Wednesday 17 December 2014
Business, Innovation and Skills
Science and Innovation
I have today laid before Parliament a Command Paper “Our plan for growth: science and innovation”. The document sets out the Government’s strategy to build on the great strengths of British science and enterprise, the Government’s priorities for investment and support to 2020-21, and the key principles that will underpin science policy during the next 10 years and beyond.
Ministerial and Civil Service Pension
Today a new pension scheme for Ministers is being laid and is available in the Libraries of both Houses. The scheme will apply to all Ministers after the general election in 2015.
The scheme is consistent with the principles and design parameters of other new public service pension schemes which will apply to Members from April 2015—aside from older Members with transitional protection.
The key features of the scheme are:
An accrual rate of 1.775% (about 1/56)
Normal pension age linked to state pension age
A Member contribution rate of 11.1 %
Revaluation of accrued benefits in line with prices
There are also amendment schemes being laid for the current ministerial and civil service pension schemes to cover protection of survivor benefits.
The amendments do not make any provision in relation to an accrued right which puts—or might put—a person in a worse position than the person would have been in apart from the provision.
The details of the new scheme have been laid in the Libraries of both Houses, along with a copy of the response to the consultations from the chairman of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund Trustees.
It is also available online at: http://www.parliament.uk/writtenstatements
Communities and Local Government
Local Government Improvement: Technical Consultation
I would like to update hon. Members on a series of steps we are taking to improve the quality of local government services and ensure value for taxpayers’ money.
London Borough of Tower Hamlets
On 4 November, I informed the House that I was satisfied, having considered the report of the inspection by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) of Tower Hamlets council, that that council is failing to comply with its best value duty, and proposed to statutorily intervene to secure the council’s compliance with that duty.
I gave the council until 18 November to make any representations it wished on the inspection report and my proposal for intervention, and I sought and received from the council certain undertakings not to take further specified actions on grant making, appointment of statutory officers, and transfer of property to third parties, until I had reached decisions about the use of my intervention powers.
I have now carefully considered all the representations that the council has made. I have also considered afresh the PwC inspection report and the report the Election Commission published on 1 July 2014 into the elections in Tower Hamlets, and I have had appropriate regard to other representations that I have received about my proposed intervention. I remain satisfied that the council is failing to comply with its best value duty. It is disappointing that there is a culture of denial in the mayoral administration about its systematic failures.
As I said in my previous statement, 4 November, Official Report, column 666:
“Localism requires local accountability and local democracy. Municipal corruption undermines the local checks and balances that are vital in a democracy and essential in mayoral systems with their concentration of power. We cannot risk such corruption.”
But this is not just about the money. The abuse of taxpayers’ money and the culture of cronyism reflects a partisan community politics that seeks to trade favours and spread division on the rates. Such behaviour is to the detriment of integration and community cohesion in Tower Hamlets and in our capital city. This remains my view.
I have concluded that it is both necessary and expedient for me to exercise my intervention powers in the Local Government Act 1999 as I have proposed, and accordingly, I have today given the council the necessary directions under section 15(5) and 15(6) of the 1999 Act to implement the proposed interventions.
These are centred on putting in place until 31 March 2017 a team of commissioners to oversee or exercise certain of the council’s functions. It is open to me to review this in the light of the progress made by the council to secure compliance with its best value duty. I have nominated Sir Ken Knight to be the lead commissioner. Max Caller CBE has also been nominated as a commissioner, and I will announce a further commissioner in due course.
In summary, the specific intervention measures are as follows.
1.To require the council:
to draw up and agree with the commissioners within three months from the date of the direction a strategy and action plan for securing the council’s compliance with its best value duty—to include as appropriate complying with the specific requirements set out below—and to submit this to the Secretary of State;.
to prepare under the direction of the commissioners and submit to the Secretary of State at six monthly intervals thereafter until 31 March 2017 a report on progress against the strategy and action plan;
to undertake as a matter of urgency a recruitment exercise, under the direction of the commissioners, with the aim of making as soon as practicable, permanent appointments of suitable persons to the positions of the three statutory officers—head of paid service, chief finance officer, and monitoring officer;
until 31 March 2017 to obtain the prior written agreement of the commissioners to (a) any dismissal or suspension of a statutory officer; and (b) any proposed appointment or designation of a replacement;
until March 2017 to obtain the prior written agreement of the commissioners before entering into any commitment to dispose of, or otherwise transfer, to third parties, any real property other than existing single dwellings for the purposes of residential occupation;
within three months from the date of the direction, to prepare a fully costed plan for how the council’s publicity functions can be properly exercised and agree that plan with the commissioners; and until 31 March 2017 adopt any recommendation of the commissioners with respect to that plan or to publicity more generally;
by 1 February 2015 to prepare and implement an action plan, in consultation with the commissioners, to achieve improvements in the council’s processes and practices for entering into contracts, and until 31 March 2017 to adopt all recommendations of the statutory officers in relation to the processes and practices to be followed in relation to entering into contracts, unless the commissioners’ prior written agreement is obtained not to do so.
2. The commissioners to exercise until 31 March 2017 all functions of the council relating to the making of grants, including responding to Freedom of Information Act requests in respect of grant payments, with the council providing at the request of the commissioners its views on proposed grants.
3. The commissioners to exercise until 31 March 2017 the council’s functions of appointing persons to and removing them from the posts of electoral registration officer and returning officer for local elections—this will also apply to their general election duties.
The council will be required to comply with any instructions of the commissioners in relation to the exercise of those functions for which the commissioners are responsible, and to provide the commissioners at its expense with such services, amenities and administrative support as the commissioners may reasonably require, and with access to the council’s premises, documents, and to any employee or member as appears to the commissioners to be necessary. The council will also be required to pay the commissioners’ reasonable expenses and such fees as I determine.
Intervention was not a decision taken lightly, however I could not allow the overwhelming evidence of the serious failings within Tower Hamlets to continue unchecked. I do not accept the Mayor’s representations that the problems in the council can easily be put right.
Residents need to know that decisions are being taken properly in an open and accountable way. The commissioners I am appointing are experienced and talented professionals who understand that transparency and accountability are vital to the functioning of local democracy.
Local government transparency
The coalition Government have taken many steps during this Parliament to place more power into citizens’ hands to increase democratic accountability and make it easier for local people to contribute to the local decision-making process and help shape public services. Transparency is the foundation of local accountability and the key that gives people the tools and information they need to play a bigger role in society.
In October, we issued the local government transparency code 2014 and have made it a legal requirement for local authorities to publish much of the data specified in the code. Today, we have taken another step forward in ensuring that local people have key information to hold public bodies to account by publishing a transparency code for smaller authorities.
Under the new local government audit regime smaller authorities will be subject to the transparency requirements laid out in this code in place of routine external audit. The code will require the online publication of information that provides taxpayers with a clear picture of authorities’ activities, spending and governance, improving the ability of communities to hold local public bodies to account.
The transparency code for smaller authorities applies to parish councils, internal drainage boards, charter trustees and port health authorities with an annual turnover not exceeding £25,000. Published initially as recommended practice, we intend, subject to Parliament, to make the code mandatory by the start of the 2015-16 financial year and will offer support to this local government sector to help authorities comply with these requirements.
Backing locally supported joint working
There are many ways that local authorities can work together to save money and improve services, but there is equally no one-size-fits-all model either. The Dorset fire authority and the Wiltshire and Swindon combined fire authority have formally made representations requesting a merger. We have today published a consultation paper on their proposals.
In contrast to the last Administration, we do not believe in top-down restructuring. Nor do we agree with the current proposals of the HM Opposition to force more mergers. The botched fire control programme is a prime example of how such restructuring is expensive and distracting. Rather, we will support locally led partnerships, where there is genuine support from all members of the local community, and the consultation will test this local support.
Improving support arrangements for local councils
It is important to have in place the most effective arrangements to help councils across the country to continue to improve and reform—essential if they are to deliver sensible savings.
Councils have a right to expect services designed to support them are the best they can be, provide the support they need and provide best value for money.
In 2015-16, we intend to provide grant of £23.4 million to the Local Government Improvement and Development (formerly IDeA) to deliver effective support to councils. This will be accompanied by robust scrutiny to ensure that every pound spent by it is spent appropriately and on providing direct support to councils. We expect of it the same standards and value for money as we expect of councils delivering front-line services, and we expect them to be transparent with councils about how they have spent the grant and the services they deliver to support councils.
The coalition Government’s policy is to open up budgets to competition wherever possible. We intend to explore how the budget given for improvement services can be opened up to competition with contracts in place for 2016-17, allowing councils, council groupings, think-tank, mutuals and other interested parties to bid for such funding, and drive further best practice in local government.
I am placing a copy of the documents associated with these announcements in the Library of the House and on my Department’s website.
Defence Reform: Review of Implementation
My noble Friend Lord Levene of Portsoken has conducted the third annual review of the implementation of his defence reform recommendations of 2011, and has written to me setting out his findings.
I welcome Lord Levene’s conclusion that he is impressed by the fundamental transformation the Ministry of Defence has undergone in the last four years. I am pleased that he recognises the significant progress we have made in many areas, not least the much stronger financial management he observed, which is such a key aspect of defence reform. Of course, I fully accept that there is always more we can do, and I have noted Lord Levene’s suggestions for further improvement.
I am grateful to Lord Levene for his commitment to the Ministry of Defence over the past four years and I am in no doubt that as a result my Department is now much better placed to achieve our objectives effectively and efficiently. We will continue in the spirit of defence reform to embed the changes we have put in place, and to build on them for the future.
I have asked Lord Levene to return next year, as he has offered to do, and I look forward to demonstrating further progress at that time.
I am placing a copy of Lord Levene’s letter in the Library of the House, together with the MOD’s summary of progress against the 53 defence reform recommendations.
School Revenue Funding 2015-16
Today I am announcing details of school revenue funding for 2015-16 through the dedicated schools grant (DSG).
The distribution of the DSG to local authorities will continue to be set out in three spending blocks for each authority: an early years block, a schools block and a high needs block.
As I announced in my statement to the House on 17 July, the underlying school budget will be kept at flat cash per pupil for 2015-16 with an increase in schools block per pupil funding for the 69 least fairly funded local authorities.
To protect schools from significant budget reductions, we will continue with a minimum funding guarantee that ensures no school sees more than a 1.5% per pupil reduction in 2015-16 budgets—excluding sixth form funding—compared to 2014-15 and before the pupil premium is added.
Details of these arrangements are being sent to local authorities today and have been published at: http:// www.gov.uk.
Energy and Climate Change
Coal Authority Triennial Review
On 8 October 2013 as Minister for Energy and Climate Change, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Michael Fallon) announced the commencement of the triennial review of the Coal Authority. I am now pleased to announce the completion of the review.
The Coal Authority was established under the 1994 Coal Industry Act with the broad responsibilities to protect the public and environment in coal mining areas and manage the effects of past coal mining. The authority owns the majority of coal in Great Britain, including past coal mines.
The triennial review of the Coal Authority concludes that the functions performed by the authority are still required and that it should be retained as a non-departmental public body. The review also looked at the governance arrangements for the authority in line with guidance on good corporate governance set out by the Cabinet Office. The report finds that good corporate governance arrangements are already in place, and makes a number of recommendations in this respect which we expect will be implemented shortly.
The full report of the review of the Coal Authority can be found on the Coal Authority website: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/the-coal-authority and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
We have today laid regulations to allow mitochondrial donation to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial disease from mother to child.
Mitochondrial disease is passed from mother to child through faults in the mitochondrial DNA. It is estimated that one in 6,500 children are born every year in the UK with a serious mitochondrial DNA disorder. Serious mitochondrial disease can have a profound effect on families, including the premature death of children; and causes painful, debilitating and disabling suffering, long-term ill health and low quality of life. There is no cure. British scientists are leading the world in the development of mitochondrial donation techniques which can prevent the transmission of this devastating disease.
The Government have run a comprehensive and transparent process over the lifetime of this Parliament to review the public acceptability of mitochondrial donation and the ongoing evidence of safety and efficacy of the new techniques involved. In developing the draft regulations, we have taken extensive advice from the scientific and research community and the United Kingdom’s regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). Should the regulations be approved by Parliament these mitochondrial donation techniques would form part of the HFEA’s regulatory framework. Any prospective provider would have to demonstrate that it could perform the technique both safely and effectively in order to obtain a licence, putting mitochondrial donation on the same footing as other fertility treatments.
The consultative process has included: a public dialogue and consultation about public acceptability run by the HFEA in 2012-13; three separate reports about the safety and efficacy of the techniques by an expert panel convened by the HFEA in 2011, 2013 and 2014; and a consultation by the Department of Health in 2014 about the detail of draft regulations that would allow these techniques. The HFEA published “Mitochondrial Donation: an introductory briefing” on 22 October, which provides a very helpful summary about the expert panel review process and outcome.
In addition the Nuffield Council on Bioethics ran a public consultation about the ethics of allowing the new techniques in 2012. Most recently, the House of Commons’ Science and Technology committee took evidence and considered the science of the new techniques, subsequently writing to the Government urging them to proceed.
Taking into account this cumulative consideration and consultation, the Government consider that the time is now right to give Parliament the opportunity to consider and vote on these regulations.
The Government have today published “Age of Sale for Nicotine-inhaling Products-consultation on proposed regulations to be made under the Children and Families Act 2014”
In February 2014, the Government took regulation-making powers in the Children and Families Act 2014 to enable regulations to be made to prohibit the sale of nicotine products to persons under the age of 18. The proposed regulations cover “nicotine-inhaling devices” which are defined as any device which is intended to enable nicotine- to be inhaled through a mouthpiece but is not tobacco, cigarette papers or a device intended for the consumption of lit tobacco. It encompasses electronic cigarettes. The proposed regulations also cover refill cartridges and nicotine liquids intended to be used to refill nicotine inhaling devices.
The proposed regulations would:
make it an offence to sell nicotine-inhaling products, such as electronic cigarettes, to anyone under the age of 18, with certain limited exceptions;
extend the existing offence of the proxy purchase of tobacco (at section 91 of the Children and Families Act) to cover nicotine-inhaling products, so that it would also be an offence for an adult to buy an e-cigarette on behalf of a child under 18 years, subject to limited exceptions; and
exempt the sale of any nicotine-inhaling product that is licensed as a medicine, where it has been prescribed to a child and is sold under certain conditions, or where the medicine is indicated in its licence for therapeutic use by children.
The Government want to protect children and young people from addiction to any substance, particularly those that might be harmful to health. Given the rapid emergence of e-cigarettes in recent years, coupled with concerns about the increased awareness and use of these products by children, the Government are committed to setting an age of sale requirement.
The consultation on the draft regulations will run for six weeks until 28 January 2015. I encourage all those with an interest to submit their views on the draft regulations and the accompanying impact assessment.
A copy of “Age of Sale for Nicotine-inhaling Products—consultation on proposed regulations to be made under the Children and Families Act 2014” has been placed in the Library of the House and attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/ writtenstatements
Smoking (Vehicles Carrying Children)
The Government have today published a response to the consultation on regulations to end smoking in private vehicles carrying children and have laid draft regulations in Parliament.
The Government want to protect young people from the serious health harms of smoked tobacco and the regulations would make private vehicles carrying children smoke-free. We have made some technical amendments in response to the consultation responses, and, subject to agreement in both Houses, they will come into force from 1 October 2015.
The existing smoke-free legislation, as set out in the Health Act 2006, will be extended so that it will be an offence to:
smoke in a private vehicle with someone under age 18 present; and
fail to prevent smoking in a private vehicle with someone under age 18 present.
If approved by Parliament, the regulations will apply to enclosed private vehicles and will not apply to anyone driving alone.
The World Health Organisation found that second-hand smoke is a real and substantial threat to child health. It causes a variety of adverse health effects including increased susceptibility to lower respiratory tract infections like pneumonia and bronchitis, worsening of asthma, middle ear disease, decreased lung function, and sudden infant death syndrome.
Smoke-free legislation is a devolved matter and these regulations would apply to England only. However the regulations will set the amount of the fixed penalty notice at £50 for the offence of failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free private vehicle, which will apply in relation to England and Wales. We are liaising with the Welsh Government to co-ordinate our approaches. Public Health England is developing a social marketing campaign to raise awareness of the new regulations in advance of them coming into force.
The Government response to the consultation on smoking in private vehicles carrying children has been placed in the Library of the House.
The interception of communications plays a vital role in preventing terrorist attacks and tackling serious and organised crime. Interception is used in some form in the majority of MI5’s top priority counter-terrorism investigations. It plays a crucial role in the work of the police and the National Crime Agency to bring serious criminals to justice.
The prohibition on the disclosure of warranted intercept in court is a long-standing one. It has served to protect the most sensitive capabilities of the security and intelligence agencies. And it has set the context in which the current interception regime has evolved.
The Government are committed to securing the maximum number of convictions in terrorism and serious crime cases. The experience of other countries is that the use of evidence gathered through interception may help to achieve that. For that reason, the Government have sought to find a practical way to allow the use of intercept as evidence in criminal proceedings.
I am today publishing the findings of the Government’s review of intercept as evidence as a Command Paper (Cm 8989).
This review considered whether it would be possible to introduce intercept as evidence in a way that was consistent with the right to a fair trial. The costs of translation, transcription and retention in order to disclose material to the defence would be substantial, diverting considerable resources away from investigative work.
The review found that the benefits—measured in additional convictions—would be highly uncertain. On some assumptions, the use of intercept as evidence would lead to a small increase in convictions. On others it would lead to a significant decrease.
The review concluded that the costs and risks of introducing intercept as evidence are disproportionate to the assessed benefits. This conclusion was unanimously endorsed by the advisory group of Privy Counsellors who have overseen the review from its inception.
Based on the outcome of the cost-benefit analysis, the review concluded that intercept as evidence should not be introduced at this time. However, the Government will keep this position under review.
This review has benefited from the experience and advice of the advisory group of Privy Counsellors, chaired by the right hon. Sir John Chilcot and comprising my noble Friend the right hon. Lord Howard of Lympne, my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir Alan Beith), and the right hon. Member for St Helens South and Whiston (Mr Woodward), who replaced the right hon. noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell. The Government are indebted to them for their hard work, which is now complete.
Copies of the review will be available in the Vote Office.
Police Grant Report England and Wales 2015-16
I have today placed in the Library my proposals for the aggregate amount of grant to local policing bodies in England and Wales for 2015-16, for the approval of the House. Copies will also be available in the Vote Office.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will in due course publish proposals for the distribution of funding to English local authorities for 2015-16. A further £3 million of council tax freeze grant funding, previously paid to local policing bodies by DCLG, will be paid by the Home Office in 2015-16. This follows the permanent transfer of £500 million of other legacy council tax grants and £3 billion “formula funding” from DCLG to the Home Office in previous years, reflecting our ambition to simplify police funding arrangements over this Parliament. The Welsh Government will shortly set out their proposals for the allocation of funding in 2015-16 for local policing bodies in Wales.
Since 2010 we have seen some of the biggest changes to policing in decades. Crime is down by over a fifth. There is significantly greater local accountability and transparency and police leaders have taken the opportunity to radically reform the way they deliver services to the public. Police officers have been taken out of back-office roles and resources focused on front-line delivery, putting officers back on the streets where the public expect them to be. Police forces are working more closely than ever before to reduce costs and duplication, and have started to work more closely with other emergency services through co-location and collaboration in areas such as mental health. The police are making their contribution to reducing the deficit and Her Majesty’s inspectorate of constabulary has found that the police are successfully meeting the challenge of balancing their books while protecting the front line and delivering reductions in crime.
After careful consideration of all Home Office budgets and the impact of the Chancellor’s 2013 autumn statement, I have decided to maintain the 4.9% real-terms headline reduction to overall central Government funding to the police announced at spending round 2013. Taking account of the latest inflationary forecast from HM Treasury published alongside the Chancellor’s 2014 autumn statement, this means a total cash reduction of £299 million in the overall police funding envelope compared to 2014-15.
I have also decided that the Government’s approach to funding arrangements will continue in 2015-16. This means that every police force area will face the same percentage reduction in core central Government funding. This amounts to a cash reduction in this funding of 5.1%—in cash terms—compared to 2014-15.
I have also decided to allocate funding to specific areas where I consider there to be a national policing interest. This includes maintaining police spending on counter-terrorism, improving police integrity, transparency and leadership, and enabling the investment required so the police can innovate to meet new challenges and access critical modern infrastructure by:
maintaining funding for counter-terrorism policing of at least £564 million;
providing a further £30 million for the Independent Police Complaints Commission;
supporting HMIC’s PEEL inspection programme with £9.4 million;
offering £4.6 million for the College of Policing’s direct entry schemes;
allocating £70 million of funding to the police innovation fund; and
providing £40 million of funding for major programmes.
I am also considering whether a limited amount of police capital grant will be reallocated to support the communications capabilities development and emergency services mobile communications (ESMCP) programmes. I will confirm my decision in the written ministerial statement that will accompany the final police grant report in February.
The police in England and Wales are facing many challenges, including new and emerging threats and a growing number of historic investigations. This Government have always been clear that the police will have the resources they need for their important work, and this will continue to be the case in 2015-16.
I have set out below how we propose to allocate the police funding settlement between the different funding streams and between police force areas for 2015-16.
The police grant settlement 2015-16
Total General Funding:
Police Core Settlement
of which Home Office Police Main Grant
of which National and International, Capital City Grant (MOPAC only)
Former DCLG funding
of which formula funding
of which Ordnance Survey
of which Legacy Council Tax Freeze
Total Home Office Specific Grants:
Counter Terrorism Police Grant
Police Innovation Fund
Police Knowledge Fund
Independent Police Complaints Commission (for the transfer of integrity functions)
College of Policing (for direct entry schemes)
City of London National and International Capital City Grant
HMIC (for PEEL inspection regime)
Police Special Grant
Legacy Council Tax Freeze Grants
of which Council Tax 2011-12 freeze grant
of which Council Tax 2013-14 freeze grant
of which Council Tax 2014-15 freeze grant
Police Private Finance Initiatives
Total Government Funding***
% cash change in Total Government Funding****
% real change in total Government funding
* **Rounded to the nearest £m
***The police will also separately receive £434.4 million in local council tax support grant. This will be paid by the Home Office.
***This is the difference in total central Government funding to the police compared to 2014-15. The reduction in core Government funding (i.e. funding that is subject to damping) is 5.1%.
Provisional allocations of these grants—excluding counter-terrorism police grant—for each force area in England and Wales for 2015-16 are set out in table 3.
I will continue to allocate specific funding for counter-terrorism policing and have provided ring-fenced funding for this throughout the 2010 spending review period to ensure that critical national counter-terrorism capabilities are maintained. We have allocated at least £564 million to support counter-terrorism policing in 2015-16.
Police and crime commissioners will receive full counter-terrorism funding allocations in the new year. For security reasons these allocations will not be available in the public domain.
Pre-existing funding streams
Police innovation fund
I will continue to promote innovation, collaboration and improved efficiency by allocating £70 million to the police innovation fund for 2015-16. In its first two years, this fund has supported a broad spectrum of activity, including projects to enhance collaboration across the emergency services and with other public services; improve digital working within and between forces; and introduce new means by which the public can make contact with their forces. We have also decided to allocate £5 million to the establishment of a police knowledge fund. Further details will be provided in due course.
Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)
This is the second year of funding for the expansion of the IPCC to investigate all serious and sensitive allegations involving the police. In 2014-15 the IPCC has expanded its infrastructure, including doubling its numbers of investigations staff, and is on course to start almost twice the number of cases compared to last year. In 2015-16 I am providing £30 million from the police settlement which will allow the IPCC to focus on delivering significantly more independent investigations as the new investigations staff take up post. I will also provide £4.5 million from the wider Home Office budget to cover capital investment costs.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC)
We will provide £9.4 million to HMIC to continue its programme of thematic inspections and more wide-ranging PEEL inspections. The PEEL assessments represent a radical shift in how police forces are held to account by enabling the public to see for the first time how well their force is performing when it comes to cutting crime, providing a service that is fair and providing value for money. They give the public a clear, independent view of the quality of policing in their local area.
College of Policing
£4.6 million will be given to the College of Policing to attract, select and train exceptional people who have the potential to become senior leaders in policing. This will widen the talent pool from which police leaders can be drawn, open up police culture to new influences and foster an environment where challenge and innovation are welcome.
National and international capital city grant
This year, we will provide £2.8 million of funding to the City of London police in respect of their responsibilities for policing the capital. This follows an HMIC review of their detailed business case.
New funding streams
After consideration, we have decided to provide £40 million from the police settlement to support the continuing development of the emergency services mobile communications programme, Home Office biometrics and the national police data programme. These major programmes are critical for the police as they will ensure future communications and data capability, and are designed to deliver significant savings in the future.
Police special grant
We have decided to provide £15 million from the police settlement for the police special grant contingency fund, which supports police forces facing unplanned or unexpected additional pressures which might otherwise place them at financial risk.
Council tax referendum principles
The Communities Secretary, in consultation with the Home Secretary, will in due course give an indication of the council tax referendum principles he is minded to propose for local authorities in England in 2015-16. After considering any representations, he will set out the final principles in a report to the House and seek approval for these in parallel with the final local government finance report. Council tax in Wales is the responsibility of Welsh Ministers.
Legacy council tax grants
In 2015-16 we will provide council tax freeze grant to police and crime commissioners in England relating to the 2014-15 council tax freeze scheme. We will continue to provide council tax freeze grant relating to the 2011-12 and 2013-14 schemes and local council tax support (LCTS) funding previously paid to police and crime commissioners in England by DCLG. This will total £503 million in 2015-16. The Common Council of the City of London and the Greater London Authority—on behalf of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime—will also receive council tax freeze grant relating to the 2011-12 freeze grant scheme. The Greater London Authority will also receive an amount for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 schemes. These sums will continue to be paid from outside of the police funding settlement by DCLG. This will also be the case for any future council tax freeze grants.
As in previous years, a portion of capital will be reallocated in 2015-16 to fund the National Police Air Service. I will consider whether a further reallocation is required to support the communications capabilities development (CCD) and emergency services mobile communications (ESMCP) programmes. Indicative figures, excluding a reallocation for CCD, are set out in table 2.
I still intend to allocate the majority of capital funding directly to local policing bodies. Like last year all local policing bodies will receive the same percentage change in capital grant. I will also continue to maintain a capital contingency.
2015-16 Police Capital
Police Capital Grant
Police Special Capital
Local Policing Body
HO core (including Rule 1)
Tax Grants (total from HO)
Avon and Somerset
City of London
Devon and Cornwall
Greater London Authority
Total England & Wales
Scientific Procedures on Living Animals
The “Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Animals Bred, Supplied or Used for Scientific Purposes”, is being laid before the House today. Copies will be available in the Vote Office.
The code of practice is intended to be a reference document that contains standards and advice for housing and care of protected animals bred, supplied and used for scientific purposes. Its purpose is to ensure that the design, construction and function of the installations and equipment of licensed establishments—along with their staffing, care and practices—allow procedures to be carried out as effectively as possible. The code of practice will also help establishments fulfil their responsibility to continually seek to improve their standards of care and accommodation in line with the principles of the 3Rs (replacement, reduction and refinement in animal use), striving to adopt higher standards where practicable and applicable.
The Secretary of State is required to,
“issue codes of practice as to the care of protected animals”
under section 21(2) of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 Amendment Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/3039) (ASPA). The publication of the code of practice also completes the transposition of the European directive 2010/63/EU, which sets out revised measures for the protection of animals used for scientific purpose. As part of that transposition, from 1 January 2013, we harmonised standards with other EU member states where required and, where appropriate, maintained our higher standards while avoiding unnecessary bureaucracy and cost burden.
The code of practice seeks to promote a shared understanding between establishments and Home Office inspectors of the manner in which the mandated requirements might be met. Scientific advances in knowledge and new technologies present significant opportunities to replace animal use, reduce the use of animals, and, where animal use is unavoidable, to refine the procedures, including the care and accommodation involved so as to minimise suffering (3Rs). Consequently, the code is drafted so as to assist establishments to meet these requirements, as well as encourage the application of up- to-date evidence-based 3Rs approaches to accommodation and care.
The key outcomes driven by this code of practice are:
to promote good animal welfare through the provision of consistent, high-quality care and accommodation;
to support the generation of high-quality, reliable scientific results through the reduction of environmental variables;
to implement the principles of the 3Rs through using the minimum number of animals and causing the minimum degree of pain, suffering, distress or lasting harm.
Publication of this code of practice helps the Government fulfil their commitment to implementing the 3R’s and of good regulation. It will maintain the UK’s position as an international leader in standards of practice.
The Secretary of State may issue revised codes of practice from time to time and proposes to complete the first review of this code of practice in approximately five years’ time. The code of practice is available at www.gov.uk/government/publications
National Networks Policy Statement
There is a critical need to improve the national networks to address road congestion and crowding on the railways, to facilitate safe and reliable journeys, and to provide a transport network that is capable of stimulating and supporting economic growth. There is also an equally important need to ensure improvements have minimal impact on the environment, are well designed and improve safety.
The national networks national policy statement (NPS) sets the policy against which the Secretary of State for Transport will make decisions on applications for development consent for nationally significant infrastructure projects on the road and rail networks and strategic rail freight interchanges. The statement is based on existing Government policy and only applies to England.
Parliament has already played a valuable role in scrutinising the national networks NPS. I would like to thank the Transport Select Committee for its report, all those who contributed to the debate in another place, and those who also undertook important scrutiny work on the earlier drafts.
I am today taking the opportunity to lay before you the NPS for national networks in England pursuant to section 9(8) and 5(4) of the Planning Act 2008, and the Government’s response to the public consultation on the draft national networks NPS, which commenced in December 2013 for a period of 12 weeks.
Copies of all documents have been made available in the Libraries of both Houses and I am also publishing these documents on the Department’s website, with an updated version of the appraisal of sustainability, a post-adoption statement and other supporting documents.
Work and Pensions
Automatic Enrolment Thresholds
I am today announcing the proposed automatic enrolment thresholds for next year. We intend to lay an order before Parliament in the new year which will include the following:
£5,824 for the lower limit of the qualifying earnings band;
£42,385 for the upper limit of the qualifying earnings band.
The automatic enrolment earnings trigger will be frozen at £10,000.
I am also publishing the Government’s response to the public consultation on the automatic enrolment earnings thresholds review later today on the gov.uk website. I attach a copy of the Government’s response to the public consultation on the automatic enrolment earnings thresholds review to this statement.
Attachments can be viewed online at: http:// www.parliament.uk/writtenstatements
Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008
Today, I, along with my hon. Friend the Minister for Disabled People (Mark Harper MP) and my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Lord Freud), are publishing the Command Paper Cm 8986 “Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 Post-legislative Scrutiny Memorandum to the Work and Pensions Select Committee”.
The 2008 Act comprises a range of provisions including those which provided for the establishment of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission (“C-MEC”), a non-departmental public body, which has since been abolished. In addition, it contains the provisions underpinning the new calculation measures for the 2012 child maintenance scheme and provisions for closing and transferring cases from the older child maintenance schemes, currently operated by the Child Support Agency: a process which began in June of this year. It also contains a range of debt management, collection and enforcement powers for the statutory child maintenance schemes, and provision to provide compensation payments for sufferers of mesothelioma or their dependants, where the sufferer has died before making a claim under the Act.
As many of the child maintenance powers have only commenced in the past two to three years, and because the Secretary of State has committed to undertaking a wider review of child maintenance reforms, this memorandum provides information on the set up of C-MEC and how its functions are now carried out, how the 2008 Act’s provisions fit with wider coalition Government policy and when a more detailed assessment of child maintenance reforms will be available. The evaluation strategy, which sets out our plans for assessing the impacts of the reforms, will be published shortly.
The 2008 Act provisions relating to mesothelioma lump sum compensation scheme payments came into force on 1 October 2008. We are therefore able to publish today, information about the implementation and take-up of the scheme since the scheme’s introduction.
Personal Independence Payments
The Government are pleased to announce that the first independent review of the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment, carried out by Paul Gray, will be published later today. This is the first of two independent reviews as required by the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
Paul Gray has explored how the PIP assessment is operating from the perspectives of claimants, health professionals and other staff involved in delivery and has made a number of recommendations designed to improve the claimant experience. He has concluded that it is too early to draw definitive conclusions about the overall effectiveness of the PIP assessment based on available published data and has made recommendations to help the Department ensure the fairness and consistency of award outcomes in the future.
The Government welcome the review and will publish a detailed response in due course.