Tuesday 7 January 2014
Tax Information Exchange Agreement (Anguilla)
An arrangement comprising an exchange of letters amending the 2009 tax information exchange agreement (TIEA) with Anguilla was signed in duplicate on 13 and 20 December 2013 to permit automatic and spontaneous exchange of information. At the same time an agreement was also signed to improve international tax compliance which sets out the precise details of the information which will be automatically exchanged.
The text of the agreement to improve international tax compliance has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and will be made available on HM Revenue and Customs’ website. The text amending the tax information exchange agreement will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Veterinary Products Committee (Triennial Review)
Today I am publishing the report of the triennial review of the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC), which was launched by DEFRA’s then Minister of State on 26 March 2013. Triennial reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPB) are part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring accountability in public life.
The VPC is an advisory NDPB which reports to the veterinary medicines directorate (VMD), an Executive agency of DEFRA. The VPC exists to provide independent expert technical advice to Ministers in relation to aspects of veterinary medicinal products, in order that VMD’s remit can be fully achieved. The Committee requires very broad and also specialised expertise in order to be knowledgeable across the broad scope of issues the Committee may be asked to consider.
The review has found that the functions of the VPC remain necessary and should continue to be carried out independently of Government by an advisory non-departmental public body.
The report of this review will be published online, and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
I am keen to keep Members fully informed of developments in the European Union, their implications for the United Kingdom and our priorities. I would, therefore, like to draw Members’ attention to a paper on the priorities of the Greek presidency of the Council of the European Union, which has been placed in the Library of the House. I have also deposited a copy of the calendar of ministerial meetings for the duration of their presidency.
International Tribunals (Sierra Leone) Act 2007
The Government have today laid before Parliament a memorandum to the Foreign Affairs Committee on the post-legislative scrutiny of the International Tribunals (Sierra Leone) Act 2007.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office carried out the post-legislative scrutiny, which includes a preliminary assessment of how the International Tribunals (Sierra Leone) Act 2007 has worked in practice, and has set out the findings in a Command Paper (Cm 8775) to the Committee.
Copies of the Command Paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and also in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.
On 20 December 2013 I published information about the availability of £10 million capital funding in 2013-14 to improve maternity care settings across England so both mothers and fathers, and the staff who work in the units, can benefit from a more pleasant and appropriate environment. “Improving Maternity Care Settings: Capital fund programme 2013-14: Information and criteria” has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.
Improvements to over 100 maternity units across the country funded by the £25 million improving birthing environments capital fund in 2012-13 are making a big difference to families, with more choice and better environments where women can give birth.
This year, the funding criteria prioritise:
services where the birth rate has increased quickly or where the environment needs to adapt to local demographic population changes, or
initiatives that can make a difference to women who have mental health or substance misuse problems.
Information on how to apply for this funding was made available to maternity units in December 2013 and can be found at:
The closing date for applications is 5 pm on Friday 10 January 2014.
It is important that the views and experiences of women and their families locally inform the development and design of birthing environments. The successful projects will have demonstrated involvement and support from service users and the ability to deliver the project in the current financial year.
Work and Pensions
Contingencies Fund Advance (Single Tier Pension)
The Department for Work and Pensions has obtained approval for an advance from the Contingencies Fund of £984,000 for the development of IT for the single tier pension before Royal Assent. This advance is necessitated by the lead in time for delivery in April 2016 which requires IT development work to begin prior to Royal Assent of the Pensions Bill.
Parliamentary approval for additional resource of £984,000 for this new service will be sought in the main estimates for the Department for Work and Pensions for 2014-15. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £984,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund. The repayment is expected to be made in the financial year 2014-15.
This advance will allow the single tier programme to continue to work to meet the revised timetable of April 2016 to implement the single tier new service.