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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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 22 January 2015
Made by: Lord De Mauley (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs )
Lords

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

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

The next Agriculture and Fisheries Council will be on 26 January in Brussels. My hon. friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (George Eustice), will represent the UK. Richard Lochhead MSP and Rebecca Evans AM will also attend.

There are both agriculture and fisheries items on this month’s agenda.

On fisheries, there will be a presentation by the Commission followed by an exchange of views on the proposal for a Regulation establishing a multiannual plan for the stocks of cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea and the fisheries exploiting those stocks. On agriculture, the Commission will provide information on the Russian ban on EU agricultural products.

There are currently two Any Other Business items:

- Landing obligation

- The future of the sugar sector

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS217
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 22 January 2015
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy)
Lords

Parole Board for England and Wales

On 18 November 2013 the Triennial Review of the Parole Board for England and Wales was announced in Parliament. I am pleased to announce the conclusion of the Review and publication of the report today.

The Review has concluded that there is a continuing role for the Parole Board and that it should continue as an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body. The Parole Board has been assessed as having a ‘good’ overall rating for the standards of corporate governance and the recommendations from the review relate to three areas i) roles and responsibilities ii) communication and iii) conduct and propriety, where it has been identified that improvements can be made in order to more closely follow good practice for public bodies.

The Triennial Review has been carried out with the participation of a wide range of stakeholders and users, in addition to the Parole Board itself. The launch of the Review was publicised on my Department’s website and stakeholders were invited to contribute through a Call for Evidence and through meetings. In addition to the project board which oversaw the Review, a critical friends group challenged the evidence used to make conclusions. An independent peer reviewer also challenged the evidence for stage two of the Review.

I am grateful to all who contributed to this Triennial Review. The final report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report will also be available at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/parole-board-triennial-review.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS216
WS
Department of Health
Made on: 22 January 2015
Made by: Earl Howe (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health)
Lords

Tobacco: Packaging

Following the announcement made by my Hon friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, in the adjournment debate yesterday on the introduction of standardised packaging of tobacco products (Official Report col 336-344), the Government has looked carefully at whether introducing legislation to require standardised packaging of tobacco products would be likely to deliver public health benefits, especially for children. Particular consideration has been given to possible unintended consequences, including information that was provided in the two public consultations on standardised packaging.

The Government believes that the introduction of standardised packaging would be likely to deliver important public health benefits, and that moving forward is justified. The powers in the Children and Families Act 2014, require that consent is obtained from Ministers in the Devolved Administrations for the regulations to extend to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Once that consent is obtained the Government intends to quickly lay before Parliament draft regulations to introduce standardised packaging for debate. Subject to the agreement of the Devolved Administrations and of Parliament, it is the Government’s intention to make the regulations before Parliament dissolves.

Smoking remains a critical public health concern and the Government wants, in particular, to take concerted action to reduce the uptake of smoking by children and young people. The evidence and relevant information has been considered thoroughly.

The Government asked eminent medical researcher and paediatrician Sir Cyril Chantler to undertake an independent review of the health evidence relating to standardised packaging of tobacco, and the report of the review was published in April 2014. Sir Cyril concluded that it is highly likely that standardised packaging would serve to reduce the rate of children taking up smoking and that the policy would very likely lead to a modest but important reduction over time on the uptake and prevalence of smoking and thus have a positive impact on public health.

When the Chantler Review was published, Health Ministers said that they were minded to proceed with standardised packaging, subject to a final, short consultation. This consultation was held between 26 June and 7 August 2014 and included a set of draft regulations. It asked, in particular, for new or additional information since the previous full public consultation which the Department of Health ran in 2012.

The regulations that will be laid are consistent with those published in the Department of Health’s 2014 consultation, although some technical amendments have been required.

If approved by Parliament, the regulations will be made and will specify requirements for the retail packaging of cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco, and requirements for the appearance of individual cigarettes. They will specify the use of standard colours for all external and internal packaging and only permit specified text in a standard typeface.

In due course, the Department of Health will publish the summary report of the 2014 consultation which will summarise the main themes and issues arising from the consultation.

WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 22 January 2015
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Lords

Consular Assistance: Murder and Manslaughter

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

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides consular support to bereaved families and friends in approximately 70 cases of murder and manslaughter annually. It is essential that the support provided by my officials at this most tragic and difficult of times is as good as it can be and for that reason my Hon. Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mark Simmonds), announced that there would be a review of consular policy in this area (Official Report, 27 January 2014; Col 20WS).

That review is now complete and I am today placing a copy in the Library of the House. The review sets out our commitments to improving the service we provide. This will include setting up a new and specialist Access to Justice Unit within our Consular Directorate, focused on these cases, as well as a renewed focus on consistency and clearer communication.

The review was based on feedback from bereaved families and friends and those who work to support them, including Parliamentarians, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s partners and its own consular staff. It is important to note that many people praised the service provided by caseworkers in London and teams at our overseas posts, in particular the high level of empathy that consular staff had shown. The Foreign Affairs Committee also concluded in November last year that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office “should rightly be proud’ of the work of consular staff.

Nonetheless, there are areas where we can make improvements and new ways in which we can provide support and these are identified in this review. I will be taking a close interest in its implementation and in the work of the new unit and I have given instructions that there should be an update on progress by June 2015. I hope that through this work those sadly affected by murder and manslaughter overseas will receive the consistently excellent support that they need and that consular staff aim to provide.

Review document (PDF Document, 236.28 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS218
WS
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 22 January 2015
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Minister for Intellectual Property)
Lords

National Minimum Wage

My hon Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs (Jo Swinson) has today made the following statement.

Today I publish the response document to a public consultation on the draft consolidated National Minimum Wage (NMW) regulations.

The NMW Regulations, which set out the detailed NMW rules, came into force on 1 April 1999 and have since been amended over twenty times. As a Red Tape Challenge measure, the Government consolidated the regulations to make them easier to understand and their order more logical. As part of this process, it did not open policy decisions behind the detailed rules.

The majority of respondents to the consultation welcomed the consolidation of these regulations but expressed that even further clarity would be welcome. The Government will therefore review the guidance during 2015, including the provision of more practical examples.

Response to the consultation (PDF Document, 219.43 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS214
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 22 January 2015
Made by: Mr David Lidington (Minister for Europe)
Commons

Review of consular assistance following murder and manslaughter cases overseas

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides consular support to bereaved families and friends in approximately 70 cases of murder and manslaughter annually. It is essential that the support provided by my officials at this most tragic and difficult of times is as good as it can be and for that reason my Hon Friend the Member for Boston and Skegness (Mark Simmonds), announced that there would be a review of consular policy in this area (Official Report, 27 January 2014; Col 20WS).

That review is now complete and I am today placing a copy in the Library of the House. The review sets out our commitments to improving the service we provide. This will include setting up a new and specialist Access to Justice Unit within our Consular Directorate, focused on these cases, as well as a renewed focus on consistency and clearer communication.

The review was based on feedback from bereaved families and friends and those who work to support them, including Parliamentarians, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s partners and its own consular staff. It is important to note that many people praised the service provided by caseworkers in London and teams at our overseas posts, in particular the high level of empathy that consular staff had shown. The Foreign Affairs Committee also concluded in November last year that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office “should rightly be proud’ of the work of consular staff.

Nonetheless, there are areas where we can make improvements and new ways in which we can provide support and these are identified in this review. I will be taking a close interest in its implementation and in the work of the new unit and I have given instructions that there should be an update on progress by June 2015. I hope that through this work those sadly affected by murder and manslaughter overseas will receive the consistently excellent support that they need and that consular staff aim to provide.

Review document (PDF Document, 236.28 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS193
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 22 January 2015
Made by: Elizabeth Truss (The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs )
Commons

Agenda for January’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council

The next Agriculture and Fisheries Council will be on 26 January in Brussels. My hon. friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (George Eustice), will represent the UK. Richard Lochhead MSP and Rebecca Evans AM will also attend.

There are both agriculture and fisheries items on this month’s agenda.

On fisheries, there will be a presentation by the Commission followed by an exchange of views on the proposal for a Regulation establishing a multiannual plan for the stocks of cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea and the fisheries exploiting those stocks. On agriculture, the Commission will provide information on the Russian ban on EU agricultural products.

There are currently two Any Other Business items:

- Landing obligation

- The future of the sugar sector

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS196
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 22 January 2015
Made by: Andrew Selous (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Minister for Prisons, Probation and Rehabilitation)
Commons

Triennial Review of the Parole Board for England and Wales

My noble friend the Minister of State for Civil Justice and Legal Policy (Lord Faulks QC) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

"On 18 November 2013 the Triennial Review of the Parole Board for England and Wales was announced in Parliament. I am pleased to announce the conclusion of the Review and publication of the report today.

The Review has concluded that there is a continuing role for the Parole Board and that it should continue as an Executive Non-Departmental Public Body. The Parole Board has been assessed as having a ‘good’ overall rating for the standards of corporate governance and the recommendations from the review relate to three areas i) roles and responsibilities ii) communication and iii) conduct and propriety, where it has been identified that improvements can be made in order to more closely follow good practice for public bodies.

The Triennial Review has been carried out with the participation of a wide range of stakeholders and users, in addition to the Parole Board itself. The launch of the Review was publicised on my Department’s website and stakeholders were invited to contribute through a Call for Evidence and through meetings. In addition to the project board which oversaw the Review, a critical friends group challenged the evidence used to make conclusions. An independent peer reviewer also challenged the evidence for stage two of the Review.

I am grateful to all who contributed to this Triennial Review. The final report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report will also be available at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/parole-board-triennial-review."

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS195
WS
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 22 January 2015
Made by: Matthew Hancock (Minister of State for Business, Enterprise and Energy )
Commons

Ordnance Survey Change in Operating Model

I am today announcing the Government’s intention to change Ordnance Survey from a Trading Fund to a Government Company at the end of the financial year.

The change is operational in nature, and is aimed at improving Ordnance Survey’s day-to-day efficiency and performance. It will provide the organisation with a more appropriate platform from which to operate, and one which provides greater individual and collective responsibility for performance.

Ordnance Survey will remain under 100% public ownership with the data remaining Crown property, with ultimate accountability for the organisation staying with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Further to this change, in the coming weeks I will also be setting out more details on how Ordnance Survey will be building on its existing extensive support for the Government’s Open Data policy and on some senior appointments which will further strengthen the management team.

Ordnance Survey exists in a fast moving and developing global market. There has been rapid technology change in the capture and provision of mapping data, and increasingly sophisticated demands from customers who require data and associated services – including from government. To operate effectively, Ordnance Survey needs to function in an increasingly agile and flexible manner to continue to provide the high level of data provision and services to all customers in the UK and abroad, in a cost effective way, open and free where possible. Company status will provide that.

Mapping data and services are critical in underpinning many business and public sector functions as well as being increasingly used by individuals in new technology. Ordnance Survey sits at the heart of the UK’s geospatial sector. Under the new model, the quality, integrity and open availability of data will be fully maintained, and in future, improved. Existing customers, partners and suppliers will benefit from working with an improved organisation more aligned to their commercial, technological and business needs.

The relationship with Government will be articulated through the Shareholder Framework Agreement alongside the Company Articles of Association. The change will be subject to final Ministerial approval of these governance matters.

Ordnance Survey will also continue to publish a statement of its public task, to subscribe to the Information Fair Trader Scheme and comply with the relevant Public Sector Information Regulations, including Freedom of Information legislation, and make as much data as possible openly available to a wide audience of users.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS197
WS
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 22 January 2015
Made by: Jo Swinson (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs; Department for Business, Innovation and Skills)
Commons

Consolidation of National Minimum Wage Regulations

Today I publish the response document to a public consultation on the draft consolidated National Minimum Wage (NMW) regulations.

The NMW Regulations, which set out the detailed NMW rules, came into force on 1 April 1999 and have since been amended over twenty times. As a Red Tape Challenge measure, the Government consolidated the regulations to make them easier to understand and their order more logical. As part of this process, it did not open policy decisions behind the detailed rules.

The majority of respondents to the consultation welcomed the consolidation of these regulations but expressed that even further clarity would be welcome. The Government will therefore review the guidance during 2015, including the provision of more practical examples.

Response to the consultation (PDF Document, 219.43 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS192
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 21 January 2015
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Lords

Foreign and Commonwealth Office: Public Records

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

In line with the Lord Chancellor’s Code of Practice on the Management of Records, the FCO maintains an inventory of its record holdings and carries out regular file audits.

In my statement of 30 November 2012, I informed the House of the existence of a large accumulation of legacy records in the FCO known as the “Special Collections”. On 12 December 2013, I explained that the FCO had published a detailed inventory of its archive records on gov.uk. This inventory arose out of a file audit carried out in 2013 which focused principally on the main FCO archive. All of these record series have been incorporated into the FCO’s records release programme. Details are available at www.gov.uk/archive-records.

As a result of an internal management audit, we became aware in July last year that a substantial number of legacy paper files are held outside the main FCO archive. I therefore asked FCO officials to carry out a further file audit across the entire FCO estate covering all departments in the UK and all overseas posts. During this file audit, all identified file stores in the UK were physically inspected by a specialist contract team and every overseas post provided summary details of their legacy paper file holdings. The audit was carried out over September and October last year.

Following this file audit we have identified a number of collections of records across the FCO which contain files overdue for review under the Public Records Act. The total number of files in these record series is just under 170,000. Unlike records held in the main FCO archive, a significant proportion of these files contain copies of original records or routine management, finance, personnel and consular records. Some files, however, are likely to require permanent preservation. We have reported our findings to the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives and we have also provided full details to Professor Tony Badger, the Independent Reviewer appointed by the former Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague).

The Lord Chancellor has granted the FCO one year’s legal retention for these files while we develop a prioritised plan for their review under the Public Records Act. We will submit this plan to the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council by February. We will ensure that files requiring permanent preservation are correctly prioritised for release and incorporated into our current release programme.

By the end of March, we will publish on gov.uk a new version of the FCO archive inventory incorporating all of the files series identified during this file audit. We will also publish a revised record release plan.

I am pleased to inform Parliament that the first record series from the FCO’s special collections, consisting of 445 Colonial Reports, were released at The National Archives on 23 December.

The FCO is committed to complying with the Public Records Act and to full transparency with respect to our record holdings.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS213
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 21 January 2015
Made by: Mr David Lidington (Minister for Europe)
Commons

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Public Records

In line with the Lord Chancellor’s Code of Practice on the Management of Records, the FCO maintains an inventory of its record holdings and carries out regular file audits.

In my statement of 30 November 2012, I informed the House of the existence of a large accumulation of legacy records in the FCO known as the “Special Collections”. On 12 December 2013, I explained that the FCO had published a detailed inventory of its archive records on gov.uk. This inventory arose out of a file audit carried out in 2013 which focused principally on the main FCO archive. All of these record series have been incorporated into the FCO’s records release programme. Details are available at www.gov.uk/archive-records.

As a result of an internal management audit, we became aware in July last year that a substantial number of legacy paper files are held outside the main FCO archive. I therefore asked FCO officials to carry out a further file audit across the entire FCO estate covering all departments in the UK and all overseas posts. During this file audit, all identified file stores in the UK were physically inspected by a specialist contract team and every overseas post provided summary details of their legacy paper file holdings. The audit was carried out over September and October last year.

Following this file audit we have identified a number of collections of records across the FCO which contain files overdue for review under the Public Records Act. The total number of files in these record series is just under 170,000. Unlike records held in the main FCO archive, a significant proportion of these files contain copies of original records or routine management, finance, personnel and consular records. Some files, however, are likely to require permanent preservation. We have reported our findings to the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives and we have also provided full details to Professor Tony Badger, the Independent Reviewer appointed by the former Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague).

The Lord Chancellor has granted the FCO one year’s legal retention for these files while we develop a prioritised plan for their review under the Public Records Act. We will submit this plan to the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council by February. We will ensure that files requiring permanent preservation are correctly prioritised for release and incorporated into our current release programme.

By the end of March, we will publish on gov.uk a new version of the FCO archive inventory incorporating all of the files series identified during this file audit. We will also publish a revised record release plan.

I am pleased to inform Parliament that the first record series from the FCO’s special collections, consisting of 445 Colonial Reports, were released at The National Archives on 23 December.

The FCO is committed to complying with the Public Records Act and to full transparency with respect to our record holdings.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS191
WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 21 January 2015
Made by: Lord De Mauley (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs )
Lords

Environment Council

My Hon Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Dan Rogerson) has today made the following statement.

My Hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Amber Rudd) and I attended EU Environment Council in Brussels on 17 December. Mark H Durkan, Minister of Environment in the Northern Irish Government and Richard Lochead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Food and Environment in the Scottish Government also attended.

After adopting the agenda for the meeting, Environment Ministers reached political agreement on the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport. Both Finland and the Netherlands noted the importance of continuing to refine the parameters for the calculation of the energy efficiency of ships whilst Malta, Cyprus and Greece opposed the agreement claiming that it would have a competitiveness impact on their industries.

Political agreement was also reached on the ratification package of the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol. The Commission supported by Spain, France, Portugal, Austria, Sweden, Germany, Malta and Belgium welcomed the Council’s agreement, and reiterated the importance of progressing with ratification nationally as well as at the European level. The Commission also noted its concern with the wording of a new recital regarding the Union’s responsibility for delivering emissions reductions, but did not oppose the package. Poland expressed its gratitude to Germany, Italy, Denmark and the UK for facilitating negotiation of the new package in the margins of the Lima conference.

Ministers then discussed the establishment and operation of a Market Stability Reserve (MSR) for the EU greenhouse gas Emission Trading System (ETS). The UK supported by France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden set out the case for strengthening the Commission’s proposal by moving the start date forward to 2017 and placing backloaded allowances directly into the Reserve, and noted the importance of these amendments in enabling the market to deliver the low-carbon investment needed most cost-effectively. The UK also noted the importance of the Commission coming forward quickly with proposals to further reform the EU ETS, including the improvement of carbon leakage protection, once the MSR is agreed.

The Council confirmed an agreement previously reached in trilogue with the European Parliament and Presidency on a Directive for plastic bags. Ministers also agreed a general approach for a Directive on medium combustion plants, however, Finland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Estonia abstained due to concerns that strict emission limit values would undermine the use of domestic fuel sources. The Netherlands also abstained over concerns that the text now lacked ambition. The Commission welcomed efforts made but regretted that the proposal had been weakened. The Latvian Presidency said it aimed to secure a first reading agreement with the European Parliament.

The Commission welcomed the Council conclusions on an overarching and transformative post-2015 agenda and stressed the need for this universal agenda to be ambitious. Ministers continued the discussion on the post-2015 agenda over lunch.

Under any other business, Ministers discussed the chemicals policy on the road to a non-toxic environment. The UK argued that the EU chemicals regulation should be driven by wider impacts on a sustainable environment including the need for growth, not least for Small and Medium Enterprises. Therefore, any regulatory controls should be proportionate and justified through a rigorous assessment of risk. Germany and Austria said the Council needed to address citizens’ concerns on endocrine disrupters, nano-materials and ensure that work carried out by industry under REACH was up to scratch. On the elimination of micro-plastics in products, the UK urged the use of voluntary measures.

In addition, the Presidency and Commission summed up the progress made at the UNFCCC 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima in early December, noting the effective working with the EU and the overall success in terms of reaching the EU’s objectives. Looking ahead, the Commissioner noted the need to make progress ahead of COP21 in Paris in December 2015, particularly on the legal form of the 2015 agreement and on the differentiation of commitments between different Parties.

Ministers also discussed the Commission Work Programme 2015. I welcomed the Programme’s emphasis on better regulation and said that the UK was looking forward to working with the Commission, European Parliament and other Member States to ensure a balanced package of proposals particularly on air and the circular economy that were ambitious and feasible for all Member States. We registered our support for the National Emissions Ceilings Directive and the Gothenburg Protocol, urging the Commission to take forward proposals with urgency and indicated our willingness to work with the Commission to discuss modifications to ensure that the ceilings for 2030 would inject ambition based on evidence.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS211
WS
House of Commons Commission
Made on: 21 January 2015
Made by: John Thurso (Member representing the House of Commons Commission)
Commons

House of Commons – Governance

The House of Commons Commission discussed the report of the Committee on House of Commons Governance at its meeting on 19 January. In line with the Committee’s recommendations, the Commission invited the existing external members of the Management Board to the meeting.

The Commission welcomed the work that the Governance Committee had undertaken and the dedication and rigour with which it had scrutinised the important matters before it.

The Commission noted that, as recommended by the Governance Committee, the paused process for recruiting a Clerk of the House had been formally terminated.

The Commission is now awaiting the House’s debate on the Committee’s report on 22 January. If the House endorses the report, the Commission will act swiftly to implement its recommendations, starting at an additional meeting on Monday 26 January.

It is of vital importance to the Commission that the House Service is able effectively to meet the changing needs of a modern Parliament. It is also right that the Commission is able to shine light on itself to ensure that it too can meet these needs and more importantly, those of the UK public whom the House exists to serve.

Subject to the House endorsing the Governance Committee’s report, the Commission expects to be discussing implementation of the Committee’s recommendations at future meetings, and will issue periodic reports on progress.

WS
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 21 January 2015
Made by: Dan Rogerson (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs )
Commons

December’s Environment Council

My Hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Amber Rudd) and I attended EU Environment Council in Brussels on 17 December. Mark H Durkan, Minister of Environment in the Northern Irish Government and Richard Lochead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Food and Environment in the Scottish Government also attended.

After adopting the agenda for the meeting, Environment Ministers reached political agreement on the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport. Both Finland and the Netherlands noted the importance of continuing to refine the parameters for the calculation of the energy efficiency of ships whilst Malta, Cyprus and Greece opposed the agreement claiming that it would have a competitiveness impact on their industries.

Political agreement was also reached on the ratification package of the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol. The Commission supported by Spain, France, Portugal, Austria, Sweden, Germany, Malta and Belgium welcomed the Council’s agreement, and reiterated the importance of progressing with ratification nationally as well as at the European level. The Commission also noted its concern with the wording of a new recital regarding the Union’s responsibility for delivering emissions reductions, but did not oppose the package. Poland expressed its gratitude to Germany, Italy, Denmark and the UK for facilitating negotiation of the new package in the margins of the Lima conference.

Ministers then discussed the establishment and operation of a Market Stability Reserve (MSR) for the EU greenhouse gas Emission Trading System (ETS). The UK supported by France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden set out the case for strengthening the Commission’s proposal by moving the start date forward to 2017 and placing backloaded allowances directly into the Reserve, and noted the importance of these amendments in enabling the market to deliver the low-carbon investment needed most cost-effectively. The UK also noted the importance of the Commission coming forward quickly with proposals to further reform the EU ETS, including the improvement of carbon leakage protection, once the MSR is agreed.

The Council confirmed an agreement previously reached in trilogue with the European Parliament and Presidency on a Directive for plastic bags. Ministers also agreed a general approach for a Directive on medium combustion plants, however, Finland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Estonia abstained due to concerns that strict emission limit values would undermine the use of domestic fuel sources. The Netherlands also abstained over concerns that the text now lacked ambition. The Commission welcomed efforts made but regretted that the proposal had been weakened. The Latvian Presidency said it aimed to secure a first reading agreement with the European Parliament.

The Commission welcomed the Council conclusions on an overarching and transformative post-2015 agenda and stressed the need for this universal agenda to be ambitious. Ministers continued the discussion on the post-2015 agenda over lunch.

Under any other business, Ministers discussed the chemicals policy on the road to a non-toxic environment. The UK argued that the EU chemicals regulation should be driven by wider impacts on a sustainable environment including the need for growth, not least for Small and Medium Enterprises. Therefore, any regulatory controls should be proportionate and justified through a rigorous assessment of risk. Germany and Austria said the Council needed to address citizens’ concerns on endocrine disrupters, nano-materials and ensure that work carried out by industry under REACH was up to scratch. On the elimination of micro-plastics in products, the UK urged the use of voluntary measures.

In addition, the Presidency and Commission summed up the progress made at the UNFCCC 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima in early December, noting the effective working with the EU and the overall success in terms of reaching the EU’s objectives. Looking ahead, the Commissioner noted the need to make progress ahead of COP21 in Paris in December 2015, particularly on the legal form of the 2015 agreement and on the differentiation of commitments between different Parties.

Ministers also discussed the Commission Work Programme 2015. I welcomed the Programme’s emphasis on better regulation and said that the UK was looking forward to working with the Commission, European Parliament and other Member States to ensure a balanced package of proposals particularly on air and the circular economy that were ambitious and feasible for all Member States. We registered our support for the National Emissions Ceilings Directive and the Gothenburg Protocol, urging the Commission to take forward proposals with urgency and indicated our willingness to work with the Commission to discuss modifications to ensure that the ceilings for 2030 would inject ambition based on evidence.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS190
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 20 January 2015
Made by: Lord Astor of Hever (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) )
Lords

Nuclear Deterrent

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

As part of his statement on the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) on 19 October 2010, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced that we had reviewed our nuclear deterrence requirements. He concluded that we could deliver a credible nuclear deterrent with a smaller nuclear weapons capability and would incorporate these reductions into the current deployed capability and the future successor deterrent programme. The number of deployed warheads on each submarine would be reduced from 48 to 40; the number of operational missiles in the VANGUARD-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) would be reduced to no more than eight; and we would reduce the number of operationally available warheads from fewer than 160 to no more than 120.

The then Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Liam Fox), announced to the House on 29 June 2011 that the programme for implementing the 2010 SDSR warhead reductions had commenced.

I am pleased to inform the House that this Government has now met its commitment to implement these changes across the SSBN fleet. All Vanguard Class SSBNs on continuous at-sea deterrent patrol now carry 40 nuclear warheads and no more than eight operational missiles. We have therefore achieved our commitment to reduce the number of operationally available warheads to no more than 120.

The nuclear deterrent remains to serve as the ultimate means to deter the most extreme threats. The Government continues to plan to renew the UK’s independent strategic nuclear deterrent, though the Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for alternatives. A “Main Gate” investment decision will be required in 2016 to replace the four Vanguard Class SSBNs currently in service. At the same time, as a responsible nuclear weapon state and party to the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) the UK remains committed to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.

The completion of these reductions is a key milestone, demonstrating the UK’s continued leadership within the NPT.

WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 20 January 2015
Made by: Michael Fallon (Secretary of State for Defence )
Commons

Nuclear Deterrent

As part of his statement on the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) on 19 October 2010, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced that we had reviewed our nuclear deterrence requirements. He concluded that we could deliver a credible nuclear deterrent with a smaller nuclear weapons capability and would incorporate these reductions into the current deployed capability and the future successor deterrent programme. The number of deployed warheads on each submarine would be reduced from 48 to 40; the number of operational missiles in the VANGUARD-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBN) would be reduced to no more than eight; and we would reduce the number of operationally available warheads from fewer than 160 to no more than 120.

The then Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Liam Fox), announced to the House on 29 June 2011 that the programme for implementing the 2010 SDSR warhead reductions had commenced.

I am pleased to inform the House that this Government has now met its commitment to implement these changes across the SSBN fleet. All Vanguard Class SSBNs on continuous at-sea deterrent patrol now carry 40 nuclear warheads and no more than eight operational missiles. We have therefore achieved our commitment to reduce the number of operationally available warheads to no more than 120.

The nuclear deterrent remains to serve as the ultimate means to deter the most extreme threats. The Government continues to plan to renew the UK’s independent strategic nuclear deterrent, though the Liberal Democrats will continue to make the case for alternatives. A “Main Gate” investment decision will be required in 2016 to replace the four Vanguard Class SSBNs currently in service. At the same time, as a responsible nuclear weapon state and party to the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) the UK remains committed to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.

The completion of these reductions is a key milestone, demonstrating the UK’s continued leadership within the NPT.

WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 20 January 2015
Made by: Lord Deighton (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

Double Taxation Agreement (Croatia)

My honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (David Gauke) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A Double Taxation Agreement and Protocol with Croatia was signed on 15 January 2015. The text of the Agreement and Protocol has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and made available on HM Revenue and Customs’ website. The text will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS209
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 20 January 2015
Made by: Lord Wallace of Saltaire (Government Whip)
Lords

UK Statistics Authority: Contingencies Fund Advance

My Honourable friend the Minister for Civil Society (Rob Wilson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

The Cabinet Office wishes to report that a cash advance from the Contingencies Fund has been sought for the UK Statistics Authority (referred to as the Statistics Board in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007). The advance is required in order to settle material liabilities arising from an anticipated reduction of the year end creditor balance.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £35,000 will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Statistics Board. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £14,249,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS208
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 20 January 2015
Made by: Mr David Gauke (The Financial Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Double Taxation Agreement between the United Kingdom and Croatia

A Double Taxation Agreement and Protocol with Croatia was signed on 15 January 2015. The text of the Agreement and Protocol has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and made available on HM Revenue and Customs’ website. The text will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS188
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