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Written Statements

Volume 554: debated on Thursday 29 November 2012

Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 29 November 2012

Energy and Climate Change

Global Deforestation

Ahead of the important international negotiations in Doha, I wanted to update the House on the plans I have been developing with the Secretary of State for International Development, the right hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening), and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the right hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson), on international forests and climate change. So today I am outlining new action to tackle deforestation as part of the UK’s international climate change commitments.

I am setting out plans for working with the private sector and rain forest countries so that the timber and foodstuffs we buy do not cause deforestation. Under the international climate fund, up to £300 million is available for these activities. We are committed to ensuring all our spend achieves value for money and so will be testing the appropriate allocation further in the design process.

UK programmes under the international climate fund are expected to support sustainable growth in forest countries, and boost the incomes of thousands of poor people who depend on the forests for their livelihoods. Through these programmes, the UK is playing its part to help save tens of millions of hectares from being deforested, and help to conserve biodiversity.

Tackling deforestation is a central part of how we address climate change, while reducing poverty and protecting biodiversity. Up to 17% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation, and around 13 million hectares of forest are lost every year. An estimated 1.2 billion poor people depend on forests for their livelihoods, and forests hold up to 80% of global terrestrial species.

Our support over the years for countries’ efforts to control illegal logging, and to encourage trade in legally harvested timber has already showed great success. Collective efforts to control illegal logging over the past 10 years have helped to protect an estimated 17 million hectares of forest, an area equivalent to England and Wales in size. These efforts have also saved developing countries an estimated $6.5 billion in potential tax revenues, so the benefits of taking action are clear.

But with growing demand for agricultural products, the timber market is no longer the biggest driver of deforestation. Around 60% of deforestation is now thought to be driven by agricultural products, such as production of soy, beef, palm oil and cocoa. So now we need to see the same shift in supply of certified sustainable products as we saw for timber.

UK funds could support sustainable intensification of agriculture, land swaps to move production onto degraded land, community forestry and other investments which make forests more valuable and so increase the incentives to keep them standing.

Also today, I am pleased that we are joined by other donor countries in setting out priorities on forests for the UN climate conference in Doha and beyond, including on ensuring our respective efforts are co-ordinated and coherent.

Ambitious commitments and actions by forest nations are critical. In that context, I am announcing today that £15 million of the UK’s international climate fund will go towards developing silvo-pastoral systems for climate change mitigation and poverty alleviation in Colombia. This involves supporting smallholder farmers to plant trees on cattle grazing land, to increase biodiversity, improve the livelihood of farmers, reduce carbon emissions, and protect local forests.

Health

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will meet on 6 and 7 December. The Health and Consumer Affairs part of the Council will be taken on 7 December.

The presidency is expected to seek a general approach on a proposal for a regulation amending Directives 1999/4/EC, 2000/36/EC, 2001/111/EC, 2001/113/EC and 2001/114/EC (the “breakfast directives”) as regards the powers to be conferred on the Commission. There will also be a progress report on a proposal for a decision on serious cross-border threats to health.

The presidency is expected to propose the adoption of Council conclusions on organ donation and transplantation and health ageing across the lifecycle.

Under any other business, the presidency will provide information on a proposal for a regulation on establishing a health for growth programme; and on a proposal for a directive amending Directive 89/105/EEC relating to the transparency of measures regulating the pricing of medicinal products. Information will also come from the presidency on a proposal for a regulation on food intended for infants and young children and on food for special medical purposes; on the working party on public health at senior level; and on conferences organised by the presidency.

In addition, information will be provided from the Commission on proposals for two new regulations on medical devices and in vitro diagnostic devices as well as progress on implementation of the joint action plan on medical devices following the PIP crisis; on member states’ implementation of the EU framework on salt reduction; and on transposition of the cross-border healthcare directive.

The presidency and the Commission will jointly provide information on the fifth session of the conference of the parties to the world health organisation (WHO) framework convention on tobacco control.

The Italian delegation will provide information on working towards a common EU strategy on asbestos health threats. Finally, the Irish delegation will also give information on the work programme for their forthcoming presidency, which will run from January until June 2013.

Home Department

G6 Ministerial Meeting

The informal G6 group of Ministers of the Interior from the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Poland held its most recent meeting in London on 20 and 21 November 2012. The French Interior Minister was unable to attend.

I chaired the meeting which was divided into three working sessions over one day, with a dinner the previous evening. The participating states were represented by: Anna-Maria Cancellieri (Italy), Jacek Cichocki (Poland), Hans-Peter Friedrich (Germany) and Jorge Fernández Díaz (Spain). The French Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, was represented by his diplomatic advisor, Emmanuel Barbe. The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmstrom attended for the whole meeting, and the US Attorney-General, Eric Holder and the Secretary for Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, attended as guests for the first session.

The first working session was on radicalisation and north Africa and the Sahel. I outlined how the UK approach has developed over the years and how we work with vulnerable people and other sectors such as universities and prisons. I raised concerns regarding developments around terrorist groups in north Africa and the Sahel and noted that opportunities for individuals to undertake terrorist training were increasing. I urged participants to agree to open a dialogue on how extremism is developing in some countries and how it is being driven by events in north Africa.

The second session focused on free movement of persons. I recognised that this issue is a key principle of the EU but sought views on how it operated in practice. I emphasised that fraud and abuse of free movement undermined the principle and must be tackled, and that the interpretation of the courts must not make it harder to do this. I also raised the question of whether the courts had extended the scope of free movement beyond the original intentions of the member states and whether it still benefited those EU citizens for whom it was originally intended. At the end of this session the German Interior Minister presented on smart borders.

The third session addressed the issue of how to improve the exchange of criminal records of child sex offenders. The director of Europol (Rob Wainwright) joined us for this session. I outlined that, while co-operation between law enforcement agencies was generally very good, such co-operation generally happened once a crime had been committed and I asked what more could be done to prevent serious crimes from happening. I acknowledged the different approaches that take place in member states and suggested that more work is needed to establish the best means of protecting children from these offenders.

The next meeting of the G6 is expected to be held in Italy in February.

Prime Minister

National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review

On behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister and other members of the National Security Council, I am pleased to present the second annual report of progress in implementing the national security strategy and strategic defence and security review. Copies are today being placed in the Library of the House.

Over the last year, the United Kingdom has played a central role in global affairs, defending our national security interests.

As we set out in the 2010 national security strategy and strategic defence and security review, our national security depends on our economic security and vice versa. In that context, the economic crisis in the Eurozone, the wider global economic slowdown and the parlous state of the UK’s finances in 2010 have had significant implications. The Government have responded by redirecting our overseas effort further to support trade and investment, especially with the most rapidly growing economies of the world, and by taking action to help British business compete and thrive in the global race. British exports to China, Russia and Brazil are already increasing rapidly. And we will continue to take steps to secure greater access for British companies in other emerging markets.

The combined effects of the economic situation, a decade of financial mismanagement and a 12-year gap since the last strategic defence review meant that this Government had to make extremely tough choices on defence. Investment was re-directed towards the capabilities we will need for the future and not those designed for the past. And critically, we had to ensure that future defence plans were affordable so that the MOD could break free from the vicious circle of planning to buy more equipment than it could afford, necessitating delays to programmes to make them affordable, which in turn increased costs and left our armed forces ill-equipped to face the demands of modern conflict.

The benefits of those tough but necessary decisions are now clear. We have committed to buying new Chinook helicopters, additional strategic airlift aircraft, and new and upgraded armoured vehicles for the army. The aircraft carrier programme is now progressing well, with the first aircraft due to fly from HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2018. We have invested £700 million in design work on the new Trident submarines, to prepare for the main gate decision in 2016, and £1 billion in a new facility to build reactor cores for our future submarine fleet. And we have now taken the first steps to resuscitate our reserve forces after a decade of neglect and underfunding, so that in future they can play a central role at home and overseas in protecting our national security interests.

Domestically, the Olympic and Paralympic games passed without significant security incidents, reflecting the careful preparation and professionalism shown by all involved. Our success underlines the need to stay ahead of the significant threats facing the UK from terrorism, organised crime and hostile action by other states. In line with our broader, risk-based approach to national security, we will continue to prioritise responding to these malicious threats, and to ensure a secure and resilient UK.

Afghanistan remains the UK’s largest overseas military commitment. The threat to global security from the al-Qaeda presence in the region has been significantly reduced. And as a result of the daily heroism of our remarkable armed forces, and those of our allies, we remain on track to complete security transition to the Afghan security forces as planned, which will enable our troops to end their combat mission by the end of 2014. We are committed to ensuring that Afghanistan cannot again be used as a haven for terrorists to attack the UK. We continue to work hard with the Governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan in an effort to find a long-term political settlement to the conflict.

People across the middle east and north Africa have been calling for greater freedom and democracy and greater economic opportunity. We have responded to those aspirations in order to help them achieve a better future by working with the countries in the region to put in place the building blocks of modern democracies: a fair and transparent criminal justice system, democratic accountability, the rule of law, open media and freedom of speech. More open, accountable and representative states in the middle east and north Africa will build more durable stability and security, both for the region and the UK.

The 2012 London conference provided the stimulus for political change in Somalia, triggering a renewed international effort to defeat extremism and to build and sustain Somali-led political and governance structures after decades of conflict. In Libya, Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia we have worked closely with our international partners to support the process of transition from oppressive dictatorship towards democracy and freedom. And in Syria, we are working to help the Syrian people to bring an end to the violence, to make progress on genuine political transition and to end the appalling humanitarian suffering.

Instability and conflict in developing countries directly threaten our national security. They also fatally undermine development and poverty reduction; no fragile or conflict-affected country has met a single millennium development goal. Preventing and resolving conflict are central to this Government’s approach to development. We have intensified our work on conflict prevention through the cross-Government building stability overseas strategy—tackling the causes of conflict at an early stage and preventing crises from escalating. Our leadership in standing by our aid commitments has allowed us to increase our untied, poverty-focused support to countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia which are critical to national security. A £20 million early action facility will enable us to respond more quickly to new causes of instability. The Government remain committed to spend 30% of UK official development assistance in fragile and conflict-affected states by 2014-15, and to work towards an ambitious international arms trade treaty. And we will look to ensure that the vital importance of conflict prevention and personal security for the world’s poorest people is properly covered in the post-2015 international development framework.

Review Body on Senior Salaries (New Appointments)

I have appointed the following people as members of the Review Body on Senior Salaries (SSRB):

Margaret Edwards

Professor Dame Hazel Genn

They have taken up their appointments on 1 September and 1 November 2012 respectively, initially for three-year terms. They have joined the other members of the SSRB who are:

Bill Cockburn, CBE TD - Chairman

Professor Richard Disney

Martin Fish

Professor David Metcalf CBE

Professor Alasdair Smith

Bruce Warman

Work and Pensions

Remploy

The Remploy annual report and financial statements 2012 will be published today. I will place copies of the report and financial statements in the House Libraries later today; they will also be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. Electronic copies will be available from the DWP website and Remploy’s website.

I have written to the chairman of Remploy formally approving the agreed 2012-13 performance and resources agreement between the Department and the Company, as follows:

Target Description

Target

To live within the Company's financial means in the 2012-13 financial year and achieve an operational funding result of:

£97.9m

Factory Businesses to achieve an operating result (loss) of:

£40.2m

Employment Service business to achieve an operating result of:

£28.2m

Total disabled job outcomes:

17,000

- of which Work Choice job outcomes:

7,500

- of which Work Choice Retention outcomes:

1,000

- of which other disabled job outcomes:

8,500