Written Ministerial Statements
Thursday 28 February 2013
Business, Innovation and Skills
Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative
I would like to inform the House of the successful bids from round 2 of the advanced manufacturing supply chain initiative.
A total of 12 supply chain projects will receive approximately £73 million through AMSCI subject to due diligence, with a further £140 million being leveraged from private sector partners.
The supply chain projects cover the aerospace, automotive, chemicals, construction, electronics, materials and offshore wind sectors, and are expected to create over 11,000 new jobs and safeguard another 5,000.
With available finance of up to £125 million, the initiative was established in December 2011 to help existing UK supply chains grow and achieve world-class standards, while encouraging major new suppliers to come and manufacture here in Britain.
The initiative is part funded by the Government’s regional growth fund and is delivered in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board—the UK’s innovation agency—Birmingham city council, and Finance Birmingham on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The Chancellor announced additional funding of £120 million for two further AMSCI rounds in the 2012 autumn statement. The competition brief for these new rounds (AMSCI rounds 3 and 4) will be published today on the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) website: www.innovateuk.org.
Project successes in round 2 include:
“Aerospace Growth Partnership—National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP)”
Lead Organisation: ADS Group Ltd
Partners: Airbus Operations, Shorts Brothers plc, Spirit Aerosystems (Europe) Ltd, GKN Aerospace Service Ltd, Rolls Royce Goodrich Engine Controls Ltd and Rolls Royce plc
Location: The programme will benefit aerospace SMEs throughout England
Lead Organisation: TIMET UK Ltd
Partners: MTC; University of Birmingham
Location: West midlands
“Construction UK Supply Chain Competitiveness and Innovation”
Lead Organisations: J.C. Bamford Excavators Ltd and Perkins Engines
Partners: 48 yellow construction sector suppliers
Location: West midlands, east midlands, east of England, north
“Niche Luxury Vehicle Cluster Supplier Capacity Building Programme”
Lead Organisation: Bentley Motors Ltd (Crewe)
Partners: Rimstock PLC, Thomas Fattorini Ltd, Pilkington Automotive Ltd, ADV Manufacturing Ltd, CAB Automotive Ltd, Borough Ltd, SCA Packaging Ltd, WCM Europe Ltd, Luxfer Gas Cylinders Ltd, Bedford Dials Ltd, Titan Motorsport and Automotive Engineering Ltd, Prodrive Automotive Technology (Europe) Ltd
Location: West midlands, east of England, north-west, south-east
“Proving Integrity of Complex Automotive Systems (PICASSOS)”
Lead Organisation: Ricardo UK Ltd
Partners: Jaguar Land Rover, Axeon, York Metrics, D-RisQ, Oxford university, Coventry university, university of Warwick and York Metrics
Location: West Midlands
“An Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain for Aluminium Matrix Composite Components with 3D Fibre Reinforcement”
Lead Organisation: Composite Metal Technology Ltd
Partners: C&J Antch & Sons Ltd
Location: South-east, south-west, Yorkshire
“STRIVE—Simulation Tools for Rapid Innovation in Vehicle Engineering”
Lead Organisation: The Northwest Automotive Alliance
Partners: Bentley Motors, VEC (university of Liverpool), Optis, Icona, SimX
“Flow Reactor Supply Chain”
Lead Organisation: AM Technology
Location: North-west, south-west
“Indigenous Sustainable Manufacturing Supply Chain for Solid State Lighting”
Lead Organisation: Zeta Controls Ltd
Partners: Plessey Semiconductors Ltd
Location: South-east, south-west,
“Supply Chain Innovation for UK Production of Large Wind Turbine Gearboxes”
Lead Organisation: David Brown Gear Systems Ltd
Partners: University of Nottingham, Holts Brothers Ltd, university of Huddersfield, Parkers Hannifin Manufacturing UK Ltd, Russlle Ductile Castings Ltd, DHL, Trac Group Ltd, Unilathe
Location: West midlands, east midlands, Yorkshire
“The Composites innovation Cluster (CiC)”
Lead Organisation: Cytec Industrial Materials Ltd
Partners: Cobham Advanced Composites Ltd, Aviation Enterprises Ltd, ARRK Europe Ltd, Sigmatex (UK) Ltd, GE Aviation Systems Ltd (trading through its Dowty Propellers Facility), NetComposites Ltd, Tilsatec (a division of Sirdar Spinning Ltd), Axon Automotive Ltd, Dyne Technology Ltd, FORMAX (UK) Ltd, Technical Fibre Products Ltd, Altair Engineering Ltd, Tods Aerospace Ltd, Gudel Lineartec (UK) Ltd, EPL Composite Solutions Ltd, Granta Design Ltd, FAR-UK Ltd, Assyst Bullmer Ltd, Surface Generation Ltd, Wanwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), Imperial College, National Composites Certification and Evaluation Facility (NCCEF), university of Hertfordshire, Royal Holloway, university of London, university of Nottingham and Cranfield university
Location: West midlands, east midlands, east of England, north-west, south-east, Yorkshire
“Development of Advanced High Temperature Bearing Steel”
Lead Organisation: Tata Steel UK Ltd
Partners: SKF, university of Cambridge, AFRC (university of Strathclyde)
Location: South-west, Yorkshire
Communities and Local Government
Fire Service College
In my written ministerial statement of 13 December 2012, Official Report column 42WS, I announced that Capita had been chosen as the preferred bidder for the purchase of the Fire Service College following a thorough, fair and open process. I am pleased to inform the House that the sale process has today been successfully concluded, following a full TUPE consultation with college employees and their union representatives.
The college has been sold to Capita for an enterprise value of £10 million, which will be subject to adjustments for stamp duty and to take account of the college’s financial position at completion of sale. This deal will deliver new investment to secure the future of the college, and represents a good deal for taxpayers and value for money for the public purse.
In addition to this consideration, the Department will share in any future profits from the development of college land through a claw-back provision, and will receive further revenue from the sale of a number of houses previously part of the college estate.
More importantly, Capita has also committed to a significant programme of infrastructure and transformation at the college, and is keen to ensure that training courses deliver improved value for money.
Taken together the sale of the college has the potential to deliver an estimated benefit of £30 million to the taxpayer in the first few years and at the same time secure the college’s future.
The Government have insisted on a number of conditions on the sale, including commitments not only that the college will continue in use as a national training college for fire and rescue authorities, but also that it will continue to offer wider national resilience and emergency services training and exercises, and that Government permission will be required if Capita wishes to sell the incident ground.
The Government would like to place on record their thanks to the senior management team and staff of the college for their efforts in bringing the sale to a successful conclusion. The Government also wish Capita every success in its future operation of the college.
Immigration Concession for Syrian Nationals
I am today announcing the renewal of concessions to the immigration rules for Syrian nationals lawfully in the UK.
In the light of the ongoing violent conflict in Syria it has been decided that the UK Border Agency (UKBA) should continue to operate some discretion to enable Syrians legally in the UK to extend their stay here.
Syrians in the UK with valid leave (or leave which has expired within the last 28 days) in specified visa categories will continue to be able to apply to extend their stay in that visa category, or switch into a different specified category from within the UK (with some restrictions) rather than being required to return home first. Those applying will still need to meet the requirements of the relevant visa category, pay the appropriate fee, and adhere to the normal conditions of that category—no access to public funds, for example. If a required document is not accessible due to the civil unrest in Syria UKBA may apply its discretion and the requirement to provide that document may be waived where appropriate.
These concessions will remain in force for one year from today. The Government continue to monitor the situation in Syria closely in order to ensure our response is appropriate and that any emerging risks are addressed.
I am placing a copy of the authorisation for this concession in the Library of the House.
Legal Aid Agency
I am pleased to announce that the Ministry of Justice will create the Legal Aid Agency, a new executive agency, on 1 April 2013.
The Legal Aid Agency will assume responsibility for the administration of legal aid in England and Wales from the Legal Services Commission, a non-departmental public body. On 1 April 2013 the Legal Services Commission will be abolished and the Lord Chancellor will become responsible for securing that legal aid is made available in England and Wales, in line with the provisions contained in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. That Act also contains the legislative provisions needed to abolish the Legal Services Commission.
Today the framework document which details the governance arrangements between the Department and the Legal Aid Agency has been published. The framework document will come into force on 1 April 2013. In line with the requirements for all executive agencies, the framework document sets out the overarching framework for the governance and accountability arrangements between the Department and the agency.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 also requires the Lord Chancellor to designate a civil servant as the director of legal aid casework. This is a statutory office, with the function of making independent decisions on whether to grant legal aid in individual cases. The director will assume this function on 1 April 2013, following the abolition of the Legal Services Commission. I have designated Matthew Coats as the first director of legal aid casework.
The creation of the Legal Aid Agency is an important step for the Ministry of Justice in strengthening the governance arrangements and accountability for legal aid, and ensuring that there is an appropriate delivery structure in place. Legal aid is a significant area of public expenditure and it is vital that its administration is undertaken by an appropriate body.
Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will be commenced on 1 April 2013. Part 1 sets out the new framework for legal aid in England and Wales which, as well as the abolition of the Legal Services Commission, includes reforms to the scope of civil legal aid.
Copies of the framework document and code of conduct have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and on the Department’s website at: www.justice. gov.uk.
Northern Ireland Security Situation
Following the joint decision by the UK and Irish Governments to wind up the Independent Monitoring Commission in 2011, my predecessor made a commitment to provide bi-annual updates to the House on the security situation in Northern Ireland. This is my first such statement as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Overall threat in Northern Ireland
Since the statement in July 2012, the threat level in Northern Ireland has remained at “severe”. This means that an attack remains highly likely. There were 24 national security attacks during 2012, compared with 26 attacks in 2011. So far, there have been three national security attacks in 2013. A majority of attacks have involved the use of crude, but potentially lethal, pipe-bomb devices; there were also a number of more sophisticated and serious attacks.
The cowardly murder of prison officer David Black, in November 2012, by a group referred to as the “new IRA” was a brutal reminder of the continuing threat posed by dissident republican terrorists. They continue to target police officers, soldiers and prison officers. Yet these are also attacks on the wider community causing disruption and discomfort to the daily lives of many people.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and the Security Service, along with An Garda Síochána (AGS), continue to demonstrate a robust commitment to bringing to justice those who carry out attacks. Across the island of Ireland 173 arrests and 64 charges were made during 2012. There were also 18 convictions of individuals involved in planning and participating in attacks. Many more attacks were prevented and disrupted.
During 2013, Northern Ireland has a great opportunity to showcase itself through events such as the G8 summit, world police and fire games, and Derry-Londonderry city of culture. The PSNI, the Security Service, and AGS will continue working together to ensure these events happen safely and successfully. PSNI has a wealth of experience at managing large events and will also be able to call for assistance from police services in Great Britain where necessary, particularly with regard to the G8 summit.
Threat to GB from Northern Ireland-related terrorism
In October 2012, the threat level from Northern Ireland related terrorism in GB was reduced from “substantial” to “moderate”. The Security Service reached this assessment on the basis of current intelligence, although it recognises that dissident republican terrorists continue to aspire to conduct attacks in GB. All threat levels are, of course, kept under review.
Activity of republican paramilitary groups
New IRA—In July 2012, a number of disparate groups came together to form an organisation generally referred to as the “new IRA”. This new grouping primarily consists of members of the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs (which conducts brutal shootings against nationalist members of the community) and a number of unaffiliated individuals who we believe have connections to the fatal attack against Massereene barracks in 2009. This group has already demonstrated its lethal intent, claiming responsibility for the murder of David Black last November. The group also conducted an unsuccessful attack in September 2012, in which it attached a bomb to a bicycle as part of a trap to kill police in Londonderry. It has, however, also suffered setbacks. For example, on 6 December 2012 a number of individuals were arrested and charged after being found in possession of an explosively formed projectile capable of penetrating armoured vehicles.
Continuity IRA—This group is dangerous and continues to conduct attack planning. In late January, Continuity IRA (CIRA) claimed responsibility for a shooting attack against police officers in Lurgan, though nobody was injured.
Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH) has also continued to be active over the past six months. We judge that this group is responsible for two attempted under vehicle car-bomb attacks since December 2012. Fortunately none of these were successful. Had they exploded they would almost certainly have been fatal for anyone in the vicinity, potentially including families and young children. Most recently, we believe that ONH were responsible for throwing a pipe bomb which struck a PSNI vehicle in north Belfast on 30 January.
All of these groups remain heavily involved in criminality, in particular fuel laundering and smuggling, but also drugs, robbery and extortion.
Activity of loyalist paramilitary groups
The leaderships of the main loyalist paramilitary organisations, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), remain committed to their ceasefires. While individuals associated with the UVF were involved in recent loyalist public disorder, the PSNI do not believe that this was sanctioned by the UVF leadership. Both the UDA and the UVF have endorsed calls for an end to the public disorder. Both groups do, however, remain involved in organised crime, including smuggling and other criminal activity.
During the public disorder over 140 police officers were injured. To date there have been more than 170 arrests and over 125 charges. We shall continue to do all we can to support the PSNI in policing the protests and bringing those involved in public disorder and other illegal activities to justice.
Paramilitary style shootings and assaults
Both republican and loyalist paramilitary groups continue to carry out paramilitary style assaults—so-called “punishment attacks”—by which they seek to intimidate whole communities. Within the communities affected there is, rightly, widespread revulsion against such activities.
I meet regularly the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, David Ford, and the chief constable, Matt Baggott, to discuss the terrorist threat. The Government continue to offer its full support to the PSNI. We are currently examining future funding needs when the current £200 million security package that the Government agreed in 2011 expires in March 2015.
I will also be working with the Minister of Justice, the chief constable and colleagues in Whitehall to ensure the people of Northern Ireland receive the best possible protection against international crime. These include activities such as child abuse and human trafficking. The Government were extremely disappointed at the decision by the Northern Ireland Executive not to pursue a legislative consent motion for the operation of the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland. We do, however, remain willing to consider proposals by the Executive which would amend the arrangements for the National Crime Agency to reflect Northern Ireland’s specific circumstances.
Cross-border co-operation with our colleagues in the Republic of Ireland remains excellent. AGS has made a significant number of arrests in recent months as a result of its own investigations into republican paramilitary activity. This has undoubtedly saved lives. AGS continues to work tirelessly to bring those involved in criminality and terrorism to justice. I speak frequently to the Irish Justice Minister, Alan Shatter.
I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to PSNI Constable Philippa Reynolds, who died in the service of her community on 8 February, and offer my condolences to her family. I would also like to place on record my condolence to the family of Garda Adrian Donohoe who was murdered by criminals operating across the border on 25 January. Both Constable Reynolds and Garda Donohoe died as they worked, to keep people safe in the communities they served.
It is clear from the violence carried out by both republican and loyalist groups that there are still people in Northern Ireland who demonstrate contempt for democracy and the rule of law. Their numbers remain small, but the threat they pose continues to be very real. While these groupings enjoy virtually no public support, sectarianism and division can fuel grievances on which they will seek to capitalise. There is a responsibility on local politicians and community leaders to work together to address sectarianism and build a shared future for everyone in Northern Ireland. For our part, this Government remain fully committed to tackling the threat from terrorism and keeping the people of Northern Ireland safe and secure.
Emergency Towing Vessels
Following discussions with interested parties in Scotland, the Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, in June 2012 I confirmed that the Government would establish a new contract for an emergency towing vessel to be held in stand-by in waters around Scotland for the duration of the current spending review period.
In parallel, discussions have continued with interested parties in the private sector on possible arrangements to complement this service. I am pleased to announce that agreement has been reached with BP and North Star Shipping to release a vessel to respond to an incident in waters around Scotland. An operational and commercial model has been brokered allowing HM Coastguard to call on the BP-chartered vessel, the Grampian Frontier, to provide support in the event of a pollution incident. North Star Shipping is working with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to ensure that the crew and equipment are able to respond.
Now that an operational and commercial model has been identified, it is hoped that the scheme will be broadened out to include other suitable vessels identified by offshore industry around Scotland. Oil and Gas UK, who helped to broker the agreement, will work with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to evaluate operation of the agreement and explore the possibility of other industry vessels that may be suitable to register to assist. As a signal of their commitment, BP also announced investment of up to $250,000 towards new towing equipment to upgrade its fleet of Caledonian regional support vessels, enhancing their ability to respond.
This is the first agreement of its kind in the UK and the private sector partners involved are setting a positive example to wider industry. I am grateful for efforts on the part of Oil and Gas UK, BP and North Star Shipping in facilitating this agreement and to Oil and Gas UK for its assistance with future wider industry participation.