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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WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 03 February 2016
Made by: Lord Bridges of Headley (Parliamentary Secretary)
Lords

The State of the Estate in 2014-15

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

I have today laid before Parliament, pursuant to Section 86 of the Climate Change Act 2008, the “State of the Estate in 2014-15”. This report describes the efficiency and sustainability of the Government's Civil Estate and records the progress that Government has made since the previous year and since 2010. The report is published on an annual basis.

In the past year, the Government has saved £842 million by selling empty buildings and exiting expensive rentals. Since 2010, we’ve raised £1.8 billion in capital receipts and reduced the size of the estate by nearly a quarter, exiting 2.4 million sq m of unneeded space - an area larger than the entire state of Monaco. All this has been achieved while cutting carbon emissions by 22%.

The amount of space used by an average staff member in our offices fell to 10.4 sq m in 2014 15, from 11.3 sq m in 2013–14, a reduction of 8% in one year. This is an enormous achievement, and makes the UK government one of the most space-efficient major organisations in the world. But we can achieve even more. A new space target of 8 sq m per person was set on 1 January 2016, and we are confident of meeting this target by the end of March 2018.

We will also adopt the new International Property Measurement Standard introduced in January 2016 by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which will future-proof the way we measure government buildings and ensure consistency across the UK and internationally.

Our drive for more modern, efficient and smarter workplaces for our workforce continues. The Autumn Statement confirmed and funded three key cross-departmental property programmes for this Parliament. The first is the Government Hubs programme to reduce the government estate from 800 buildings to fewer than 200 by 2023. Departments’ workforces within a locality will be accommodated in 18–22 multi-departmental hubs across the UK, allowing us to achieve economies of scale, enabling easier cross-departmental collaboration as well as having important benefits for recruitment and retention.

Within this programme is the Whitehall Campus project. Government’s central London estate has already reduced from 181 separate properties in 2010 to 54 now, and we expect this number to fall to some 20 efficient, fit-for-purpose buildings by 2025, supported by smarter working. We will retain core buildings in Whitehall, relocating civil servants to well-connected Hubs both in London and beyond, and accommodating those that remain in central London in the most cost-effective way possible, with many departments sharing buildings.

The Report can be acceesed online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/497449/2014-15_State_of_the_Estate_accessible.pdf

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS507
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 03 February 2016
Made by: Matthew Hancock (Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General)
Commons

The State of the Estate in 2014-15

I have today laid before Parliament, pursuant to Section 86 of the Climate Change Act 2008, the “State of the Estate in 2014-15”. This report describes the efficiency and sustainability of the Government's Civil Estate and records the progress that Government has made since the previous year and since 2010. The report is published on an annual basis.

In the past year, the Government has saved £842 million by selling empty buildings and exiting expensive rentals. Since 2010, we’ve raised £1.8 billion in capital receipts and reduced the size of the estate by nearly a quarter, exiting 2.4 million sq m of unneeded space - an area larger than the entire state of Monaco. All this has been achieved while cutting carbon emissions by 22%.

The amount of space used by an average staff member in our offices fell to 10.4 sq m in 2014 15, from 11.3 sq m in 2013–14, a reduction of 8% in one year. This is an enormous achievement, and makes the UK government one of the most space-efficient major organisations in the world. But we can achieve even more. A new space target of 8 sq m per person was set on 1 January 2016, and we are confident of meeting this target by the end of March 2018.

We will also adopt the new International Property Measurement Standard introduced in January 2016 by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which will future-proof the way we measure government buildings and ensure consistency across the UK and internationally.

Our drive for more modern, efficient and smarter workplaces for our workforce continues. The Autumn Statement confirmed and funded three key cross-departmental property programmes for this Parliament. The first is the Government Hubs programme to reduce the government estate from 800 buildings to fewer than 200 by 2023. Departments’ workforces within a locality will be accommodated in 18–22 multi-departmental hubs across the UK, allowing us to achieve economies of scale, enabling easier cross-departmental collaboration as well as having important benefits for recruitment and retention.

Within this programme is the Whitehall Campus project. Government’s central London estate has already reduced from 181 separate properties in 2010 to 54 now, and we expect this number to fall to some 20 efficient, fit-for-purpose buildings by 2025, supported by smarter working. We will retain core buildings in Whitehall, relocating civil servants to well-connected Hubs both in London and beyond, and accommodating those that remain in central London in the most cost-effective way possible, with many departments sharing buildings.

The Report can be accessed online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/497449/2014-15_State_of_the_Estate_accessible.pdf

The State of the Estate in 2014-15 (PDF Document, 1.67 MB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS496
WS
Home Office
Made on: 02 February 2016
Made by: Lord Bates (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office)
Lords

Justice and Home Affairs post-Council statement

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

An informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council was held on 25-26 January. 25 January was the Interior day, and I attended on behalf of the UK. 26 January was the Justice Day, and my Rt. Hon Friend James Brokenshire MP, the Immigration Minister, attended.

The Interior day began with a presentation by the Dutch Presidency on information sharing, and an updated threat assessment from the Chairman of the Counter Terrorism Group of Member States’ security services (CTG). I welcomed the work of the CTG, but indicated that EU information systems had an important complementary role to play, stressing that this was why the UK fully supported the EU PNR Directive and had now opted in to the Prüm framework. I pushed for an information sharing framework that includes common, measureable deliverables and clarifies what would be shared via SIS II, Europol, Eurodac, ECRIS and Prüm. The Dutch Presidency concluded that it would hold an expert meeting to follow up on the discussion and would report back at the March JHA Council.

The Council discussed local approaches to counter terrorism. The Mayor of the Hague explained the work undertaken in the Hague to counter radicalisation. I set out the objectives of the UK’s Prevent strategy and explained how it is accompanied by a wider counter-extremism strategy, which seeks to promote an alternative to extremist ideology and to build partnerships with non-government institutions opposed to extremism. The Commission confirmed that the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), which the UK supports, was being turned into a Centre of Excellence. The Presidency reported it would take the issue forward at a conference on counter radicalisation in Amsterdam in February, and would report back at the March JHA Council.

During lunch, the Council discussed the migration crisis, with particular focus on Schengen and external border issues, and specifically whether Member States could maintain internal border controls under Article 26 of the Schengen Border Code during the current migration crisis. The next step will be for the Commission to produce an evaluation report on the performance of Greek controls at the external border.

The Commission’s forthcoming proposal to reform the Dublin system was also discussed. Member States expressed a range of views, with some in favour of a new burden sharing regime based on relocation of asylum seekers, but many expressing support for retaining the existing principles of the Dublin Regulation. The Government does not support relocation as it is the wrong response to the migratory pressures the EU faces. It undermines the important principle that asylum should be claimed in the first safe country and does not address the causes of illegal migration.

Finally, the Commission introduced its proposal for a European Border and Coast Guard. The UK is not taking part in the Border Guard proposal. However, the UK supports our European partners in ensuring the full and proper management of the EU’s external border. Member States were broadly supportive of the proposal, including the proposed obligation for participating Member States to provide border guards to the new Agency. Member States were more cautious about the proposed right for the Commission to decide that the Border Guard should intervene directly in Member States. The Presidency concluded that there was support for the “right to intervene” in limited circumstances, but that the decision should be for the Council rather than the Commission.

The Justice Day began with a presentation on the Commission proposal to extend the use of the ECRIS system to third country nationals, including the mandatory obligation to collect fingerprints. There was broad support for the proposal from Member States. The UK welcomed the Commission proposal, in particular the inclusion of mandatory fingerprints, and called for even more ambition, specifically the inclusion of a minimum retention period for fingerprints of 10 years. The Presidency concluded that it would seek a general approach on the ECRIS proposal by the end of March.

On Cybercrime, the Presidency set out the challenges relating to cybercrime. Many Member States felt that further action was needed at global, EU and national level, and supported the need for a common approach to deal with this. The UK agreed, but injected a note of caution into taking further action at EU level, and suggested the focus should instead be on sharing best practice and bilateral agreements. The Presidency concluded that many Member States wanted to see an EU common approach to dealing with the jurisdictional challenges faced by prosecutors and service providers, but noted that the UK was more cautious. The issue will subsequently be considered by a High Level Expert Conference in March, which will be followed by a paper for consideration at the June JHA Council.

Over lunch, the Council had a high level discussion on a European Forensic Science Area for exchanging forensic knowledge and expertise. The UK supported the sharing of forensic science data, but urged caution about any move towards common standards, best practice manuals and common competence criteria in this area.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS504
WS
Department for Education
Made on: 02 February 2016
Made by: Lord Nash (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools)
Lords

Childcare Bill – Early Implementation

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education (Mr. Sam Gyimah) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Today I announced £13 million to allow councils across the country to deliver 30 hours of free childcare for hard-working parents of three- and four-year-olds – a year ahead of schedule. As a result, some working parents in York, Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, Newham and Hertfordshire will benefit from the offer from this September. The extra hours of childcare will make it easier for these parents to work and is another move designed to meet the Government’s commitment to make work pay. These councils will develop practical solutions to the barriers that parents face in accessing the childcare they need for work - for example, childcare to support non-standard shift patterns, in rural areas, for homeless working parents, and for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Their experiences will be used to support full rollout in 2017, with the aim of removing significant barriers to parents taking up their entitlement. In York, parents will test a new joint online application system being developed for 30 hours and Tax-Free Childcare. The Department for Education ran an open competition to test how the 30 hours would work, and received 69 applications from local authorities working with childcare providers.

I have also announced £4 million to support an additional 25 ‘early innovator’ Local Authorities to develop innovative, flexible childcare for working parents, and to make sure that the 30 hours works for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, in homeless working families, and in rural communities ahead of full roll-out. The 33 local authorities will work together in regional clusters, enabling joint working and generating national learning. As part of this Government’s commitment to helping hardworking people, it will be investing more than £1bn extra per year by 2019-20 to fund the extension of the free childcare entitlement.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS506
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 02 February 2016
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Lords

Gifting of Equipment to the Jordanian Public Security Department

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

It is the normal practice when a Government department proposes to make a gift of a value exceeding £300,000, for the department concerned to present to the House of Commons a Minute giving particulars of the gift and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from making the gift until fourteen Parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the Minute, except in cases of special urgency.

Jordan faces growing internal and external threats to its immediate stability and security as well as longer-term risks of instability. Conflict in the region, particularly in Syria, has the potential to spill over into Jordan, which is an active partner in the fight against Daesh. As host to around 630,000 registered refugees from Syria Jordan is at the forefront of the humanitarian response, but this has placed huge pressure on public services and increased tensions between refugees and host communities.

The UK remains firmly committed to Jordan’s stability and in supporting the Jordanian authorities to minimise contagion from the Syrian conflict. Building on work carried out over the past 18 months, we aim to contribute to increasing public and community safety and security by enhancing the delivery of effective policing in the refugee camps.

We intend to gift a package of £352,993.99 of radios and communication equipment to support the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate of the Jordanian Public Security Department. The radio equipment provided will improve the radio coverage in Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps, allowing for effective police management of the camp. The proposed gift will be funded by the Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) Programme.

The proposed gift has been scrutinised to ensure that it is consistent with export controls under the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and complies with our international obligations. The proposed gift has also been scrutinised and approved by a senior, cross-Whitehall CSSF Approval Board, which has confirmed that it fits with the Government’s strategic and delivery objectives. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have assessed the project for human rights risks, using the Overseas Security and Justice Assistance guidelines established by the Foreign Secretary in 2011.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of 14 parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which this minute was laid before the House of Commons, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or a Motion relating to the minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval of the gift will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS505
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 02 February 2016
Made by: Lord O'Neill of Gatley (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

Public Service Pension Indexation and Revaluation 2016

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

Public service pensions in payment and deferment are indexed annually, and the legislation requires them to be increased by the same percentage as additional pensions (State Earnings Related Pension and State Second Pension). The Consumer Prices Index up to September 2015 was minus 0.1 per cent and, in the same way that additional pensions will not be increased this year, public service pensions in payment and deferment will also not be increased this year.

Separately, in the new career average public service pension schemes, pensions in accrual are revalued annually in relation to either prices or earnings depending on the terms specified in their scheme regulations. The Public Service Pensions Act 2013 requires HMT to specify a measure of prices and of earnings to be used for revaluation by these schemes.

The prices measure is the Consumer Prices Index up to September 2015. Public service schemes which rely on a measure of prices, therefore, will use the figure of minus 0.1 per cent for the prices element of revaluation.

The earnings measure is the Whole Economy Average Weekly Earnings (non-seasonally adjusted and including bonuses and arrears) up to September 2015. Public service schemes which rely on a measure of earnings, therefore, will use the figure of 2.0 per cent for the earnings element of revaluation.

Revaluation is one part of the amount of pension that members earn in a year and needs to be considered in conjunction with the amount of in year accrual. Typically, schemes with lower revaluation will have faster accrual and therefore members will earn more pension per year. The following list shows how the main public service schemes will be affected by revaluation:

SchemePoliceFire

Civil

Service

NHSTeachersLGPS

Armed

Forces

Judicial

Revaluation

for active member

1.15%2.0%-0.1%1.4%1.5%-0.1%2.0%-0.1%

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS503
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 02 February 2016
Made by: Earl Howe (Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) )
Lords

UK Military Flying Training System - Fixed Wing Contract

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Mr Philip Dunne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am pleased to announce the award of a £1.1 billion contract with Ascent Flight Training, the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) partner, and its supply chain, for a designed and managed fixed wing flying training service until 2033.

Ascent is a joint venture (50:50) between Babcock and Lockheed Martin (UK). Ascent has placed a sub-contract worth some £500 million with Affinity Flying Training Services, a joint venture (50:50) between Elbit Systems (UK) and Kellogg Brown and Root Ltd, to provide three aircraft types as well as aircraft maintenance and support.

This contract secures the continued provision and modernisation of fixed wing elementary flying training from 2017, basic flying training from 2019, and multi-engine pilot training from 2018, to military aircrew from all three services. This will be supported by the procurement of three modern training aircraft types; the Grob 120 TP ‘Prefect’, Beechcraft ‘Texan’ T-6C and Embraer ‘Phenom’ 100, to replace a number of ageing aircraft types currently in service, as well as simulators and ground-based training environment equipment, incorporating modern digital training technology.

This is a significant milestone for the UKMFTS Programme. Drawing on efficiencies identified in the current military flying training system, this contract will rationalise commercial processes, optimise the time spent by military students in training and enable them to progress through their training programmes more quickly and cost effectively.

The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review reconfirmed our commitment to air power as an integral component of Joint Force 2025. This contract represents a significant investment in future military flying training and will ensure that our aircrew are provided with the world-class training they deserve, to enable them to undertake operational roles across a range of front line aircraft types and ensure their continued success on the front line.

WS
Department for Education
Made on: 02 February 2016
Made by: Mr Sam Gyimah (The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Childcare and Education)
Commons

Childcare Bill – Early Implementation

Today I announced £13 million to allow councils across the country to deliver 30 hours of free childcare for hard-working parents of three- and four-year-olds – a year ahead of schedule. As a result, some working parents in York, Wigan, Staffordshire, Swindon, Portsmouth, Northumberland, Newham and Hertfordshire will benefit from the offer from this September. The extra hours of childcare will make it easier for these parents to work and is another move designed to meet the Government’s commitment to make work pay. These councils will develop practical solutions to the barriers that parents face in accessing the childcare they need for work - for example, childcare to support non-standard shift patterns, in rural areas, for homeless working parents, and for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Their experiences will be used to support full rollout in 2017, with the aim of removing significant barriers to parents taking up their entitlement. In York, parents will test a new joint online application system being developed for 30 hours and Tax-Free Childcare. The Department for Education ran an open competition to test how the 30 hours would work, and received 69 applications from local authorities working with childcare providers.

I have also announced £4 million to support an additional 25 ‘early innovator’ Local Authorities to develop innovative, flexible childcare for working parents, and to make sure that the 30 hours works for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, in homeless working families, and in rural communities ahead of full roll-out. The 33 local authorities will work together in regional clusters, enabling joint working and generating national learning. As part of this Government’s commitment to helping hardworking people, it will be investing more than £1bn extra per year by 2019-20 to fund the extension of the free childcare entitlement.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS494
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 02 February 2016
Made by: Mr Philip Hammond (The Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

Gifting of Equipment to the Jordanian Public Security Department

It is the normal practice when a Government department proposes to make a gift of a value exceeding £300,000, for the department concerned to present to the House of Commons a Minute giving particulars of the gift and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from making the gift until fourteen Parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the Minute, except in cases of special urgency.

Jordan faces growing internal and external threats to its immediate stability and security as well as longer-term risks of instability. Conflict in the region, particularly in Syria, has the potential to spill over into Jordan, which is an active partner in the fight against Daesh. As host to around 630,000 registered refugees from Syria Jordan is at the forefront of the humanitarian response, but this has placed huge pressure on public services and increased tensions between refugees and host communities.

The UK remains firmly committed to Jordan’s stability and in supporting the Jordanian authorities to minimise contagion from the Syrian conflict. Building on work carried out over the past 18 months, we aim to contribute to increasing public and community safety and security by enhancing the delivery of effective policing in the refugee camps.

We intend to gift a package of £352,993.99 of radios and communication equipment to support the Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate of the Jordanian Public Security Department. The radio equipment provided will improve the radio coverage in Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps, allowing for effective police management of the camp. The proposed gift will be funded by the Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) Programme.

The proposed gift has been scrutinised to ensure that it is consistent with export controls under the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria and complies with our international obligations. The proposed gift has also been scrutinised and approved by a senior, cross-Whitehall CSSF Approval Board, which has confirmed that it fits with the Government’s strategic and delivery objectives. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have assessed the project for human rights risks, using the Overseas Security and Justice Assistance guidelines established by the Foreign Secretary in 2011.

The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If, during the period of 14 parliamentary sitting days beginning on the date on which this minute was laid before the House of Commons, a Member signifies an objection by giving notice of a Parliamentary Question or a Motion relating to the minute, or by otherwise raising the matter in the House, final approval of the gift will be withheld pending an examination of the objection.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS493
WS
Home Office
Made on: 02 February 2016
Made by: Mrs Theresa May (The Secretary of State for the Home Department )
Commons

Justice and Home Affairs post-Council statement

An informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council was held on 25-26 January. 25 January was the Interior day, and I attended on behalf of the UK. 26 January was the Justice Day, and my Rt. Hon Friend James Brokenshire MP, the Immigration Minister, attended.

The Interior day began with a presentation by the Dutch Presidency on information sharing, and an updated threat assessment from the Chairman of the Counter Terrorism Group of Member States’ security services (CTG). I welcomed the work of the CTG, but indicated that EU information systems had an important complementary role to play, stressing that this was why the UK fully supported the EU PNR Directive and had now opted in to the Prüm framework. I pushed for an information sharing framework that includes common, measureable deliverables and clarifies what would be shared via SIS II, Europol, Eurodac, ECRIS and Prüm. The Dutch Presidency concluded that it would hold an expert meeting to follow up on the discussion and would report back at the March JHA Council.

The Council discussed local approaches to counter terrorism. The Mayor of the Hague explained the work undertaken in the Hague to counter radicalisation. I set out the objectives of the UK’s Prevent strategy and explained how it is accompanied by a wider counter-extremism strategy, which seeks to promote an alternative to extremist ideology and to build partnerships with non-government institutions opposed to extremism. The Commission confirmed that the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), which the UK supports, was being turned into a Centre of Excellence. The Presidency reported it would take the issue forward at a conference on counter radicalisation in Amsterdam in February, and would report back at the March JHA Council.

During lunch, the Council discussed the migration crisis, with particular focus on Schengen and external border issues, and specifically whether Member States could maintain internal border controls under Article 26 of the Schengen Border Code during the current migration crisis. The next step will be for the Commission to produce an evaluation report on the performance of Greek controls at the external border.

The Commission’s forthcoming proposal to reform the Dublin system was also discussed. Member States expressed a range of views, with some in favour of a new burden sharing regime based on relocation of asylum seekers, but many expressing support for retaining the existing principles of the Dublin Regulation. The Government does not support relocation as it is the wrong response to the migratory pressures the EU faces. It undermines the important principle that asylum should be claimed in the first safe country and does not address the causes of illegal migration.

Finally, the Commission introduced its proposal for a European Border and Coast Guard. The UK is not taking part in the Border Guard proposal. However, the UK supports our European partners in ensuring the full and proper management of the EU’s external border. Member States were broadly supportive of the proposal, including the proposed obligation for participating Member States to provide border guards to the new Agency. Member States were more cautious about the proposed right for the Commission to decide that the Border Guard should intervene directly in Member States. The Presidency concluded that there was support for the “right to intervene” in limited circumstances, but that the decision should be for the Council rather than the Commission.

The Justice Day began with a presentation on the Commission proposal to extend the use of the ECRIS system to third country nationals, including the mandatory obligation to collect fingerprints. There was broad support for the proposal from Member States. The UK welcomed the Commission proposal, in particular the inclusion of mandatory fingerprints, and called for even more ambition, specifically the inclusion of a minimum retention period for fingerprints of 10 years. The Presidency concluded that it would seek a general approach on the ECRIS proposal by the end of March.

On Cybercrime, the Presidency set out the challenges relating to cybercrime. Many Member States felt that further action was needed at global, EU and national level, and supported the need for a common approach to deal with this. The UK agreed, but injected a note of caution into taking further action at EU level, and suggested the focus should instead be on sharing best practice and bilateral agreements. The Presidency concluded that many Member States wanted to see an EU common approach to dealing with the jurisdictional challenges faced by prosecutors and service providers, but noted that the UK was more cautious. The issue will subsequently be considered by a High Level Expert Conference in March, which will be followed by a paper for consideration at the June JHA Council.

Over lunch, the Council had a high level discussion on a European Forensic Science Area for exchanging forensic knowledge and expertise. The UK supported the sharing of forensic science data, but urged caution about any move towards common standards, best practice manuals and common competence criteria in this area.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS495
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 02 February 2016
Made by: Greg Hands (The Chief Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Public Service Pension Indexation and Revaluation 2016

Public service pensions in payment and deferment are indexed annually, and the legislation requires them to be increased by the same percentage as additional pensions (State Earnings Related Pension and State Second Pension). The Consumer Prices Index up to September 2015 was minus 0.1 per cent and, in the same way that additional pensions will not be increased this year, public service pensions in payment and deferment will also not be increased this year.

Separately, in the new career average public service pension schemes, pensions in accrual are revalued annually in relation to either prices or earnings depending on the terms specified in their scheme regulations. The Public Service Pensions Act 2013 requires HMT to specify a measure of prices and of earnings to be used for revaluation by these schemes.

The prices measure is the Consumer Prices Index up to September 2015. Public service schemes which rely on a measure of prices, therefore, will use the figure of minus 0.1 per cent for the prices element of revaluation.

The earnings measure is the Whole Economy Average Weekly Earnings (non-seasonally adjusted and including bonuses and arrears) up to September 2015. Public service schemes which rely on a measure of earnings, therefore, will use the figure of 2.0 per cent for the earnings element of revaluation.

Revaluation is one part of the amount of pension that members earn in a year and needs to be considered in conjunction with the amount of in year accrual. Typically, schemes with lower revaluation will have faster accrual and therefore members will earn more pension per year. The following list shows how the main public service schemes will be affected by revaluation:

SchemePoliceFire

Civil

Service

NHSTeachersLGPS

Armed

Forces

Judicial

Revaluation

for active member

1.15%2.0%-0.1%1.4%1.5%-0.1%2.0%-0.1%

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS492
WS
Ministry of Defence
Made on: 02 February 2016
Made by: Mr Philip Dunne (Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) )
Commons

UK Military Flying Training System - Fixed Wing Contract

I am pleased to announce the award of a £1.1 billion contract with Ascent Flight Training, the UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) partner, and its supply chain, for a designed and managed fixed wing flying training service until 2033.

Ascent is a joint venture (50:50) between Babcock and Lockheed Martin (UK). Ascent has placed a sub-contract worth some £500 million with Affinity Flying Training Services, a joint venture (50:50) between Elbit Systems (UK) and Kellogg Brown and Root Ltd, to provide three aircraft types as well as aircraft maintenance and support.

This contract secures the continued provision and modernisation of fixed wing elementary flying training from 2017, basic flying training from 2019, and multi-engine pilot training from 2018, to military aircrew from all three services. This will be supported by the procurement of three modern training aircraft types; the Grob 120 TP ‘Prefect’, Beechcraft ‘Texan’ T-6C and Embraer ‘Phenom’ 100, to replace a number of ageing aircraft types currently in service, as well as simulators and ground-based training environment equipment, incorporating modern digital training technology.

This is a significant milestone for the UKMFTS Programme. Drawing on efficiencies identified in the current military flying training system, this contract will rationalise commercial processes, optimise the time spent by military students in training and enable them to progress through their training programmes more quickly and cost effectively.

The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review reconfirmed our commitment to air power as an integral component of Joint Force 2025. This contract represents a significant investment in future military flying training and will ensure that our aircrew are provided with the world-class training they deserve, to enable them to undertake operational roles across a range of front line aircraft types and ensure their continued success on the front line.

WS
Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission
Made on: 01 February 2016
Made by: Mr Gary Streeter (Spokesperson for the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission)
Commons

Indemnity for Officers at the EU Referendum

The Electoral Commission intend to provide an Indemnity for the Chief Counting Officer, Deputy Chief Counting Officer, Regional Counting Officers and Counting Officers at the forthcoming Referendum on membership of the European Union.

The European Union Referendum Act 2015 requires a referendum to be held on whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union. Read in conjunction with the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the responsibility for the conduct of the referendum will rest with the Chief Counting Officer (who is the Chair of the Electoral Commission), the Deputy Chief Counting Officer, Regional Counting Officers and Counting Officers (who are mainly local authority Chief Executives).

Under this indemnity the Electoral Commission will carry the uninsured risks related to these roles whilst delivering the functions required of them by the European Union Referendum Act 2015. This is consistent with arrangements for similar national polls and is in accordance with best practice published in Managing Public Money.

A minute will be presented to Parliament today regarding the contingent liability arising as a result of this indemnity. Based on their experience of other national polls for which similar provision has been made, the Commission judges the likelihood of the potential liability being called to be very low.

WS
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 29 January 2016
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Minister for Intellectual Property)
Lords

Government Evidence to the Low Pay Commission–National Minimum Wage

My hon Friend the Minister for Skills (Nick Boles) has today made the following statement.

I am pleased to announce that the Government is publishing evidence to support the Low Pay Commission’s National Minimum Wage recommendations for 2016. This document contains economic analysis that the Low Pay Commission may want to consider when making its recommendations.

A copy of the evidence will be placed in the Libraries of the House and will be available from the BIS website at www.bis.gov.uk.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS500
WS
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 29 January 2016
Made by: Nick Boles (Minister for Skills)
Commons

Government Evidence to the Low Pay Commission–National Minimum Wage

I am pleased to announce that the Government is publishing evidence to support the Low Pay Commission’s National Minimum Wage recommendations for 2016. This document contains economic analysis that the Low Pay Commission may want to consider when making its recommendations.

A copy of the evidence will be placed in the Libraries of the House and will be available from the BIS website at www.bis.gov.uk.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS490
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 28 January 2016
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice)
Lords

Criminal Justice

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

"My department is committed to upholding the rule of law, by defending the independence of the judiciary, guaranteeing access to justice and supporting the highest quality advocacy in our courts.

My department has also had to play its part in the broader requirement to reduce our budget deficit and bring our national finances back into balance. Economies have had to be made in every area of expenditure, but steps have been taken to ensure our judiciary remain the best in the world, to provide a fair system of publicly-funded legal support and to explore how we can strengthen the quality of advocacy in all our courts, but most particularly in criminal proceedings.

In the last Parliament spending on legal aid was reduced from £2.4 billion to £1.6 billion. That reduction was achieved by my predecessors following consultation with the profession and they were both determined to ensure those most in need were not denied public support. Indeed at the start of this Parliament expenditure on legal aid per capita was more generous than any other EU nation or comparable common law jurisdiction. I would like to place on the record my gratitude for the determined, yet sensitive, way in which my predecessors pursued these economies.

Further changes to the legal aid system, agreed in the last Parliament, were due to be implemented in this.

One of those changes, a further reduction in the advocacy fees paid to barristers and solicitor advocates was not implemented by my department while we conducted work to ensure the quality of advocacy would not be adversely affected by any change. My department is particularly committed to retaining a vibrant independent bar. The health of the independent criminal bar in England and Wales is an important guarantor of good advocacy, and Sir Bill Jeffrey’s report, commissioned by my predecessor, described the independent criminal bar as a ‘substantial national asset’. Without quality advocacy in the criminal courts the risk of injustice is greater. The liberty, and reputation, of any individual who finds themselves in court depends on a high quality advocate making their case effectively, and testing the case against them rigorously. That is why my department has been so grateful to the Bar Council, circuit leaders and others for their work to help inform our review of advocacy quality.

Another change, which has been pursued, is the move to reduce litigation fees and encourage greater efficiency in the provision of litigation services.

The first reduction to litigation fees of 8.75% occurred in March 2014. The second occurred in July 2015.

At the time the fee reduction was first proposed the market was made up of around 1,600 legal aid firms and it was proposed to drive greater efficiency and consolidation within the market by simple price competition for legal aid contracts.

The legal profession opposed this model and after careful negotiation my predecessor decided to adopt a system known as ‘dual contracting’.

Under the dual contracting system, two types of contract were to be awarded to criminal legal aid firms.

- An unlimited number of contracts for ‘own client’ work based on basic financial and fitness to practise checks - in others words continued payment for representing existing and known clients.

- And a total of 527 ‘duty’ contracts awarded by competition, giving firms the right to be on the duty legal aid rota in 85 geographical procurement areas around the country, with between 4 and 17 contracts awarded in each. In other words, these contracts would allow a limited number of firms the chance to represent new entrants to the criminal justice system.

The dual contracting model was a carefully designed initiative from my department that aimed to meet concerns expressed by the legal profession about price competition.

But over time, opposition to this model has been articulated with increasing force and passion by both solicitors and barristers.

Many solicitors firms feared that the award of a limited number of "dual" contracts - with a restriction therefore on who could participate in the duty legal aid rota would lead to a less diverse and competitive market. Many barristers feared that the commercial model being designed by some solicitors' firms would lead to a diminution in choice and potentially quality.

And many also pointed out that a process of natural consolidation was taking place in the criminal legal aid market, as crime reduced and natural competition took place.

These arguments weighed heavily with me, but the need to deliver reductions in expenditure rapidly, and thus force the pace of consolidation, was stronger.

Since July 2015, however, two significant developments have occurred.

Firstly, thanks to economies I have made elsewhere in my department HM Treasury have given me a settlement which allows me greater flexibility in the allocation of funds for legal aid.

Secondly, it has become clear, following legal challenges mounted against our procurement process, that there are real problems in pressing ahead as initially proposed.

My Department currently faces 99 separate legal challenges over the procurement process, which has required us, anyway, to stay the award of new contracts at least until April.

In addition, a judicial review challenging the entire process has raised additional implementation challenges.

Given how delicately balanced the arguments have always been, how important it is to ensure we maintain choice and quality in the provision of legal services, how supportive HMT have been of our broader reform agenda and how important it is to provide as much certainty as possible in the face of legal challenge, I have decided not to go ahead with the introduction of the dual contracting system. I have also decided to suspend, for a period of 12 months from 1 April 2016, the second fee cut which was introduced in July last year. As a consequence of these decisions the new fee structure linked to the new contracts will not be introduced.

My decision is driven in part by the recognition that the litigation will be time consuming and costly for all parties, whatever the outcome. I do not want my department and the legal aid market to face months if not years of continuing uncertainty, and expensive litigation, while it is heard.

The Legal Aid Agency will extend current contracts so as to ensure continuing service until replacement contracts come into force later this year. I will review progress on joint work with the profession to improve efficiency and quality at the beginning of 2017, before returning to any decisions on the second fee reduction and market consolidation before April 2017.

By not pressing ahead with dual contracting, and suspending the fee cut, at this stage we will, I hope, make it easier in all circumstances for litigators to instruct the best advocates, enhancing the quality of representation in our courts.

I will also bring forward proposals to ensure the Legal Aid Agency can better support high quality advocacy. Furthermore, I intend to appoint an advisory council of solicitors and barristers to help me explore how we can reduce unnecessary bureaucratic costs, eliminate waste and end continuing abuses within the current legal aid system. More details will follow in due course.

We have an ambitious programme of reform to our courts planned for the rest of this Parliament. It is designed to make justice swifter and more certain. The reforms to our legal system, including taking more work out of courts, moving from a paper-based system to a digital platform, tackle unnecessary costs and reduce harmful delay. Criminal legal aid solicitors perform a vital role in our justice system and these reforms will need the support of all in the legal profession. But these reforms also provide an opportunity for the legal profession to offer better access to higher quality advice and representation to more individuals."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS499
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 28 January 2016
Made by: Michael Gove (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Criminal Justice

My department is committed to upholding the rule of law, by defending the independence of the judiciary, guaranteeing access to justice and supporting the highest quality advocacy in our courts.

My department has also had to play its part in the broader requirement to reduce our budget deficit and bring our national finances back into balance. Economies have had to be made in every area of expenditure, but steps have been taken to ensure our judiciary remain the best in the world, to provide a fair system of publicly-funded legal support and to explore how we can strengthen the quality of advocacy in all our courts, but most particularly in criminal proceedings.

In the last Parliament spending on legal aid was reduced from £2.4 billion to £1.6 billion. That reduction was achieved by my predecessors following consultation with the profession and they were both determined to ensure those most in need were not denied public support. Indeed at the start of this Parliament expenditure on legal aid per capita was more generous than any other EU nation or comparable common law jurisdiction. I would like to place on the record my gratitude for the determined, yet sensitive, way in which my predecessors pursued these economies.

Further changes to the legal aid system, agreed in the last Parliament, were due to be implemented in this.

One of those changes, a further reduction in the advocacy fees paid to barristers and solicitor advocates was not implemented by my department while we conducted work to ensure the quality of advocacy would not be adversely affected by any change. My department is particularly committed to retaining a vibrant independent bar. The health of the independent criminal bar in England and Wales is an important guarantor of good advocacy, and Sir Bill Jeffrey’s report, commissioned by my predecessor, described the independent criminal bar as a ‘substantial national asset’. Without quality advocacy in the criminal courts the risk of injustice is greater. The liberty, and reputation, of any individual who finds themselves in court depends on a high quality advocate making their case effectively, and testing the case against them rigorously. That is why my department has been so grateful to the Bar Council, circuit leaders and others for their work to help inform our review of advocacy quality.

Another change, which has been pursued, is the move to reduce litigation fees and encourage greater efficiency in the provision of litigation services.

The first reduction to litigation fees of 8.75% occurred in March 2014. The second occurred in July 2015.

At the time the fee reduction was first proposed the market was made up of around 1,600 legal aid firms and it was proposed to drive greater efficiency and consolidation within the market by simple price competition for legal aid contracts.

The legal profession opposed this model and after careful negotiation my predecessor decided to adopt a system known as ‘dual contracting’.

Under the dual contracting system, two types of contract were to be awarded to criminal legal aid firms.

- An unlimited number of contracts for ‘own client’ work based on basic financial and fitness to practise checks - in others words continued payment for representing existing and known clients.

- And a total of 527 ‘duty’ contracts awarded by competition, giving firms the right to be on the duty legal aid rota in 85 geographical procurement areas around the country, with between 4 and 17 contracts awarded in each. In other words, these contracts would allow a limited number of firms the chance to represent new entrants to the criminal justice system.

The dual contracting model was a carefully designed initiative from my department that aimed to meet concerns expressed by the legal profession about price competition.

But over time, opposition to this model has been articulated with increasing force and passion by both solicitors and barristers.

Many solicitors firms feared that the award of a limited number of "dual" contracts - with a restriction therefore on who could participate in the duty legal aid rota would lead to a less diverse and competitive market. Many barristers feared that the commercial model being designed by some solicitors' firms would lead to a diminution in choice and potentially quality.

And many also pointed out that a process of natural consolidation was taking place in the criminal legal aid market, as crime reduced and natural competition took place.

These arguments weighed heavily with me, but the need to deliver reductions in expenditure rapidly, and thus force the pace of consolidation, was stronger.

Since July 2015, however, two significant developments have occurred.

Firstly, thanks to economies I have made elsewhere in my department HM Treasury have given me a settlement which allows me greater flexibility in the allocation of funds for legal aid.

Secondly, it has become clear, following legal challenges mounted against our procurement process, that there are real problems in pressing ahead as initially proposed.

My Department currently faces 99 separate legal challenges over the procurement process, which has required us, anyway, to stay the award of new contracts at least until April.

In addition, a judicial review challenging the entire process has raised additional implementation challenges.

Given how delicately balanced the arguments have always been, how important it is to ensure we maintain choice and quality in the provision of legal services, how supportive HMT have been of our broader reform agenda and how important it is to provide as much certainty as possible in the face of legal challenge, I have decided not to go ahead with the introduction of the dual contracting system. I have also decided to suspend, for a period of 12 months from 1 April 2016, the second fee cut which was introduced in July last year. As a consequence of these decisions the new fee structure linked to the new contracts will not be introduced.

My decision is driven in part by the recognition that the litigation will be time consuming and costly for all parties, whatever the outcome. I do not want my department and the legal aid market to face months if not years of continuing uncertainty, and expensive litigation, while it is heard.

The Legal Aid Agency will extend current contracts so as to ensure continuing service until replacement contracts come into force later this year. I will review progress on joint work with the profession to improve efficiency and quality at the beginning of 2017, before returning to any decisions on the second fee reduction and market consolidation before April 2017.

By not pressing ahead with dual contracting, and suspending the fee cut, at this stage we will, I hope, make it easier in all circumstances for litigators to instruct the best advocates, enhancing the quality of representation in our courts.

I will also bring forward proposals to ensure the Legal Aid Agency can better support high quality advocacy. Furthermore, I intend to appoint an advisory council of solicitors and barristers to help me explore how we can reduce unnecessary bureaucratic costs, eliminate waste and end continuing abuses within the current legal aid system. More details will follow in due course.

We have an ambitious programme of reform to our courts planned for the rest of this Parliament. It is designed to make justice swifter and more certain. The reforms to our legal system, including taking more work out of courts, moving from a paper-based system to a digital platform, tackle unnecessary costs and reduce harmful delay. Criminal legal aid solicitors perform a vital role in our justice system and these reforms will need the support of all in the legal profession. But these reforms also provide an opportunity for the legal profession to offer better access to higher quality advice and representation to more individuals.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS489
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 28 January 2016
Made by: Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Aberdeen City Region Deal

In March 2015, the Government announced the intention to negotiate a City Deal with Aberdeen. This followed the successful agreement of City Deals across England and the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal in Scotland. I can today inform the House that the Government has reached agreement with the Scottish Government and civic and business leaders in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire on a Heads of Terms City Deal.

This Heads of Terms City Deal agreement includes establishing a new investment fund for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire of up to £250 million, with equal contributions of £125 million from the UK and Scottish Governments.

This fund will support a set of proposals from the region including investment in a new Oil and Gas Technology Centre. This will help the industry to exploit remaining reserves and increase investment in research and development to support future decommissioning. The deal will also support the diversification of the wider economy in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and includes support for innovation in biopharmaceutical, food and drink, and digital sectors.

Further, the investment fund will support increased investment in digital infrastructure, which will address the connectivity challenges of the whole region, and the expansion of Aberdeen harbour and transport facilities.

Funding agreements are subject to final business cases which demonstrate value for money, and the Government will work with the Scottish Government and the civic and business leaders of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to ensure the successful implementation of the agreed deal.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS488
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 28 January 2016
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Aberdeen City Region Deal

My rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Greg Clark) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In March 2015, the Government announced the intention to negotiate a City Deal with Aberdeen. This followed the successful agreement of City Deals across England and the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal in Scotland. I can today inform the House that the Government has reached agreement with the Scottish Government and civic and business leaders in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire on a Heads of Terms City Deal.

This Heads of Terms City Deal agreement includes establishing a new investment fund for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire of up to £250 million, with equal contributions of £125 million from the UK and Scottish Governments.

This fund will support a set of proposals from the region including investment in a new Oil and Gas Technology Centre. This will help the industry to exploit remaining reserves and increase investment in research and development to support future decommissioning. The deal will also support the diversification of the wider economy in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and includes support for innovation in biopharmaceutical, food and drink, and digital sectors.

Further, the investment fund will support increased investment in digital infrastructure, which will address the connectivity challenges of the whole region, and the expansion of Aberdeen harbour and transport facilities.

Funding agreements are subject to final business cases which demonstrate value for money, and the Government will work with the Scottish Government and the civic and business leaders of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire to ensure the successful implementation of the agreed deal.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS498
WS
Home Office
Made on: 28 January 2016
Made by: Lord Bates (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office)
Lords

Resettlement of unaccompanied refugee children

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

The Government has carefully considered how best to provide assistance and protection to unaccompanied refugee children from Syria, other regions of conflict, and for those in transit in Europe.

The crisis in Syria and events in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond has separated a large number of refugee children from their families. Today I can announce that the UK Government will work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to lead a new initiative to resettle unaccompanied children from conflict regions. We have asked the UNHCR to make an assessment of the numbers and needs of unaccompanied children in conflict regions and advise on when it is in the best interests of the child to be resettled in the UK and how that process should be managed. The UNHCR has already been clear that these are likely to be exceptional cases.

This will complement the existing substantial UK aid and resettlement programmes which are already helping many thousands of children at risk in conflict zones, on transit routes within Europe and in the UK. The Home Office will host a roundtable to invite views from a range of NGOs and local authorities, including UNICEF and Save the Children, on how we can provide more support for children in the region, in transit and domestically to prevent children putting themselves at risk and making dangerous journeys on their own. The UK Government has been at the forefront of the international response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, providing more than £1.1 billion in humanitarian aid to the Syria crisis. This new initiative builds on the Government’s existing commitment to resettle 20,000 Syrian refugees during this Parliament. More than 1,000 vulnerable Syrians refugees – around half of them children - have already been resettled through the scheme.

The UK Government will also commit to providing further resources to the European Asylum Support Office to help in “hotspots” such as Greece and Italy to help identify and register children at risk on first arrival in the EU. And we will, of course, continue to meet our obligations under the Dublin Regulations.

The Government is committed to combating child trafficking and understands that unaccompanied children, particularly those in transit, are vulnerable to people traffickers. The Home Secretary has asked the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, to visit the hotspots in Italy and Greece to make an assessment and provide advice on what more can be done to ensure unaccompanied children and others are protected from traffickers.

The UK Government is already providing substantial funding to NGOs such as Unicef and UNHCR to provide shelter, warm clothes, hot food, and medical supplies to support vulnerable people, including children, on the move or stranded in Europe or in the Balkans. In addition, the Department for International Development is creating a new fund of up to £10 million to support the needs of vulnerable refugee and migrant children in Europe. The fund will include targeted support to meet the specific needs of unaccompanied and separated children who face additional risks. The support will include identifying children who are in need, providing safe places for at risk children to stay, data management to help trace children to their families, and services such as counselling and legal advice.

Alongside these significant efforts to assist children and the most vulnerable internationally, the Government recognises the need to provide support for children who are already in the UK and have been subject to or at risk of trafficking and exploitation. We also recognise the pressure that some local authorities who are supporting large numbers of unaccompanied asylum seeking children are facing. The Home Office will continue to encourage local authorities to support the dispersal of UASC from Kent and to work with NGOs, local authorities and the Department for Education to review current practice and consider how capacity could be strengthened, including through ensuring that there is sufficient safe accommodation and specialist support for foster placements.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS497
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