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
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
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

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
WS
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
WS
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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