 2015-16.

Further to my oral statement of 18 December 2014, Official Report, Column 1590, a draft of the Local Government Finance Report was issued for consultation in December. During the consultation period, which closed on 15 January, Ministers met a number of local authorities and representative groups including the Local Government Association, London Councils, the District Councils Network and the National Association of Local Councils. I also led a phone-in discussion in which over 100 authorities participated. In addition, the consultation received numerous written responses.

Having considered the views of all those who commented on the provisional settlement, we have decided to confirm the proposals for the settlement for 2015-16 as announced. We are confirming our proposal that the council tax referendum principle for 2015-16 will be set at two per cent. In addition, we are providing a further £74 million to upper-tier authorities to recognise that councils have asked for additional support, including to help them respond to local welfare needs and to improve social care provision.

Delivering a fair settlement

Every bit of the public sector needs to do its bit to pay off the deficit left by the last Labour Government, including local government which accounts for a quarter of all public spending.

Yet we have aimed to deliver a settlement that is fair to all parts of the country, both north and south, urban and rural, city and shire. There is still significant scope for councils to deliver sensible savings – from more joint working, better procurement, ‘invest to save’ use of reserves, using transparency to find and cut waste, collecting unpaid taxes, tackling fraud, and better property management.

Even with the savings that have been made to date, English local government expects to spend over £115 billion in the current financial year. Net current expenditure by councils (excluding education due to the shift to academy funding) has risen in cash terms under this Government.

With the addition of the extra resources mentioned above, the overall change in local authorities’ spending power in 2015-16 is now -1.7 per cent. When taking into account the funds that we are providing to support local transformation, the overall final reduction is even lower – at 1.5 per cent. Councils facing the highest demand for services continue to receive substantially more funding and we are continuing to ensure that no council will face a loss of more than 6.4 per cent in their spending power in 2015-16 – the lowest level in this Parliament.

We have deliberately shifted the emphasis from keeping local authorities dependent on grant, to providing councils with the tools and incentives they need to grow their local economies and promote house building, including through business rates retention. For 2013-14, authorities’ own estimates show that over 90 per cent are expecting a growth in their business rates income, of over £400 million in total.

As well as growing their economies, the best authorities are transforming the way they do business. The Government is supporting them as they do so, achieving real savings and – importantly - improving outcomes for the people who use local services.

We also continue to recognise the challenges faced by rural communities. This Government has a clear commitment to rural areas, and consecutive settlements have helped to address the gap in urban-rural Spending Power. We expect the gap to continue to close. In the meantime, the settlement confirms another year of additional resources for the most rural authorities to recognise the challenges they face in delivering services. In 2015-16, this grant has increased to £15.5 million.

Supporting the vulnerable

The Government previously consulted on a range of options for how local welfare provision by upper-tier local authorities (i.e. London boroughs, metropolitan borough councils, unitary councils and county councils in two-tier areas) should be funded in 2015-16 following its localisation. The Department for Work and Pensions also carried out a review. The Government concluded that local authorities would continue to be able to offer local welfare assistance from within existing budgets for 2015-16, alongside a range of other services, if they judge it a priority in their area.

To assist in identifying how much of their existing funding relates to this, an amount relating to local welfare provision was separately identified in each upper-tier authority’s general grant. This totalled £130 million nationally and was distributed in line with local welfare provision funding in 2014-15. The Government has always been clear that councils should choose how best to support local welfare needs. Therefore this allocation will not be ring-fenced and we will not be placing any new duties, expectations or monitoring requirements on its use.

In response to representations during consultation, we have now decided to allocate an additional £74 million to upper tier authorities, to assist them in dealing with pressures on local welfare and health and social care. This will further help councils as they develop localised arrangements.

This extra funding is on top of £37 million of additional funding to local authorities for 2014-15 announced last week, so that they can provide additional support packages to get people home as soon as they are ready to leave hospital, and avoid the need for people to go into hospital in the first place. This Government is working to join up local public services and decentralising power and funding to local communities.

Keeping council tax down for hard-working people

We are again providing funding for councils, fire authorities and Police and Crime Commissioners to help freeze their council tax in England. We have now provided freeze funding during all five years of this Parliament. As a result, council tax in England has fallen by 11 per cent in real terms since 2010, when it had more than doubled under the last Labour Government. Indeed, the Labour-run Welsh Government which has refused to fund a council tax freeze from the Barnet consequential payments has seen soaring council tax.

We urge councils to protect tax payers up and down the country by taking the additional funding on offer for a freeze and help hard-working people with the cost of living. The council tax freeze grant from central government will be embedded into councils’ baseline funding.

For those which do not freeze, any increase of 2 per cent or more will require a binding referendum of local electorates. Local authorities which want to do so should have the courage of their convictions and seek a mandate for this. It is already the case that a council tax referendum can be held at a reduced cost in 2015-16 when combined with the General Election.

We can further announce today that any savings to the Consolidated Fund as a result of combination of a referendum with the General Election will be redirected to councils, so that the cost of a referendum to a local authority is marginal – such as the small costs of printing and counting some extra ballot papers. This demolishes the argument floated by some that holding a local referendum would result in an excessive cost.

Copies of the Reports will be available in the Vote Office. We shall be making available supporting technical information online on my Department’s website.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS224
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 03 February 2015
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy)
Lords

Triennial Review of the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI)

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties (Simon Hughes) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

"On 27 March 2014, Official Report, column 50WS, I announced the commencement of the triennial review of the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI), an advisory non-departmental public body (NDPB) of the Ministry of Justice.

The review has been undertaken in accordance with the Cabinet Office’s guidance on public bodies and as part of the Government’s commitment to improve and make sure of the best, accountability and effectiveness of public bodies.

I am today publishing the review, which concludes that there is no longer a continuing need for the current non-statutory functions of APPSI. Government is able to seek and receive this advice on the re-use of public sector information on a less formal basis by other bodies which perform similar functions and are not set up as NDPBs. This is supported by the evidence provided in the report.

APPSI’s statutory function has not formed part of the review as it is currently under consideration as part of the Government’s transposition of Directive 2013/37/EU on the re-use of public sector information. The Directive requires an impartial review body with the ability to make binding decisions and APPSI would be unlikely to meet these requirements. APPSI’s statutory function will be replaced by new redress provisions and will therefore no longer be required.

The triennial review recommends that APPSI ceases to carry out its non-statutory functions and is abolished once its statutory function ceases to exist with transposition of Directive 2013/37/EU during 2015.

I am grateful to current and former members of APPSI for their valuable work in advising government on public sector information and its re-use. APPSI played a key role in contributing to the Government’s approach to public sector information re-use and Crown copyright. I particularly note the early development of a concept of a national information framework, reflected in the Government’s National Information Infrastructure, and APPSI’s role in developing an open data glossary on data.gov.uk.

I will place a copy of the review in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS245
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 03 February 2015
Made by: Lord De Mauley (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Lords

Case of low severity avian influenza confirmed in Hampshire

My Right Hon Friend the Secretary of State (Elizabeth Truss) has today made the following statement.

The Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed a case of avian flu in a chicken breeding farm in Hampshire. Tests have confirmed the case as a low severity H7 strain of the disease, a much less severe form than the H5N8 strain found at a Yorkshire duck farm in November; there are no links between the two cases. Initial laboratory results indicate that this is likely to be the H7N7 subtype.

The advice from Public Health England is that the risk to public health is very low, and the Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for consumers.

To ensure that the disease does not spread, we have taken immediate and robust action. A 1 kilometre poultry movement restriction zone is in place around the premises and the chickens on the premises are to be culled as part of our well established procedures for responding to avian flu.

Whilst we are never complacent about such an important issue, we have a strong track record of controlling and eliminating outbreaks of avian flu in the UK. We are working closely with operational partners, devolved administration colleagues and the industry to deal effectively with this outbreak.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS244
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 03 February 2015
Made by: Simon Hughes (The Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties)
Commons

Triennial Review of the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI)

On 27 March 2014, Official Report, column 50WS, I announced the commencement of the triennial review of the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information (APPSI), an advisory non-departmental public body (NDPB) of the Ministry of Justice.

The review has been undertaken in accordance with the Cabinet Office’s guidance on public bodies and as part of the Government’s commitment to improve and make sure of the best, accountability and effectiveness of public bodies.

I am today publishing the review, which concludes that there is no longer a continuing need for the current non-statutory functions of APPSI. Government is able to seek and receive this advice on the re-use of public sector information on a less formal basis by other bodies which perform similar functions and are not set up as NDPBs. This is supported by the evidence provided in the report.

APPSI’s statutory function has not formed part of the review as it is currently under consideration as part of the Government’s transposition of Directive 2013/37/EU on the re-use of public sector information. The Directive requires an impartial review body with the ability to make binding decisions and APPSI would be unlikely to meet these requirements. APPSI’s statutory function will be replaced by new redress provisions and will therefore no longer be required.

The triennial review recommends that APPSI ceases to carry out its non-statutory functions and is abolished once its statutory function ceases to exist with transposition of Directive 2013/37/EU during 2015.

I am grateful to current and former members of APPSI for their valuable work in advising government on public sector information and its re-use. APPSI played a key role in contributing to the Government’s approach to public sector information re-use and Crown copyright. I particularly note the early development of a concept of a national information framework, reflected in the Government’s National Information Infrastructure, and APPSI’s role in developing an open data glossary on data.gov.uk.

I will place a copy of the review in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS223
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 03 February 2015
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs )
Commons

Case of low severity avian influenza confirmed in Hampshire

The Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed a case of avian flu in a chicken breeding farm in Hampshire. Tests have confirmed the case as a low severity H7 strain of the disease, a much less severe form than the H5N8 strain found at a Yorkshire duck farm in November; there are no links between the two cases. Initial laboratory results indicate that this is likely to be the H7N7 subtype.

The advice from Public Health England is that the risk to public health is very low, and the Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for consumers.

To ensure that the disease does not spread, we have taken immediate and robust action. A 1 kilometre poultry movement restriction zone is in place around the premises and the chickens on the premises are to be culled as part of our well established procedures for responding to avian flu.

Whilst we are never complacent about such an important issue, we have a strong track record of controlling and eliminating outbreaks of avian flu in the UK. We are working closely with operational partners, devolved administration colleagues and the industry to deal effectively with this outbreak.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS222
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Ministry of Justice
Made on: 02 February 2015
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy)
Lords

Probation

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

"I wish to inform the House that Mr Paul McDowell has tendered his resignation from his post as Chief Inspector of Probation.

As I discussed with the Justice Select Committee on 2nd December and covered in subsequent correspondence with the Committee Chair, an issue arose about a potential perceived conflict of interest for Mr McDowell given his wife’s employment with Sodexo, and their role as a provider of probation services. I have considered carefully all of the potential mechanisms and systems that could be introduced and used to manage any actual or perceived conflict of interest. However Mr McDowell has decided that, in the circumstances, he will resign.

Throughout this process Mr McDowell has acted with utter transparency and professionalism. Indeed I must acknowledge Mr McDowell’s assured leadership and the grounded independence of his findings in relation to the Inspectorate and the work he has done since his appointment.

I regret that circumstances have changed and are now such that we have reached this position. At time of his appointment Mr McDowell’s position was fully reasonable and the appropriate pre-appointment processes in place at that time were properly followed. The Justice Select Committee will be involved in the appointment of a permanent successor in the usual way."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS243
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 02 February 2015
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy)
Lords

Criminal Justice

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

"I am delighted to announce that I have now signed a commencement order that brought into force the remaining uncommenced provisions of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 (ORA) on 1 February 2015. This marks another significant step in implementing the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms which will reduce the stubbornly high rate of reoffending which has been far too high for far too long.

For the first-time we will be giving virtually all offenders a proper chance at rehabilitation. The most significant change the ORA makes is to extend statutory supervision to the 45,000 offenders a year who are released from short prison sentences of less than 12 months, the majority of whom currently receive no statutory supervision after completing a custodial sentence. This group of offenders have the highest reoffending rates of any group: almost 60% of adult offenders released from short prison sentences in the year to March 2013 went on to reoffend within the next 12 months.

The changes the ORA makes mean that any offender whose offence was committed on or after 1 February, and who is sentenced to a custodial term of more than 1 day, will in the future receive at least 12 months of supervision and support after release.

The ORA also makes a number of changes to the sentencing and release framework set out in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, including expanded drug testing powers for offenders released from custody and the creation of a new Rehabilitation Activity Requirement that can be imposed on offenders serving sentences in the community.

Along with the provisions of the ORA coming in to force, on 1 February the new providers have also taken ownership of, and begun running, the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies which will manage low and medium risk offenders.

In addition, I have published revised National Standards for the Management of Offenders and national training guidelines in line with the requirements of the Offender Management Act 2007. The standards and guidelines apply to all providers of probation services engaged in the management of offenders and delivering the sentence of the court.

The standards set out the minimum requirements for the effective management of offenders subject to community and suspended sentence orders, supervision on licence and/or the new post sentence supervision period. I have placed a copy of these standards in the House Libraries.

A Competent Workforce to Transform Rehabilitation provides a set of guidelines for the qualifications, training and experience of officers involved in delivering probation services and is available on line."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS242
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 02 February 2015
Made by: Baroness Kramer (Minister of State for Transport)
Lords

Light Dues 2015 - 16

My Right Honourable Friend, the Minister of State for Transport (John Hayes), has made the following Ministerial Statement:

On 26 July 2010, the Government announced its intention to take determined action in support of the UK shipping industry by addressing the increasing cost of the marine aids to navigation service and providing long-term stability for light dues payers so they could plan budgets effectively [Official Report, Columns 75-76WS].

Following the penny reduction in the light dues rate to 40p per net registered tonne in April 2014, I am pleased to announce that the rate will be cut by a further penny, to 39p, on 1 April 2015.

Since 2010, considerable progress has been made on three fronts. First, the three General Lighthouse Authorities for the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland have exceeded their RPI-X efficiency targets, through working assets harder, adopting new technologies, and procuring services together to reduce net costs.

Second, their pension liabilities have been addressed with the transfer of the General Lighthouse Authorities’ pension schemes to the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme on 1 April 2014 [Official Report, 6 March 2014, Columns 64-65WS]. Third, as I announced on 16 October 2014, the work of the Commissioners of Irish Lights in the Republic of Ireland will be met fully from Irish sources as from 1 April 2015 [Official Report, Columns 48-49WS]. Both of these measures further reduce costs and remove sources of volatility from the General Lighthouse Fund.

The formation in 2010 of a Joint Strategic Board to co-ordinate and direct work “to achieve maximum efficiencies and improvements in the delivery of aids to navigation” has proved invaluable to these successes and I have asked the Board to identify the scope for further gains that can be secured over the next five years.

In partnership with the General Lighthouse Authorities and the shipping industry, the Government has successfully resolved the problems that faced the General Lighthouse Fund in 2010. This has opened the way to sustainable reductions in UK light dues. This further reduction, to support the shipping industry, means that there has been a 19% real terms reduction in light dues since 2010.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS241
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 02 February 2015
Made by: Chris Grayling (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Probation

I wish to inform the House that Mr Paul McDowell has tendered his resignation from his post as Chief Inspector of Probation.

As I discussed with the Justice Select Committee on 2nd December and covered in subsequent correspondence with the Committee Chair, an issue arose about a potential perceived conflict of interest for Mr McDowell given his wife’s employment with Sodexo, and their role as a provider of probation services. I have considered carefully all of the potential mechanisms and systems that could be introduced and used to manage any actual or perceived conflict of interest. However Mr McDowell has decided that, in the circumstances, he will resign.

Throughout this process Mr McDowell has acted with utter transparency and professionalism. Indeed I must acknowledge Mr McDowell’s assured leadership and the grounded independence of his findings in relation to the Inspectorate and the work he has done since his appointment.

I regret that circumstances have changed and are now such that we have reached this position. At time of his appointment Mr McDowell’s position was fully reasonable and the appropriate pre-appointment processes in place at that time were properly followed. The Justice Select Committee will be involved in the appointment of a permanent successor in the usual way.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS221
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 02 February 2015
Made by: Chris Grayling (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Criminal Justice Update

I am delighted to announce that I have now signed a commencement order that brought into force the remaining uncommenced provisions of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 (ORA) on 1 February 2015. This marks another significant step in implementing the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms which will reduce the stubbornly high rate of reoffending which has been far too high for far too long.

For the first-time we will be giving virtually all offenders a proper chance at rehabilitation. The most significant change the ORA makes is to extend statutory supervision to the 45,000 offenders a year who are released from short prison sentences of less than 12 months, the majority of whom currently receive no statutory supervision after completing a custodial sentence. This group of offenders have the highest reoffending rates of any group: almost 60% of adult offenders released from short prison sentences in the year to March 2013 went on to reoffend within the next 12 months.

The changes the ORA makes mean that any offender whose offence was committed on or after 1 February, and who is sentenced to a custodial term of more than 1 day, will in the future receive at least 12 months of supervision and support after release.

The ORA also makes a number of changes to the sentencing and release framework set out in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, including expanded drug testing powers for offenders released from custody and the creation of a new Rehabilitation Activity Requirement that can be imposed on offenders serving sentences in the community.

Along with the provisions of the ORA coming in to force, on 1 February the new providers have also taken ownership of, and begun running, the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies which will manage low and medium risk offenders.

In addition, I have published revised National Standards for the Management of Offenders and national training guidelines in line with the requirements of the Offender Management Act 2007. The standards and guidelines apply to all providers of probation services engaged in the management of offenders and delivering the sentence of the court.

The standards set out the minimum requirements for the effective management of offenders subject to community and suspended sentence orders, supervision on licence and/or the new post sentence supervision period. I have placed a copy of these standards in the House Libraries.

A Competent Workforce to Transform Rehabilitation provides a set of guidelines for the qualifications, training and experience of officers involved in delivering probation services and is available on line.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS220
WS
Department for Transport
Made on: 02 February 2015
Made by: Mr John Hayes (Minister of State for Transport)
Commons

Light Dues 2015 - 16

On 26 July 2010, the Government announced its intention to take determined action in support of the UK shipping industry by addressing the increasing cost of the marine aids to navigation service and providing long-term stability for light dues payers so they could plan budgets effectively [Official Report, Columns 75-76WS].

Following the penny reduction in the light dues rate to 40p per net registered tonne in April 2014, I am pleased to announce that the rate will be cut by a further penny, to 39p, on 1 April 2015.

Since 2010, considerable progress has been made on three fronts. First, the three General Lighthouse Authorities for the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland have exceeded their RPI-X efficiency targets, through working assets harder, adopting new technologies, and procuring services together to reduce net costs.

Second, their pension liabilities have been addressed with the transfer of the General Lighthouse Authorities’ pension schemes to the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme on 1 April 2014 [Official Report, 6 March 2014, Columns 64-65WS]. Third, as I announced on 16 October 2014, the work of the Commissioners of Irish Lights in the Republic of Ireland will be met fully from Irish sources as from 1 April 2015 [Official Report, Columns 48-49WS]. Both of these measures further reduce costs and remove sources of volatility from the General Lighthouse Fund.

The formation in 2010 of a Joint Strategic Board to co-ordinate and direct work “to achieve maximum efficiencies and improvements in the delivery of aids to navigation” has proved invaluable to these successes and I have asked the Board to identify the scope for further gains that can be secured over the next five years.

In partnership with the General Lighthouse Authorities and the shipping industry, the Government has successfully resolved the problems that faced the General Lighthouse Fund in 2010. This has opened the way to sustainable reductions in UK light dues. This further reduction, to support the shipping industry, means that there has been a 19% real terms reduction in light dues since 2010.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS219
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government )
Lords

Local Government Update

My hon Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Kris Hopkins) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would like to update Hon. Members on a series of announcements relating to local government.

Promoting joint working with NHS and councils this winter

The Coalition Government is committed to greater joint working between our local public services, to help save money and improve frontline services.

From April 2015, through the £5.3 billion Better Care Fund, we are starting to transform the way we deliver health and social care services, so that they provide a properly joined-up service for patients. It will prevent up to 160,000 A&E admissions and save over £500 million in the year ahead. We have approved 97% of the local Better Care Fund plans, and the final few plans are being reviewed now.

Ahead of its April introduction, and in light of the expected cold winter, to help further promote joint working, we are announcing a total of £37 million of additional funding to local authorities, so that they can step up their efforts to get people home as soon as they are ready to leave hospital, and avoid the need for people to go into hospital in the first place.

£25 million of this will help over 9,500 people with additional support packages to move from hospital either back to their home or into residential care; the further £12 million will mean up to 3,500 more people a week will get home from hospital more quickly this winter, with the local authority putting in place carers and equipment to meet their needs, freeing up much-needed hospital beds within the NHS.

Social services have to be part of the solution to the high demand on hospitals at the moment. We know that they can help by getting people home more quickly when it is safe to do so once they have been discharged. And we also know that the best social care can prevent people from having to go to A&E in the first place by supporting the elderly to live with dignity and independence at home.

Extending local business rate retention

The Coalition Government has introduced new financial incentives to councils to support locally-led enterprise and economic growth, as part of our programme of decentralisation and as part of our long-term economic plan.

Since 2013, local government keeps half of all business rate revenues and business rate growth. But we want to go further over time to increase these incentives.

Last year, we announced proposals to allow 100% local retention of business rates on shale oil and gas sites. In October, we published a technical consultation on draft regulations to implement this measure. We received 25 responses. A majority of those supported retention of 100% of business rates on shale oil and gas by local government. Having considered the responses we have decided to continue with our proposals as set out in the technical consultation. This policy will ensure that local councils that host shale oil or gas sites can benefit from millions of pounds in business rates paid. The measure could be worth up to £1.7 million for a typical site and will be funded by central government.

Shale will help to improve energy security, create jobs and meet carbon targets benefitting the UK through improved energy security and economic prospects. Local councils and communities have an important part to play in securing those improvements and we believe they should also share in the economic opportunities and benefits of shale. Tough environmental protections are in place, and are being further enhanced as announced to the House during the Infrastructure Bill on Monday.

The associated secondary legislation has been laid before Parliament, and the responses to the consultation published. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the provisions will come into force in April 2015.

Promoting recycling and protecting the local environment

The Coalition Government is committed to making it easier for families to recycle, whilst avoiding unfair stealth taxes on hard-working people.

The Government is aware that some local authorities have introduced, or plan to introduce, a charge to local taxpayers wanting to use civic amenity sites to dispose of household waste and/or household recycling. This is in clear breach of the previous legislative provisions passed by Parliament to ensure that such services are provide free of charge to householders.

Such short-termist stealth taxes will not only inconvenience local residents and reduce recycling, but will actively harm the environment, by encouraging fly-tipping and backyard burning. In the Republic of Ireland which has a series of taxes on household waste collection, the domestic burning of household rubbish is the biggest single source of the emission of toxic dioxins into the air. Such pollution crosses local authority boundaries, creating a wider externality and harm to the public good.

We have therefore published proposals to close down the legislative loophole and reinstate the original principle that Parliament established, that such public goods should be free to local taxpayers. A short, statutory consultation paper has been published, and subject to due consideration of the responses, we are minded to introduce the necessary secondary legislation in this Parliament.

Curtailing powers of entry

The Coalition Government has sought to stand up for civil liberties, including curtailing unnecessary state powers of entry, stopping the abuse of surveillance powers and curbs on the use of CCTV as ‘cash cameras’.

Using powers under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, we propose changing the law that officials from the Valuation Office Agency, an arm of HM Revenue and Customs, should no longer have automatic right of entry into homes and businesses in order to value them for council tax and business rates. A tribunal will now scrutinise and need to approve any use of the VOA’s power of entry. It is proposed to change the law though secondary legislation in this Parliament, subject to approval by Parliament. A statutory consultation has been published.

This complements the steps we have taken to stop a council tax revaluation in England and terminate the tax revaluation database to protect hard-working people from unwanted tax rises.

Increasing local accountability in decision making

The Coalition Government has introduced a series of measures to increase local accountability and transparency in local government. Decentralisation should be accompanied by greater local scrutiny.

We are now publishing a short technical consultation on proposals to reform, update and consolidate the ‘functions and responsibilities’ rules in local government law. These provide a framework and guidance on which part of a local authority should be ultimately responsible for taking decisions, across Committee, Cabinet and Mayoral systems, across the accumulated body of local government law from the 19th Century onwards.

The consultation includes proposals to make clear the important role of Full Council in relation to budget setting in non-mayoral cabinets, as well as greater scrutiny by Full Council on the controversial issues of parking and waste collection. This framework provides a democratic check and balance to prevent the abuse of executive power, and ensure elected local councillors are able to represent the views of their local residents.

Protecting an independent local press

The Coalition Government is committed to protecting an independent free local press. Localism and a healthy local democracy requires not just scrutiny by councillors, but also by the press and public.

The Government has sought to take action on the practice by a small number of local authorities to publish local authority newspapers, which push out and undermine an independent press, and which constitute an inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money.

Further to the Written Ministerial Statement of 13 October 2014, Official Report, Column 2WS, we have warned a small number of councils about their breaches of the local government publicity code. Today, I can announce the conclusions to date of the review into the actions of the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council.

On 25 September 2014, the Council was served written notice of a proposed direction requiring them to comply with the provisions in the March 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity relating to frequency of publication of council newsletters, newssheets or similar publications.

Having had regard to representations received from the Council about their publicity - specifically the newspaper produced by the Council, to information available to him about the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council’s publicity, and to an Equality Statement about enforcing the 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity, the Secretary of State today gave the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council notice of a direction that he proposes to give to the authority under section 4A of the Local Government Act 1986, directing them to comply as soon as practicable and in any event by 31 March 2015 with the provision in the March 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity that: “Where local authorities do commission or publish newsletters, newssheets or similar communications, they should not issue them more frequently than quarterly”.

The Council have fourteen days to make written representation to the Secretary of State about the proposed direction. Following this, the Secretary of State will take his final decision about whether or not to issue the direction. Subject to due process and consideration, we are prepared to use our formal legal powers to intervene wherever it is in taxpayers’ interests and those of a free and fair local democracy if the local councillors wish to issue their own weekly material at their expense or those of their political party; nothing prevents this, other than prevailing electoral law.

We have been carefully considering the representations from those other local authorities that received written notices on 25 September 2014 before deciding what action to take, and will make further, separate announcements to the House shortly on the individual cases. Each decision will be taken on its own merits.

I will be placing copies of the documents associated with these announcements in the Library of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS240
WS
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (Government Whip)
Lords

Higher Education

My Rt Hon Friend the Minister of State for Universities and Science (Greg Clark) has today made the following statement.

The Government is taking a number of steps to secure improved standards among alternative providers of higher education.

Britain’s system of higher education is renowned worldwide for its high quality, a reputation that continues to strengthen as demonstrated by the results of the recent Research Excellence Framework. It is essential that this reputation for quality continues to strengthen in all parts of the sector.

Among alternative providers of higher education some institutions contribute strongly to this reputation through exceptionally high levels of student satisfaction and the employability of graduates.

As the National Audit Office (NAO) has shown, some, however, have raised questions over the consistency of the delivery of quality provision to appropriately qualified candidates by some alternative providers.

The Government has already taken a number of steps to tighten standards among such providers, such as requiring, in 2014, all alternative providers to re-apply to be designated using a more robust designation process.

We will now take the following further steps to provider greater assurance of quality specifically:

· Alternative providers will need to be redesignated every year, rather than remaining designated indefinitely. This will not apply to the seven providers with Degree Awarding Powers that have courses designated for student support.

· As a condition of designation providers will undergo a strengthened quality assurance process, Higher Education Review, which will apply to all higher education providers and be the common review framework of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in England.

· From now on alternative providers will be required to have registered any student with the relevant qualification awarding body before a claim for tuition fee support for that student can be made.

· A ‘fit and proper person’ test will apply to all directors of alternative providers as a specific requirement of the annual designation process, in line with practice in the publicly-funded sector. Changes of directors, or their circumstances, will need to be notified during the year, as well as at the annual designation point.

· Alternative providers will be required to submit information on students’ previous qualifications, demographic characteristics and achievements. This information will be published through the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

· Subject to consultation we intend to introduce a minimum English language requirement to ensure that students studying for qualifications at alternative providers have sufficient language skills to succeed at their course.

· We will require alternative providers, subject to consultation, to provide students with good quality information on: student satisfaction ratings, graduate salaries and employment, tuition fees, financial support and the cost of accommodation - through the Key Information Set, which already applies to HEFCE-funded providers.

· We will remove the student number cap from the seven providers with Degree Awarding Powers that have courses designated for student support, and allow providers offering validated degrees the flexibility to increase the number of students they recruit by up to 20% in 2015/16. We will retain the cap on all other alternative providers. From 2016/17 we will allow providers with a strong performance to expand, while reducing student numbers for other providers.

· A rapid response investigatory team has been established, headed by the Government Internal Audit Agency and including the Student Loans Company, HEFCE, the Quality Assurance Agency and BIS. The team will be able quickly to investigate allegations of abuse of the system.

· Pearson, whose qualifications are delivered by some of the alternative providers about whom the NAO have expressed concerns, have strengthened their internal quality assurance process, introducing annual approval and student re-registration and increasing the level of proficiency in English required of student entering Higher National courses.

Taken together these measures will improve the assurance that only quality alternative providers can be designated, that they recruit only students who are suited to their courses, and that student numbers in alternative providers are at appropriate levels in each provider.

The Government is determined to ensure that the strong reputation for quality in UK higher education continues and strengthens.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS239
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Kris Hopkins (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Local Government Update

I would like to update Hon. Members on a series of announcements relating to local government.

Promoting joint working with NHS and councils this winter

The Coalition Government is committed to greater joint working between our local public services, to help save money and improve frontline services.

From April 2015, through the £5.3 billion Better Care Fund, we are starting to transform the way we deliver health and social care services, so that they provide a properly joined-up service for patients. It will prevent up to 160,000 A&E admissions and save over £500 million in the year ahead. We have approved 97% of the local Better Care Fund plans, and the final few plans are being reviewed now.

Ahead of its April introduction, and in light of the expected cold winter, to help further promote joint working, we are announcing a total of £37 million of additional funding to local authorities, so that they can step up their efforts to get people home as soon as they are ready to leave hospital, and avoid the need for people to go into hospital in the first place.

£25 million of this will help over 9,500 people with additional support packages to move from hospital either back to their home or into residential care; the further £12 million will mean up to 3,500 more people a week will get home from hospital more quickly this winter, with the local authority putting in place carers and equipment to meet their needs, freeing up much-needed hospital beds within the NHS.

Social services have to be part of the solution to the high demand on hospitals at the moment. We know that they can help by getting people home more quickly when it is safe to do so once they have been discharged. And we also know that the best social care can prevent people from having to go to A&E in the first place by supporting the elderly to live with dignity and independence at home.

Extending local business rate retention

The Coalition Government has introduced new financial incentives to councils to support locally-led enterprise and economic growth, as part of our programme of decentralisation and as part of our long-term economic plan.

Since 2013, local government keeps half of all business rate revenues and business rate growth. But we want to go further over time to increase these incentives.

Last year, we announced proposals to allow 100% local retention of business rates on shale oil and gas sites. In October, we published a technical consultation on draft regulations to implement this measure. We received 25 responses. A majority of those supported retention of 100% of business rates on shale oil and gas by local government. Having considered the responses we have decided to continue with our proposals as set out in the technical consultation. This policy will ensure that local councils that host shale oil or gas sites can benefit from millions of pounds in business rates paid. The measure could be worth up to £1.7 million for a typical site and will be funded by central government.

Shale will help to improve energy security, create jobs and meet carbon targets benefitting the UK through improved energy security and economic prospects. Local councils and communities have an important part to play in securing those improvements and we believe they should also share in the economic opportunities and benefits of shale. Tough environmental protections are in place, and are being further enhanced as announced to the House during the Infrastructure Bill on Monday.

The associated secondary legislation has been laid before Parliament, and the responses to the consultation published. Subject to Parliamentary approval, the provisions will come into force in April 2015.

Promoting recycling and protecting the local environment

The Coalition Government is committed to making it easier for families to recycle, whilst avoiding unfair stealth taxes on hard-working people.

The Government is aware that some local authorities have introduced, or plan to introduce, a charge to local taxpayers wanting to use civic amenity sites to dispose of household waste and/or household recycling. This is in clear breach of the previous legislative provisions passed by Parliament to ensure that such services are provide free of charge to householders.

Such short-termist stealth taxes will not only inconvenience local residents and reduce recycling, but will actively harm the environment, by encouraging fly-tipping and backyard burning. In the Republic of Ireland which has a series of taxes on household waste collection, the domestic burning of household rubbish is the biggest single source of the emission of toxic dioxins into the air. Such pollution crosses local authority boundaries, creating a wider externality and harm to the public good.

We have therefore published proposals to close down the legislative loophole and reinstate the original principle that Parliament established, that such public goods should be free to local taxpayers. A short, statutory consultation paper has been published, and subject to due consideration of the responses, we are minded to introduce the necessary secondary legislation in this Parliament.

Curtailing powers of entry

The Coalition Government has sought to stand up for civil liberties, including curtailing unnecessary state powers of entry, stopping the abuse of surveillance powers and curbs on the use of CCTV as ‘cash cameras’.

Using powers under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, we propose changing the law that officials from the Valuation Office Agency, an arm of HM Revenue and Customs, should no longer have automatic right of entry into homes and businesses in order to value them for council tax and business rates. A tribunal will now scrutinise and need to approve any use of the VOA’s power of entry. It is proposed to change the law though secondary legislation in this Parliament, subject to approval by Parliament. A statutory consultation has been published.

This complements the steps we have taken to stop a council tax revaluation in England and terminate the tax revaluation database to protect hard-working people from unwanted tax rises.

Increasing local accountability in decision making

The Coalition Government has introduced a series of measures to increase local accountability and transparency in local government. Decentralisation should be accompanied by greater local scrutiny.

We are now publishing a short technical consultation on proposals to reform, update and consolidate the ‘functions and responsibilities’ rules in local government law. These provide a framework and guidance on which part of a local authority should be ultimately responsible for taking decisions, across Committee, Cabinet and Mayoral systems, across the accumulated body of local government law from the 19th Century onwards.

The consultation includes proposals to make clear the important role of Full Council in relation to budget setting in non-mayoral cabinets, as well as greater scrutiny by Full Council on the controversial issues of parking and waste collection. This framework provides a democratic check and balance to prevent the abuse of executive power, and ensure elected local councillors are able to represent the views of their local residents.

Protecting an independent local press

The Coalition Government is committed to protecting an independent free local press. Localism and a healthy local democracy requires not just scrutiny by councillors, but also by the press and public.

The Government has sought to take action on the practice by a small number of local authorities to publish local authority newspapers, which push out and undermine an independent press, and which constitute an inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money.

Further to the Written Ministerial Statement of 13 October 2014, Official Report, Column 2WS, we have warned a small number of councils about their breaches of the local government publicity code. Today, I can announce the conclusions to date of the review into the actions of the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council.

On 25 September 2014, the Council was served written notice of a proposed direction requiring them to comply with the provisions in the March 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity relating to frequency of publication of council newsletters, newssheets or similar publications.

Having had regard to representations received from the Council about their publicity - specifically the newspaper produced by the Council, to information available to him about the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council’s publicity, and to an Equality Statement about enforcing the 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity, the Secretary of State today gave the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council notice of a direction that he proposes to give to the authority under section 4A of the Local Government Act 1986, directing them to comply as soon as practicable and in any event by 31 March 2015 with the provision in the March 2011 Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity that: “Where local authorities do commission or publish newsletters, newssheets or similar communications, they should not issue them more frequently than quarterly”.

The Council have fourteen days to make written representation to the Secretary of State about the proposed direction. Following this, the Secretary of State will take his final decision about whether or not to issue the direction. Subject to due process and consideration, we are prepared to use our formal legal powers to intervene wherever it is in taxpayers’ interests and those of a free and fair local democracy if the local councillors wish to issue their own weekly material at their expense or those of their political party; nothing prevents this, other than prevailing electoral law.

We have been carefully considering the representations from those other local authorities that received written notices on 25 September 2014 before deciding what action to take, and will make further, separate announcements to the House shortly on the individual cases. Each decision will be taken on its own merits.

I will be placing copies of the documents associated with these announcements in the Library of the House.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS218
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Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Greg Clark (Minister of State for Universities and Science)
Commons

Higher Education

The Government is taking a number of steps to secure improved standards among alternative providers of higher education.

Britain’s system of higher education is renowned worldwide for its high quality, a reputation that continues to strengthen as demonstrated by the results of the recent Research Excellence Framework. It is essential that this reputation for quality continues to strengthen in all parts of the sector.

Among alternative providers of higher education some institutions contribute strongly to this reputation through exceptionally high levels of student satisfaction and the employability of graduates.

As the National Audit Office (NAO) has shown, some, however, have raised questions over the consistency of the delivery of quality provision to appropriately qualified candidates by some alternative providers.

The Government has already taken a number of steps to tighten standards among such providers, such as requiring, in 2014, all alternative providers to re-apply to be designated using a more robust designation process.

We will now take the following further steps to provider greater assurance of quality specifically:

· Alternative providers will need to be redesignated every year, rather than remaining designated indefinitely. This will not apply to the seven providers with Degree Awarding Powers that have courses designated for student support.

· As a condition of designation providers will undergo a strengthened quality assurance process, Higher Education Review, which will apply to all higher education providers and be the common review framework of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in England.

· From now on alternative providers will be required to have registered any student with the relevant qualification awarding body before a claim for tuition fee support for that student can be made.

· A ‘fit and proper person’ test will apply to all directors of alternative providers as a specific requirement of the annual designation process, in line with practice in the publicly-funded sector. Changes of directors, or their circumstances, will need to be notified during the year, as well as at the annual designation point.

· Alternative providers will be required to submit information on students’ previous qualifications, demographic characteristics and achievements. This information will be published through the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

· Subject to consultation we intend to introduce a minimum English language requirement to ensure that students studying for qualifications at alternative providers have sufficient language skills to succeed at their course.

· We will require alternative providers, subject to consultation, to provide students with good quality information on: student satisfaction ratings, graduate salaries and employment, tuition fees, financial support and the cost of accommodation - through the Key Information Set, which already applies to HEFCE-funded providers.

· We will remove the student number cap from the seven providers with Degree Awarding Powers that have courses designated for student support, and allow providers offering validated degrees the flexibility to increase the number of students they recruit by up to 20% in 2015/16. We will retain the cap on all other alternative providers. From 2016/17 we will allow providers with a strong performance to expand, while reducing student numbers for other providers.

· A rapid response investigatory team has been established, headed by the Government Internal Audit Agency and including the Student Loans Company, HEFCE, the Quality Assurance Agency and BIS. The team will be able quickly to investigate allegations of abuse of the system.

· Pearson, whose qualifications are delivered by some of the alternative providers about whom the NAO have expressed concerns, have strengthened their internal quality assurance process, introducing annual approval and student re-registration and increasing the level of proficiency in English required of student entering Higher National courses.

Taken together these measures will improve the assurance that only quality alternative providers can be designated, that they recruit only students who are suited to their courses, and that student numbers in alternative providers are at appropriate levels in each provider.

The Government is determined to ensure that the strong reputation for quality in UK higher education continues and strengthens.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS217
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Home Office
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Lord Bates (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office)
Lords

Security Industry Authority

The 2012-13 and 2013-14 Annual Report and Accounts for the Security Industry Authority are being laid before the House today and published on www.gov.uk. Copies will be available in the Vote Office.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS236
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Lords

Afghanistan

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr Philip Hammond) has made the following written Ministerial statement:

I wish to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, is today publishing the forty-third progress report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010. With the conclusion of the NATO led ISAF Mission on 31 December 2014, this will be the final progress report.

On 4 December the UK Government and the Afghan government co-hosted the London Conference on Afghanistan. At the Conference, President Ghani set out his reform agenda for Afghanistan and the International Community, led by the Prime Minister, signalled its strong support for the new Afghan government.

The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) were ratified by the Afghan Parliament between 23-27 November. NATO Foreign Ministers provided formal agreement to the launch of the new NATO Resolute Support Mission on 2 December.

During November and December President Ghani and CEO Abdullah failed to agree on nominations for Cabinet Ministers. A Cabinet was finally announced on 12 January.

On 27 November, a British Embassy vehicle was attacked in Kabul, resulting in the death of a UK national security contractor and an Afghan member of British Embassy staff. An Afghan civilian was also killed in the attack. A further UK civilian was wounded as well as 33 Afghan civilians.

The last UK personnel left Southern Afghanistan on 23 November.

I am placing the report in the Library of the House. It will also be published on the gov.uk website (www.gov.uk/government/publications/afghanistan-progress-reports).

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS238
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Lords

Foreign Affairs Council

My Right Honourable Friend the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) has made the following written Ministerial statement:

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs attended the Foreign Affairs Council on 19 January in Brussels. The Foreign Affairs Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Dimitris Avromopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, and Miguel Arias Cañete, Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy were in attendance for some of the discussions at the FAC.

A provisional report of the meeting and Conclusions adopted can be found at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2015/01/19/

Russia

Ministers discussed relations with Russia in restricted format. The High Representative, Federica Mogherini, highlighted the need for the EU to remain united in its support for Ukraine, financially and politically. Full implementation of the Minsk agreement was essential to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine. Sanctions remained an important element of the EU’s approach. Ministers discussed the EEAS Russia Issues Paper, which set out options on what other EU instruments could be used to increase leverage. Commissioner Hahn outlined the need to engage with Russia on the EU’s own terms.

The Foreign Secretary stressed that there should be no softening of the EU position, given there had been no constructive steps by Russia on the Minsk commitments. The EU should be ready to respond when Russia met its obligations. The Foreign Secretary also highlighted that Russia could no longer be considered a strategic partner to the EU.

Counter Terrorism

The High Representative outlined her proposal to mainstream counter-terrorism in EU foreign policy by publishing the strategy on foreign fighters in Iraq/Syria; embedding security experts in EU delegations in the MENA region; maximising use of EU agencies; and improving communication with partners in the region and at home. She urged speedy adoption of the EU Directive on Passenger Name Records (PNR).

Discussion centred on the source and spread of radicalisation in the region. Many Ministers agreed on the need for better EU communications and the need for enhanced cooperation, including with Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria. A recommendation was made for a broader approach encompassing Boko Haram and other groups in the Sahel to be discussed at the February FAC. Ministers also agreed on the need to counter both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Lunch with Arab League Secretary General Elaraby

Ministers discussed the Middle East Peace Process, Libya and Counter Terrorism, with Secretary General Elaraby. The Foreign Secretary agreed that countering terrorism in the region was a priority for both the EU and the Arab League, and urged the Arab League and the Arab States to improve the human rights situation in order to unlock greater EU assistance. Elaraby reassured EU Ministers that Arab Ministers shared their condemnation of terrorism.

The High Representative undertook to strengthen further formal and informal links between the EU and Arab League, both at working level and at political level. In the margins of the Council, Ms Mogherini signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Elaraby furthering cooperation between the EEAS and the Arab League.

Libya

Due to the extended discussion on Russia, the substantive point on Libya was postponed until February.

Climate Change

Ministers endorsed the EEAS’s Action Plan for Climate Diplomacy ahead of COP21 in Paris, and agreed on the need for the EU to have a clear climate change policy. Commissioner Cañete identified securing ambitious commitments and credible climate finance as the two main challenges. Ministers called on the EU to support countries through technical assistance, expertise and funding.

AOB

The High Representative updated Ministers on her thinking on the future of EU Special representatives (EUSRs) and her intention to appoint EUSRs for the Middle East and Central Asia. Ministers also noted recent events in Cuba and Colombia.

Ministers agreed without discussion a number of other measures:

· The Council adopted Conclusions on Democratic Republic of Congo/Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR);

· The Council adopted Conclusions on Tunisia;

· The Council appointed Mr Lars-Gunnar Wigemark as new EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1 March 2015 to 30 June 2015;

· The Council approved the EU position for the fifteenth meeting of the EU – Armenia Cooperation Council on 20 January in Brussels;

· The Council endorsed the six-monthly progress report on the implementation of the EU Strategy against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, covering activities in the second semester of 2014;

· The Council agreed to launch the EU Common Security and Defence Policy mission in Mali (EUCAP Sahel Mali) on 15 January 2015. It also allocated a budget of €11.4 million for the mission in the period until 14 January 2016;

· The Council decided to appeal against the judgement of the General Court in the case Council vs Hamas of 17 December (T-400/10). The Court had annulled, on procedural grounds, the Council’s decision to maintain Hamas on the EU list of terrorist organisations. During the appeal, Hamas will stay on the terrorist list;

· The Council established the EU military advisory mission in the Central African Republic (CAR). This mission sets out to support security sector reform in the CAR. It also authorised the HRVP to open negotiations with the CAR authorities for an agreement on the status of this mission.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS237
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Department of Health
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Earl Howe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health)
Lords

Language Controls: Health Professionals

My Hon friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health (Dr Daniel Poulter) has made the following written ministerial statement.

We greatly value the contributions that healthcare professionals from all over the world have made, and continue to make to our NHS, but it is essential that they have a sufficient knowledge of the English language in order to provide safe patient care. In 2014, changes were introduced to strengthen the law in this area for doctors, by introducing language controls for European Economic Area (EEA) doctors wishing to practise in the UK.

The Department of Health has since been working with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), the General Dental Council (GDC), the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland (PSNI), and with other stakeholders, to look at ways to ensure more rigorous language competency tests can be applied for nurses, pharmacists and dentists from within the EEA. This would bring language controls for EEA healthcare professionals in line with the language tests and controls applied to non-European applicants who wish to treat patients in the UK.

For this reason, on 3rd November 2014 the Department went out to consult on proposals to allow these regulatory bodies to apply language controls to healthcare professionals seeking entry to their registers, to ensure they have a sufficient knowledge of the English language to enable them to practise safely in the UK.

The Department has today published a consultation report ‘Language controls for nurses, midwives, dentists, dental care professionals, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians – proposed changes to the Dentists Act 1984, the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001, the Pharmacy Order 2010 and the Pharmacy (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 – A four country consultation report' which sets out our findings. The consultation report is attached and has been placed in the Library. It is also available at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/language-controls-for-healthcare-and-associated-professions.

The proposed legislative changes to strengthen language testing of healthcare professionals will be an effective way of ensuring the language competence of all overseas nurses, midwives, dentists, dental care professionals, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. This change in the law will mark an important milestone in improving patient safety and care.

The Health Care and Associated Professions (Knowledge of English) Order 2015 will be laid in Parliament shortly.

Consultation report on language controls (Word Document, 182.93 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS233
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Department of Health
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Earl Howe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health)
Lords

Law Commission: Government Response

My Hon friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health (Dr Dan Poulter) has made the following written ministerial statement.

The Government is today publishing, on behalf of all four countries, Regulation of Health Care Professionals: Regulation of Social Care Professionals in England - the Government’s response to Law Commission report 345, Scottish Law Commission report 237 and Northern Ireland Law Commission report 18 (2014) Cm 8839. The response has been laid before Parliament and is available in the Library. A copy of the response is attached.

In accordance with the Protocol between the Lord Chancellor and the Law Commission I am providing a full response to the Commissions.

I would like to thank the Law Commission, the Scottish Law Commission and the Northern Ireland Law Commission for their report, published in April 2014, and for their hugely helpful work reviewing complex professional regulation legislation.

The Government is grateful for this thorough and considered review of complex legislative framework governing regulation of health care professionals and in England, social care professionals. We have accepted the large majority of the Law Commissions’ recommendations in full, and others in part.

There are a small number of areas where we disagree with the Law Commissions’ recommendations - where we wish to take a different approach, or where further work needs to be done. However, we overwhelmingly support the Commissions’ ambition for improvements and where appropriate, greater consistency across the regulation of health professionals including robust governance structures for regulatory bodies, enabling innovation in education and leaner processes to enable the regulatory bodies to take swifter action to ensure public protection.

We are now taking the opportunity to consider the Law Commissions’ report and draft Bill, and to work closely with the regulatory bodies to build on the good work the Law Commissions have done. The Government remains committed to legislative change and we are seeking to make changes to enhance public protection through secondary legislation to address a number of priority areas that we have identified in discussion with the regulatory bodies.

In addition, the Health and Social Care (Safety and Quality) Bill, presented by Jeremy Lefroy MP is also seeking, with Government support, to introduce consistent objectives for the PSA and for some of the regulatory bodies, and a requirement for those regulators’ panels and committees to have regard to the objectives when determining whether a practitioner is fit to practise and when determining what sanctions might be appropriate. This builds on the Law Commissions’ recommendations 13 and 85.

We consider the Law Commissions’ report and draft Bill is a significant advance towards making sure that our professional regulation system is fit for the future, and the Government is committed to legislate further on this matter in due course. As the Government moves forward on professional regulation legislation, we will make sure it is right, not only for the regulatory bodies, but also for the public, patients, and registrants.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS235
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Ministry of Defence
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Lord Astor of Hever (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) )
Lords

Gurkha Welfare

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans (Anna Soubry) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government would like to thank the hon. Member for Thurrock, Jackie Doyle-Price MP, and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gurkha Welfare for leading an inquiry into grievances held by members of the Gurkha veterans’ community. This inquiry has provided the Gurkha veterans’ community an independent forum within which their grievances have been listened to, considered and ultimately debated in Parliament. The Government would like to pay tribute to the manner in which the Gurkha community have participated in this unique inquiry and taken the opportunity to present evidence about the grievances which some hold.

In response to the Inquiry’s findings the Government will implement a number of measures which will mean greater financial and social support for Gurkha veterans from both the Government and the charitable sector. These measures include the provision of £5 million of additional funding from LIBOR fines announced in the Autumn Statement. This money will be made available over the next five years to the Gurkha Welfare Trust, a charity which supports Gurkha veterans. This funding will be able to support the provision of additional care and support for Gurkha veterans in Nepal or the UK.

The Government will also set up a fund to compensate retired Gurkhas who left the brigade after marriage to a non-Nepalese. The Government recognises that the approach to mixed marriage was a matter of cultural importance to those within the Brigade of Gurkhas at the time. However it does not believe this policy reflects the values which the Armed Forces and the United Kingdom holds in the 21st Century. It has therefore decided to set up a scheme to offer a payment to those directly affected by this policy. Details of the scheme and how Gurkhas can claim will be published in due course.

In addition to these measures in response to the APPG report, the Government has also awarded £960,000 to Gurkha Homes Limited. This money is from the £40 million Veterans Accommodation Fund launched in 2014 using money from LIBOR fines. This will see 32 new homes built in four locations across the UK for Gurkha veterans. This will enable up to 64 Gurkha veterans and their spouses or partners to live in high quality affordable accommodation while integrating into local communities.

These commitments are a clear demonstration that the Government is willing to address previous injustices and concerns held within the Gurkha community where it is appropriate to do so. It is also a statement of the enduring gratitude felt by the nation to the Gurkha community for their service. These measures will help to ensure that Gurkha veterans have the opportunity to live in retirement with the further support and gratitude of the British Government.

The Government’s full response has been placed in the Library of the House.

WS
Department of Health
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Earl Howe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health)
Lords

Winterbourne View

My Rt Hon friend the Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb) has made the following written ministerial statement.

The Government’s review Transforming Care: A national response to Winterbourne View Hospital: Department of Health Final Report (2012) looked at why Winterbourne View happened and set out a programme of work to take every step we can, to ensure this does not happen again. The Government committed in Transforming Care to produce a report two years on to account for progress. This report is a collective account from partners across the health and care system to reflect the cross-system effort that has continued over the past year to tackle the root causes of the abuse and treatment of people at Winterbourne View.

The report sets out what has been done, providing an update in the annex of all the original actions in Transforming Care and what has been completed or is continuing. A significant number of the recommendations have been achieved. We now know how many people are in inpatient settings, where they are and who is responsible for them. NHS England has introduced Care and Treatment Reviews for everyone in inpatient settings, with a multi-disciplinary team from health and social care, alongside Experts by Experience. 181 people are benefitting from £7m DH capital funding to support people inappropriately placed in inpatient settings to move to more suitable housing. We have strengthened the accountability and corporate responsibility arrangements to assure the quality and safety of care services. A duty of candour which requires providers to inform service users where there are failings in care came into force for NHS providers last November, and will be extended to all other providers registered with the Care Quality Commission in this April. A fit and proper person’s test which requires providers to ensure that Directors are fit to carry out their role came into force last November for NHS providers in NHS Trusts, foundation trusts and special health authorities. All other providers will be required to comply by this April. The introduction of the forthcoming statutory offences of ill-treatment or wilful neglect will also send a clear message throughout the health and care system that intentionally poor care will never be tolerated. We have new guidance on minimising restrictive interventions and work is underway to improve data about the use of restraint. A more rigorous registration, assessment and inspection approach is in place for learning disability services. The Care Act 2014 enshrines new principles for adult social care including the principle of individual wellbeing which encompasses people having control of their day to day life, suitable accommodation and being able to contribute to society. The Act requires local authorities to consider people’s views, wishes and beliefs and focuses on the outcomes people themselves want to achieve. The Act also underpins and reinforces the importance of good quality, independent advocacy and will support people, their families and carers to raise concerns.

The report is also clear, however, that we have not made nearly enough progress to transform services. This cannot be tolerated. We recognise that there is still much more to do to reduce the need for inpatient care. There are many people with very complex needs, in many different types of inpatient settings and we need to ensure the right decisions are made about their care, listening to individuals, their families and carers. All partners involved in Transforming Care have agreed the need for a single programme to collectively drive forward the changes needed. A strengthened programme will be put in place, which takes into consideration the recommendations of Winterbourne View – A Time to for Change (2014) by Sir Stephen Bubb, and will drive a better co-ordinated approach to achieve faster and sustainable progress. The details of this approach can be accessed at: http://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/qual-clin-lead/ld/transform-care/.

Partnership working is essential. We are clear that this cannot all be done from Whitehall. There has to be a change in culture and behaviour in local areas. We understand that this is not easy which is why, building on learning from work over the past two years, we are determined to make a difference for people and their families in the decisions about admission and discharge from hospitals. We are looking to consult on a range of potential future measures to strengthen people’s rights in the health and care system. This is likely to include options for ensuring people’s individual wellbeing is at the heart of decisions in both health and social care, and issues around how the Mental Health Act is applied.

The Winterbourne View Two Years On report is attached and copies have been placed in the House library. It can also be accessed at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/Winterbourne-View-2-years-on.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS231
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Ministry of Justice
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy)
Lords

Service Personnel: Deaths

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties (Simon Hughes) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

"Together with my Honourable friend the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, I present the latest of our joint statements in which we report progress with coroner investigations into the deaths of UK service personnel resulting from active service overseas. Once again we take the opportunity to honour our Armed Forces and to thank every one of them for all that they willingly give on behalf of us all. Most of all we remember those who have sacrificed their lives, and the families who have to try to live without them.

Our statement gives the position at 23 January 2015 on open investigations conducted by the Senior Coroners for Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Swindon and other coroner areas in England and Wales.

Once again we have placed tables of supplementary information in the Libraries of both Houses. These show the status of all cases, including whether there has been or will be a Service Inquiry (known during the earlier years covered as a Board of Inquiry).

The Ministry of Defence’s Defence Inquests Unit continues to assist coroners (including a cadre of coroners who have had special training in handling service personnel inquests) to make sure that everything possible is done to progress and complete investigations quickly and thoroughly. If on any future occasion it would be appropriate for an investigation into the death of a UK service person resulting from active service overseas to be held in Scotland rather than England or Wales, Section 12 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 makes provision for this.

Coroners and their staff have to combine compassion and rigour, carry out a determined search for the truth with sensitivity and understanding. We thank them for all their work on service personnel deaths. Again we must thank the Chief Coroner for his work with coroners to improve processes, and once more we express our sincere gratitude to everyone who supports and informs bereaved families throughout the investigation.

Since 2007 the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice have jointly made additional funding available to assist the senior coroners for Oxfordshire and for Wiltshire and Swindon. Repatriations of service personnel who have died overseas have mainly taken place within those coroner areas, at RAF Brize Norton and RAF Lyneham respectively. The additional funding enables the senior coroners to conduct service personnel inquests in balance with the local caseload.

Current status of inquests

Since our last statement on 30 October 2014 there have been 4 inquests into the deaths of service personnel on operations. They bring the total of inquests into the deaths of service personnel who have died on active service or who have died in the UK of injuries sustained on active service to 618. No formal inquest has been held into three deaths of injured service personnel in Scotland. Two of these deaths were taken into consideration at inquests into deaths which happened in the same incidents. In the third case a serviceman had made a partial recovery but died from his injuries, and it was decided not to hold a Fatal Accident Inquiry.

Coroners’ investigations which have been opened

Deaths in Afghanistan

As at 23 January, 13 coroner investigations are open into the deaths of service personnel on operations.

The Senior Coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon has retained 6 of the open investigations, while the Senior Coroner for Oxfordshire has retained 5. Senior Coroners for areas closer to the next-of-kin are handling the other 2 open coroner investigations. 6 hearing dates have been listed.

We will continue to inform the House of progress."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS232
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 29 January 2015
Made by: Mr Philip Hammond (Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Afghanistan Monthly Progress Report for November - December 2014

I wish to inform the House that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development, is today publishing the forty-third progress report on developments in Afghanistan since November 2010. With the conclusion of the NATO led ISAF Mission on 31 December 2014, this will be the final progress report.

On 4 December the UK Government and the Afghan government co-hosted the London Conference on Afghanistan. At the Conference, President Ghani set out his reform agenda for Afghanistan and the International Community, led by the Prime Minister, signalled its strong support for the new Afghan government.

The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) were ratified by the Afghan Parliament between 23-27 November. NATO Foreign Ministers provided formal agreement to the launch of the new NATO Resolute Support Mission on 2 December.

During November and December President Ghani and CEO Abdullah failed to agree on nominations for Cabinet Ministers. A Cabinet was finally announced on 12 January.

On 27 November, a British Embassy vehicle was attacked in Kabul, resulting in the death of a UK national security contractor and an Afghan member of British Embassy staff. An Afghan civilian was also killed in the attack. A further UK civilian was wounded as well as 33 Afghan civilians.

The last UK personnel left Southern Afghanistan on 23 November.

I am placing the report in the Library of the House. It will also be published on