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Written Statements

Volume 569: debated on Monday 21 October 2013

Written Statements

Monday 21 October 2013

Business, Innovation and Skills

Balance of Competences (Review)

I wish to inform both Houses that following my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ oral statement launching the review of the balance of competences in July 2012 and written statements on the progress of the review in October 2012, and May 2013, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is publishing the following calls for evidence today.

The single market: free movement of services review is being led by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The review will consider the balance of competences with respect to the freedom to provide services across the European Union, and will cover public and defence procurement; company law; and issues relating to the mutual recognition of professional qualifications (MRPQ). The review will also consider the services that are covered by specific sectoral EU legislation (e.g. telecommunications, broadcasting, audiovisual), as well as those dealt with by the services directive (e.g. IT, construction, food and drink, hospitality and retail).

The competition and consumer policy review will cover UK competition and consumer policy including state aids. The competition policy elements of the review will consider the rules governing competition between suppliers, while the consumer policy areas will examine the protections given to consumers when purchasing a product or a service. Rules on state aid—which are a subset of competition rules to prevent market distortions as a result of Government support—will also be covered.

The cohesion review will focus on aspects of EU activity that support economic development. It will consider the EU’s regional policy, for which the main financial instruments are the European regional development fund and the cohesion fund, as well as the European social fund. It will look at how the EU funds infrastructure projects through trans-European networks and the connecting Europe facility and finally it will examine competence in the area of industry policy under article 173 of the treaty on the functioning of the European Union.

The call for evidence period will run from 21 October 2013 until 13 January 2014 and officials will draw together the evidence and policy analysis into draft reports, which will subsequently go through a process of scrutiny before publication in summer 2014.

BIS will take a rigorous approach to the collection and analysis of evidence. Each call for evidence sets out the scope of the report and includes a series of broad questions on which contributors are asked to focus. Interested parties are invited to provide evidence with regard to political, economic, social and technological factors. The evidence received (subject to the provision of the Data Protection Act) will be published alongside the final reports in summer 2014 and will be available on the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/review-of-the-balance-of-competences#semester-3.

The Departments will pursue an active engagement process, consulting widely across Parliament and its Committees, businesses, the devolved Administrations and civil society in order to obtain evidence to contribute to our analysis of the issues. Our EU partners and the EU institutions will also be invited to contribute evidence to the reviews. As the reviews are to be objective and evidence-based, we are encouraging a wide range of interested parties and individuals to contribute.

The results of the reports will be a comprehensive, thorough and detailed analysis. It will aid our understanding of the nature of our EU membership and it will provide a constructive and serious contribution to the wider European debate about modernising, reforming and improving the EU. The reports will not produce specific policy recommendations.

The call for evidence documents are being placed in the Libraries of both Houses. They are also published and available on the Government website: https://www.gov.uk/review-of-the-balance-of-competences.

Treasury

Balance of Competences (Review)

HM Treasury has today published two calls for evidence as part of the Government’s review of the balance of competences, which is looking at what the EU does and how it affects the UK.

The first call for evidence looks at the balance of competence between the EU and the UK on the EU budget. The second looks at the balance of competence between the EU and the UK on financial services and the free movement of capital.

Both documents explain the historical development and legal background to the EU’s competence and ask a number of questions about how the EU’s competence works in practice.

HM Treasury is seeking evidence from a range of stakeholders who have an interest or experience in these areas, including individuals, groups, Parliament and its Committees, think-tanks, businesses and institutions.

The public call for evidence for both reports will run from 21 October 2013 until 17 January 2014. The final reports on the current balance of competence and what this means for the national interest will be published by the summer of 2014.

Copies of the documents have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and are available on the gov.uk website at: www.gov.uk/government/consultations /balance-of-competences-review-eu-budget

and

www.gov.uk/government/consultations/balance-of-competences-review-single-market-financial-services-and-the-free-movement-of-capital.

Education

Children and Families Bill

I am proposing an amendment to the Children and Families Bill that will place a clear requirement on all types of state schools to make arrangements for supporting pupils at the school who have medical conditions. This will not apply to early years provision as there is already sufficient coverage of this issue in the statutory early years foundation stage. In meeting the new requirement, schools must have regard to statutory guidance. This amendment will be considered during the House of Lords Committee stage of the Children and Families Bill.

Throughout the passage of the Bill, there has been much debate about the needs of children with long-term medical conditions, such as diabetes and epilepsy. There is cross-party support to ensure that children and young people have their health needs met in schools. My Department has also met with various health organisations and charities and parents and children (with long-term medical conditions) to listen and discuss this issue. While a vast majority of schools take these issues seriously, it is clear some families have had poor experiences. This new duty, underpinned by statutory guidance, will help schools to ensure that they are taking reasonable action to support children with medical conditions, where necessary. It will also give parents of such children confidence that support should be in place while they are at school.

It is our intention to work with health organisations, parents and the school work force on the drafting of the statutory guidance (building on existing good practice) which will also be subject to a public consultation in the new year.

Through this amendment to the Children and Families Bill we believe we will achieve the following: better educational outcomes for children with long-term health conditions; greater reassurance to parents that their children will receive the support they deserve in the school setting; and clearer guidance on what we expect of our schools.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Balance of Competences (Review)

I wish to inform the House that, further to the Foreign Secretary’s oral statement launching the review of the balance of competences on 12 July 2012 and the written ministerial statements on the progress of the review on 23 October 2012 and 14 May 2013, I have today published the calls for evidence for the agriculture and fisheries reports. The agriculture and fisheries reports will be completed by summer 2014.

The agriculture report will consider the European Union common agricultural policy, plant health, plant reproductive materials and international trade in agricultural commodities.

The fisheries report will focus on the European Union common fisheries policy, and competence for the management of fisheries and aquaculture. Competence issues relating to the wider marine environment, beyond fisheries management, are considered under the environment and climate change report.

The call for evidence period will last 12 weeks. DEFRA will draw together the evidence and analysis into first drafts which will subsequently go through processes of scrutiny before publication in summer 2014.

DEFRA will take a rigorous approach to the collection and analysis of evidence. The calls for evidence set out the scope of the reports and include a series of broad questions on which contributors are asked to focus. Interested parties are invited to provide evidence with regard to political, economic, social and technological factors. The evidence received (subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act) will be published alongside the final report in summer 2014 and will be available on the Government website: www.gov.uk.

DEFRA will consult widely across Parliament and its Committees, businesses, the devolved Administrations and civil society in order to obtain evidence to contribute to our analysis of the issues. Our EU partners and the EU institutions will also be invited to contribute evidence to the review. As the review is to be objective and evidence-based, encouraging a wide range of interested parties to contribute will ensure a high yield of valuable information.

The resulting reports are intended to be comprehensive, thorough and detailed analyses of the functioning of EU competence in the areas of agriculture and fisheries and what this means for the UK national interest. They will aid our understanding of the nature of our EU membership and they will provide a constructive and serious contribution to the wider European debate about modernising, reforming and improving the EU. The reports will not produce specific policy recommendations.

I am arranging for the calls for evidence to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. They will also be accessible through the balance of competences review pages on the Government’s website at: www.gov.uk/review-of-the-balance-of-competences.

Home Department

PACE (Codes of Practice Revision)

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has today laid an order under section 67(7A) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (‘PACE’) which brings into operation amended versions of six of the PACE codes. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (Revision of Codes A, B, C, E, F and H) Order 2013 will bring these revisions into operation on 27 October.

The codes which have been revised are A (stop and search), B (search of premises and seizure of property), C (detention of suspects), E (audio recording of interviews), F (visual recording of interviews) and H (detention of terrorism suspects). The revised codes have been laid before the House today and have all been subject to statutory consultation as required under section 67(4) of PACE. I will place a copy of the Government response to consultation in the Library of the House. Copies of the revised codes are available from the Vote Office.

The main changes to code A are the removal of references to stop and search powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 as a consequence of the introduction of amended terrorism stop and search powers in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and an associated statutory code of practice. Powers under the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (‘TPIMS Act’) which are outside the scope of the terrorism stop and search code but which are subject to sections 2 and 3 of PACE have been added. Annex F (on gender and searching) has been deleted and superseded by annex L in code C.

Code B has been amended to include the powers under schedule 5 to the TPIMS Act to enter and search premises. We are also clarifying the default period within which a search warrant issued under PACE must be executed.

Both codes A and B are being amended in line with section 48 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 which reduced the threshold for searching individuals on school premises for weapons from having a reasonable belief to having a reasonable suspicion.

Revisions to codes C and H follow from two legal obligations. The first is to transpose the legal obligations in the European Union directive 2010/64/EU on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings into UK domestic legislation. The amendments clarify and make explicit the requirement to ensure that suspects who need help to communicate with officers, and to understand the reasons for their detention in custody and the charges laid against them, are given access to an interpreter and written translations of documents as necessary. These revisions do not affect Welsh language schemes. The transposition date for the directive is 27 October 2013.

The second change to codes C and H is to comply with the High Court ruling in the judicial review HC v. (1) Secretary of State for the Home Department and (2) Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis. In compliance with the ruling, we are extending to 17-year-olds the current requirement that 10 to l6-year-olds detained in police custody are provided with an appropriate adult to assist them, and that a person responsible for their welfare (usually a parent or guardian) is informed.

Codes E and F are being amended to include new provisions for the conduct and recording of voluntary interviews of suspects who are not under arrest. These provide for a sergeant to be responsible for such interviews and for giving the authority for them not to be audio recorded. They also correct a number of cross-references to the code of practice for the video recording of interviews of terrorist detainees, and make amendments concerning the security of master interview recordings, in order to ensure consistency between codes E and F and the new terrorism code.

The amendments to the codes are required in order to achieve consistency and to comply with domestic and EU legislation as well as the High Court ruling. As such, I consider these revisions to be straightforward and consequential rather than controversial.

We have sought and secured the agreement of the right hon. Member for Leicester East (Keith Vaz), as Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, that these straightforward and consequential revisions to the codes might be brought into force, as per section 67(7A) of PACE, without the approval of a resolution by each House and there will, therefore, be no debate on the floor of the House.

This overall package of revision to the codes will strengthen, clarify and embed the safeguards available to the public where the police exercise their powers.

Justice

Balance of Competences (Review)

I wish to inform the House that, further to the Foreign Secretary’s oral statement launching the review of the balance of competences in July 2012 and the written statements on the progress of the review in October 2012 and May 2013, the Ministry of Justice has published its call for evidence in the area of fundamental rights.

The report will be completed by summer 2014 and will cover the overall application and effect of EU instruments and action in the area of fundamental rights.

The call for evidence period will last 12 weeks. The Ministry of Justice will draw together the evidence and policy analysis into a first draft, which will go through a process of scrutiny before publication in summer 2014.

The report will focus on the European Union’s action on fundamental rights, but not on the European Union’s actions on each specific right: these are being covered by other, subject-specific reviews. The report will cover the EU’s fundamental rights framework including the treaties, case law and the charter of fundamental rights, as well the work of the Fundamental Rights Agency and the funding programmes on fundamental rights. It will also cover the European Union’s accession to the European convention on human rights, although the foreign policy review published in July 2013 has already referred to this.

The Ministry of Justice will take a rigorous approach to the collection and analysis of evidence. The call for evidence sets out the scope of the report and includes a series of broad questions on which contributors are asked to focus. Interested parties are invited to provide evidence in relation to the impact or effect of the competence in their area of expertise. The evidence received (subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act) will be published alongside the final report in summer 2014 and will be available through the balance of competences review web pages on gov.uk.

The Department will pursue an active engagement process, consulting widely across Parliament and its relevant Committees, business, civil society, the devolved Administrations and legal practitioners. Our EU partners and the EU institutions will also be invited to contribute evidence to the review. As the review is to be objective and evidence-based, we will encourage the broadest possible range of interested parties to contribute.

The report will be a comprehensive, thorough and detailed analysis of EU action in this area that will aid our understanding of the nature of our EU membership; it will provide a constructive and serious contribution to the wider European debate about modernising, reforming and improving the EU. The report will not, however, produce specific policy recommendations.

I am placing the call for evidence in the Libraries of both Houses. The call for evidence will also be available through the balance of competences review pages on gov.uk.

Work and Pensions

Personal Independence Payment

Later today the Government’s response to the consultation on the moving around activity within the assessment for personal independence payment (PIP) will be published on the gov.uk website. I will place a copy of the Government’s response in the House Libraries.

The consultation received over 1,100 responses, from both individuals and organisations. We listened carefully to all the feedback received.

The Government believe that the criteria are the best way of identifying those whose physical mobility is most limited. We think it is justified to focus support in this way on those with the greatest need and will not be making any changes to the criteria.

We recognise that the reliability criteria in the assessment are a key protection for claimants. Respondents to the consultation welcomed their inclusion but were concerned about how they will be applied. In response, we will look to strengthen the criteria by introducing a requirement for health professionals to confirm they have considered the reliability criteria when formulating their advice.

Later today I also intend to lay before Parliament amending regulations, which will introduce a phased start for PIP natural reassessments from 28 October 2013.

Introducing natural reassessment gradually enables us to test the claimant reassessment journey, using an approach similar to the one we took with new claims in the controlled start area in April.

This is in line with the way we have been introducing all our other programmes of change and we have made it clear that we would take a controlled approach to introducing PIP, learning lessons from live running. Later this week I will publish a note on the gov.uk website providing further detail.

As originally announced, most existing disability living allowance (DLA) claimants will not be reassessed until 2015 or later, after DWP has considered the findings of the first independent review in 2014.