Written Ministerial Statements
Tuesday 12 February 2013
A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held in Brussels on 12 February 2013. We expect the following items to be on the agenda and discussed:
Current legislative proposals
The presidency intends to give an update on: single supervisory mechanism (SSM); the fourth capital requirements directive (CRD IV); bank recovery and resolution; market abuse directive (MAD)/market abuse regulation (MAR); and revised rules for markets in financial instruments directive (MiFID).
Discharge to be given to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget for 2011
As part of the annual discharge process, Ministers will conclude recommendations to the European Parliament on whether to discharge the Commission from its responsibility for implementing the 2011 EU budget, based on an annual report from the European Court of Auditors (ECA).
Council guidelines for the budget for 2014
As part of the annual EU budget process, Council will agree a set of Council conclusions on guidelines for the 2014 budget of the EU, which will serve as its overall reference for the subsequent budgetary procedure.
Preparation of G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and governors (Moscow, Russia, 15 to 16 February 2013)
Council will be asked to endorse the EU terms of reference for the G20 Finance Ministers and governors meeting. This will be the first G20 Finance Ministers and governors meeting of the Russian presidency.
Annual growth survey 2013
Ministers will agree a set of Council conclusions on the Commission’s annual growth survey 2013.
Alert mechanism report 2013
Ministers will agree a set of Council conclusions on the Commission’s alert mechanism report 2013.
Fiscal sustainability report 2012
Ministers will agree a set of Council conclusions on the fiscal sustainability report 2012.
The next roulement of UK forces in Afghanistan is due to take place in April 2013. Around half of these units will form Taskforce Helmand under command of 1 Mechanised Brigade. The remainder will deploy within Helmand and also to other locations in Afghanistan—particularly Kandahar and Kabul—as part of the UK’s overall contribution. The forces deploying include1:
1 Mechanised Brigade Headquarters and Signal Squadron (215)
847 Naval Air Squadron
857 Naval Air Squadron
Household Cavalry Regiment
1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery
2nd Royal Tank Regiment
Elements of 5th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 16th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 39th Regiment Royal Artillery
Elements of 47th Regiment Royal Artillery
22 Engineer Regiment
Elements of 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault)
Elements of 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal)
Elements of 36 Engineer Regiment (Search)
Elements of 42 Engineer Regiment (Geographic)
Elements of 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group
Elements of 3rd (United Kingdom) Division Headquarters and Signal Regiment
Elements of 10th Signal Regiment
Elements of 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare)
Elements of 15th Signal Regiment (Information Support)
Elements of 21st Signal Regiment (Air Support)
Elements of 1st Battalion Irish Guards
The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (King's, Lancashire and Border)
1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
4th Battalion The Rifles
Elements of 1 Regiment Army Air Corps
Elements of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps
Elements of 9 Regiment Army Air Corps
Elements of Joint Helicopter Support Squadron
3 Logistic Support Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps
9 Theatre Logistic 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 Postal Courier and Movement Control Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps
Elements of 29 Postal Courier and Movement Control Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps
5 Medical Regiment
33 Field Hospital
6 Close Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Elements of 7 Air Assault Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
Elements of 104 Force Support Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers
158 Provost Company Royal Military Police
Elements of 156 Provost Company Royal Military Police
Elements of Special Investigations Branch (United Kingdom) Royal Military Police
Elements of Military Provost Staff Corps
Elements of 1st Military Working Dog Regiment
Elements of 2 Military Intelligence (Exploitation) Battalion
Elements of 4 Military Intelligence Battalion
Elements of The Military Stabilisation Support Group
Elements of 15 (United Kingdom) Psychological Operations Group
Elements of The Defence Cultural Specialist Unit
Elements of The Royal Yeomanry
Elements of 104th Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers)
Elements of 106th (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers)
Elements of 72 (Tyne Electrical Engineers) Engineer Regiment (Volunteers)
Elements of 71st (City of London) Yeomanry Signal Regiment (Volunteers)
Elements of 51st Highland, 7th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Elements of 4th Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (King's, Lancashire and Border)
Elements of 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Elements of 4th Battalion The Parachute Regiment
Elements of 7th Battalion The Rifles
Elements of The Scottish Transport Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers)
Elements of The Welsh Transport Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers)
Elements of 88 Postal and Courier Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers)
Elements of 159 Supply Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers)
Elements of 148 Expeditionary Force Institute Squadron, The Royal Logistic Corps (Volunteers)
Elements of 103 Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (Volunteers)
Elements of 3 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteers)
Elements of 5 Military Intelligence Battalion (Volunteers)
31 Squadron, Royal Air Force
12 (Bomber) Squadron, Royal Air Force
2 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment
3 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment
Number 3 Royal Air Force Force Protection Wing Headquarters
Number 2 Tactical Police Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 47 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 30 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 32 (The Royal) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 28 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 216 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 39 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 13 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 27 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 18 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 51 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 99 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 78 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 33 (Engineering) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 90 Signals Unit, Royal Air Force
Elements of 1 Air Control Centre, Royal Air Force
Elements of Tactical Supply Wing, Royal Air Force
Elements of 1 Air Mobility Wing, Royal Air Force
Elements of Tactical Medical Wing, Royal Air Force
Elements of 2 (Mechanical Transport) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of 93 (Expeditionary Armaments) Squadron, Royal Air Force
Elements of Engineering and Logistics Wing, Royal Air Force Odiham
In addition to the list of formed units, individual augmentees from each of the services will continue to deploy as part of this integrated force package. In total we expect around 910 individual augmentees to deploy on operations. This will comprise 146 Royal Navy personnel; approximately 4002 Army personnel and 364 Royal Air Force personnel. The Royal Air Force will provide the command element of Headquarters Joint Force Support (Afghanistan),with the wider headquarters manned by individual augmentees from all three services.
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 550 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 although a small proportion of any force which is stood down due to force level reductions is likely to be reservist.
As the Prime Minister announced in December 2012, the UK’s conventional force levels in Afghanistan will draw down from 9,000 at the end of 2012 to around 5,200 by the end of 2013.
I shall make a further statement on 1 Mechanised Brigade’s planned replacement formation, 7 Armoured Brigade, nearer the time of their deployment.
1Where the contribution is 10 personnel or more.
2Although we expect this to rise to approximately 450 when the UK deploys personnel to the Afghan National Army Officers’ Academy during the Operation Herrick 18 period.
European Defence Agency Membership Review
I am announcing today that following a review of our membership of the European Defence Agency (EDA), the UK will at the present time remain a member of the agency.
In 2010 the UK reviewed its membership of the EDA following the strategic defence and security review. Subsequently, my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox), recommended that the UK should remain a member of the EDA with a stocktake after two years.
In consultation across Government, my Department has reassessed the benefits of remaining in the EDA and reviewed progress made by the agency since 2010 against identified shortfalls.
The EDA has made progress in some areas requiring reform, but there is more to be done to improve its operational effectiveness and so the case for continued membership remains finely balanced. Overall, I have concluded that for now the UK should remain a member of the EDA with our continuing membership to be reviewed again in late 2013 in light of progress made during the year.
Military Low Flying (2011-12)
I have today placed in the Library of the House a document providing detailed statistics of the low-flying training that has taken place in the UK low-flying system for the training year 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012. This statistical appendix may be read in conjunction with the master document “Military Low Flying in the United Kingdom” that is already available in the Library of the House.
The amount of low-flying training carried out in the UK low-flying system (UKLFS) during the training year 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012 was the minimum required for aircrew to reach and maintain their ability to fly at low level. A total of 48,270 hours of low-flying training were conducted across all low-flying areas. In comparative terms, there was a decrease of 881 hours, or approximately 1.8% on the previous training year due to the operational deployment of fixed wing aircraft in Afghanistan and Libya. The amount of operational low flying (between 250 feet and 100 feet) by fixed wing aircraft was 134 hours, accounting for 0.3% of all low- flying activity.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
International Criminal Court (Victims Fund)
I can announce today that the UK will contribute an additional £500,000 to the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Trust Fund for Victims. This is in addition to two previous donations I announced in April 2011 and July 2012, amounting to £1 million. This brings the total UK support to the ICC Trust Fund for Victims since 2011 to £1.5 million. We believe the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) is doing excellent work in supporting victims of sexual and gender-based violence during conflict. The TFV was established by the states parties of the ICC in 2002 to benefit the victims of crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction. It is entirely funded by voluntary donations. The focus of its work so far has been in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where its project work provides assistance to the victims of the most serious crimes, including torture and sexual violence. It is making an important difference in helping the victims of serious crimes rebuild their lives. The Government are calling upon G8 countries for similar support to initiatives such as the TFV to help alleviate the significant suffering caused by these horrific acts of violence and take action to prevent these crimes from occurring.
London 2012 Games Security
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and G4S have today announced that they have reached a settlement following G4S’s failure to deliver in full the Olympic and Paralympic venue security contract.
LOCOG’s negotiating parameters were set out before the Home Affairs Committee in September by my Noble Friend, Lord Deighton, then LOCOG chief executive:
The public purse should not be adversely impacted by G4S’s failure to deliver on its contractual obligation;
The step in costs of using the military and police in place of G4S should be met by G4S;
LOCOG will not pay for any services not delivered.
All these objectives have been achieved.
The settlement, which has full Government approval, imposes a total reduction of £85 million in the payment due to G4S. This is to meet the step-in costs and to reflect their very serious failure to deliver. The settlement also recognises that G4S did provide around 80% of its contracted workforce hours over the course of the pre-games, games-time and post-games periods.
The Government contribution to the LOCOG venue security budget was set at £553 million in December 2011. The settlement today brings the total savings on that budget to £102 million, £39 million of which was announced in October 2012.
DCMS will provide a further update on the overall public sector funding package position (including venue security) at the end of June 2013.
The Damages Act 1996: The Discount Rate
The Ministry of Justice, the Scottish Government and the Department of Justice, Northern Ireland have today jointly published a consultation paper “Damages Act 1996: The Discount Rate—Review of the Legal Framework” (CP 3/2013).
The paper seeks views on two issues: first, whether the legal parameters governing the way in which the discount rate prescribed under section 1 of the Damages Act 1996 is currently calculated should be changed; and, secondly, whether there is a case for encouraging the use of periodical payments in cases where the discount rate would otherwise apply.
The consultation period is 12 weeks from 12 February. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The document is also available online at: https://consult.justice.gov.uk.
Work and Pensions
Judgment in Wilson/Reilly Case
The Court of Appeal has today ruled that the Government’s back to work schemes do not breach article 4 of the European convention on human rights.
While the judgment supports the principle and policy of our employment schemes, and acknowledges the care and resources we have dedicated to implementing them, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the Jobseeker’s Allowance (Employment, Skills and Enterprise) Regulations 2011 (“the ESE regulations”) do not describe the employment schemes to which they apply, as is required by the primary legislation. The Court of Appeal has therefore held the ESE regulations to be ultra vires and quashed them.
We are seeking permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s judgment and, if permission is granted, we will take our case to the Supreme Court. As we are currently seeking permission to appeal, claimants who have already served a sanction will not be able to appeal on the basis of the Court’s decision until our appeal is heard. We are considering a range of options to ensure we do not have to repay these sanctions.
Today we intend to lay new regulations, which will come into force immediately and enable us to continue to refer jobseekers allowance claimants to our employment schemes and to provide the best chance for people to find employment.