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Written Statements

Volume 570: debated on Monday 4 November 2013

Written Statements

Monday 4 November 2013

Business, Innovation and Skills

Recruitment Sector Regulations (Reform)

On 12 July 2013, following a public consultation, the Government announced their intention to reform the regulatory framework for the recruitment sector. We intend to replace the Employment Agencies Act 1973 and the conduct of employment agencies and employment businesses regulations 2003 with a simplified regulatory framework which will continue to protect people who are looking for work but which will remove some of the burden from business.

As part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to review regularly the enforcement of the national minimum wage, we also announced a more targeted enforcement strategy for the recruitment sector, focusing on protecting the most vulnerable, low-paid workers. We are now announcing that, from today, resources from the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EAS) which is currently situated within BIS, will move to HM Revenue and Customs’ national minimum wage (NMW) team. They will form a new HMRC team and will focus mainly on enforcing non-payment of national minimum wage in the recruitment sector. By increasing HMRC’s NMW team we will ensure that the most vulnerable workers are protected and we will create a level playing field for the vast majority of agencies who play by the rules.

A small team will remain in BIS to enforce the recruitment sector regulations. Complaints will continue to be prioritised using a risk-based approach and the level of resourcing will be kept under review. The pay and work rights helpline will continue to be the first point of contact for individuals seeking help and advice.

Primary Authority Partnerships

Government have committed to ending the culture of tick-box regulation and creating an environment that gives business confidence and certainty to grow.

Primary authority promotes business confidence through the provision of robust, reliable and consistent advice on compliance issues. It also generates efficiency savings for local authorities, enabling them to target their resources more effectively. In short, it enables better enforcement.

Since their introduction primary authority partnerships have delivered proven benefits to businesses and regulators. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 demonstrates Government’s commitment to primary authority by strengthening the scheme and extending the scope.

In response to the consultation “Transforming Regulatory Enforcement”, the Government committed to pilot the extension of primary authority to fire safety. In autumn 2012 two pilots were set up to examine how partnership working could help improve the delivery of fire safety regulation. One of the pilots looked at how primary authority would work for fire safety, and a second pilot looked at a scheme which was not backed by statute.

The pilots ended in July 2013 and an independent evaluation concluded that partnership working delivered benefits to both businesses and fire and rescue authorities. Although there were positive elements to both schemes, the statutory primary authority scheme represented “the most sensible way forward”.

We are pleased to announce that Government intend to proceed with the extension of primary authority to fire safety with effect from 6 April 2014.

In order to effect this change and bring the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 within the scope of primary authority, we will amend the Co-ordination of Regulatory Enforcement (Enforcement Actions) Order 2009, by means of a statutory instrument, subject to a negative resolution process. We anticipate this happening in the new year.

I am sure that the House will welcome with me the extension of primary authority to include fire safety and the benefits and efficiency savings that this will bring to both businesses and fire safety authorities.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

British Gibraltar Territorial Waters

On Wednesday 30 October an incident occurred in British Gibraltar territorial waters (BGTW) involving dangerous manoeuvring by a Spanish guardia civil boat. Following media reporting of the incident, this statement sets out the facts and the Government’s response.

During a routine transfer of personnel between Royal Navy vessels in BGTW, a guardia civil vessel was observed approaching at speed. As the Spanish vessel approached, the Royal Navy and defence police vessels at the scene followed operational procedures, including forming a protective barrier. On arriving in the vicinity, the guardia civil vessel conducted several dangerous manoeuvres near the British vessels. At one point a minor collision occurred between the guardia civil vessel and one of the defence police boats. There was no damage to either vessel, no shots were fired and there were no injuries.

The UK’s defence attaché in Madrid raised our concerns about the incident with the Spanish Navy on Thursday 31 October. We have also raised this at a high level with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, making it clear that the actions of the guardia civil were unacceptable and dangerous, with the potential to cause serious injury or damage. Once the full facts of the incident had been established, a formal written protest was also issued to the Spanish Government in Madrid.

Home Department

Terrorism Legislation (Independent Reviewer Report)

The Government’s response to the report of Mr David Anderson QC on the operation in 2012 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and part 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006 is being published today.

I thank David Anderson QC for his report and have carefully considered the detailed commentary and observations made.

The Government’s response is available in the Vote Office and online.


Civil Service Council/Family Justice Council (Triennial Reviews)

My right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Lord McNally, has made the following written ministerial statement:

In March 2011 the Government responded to the Public Accounts Select Committee report “Smaller Government: Shrinking the Quango state” setting out the coalition’s plans for reforming the public bodies sector. It included the requirement to undertake triennial reviews of Executive and advisory non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs).

The Civil Justice Council (FJC) was established under the Civil Procedure Act 1997. It is responsible for overseeing and co-ordinating the modernisation of the civil justice system and for providing advice to the Lord Chancellor and others on the effectiveness of aspects of the civil justice system. It also makes recommendations to test, review or conduct research into specific areas.

The primary role of the Family Justice Council is to promote an interdisciplinary approach to family justice and it is an advisory body to the Family Justice Board. The Council also monitors how effectively the family justice system delivers the service the Government and the public need, providing advice to the Family Justice Board. The FJC was not established under statute.

To deliver the coalition Government’s commitment to transparency and accountability across our public bodies, the Civil Justice Council and the Family Justice Council will each be subject to a triennial review. The Judicial Office, which is undertaking the triennial reviews, has today launched a consultation which will last until 25 November 2013 inviting views. In line with Cabinet Office guidance, the reviews will consider the following:

the continuing need for the Civil Justice and Family Justice Councils—both their functions and their form; and

where it is agreed that the bodies should remain, to review the control and governance arrangements in place to ensure that these public bodies are complying with recognised principles of good corporate governance.

In conducting the triennial review, officials will be engaging with a broad range of stakeholders and users of the Civil Justice Council and the Family Justice Council. The review will be aligned with guidance published by the Cabinet Office: “Guidance on Reviews of Non-Departmental Public Bodies”. The final report and findings will be laid in this House