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
WS
Home Office
Made on: 28 January 2016
Made by: James Brokenshire (The Minister of State for Immigration)
Commons

Resettlement of unaccompanied refugee children

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 Lords: HLWS487
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 27 January 2016
Made by: Harriett Baldwin (The Economic Secretary to the Treasury )
Commons

Securitisation framework – Justice and Home Affairs Opt-in decision

This Government has decided not to opt in to the justice and home affairs (JHA) provisions within the European Commission’s proposal for laying down common rules on securitisation and creating a European framework for simple, and transparent and standardised securitisation.

Article 19(2) of the proposal requires that where Member States have chosen to pursue a criminal sanctions regime for breaches of elements of the proposals, those Member States must ensure that information can be shared between competent authorities across the EU. As the provision requires cooperation involving law enforcement bodies, the Government believes these are JHA obligations and therefore our JHA opt-in is triggered and we have informed Council of that fact.

The Government has decided not to opt in to these provisions as there are no significant benefits to be gained from doing so. The obligation to share information will fall on Member States who have a relevant criminal sanctions regime, and UK competent authorities will be in a position to access this data irrespective of the decision to opt in. The Government has no intention to introduce a criminal sanctions regime in a way that would lead to this Regulation imposing an obligation on UK or on our competent authorities.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS486
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 27 January 2016
Made by: Lord O'Neill of Gatley (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

Securitisation framework – Justice and Home Affairs Opt-in decision

My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Harriett Baldwin) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

This Government has decided not to opt in to the justice and home affairs (JHA) provisions within the European Commission’s proposal for laying down common rules on securitisation and creating a European framework for simple, and transparent and standardised securitisation.

Article 19(2) of the proposal requires that where Member States have chosen to pursue a criminal sanctions regime for breaches of elements of the proposals, those Member States must ensure that information can be shared between competent authorities across the EU. As the provision requires cooperation involving law enforcement bodies, the Government believes these are JHA obligations and therefore our JHA opt-in is triggered and we have informed Council of that fact.

The Government has decided not to opt in to these provisions as there are no significant benefits to be gained from doing so. The obligation to share information will fall on Member States who have a relevant criminal sanctions regime, and UK competent authorities will be in a position to access this data irrespective of the decision to opt in. The Government has no intention to introduce a criminal sanctions regime in a way that would lead to this Regulation imposing an obligation on UK or on our competent authorities.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS496
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 27 January 2016
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Lords

Foreign Affairs Council and General Affairs Council: 18 January

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

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs attended the Foreign Affairs Council and I attended the General Affairs Council on 18 January. The Foreign Affairs Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and the General Affairs Council was chaired by the Dutch Presidency. The meetings were held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council

A provisional report of the meeting and Conclusions adopted can be found at:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2016/01/18/

In her introductory remarks Ms Mogherini welcomed the progress that had been made on implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal and updated Ministers on the political situation in Venezuela. During the morning sessions, Ministers discussed Syria (including the London Conference) and Iraq. The Jordanian Foreign Minister joined Ministers for lunch. The afternoon concluded with discussions on Ukraine and the Middle East Peace Process.

Syria and recent developments in the region

Ms Mogherini updated Ministers on the political process in Syria, highlighting recent tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Foreign Secretary welcomed the Riyadh Conference of the Syrian opposition, and underlined the need for confidence building measures in parallel with the UN-led talks. All Member States welcomed the political progress made in the final months of 2015 but cautioned that the process was fragile. Ministers also discussed preparations for the Syria conference taking place in London on 4 February. The conference has three main objectives: to increase available funding to the most affected countries, to address the long-term economic needs of refugees in the region, and increase the protection of civilians. The Foreign Secretary underlined the need to do more for the vulnerable and displaced inside Syria and the millions of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.

Iraq

Ministers exchanged views on Iraq following the adoption of Conclusions at the December 2015 Foreign Affairs Council. Ms Mogherini focused on how the EU could support the domestic reform agenda and national reconciliation. The Foreign Secretary noted the recent military successes against Daesh in Sinjar and Ramadi, which had relieved some of the pressure on the Iraqi Government.

Lunch with Jordanian Foreign Minister

Over lunch, Ministers exchanged views with the Jordanian Foreign Minister, Mr Nasser Judeh, on foreign policy challenges in the region. They looked ahead to the London Syria Conference. Ms Mogherini expressed support to Jordan in the fight against Daesh and counter radicalisation.

Ukraine

Ms. Mogherini opened the discussion by underlining progress made by the Government of Ukraine on its reform programme under very difficult circumstances. She stressed the need for the EU and Member States to continue to support Ukraine. Ministers exchanged views on how this could best be achieved.

Middle East Peace Process Council Conclusions

Following discussion, the Council approved Conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process.

Ministers agreed without discussion a number of measures:

  • The Council adopted conclusions on Libya.
  • The Council adopted a regulation concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya.
  • The Council adopted the EU priorities for cooperation with the Council of Europe in 2016 – 2017.
  • The Council set a financial reference amount of EUR 14 850 000 to cover the expenditure related to the EU’s CSDP mission in Mali (EUCAP Sahel Mali between 15 January 2016 and 14 January 2017.
  • The Council adopted a decision supporting the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC).
  • The Council concluded that all the conditions have been met for EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia to implement on the High Seas UN Security Council Resolution 2240.

General Affairs Council

The General Affairs Council (GAC) on 18 January 2016 focussed on the Presidency Work Programme and preparation of the European Council on 18 and 19 February 2016.

A provisional report of the meeting and Conclusions adopted can be found at:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2016/01/18/

Presidency Work Programme

The Dutch Presidency commenced on 1 January. The Dutch Foreign Minister, Bert Koenders, set out the Presidency’s programme and priorities for the current semester, and referred to his letter on improving the role of the GAC highlighting three priorities: open and inclusive dialogue at the Multiannual Financial Framework high-level conference on 28 January; continued work on Rule of Law; and implementation of the Inter-Institutional Agreement, transparency and better governance.

The Dutch programme is based on the Presidency Trio programme, developed jointly with Slovakia and Malta, but focuses on four main themes: jobs and growth; labour mobility; the Eurozone; and a Union of freedom, justice and security.

I welcomed the Presidency’s priorities, particularly those based on supporting job creation and economic growth. I also highlighted the importance of continuity of Trio programmes and looked forward to working with Estonia and Bulgaria (the UK’s Trio partners) and the current Trio to deliver real results on competitiveness, the internal market, investment, and entrenching the EU’s position at the heart of global trade.

Preparation of the February European Council

The GAC prepared the agenda for the 18 and 19 February European Council, which the Prime Minister will attend. The draft February European Council agenda covers: the UK’s EU renegotiation; migration, and economic issues.

On the UK’s EU renegotiation, I reiterated the Prime Minister’s message that what mattered more than the timing of a deal was getting the substance right.

On migration, I highlighted the UK’s role in efforts to tackle the migration crisis through chairing the upcoming Syria Conference in London; chairing the Khartoum process; supporting the action plans from the Valletta and Turkey Summits; supporting the Turkey Refugee Fund; and providing technical assistance to EU agencies.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS495
WS
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 27 January 2016
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Minister for Intellectual Property)
Lords

Register of People with Significant Control: Draft Statutory Guidance on the Meaning of Significant Influence or Control

I laid before Parliament on Monday 25 January draft regulations that implement the public register of information about people with significant control (PSCs) over UK incorporated companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs). These regulations are derived from powers under Part 21A of the Companies Act 2006.

These regulations form the detailed requirements of the register of people with significant control, which will come into force on the 6 April 2016 subject to consideration. The register is the cornerstone of the UK’s response to the problem of corporate opacity. It ensures the UK meets international standards which tackle the misuse of companies. The reforms provide greater transparency over company ownership and control for enforcement agencies, business, and citizens. By making this information public, without charge, we are setting a standard for open government that we aim to persuade international partners to follow.

On Monday 25 January I also laid, in draft, statutory guidance on the meaning of significant influence or control in the context of companies, for the register of people with significant influence or control. This is required by paragraph 24 to Schedule 1A of the Companies Act 2006, and is subject to the approval of the House. The term ‘significant influence or control’ is included in the fourth and fifth specified conditions for being a person with significant control. The statutory guidance is required to explain how that term should be interpreted.

I have also published, in draft, the statutory guidance on the meaning of significant influence or control in the context of limited liability partnerships. I intend to lay this document in draft before the House, once The Limited Liability Partnerships (Register of People with Significant Control) Regulations 2016 have been commenced, following the approval of the House.

This month I will also publish the general guidance for companies and limited liability partnerships on how to comply with the register of people with significant control requirements. This has been developed with the help of business, civil society and legal experts, and will enable companies, limited liability partnerships and individuals to familiarise themselves with the framework before it comes into force.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS494
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 27 January 2016
Made by: Mr David Lidington (The Minister for Europe)
Commons

Foreign Affairs Council and General Affairs Council: 18 January

My Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs attended the Foreign Affairs Council and I attended the General Affairs Council on 18 January. The Foreign Affairs Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and the General Affairs Council was chaired by the Dutch Presidency. The meetings were held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council

A provisional report of the meeting and Conclusions adopted can be found at:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2016/01/18/

In her introductory remarks Ms Mogherini welcomed the progress that had been made on implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal and updated Ministers on the political situation in Venezuela. During the morning sessions, Ministers discussed Syria (including the London Conference) and Iraq. The Jordanian Foreign Minister joined Ministers for lunch. The afternoon concluded with discussions on Ukraine and the Middle East Peace Process.

Syria and recent developments in the region

Ms Mogherini updated Ministers on the political process in Syria, highlighting recent tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Foreign Secretary welcomed the Riyadh Conference of the Syrian opposition, and underlined the need for confidence building measures in parallel with the UN-led talks. All Member States welcomed the political progress made in the final months of 2015 but cautioned that the process was fragile. Ministers also discussed preparations for the Syria conference taking place in London on 4 February. The conference has three main objectives: to increase available funding to the most affected countries, to address the long-term economic needs of refugees in the region, and increase the protection of civilians. The Foreign Secretary underlined the need to do more for the vulnerable and displaced inside Syria and the millions of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.

Iraq

Ministers exchanged views on Iraq following the adoption of Conclusions at the December 2015 Foreign Affairs Council. Ms Mogherini focused on how the EU could support the domestic reform agenda and national reconciliation. The Foreign Secretary noted the recent military successes against Daesh in Sinjar and Ramadi, which had relieved some of the pressure on the Iraqi Government.

Lunch with Jordanian Foreign Minister

Over lunch, Ministers exchanged views with the Jordanian Foreign Minister, Mr Nasser Judeh, on foreign policy challenges in the region. They looked ahead to the London Syria Conference. Ms Mogherini expressed support to Jordan in the fight against Daesh and counter radicalisation.

Ukraine

Ms. Mogherini opened the discussion by underlining progress made by the Government of Ukraine on its reform programme under very difficult circumstances. She stressed the need for the EU and Member States to continue to support Ukraine. Ministers exchanged views on how this could best be achieved.

Middle East Peace Process Council Conclusions

Following discussion, the Council approved Conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process.

Ministers agreed without discussion a number of measures:

  • The Council adopted conclusions on Libya.
  • The Council adopted a regulation concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya.
  • The Council adopted the EU priorities for cooperation with the Council of Europe in 2016 – 2017.
  • The Council set a financial reference amount of EUR 14 850 000 to cover the expenditure related to the EU’s CSDP mission in Mali (EUCAP Sahel Mali between 15 January 2016 and 14 January 2017.
  • The Council adopted a decision supporting the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC).
  • The Council concluded that all the conditions have been met for EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia to implement on the High Seas UN Security Council Resolution 2240.

General Affairs Council

The General Affairs Council (GAC) on 18 January 2016 focussed on the Presidency Work Programme and preparation of the European Council on 18 and 19 February 2016.

A provisional report of the meeting and Conclusions adopted can be found at:

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/gac/2016/01/18/

Presidency Work Programme

The Dutch Presidency commenced on 1 January. The Dutch Foreign Minister, Bert Koenders, set out the Presidency’s programme and priorities for the current semester, and referred to his letter on improving the role of the GAC highlighting three priorities: open and inclusive dialogue at the Multiannual Financial Framework high-level conference on 28 January; continued work on Rule of Law; and implementation of the Inter-Institutional Agreement, transparency and better governance.

The Dutch programme is based on the Presidency Trio programme, developed jointly with Slovakia and Malta, but focuses on four main themes: jobs and growth; labour mobility; the Eurozone; and a Union of freedom, justice and security.

I welcomed the Presidency’s priorities, particularly those based on supporting job creation and economic growth. I also highlighted the importance of continuity of Trio programmes and looked forward to working with Estonia and Bulgaria (the UK’s Trio partners) and the current Trio to deliver real results on competitiveness, the internal market, investment, and entrenching the EU’s position at the heart of global trade.

Preparation of the February European Council

The GAC prepared the agenda for the 18 and 19 February European Council, which the Prime Minister will attend. The draft February European Council agenda covers: the UK’s EU renegotiation; migration, and economic issues.

On the UK’s EU renegotiation, I reiterated the Prime Minister’s message that what mattered more than the timing of a deal was getting the substance right.

On migration, I highlighted the UK’s role in efforts to tackle the migration crisis through chairing the upcoming Syria Conference in London; chairing the Khartoum process; supporting the action plans from the Valletta and Turkey Summits; supporting the Turkey Refugee Fund; and providing technical assistance to EU agencies.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS485
WS
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 27 January 2016
Made by: Joseph Johnson (The Minister for Universities and Science )
Commons

Register of People with Significant Control: Draft Statutory Guidance on the Meaning of Significant Influence or Control

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) has today made the following statement.

I laid before Parliament on Monday 25 January draft regulations that implement the public register of information about people with significant control (PSCs) over UK incorporated companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs). These regulations are derived from powers under Part 21A of the Companies Act 2006.

These regulations form the detailed requirements of the register of people with significant control, which will come into force on the 6 April 2016 subject to consideration. The register is the cornerstone of the UK’s response to the problem of corporate opacity. It ensures the UK meets international standards which tackle the misuse of companies. The reforms provide greater transparency over company ownership and control for enforcement agencies, business, and citizens. By making this information public, without charge, we are setting a standard for open government that we aim to persuade international partners to follow.

On Monday 25 January I also laid, in draft, statutory guidance on the meaning of significant influence or control in the context of companies, for the register of people with significant influence or control. This is required by paragraph 24 to Schedule 1A of the Companies Act 2006, and is subject to the approval of the House. The term ‘significant influence or control’ is included in the fourth and fifth specified conditions for being a person with significant control. The statutory guidance is required to explain how that term should be interpreted.

I have also published, in draft, the statutory guidance on the meaning of significant influence or control in the context of limited liability partnerships. I intend to lay this document in draft before the House, once The Limited Liability Partnerships (Register of People with Significant Control) Regulations 2016 have been commenced, following the approval of the House.

This month I will also publish the general guidance for companies and limited liability partnerships on how to comply with the register of people with significant control requirements. This has been developed with the help of business, civil society and legal experts, and will enable companies, limited liability partnerships and individuals to familiarise themselves with the framework before it comes into force.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS484
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice)
Lords

Youth Justice

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

"As I assured the House on 11 January, the safety and welfare of all those in custody is vital. We treat the allegations of abuse directed towards young people at the Medway Secure Training Centre, run by G4S, with the utmost seriousness. Kent Police and Medway Council’s child protection team have launched an investigation which will determine whether there is any evidence to justify criminal proceedings. The Ministry of Justice and Youth Justice Board will fully support and co-operate with their enquiries.

Following the allegations, our immediate priority has been to ensure that young people at the centre are safe. HMIP and Ofsted visited Medway STC on 11 January and their findings are published today. The Youth Justice Board, which is responsible for commissioning and oversight of the secure youth estate, has increased both its own monitoring at Medway STC and the presence of Barnardos, who provide an independent advocacy service at the centre. The YJB immediately stopped all placements of young people into the Centre and suspended the certification of staff named in the allegations.

I believe, however, that we need to do more in order to have confidence that the STC is being run safely and that the right lessons have been learned. Today’s report by HMIP and Ofsted recommends the appointment of a commissioner to provide additional external oversight of the governance of the centre. I agree that additional external oversight is necessary and am also concerned that it draws on the broadest possible expertise.

I am therefore today appointing an Independent Improvement Board, comprised of four members with substantial expertise in education, running secure establishments and looking after children with behavioural difficulties. This Board will fulfil the same function, with the same remit, as HMIP and Ofsted’s recommendation for a commissioner. We have tasked G4S with putting an improvement plan in place, which this Board will oversee.

I have appointed Dr Gary Holden as the chair of the Improvement Board. Dr Holden is the chief executive officer and executive principal of The Williamson Trust, a successful academy chain in Kent. This includes the outstanding Joseph Williamson Mathematics School, located less than a mile from Medway STC. He is also a National Leader of Education and chair of the Teaching Schools Council. His experience as a head teacher and leader of a high-performing organisation make him ideally suited to identify the steps that should be taken to raise standards at Medway STC.

Dr Holden will be joined by: Bernard Allen, an expert in behaviour management and the use of restraint; Emily Thomas, interim governor of HM Prison Holloway and former governor of HM Young Offender Institution Cookham Wood; and Sharon Gray OBE, an education consultant and former head teacher with experience of working with children with behavioural difficulties, including in residential settings.

The Board will provide increased oversight, scrutiny and challenge of managerial arrangements, in particular in relation to the safeguarding of young people. Board members will have authority to visit any part of the site at any time, access records at Medway and interview children during their investigations. The Board will report any concerns about the provision of services at Medway to me. The Board’s work will assist me in determining the necessary improvements that G4S must make to restore confidence that young people are properly safeguarded at the STC.

The Terms of Reference for the Independent Improvement Board are to:

(i) investigate the safeguarding arrangements at Medway in order to inform the development and approval of the improvement plan to be produced by G4S and any steps to be taken by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and other organisations;

(ii) oversee, challenge and support G4S in implementing their improvement plan;

(iii) report to the Secretary of State on the Board’s confidence in the capability of G4S, YJB and other organisations to meet appropriate safeguarding standards at Medway STC in the future, and the performance and monitoring arrangements required to provide assurance; and

(iv) submit any recommendations on the safeguarding of young people in custody, including the role of the YJB and other organisations, to inform practice in the wider youth custodial estate and Charlie Taylor’s review of the youth justice system.

The Board will complete its work by the end of March 2016."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS492
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Funding to fire and rescue authorities in England to meet the costs of redress payments to former fire fighters affected by the determination of the Pensions Ombudsman of 13 May 2015 in the case of Milne v the Government Actuary’s Department.

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

In May 2015, the Pensions Ombudsman issued his Final Determination in a case brought by a retired Scottish firefighter against the Government Actuary’s Department. This found that the Government Actuary's Department failed to review the factors used in the calculation of the firefighter’s lump sum pension payment at the appropriate time, and that this amounted to maladministration. The Government determined that the principles of this ruling should be applied to other affected individuals across the UK, including around 6,000 retired fire fighters in England.

Ministerial responsibility for fire and rescue policy transferred to the Home Office on 5 January 2016. The Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government remains the Accounting Officer for fire budgets until 31 March 2016, and budgets remain with the Department for Communities and Local Government until then. From 1 April 2016 remaining responsibilities for fire budgets and administrative responsibilities will transfer to the Home Office.

Parliamentary approval for additional capital of £94 million will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Department for Communities and Local Government. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £94 million will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS493
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Lord O'Neill of Gatley (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

Financial Services

My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Harriett Baldwin) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Chancellor has this morning announced that Andrew Bailey has been appointed as the next Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority.

Andrew will succeed Tracey McDermott, interim CEO, and bring his extensive skills and experience of regulation to ensure that the UK financial services sector is the best regulated in the world.

The Chancellor has also announced the appointments of Bradley Fried, Baroness Hogg, Ruth Kelly and Tom Wright as Non-Executive Directors.

These appointments are being made by HM Treasury under, and in accordance with, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 as amended.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS490
WS
Home Office
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Lord Bates (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office)
Lords

Enabling closer working between the emergency services

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

Efficient and effective emergency services are essential to keeping our communities safe. Closer working between the police, fire and rescue and NHS ambulance services can improve the way they serve communities, protect the public and provide value for money for taxpayers.

The Government is committed to supporting collaborative and innovative blue light working, and has invested over £80 million in such projects. While there are good examples of joint working in some local areas, there is much more to be done before collaborative working becomes the norm. For example, there could be savings to be made from greater sharing of premises, back offices, IT and procurement systems, which can release valuable resources to the frontline.

I have worked closely with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Health to develop a range of proposals to enable closer working between the emergency services and to provide for stronger local accountability. On 11 September 2015, we published a joint consultation paper setting out our proposals and seeking views on how best to implement them. The consultation ended on 23 October 2015. Over 300 responses were received from national, local and regional organisations, police forces, police and crime commissioners, fire and rescue authorities, local councils, ambulance trusts, front line practitioners, associations and other interested groups and individuals. We would like to thank all those who gave their time to respond and contribute to the consultation process.

Today, we have published the Government’s response to the consultation, which summarises the comments we received and sets out how we intend to proceed.

Having carefully considered all the consultation responses, we intend to legislate to:

  • introduce a high-level duty to collaborate on all three emergency services, to improve efficiency or effectiveness;
  • enable Police and Crime Commissioners to take on the functions and duties of fire and rescue authorities, where a local case is made;
  • further enable Police and Crime Commissioners to create a single employer for police and fire staff where they take on the responsibilities of their local fire and rescue service, and where a local case is made;
  • in areas where a Police and Crime Commissioner has not become responsible for fire and rescue, enabling them to have representation on their local fire and rescue authority with voting rights, where the fire and rescue authority agrees; and
  • abolish the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and give the Mayor of London direct responsibility for the fire and rescue service in London.

The intention is that these measures will ensure collaboration is widespread and ambitious across the country.

Bringing police and fire together locally under the leadership of a PCC will provide greater direct accountability for the public and will accelerate local collaboration. This does not mean a takeover of the fire service by the police. The important distinction between operational policing and fire-fighting will be maintained, with the current law that prevents a full time police officer from being a firefighter remaining in place, and with no intention to give firefighters the power of arrest.

Alongside this, the Prime Minister’s recent announcement that responsibility for fire policy has transferred from the Department for Communities and Local Government to the Home Office shows the Government’s commitment to closer collaboration between police and fire and rescue services. Bringing together responsibility for fire and police in the same Department provides the same clear leadership in central Government that our proposals on emergency services collaboration seek to deliver locally. It provides an excellent opportunity for sharing good practice to drive reform and to deliver better outcomes for the public.

These measures will apply to England only. Further details on the measures and how the consultation has informed them, are set out within the Government’s published response.

Copies of the Government’s response to the consultation will be placed in the House Library.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS489
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Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills)
Lords

Small Companies Audit Exemption Thresholds

The Government has carefully considered responses to questions posed on the audit exemption threshold in the Government’s discussion paper on the implementation of the Audit Directive (2014/56/EU) and the Audit Regulation (Regulation 537/2014). Some stakeholders argued that amending the audit exemption threshold increases the risk of poor financial reporting and that the thresholds should be maintained at the previous level or raised to some intermediate level lower than the thresholds now used to determine a “small company” for financial reporting purposes. Others argued for the thresholds rising to the maximum permitted, quoting the erosion of the value of the audit exemption thresholds due to inflationary effects and the need to avoid imposing avoidable regulation on small companies. Moreover removing the link between the thresholds for eligibility for the small company regime and those for the audit exemption would introduce unnecessary complexity into company law and cause confusion for users.

The Government has concluded that, as now, all companies should continue to be able to have an audit. Companies will not however be required to have an audit for the financial years commencing on or after 1 January 2016 if at their balance sheet date they satisfy at least two of the three following criteria, in general for two consecutive financial years:

Turnover ≤ £10.2m

Balance sheet total ≤ £ 5.1m

Number of employees ≤ 50

and they are not otherwise excluded from accessing the audit exemption, for example due to the nature of their business.

Audit and auditors will continue to have an important role in supporting small businesses to achieve their ambitions and grow; and in providing assurance to owners and lenders about a company’s performance. Although it is estimated that raising the audit exemption thresholds will bring a further 7,400 companies within scope of the exemption, on current practice the Government anticipates that 4,400 will choose to continue to have an external audit. Of the 3,000 companies expected additionally to take up the exemption, some will seek alternative routes to ensure that the company’s systems are robust; for example, through assurance reviews or increased oversight of accounts preparation.

In view of the news expressed by stakeholders the Government will keep the changes in the audit exemption thresholds under review. We will respond quickly should evidence emerge that further action is required to ensure that the UK continues to have a world-class financial reporting and assurance framework which meets the needs of users and regulators.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS491
WS
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Baroness Neville-Rolfe (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills)
Lords

Transparency About Who Controls UK Companies

On Monday the 25 January, I laid before Parliament draft regulations in connection with Part 21A Companies Act 2006. These establish the public register of information about people with significant control (PSC) over UK companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs). This is an important step in providing much greater transparency about who owns UK companies and LLPs. This will boost trust in UK businesses, and reduce the risk of UK companies and LLPs being used for corrupt purposes.

The Government appreciates that transparency is usually in the public interest, as it is useful to know with whom one is doing business and helps deter and identify where corporate entities are being used for criminal activities.

The Government recognises that in certain rare circumstances publication of PSC information could put individuals at serious risk of violence or intimidation.

The draft regulations therefore provide for applications to be made to withhold the personal information of PSCs from public disclosure. In such cases the information must still be provided, and the fact that the information exists but is protected, will be made public. This is set out in more detail in Section 790ZG and regulations 33-45 of the draft Companies (Register of People with Significant Control) Regulations 2016.

Section 790J also enables the Secretary of State to make general exemptions to the new requirements. The Secretary of State has not granted any such exemptions, and would only be prepared to grant exemptions in very limited circumstances. These circumstances would be that the exemption is in the interests of national security; the economic wellbeing of the UK, or in the support of the prevention or detection of serious crime.

An exemption would also only be granted if the Secretary of State received satisfactory assurances on other matters like the company or LLP was not being run for personal benefit of any individual and that the exemption was necessary for the person seeking it to achieve their lawful objectives. I do not propose to comment further on whether I have received any such requests or whether I have granted them.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS488
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government)
Commons

Funding to fire and rescue authorities in England to meet the costs of redress payments to former fire fighters affected by the determination of the Pensions Ombudsman of 13 May 2015 in the case of Milne v the Government Actuary’s Department.

In May 2015, the Pensions Ombudsman issued his Final Determination in a case brought by a retired Scottish firefighter against the Government Actuary’s Department. This found that the Government Actuary's Department failed to review the factors used in the calculation of the firefighter’s lump sum pension payment at the appropriate time, and that this amounted to maladministration. The Government determined that the principles of this ruling should be applied to other affected individuals across the UK, including around 6,000 retired fire fighters in England.

Ministerial responsibility for fire and rescue policy transferred to the Home Office on 5 January 2016. The Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government remains the Accounting Officer for fire budgets until 31 March 2016, and budgets remain with the Department for Communities and Local Government until then. From 1 April 2016 remaining responsibilities for fire budgets and administrative responsibilities will transfer to the Home Office.

Parliamentary approval for additional capital of £94 million will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Department for Communities and Local Government. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £94 million will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS482
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Michael Gove (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice)
Commons

Youth Justice

As I assured the House on 11 January, the safety and welfare of all those in custody is vital. We treat the allegations of abuse directed towards young people at the Medway Secure Training Centre, run by G4S, with the utmost seriousness. Kent Police and Medway Council’s child protection team have launched an investigation which will determine whether there is any evidence to justify criminal proceedings. The Ministry of Justice and Youth Justice Board will fully support and co-operate with their enquiries.

Following the allegations, our immediate priority has been to ensure that young people at the centre are safe. HMIP and Ofsted visited Medway STC on 11 January and their findings are published today. The Youth Justice Board, which is responsible for commissioning and oversight of the secure youth estate, has increased both its own monitoring at Medway STC and the presence of Barnardos, who provide an independent advocacy service at the centre. The YJB immediately stopped all placements of young people into the Centre and suspended the certification of staff named in the allegations.

I believe, however, that we need to do more in order to have confidence that the STC is being run safely and that the right lessons have been learned. Today’s report by HMIP and Ofsted recommends the appointment of a commissioner to provide additional external oversight of the governance of the centre. I agree that additional external oversight is necessary and am also concerned that it draws on the broadest possible expertise.

I am therefore today appointing an Independent Improvement Board, comprised of four members with substantial expertise in education, running secure establishments and looking after children with behavioural difficulties. This Board will fulfil the same function, with the same remit, as HMIP and Ofsted’s recommendation for a commissioner. We have tasked G4S with putting an improvement plan in place, which this Board will oversee.

I have appointed Dr Gary Holden as the chair of the Improvement Board. Dr Holden is the chief executive officer and executive principal of The Williamson Trust, a successful academy chain in Kent. This includes the outstanding Joseph Williamson Mathematics School, located less than a mile from Medway STC. He is also a National Leader of Education and chair of the Teaching Schools Council. His experience as a head teacher and leader of a high-performing organisation make him ideally suited to identify the steps that should be taken to raise standards at Medway STC.

Dr Holden will be joined by: Bernard Allen, an expert in behaviour management and the use of restraint; Emily Thomas, interim governor of HM Prison Holloway and former governor of HM Young Offender Institution Cookham Wood; and Sharon Gray OBE, an education consultant and former head teacher with experience of working with children with behavioural difficulties, including in residential settings.

The Board will provide increased oversight, scrutiny and challenge of managerial arrangements, in particular in relation to the safeguarding of young people. Board members will have authority to visit any part of the site at any time, access records at Medway and interview children during their investigations. The Board will report any concerns about the provision of services at Medway to me. The Board’s work will assist me in determining the necessary improvements that G4S must make to restore confidence that young people are properly safeguarded at the STC.

The Terms of Reference for the Independent Improvement Board are to:

(i) investigate the safeguarding arrangements at Medway in order to inform the development and approval of the improvement plan to be produced by G4S and any steps to be taken by the Youth Justice Board (YJB) and other organisations;

(ii) oversee, challenge and support G4S in implementing their improvement plan;

(iii) report to the Secretary of State on the Board’s confidence in the capability of G4S, YJB and other organisations to meet appropriate safeguarding standards at Medway STC in the future, and the performance and monitoring arrangements required to provide assurance; and

(iv) submit any recommendations on the safeguarding of young people in custody, including the role of the YJB and other organisations, to inform practice in the wider youth custodial estate and Charlie Taylor’s review of the youth justice system.

The Board will complete its work by the end of March 2016.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS483
WS
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Anna Soubry (Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise)
Commons

Small Companies Audit Exemption Thresholds

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) has today made the following statement.

The Government has carefully considered responses to questions posed on the audit exemption threshold in the Government’s discussion paper on the implementation of the Audit Directive (2014/56/EU) and the Audit Regulation (Regulation 537/2014). Some stakeholders argued that amending the audit exemption threshold increases the risk of poor financial reporting and that the thresholds should be maintained at the previous level or raised to some intermediate level lower than the thresholds now used to determine a “small company” for financial reporting purposes. Others argued for the thresholds rising to the maximum permitted, quoting the erosion of the value of the audit exemption thresholds due to inflationary effects and the need to avoid imposing avoidable regulation on small companies. Moreover removing the link between the thresholds for eligibility for the small company regime and those for the audit exemption would introduce unnecessary complexity into company law and cause confusion for users.

The Government has concluded that, as now, all companies should continue to be able to have an audit. Companies will not however be required to have an audit for the financial years commencing on or after 1 January 2016 if at their balance sheet date they satisfy at least two of the three following criteria, in general for two consecutive financial years:

Turnover ≤ £10.2m

Balance sheet total ≤ £ 5.1m

Number of employees ≤ 50

and they are not otherwise excluded from accessing the audit exemption, for example due to the nature of their business.

Audit and auditors will continue to have an important role in supporting small businesses to achieve their ambitions and grow; and in providing assurance to owners and lenders about a company’s performance. Although it is estimated that raising the audit exemption thresholds will bring a further 7,400 companies within scope of the exemption, on current practice the Government anticipates that 4,400 will choose to continue to have an external audit. Of the 3,000 companies expected additionally to take up the exemption, some will seek alternative routes to ensure that the company’s systems are robust; for example, through assurance reviews or increased oversight of accounts preparation.

In view of the news expressed by stakeholders the Government will keep the changes in the audit exemption thresholds under review. We will respond quickly should evidence emerge that further action is required to ensure that the UK continues to have a world-class financial reporting and assurance framework which meets the needs of users and regulators.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS479
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Harriett Baldwin (The Economic Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Financial Services

The Chancellor has this morning announced that Andrew Bailey has been appointed as the next Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority.

Andrew will succeed Tracey McDermott, interim CEO, and bring his extensive skills and experience of regulation to ensure that the UK financial services sector is the best regulated in the world.

The Chancellor has also announced the appointments of Bradley Fried, Baroness Hogg, Ruth Kelly and Tom Wright as Non-Executive Directors.

These appointments are being made by HM Treasury under, and in accordance with, the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 as amended.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS481
WS
Home Office
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Mrs Theresa May (The Secretary of State for the Home Department)
Commons

Enabling closer working between the emergency services

Efficient and effective emergency services are essential to keeping our communities safe. Closer working between the police, fire and rescue and NHS ambulance services can improve the way they serve communities, protect the public and provide value for money for taxpayers.

The Government is committed to supporting collaborative and innovative blue light working, and has invested over £80 million in such projects. While there are good examples of joint working in some local areas, there is much more to be done before collaborative working becomes the norm. For example, there could be savings to be made from greater sharing of premises, back offices, IT and procurement systems, which can release valuable resources to the frontline.

I have worked closely with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and the Secretary of State for Health to develop a range of proposals to enable closer working between the emergency services and to provide for stronger local accountability. On 11 September 2015, we published a joint consultation paper setting out our proposals and seeking views on how best to implement them. The consultation ended on 23 October 2015. Over 300 responses were received from national, local and regional organisations, police forces, police and crime commissioners, fire and rescue authorities, local councils, ambulance trusts, front line practitioners, associations and other interested groups and individuals. We would like to thank all those who gave their time to respond and contribute to the consultation process.

Today, we have published the Government’s response to the consultation, which summarises the comments we received and sets out how we intend to proceed.

Having carefully considered all the consultation responses, we intend to legislate to:

  • introduce a high-level duty to collaborate on all three emergency services, to improve efficiency or effectiveness;
  • enable Police and Crime Commissioners to take on the functions and duties of fire and rescue authorities, where a local case is made;
  • further enable Police and Crime Commissioners to create a single employer for police and fire staff where they take on the responsibilities of their local fire and rescue service, and where a local case is made;
  • in areas where a Police and Crime Commissioner has not become responsible for fire and rescue, enabling them to have representation on their local fire and rescue authority with voting rights, where the fire and rescue authority agrees; and
  • abolish the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and give the Mayor of London direct responsibility for the fire and rescue service in London.

The intention is that these measures will ensure collaboration is widespread and ambitious across the country.

Bringing police and fire together locally under the leadership of a PCC will provide greater direct accountability for the public and will accelerate local collaboration. This does not mean a takeover of the fire service by the police. The important distinction between operational policing and fire-fighting will be maintained, with the current law that prevents a full time police officer from being a firefighter remaining in place, and with no intention to give firefighters the power of arrest.

Alongside this, the Prime Minister’s recent announcement that responsibility for fire policy has transferred from the Department for Communities and Local Government to the Home Office shows the Government’s commitment to closer collaboration between police and fire and rescue services. Bringing together responsibility for fire and police in the same Department provides the same clear leadership in central Government that our proposals on emergency services collaboration seek to deliver locally. It provides an excellent opportunity for sharing good practice to drive reform and to deliver better outcomes for the public.

These measures will apply to England only. Further details on the measures and how the consultation has informed them, are set out within the Government’s published response.

Copies of the Government’s response to the consultation will be placed in the House Library.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS480
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Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Made on: 26 January 2016
Made by: Joseph Johnson (Minister of State for Universities and Science)
Commons

Transparency About Who Controls UK Companies

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has today made the following statement.

On Monday the 25 January, I laid before Parliament draft regulations in connection with Part 21A Companies Act 2006. These establish the public register of information about people with significant control (PSC) over UK companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs). This is an important step in providing much greater transparency about who owns UK companies and LLPs. This will boost trust in UK businesses, and reduce the risk of UK companies and LLPs being used for corrupt purposes.

The Government appreciates that transparency is usually in the public interest, as it is useful to know with whom one is doing business and helps deter and identify where corporate entities are being used for criminal activities.

The Government recognises that in certain rare circumstances publication of PSC information could put individuals at serious risk of violence or intimidation.

The draft regulations therefore provide for applications to be made to withhold the personal information of PSCs from public disclosure. In such cases the information must still be provided, and the fact that the information exists but is protected, will be made public. This is set out in more detail in Section 790ZG and regulations 33-45 of the draft Companies (Register of People with Significant Control) Regulations 2016.

Section 790J also enables the Secretary of State to make general exemptions to the new requirements. The Secretary of State has not granted any such exemptions, and would only be prepared to grant exemptions in very limited circumstances. These circumstances would be that the exemption is in the interests of national security; the economic wellbeing of the UK, or in the support of the prevention or detection of serious crime.

An exemption would also only be granted if the Secretary of State received satisfactory assurances on other matters like the company or LLP was not being run for personal benefit of any individual and that the exemption was necessary for the person seeking it to achieve their lawful objectives. I do not propose to comment further on whether I have received any such requests or whether I have granted them.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS478
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HM Treasury
Made on: 25 January 2016
Made by: Harriett Baldwin (Economic Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Contingencies Advance Fund: Help to Buy ISA

The Help to Buy: ISA was announced in the March 2015 Budget. Under the scheme first time buyers purchasing a property in the UK will be able to save up to £200 per month in a Help to Buy: ISA and receive a bonus of up to £3,000 The bonus amount is calculated as 25 per cent of the balance in the buyer's Help to Buy: ISA, (with a minimum of £400 and capped at £3000). The bonus will be paid upon the completion of the purchase of an eligible property.

The Help to Buy: ISA has been available since 1 December 2015 and 200,000 accounts have so far been opened. The first homes to be acquired using the scheme are expected to be purchased in early February 2016.

The resources for the bonus payments will form part of HM Treasury’s Supplementary Estimate 2015-16, which is expected to achieve Royal Assent in the associated Supply and Appropriation bill in mid to late March. HM Treasury will therefore be utilising the Contingencies Fund to make the initial bonus payments that become payable prior to Royal Assent.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £20,000,000 for this new expenditure will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for HM Treasury. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £20,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS477
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HM Treasury
Made on: 25 January 2016
Made by: Lord O'Neill of Gatley (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

Contingencies Fund Advance: Help to Buy ISA

My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Harriett Baldwin) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Help to Buy: ISA was announced in the March 2015 Budget. Under the scheme first time buyers purchasing a property in the UK will be able to save up to £200 per month in a Help to Buy: ISA and receive a bonus of up to £3,000 The bonus amount is calculated as 25 per cent of the balance in the buyer's Help to Buy: ISA, (with a minimum of £400 and capped at £3000). The bonus will be paid upon the completion of the purchase of an eligible property.

The Help to Buy: ISA has been available since 1 December 2015 and 200,000 accounts have so far been opened. The first homes to be acquired using the scheme are expected to be purchased in early February 2016.

The resources for the bonus payments will form part of HM Treasury’s Supplementary Estimate 2015-16, which is expected to achieve Royal Assent in the associated Supply and Appropriation bill in mid to late March. HM Treasury will therefore be utilising the Contingencies Fund to make the initial bonus payments that become payable prior to Royal Assent.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £20,000,000 for this new expenditure will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for HM Treasury. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £20,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS487
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 25 January 2016
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Lords

National Memorial to British Victims of Overseas Terrorism

My Honourable Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Tobias Ellwood), has made the following written Ministerial statement:

Today, the Government is launching a public consultation to help inform the creation of a National Memorial to the British Victims of Overseas Terrorism.

We are all aware of the devastating terrorist events that have taken place overseas in recent years, not least the atrocities in Paris. Following the terrorist attacks in Tunisia last year, my right Honourable Friend, the Prime Minister, announced that funding would be made available for a memorial dedicated to UK nationals who have been killed in terrorist atrocities overseas. My right Honourable Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, also announced in the Summer Budget 2015 that the National Memorial would be funded by banking fines (Official Report, 8 July 2015, col 326).

We are launching this consultation in order to gather views on how the National Memorial should be developed. We recognize that, for many, this will be a sensitive issue. We have worked with the Victims’ Commissioner, Victim Support and the British Red Cross, and with representatives of victims’ families to ensure that the consultation allows people to express their views, whilst remaining as sensitive as possible to individuals’ circumstances.

We propose that the Memorial should be an enduring physical memorial that allows those affected to reflect upon their own loss in a way that is meaningful to them. We should not attempt to prescribe the nature of events, or the loss experienced by families and friends, in a rigid way. Consequently, the Memorial should carry a dignified inscription to the victims of overseas terrorism and should not bear individual names or terrorist events.

The consultation will ask respondents whether they would prefer the National Memorial to be in central London—where it might be seen by some to give due prominence to the memory of those who have died—or at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire—a peaceful location for personal reflection at the heart of the United Kingdom.

The consultation will be open for 6 weeks until 4 March 2016.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS486
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Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 22 January 2016
Made by: Mr Tobias Ellwood (The Parliamentary Under Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

National Memorial to British Victims of Overseas Terrorism

Today, the Government is launching a public consultation to help inform the creation of a National Memorial to the British Victims of Overseas Terrorism.

We are all aware of the devastating terrorist events that have taken place overseas in recent years, not least the atrocities in Paris. Following the terrorist attacks in Tunisia last year, my right Honourable Friend, the Prime Minister, announced that funding would be made available for a memorial dedicated to UK nationals who have been killed in terrorist atrocities overseas. My right Honourable Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, also announced in the Summer Budget 2015 that the National Memorial would be funded by banking fines (Official Report, 8 July 2015, col 326).

We are launching this consultation in order to gather views on how the National Memorial should be developed. We recognize that, for many, this will be a sensitive issue. We have worked with the Victims’ Commissioner, Victim Support and the British Red Cross, and with representatives of victims’ families to ensure that the consultation allows people to express their views, whilst remaining as sensitive as possible to individuals’ circumstances.

We propose that the Memorial should be an enduring physical memorial that allows those affected to reflect upon their own loss in a way that is meaningful to them. We should not attempt to prescribe the nature of events, or the loss experienced by families and friends, in a rigid way. Consequently, the Memorial should carry a dignified inscription to the victims of overseas terrorism and should not bear individual names or terrorist events.

The consultation will ask respondents whether they would prefer the National Memorial to be in central London—where it might be seen by some to give due prominence to the memory of those who have died—or at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire—a peaceful location for personal reflection at the heart of the United Kingdom.

The consultation will be open for 6 weeks until 4 March 2016.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS476
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Ministry of Justice
Made on: 21 January 2016
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice)
Lords

Family Justice

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid (Shailesh Vara) has made the following Written Statement.

"Just prior to the Christmas recess, an error was identified in an online version of Form E. This is the form provided by Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service in order to enable people to disclose financial information during divorce and similar proceedings.

This fault meant that the automatic calculator in the form calculated the wrong total for an individual’s net assets by failing to deduct certain liabilities.

The Ministry of Justice was alerted to the fault on 10 December 2015 and a corrected version of the form was put online on 14 December. However the wider implications of the faulty form were not immediately recognised.

As soon as I was made aware of this issue on 16 December, I ordered an urgent investigation.

The investigation found the faulty formula was present in versions of Form E which were online between April 2014 and mid December 2015 and between April 2011 and January 2012.

A total of 36,527 cases contain a version of Form E filed from these periods. HMCTS staff have now reviewed all these cases and found that 3,638 files – 10 per cent – contained the faulty calculator version of Form E with an incorrect figure for net assets figure in the summary table.

1,403 of these cases are still live, allowing HMCTS to intervene immediately to clearly flag these cases to the courts in order to avoid the error affecting the final orders in these cases.

The remaining 2,235 files – 6.1 per cent – were closed cases. Although the faulty form was used in these cases, it will not necessarily have had any effect on the ultimate outcome. Form E is only a part of the material used by the parties and the court and is used at an early stage, so the information is often disputed or superseded by further information introduced during proceedings.

Following the error coming to light, HMCTS established a dedicated email address which people could use if they were concerned about their own case: formE@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk. This email address was advertised on our website and also in all responses to media enquiries. As of 21 January, 51 members of the public have emailed us about their case.

I have instructed HMCTS to write to all parties in the 2,235 closed cases. The letter expresses our sincere regret for the error, sets out what happened and explains that, although Form E is just one part of the evidence used in their case, there remains a possibility that the error affected the final outcome.

The letter sets out options available to people involved in these cases. Some may wish to do nothing, if, for example, they know that the error was corrected during the proceedings or they do not wish to re-open their cases. If people think they have been affected by this error then they can apply to the court to vary or set aside their order. My officials consulted the President of the Family Division about the court rules and procedures that would apply to such applications or for any other proceedings that might be open to the parties. My officials also consulted the President on the development of a specific form for such applications. We have provided a link to the new form in our letter to the parties, as well as guidance on how to complete the form.

I have instructed that no court fee will be charged for making this application, and this is also made this clear in the letter from HMCTS.

We are also uploading a new version of Form E which makes clearer how the calculation of net assets should be made. We will also consider the future of Form E as part of our broader court reforms and the automatic calculator function will be disabled during this process.

This failure should not have happened. Divorce proceedings can be very difficult and I sincerely apologise for this situation and any distress it may have caused."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS485
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 21 January 2016
Made by: Mr Shailesh Vara (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid)
Commons

Family Justice

Just prior to the Christmas recess, an error was identified in an online version of Form E. This is the form provided by Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service in order to enable people to disclose financial information during divorce and similar proceedings.

This fault meant that the automatic calculator in the form calculated the wrong total for an individual’s net assets by failing to deduct certain liabilities.

The Ministry of Justice was alerted to the fault on 10 December 2015 and a corrected version of the form was put online on 14 December. However the wider implications of the faulty form were not immediately recognised.

As soon as I was made aware of this issue on 16 December, I ordered an urgent investigation.

The investigation found the faulty formula was present in versions of Form E which were online between April 2014 and mid December 2015 and between April 2011 and January 2012.

A total of 36,527 cases contain a version of Form E filed from these periods. HMCTS staff have now reviewed all these cases and found that 3,638 files – 10 per cent – contained the faulty calculator version of Form E with an incorrect figure for net assets figure in the summary table.

1,403 of these cases are still live, allowing HMCTS to intervene immediately to clearly flag these cases to the courts in order to avoid the error affecting the final orders in these cases.

The remaining 2,235 files – 6.1 per cent – were closed cases. Although the faulty form was used in these cases, it will not necessarily have had any effect on the ultimate outcome. Form E is only a part of the material used by the parties and the court and is used at an early stage, so the information is often disputed or superseded by further information introduced during proceedings.

Following the error coming to light, HMCTS established a dedicated email address which people could use if they were concerned about their own case: formE@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk. This email address was advertised on our website and also in all responses to media enquiries. As of 21 January, 51 members of the public have emailed us about their case.

I have instructed HMCTS to write to all parties in the 2,235 closed cases. The letter expresses our sincere regret for the error, sets out what happened and explains that, although Form E is just one part of the evidence used in their case, there remains a possibility that the error affected the final outcome.

The letter sets out options available to people involved in these cases. Some may wish to do nothing, if, for example, they know that the error was corrected during the proceedings or they do not wish to re-open their cases. If people think they have been affected by this error then they can apply to the court to vary or set aside their order. My officials consulted the President of the Family Division about the court rules and procedures that would apply to such applications or for any other proceedings that might be open to the parties. My officials also consulted the President on the development of a specific form for such applications. We have provided a link to the new form in our letter to the parties, as well as guidance on how to complete the form.

I have instructed that no court fee will be charged for making this application, and this is also made this clear in the letter from HMCTS.

We are also uploading a new version of Form E which makes clearer how the calculation of net assets should be made. We will also consider the future of Form E as part of our broader court reforms and the automatic calculator function will be disabled during this process.

This failure should not have happened. Divorce proceedings can be very difficult and I sincerely apologise for this situation and any distress it may have caused.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS475
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 21 January 2016
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (Parliamentary Under Secretary of Stae for Communities and Local Government)
Lords

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

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

On the 26 February 2015, my predecessor the then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Eric Pickles) and the Secretary of State for Education (Nicky Morgan) confirmed that, having considered the report of the inspection by Louise Casey CB and advice note from Sir Michael Wilshaw (HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills), Rotherham Metropolitan Borough was failing to comply with its best value duty. They therefore concluded that it was both necessary and expedient for them to exercise their intervention powers. Moreover, given the complete failure of political and officer leadership in the council at this time, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government decided that the intervention should be broad and wide ranging with commissioners exercising many of the authority’s functions until these could be confidently rolled back for the authority to exercise in compliance with its best value duty. A team of Commissioners were appointed to exercise all executive functions of the authority, as well as some non-executive ones (e.g. licensing). They also had to oversee a rigorous programme of improvement to bring about essential changes in culture and ensure there is in future effective and accountable political and officer leadership.

Nearly a year on, a number of challenges remain but there have been significant areas of progress. Following consideration of submissions from the Lead Commissioner in support of his proposal, including the views of lay and expert panels and the results of a public consultation. Today I am therefore proposing, on the recommendation of the Commissioner team, my intention to return certain functions to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.

After careful consideration of the proposal and this further information provided by the Lead Commissioner, I am satisfied that the Council is now able to exercise the functions identified by the Lead Commissioner in compliance with the best value duty, and that the people of Rotherham can have confidence that this will be the case. I am therefore considering exercising my powers under section 15 of the Local Government Act 1999 to return certain service areas, including all associated executive and non-executive functions, to the Council to exercise. Returning these functions is of the start of building the effective and accountable political leadership and represents a clear milestone on the road to recovery.

The functions to be returned are:

  • Education and schools; education for 14-19 years in all settings; school admissions and appeal system; youth services.
  • Public Health.
  • Leisure services; events in parks and green spaces.
  • Customer and cultural services, libraries, arts, customer services and welfare programmes.
  • Housing.
  • Planning and transportation policy; highways maintenance.
  • The Council’s area assembly system and neighbourhood working; responsibilities under the Equalities Act.
  • Building regulation, drainage, car parking; environmental health; business regulation and enforcement (not including taxi licensing); emergency planning.
  • ICT; legal and democratic services; corporate communications; corporate policy; procurement; financial services, including benefits and revenues, but not including audit.
  • Budget control in these areas and budget planning.
  • Policy arising from Sheffield City Region.

The returned functions do not include licensing; children’s services; adult social care; audit; and other functions which still remain high risk.

I am confident that this is the right time and these are the right functions to return to the Council. The Commissioners will provide oversight of the returned functions to ensure that they are exercised in accordance with the best value duty. In addition they will continue to implement the rigorous programme of improvement they have started to bring about the essential changes in culture and ensure there is in future effective and accountable political and office leadership across the Council.

I am placing a copy of the documents associated with these announcements in the Library of the House and on my Department’s website.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS482
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HM Treasury
Made on: 21 January 2016
Made by: Lord O'Neill of Gatley (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

ECOFIN: 15 January 2016

My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (George Osborne) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council was held in Brussels on 15 January 2016. Ministers discussed the following items:

Current Legislative Proposals

The Presidency updated the Council on the state of play of financial services dossiers.

Presentation of the Presidency Work Programme

The new ECOFIN chair, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, provided an outline of the Dutch Presidency’s work programme.

European Semester

The Council adopted conclusions on two European Semester reports: the Annual Growth Survey and the Alert Mechanism Report. A Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area was also approved and will be sent to February European Council for endorsement.

Implementation of the Banking Union

The Commission gave an update on implementation of several dossiers linked to the Banking Union: the Single Resolution Fund, the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and the Deposit Guarantee Scheme Directive.

Combatting VAT fraud in the EU: Use of the reverse charge mechanism

An exchange of views was held in relation to widening the use of the reverse charge mechanism to combat VAT fraud in the EU.

Counter terrorist financing

The Commission updated ministers on progress to bring forward new proposals to reinforce the European framework in the fight against the financing of terrorism. The Council welcomed the update and will re-visit the issue in February.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS484
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Department for Education
Made on: 21 January 2016
Made by: Lord Nash (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools)
Lords

Childcare Bill – Joint Online Childcare Application

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

During second reading of the Childcare Bill my right honourable friend - the Secretary of State for Education - announced that our extended childcare entitlement will be delivered via a joint online application being developed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

As I outlined during Committee Stage of the Childcare Bill, the Department for Education will be providing HMRC with funding for the development of the joint online application and eligibility checking system.

I can confirm today that for 2015-16, urgent expenditure estimated at £1million will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

The development of the joint online application will mean that parents and children who will be eligible to benefit from both the extended entitlement and Tax-Free Childcare will be able to apply for both schemes through one simple and straightforward system, saving them valuable time.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS481
WS
Northern Ireland Office
Made on: 21 January 2016
Made by: Lord Dunlop (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland)
Lords

Independent Commission on Information Retrieval

My right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Theresa Villiers) has made the following written Ministerial statement: The cross-party talks that ran from 8 September to 17 November last year, which culminated in the Fresh Start agreement, brought us closer than ever before to consensus on the best way to deal with Northern Ireland’s past. While we established much common ground, it was not possible to reach agreement on all issues. I am committed to working with the Northern Ireland parties, with the Irish Government as appropriate, and with representatives of victims and survivors, to build on the progress made during the talks. The UK Government is determined to resolve the outstanding issues that are preventing the establishment of the legacy institutions set out in the Stormont House Agreement.

One of these institutions is the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval (ICIR). This will be an independent body designed to enable victims and survivors privately to receive information about the Troubles-related deaths of their next of kin. As set out in the Stormont House Agreement, and building on the precedent of the Independent Commission on the Location of Victims’ Remains, the ICIR will be an international body. To that end, the UK and Irish Governments have signed an international agreement to enable the establishment of the ICIR and to set out its functions. Today I have placed a copy of this treaty in the libraries of both Houses.

The ICIR will be an important institution which will help victims and survivors to seek information which it has not been possible to obtain by other means. Engagement by families with the ICIR will be entirely voluntary. Information provided to the ICIR about deaths within its remit will not be admissible in court, something which families will always be told in advance. The ICIR will not, however, provide any form of amnesty or immunity from prosecution. This Government believes in the rule of law and would not countenance such a step. As the Stormont House Agreement set out, information provided to the ICIR will be protected but no individual will be protected from prosecution if evidence is obtained by other means. It is the Government’s intention that the legislation needed to implement the ICIR will contain provisions clearly setting this out.

It had been our aim to lay the treaty before Parliament at the same time as introducing the legislation required to establish the legacy bodies. However, as agreement has not yet been reached on this legislation, this is not possible. Once any treaty is formally laid, Parliament has a period of 21 sitting days, in which it can resolve that the treaty should not be ratified, in accordance with the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. I believe that it would be best if this consideration took place alongside the legislation, which will contain more detail about how the ICIR will function. I propose therefore formally to lay the treaty once we are able also to introduce legislation. These particular circumstances mean that placing a copy of the treaty in the libraries of both Houses is an appropriate way to ensure that Parliament is aware of the text of the treaty, without instigating the formal process of consideration.

In addition to the ICIR, the Stormont House Agreement envisaged the establishment of the Historical Investigations Unit, the Oral History Archive and the Implementation and Reconciliation Group. Together, this set of institutions provides the best opportunity to help Northern Ireland deal with its past and provide better outcomes for victims and survivors, the people who we must never forget suffered more than anyone else as a result of the Troubles. The Government is committed to implementing the Stormont House Agreement and to establishing the legacy bodies it contains. I will continue to meet victims’ representatives and others over the coming days and weeks to discuss these matters and to build support for the new institutions.

WS
Department for Education
Made on: 21 January 2016
Made by: Lord Nash (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools)
Lords

Publication of Reformed History of Art Subject Content

My right honourable friend the Minister for State for Schools (Mr. Nick Gibb) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The government is reforming GCSEs and A levels to be more knowledge-based and to make sure that they give students the best possible preparation for further and higher education, and for employment.

Schools are now teaching some of the new reformed GCSEs and A levels, and we have already published reformed subject content for those GCSEs and A levels to be taught from September 2016 as well as for some of the GCSE and A levels to be taught from September 2017. Content for reformed GCSE subjects can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/gcse-subject-content and content for AS and A level subjects at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/gce-as-and-a-level-subject-content.

Today I am publishing revised subject content for history of art AS and A levels that will be taught in schools from September 2017.

Students will study a wide range of art and artists from different movements and periods including pre- and post-1850, ensuring good breadth and depth of study. The content also includes the development of art over time, and the connections and interrelationship between different artists, periods and movements.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS480
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