15 July 2014 : Column 47WS

Written Statements

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Treasury

ECOFIN

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Nicky Morgan): A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council was held in Brussels on 8 July 2014. Ministers discussed the following items:

Level 2 legislation on bank contributions under bank recovery and resolution directive and the single resolution mechanism

The Commission briefed the Council on the preparation of implementing legislation that will determine the contributions to be paid by banks to resolution funds established under the directive on bank recovery and resolution (BRRD) and the regulation on the single resolution mechanism (SRM).

Presentation of the Italian presidency work programme

The incoming Italian presidency presented its work programme for economic and financial affairs, and the Council adopted a statement on economic growth and reform.

Review of the EU2020 strategy

Council held an initial discussion as part of a mid-term review of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Savings taxation: update on negotiations with third countries

Following agreement on the amended savings taxation directive, the Commission updated the Council on third country negotiations on the directive between the EU and Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Monaco and San Marino.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Constructionline

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Michael Fallon): I can announce to the House our plans for the divestment of public sector ownership of the Constructionline scheme by a competitive sale process. Details of the sale procedure will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union in due course.

Since 1998, the Constructionline scheme has operated within public sector ownership and reduced the administrative burden from business, in particular SMEs, in their pre-qualification for tenders. The Constructionline scheme has also provided the client base with verified data about suppliers which has brought greater certainty to the procurement process.

Constructionline is, however, now no longer the sole supplier of pre-qualification assistance and there is a developing commercial market place for such services.

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A number of potential opportunities which would allow the scheme to grow and to offer additional services for the benefit of businesses have been identified. The exploitation of these new opportunities is best served by a new owner within the competitive tension imposed by the market.

Communities and Local Government

Fire and Rescue Services

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr Eric Pickles): The fire and rescue national framework for England, revised in 2012, defined the overall strategic priorities for fire and rescue authorities. These priorities are to assess the full range of foreseeable fire and rescue related risks their areas face; make provision for prevention and protection activities and respond to incidents appropriately; work in partnership with their communities and a wide range of partners locally and nationally to deliver their service; and be accountable to communities for the service they provide.

The Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 requires the Secretary of State to report every two years on fire and rescue authorities’ compliance with the national framework. The report was published on 3 July, and the Government were pleased to report a picture of full compliance.

Compliance with the framework demonstrates that the Government’s high-level expectations are being fully met. Despite this excellent news, the public rightly expects fire and rescue authorities to continue to strive for excellence, and to demonstrate the best possible value for money. Sir Ken Knight, in his independent review “Facing the Future” identified a number of ways in which fire and rescue authorities could make improvements and savings—up to almost £200 million in total—without compromising the quality of front-line services.

The Government welcomed “Facing the Future” and I take this opportunity to thank Sir Ken for starting the debate on the challenges and opportunities facing fire and rescue authorities. We will seek to build on Sir Ken’s findings by focusing on:

fire prevention and protection. We are clear that fire prevention and protection is the front line for the fire sector. It will remain the number one priority. We will support fire and rescue authorities in their efforts to reach and better protect those most at risk from fire, working in partnership with other public sector bodies and local organisations, and, where appropriate, utilising relevant data held within Government. We welcome the recent introduction of primary authority for fire safety, which allows businesses—both large and small—to benefit from greater consistency and assurance on regulatory compliance advice, and which offers fire and rescue authorities the opportunity to increase efficiency and target audit and, if necessary, enforcement action on higher risk premises.

a modern and flexible fire and rescue work force that will see an increase in the proportion of on-call firefighters enabled by an attractive, modern employment offer, with the right support and incentives for employers. As highlighted in “Facing the Future” if the number of on-call firefighters increased by just 10% nationally, this would deliver savings of up to £123 million.

encouraging greater collaboration between fire and local authorities, and between fire, police and ambulance services to deliver better outcomes for the public.

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the need for better and more sharing of services including senior staff between fire and rescue authorities and other organisations to drive efficiencies.

a more joined-up approach to procurement. Government have already published research undertaken in partnership with the Chief Fire Officers Association, which—as highlighted in “Facing the Future”—shows that fire and rescue authorities could make at least £18 million of savings simply by buying smarter, together.

Since “Facing the Future” was published, this success story has continued with the total number of fires and other incidents attended in England continuing to fall. Calls are now 46% lower than 10 years ago. The Government are firmly of the belief that fire and rescue authorities must seize the opportunity to transform themselves in line with this changing environment.

To support fire and rescue authorities in driving efficiencies and transformation change, the Government have provided a £75 million fire transformation fund for 2015-16 on a bid-for basis.

The level of interest shown in the transformation fund, and the growing evidence of fire and rescue authorities working collaboratively with other emergency services, has demonstrated the real progress that has been made in the sector since “Facing the Future” was published.

To further support transformation in the fire and rescue sector the Department intends to commission an independent review of the conditions of service for all fire and rescue staff and the way in which they are negotiated and decided.

Firefighters are willing to put their lives on the line every day and they deserve to work in an environment where expenditure is properly focused on front-line prevention and protection and on front-line response. To achieve this, fire and rescue authorities must review how they operate and how they deliver, and must embrace the many opportunities for change they have. Sir Ken Knight highlighted a number of challenges—from the need for more collaboration between fire and rescue authorities and the wider sector, to making the best use of on-call firefighters, to achieving the most cost efficient procurement. This statement makes clear our intention to work with the sector to meet these challenges, and by doing so ensure that fire and rescue authorities continue to deliver the very best service to the public in the years to come.

Defence

Future Reserves 2020

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond): I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of a report into the condition of the reserves and delivery of the FR20 programme, compiled by the Future Reserves 2020 external scrutiny team. This House will know that the Defence Reform Act 2014 includes a statutory obligation from next year to commission and publish such a report. I have taken the decision to fulfil this obligation early.

I am grateful for the work of the team. I will take some short time to consider the report’s findings and recommendations and we will provide a full response to the team in due course.

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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Executive Agencies (Performance Measures)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (George Eustice): The business plans for the following agencies and their key ministerial performance measures have been published today. Business plans are available on line at the agencies’ websites.

Animal Health Veterinary Laboratory Agency, http://www. defra.gov.uk/ahvla/

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, www.cefas.defra.gov.uk/

Food and Environment Research Agency, http://fera.defra. gov.uk/

Rural Payments Agency, http://rpa.defra.gov.uk/rpa/index.nsf/ home

Veterinary Medicines Directorate, http://www.vmd.defra.gov.uk/

I have placed copies of the key ministerial performance measures the Libraries of both Houses.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Alleged Serious and Significant Offences (Diplomatic Immunity): 2013

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mark Simmonds): In 2013, 14 serious and significant offences allegedly committed by people entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by Diplomatic Protection Group of the Metropolitan Police. Eight of these were driving-related. We define serious offences as those which could, in certain circumstances, carry a penalty of 12 months, imprisonment or more. Also included are drink-driving and driving without insurance.

Some 21,500 people are entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom and the majority of diplomats abide by UK law. The number of alleged serious crimes committed by members of the diplomatic community in the UK is proportionately low.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, those entitled to immunity are expected to obey the law. The FCO does not tolerate foreign diplomats breaking the law.

We take all allegations of illegal activity seriously. When instances of alleged criminal conduct are brought to our attention by the police, we ask the relevant foreign Government to waive diplomatic immunity where appropriate. For the most serious offences, and when a relevant waiver has not been granted, we seek the immediate withdrawal of the diplomat.

Alleged serious and significant offences reported to the FCO in 2013 are listed below.

Driving a vehicle reported as lost or stolen and without insurance

 

Sierra Leone

1

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Driving while under the influence of alcohol and without insurance

 

El Salvador

1

  

Driving under the influence of alcohol

 

Saudi Arabia

2

Belarus

1

Macedonia

1

Kuwait

1

Zambia

1

  

Sexual Assault

 

Zambia

1

  

Domestic Rape

 

Pakistan

1

  

Child Abduction

 

Pakistan

1

  

Actual Bodily Harm

 

Cameroon

1

Zambia

1

  

Public Order Offence

 

Kuwait

1

Figures for previous years are available in my written statement to the House on 11 July 2013, Official Report, column 32WS.

Diplomatic Missions (Unpaid Parking Fines)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mark Simmonds): In 2013, 5,662 unpaid parking fines incurred by diplomatic missions and international organisations in the United Kingdom were brought to our attention by councils. These totalled £541,599.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has held face-to-face meetings with a number of missions about outstanding parking fine debt. In addition, in April this year we wrote to diplomatic missions and international organisations concerned giving them the opportunity to either pay their outstanding fines or appeal against them if they considered that the fines had been issued incorrectly.

Subsequent payments—including amounts waived by councils—totalled £197,423. There remains a total of £344,176 in unpaid fines for 2013.

The table below details those diplomatic missions and international organisations that have outstanding fines totalling £1,000 or more, as of 27 June 2014.

Diplomatic Mission/International OrganisationAmount of Outstanding Fines (excluding congestion charge) £

High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria

74,557

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

30,690

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High Commission for the Republic of Zambia

22,700

Embassy of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire

14,115

Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan

13,375

Embassy of the Republic of Liberia

11,180

Malaysian High Commission

10,370

Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

10,320

Embassy of the State of Qatar

10,115

Embassy of the Republic of Iraq

9,150

Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman

7,095

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

7,050

Embassy of France

6,130

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

5,485

Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan

5,370

Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea

4,800

Sierra Leone High Commission

4,525

High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

4,415

Office of the High Commissioner for Ghana

4,085

Embassy of Greece

3,510

Embassy of Tunisia

3,405

Kenya High Commission

3,392

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

3,327

Embassy of Georgia

3,140

Embassy of Romania

2,975

Embassy of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

2,835

Embassy of the Republic of Angola

2,820

1 Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco

2,745

1 Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

2,620

Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan

2,520

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria

2,370

Embassy of the Republic of Yemen

2,190

High Commission for the Republic of Mozambique

2,155

Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania

2,095

Office of the High Commissioner for India

2,085

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany

2,037

Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia

2,030

Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan

1,665

South African High Commission

1,627

High Commission of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

1,547

Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

1,470

Embassy of the State of Libya

1,450

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

1,380

Embassy of Ukraine

1,365

Embassy of Brazil

1,250

Embassy of the Russian Federation

1,185

Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo

1,115

Embassy of the United States of America

1,075

Embassy of Italy

1,062

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Figures for previous years are available in my written statement to the House on 11 July 2013, Official Report, column 36WS.

Diplomatic Missions (Unpaid Congestion Charge)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mark Simmonds): The value of unpaid congestion charge debt incurred by diplomatic missions and international organisations in London since its introduction in February 2003 until 31 December 2013 as advised by Transport for London was £75,364,182. The table below shows those diplomatic missions and international organisations with outstanding fines of £100,000 or more.

CountryNumber of FinesTotal Outstanding

Embassy of the United States of America

70,637

£8,172,245

Embassy of Japan

48,520

£5,623,040

Embassy of the Russian Federation

44,145

£5,123,450

High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

39,604

£4,552,745

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany

34,051

£3,928,680

Office of the High Commissioner for India

28,069

£3,316,770

Embassy of the Republic of Poland

23,170

£2,725,275

Office of the High Commissioner for Ghana

21,156

£2,488,300

Embassy of the Republic of Sudan

20,307

£2,282,505

Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan

15,757

£1,868,295

Kenya High Commission

16,210

£1,844,695

Embassy of France

13,995

£1,622,925

Embassy of Spain

13,691

£1,607,095

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

11,828

£1,413,145

High Commission for the United Republic of Tanzania

12,230

£1,377,930

Embassy of Romania

11,522

£1,341,630

Embassy of Greece

10,960

£1,282,487

Embassy of Ukraine

10,968

£1,275,605

Embassy of the Republic of Korea

10,504

£1,248,525

High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

10,383

£1,239,420

South African High Commission

9,686

£1,099,420

Embassy of the Republic of Cuba

8,857

£1,048,180

People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

9,170

£1,038,645

Sierra Leone High Commission

8,960

£1,005,090

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High Commission for the Republic of Cyprus

7,287

£858,720

Embassy of Hungary

7,326

£855,195

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria

6,171

£707,015

Embassy of the Republic of Yemen

5,998

£695,560

High Commission for the Republic of Zambia

6,007

£689,095

Embassy of the Republic of Belarus

5,227

£605,670

Embassy of the Slovak Republic

5,165

£598,810

High Commission for the Republic of Cameroon

4,828

£549,855

High Commission of the Republic of Malawi

4,239

£489,195

Botswana High Commission

3,998

£468,605

Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe

4,271

£467,985

Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

4,144

£466,965

High Commission for the Republic of Namibia

4,016

450,285

Kingdom of Swaziland High Commission

3,959

£442,695

High Commission for the Republic of Mozambique

3,773

£430,385

Embassy of Austria

3,484

£408,430

Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea

3,569

£406,060

Mauritius High Commission

3,449

£393,895

Embassy of the Czech Republic

3,335

£383,710

Malta High Commission

3,087

£360,225

Embassy of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire

3,139

£354,325

Embassy of Belgium

2,960

£346,220

High Commission of the Kingdom of Lesotho

3,050

£343,585

Uganda High Commission

2,896

£335,015

Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania

2,806

£333,825

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

2,799

£330,875

Royal Danish Embassy

2,603

£306,825

Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

2,656

£304,655

Embassy of the Republic of Liberia

2,516

£294,400

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Jamaican High Commission

2,165

£249,285

Embassy of the Republic of Guinea

2,222

£245,185

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

2,073

£212,630

Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

1,756

£208,910

Embassy of Portugal

1,730

£207,275

Embassy of Finland

1,719

£200,640

Embassy of the Republic of Latvia

1,670

£194,950

Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

1,755

£194,565

Embassy of Luxembourg

1,557

£182,360

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

1,633

£174,470

Embassy of the Republic of Turkey

1,528

£169,065

High Commission for Antigua & Barbuda

1,399

£161,375

Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia

1,238

£147,560

Embassy of Tunisia

1,192

£139,955

High Commission of Sri Lanka

1,079

£129,505

Embassy of the Republic of Estonia

984

£117,500

Embassy of the Dominican Republic

1,001

£117,310

Embassy of the State of Eritrea

936

£107,465

Figures for previous years are available in my written statement to the House on 11 July 2013, Official Report, column 32WS.

Diplomatic Missions (Outstanding National Non-domestic Rates)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mark Simmonds): The majority of diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom pay the national non-domestic rates (NNDR) due from them. Diplomatic missions are obliged to pay only 6% of the total NNDR value of their offices. This represents payment for specific services such as street cleaning and street lighting.

Representations by the Protocol Directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to missions in 2014 led to the settlement of outstanding debts by Kuwait, Maldives, Nepal, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka—among others.

As at 30 June 2014, the total amount of outstanding NNDR payments owed by foreign diplomatic missions as advised by the Valuation Office Agency is £726,076, an increase of 7% over the 2012 figure, as reported in my 2013 WMS (£674,110). However, £72,137 of this outstanding debt is owed by Iran—which is in the process of reopening its embassy in the UK—and Syria, which is not currently represented in the UK. We have therefore been unable to pursue these debts. Three

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missions are responsible for just over half of the remainder. We shall continue to urge those with NNDR debt to pay their dues.

Missions listed below owed over £10,000 in respect of NNDR

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

£146,564

Embassy of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire

£96,258

High Commission for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

£92,499

Sierra Leone High Commission

£57,477

Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania

£38,703

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

£26,137

Embassy of the Republic of Korea

£22,749

Embassy of the Republic of Liberia

£24,749

Embassy of Ukraine

£20,911

Embassy of the Republic of Albania

£15,554

Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe

£14,053

Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

£10,988

Figures for previous years are available in my written statement to the House on 11 July 2013, Official Report, column 38WS.

Health

Smoking in Private Vehicles Carrying Children

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Jane Ellison): The Government have today published “Smoking in private vehicles carrying children—consultation on proposed regulations to be made under the Children and Families Act 2014”.

Parliament has voted in favour of legislation that gives Ministers powers to bring forward regulations to make private vehicles carrying children smoke-free. The Government are proceeding with the introduction of regulations and are seeking views on draft regulations before they are made.

Under the proposed regulations, existing smoke-free legislation as set out in the Health Act 2006 will be extended, so that it would be an offence to:

smoke in a private vehicle with someone under age 18 present; and

fail to prevent smoking in a private vehicle with someone under age 18 present.

The proposed regulations will not apply to anyone driving alone in a private vehicle.

Exposure to second-hand smoke is a serious health hazard, especially to children. Every time someone breathes in second-hand smoke, they breathe in over 4,000 chemicals. Many are highly toxic and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. The only way to provide effective protection is to prevent people breathing in second-hand smoke in the first place. The World Health Organisation found that second-hand smoke is a real and substantial threat

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to child health, causing a variety of adverse health effects including increased susceptibility to lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis, worsening of asthma, middle ear disease, and decreased lung function. Children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds are generally more heavily exposed to second-hand smoke than other children.

The consultation will run for six weeks until 27 August 2014. I would encourage all those with an interest to give their views on the draft regulations that would prohibit smoking in private vehicles carrying children.

Smoke-free legislation is a devolved matter and these regulations would apply to England only. The regulation-making powers allow for Welsh Ministers to introduce regulations and we are liaising with the Welsh Government to co-ordinate our approaches.

“Smoking in private vehicles carrying children—consultation on proposed regulations to be made under the Children and Families Act 2014” has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to Members of the House of Commons from the Vote Office and the House of Lords from the Printed Paper Office.

Home Department

Gangmasters Licensing Authority

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Karen Bradley): The 2013-14 annual report and accounts for the Gangmasters Licensing Authority is being laid before the House today and published on www.gov.uk. Copies will be available in the Vote Office.

Independent Police Complaints Commission Annual Report

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): I am pleased to announce that today my hon. Friend the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury and I are publishing the annual report of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Copies of the report have been laid before the House and will be available in the Vote Office.

This is the 10th annual report from the IPCC. The report covers the work of the IPCC during 2013-14 and includes a section on the discharge of their responsibilities in respect of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

International Development

Departmental Annual Report and Accounts

The Secretary of State for International Development (Justine Greening): I have today published and laid before Parliament, the Department for International Development’s annual report and accounts for the year 2013-14.

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The report provides information on DFID’s activities during 2013-14 in line with the International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Act 2006 and includes a full set of accounts for 2013-14. The report will be placed in the Libraries of the House of Commons and House of Lords for the reference of Members and copies will be made available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office. It is also available online at, www. gov.uk

Justice

Chief Coroner's First Annual Report

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Simon Hughes): Today I am delighted to be laying and publishing the first annual report to the Lord Chancellor, of the Chief Coroner, His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC, under section 36 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (“the 2009 Act”).

The report covers the period from implementation of the 2009 Act’s coroner reforms on 25 July 2013 to 30 June 2014 and it is the first summary of how these reforms are working in practice. The Chief Coroner sets out:

the implementation of the coroner reforms;

his work to increase the consistency of coroner services: in particular his work on training and providing guidance to coroners; merger of coroner areas; coroner appointments; coroners’ changing role in local leadership and management; the investigation and inquest processes; timeliness of investigations and prevention of future death reports; and

his use of his statutory powers and duties under the 2009 Act.

I am very grateful to Judge Thornton not only for his report, but also for his sterling work preparing for the implementation of the reforms a year ago. It is encouraging to see the considerable progress that he has made in this first year in improving coroner services and the experience of those who come into contact with them across England and Wales.

I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to coroners for their commitment to change and the way in which they have adapted to the requirements of the new system. I must also thank the individuals and bereavement support organisations who help the Government and the Chief Coroner to understand the concerns of families and others affected by coroner investigations.

The Chief Coroner and I will continue to work together to build on the progress that has already been made to improve standards and consistency wherever it is needed.

Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office. The document will also be available online, at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/chief-coroners-annual-report-2013-to-2014.

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Boundary Commission for England (Appointment)

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): I should like to inform the House that I have made the following appointment under schedule 1 to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986:

The Honourable Mr Justice Sales has been re-appointed as Deputy Chair of the Boundary Commission for England, effective until 31 May 2019.

New Electronic Monitoring Contracts

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): I can today announce that the Ministry of Justice will be awarding contracts to four companies for delivery of the next generation of electronic monitoring services. This follows a rigorous competitive process and is a critical milestone in the programme to introduce the new arrangements.

Contracts will be awarded to Airbus Defence and Space, Capita, Steatite, and Telefonica, who will work together to introduce the most advanced tracking technology in the world.

Capita will manage the overall service under a six-year contract, with Airbus providing satellite mapping and Telefonica supplying the network under three-year contracts.

The new tags will be supplied by the British company Steatite, and will be a significant improvement on the tags currently in use, exploiting the latest technology to locate and track subjects. Monitoring the movements of dangerous and repeat offenders will be vital in cutting crime and creating a safer society with fewer victims.

We are confident that the new contracts will facilitate the creation of a vibrant market in electronic monitoring, encouraging innovation and allowing us to take full advantage of new and emerging technology.

As well as improvements in technology, the new contracts offer better value for the taxpayer. Once fully established in the second and third years of operations, we expect the new contracts to deliver average annual savings of £20 million relative to the previous contracts with G4S and Serco. The contracts will also provide us with far greater oversight over costs and charging than previously, with direct access to suppliers’ systems and extensive audit rights.

We will begin using the new tags by the end of the year.

“Transforming the Criminal Justice System”

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): I will today publish the “Transforming the Criminal Justice System—Strategy and Action Plan Implementation Update”. The plan sets out the progress we have made since publishing the first version of this plan on 28 June 2013.

Since publishing last year’s plan, I have met a large number of victims of crime, and worked closely with the Victims’ Commissioner, who I appointed to give victims a voice at the heart of Government. This has brought me fresh insight into how our criminal justice agencies serve some of the most vulnerable members of the public. We will do more to make sure that their interests are put first.

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In this year’s plan, I have identified three key priorities to continue the transformation that we began last year. I have put improving the experience of victims and witnesses at the heart of this plan. I want to digitise the criminal justice system so that we can streamline processes and I want cases to be dealt with at the appropriate level and in a timely manner. These changes are particularly important in the magistrates’ and Crown courts where better ways of working will make the system more efficient and effective.

In addition, we will improve the way the criminal justice system deals with specific crimes that require an enhanced response, specifically: sexual violence, domestic violence and abuse, hate crime, modern slavery and cyber-crime.

The Criminal Justice Board, comprising senior leaders from across the criminal justice system, will oversee the implementation of this plan. We will develop and sustain a high-performing, efficient and effective criminal justice system that benefits victims and witnesses.

Copies of the paper will be available in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office. The document will also be available online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/transforming-the-criminal-justice-system-strategy-and-action-plan

Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (Annual Report 2013-14)

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): With the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice, I will today publish the first annual report of the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO). The JCIO provides support to the Lord Chief Justice and myself in our joint responsibility for the system of judicial complaints and discipline. The JCIO assumed this responsibility from the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC) on 1 October 2013. This report therefore covers the performance of both the OJC and the JCIO during the period in question.

Over the past year the JCIO received over 2,000 complaints and 574 written enquiries, providing a first substantive response within 15 working days in 94% of all cases and providing regular monthly updates to all parties in 95% of cases. I am pleased to note that the OJC and JCIO continued to provide this excellent service to customers while also managing the additional demands of introducing a new regulatory framework and establishing a new organisation.

A copy of the report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies will also be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office, as well as online at, http://judicialconduct.judiciary.gov.uk/documents/jcio_annual_report_2013_-2014.pdf

Northern Ireland

Written Parliamentary Question (Correction)

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr Andrew Robathan): I regret to inform the House that a written answer I gave on 8 July 2014, Official Report, columns 269-74W, to the hon. Member for Vale of Clwyd (Chris Ruane) requires amendment. The

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information supplied to me for the written answer was incorrect. The correct answer to the hon. Member’s question is:

The following table lists the 100 wards and corresponding parliamentary constituencies in Northern Ireland that had the highest electoral registration rate in December 2013:

WardParliamentary constituency
  

Creggan

Newry and Armagh

Creggan South

Foyle

Florence Court and Kinawley

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Donagh

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Cairnshill

Belfast South

Katesbridge

South Down

Saintfield

Strangford

Tempo

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Brookeborough

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Termon

West Tyrone

Killeen

Newry and Armagh

Shantallow East

Foyle

Rosslea

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Bannside

South Down

Killylea

Newry and Armagh

Owenkillew

West Tyrone

Lower Glenshane

Mid Ulster

Ballynashallog

Foyle

Fairy Water

West Tyrone

Belcoo and Garrison

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Poyntz Pass

Newry and Armagh

Grange

North Antrim

Lisnarrick

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Ballymartrim

Newry and Armagh

Loughbrickland

Upper Bann

Drumnakilly

West Tyrone

Donaghmore

South Down

Hamiltonsbawn

Newry and Armagh

Quilly

Lagan Valley

Eden

East Antrim

Parkgate

South Antrim

Camlough

Newry and Armagh

Altmore

Mid Ulster

Binnian

South Down

Ballycolman

West Tyrone

Craigywarren

North Antrim

Lecumpher

Mid Ulster

Magheralin

Upper Bann

Ballinamallard

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Derrynoose

Newry and Armagh

Maghaberry

Lagan Valley

Newtownsaville

West Tyrone

Silver Bridge

Newry and Armagh

Oaklands

Mid Ulster

Ballymaguigan

Mid Ulster

Gulladuff

Mid Ulster

Carrowreagh

Belfast East

Loughgall

Newry and Armagh

Knockagh

East Antrim

Bleary

Upper Bann

Forkhill

Newry and Armagh

Tullyhappy

Newry and Armagh

Springtown

Foyle

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Dunminning

North Antrim

Plumbridge

West Tyrone

Castlecaulfield

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Newtownbutler

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Audley's Acre

South Down

Charlemont

Newry and Armagh

Maguiresbridge

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Dromore

West Tyrone

Dunnamore

Mid Ulster

Waringstown

Upper Bann

Beragh

West Tyrone

Pennyburn

Foyle

Tollymore

South Down

Drumquin

West Tyrone

Hockley

Newry and Armagh

Jordanstown

East Antrim

Ballymaconnell

North Down

Ballyhoe and Corkey

North Antrim

Cavehill

Belfast North

Augher

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Galgorm

North Antrim

Hillsborough

Lagan Valley

Upper Glenshane

East Londonderry

Artigarvan

West Tyrone

Toome

South Antrim

Glenravel

North Antrim

Banagher

East Londonderry

Creggan Central

Foyle

Forest

East Londonderry

The Birches

Upper Bann

Fathom

Newry and Armagh

Collinbridge

Belfast North

Carncastle

East Antrim

Clanabogan

West Tyrone

Glenarm

East Antrim

Lisbane

Strangford

Foyle Springs

Foyle

Bellaghy

Mid Ulster

Ballydown

Upper Bann

Killycolpy

Mid Ulster

Ringsend

East Londonderry

Draperstown

Mid Ulster

Derrytrasna

Upper Bann

The Loop

Mid Ulster

Knocknashane

Upper Bann

Ballynure

South Antrim

Newtownhamilton

Newry and Armagh

The following table lists the 100 wards and corresponding parliamentary constituencies with the lowest electoral registration rate in December 2013:

WardParliamentary constituency
  

Legoniel

Belfast North

Caw

Foyle

Town Parks

East Antrim

Drumgask

Upper Bann

Greystone

East Londonderry

Drumalane

Newry and Armagh

Old Warren

Lagan Valley

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Abbey

Belfast North

Castlecoole

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Lambeg

Lagan Valley

Newtownbreda

Belfast South

Monkstown

East Antrim

Ballymacarrett

Belfast East

Ballyclare South

South Antrim

Victoria

Foyle

Valley

Belfast North

Antiville

East Antrim

Whitehill

North Down

Northland

East Antrim

Maghera

Mid Ulster

Seymour Hill

Lagan Valley

Collin Glen

Belfast West

Killoquin Upper

North Antrim

Dunanney

Belfast North

Royal Portrush

East Londonderry

Central

East Antrim

Glendun

East Antrim

Atlantic

East Londonderry

Ballybot

Newry and Armagh

Sunnylands

East Antrim

Killymeal

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Irvinestown

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Coole

Belfast North

Steeple

South Antrim

Coolhill

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Roeside

East Londonderry

Knockmore

Lagan Valley

Strule

West Tyrone

Silverstream

North Down

Killycrot

East Antrim

Churchland

East Londonderry

St Mary's

Newry and Armagh

Shankill

Belfast West

Glencairn

Belfast West

Sydenham

Belfast East

Chichester Park

Belfast North

Ballyloran

East Antrim

Hilden

Lagan Valley

Beechmount

Belfast West

Water Works

Belfast North

Portora

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Callan Bridge

Newry and Armagh

Fair Green

North Antrim

Crumlin

Belfast North

The Diamond

Foyle

Farranshane

South Antrim

Holywood Demesne

North Down

Killough

South Down

Lagan Valley

Lagan Valley

Stiles

South Antrim

Falls

Belfast West

Tonagh

Lagan Valley

Woodvale

Belfast North

Beechill

Belfast South

Corcrain

Upper Bann

Island

Belfast East

Rosetta

Belfast South

Dundooan

East Londonderry

Castle Demesne

North Antrim

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Clonard

Belfast West

Ebrington

Foyle

Drumglass

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Fountain Hill

South Antrim

Harbour

North Down

Wallace Park

Lagan Valley

Ballysaggart

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Ravenhill

Belfast South

Mullaghmore

Fermanagh and South Tyrone

Rosemount

Foyle

Ballymote

South Down

Bloomfield

Belfast East

Dunclug

North Antrim

Aldergrove

South Antrim

Central

East Londonderry

Portstewart

East Londonderry

Duncairn

Belfast North

Woodstock

Belfast South

The Mount

Belfast East

Shaftesbury

Belfast South

Magilligan

East Londonderry

Loughview

North Down

Strand

East Londonderry

Blackstaff

Belfast South

Ballynafeigh

Belfast South

University

East Londonderry

Rostulla

East Antrim

Strand

Foyle

Stranmillis

Belfast South

Windsor

Belfast South

Botanic

Belfast South

Transport

Airports Commission's Interim Report

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): The Government established the Airports Commission in September 2012 to advise on the need for and location of future runway capacity. In December 2013, the commission produced a comprehensive interim report that sets out the challenges we face in order to maintain the UK’s status as an international hub for aviation. The commission’s report sets out a clear argument that continuing to rely solely on our existing airport infrastructure will have an increasingly detrimental effect on the national economy and our prospects for growth.

The commission’s report sets out the work it plans to undertake before the publication of its final report in 2015, but also identifies a range of measures which can be taken now in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our aviation industry in the short to medium term. Today, I am providing an update on the progress we have made in addressing these more immediate recommendations. However, let me first address the commission’s approach and our position on its long-term recommendations.

The Government welcome the open and inclusive approach that Sir Howard Davies and his fellow commissioners have taken on the first phase of their

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work. We also recognise the scale and depth of the commission’s analytical programme, which has significantly improved our understanding of the aviation landscape and the UK’s capacity needs. The commission’s strong analytical approach has taken account of the extent of aviation demand and the UK’s future requirements for international and domestic connectivity.

The commission’s report offers a high-level assessment of the long-term options for providing further runway capacity in the south-east of England. It shortlists three options: two at Heathrow, one at Gatwick and identifies one option for further consideration in the inner Thames estuary.

Promoters of shortlisted options have now provided more detailed proposals to the commission. This autumn, the commission expects to decide whether or not to shortlist an estuary option, and will then undertake formal consultation on the shortlisted options. As we have said before, it will be for the Government of the day to respond to the Airports Commission’s recommendations once it publishes its final report in summer 2015.

In the meantime, the Government, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the aviation industry are already making progress in responding to the commission’s short and medium-term recommendations for making better use of our existing airport capacity. Sir Howard Davies wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 26 November 2013 setting out the commission’s recommendations for improving airport surface access and the Government have set out their initial response to these recommendations in the national infrastructure plan, published in December 2013. Since then, good progress has been made in moving work forward on these surface access recommendations, which is important in helping to secure vital connections to emerging markets.

For example, the Government have committed £50 million towards a full redevelopment of the railway station at Gatwick airport. This is intended to deliver a significantly enhanced experience to both airport and regional transport users and we are working with stakeholders to deliver this as soon as possible. The Government expect Gatwick airport to make a significant contribution to this project. Since December 2013, work has been under way with Gatwick airport and Network Rail on outline plans for the new station. Over the course of 2014, the Government will work with both parties to deliver these plans and reach a commercial agreement on funding.

The Commission’s report recommended development of a broad “optimisation strategy” to improve the efficiency of UK airports and airspace at congested airports, balanced against the needs of local communities. As recommended by the commission, I have asked the chief executive of the CAA to establish an industry-focused senior delivery group (SDG) to develop and where appropriate lead delivery of this strategy. The new group has now been established and is contributing to a range of different measures that aim to balance operational benefits, the time lines for delivery, community impacts and environmental improvements. Where changes are wholly within the responsibility of industry, we expect them to deliver. Where Government have regulatory responsibility or oversight, they will continue to discharge this, for example by undertaking further consideration and consultation in the light of views and priorities

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expressed in the SDG. Some of the measures considered by the SDG form part of the national future airspace strategy (FAS) which is expected to deliver annual benefits of over £150 million to the aviation industry and environment by 2020 and more than £2 billion worth of cumulative benefits by 2030.

Progress is being made on delivering the benefits of FAS. Earlier this year a new arrival system was introduced allowing aircraft to absorb arrival delays more efficiently and reduce airborne holding by approximately 20%. Preparations are also well advanced to implement time-based separations from next year to increase resilience by allowing aircraft to fly closer in strong wind conditions. In addition, funding from the Government’s transport systems catapult has enabled the implementation of real time departure information sharing at airports like Stansted and London City, and over 20 UK airports are expected to adopt the solution by the end of next year. More information on progress can be found in the first report of the SDG’s work which is being published today and can be found at www.caa.co.uk/cap1206

In relation to the Commission’s recommendation for an independent aviation noise authority, the Government believe that it would be more appropriate to consider the role for such a body alongside the Commission’s final recommendations on long-term capacity. Similarly, we believe that any further Government decisions on using the runway designated for departures—for example, enhanced TEAM—and for a trial of early morning schedule smoothing at Heathrow should also be considered at that point and in the context of the Commission’s recommendations on long-term capacity.

The Government are committed to ensuring regulatory stability at the south-east airports while the Commission pursues its important work. With this in mind, having also taken account of other relevant factors, the Government are confirming today that we will be maintaining the existing restrictions on night flights at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports for a further three years until October 2017, as well as extending the ban on rare movements made by older noisier types of aircraft. This decision, which is published in a separate document, will help give certainty around the night noise environment for those living near the airports, as well as ensuring operational capacity at these airports is not affected pending decisions on any new airport capacity in light of the Commission’s final report.

The Government are conscious of the potential concerns of those living near the sites that have been shortlisted for future runway development. However, the Government is also mindful that introducing inappropriate measures too early has the potential to increase uncertainty and create other negative outcomes. The Airports Commission recommended against a discretionary generalised blight scheme at this stage for similar reasons.

The Government have been working with the promoters of the shortlisted schemes to determine when measures might be put in place to address concerns and what these measures could consist of. I have written to the scheme promoters outlining the Government’s expectations and asking them to ensure they actively involve and inform local communities. The Government will continue to work closely with scheme promoters on this issue and the Airports Commission has committed to a process that is transparent, fair and independent.

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This Government have continued to demonstrate their support for airports outside the south-east. In Budget 2014, the Chancellor announced that our regional air connectivity fund will be doubled to £20 million per year and extended by a further three years up to March 2019.

The fund will continue to support public service obligations (PSOs) to maintain existing air links to London where there is a risk of regional connectivity being lost. In June, the Government announced a PSO on the Dundee-Stansted route and the Government will be providing £2.85 million over two years to support the route. Loganair has been operating two daily return flights under this PSO agreement since 1 July 2014. We are also in discussions with Cornwall council on a PSO agreement for a Newquay-London air link from October 2014.

The Chancellor also announced in the budget that the scope of the funding is extended to include start-up aid for new routes from airports handling fewer than 5 million passengers per annum. Officials in my Department are developing guidance to clarify how we expect to implement EU aviation state aid guidelines on start-up aid. I intend to publish this guidance in the autumn.

In the UK, we sometimes take for granted the benefits which come to us from having a well-connected nation and a strong aviation sector. The work of Sir Howard Davies and the Airports Commission is crucial if we are to retain these benefits. Publication of the commission’s final report in summer 2015 will be an important event not just for the aviation industry, but for the national economy more generally.

Rail Infrastructure

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): Earlier this year, I commissioned Network Rail to undertake a study to identify options for providing a resilient rail route west of Exeter.

Network Rail has now provided me with this study which is available on Network Rail’s website at: www.networkrail.co.uk/WestofExeterRouteResilienceStudy.pdf. The study considers the options below:

Option 1—Base Case.

Option 2—Strengthening the existing railway.

Option 3—Alternative route A—the former London & South Western Railway route from Exeter to Plymouth via Okehampton.

Option 4—Alternative route B—constructing a modern double track railway on the alignment of the former Teign Valley branch line from Exeter to Newton Abbot.

Option 5—Alternative route C (C1 - C5)—five alternative direct routes would provide a new line between Exeter and Newton Abbot.

Network Rail’s west of Exeter route resilience study reflects the Government’s commitment to delivering world-class transport infrastructure in the south-west. It will be treated as a material input for Network Rail’s long-term planning process and will be incorporated in the western route study, a draft of which will be published for consultation later in 2014.

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It is imperative that this work leads to improvements to the resilience of the railways in the south-west that ensure there is no repeat of the disruption we saw earlier this year.

I expect to make a further statement in the autumn regarding the west of Exeter route resilience study and our next steps.

Lower Thames Crossing

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): In May 2013 the Government consulted on options for a new road crossing of the lower Thames between Essex and Kent to the east of London. In December 2013 I announced Government’s decision to discard one of the options and that I was obtaining technical advice on points raised during consultation for the two remaining location options: A (near to the site of the existing crossing) and C (a new link connecting the A2/M2 with the A13 and M25).

I am today publishing the Government’s response to the consultation, referencing the technical advice and outlining the next steps.

The May 2013 consultation invited views on:

the need for a crossing;

where to locate a new crossing; and

the type of crossing, whether by a bridge or tunnel.

The response reflected a broad range of views. Most of those who replied to the consultation agreed that congestion at the existing Dartford crossing and resilience of the surrounding road network were a problem. There was no consensus on how to address these issues.

A number of respondents made the point that the Dartford free flow charging scheme (Dart Charge, the remote payment system to replace the booths) would reduce congestion. Some suggested that this could remove the need for a new crossing altogether, while others believe it would be premature to take a decision until the full benefits are known.

Dart Charge will be introduced from October 2014 and is expected to improve driving conditions on the existing crossing. However, by the middle of the next decade, capacity will be exceeded so that journey times become more unreliable and the surrounding road networks seriously congested.

As part of the M25 orbital route around London, the Dartford crossing is a crucial part of the country’s strategic road network in the south-east of England. More particularly, the adjacent localities are currently less prosperous than comparable areas but have the vision and capacity to continue to undertake large scale development.

There are ambitious plans for new homes and jobs across Essex, Kent, Medway, Southend and Thurrock. The Chancellor recently signalled Government’s support for these plans by announcing the creation of Ebbsfleet Garden City in Kent. Up to £200 million of funding will be made available as improved infrastructure is vital to the prospects for making this happen.

A new crossing is a vital part of our aspirations for a better future both locally and nationally by providing vital links for businesses and citizens within the area, with the rest of the country and further afield to Europe. Our focus must be to identify where and how to deliver that new crossing.

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We obtained technical advice on particular issues raised by consultees about the alternate locations for a new crossing. This included possible air quality impacts, potential mitigation of environmental impacts, additional investment likely to be needed on the surrounding road network, and how the two locations could serve the ambitious development plans. The advice has given a greater understanding of the potential impacts of a new crossing at each location, which now need to be considered in more detail.

We will now develop and appraise route options at both locations (options A and C) in order to identify a proposed solution. We will observe the actual effects of

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Dart Charge once it is introduced and work with local government, the south-east local enterprise partnership, businesses and other key parties to better understand aspirations for growth and implications for the road network.

By undertaking more detailed work on route options at both locations, we will identify solutions that best meet the aspirations of Government and stakeholders, while demonstrating value for money. By taking this approach we will not delay the opening of a new crossing which we currently estimate to be 2025, if publicly funded.