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Written Statements

Volume 583: debated on Thursday 3 July 2014

Written Statements

Thursday 3 July 2014

Energy and Climate Change

Plutonium Management

In December 2011 the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published its response to the consultation on plutonium management.

The consultation response indicated that Government’s preferred option was to reuse the plutonium as MOX fuel, but that we would be open to consider alternative options that offered better value to the UK taxpayer.

In addition Government said that overseas owners of plutonium stored in the UK could have that plutonium managed in line with UK plutonium, subject to commercial terms that are acceptable to the UK Government. In addition, subject to compliance with intergovernmental agreements and acceptable commercial arrangements, the UK is prepared to take ownership of overseas plutonium stored in the UK as a result of which it would be treated in the same way as UK-owned plutonium. The Government consider that there are advantages to having national control over more of the civil plutonium in the UK, as this gives us greater influence over how we ultimately manage it.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has agreed to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA):

Taking ownership of about 800 kg of material previously owned by a Swedish utility.

Taking ownership of about 140 kg of material previously owned by a German research organisation.

These transactions, which have been agreed by the Euratom supply agency, will not result in any new plutonium being brought into the UK and will not therefore increase the overall amount of plutonium in the UK.

We have agreed to these transactions as they offer a cost-effective and beneficial arrangement, which removes the need to transport separated plutonium, allows the UK to gain national control over more of the civil plutonium in the UK and enables an outstanding contract with a Swedish utility to be concluded.

In line with the DECC policy statement, the NDA continues to engage with other third parties regarding taking ownership of further overseas plutonium in the UK arising from overseas reprocessing contracts. As well as UK Government approval, these transactions will require consent from the relevant overseas Governments and regulatory bodies, and thereafter Euratom supply agency agreement, before any contracts are enacted.

The UK has committed to publish annual figures for national holdings of civil plutonium at the end of each calendar year to improve transparency and public confidence. The most recent data can be found at: http://www.onr.org.uk/safeguards/civilplut13.htm

This data will be updated in due course to reflect the changes described above.

Home Department

Daniel Morgan

Daniel Morgan, a private investigator, was found murdered in a pub car park in south-east London on 10 March 1987. It is one of the country’s most notorious unsolved murder cases. After numerous separate police investigations into the case between 1987 and 2002, the Crown Prosecution Service discontinued the attempted prosecution against five suspects in 2011. The Metropolitan Police admitted that police corruption was a “debilitating factor” in the original investigation.

Last May I announced the creation of the Daniel Morgan independent panel and the appointment of Sir Stanley Burnton as chair of the panel. On 19 November 2013, I reported to the House the decision of Sir Stanley Burnton to resign from this role for personal reasons.

I am now able to announce the appointment of Baroness Nuala O’Loan of Kirkinriola, DBE, MRIA, as chair of the independent panel. Baroness O’Loan was Northern Ireland’s first Police Ombudsman from 2000 to 2007, during which time she investigated thousands of cases, including the police handling of the Omagh bombing in 1998 and police collusion with loyalist paramilitaries engaged in the most serious crime between 1990 and 2002.

The remit of the panel is to shine a light on the circumstances of Daniel Morgan’s murder, its background and the handling of the case over the period since 1987. I am very grateful to Baroness O’Loan for accepting this important role and look forward to the panel completing its work.

International Development

Tackling Violence against Women and Girls Overseas

I would like to update the House on my work championing the issue of tackling violence against women and girls internationally, building policy coherence across Whitehall and pushing for as much progress as possible towards our goal of ending all forms of violence.

The concerning abduction of over 200 school girls in Nigeria in April and the recent gang rape and murder of girls in India are a sharp reminder of the low status of women and girls globally and the terrible injustice and violence faced by so many.

The UNMISS human rights report on the conflict in South Sudan, published on 8 May 2014, presents grim evidence of how the conflict has exacerbated the vulnerability of women and children. All parties to the conflict have committed acts of rape and other forms of sexual violence against women with impunity. The ability of survivors of sexual violence to receive services in this environment has diminished, leaving most incidents unreported.

I am proud to say that the UK is supporting the International Rescue Committee in South Sudan to conduct outreach and support services to survivors of gender-based violence.

Since my last statement the UK has refreshed our cross-government action plan, “A call to end violence against women and girls”, which sets out an ambitious agenda for the year ahead, including how we will continue to bring international and domestic work on violence against women and girls closer together.

The International Development (Gender Equality) Act came into force on 13 May. This Act, strongly supported by the Secretary of State for International Development, makes it law for the UK to consider gender equality before it provides development assistance, and the differences in gender-related needs for its humanitarian support. This puts our existing commitment to delivering important outcomes for girls and women—including a reduction in violence—on a statutory footing.

In May I had the great privilege of speaking at DFID Mozambique’s summit on ending child, early and forced marriage (CEFM). This is a huge issue in Mozambique, where one in two girls is married before her 18th birthday. CEFM is a global issue that has a significant negative impact on girls, their families, communities and countries.

On 10 to 13 June over 120 country delegations, over 80 Ministers, and around 1,700 delegates including eight UN agency heads, presidents and prosecutors from the ICC and international tribunals, civil society, and over 300 sponsored delegates, including from conflict-affected countries, among them a number of survivors, came together at the global summit to end sexual violence in conflict hosted by the Foreign Secretary and UN special envoy, Angelina Jolie.

I was proud to be part of the summit and to formally launch “What works to prevent violence” DFID’s new research and innovation fund. I spoke on the panel with leading experts to highlight the need to invest in work to understand and address the root causes and social norms which underpin many forms of violence—both in times of peace and in conflict. I also participated in the ministerial round table on hidden victims to highlight the issues of domestic violence, female genital mutilation (FGM/C) and CEFM which are often exacerbated in conflict. The Secretary of State for International Development chaired a ministerial round table on the call to action to protect women and girls in humanitarian emergencies and jointly launched the UK’s new national action plan on women, peace and security with the Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary.

The momentum will continue over the summer. In July, the UK Prime Minister and UNICEF will co-host a Girl summit on female genital mutilation and child, early and forced marriage. The summit aims to support southern leadership on these issues and to further rally a global movement to end the practices for all girls, within a generation. I know that many in the House will have an interest in these issues, given the impact they have in the UK as well as internationally.

A youth event will be held at DFID on 19 July with 170 attendees, made up of young people, including several nominated by Members of Parliament, several from developing countries, a youth panel and other attendees nominated by partners.

A social media campaign has also been launched this week. The campaign aims to receive pledges of support from people across the UK, reaching beyond the usual network of development organisations and civil society supporters. The action focuses around “play your part”—we are asking people to play their part in ending these harmful practices through pledging support and spreading the word.

In the coming months, I will visit more of our programmes overseas so that I can see in practice how our commitments to this agenda are being implemented.

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Economic Pact

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I met yesterday with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland to discuss the economic pact, “Building a prosperous and united community”.

We considered the progress that has been made by the Government and Northern Ireland Executive against our respective commitments made last June. We also agreed to publish a joint report, “Building a Prosperous and United Community—One Year On”, that highlights our successes as well considering the challenges ahead. I have placed a copy of this report in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Government’s long-term economic plan is working for Northern Ireland. Figures published for the first time yesterday show that credit conditions are easing and many more businesses are accessing the funds they need to grow. The Green Investment Bank is also making investments in Northern Ireland providing a total of £3.2 million of funding.

The Government and the Executive working together have helped deliver a record year for investment advancing our shared aims to strengthen the private sector and rebalance the Northern Ireland economy. The international investment conference last October was hugely successful, contributing to the 11,000 jobs that Invest NI has promoted over the last year.

There has also been some progress in supporting initiatives designed to build a shared society. The Government made available an additional £100 million of borrowing and have now agreed to the Executive’s proposals to use this for improved facilities at integrated primary schools, a new further education college, and increased provision of shared housing. The Government have also identified 106 surplus Ministry of Defence homes that could be gifted to the Executive for use as additional shared housing if the Executive bring forward appropriate proposals. The update also sets out the latest position on the support the Government are giving to the Executive on further improving broadband infrastructure and mobile coverage in Northern Ireland.

This report confirms that the Government remain on track to make a final decision on the devolution of corporation tax no later than the 2014 autumn statement. Work has taken place to look at how the international tax regime might apply in an intra-country situation as well as how a regime might work for both smaller and larger companies.

There remain areas that require further work from both the Government and the Executive. The British-Irish visa scheme is due to begin in the autumn, encouraging tourism by allowing Indian and Chinese nationals to visit Northern Ireland using an Irish visit visa. This is part of the continuing programme of engagement set out at the annual UK-Ireland summits to boost trade and strengthen economic co-operation between the UK and Ireland.

There will also be further progress on the Executive’s red tape review, ambassador-led trade missions to Northern Ireland and continued efforts to improve access to finance.

The economic pact set out a new approach for the Government and the Executive to work more closely on our joint objectives. The report shows this approach can deliver better results for the people of Northern Ireland and we will continue to build on the good progress already made.

Transport

Crossrail

In January the Prime Minister joined me at Tottenham Court Road to mark 50% completion of the Crossrail project. The Crossrail project has now moved into the peak of its construction phase. There are over 11,000 people working at over 40 sites across London. Four of the tunnel boring machines have completed their journeys and the new rail tunnels are over 80% complete including the Thames tunnel. The final tunnel drives are now under way and tunnelling should be completed by next spring. Construction is also progressing on the 10 new Crossrail stations and on works above ground west of Paddington and east of Stratford.

In the past year we have made great progress in many different areas of the project. Last July we announced that there would be a Crossrail station in Woolwich which is now the catalyst for the regeneration of the surrounding area, attracting investment from businesses and developers and supporting our plans for long-term economic growth.

In February the joint sponsors announced the contract to provide the rolling stock and depot was awarded to Bombardier UK plc. The contract covers the supply, delivery and maintenance of 66 new trains and a depot at Old Oak Common. This will support 760 UK manufacturing jobs plus 80 apprenticeships building the trains in Derby. The construction of the maintenance depot at Old Oak Common will see 244 jobs plus 16 apprenticeships supported when fully operational.

This is just one part of the contribution Crossrail is making to economic growth across the United Kingdom. It is estimated that during the construction phase the project will generate at least 75,000 business opportunities and support the equivalent of 55,000 full-time jobs around the UK. Firms from across the United Kingdom are winning business from the project. Sixty-two per cent of the suppliers winning work are outside London and over half (58%) are small and medium-sized enterprises. Ninety-seven per cent of Crossrail’s contracts are based in the United Kingdom.

We have also announced that Crossrail will now be extended to Reading. The extension of Crossrail services to Reading will achieve the best use of capacity on the Great Western line while also offering greater flexibility for future timetabled services.

The National Audit Office published their report on the project in February and this found that taxpayers’ interest in the Crossrail programme has so far been well protected. A Public Accounts Committee hearing held on 9 April supported those findings.

As we move towards the operational phase of the project, work is progressing on the appointment of the operator of the Crossrail services. Transport for London expect to announce the award of the Crossrail train operating concession later this year.

The Crossrail board continues to forecast that the costs of constructing Crossrail will be within the agreed funding limits. We expect Crossrail to cost no more than £14.5 billion (excluding rolling stock costs).

During the passage of the Crossrail Bill through Parliament, a commitment was given that a statement would be published at least every 12 months until the completion of the construction of Crossrail, setting out information about the project’s funding and finances.

In line with this commitment, this statement comes within 12 months of my last one which was published on 9 July 2013. The relevant information is as follows:

Total funding amounts provided to Crossrail Ltd by the Department for Transport and Transport for London in relation to the construction of Crossrail to the end of the period—22 July 2008 to 29 May 2014.

£5,981,006,3091

Expenditure incurred (including committed land and property spend not yet paid out) by Crossrail Ltd in relation to the construction of Crossrail in the period—30 May 2013 to 29 May 2014 (excluding recoverable VAT on land and property purchases.

£1,576,835,000

Total expenditure incurred (including committed land and property spend not yet paid out) by Crossrail Ltd in relation to the construction of Crossrail to the end of the period—22 July 2008 to 29 May 2014 (excluding recoverable VAT on land and property puchases).

£6,011,730,000

The amounts realised by the disposal of any land or property for the purposes of the construction of Crossrail by the Secretary of State, TFL or Crossrail Ltd in the period covered by this statement.

Nil

The total funding amounts provided to CRL by the Department for Transport and Transport for London refer to the expenditure drawn down from the Sponsor Funding Account in the period 22 July 2008 and 29 May 2014. Included within the amount of £5,981,006, 309 that was drawn down from the Sponsor Funding Account is £498,780, 936 of interim funding that has been provided to Network Rail to finance their delivery of the On-Network Works between 1 April 2009 and 29 May 2014.

The numbers above are drawn from Crossrail Ltd’s books of account and have been prepared on a consistent basis with the update provided last year. The figure for expenditure incurred includes moneys already paid out in relevant periods, including committed land and property expenditure where this has not yet been paid. It does not include future expenditure on construction contracts that have been awarded.