Written Ministerial Statements
Tuesday 7 February 2012
Business, Innovation and Skills
Council for Science and Technology
I would like to inform the House that today the Prime Minister has appointed Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell as the independent co-chair to the Council for Science and Technology (CST).
Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell is President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Manchester and was appointed to the CST as a member in June 2011.
The CST Is the UK Government’s top level advisory body on science and technology policy issues. It reports to the Prime Minister.
The appointment process was made in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ code of practice for ministerial appointments to public bodies.
Full details of CST’s terms of reference and organisation can be found at http://www.bis.gov.uk/cst.
Strategic Export Licensing
My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary announced to the House on 13 October 2011 the conclusions of his review of defence and security export policy in the light of events in the middle east and north Africa.
It concluded that there were no fundamental flaws with the UK strategic export licensing system. We share this view. However, the review did identify areas where our system could be further strengthened. To this end, he announced a package of proposals that included the introduction of a mechanism to allow the immediate suspension of pending licence applications to countries experiencing a sharp deterioration in security or stability, and a commitment to continue to work to improve public information on defence and security exports, including enhanced transparency of routine export licensing decisions and how we respond during a crisis.
We have worked closely in developing the suspension mechanism, and are pleased to report that this suspension mechanism is now in place. As a result of this change the Government have ensured that export licensing policy is now more responsive to rapidly changing circumstances overseas.
The new suspension mechanism will allow the Government to quickly suspend the processing of pending licence applications to countries experiencing a sharp deterioration in security or stability. Suspension will not be invoked automatically or lightly, but triggered for example when conflict or crisis conditions change the risk suddenly, or make conducting a proper risk assessment difficult. A case-by-case assessment of a particular situation will be necessary to determine whether a licensing suspension is appropriate.
Any decision to suspend will be taken by the Licensing Authority based on advice from relevant Government Departments and reporting from our diplomatic posts. Parliament, industry and the media will be informed of any suspension.
Suspension will be tailored to the circumstances in play and will not necessarily apply to all export licence applications to a country, but may instead be for applications for particular equipment (for example crowd control goods), or for applications for equipment going to a particular end-user.
If a decision to suspend is made, work on licence applications in the pipeline will be stopped and no further licences issued pending ministerial review. Once the suspension is lifted, applications will not be required to be resubmitted.
The Ministry of Defence will apply any licensing suspension decision to MOD Form 680 applications, for which it is the Government authority, and to the assessment against the consolidated criteria of gifting cases, which it co-ordinates on behalf of the Government.
Suspension will be lifted (or partially lifted) where the Licensing Authority considers it appropriate to do so.
Transparency is also crucial because confidence in the workings of the export licensing system needs to be shared by Parliament and by the public. The system should not just be working properly; it should also be seen to do so.
I am therefore announcing today a number of proposals to improve the transparency of the export licensing system. These proposals build on my right hon. Friend’s review, and we intend to seek the views of interested parties, including the representatives of exporters and non-governmental organisations, on how they will work.
The first proposal is to insert into all open export licences a provision requiring the exporter to report periodically on transactions undertaken under these licences. The Government will then publish this information.
The second proposal concerns information contained in standard export licence applications. Currently all such applications are made in confidence, which makes it difficult to make public any more information than is already disclosed in the Government’s annual and quarterly reports. The Export Control Organisation considers that certain additional information contained in licence applications could be made public without causing concern to exporters. I will explore ways of making this additional information public while protecting any sensitive material.
The third proposal is to appoint an independent person to scrutinise the operation of the Export Control Organisation’s licensing process. The role of this independent person would be to confirm that the process is indeed being followed correctly and report on their work.
In considering these proposals we intend to consult the various interested parties to reach an outcome which achieves the Government’s objective of increased transparency while at the same time imposing the minimum additional burden on exporters.
We will, simultaneously, be pursuing further changes to the strategic licensing system to make it more efficient and customer-focused, whilst maintaining the integrity of the process. Working together, my right hon. Friend and I remain committed to robust and effective national and global controls to help prevent exports that could undermine our own security or core values of human rights and democracy; to protect our security through strategic defence relationships; and to promote our prosperity by allowing British defence and security industries to operate effectively in the global defence market.
I intend to make a further announcement to Parliament, setting out the Government’s conclusions and plans for implementing any further changes, before the summer recess.
Public Service Pensions Uprating
Legislation governing public service pensions requires them to be increased annually by the same percentage as additional pensions (state earnings related pension and state second pension). Public service pensions will therefore be increased from 9 April 2012 by 5.2%, in line with the annual increase in the consumer prices index up to September 2011, except for those public service pensions which have been in payment for less than a year, which will receive a pro-rata increase.
Communities and Local Government
Unlocking Growth in Cities
On 8 December the Government launched “Unlocking Growth in Cities”, which set out the terms for a programme of city deals—binding agreements that enable cities to negotiate the devolution of the specific powers, resources and responsibilities required to meet locally-determined economic and social objectives. We have been clear that we are determined to work flexibly to promote growth, to encourage local initiative and willing to transfer significant powers to cities.
The Government have now considered the proposals brought forward by Liverpool for a “City Deal” in response to this challenge. The Government recognise it represents an ambitious economic package aimed at driving growth in Liverpool, and that it is an important part of the city’s response to Lord Heseltine and Sir Terry Leahy’s Rebalancing Britain report on the Liverpool economy.
I am therefore pleased to inform the House that the Government have approved the following proposals from Liverpool as a “City Deal”:
Subject to HM Treasury clearance of a business case and agreement with the local enterprise partnership, the Government will designate a new enterprise zone covering the city fringe buffer zone and central business district. The growth in business rates income from the enterprise zone will go to the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, in line with the Government’s wider enterprise zone policy and our ambition to see a city-region wide approach to growth and regeneration. The Government recognise that Liverpool has ambitious plans to develop five further priority economic development areas (proposed mayoral development zones) in the city, and their ambition to reinvest rates retained from this new enterprise zone within the city. Any retention of enterprise zone business rates by the city council will need to be negotiated between Liverpool and the local enterprise partnership.
The creation of what Liverpool proposes to term a Mayoral Investment Board that will oversee the city’s economic and housing strategy as well as oversight of the development of Home and Communities Agency land assets and other economic development priorities including those linked to the enterprise and proposed mayoral development zones. This arrangement will be based on the principle that the Home and Communities Agency will retain legal ownership and accountable body status for current Home and Communities Agency assets.
The Department for Work and Pensions will work with Liverpool to develop welfare pilots to deliver a localised programme of support for people leaving the work programme and in particular include a “youth contract” pathfinder. It is expected that this will improve the benefit claims experience for customers while making efficiency savings for both the city and the Department for Work and Pensions; increase the numbers of claimants moving into work; and reduce benefit fraud and error.
A secondary school investment plan funded by the council for up to 12 new-build secondary schools, including at least six new academies. These schools will be subject to the normal academy converter application process and once in place, the council will not be part of their ongoing governance or financial management. Liverpool has made clear its commitment to ensure that the schools in the city support the local skills agenda and the local economy. The Government therefore expect the council to be proactive and work with the schools, the private sector and the universities in Liverpool to help them develop specialisms and identify and attract appropriate sponsors.
The Government are prepared to support initiatives that boost economic growth and development. The Department for Communities and Local Government already supports economic development in local authorities and is therefore prepared to work closely with the city as Liverpool implements its vision for economic development. As part of that close working, the Department for Communities and Local Government will contribute £75 million over the remaining years of the spending review period, subject to a strong, robust business case, to be cleared by HM Treasury, demonstrating clear value for money.
The Government set out in “Unlocking Growth in Cities”, that where cities want to take on significant new powers and funding streams, they will need to demonstrate strong, accountable leadership, an ambitious agenda for the economic future of their area, effective decision-making structures, and private sector involvement and leadership. The appropriate governance structure may be different for each city, and no city deal is conditional on having any particular governance arrangement. However, the Government believe that directly elected mayors are one way of providing the strong, visible and accountable leadership so, subject to approval by the council, the Government can confirm that a move towards a directly elected mayor and the creation of a Mayoral Development Corporation would satisfy its requirements as regards governance arrangements to strengthen leadership and accountability in Liverpool City Council.
The Government place great importance on local enterprise partnerships to drive economic development, and therefore expect Liverpool to continue to work closely with the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and neighbouring authorities to ensure their support for this “City Deal” and to take it forward as well as future decentralisation packages covering the local enterprise partnership area.
Votes A Annual Estimate 2012-13
The Ministry of Defence Votes A estimate 2012-13, will be laid before the House on 8 February 2012 as HC 1735. This outlines the maximum numbers of personnel to be maintained for each service in the armed forces during financial year 2012-13.
These numbers do not constitute the trained requirement of the armed forces, which are published separately in the UK armed forces quarterly manning report.
Votes A Supplementary Estimate 2011-12
Ministry of Defence Votes A supplementary estimate 2011-12 will be laid before the House on 8 February 2012 as HC 1745. This outlines the increased maximum numbers of personnel to be maintained for service in the reserve naval and marines forces and the reserve land forces during financial year 2011-12.
These numbers do not constitute the trained requirement of the armed forces, which are published separately in the UK armed forces quarterly manning report.
Operation Herrick 16 Roulement
The next roulement of UK forces in Afghanistan is due to take place in April 2012. The UK’s current framework Brigade in Helmand, 20th Armoured Brigade, will be replaced by 12th Mechanized Brigade. The forces deploying include:
12th Mechanized Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadron (228)
Elements of 19th Light Brigade Headquarters
Headquarters 102 Logistic Brigade
The King’s Royal Hussars
The Light Dragoons
Elements of 1st Royal Tank Regiment
Elements of The Royal Wessex Yeomanry
19th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 12th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 16th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 39th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 40th Regiment Royal Artillery
26 Engineer Regiment
Elements of The Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia)
Elements of 21 Engineer Regiment
Elements of 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
Elements of 36 Engineer Regiment (Search)
Elements of 38 Engineer Regiment
Elements of 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographical)
Elements of The Military Stabilisation and Support Group
Elements of 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group
16th Signal Regiment
Elements of 10th Signal Regiment
Elements of 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare)
Elements of 21st Signal Regiment (Air Support)
1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards
1st Battalion The Welsh Guards
1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment
3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment)
1st Battalion The Royal Welsh
2nd Battalion The Royal Ghurkha Rifles
3rd Battalion The Rifles
Elements of The London Regiment
Elements of 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment
Elements of 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment
Elements of 6th Battalion The Rifles
Elements of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps
Elements of 4 Regiment Army Air Corps
Elements of 6 Regiment Army Air Corps
Elements of 9 Regiment Army Air Corps
Elements of Joint Helicopter Support Squadron
Elements of Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Support Battalion
4 Logistic Support Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps
10 The Queen’s Own Ghurkha Logistic Regiment
Elements of 9 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 17 Port and Maritime Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 23 Pioneer Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 24 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 27 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 29 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 88 Postal and Courier Regiment (Volunteers), The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 148 Expeditionary Force Institute Squadron (Volunteers), The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 152 Transport Regiment (Volunteers), The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 159 Supply Regiment (Volunteers), The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 162 Movement Regiment (Volunteers), The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 166 Supply Regiment (Volunteers), The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 151 Transport Regiment (Volunteers), The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of the Catering Support Regiment (Volunteers), The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of the Operational Headquarters Support Group (Volunteers), The Royal Logistic Corps
4th Medical Regiment
22nd Field Hospital
Elements of 254 Medical Regiment (Volunteers)
4th Close Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Elements of 104 Force Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
174 Provost Company Royal Military Police
Elements of 160 Provost Company Royal Military Police
Elements of Special Investigations Branch United Kingdom
Elements of The Military Provost Staff
Elements of 1st Military Working Dogs Regiment
Elements of 1st Military Intelligence Battalion
Elements of 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion
Elements of 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion
Elements of 4th Military Intelligence Battalion
Elements of 5th Military Intelligence Battalion
Elements of The Defence Cultural Specialist Unit
Elements of 15 Psychological Operations Group
604 Tactical Air Control Party
614 Tactical Air Control Party
621 Tactical Air Control Party
632 Tactical Air Control Party
2 (Army Co-Operation) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 24 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 30 Squadron, Royal Air Force
12(B) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 5 (Army Co-Operation) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 32 Squadron Royal Air Force
Elements of 28 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 216 Squadron Royal Air Force
Elements of 101 Squadron Royal Air Force
Elements of 39 Squadron Royal Air Force
Elements of 27 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 18 Squadron, Royal Air Force
617 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 99 Squadron Royal Air Force
Elements of 78 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Number 5 Royal Air Force, Force Protection Wing Headquarters
Elements of Number 2 Royal Air Force Police Wing
Elements of Number 3 Royal Air Force Police Wing
51 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment
Elements of the Tactical Supply Wing, Royal Air Force
Elements of 1 Air Mobility Wing, Royal Air Force
Elements of 1 Air Control Centre, Royal Air Force
Elements of 90 Signals Unit, Royal Air Force
Elements of 2 (Mechanical Transport) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 5001 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 3 Mobile Catering Squadron
Elements of Tactical Medical Wing
Elements of 1 (Expeditionary Logistics) Squadron
Elements of 93 (Expeditionary Armaments) Squadron
Elements of Tactical Imagery Wing
Elements of 5131 (BD) Sqn
Volunteer and ex-regular members of the reserve forces will continue to deploy to Afghanistan as part of this integrated force package, and we expect to issue around 300 call-out notices. On completion of their mobilisation procedures, the reservists will undertake a period of training and, where applicable, integration with their respective receiving units. The majority will serve on operations for around six months. As part of this commitment, we expect up to six members of the sponsored reserves to be in theatre at any one time.
The UK’s conventional force level is expected to remain at 9,500 for the duration of the deployment.
I shall make a further statement on the units we expect to serve under 12th Mechanized Brigade’s planned replacement formation, 4th Mechanized Brigade, nearer the time of their deployment.
I am today announcing a £15 million growth package for cycling and walking measures across the country that will support economic growth and help to cut carbon, while promoting a healthier lifestyle.
The projects funded by this package support the key objectives of the £560 million local sustainable transport fund—building a strong economy and tackling carbon. This additional £15 million funding will be geared to supporting jobs, enhancing access to employment and supporting the end-to-end journey, helping to bring about changing patterns of travel behaviour and encouraging greater use of more sustainable transport modes.
The projects will be delivered to meet local demand and needs, and will be implemented through Sustrans and the Cycle Rail Working Group.
Sustrans will receive £8 million to create routes along the lines of their successful “Peoples’ Millions” Connect2 programme, further building on the Department’s investment in Links to Schools, which have seen the construction of safe, traffic free and traffic calmed routes for cyclists and pedestrians between schools and the national cycle network.
The Cycle Rail Working Group will receive £7 million to invest in improving integration between cycle and rail at stations across the country, including through improved cycle facilities at stations. This additional sum will complement other projects already being delivered by Network Rail, which are themselves delivering a £7 million programme of cycle facilities at stations and safe access routes to stations.
Further details of the projects to be taken forward will be announced by press notice, and deposited in the Libraries of both Houses, in March.
Health Select Committee Report on Public Health (Government Response)
Today we have laid before Parliament the Government’s response to the Health Select Committee report on public health (Cm 8290). The response summarises the Government’s plans to modernise the public health system, including giving local authorities a new leadership role in public health and the creation of an integrated public health body, Public Health England, to provide expert advice and support.
Copies of the Government’s response are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper office.