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
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Made on: 24 February 2016
Made by: George Eustice (Minister of State for Farming, Food and Marine Environment )
Commons

February Agriculture and Fisheries Council

I represented the UK at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 15 February in Brussels.

The chair of the Council, Netherlands Minister for Agriculture, presented their work programme for the duration of the Dutch Presidency. It focused on the key areas of food security, the future of the Common Agriculture Policy, plant breeders’ rights and patent rights, antimicrobial resistance, market situations, and sustainable fisheries.

Commissioner Vella introduced the first agenda item on the Commission’s proposal to amend rules for the control and management of EU fishing vessels operating outside of EU waters. All Member States, including the UK supported the general aims of the proposals. However, we and a number of others had concerns about increased administrative burdens and coherence of EU rules with relevant regional fisheries management organisations. Concerns were also raised about the overlap of Member State and Commission responsibility for issuing authorisations, on the grounds of subsidiarity. The Presidency noted it hopes to agree a Council General Approach in May or June 2016.

The second agenda item was on establishing an animal welfare platform - a paper which was put forward by Germany, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. The Council broadly supported this, which would allow experts to further exchange best practice and harmonise data and animal welfare across all Member States. France stressed the need to include animal welfare standards in future international trade negotiations.

Before lunch, a brief overview was given by the Presidency on the Antimicrobial Resistance Conference which took place in Amsterdam on 9-10 February. The UK, Denmark and Slovenia supported making this issue a priority.

After lunch, Commissioner Hogan updated the Council on EU trade and ongoing negotiations. He highlighted that EU exports were 6% higher than the previous year and was continuing to support sectors by increasing export promotions funding, diversifying and increasing EU trade partners and capitalising on opportunities in emerging economies. The Commissioner set out his ambitions to diversify and increase EU trade with a number of countries including China, Japan and the USA and updated the Council on his recent visits to Colombia and Mexico. He also highlighted the recent success at the World Trade Organisation Conference in Nairobi.

I supported the Commissioner in calling for ambitious trade and pushed further consideration of animal welfare in Free Trade Agreements. This was echoed by a number of other Member States.

Lastly, Commissioner Hogan summarised the conference on agricultural research held in Brussels on 26-28 January 2016. Many Member States intervened welcoming the development and direction of the strategy.

The following were AOB items on the agenda;

- Poland tabled a non-paper detailing their concerns on the extension of the restricted area for African Swine Fever, and called for additional support to the Ukraine to manage the spread of the disease. This was supported by nine other Member States.

- Poland and Spain led the discussion on agricultural markets highlighting the challenges in the pigmeat, dairy, fruit and vegetable sectors. This led in to a closed Ministerial lunch discussion.

WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 23 February 2016
Made by: Lord Bridges of Headley (Parliamentary Secretary)
Lords

Publication of single departmental plans

My Right Honourable friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Oliver Letwin) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

On Friday 19 February, seventeen government departments published their single departmental plans. All plans can now be accessed on departmental gov.uk pages, as well as on https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/single-departmental-plans-for-2015-to-2020

The plans set out how departments will deliver the government’s programme for this Parliament. They include each department’s priority objectives, the key programmes and policies that will deliver these, together with a number of performance indicators. They also set out the common efficiency measures that departments will be undertaking in order to deliver the government’s commitments in full within the resources available.

Single departmental plans are owned by departments and have been designed by Cabinet Office and HM Treasury working in partnership.

Statistical information published in the plans will be updated as new data becomes available.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS543
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 23 February 2016
Made by: Lord O'Neill of Gatley (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

ECOFIN: 12 February 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 12 February 2016. Ministers discussed the following items:

Anti-Tax Avoidance Package

The Commission presented its proposals for tackling corporate tax avoidance, including implementing the UK Government’s country by country reporting template for multinationals. This was followed by an exchange of views. The UK intervened to welcome the package and to urge EU Ministers to go further, including seeking a multilateral agreement on making details of the tax paid by companies publicly available on a country-by-country basis.

Current legislative proposals

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

Implementation of the Banking Union

The Commission provided a brief update on several dossiers linked to the Banking Union: the Single Resolution Fund, the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and the Deposit Guarantee Scheme Directive.

Fight against the financing of terrorism

The Commission presented its action plan to reinforce the European framework in the fight against the financing of terrorism. Following an exchange of views, the Council adopted conclusions on the new measures.

Preparation of the G20 meeting in Shanghai on 25-27 February 2016

The Council adopted the EU’s terms of reference ahead of the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Shanghai.

Discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget for 2014

On the basis of a report from the Court of Auditors, the Council voted on the discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the EU’s general budget for the financial year 2014. The UK voted against, alongside Sweden and The Netherlands.

Budget guidelines for 2017

Council conclusions were adopted on the EU budget guidelines for 2017. These will inform the Commission of high level priorities in preparation of the draft budget.

High Level Group on Own Resources

Mario Monti, the chair of the High Level Group on Own Resources, provided a state of play update on the EU’s financing system, followed by a short exchange of views.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS544
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 23 February 2016
Made by: Lord O'Neill of Gatley (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

UK subscription to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

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

On 23 February, the UK will increase its quota subscription to the IMF by 9,416.6 million special drawing rights (SDRs), equivalent to £9,270.2m using exchange rates on 22 February 2016. This raises the UK’s total quota subscription from 10,738.5 million SDRs to 20,155.1 million SDRs.

On 20 January 2016, a sufficiency of IMF members notified the IMF of the completion of relevant legislative procedures to implement Resolution 66-2 of the Board of Governors of the IMF (DEP2011-0977), thereby bringing increases to IMF members’ quota subscriptions envisaged by that Resolution into effect. Parliamentary approval in the UK for implementation of Resolution 66-2 was secured via The International Monetary Fund (Increase in Subscription) Order 2011, which came into force on 19 July 2011.

On the same day as the UK increases its quota subscription, two temporary loan facilities with the IMF will change. These facilities act as a second line of defence behind quotas. The UK’s commitment to the New Arrangements to Borrow will roll back by 9,178.2 million SDRs (equivalent to £9,035.5m), and a bilateral loan commitment of the same value will become effective.

Worldwide quota increases form part of a wider reform package which makes the IMF stronger and more legitimate. It is vital at this time that we have an IMF equipped to strengthen the resilience of the global economy against risks and spillovers.

An SDR is the unit of account used by the IMF. Its value is calculated daily as a weighted average of the US dollar, euro, yen and pound sterling.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS542
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 23 February 2016
Made by: Mr George Osborne (The Chancellor of the Exchequer )
Commons

ECOFIN: 12 February 2016

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council was held in Brussels on 12 February 2016. Ministers discussed the following items:

Anti-Tax Avoidance Package

The Commission presented its proposals for tackling corporate tax avoidance, including implementing the UK Government’s country by country reporting template for multinationals. This was followed by an exchange of views. The UK intervened to welcome the package and to urge EU Ministers to go further, including seeking a multilateral agreement on making details of the tax paid by companies publicly available on a country-by-country basis.

Current legislative proposals

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

Implementation of the Banking Union

The Commission provided a brief update on several dossiers linked to the Banking Union: the Single Resolution Fund, the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and the Deposit Guarantee Scheme Directive.

Fight against the financing of terrorism

The Commission presented its action plan to reinforce the European framework in the fight against the financing of terrorism. Following an exchange of views, the Council adopted conclusions on the new measures.

Preparation of the G20 meeting in Shanghai on 25-27 February 2016

The Council adopted the EU’s terms of reference ahead of the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Shanghai.

Discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget for 2014

On the basis of a report from the Court of Auditors, the Council voted on the discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the EU’s general budget for the financial year 2014. The UK voted against, alongside Sweden and The Netherlands.

Budget guidelines for 2017

Council conclusions were adopted on the EU budget guidelines for 2017. These will inform the Commission of high level priorities in preparation of the draft budget.

High Level Group on Own Resources

Mario Monti, the chair of the High Level Group on Own Resources, provided a state of play update on the EU’s financing system, followed by a short exchange of views.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS530
WS
Cabinet Office
Made on: 23 February 2016
Made by: Mr Oliver Letwin (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster)
Commons

Publication of single departmental plans

On Friday 19 February, seventeen government departments published their single departmental plans. All plans can now be accessed on departmental gov.uk pages, as well as on https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/single-departmental-plans-for-2015-to-2020

The plans set out how departments will deliver the government’s programme for this Parliament. They include each department’s priority objectives, the key programmes and policies that will deliver these, together with a number of performance indicators. They also set out the common efficiency measures that departments will be undertaking in order to deliver the government’s commitments in full within the resources available.

Single departmental plans are owned by departments and have been designed by Cabinet Office and HM Treasury working in partnership.

Statistical information published in the plans will be updated as new data becomes available.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS531
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 23 February 2016
Made by: Mr David Gauke (The Financial Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

UK subscription to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

On 23 February, the UK will increase its quota subscription to the IMF by 9,416.6 million special drawing rights (SDRs), equivalent to £9,270.2m using exchange rates on 22 February 2016. This raises the UK’s total quota subscription from 10,738.5 million SDRs to 20,155.1 million SDRs.

On 20 January 2016, a sufficiency of IMF members notified the IMF of the completion of relevant legislative procedures to implement Resolution 66-2 of the Board of Governors of the IMF (DEP2011-0977), thereby bringing increases to IMF members’ quota subscriptions envisaged by that Resolution into effect. Parliamentary approval in the UK for implementation of Resolution 66-2 was secured via The International Monetary Fund (Increase in Subscription) Order 2011, which came into force on 19 July 2011.

On the same day as the UK increases its quota subscription, two temporary loan facilities with the IMF will change. These facilities act as a second line of defence behind quotas. The UK’s commitment to the New Arrangements to Borrow will roll back by 9,178.2 million SDRs (equivalent to £9,035.5m), and a bilateral loan commitment of the same value will become effective.

Worldwide quota increases form part of a wider reform package which makes the IMF stronger and more legitimate. It is vital at this time that we have an IMF equipped to strengthen the resilience of the global economy against risks and spillovers.

An SDR is the unit of account used by the IMF. Its value is calculated daily as a weighted average of the US dollar, euro, yen and pound sterling.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS529
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 22 February 2016
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice)
Lords

HM Courts and Tribunals Service

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.

"On 19 February the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor wrote to the Chair of the Justice Select Committee to inform him of two issues concerning Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (‘HMCTS’): one relating to Form E1 and the other relating to community penalty breach warrant processing errors.

As a result of further extensive investigations to establish the cause of the Form E error, my officials have alerted me to a further calculator problem in a past version of another form, Form E1.

Form E1 is the form that parties must use to disclose financial information in certain kinds of financial proceedings, including proceedings for financial provision for children that fall outside the statutory maintenance scheme. Form E1 is used in a much smaller number of proceedings than Form E.

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 investigation found the faulty formula was present in the version of Form E1 that was available on the HMCTS Form Finder website between April 2011 and March 2012.

HMCTS has conducted a search on a set of 459 cases that have a record of a financial application or a reference to Form E1 having been filed during this period. Where Form E1s were found, they were checked to see if they were the HMCTS version containing the calculator error, and if so whether the error was present. 3 Form E1s have been identified as containing the calculation error.

Whilst we are confident that the trawl has captured the vast majority of cases that could have been affected by the error, anyone concerned about their case can write to us and their case will be checked. Following the Form E 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. Those who wish to contact us about Form E1 should use this same email address.

Although the faulty form was used in these cases, it will not necessarily have had any effect on the ultimate outcome. Form E1 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.

We have instructed HMCTS to write to all parties in the 3 cases identified. The letter will express our sincere regret, set out what happened and explain that, although Form E1 is just one part of the evidence used in their case, there remains a possibility that the error affected the final outcome.

The letter will set out options available to people involved in these cases. They 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 they 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 are also consulting the President on the development of a specific form for such applications. We will provide a link to the new form in our letter to the parties, as well as guidance on how to complete the form.

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

The current version of Form E1 has the correct calculator functionality and we will also consider the future of Form E1 as part of our broader court reforms.

With regard to community penalty breach warrants, on Tuesday 26th January, I was alerted to an error in the processing of an individual breach warrant by HMCTS.

A community penalty breach warrant is issued when an individual has failed to attend court to answer why they have not complied with the conditions of, for example, a community or suspended sentence. In some circumstances, individuals may be remanded in custody following a breach of their order.

The effect of a breach warrant not being processed properly can be that notification that a warrant has been issued to arrest an individual is either sent late to the arresting authority or not sent at all.

Following this individual case, HMCTS immediately began an urgent investigation into whether this was an isolated incident or more widespread. Initial local checks into all 725 ‘live’ breach warrants in the Greater Manchester area discovered that a further 51 breach warrants had been processed incorrectly. Those errors were due to processes being disapplied or ignored by specific members of HMCTS staff in the Greater Manchester area. Immediate steps have been taken to ensure that proper procedures are now being followed in Greater Manchester and action has been taken against all members of staff identified as responsible for these errors. All of the 52 warrants have since been processed correctly and have either been actioned or are in the process of being actioned by the enforcing authority.

Given the potentially serious repercussions of breach warrants not being properly processed, HMCTS then instigated detailed and thorough investigations across the whole of England and Wales to see if the problems in Greater Manchester had also occurred elsewhere. A total of 4,054 live warrants (including those in Greater Manchester) have been checked in 200 issuing courts across the country – including every warrant issued over the last month. Those checks have identified a further 69 errors nationally, including 47 in the London region.

Investigations are now examining the reasons for error in all 69 cases outside of Greater Manchester, and are particularly focused on why a disproportionate number appear to have occurred in London.

Early findings have already made clear that the majority of the errors in London were due to a change in process and personnel that had been addressed by the end of January 2016.

Immediate detailed assurance is being carried out of local processes to ensure that all community penalty breach warrants are sent to the appropriate enforcement authority, and an in-depth audit is being carried out in London and Greater Manchester to assure their processes independently. The relevant standard operating procedures are being strengthened as a matter of urgency, and best practice that has been identified through the investigations undertaken will be shared and implemented across the country. Appropriate action will be taken in respect of all staff members who have made errors, consistent with the approach taken in Greater Manchester.

HMCTS will report to me as soon as possible on the reasons for each individual error across the country and will also recommend whether more action should be taken to the steps outlined above in order to eliminate the possibility of further errors occurring in future. These mistakes are deeply regrettably and I sincerely apologise to anyone who may have been affected."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS540
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 22 February 2016
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice)
Lords

Consultation on fee proposals for grants of probate

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.

"On 18 February, the Government published a consultation paper proposing new fees for applications for grants of probate.

In the Spending Review the Ministry of Justice was allocated £700 million investment in Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (‘HMCTS’). This will transform our courts and tribunals, reducing complexity in language, processes and systems; helping people reach the best resolution for them; minimising the steps that people need to go through to obtain justice; and improving access to justice. We will invest in better facilities and use technology to reduce paperwork, so that we create a courts and tribunals service fit for the modern age.

At the same time, we must reduce the burden on the taxpayer of running our courts and tribunals. In meeting our Spending Review settlement, all parts of the Ministry of Justice must contribute to the national effort to reduce the deficit and restore the government’s finances to surplus. The courts and tribunals service cost £1.8 billion in 2014/15, but only £700 million was received in income. This leaves a net cost to the taxpayer of around £1.1bn in one year alone.

Our consultation on probate applications sets out reforms designed to increase income for a more sustainable courts and tribunals service and to introduce a more progressive fees regime. Probate applications are currently charged a fee of £155 if made by a solicitor and £215 if paid by an individual (“personal applications”). These fees apply to estates worth £5,000 or more. We propose raising this threshold from £5,000 to £50,000, lifting 30,000 estates out of the need to pay a probate fee altogether. The proportion of estates paying no fee would rise to 57%.

Above that threshold, we propose that the probate fee increases in line with the value of the estate. Estates worth over £50,000 but below £300,000 would see their fee rise to £300, a modest increase of £85 on the current maximum fee of £215. 84% of estates would pay £300 or nothing and 94% of estates would pay £1000 or less. The maximum fee of £20,000 would only be paid by the very wealthiest estates, worth more than £2 million. The fee would never exceed 1% of the value of the estate and in many cases it would be considerably less.

We also want to see a simpler, more streamlined process for probate applications, moving from a paper-based to an online system. This will make the Probate Service much easier to navigate so the experience of the bereaved is as simple and hassle-free as possible, reducing worry for executors at what is often a very difficult and distressing time, and enabling most applications to be completed online and, we hope, without expensive professional advice.

These proposals are progressive, with lower value estates lifted out of paying any fee at all and other estates only paying more as the value of the estate increases. They are also necessary, making a significant contribution to reducing the deficit and enabling investment which will transform the courts and tribunals service.

Court fees are never popular but they are necessary if we are, as a nation, to live within our means. These proposals would raise around an additional £250 million a year, which is a critical contribution to cutting the deficit and reducing the burden on the taxpayer of running the courts and tribunals.

Full details of the Government’s proposals are set out in the consultation document which has been published on the gov.uk website."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS541
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 22 February 2016
Made by: Mr Shailesh Vara (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid)
Commons

Consultation on fee proposals for grants of probate

On 18 February, the Government published a consultation paper proposing new fees for applications for grants of probate.

In the Spending Review the Ministry of Justice was allocated £700 million investment in Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (‘HMCTS’). This will transform our courts and tribunals, reducing complexity in language, processes and systems; helping people reach the best resolution for them; minimising the steps that people need to go through to obtain justice; and improving access to justice. We will invest in better facilities and use technology to reduce paperwork, so that we create a courts and tribunals service fit for the modern age.

At the same time, we must reduce the burden on the taxpayer of running our courts and tribunals. In meeting our Spending Review settlement, all parts of the Ministry of Justice must contribute to the national effort to reduce the deficit and restore the government’s finances to surplus. The courts and tribunals service cost £1.8 billion in 2014/15, but only £700 million was received in income. This leaves a net cost to the taxpayer of around £1.1bn in one year alone.

Our consultation on probate applications sets out reforms designed to increase income for a more sustainable courts and tribunals service and to introduce a more progressive fees regime. Probate applications are currently charged a fee of £155 if made by a solicitor and £215 if paid by an individual (“personal applications”). These fees apply to estates worth £5,000 or more. We propose raising this threshold from £5,000 to £50,000, lifting 30,000 estates out of the need to pay a probate fee altogether. The proportion of estates paying no fee would rise to 57%.

Above that threshold, we propose that the probate fee increases in line with the value of the estate. Estates worth over £50,000 but below £300,000 would see their fee rise to £300, a modest increase of £85 on the current maximum fee of £215. 84% of estates would pay £300 or nothing and 94% of estates would pay £1000 or less. The maximum fee of £20,000 would only be paid by the very wealthiest estates, worth more than £2 million. The fee would never exceed 1% of the value of the estate and in many cases it would be considerably less.

We also want to see a simpler, more streamlined process for probate applications, moving from a paper-based to an online system. This will make the Probate Service much easier to navigate so the experience of the bereaved is as simple and hassle-free as possible, reducing worry for executors at what is often a very difficult and distressing time, and enabling most applications to be completed online and, we hope, without expensive professional advice.

These proposals are progressive, with lower value estates lifted out of paying any fee at all and other estates only paying more as the value of the estate increases. They are also necessary, making a significant contribution to reducing the deficit and enabling investment which will transform the courts and tribunals service.

Court fees are never popular but they are necessary if we are, as a nation, to live within our means. These proposals would raise around an additional £250 million a year, which is a critical contribution to cutting the deficit and reducing the burden on the taxpayer of running the courts and tribunals.

Full details of the Government’s proposals are set out in the consultation document which has been published on the gov.uk website.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS527
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 22 February 2016
Made by: Mr Shailesh Vara (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid)
Commons

HM Courts and Tribunals Service

On 19 February the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor wrote to the Chair of the Justice Select Committee to inform him of two issues concerning Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (‘HMCTS’): one relating to Form E1 and the other relating to community penalty breach warrant processing errors.

As a result of further extensive investigations to establish the cause of the Form E error, my officials have alerted me to a further calculator problem in a past version of another form, Form E1.

Form E1 is the form that parties must use to disclose financial information in certain kinds of financial proceedings, including proceedings for financial provision for children that fall outside the statutory maintenance scheme. Form E1 is used in a much smaller number of proceedings than Form E.

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 investigation found the faulty formula was present in the version of Form E1 that was available on the HMCTS Form Finder website between April 2011 and March 2012.

HMCTS has conducted a search on a set of 459 cases that have a record of a financial application or a reference to Form E1 having been filed during this period. Where Form E1s were found, they were checked to see if they were the HMCTS version containing the calculator error, and if so whether the error was present. 3 Form E1s have been identified as containing the calculation error.

Whilst we are confident that the trawl has captured the vast majority of cases that could have been affected by the error, anyone concerned about their case can write to us and their case will be checked. Following the Form E 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. Those who wish to contact us about Form E1 should use this same email address.

Although the faulty form was used in these cases, it will not necessarily have had any effect on the ultimate outcome. Form E1 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.

We have instructed HMCTS to write to all parties in the 3 cases identified. The letter will express our sincere regret, set out what happened and explain that, although Form E1 is just one part of the evidence used in their case, there remains a possibility that the error affected the final outcome.

The letter will set out options available to people involved in these cases. They 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 they 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 are also consulting the President on the development of a specific form for such applications. We will provide a link to the new form in our letter to the parties, as well as guidance on how to complete the form.

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

The current version of Form E1 has the correct calculator functionality and we will also consider the future of Form E1 as part of our broader court reforms.

With regard to community penalty breach warrants, on Tuesday 26th January, I was alerted to an error in the processing of an individual breach warrant by HMCTS.

A community penalty breach warrant is issued when an individual has failed to attend court to answer why they have not complied with the conditions of, for example, a community or suspended sentence. In some circumstances, individuals may be remanded in custody following a breach of their order.

The effect of a breach warrant not being processed properly can be that notification that a warrant has been issued to arrest an individual is either sent late to the arresting authority or not sent at all.

Following this individual case, HMCTS immediately began an urgent investigation into whether this was an isolated incident or more widespread. Initial local checks into all 725 ‘live’ breach warrants in the Greater Manchester area discovered that a further 51 breach warrants had been processed incorrectly. Those errors were due to processes being disapplied or ignored by specific members of HMCTS staff in the Greater Manchester area. Immediate steps have been taken to ensure that proper procedures are now being followed in Greater Manchester and action has been taken against all members of staff identified as responsible for these errors. All of the 52 warrants have since been processed correctly and have either been actioned or are in the process of being actioned by the enforcing authority.

Given the potentially serious repercussions of breach warrants not being properly processed, HMCTS then instigated detailed and thorough investigations across the whole of England and Wales to see if the problems in Greater Manchester had also occurred elsewhere. A total of 4,054 live warrants (including those in Greater Manchester) have been checked in 200 issuing courts across the country – including every warrant issued over the last month. Those checks have identified a further 69 errors nationally, including 47 in the London region.

Investigations are now examining the reasons for error in all 69 cases outside of Greater Manchester, and are particularly focused on why a disproportionate number appear to have occurred in London.

Early findings have already made clear that the majority of the errors in London were due to a change in process and personnel that had been addressed by the end of January 2016.

Immediate detailed assurance is being carried out of local processes to ensure that all community penalty breach warrants are sent to the appropriate enforcement authority, and an in-depth audit is being carried out in London and Greater Manchester to assure their processes independently. The relevant standard operating procedures are being strengthened as a matter of urgency, and best practice that has been identified through the investigations undertaken will be shared and implemented across the country. Appropriate action will be taken in respect of all staff members who have made errors, consistent with the approach taken in Greater Manchester.

HMCTS will report to me as soon as possible on the reasons for each individual error across the country and will also recommend whether more action should be taken to the steps outlined above in order to eliminate the possibility of further errors occurring in future. These mistakes are deeply regrettably and I sincerely apologise to anyone who may have been affected.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS528
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 11 February 2016
Made by: Greg Clark (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government )
Commons

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

On 21 January 2016, I announced my intention, after careful consideration of the recommendation of the Commissioner team to return certain functions to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. The original Directions were issued on 26 February 2015, following the Casey report and advice note from Sir Michael Wilshaw, HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills. Although a number of challenges remain, there has been significant areas of progress nearly a year on, and I believe it is now appropriate to return some functions to the Authority.

However it is important to stress that the returned functions do not include functions such as licensing; children’s social care (including all services relating to child sexual exploitation); adult social care; audit; and other functions which still remain high risk.

On 21 January 2016, I invited representations from the Authority regarding my intention to return certain functions to them to exercise. I have now considered representations received from the Authority, including from the Leader and the Chief Executive, and 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. Therefore, today I am 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. Handing back these functions will allow some democratic control to be returned and for the Authority to take an important first step 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.

Today, my rt hon Friend the Secretary of State for Education (Nicky Morgan) and I have issued new Directions that return the above identified service areas to the Authority. With effect from 11 February, Councillors will be responsible for decision making in these areas. The Commissioners will provide oversight of the returned functions to ensure that they are exercised in accordance with the statutory best value duty and also retain powers in the remaining areas and other functions which still remain high risk. The Directions and Explanatory Memorandum accompany this statement.

160211 Rotherham Directions (Word Document, 86.56 KB)
160211 Rotherham Explanatory Memorandum (Word Document, 38.43 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS526
WS
Department for Communities and Local Government
Made on: 11 February 2016
Made by: Baroness Williams of Trafford (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State 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 21 January 2016, I announced my intention, after careful consideration of the recommendation of the Commissioner team to return certain functions to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. The original Directions were issued on 26 February 2015, following the Casey report and advice note from Sir Michael Wilshaw, HM Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills. Although a number of challenges remain, there has been significant areas of progress nearly a year on, and I believe it is now appropriate to return some functions to the Authority.

However it is important to stress that the returned functions do not include functions such as licensing; children’s social care (including all services relating to child sexual exploitation); adult social care; audit; and other functions which still remain high risk.

On 21 January 2016, I invited representations from the Authority regarding my intention to return certain functions to them to exercise. I have now considered representations received from the Authority, including from the Leader and the Chief Executive, and 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. Therefore, today I am 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. Handing back these functions will allow some democratic control to be returned and for the Authority to take an important first step 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.

Today, my rt hon Friend the Secretary of State for Education (Nicky Morgan) and I have issued new Directions that return the above identified service areas to the Authority. With effect from 11 February, Councillors will be responsible for decision making in these areas. The Commissioners will provide oversight of the returned functions to ensure that they are exercised in accordance with the statutory best value duty and also retain powers in the remaining areas and other functions which still remain high risk. The Directions and Explanatory Memorandum accompany this statement.

160211 Rotherham Directions (Word Document, 86.56 KB)
160211 Rotherham Explanatory Memorandum (Word Document, 38.43 KB)
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS539
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 11 February 2016
Made by: Harriett Baldwin (The Economic Secretary to the Treasury)
Commons

Financial Services

I can today confirm that I have laid a Treasury Minute informing the House of a reduction in HM Treasury’s contingent liabilities to NRAM plc (formerly Northern Rock (Asset Management) plc).

The Treasury Minute concerns the guarantee arrangements announced on 8 December 2009 that put in place arrangements in relation to certain borrowings and derivative transactions of, and certain wholesale deposits held in accounts with, NRAM plc. At March 2015 the maximum contingent liability to HM Treasury on this guarantee arrangement was £6.5 billion.

The reduction is a result of the sale announcement on 13 November that UK Asset Resolution (UKAR), the holding company of NRAM (formerly Northern Rock Asset Management) had sold £13 billion of mortgages, consequently HM Treasury’s contingent liabilities have reduced as securities associated with the Granite securitisation vehicle have been extinguished. As a result of this the HM Treasury exposure under this guarantee arrangement has fallen to around £270 million.

I will update the House of any further changes to UKAR associated guarantee arrangements as necessary.

If the remaining liability is called, provision for any payment will be sought through the normal Supply procedure.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS525
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 11 February 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.

I can today confirm that I have laid a Treasury Minute informing the House of a reduction in HM Treasury’s contingent liabilities to NRAM plc (formerly Northern Rock (Asset Management) plc).

The Treasury Minute concerns the guarantee arrangements announced on 8 December 2009 that put in place arrangements in relation to certain borrowings and derivative transactions of, and certain wholesale deposits held in accounts with, NRAM plc. At March 2015 the maximum contingent liability to HM Treasury on this guarantee arrangement was £6.5 billion.

The reduction is a result of the sale announcement on 13 November that UK Asset Resolution (UKAR), the holding company of NRAM (formerly Northern Rock Asset Management) had sold £13 billion of mortgages, consequently HM Treasury’s contingent liabilities have reduced as securities associated with the Granite securitisation vehicle have been extinguished. As a result of this the HM Treasury exposure under this guarantee arrangement has fallen to around £270 million.

I will update the House of any further changes to UKAR associated guarantee arrangements as necessary.

If the remaining liability is called, provision for any payment will be sought through the normal Supply procedure.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS538
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 11 February 2016
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Lords

North Korea’s ballistic missile programme

My right Honourable Friend, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Hugo Swire), has made the following written Ministerial statement:

I would like to update the House on the most recent developments on the Korean Peninsula and the action the Government is taking in response.

North Korea announced on 7 February that it had launched a satellite that morning. The launch took place at Dongchang-Ri on North Korea’s west coast. It was carried out by a satellite launch vehicle which used ballistic missile technology. As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right Hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), made clear in his public statement on 7 February, this latest provocation by North Korea is a clear and deliberate violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1718, 1874, 2087 and 2094.

This provocation took place almost exactly a month after North Korea announced to the media that it had conducted its first hydrogen bomb test on 6 January. The Foreign Secretary updated the House on this issue on 13 January (Official Record, 13 January 2016, Cols 21WS–22WS), and our assessment remains that the size of the seismic event caused by the nuclear test, while indicative of a nuclear explosion, was not indicative of the successful test of a thermonuclear weapon (also known as a hydrogen bomb).

We support the position outlined by the UN Security Council, as expressed in their press statement of 7 February, that this launch, as well as any other launch that uses ballistic missile technology, even if characterised as a satellite or space launch, contributes to North Korea’s development of nuclear weapon delivery systems and is a serious violation of Security Council Resolutions. We are working with other UN Security Council members to adopt expeditiously a new Security Council Resolution in response to these dangerous and serious violations.

I summoned the North Korean Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 8 February in order to make clear, in the strongest terms, the UK’s firm condemnation of this latest action. Our Ambassador in Pyongyang has reiterated our condemnation of the nuclear test.

In addition to the Foreign Secretary speaking to the Japanese Foreign Minister on 8 February, we remain in close touch with the US, France, South Korea, China and other partners on our respective approaches towards North Korea.

We remain deeply concerned by North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons and missile technology in defiance of UN resolutions and international condemnation. Amid reports of widespread hardship and human rights violations, the priority must be the health and welfare of North Korean people.

Our message to North Korea is that this behaviour is unacceptable. Due to the regime’s continued flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions, it now faces an increasingly robust international response.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS537
WS
Ministry of Justice
Made on: 11 February 2016
Made by: Lord Faulks (The Minister of State for Civil Justice)
Lords

HM Courts and Tribunals Service

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.

"The government is committed to modernising the way in which justice is accessed and delivered. We are investing over £700m over the next 4 years to update the court and tribunal estate, installing modern IT systems and making the justice system more efficient and effective for modern users.

Working closely with the judiciary, we have begun installing Wi-Fi and digital systems in our criminal courts but much more needs to be done. We want to make the entire justice system more accessible to everyone – witnesses, victims, claimants, police and lawyers – by using modern technology including online plea, claims and evidence systems and video conferencing, reducing the need for people to travel to court.

As part of this modernisation, the court and tribunal estate has to be updated. Many of the current 460 court buildings are underused: last year 48% of all courts and tribunals were empty for at least half their available hearing time. These buildings are expensive to maintain yet unsuitable for modern technology.

Court closures are difficult decisions; local communities have strong allegiances to their local courts and I understand their concerns. But changes to the estate are vital if we are to modernise a system which everybody accepts is unwieldy, inefficient, slow, expensive to maintain and unduly bureaucratic.

On 16 July 2015 I therefore announced a consultation on proposals to close 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales. Over 2,100 separate responses were received, along with 13 petitions containing over 10,000 signatures. I am grateful to all who took the time to provide their views. It is clear from the responses that the service our courts and tribunals provide continues to be highly valued.

Having considered carefully all responses to the consultation, we have decided to close 86 of the 91 courts and tribunals. 64 sites will close as proposed in the consultation. A further 22 closures will take place but with changes to the original proposals. These changes, many suggested by respondents, include the identification of suitable alternative venues, such as local civic buildings; or different venues in the HMCTS estate to those originally proposed. I am very grateful to all those who engaged with the consultation to help us to reach the best solutions.

On average, the 86 courts we are closing are used for just over a third of their available hearing time. That is equivalent to less than 2 days a week. It will still be the case that after these closures, over 97% of citizens will be able to reach their required court within an hour by car. This represents a change of just 1 percentage points for both criminal and County Courts. The proportion able to reach a tribunal within an hour by car will remain unchanged at 83%.

For each proposal in the consultation, we have considered access to justice; value for money; and efficiency. The consultation response, which is being published today, contains details of all the decisions and changes including an indicative timetable for closures, and will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses."

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS536
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 11 February 2016
Made by: Mr Hugo Swire (The Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)
Commons

North Korea’s ballistic missile programme

I would like to update the House on the most recent developments on the Korean Peninsula and the action the Government is taking in response.

North Korea announced on 7 February that it had launched a satellite that morning. The launch took place at Dongchang-Ri on North Korea’s west coast. It was carried out by a satellite launch vehicle which used ballistic missile technology. As the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right Hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), made clear in his public statement on 7 February, this latest provocation by North Korea is a clear and deliberate violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1718, 1874, 2087 and 2094.

This provocation took place almost exactly a month after North Korea announced to the media that it had conducted its first hydrogen bomb test on 6 January. The Foreign Secretary updated the House on this issue on 13 January (Official Record, 13 January 2016, Cols 21WS–22WS), and our assessment remains that the size of the seismic event caused by the nuclear test, while indicative of a nuclear explosion, was not indicative of the successful test of a thermonuclear weapon (also known as a hydrogen bomb).

We support the position outlined by the UN Security Council, as expressed in their press statement of 7 February, that this launch, as well as any other launch that uses ballistic missile technology, even if characterised as a satellite or space launch, contributes to North Korea’s development of nuclear weapon delivery systems and is a serious violation of Security Council Resolutions. We are working with other UN Security Council members to adopt expeditiously a new Security Council Resolution in response to these dangerous and serious violations.

I summoned the North Korean Ambassador to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on 8 February in order to make clear, in the strongest terms, the UK’s firm condemnation of this latest action. Our Ambassador in Pyongyang has reiterated our condemnation of the nuclear test.

In addition to the Foreign Secretary speaking to the Japanese Foreign Minister on 8 February, we remain in close touch with the US, France, South Korea, China and other partners on our respective approaches towards North Korea.

We remain deeply concerned by North Korea’s continued development of nuclear weapons and missile technology in defiance of UN resolutions and international condemnation. Amid reports of widespread hardship and human rights violations, the priority must be the health and welfare of North Korean people.

Our message to North Korea is that this behaviour is unacceptable. Due to the regime’s continued flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions, it now faces an increasingly robust international response.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS524
WS
HM Treasury
Made on: 11 February 2016
Made by: Lord O'Neill of Gatley (The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury)
Lords

ECOFIN: 12 February 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 will be held in Brussels on 12 February 2016. Ministers are due to discuss the following items:

Anti-Tax Avoidance Package

The Commission will present proposals for tackling corporate tax avoidance, including implementing the UK Government’s country by country reporting template for multinationals. This will be followed by an exchange of views. The UK has led the way in the OECD and EU in negotiating and implementing tougher international tax rules and transparency measures.

Current legislative proposals

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

Implementation of the Banking Union

The Commission will provide a brief update on several dossiers linked to the Banking Union: the Single Resolution Fund, the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and the Deposit Guarantee Scheme Directive.

Fight against the financing of terrorism

The Commission will present its action plan to reinforce the European framework in the fight against the financing of terrorism. Following an exchange of views, the Council will adopt conclusions on the new measures.

Preparation of the G20 meeting in Shanghai on 25-27 February 2016

The Council will adopt the EU’s terms of reference ahead of the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Shanghai.

Discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget for 2014

On the basis of a report from the Court of Auditors, the Council will vote on the discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the EU’s general budget for the financial year 2014.

Budget guidelines for 2017

Council conclusions will be adopted on the EU budget guidelines for 2017. These will inform the Commission of high level priorities in preparation of the draft budget.

High Level Group on Own Resources

Mario Monti, the chair of the High Level Group on Own Resources, will provide a state of play update on the EU’s financing system.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS533
WS
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Made on: 11 February 2016
Made by: Baroness Anelay of St Johns (The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
Lords

Foreign Affairs Council and General Affairs Council: 15–16 February

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 will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 15 February and I will attend the General Affairs Council on 16 February. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and the General Affairs Council will be chaired by the Dutch Presidency. The meetings will be held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council

The expected agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) will include Bosnia, South Africa, Moldova, Belarus, Libya and climate diplomacy. The Lebanon Foreign Minister will attend lunch where there will be an opportunity to follow up on commitments made at the London Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region 2016 and look at wider regional issues.

Bosnia

HRVP Mogherini will include Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) in her introductory remarks, signalling BiH’s intention to submit its EU membership application in the margins of the meeting. Whilst the UK Government will wish to welcome BiH’s progress on its EU path, we will want to make clear what more needs to be done for the application to proceed - namely more meaningful implementation of the Reform Agenda, Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) adaptation to take into account Croatia’s accession to the EU; and agreement on a coordination mechanism to allow BiH to speak with one voice to the EU.

South Africa

Ministers are expected to exchange views on HRVP Federica Mogherini’s forthcoming visit to South Africa and the future direction of the EU’s strategic partnership with the country. The UK will seek to encourage increased engagement and note the importance of the EU’s broad and significant partnership with South Africa.

Moldova

Ministers are expected to exchange views on recent developments in the Republic of Moldova.

Belarus

The FAC will have a discussion on relations between the EU and Belarus. Improving the human rights situation in the country remains a key priority for the EU.

Lebanon

Ministers will be joined for lunch by Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. As host to over 1.1 million refugees from Syria, Lebanon is on the front line of the humanitarian response to the crisis. At the Supporting Syria and the Region 2016 Conference held in London on 4 February the UK and co-hosts signed an agreement with Lebanon that will see the international community providing long term support to strengthen the Lebanese economy and create job opportunities for host communities and refugees. Ministers will discuss the implementation of this agreement, the urgent need for Lebanon to elect a President, and security in the region.

Libya

The FAC will focus on the latest developments in the UN-led political process. The UK, along with the UN and international partners continues to urge all parties to resolve the remaining issues quickly. The EU will play an important role in providing immediate support to a Government of National Accord, and we will encourage the EU to develop its options for support in co-ordination with the UN.

Climate Diplomacy

Ministers are expected to discuss the outcomes of the Paris climate change agreement and how best to support its implementation. They will exchange views on how the EU and Member States should co-ordinate their efforts, including a draft climate diplomacy plan drawn up by the European External Action Service. As my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said in her statement to the House on 14 December, this historic new global climate change agreement takes a significant step towards reducing, on a global scale, the emissions that cause climate change. The UK Government welcomes the way the EU Institutions and Member States worked together to deliver the Paris agreement. The Government will continue to engage actively with EU partners and the Institutions to support implementation of the agreement.

General Affairs Council

The General Affairs Council (GAC) on 16 February is expected to focus on European Council follow up, preparation of the February and March European Councils and the Inter-Institutional Agreement on Better Regulation.

European Council Follow up

The GAC will discuss the implementation of conclusions adopted at the December European Council, with a particular focus on the migration issue.

Preparation of the February European Council

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

Preparation of the March European Council

The GAC will prepare the agenda for the 17-18 March European Council, which the Prime Minister will attend. The March European Council agenda has not yet been released but we expect it to include migration.

Inter-Institutional Agreement on Better Regulation (IIA)

The GAC will receive a further update on the IIA negotiations from the Presidency. The Council may also discuss implementation, depending on the progress made ahead of the Council.

This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: HCWS532
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