Thursday 18 December 2014
Business, Innovation and Skills
Today I am making a joint statement with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, who is responsible for modern slavery and organised crime. Together we wish to inform the House that the Government are publishing the UK’s first cross-government anti-corruption plan.
Corruption harms societies, undermines economic development and threatens democracy.
The UK is recognised as having strong institutions, and has led the way in implementing world-leading legislative standards through the Bribery Act 2010. But we recognise that more can be done to improve our co-ordination at home and better manage how we deal with bribery and corruption overseas.
As part of our second open government partnership national action plan, we committed to bring together all of the UK’s anti-corruption efforts under one cross-government plan. This plan will bring more co-ordination and coherence to our efforts and ensure that future activity to tackle corruption is joined up and collaborative.
The plan highlights that our priorities are: to build a better picture of how corruption is affecting our society and economy; strengthen our legal and operational tools and activity; enhance our law enforcement response; deny use of our financial system for those who are trying to abuse it; and step up our efforts internationally.
In my role as the Government anti-corruption champion I will jointly chair, with the Minister for modern slavery and organised crime, an inter-ministerial group to oversee delivery of the plan. We will work with colleagues across Government and civil society to drive forward work on this agenda.
A copy of the plan will be placed in the Library of the House. It will also be available on the Government website: www.gov.uk
European Union Finances (Annual Statement)
I am today laying before Parliament, “the European Union Finances 2014: statement on the 2014 EU budget and measures to counter fraud and financial mismanagement” (Cm 8974). This is a routine annual publication. It is the 34th in the series.
The statement gives details of revenue and expenditure in the 2014 European Union (EU) budget, recent developments in EU financial management and measures to counter fraud against the EU budget. It also includes an annex on the use of EU funds in the UK.
Lloyds Banking Group (Government Shares)
Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that he has outlined a trading plan to sell more of the Government’s shares in Lloyds Banking Group.
This decision was made on the basis of advice from UK Financial Investments Ltd that it would be appropriate to outline a plan to gradually sell shares in the market over a period of time, in an orderly and measured way and in accordance with pre-agreed parameters. The trading plan will last for approximately six months.
The Government are committed to returning Lloyds to the private sector and getting taxpayers’ money back. A statement will be laid before Parliament with further details at the end of the plan.
Future sales will always be subject to value-for-money considerations and market conditions.
Communities and Local Government
At Budget 2014, the Government set out plans for a new urban development corporation to deliver a garden city settlement of up to 15,000 homes at Ebbsfleet in Kent. This is being taken forward in consultation with local MPs, councils and residents.
Urban development corporations are established by means of a statutory instrument under section 135 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980. Our aim is to establish the Ebbsfleet urban development corporation in the first half of 2015.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources for this new service of £358,000 will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department for Communities and Local Government. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £358,000 will be met by a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund.
I would like to update hon. Members on the work of my Department on integration. We are committed to confronting and challenging extremism in all its forms, tackling the violence and hatred that seeks to create division. We are championing what unites our country across class, colour and creed, and we are standing up for and supporting British values.
Our broad approach is laid out in the Government’s integration strategy, published in February 2012, which can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/creating-the-conditions-for-a-more-integrated-society
As of December 2014, current integration projects and activities include:
Action to provide a platform for young people to share positive stories about integration. Sixty young people are being trained as journalists and will produce at least 120 stories and 2 million opportunities to view by end of June 2015.
Anne Frank Trust UK
Funding will enable the trust to deliver its programme to 35,000 young people in London and the west Midlands by July 2015 to challenge UK prejudice and reduce hatred, encouraging people to embrace positive attitudes, responsibility and respect for others.
Arts Council—Arts in the community
Work will engage five areas around England—Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Burnley and potentially Thurrock—to improve their art/cultural provision to increase participation by bringing in more people through more activities. Project match funded with Arts Council England and local authorities.
Arts Council Enterprise libraries
Supporting library projects in 16 locations to develop business and intellectual property centres across the country. Project match funded with Arts Council England and the British Library.
The project supports a scholarship scheme at the University of West London, and raises the profile of the sector through the Mastara Chef campaign. Our aim is that young people from different backgrounds will view the Asian cuisine industry as offering exciting and rewarding careers, increasing opportunities for social mobility and underlining the important place which Asian cuisine occupies in modern Britain.
Support to Cornish Language Partnership for the development and promotion of the Cornish language.
English language match funding for European integration fund funded projects
DCLG match funded three community-based English language projects supported by the European integration fund to teach English and integration skills in Slough, Tower Hamlets and Bradford.
English language community-based programme
Support for six projects providing community-based English language tuition to 24,000 isolated people in selected target areas.
Enterprise Challenge Sheffield
Extension of Enterprise Challenge to include engagement with and integration of Roma.
Expanding a suite of integration projects into key areas identified by the extremism taskforce.
Female genital mutilation and honour-based violence—including forced marriage: community-led projects
Funding 15 community projects across the country to deliver community engagement work to prevent female genital mutilation and other forms of honour-based violence, including forced marriage.
Female genital mutilation/forced marriage champions network
Funding three organisations to recruit community champions to lead a local response to raising awareness of and tackling female genital mutilation and forced marriage
Flying the flag
Ongoing support for championing the flying of local and national flags, and working with the Flag Institute to encourage more local communities to create their own local flags.
A commission of inquiry to investigate how best to commemorate and teach future generations about the holocaust.
Holocaust memorial day
Funding the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust to deliver the UK’s annual commemoration of Holocaust memorial day and to support its work with schools and local communities throughout the year to raise awareness and deliver local events.
Supporting an independent charity providing information that is as up-to-date and reliable as possible about cults and unconventional movements.
Integration through sport
DCLG contribution to Sport England’s community sport activation fund to sport support integration-focused sport projects.
Inter Faith Network
A charity that links up and resources local and national inter-faith bodies and faith umbrella bodies and runs the annual inter-faith week activities.
National community tensions team
DCLG contribution to the team which carries out a national assessment of community tension on a weekly basis and provides a resource on the impact of public order, counter-terrorism and other extremist activity on communities.
Campaign bringing together diverse faith communities in local neighbourhoods through grants to local projects and programmes of training for clergy, youth leaders and community activists.
Opening doors partnership comprising Black Training and Enterprise Group, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, Asian Business Initiative and PJ’s Community Services to establish an enterprise development programme to train young unemployed and socially disadvantaged people in Haringey, Brent and Croydon to be entrepreneurs.
Our Big Gig
Delivery of a national mass-participation musical event from 11-13 July, together with targeted activity in selected areas over a longer period, with the aim of bringing diverse communities together and encouraging local participation in music on a sustained basis.
Post-holocaust issues envoy
To support the work of the post-holocaust issues envoy to represent the UK in international fora on restitution and addressing anti-Semitism.
Post Office community enterprise fund
Enhancing the role of post offices as community hubs and providers of other services, such as support for small businesses, by running a joint competition to identify and support 25 innovative community-led schemes.
Programme of activities to raise awareness of the Srebrenica genocide, to teach the consequences of hatred and intolerance through visits to Bosnia, commemoration events around 11 July, and education packs.
Schools linking network
Unlocking talent and potential scheme to bring together pupils from different backgrounds, provide them with business mentors and work experience opportunities, and enable the most committed pupils to go on to establish new enterprises.
Social media workshops
Four social media workshops were held in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds. We worked in conjunction with Home Office research information and communication unit and Breakthrough Media. The aim was to improve the social media capacity of community organisations in each area in promoting positive narratives and case studies.
The Big Iftar
Creating a mass movement through a diverse set of Iftar activities during Ramadan in mosques, synagogues, other places of worship and community centres around the country for Muslim communities to come together to share Iftar with their non-Muslim neighbours, highlighting the commonalities between communities, rather than the differences.
Together in service
A two-year programme of faith-based social action building on the success of A Year of Service (2012). Every month the social action of a different faith community is celebrated and new multi-faith projects encouraged. The project is supported by the together in service fellowship of willing volunteers and a small grants fund to kick-start new inter-faith projects.
World war one battlefields visit
Support to enable two children and one teacher from every English state-aided school to visit world war one battlefields—joint with the Department for Education.
World war one “Last Post” campaign
Encouraging communities to engage and come together through local music events, which include playing the “Last Post” on any instrument.
World war one—Remember world war one
A mass initiative to engage individuals, groups and communities in England to volunteer 100 minutes of their time to world war one related activity.
World war one—Show and tell
Online resource for communities, which includes libraries and local historical societies, to work with local areas to identify first world war stories and artefacts.
World war one—VC grave restoration project
Grave restoration campaign to restore the graves of world war one recipients who are buried in the UK but not under the care of the Restoration Project Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
World war one—Victoria Cross paving stones
Project to commemorate world war one Victoria Cross recipients with a paving stone across the country at their birth place or at the National Memorial Arboretum (Staffordshire) for overseas-born Victoria Cross recipients.
World war one—Woking Peace Garden
A project which will use the Woking Peace Garden as a focal point for world war one commemoration events and educational visits, events and activities to raise awareness of the contribution of Commonwealth servicemen to world war one.
The project aims to create opportunities for 10,800 young people in 400 newly established units run by 2,700 volunteers.
Below are lists of examples of projects and activities we have previously supported—it is not a comprehensive list of every single integration activity or programme.
A Year of Service
A series of volunteering events, held by nine different faith communities in turn throughout the year in 2012, linked to festivals or special days to encourage themed social action, such as feeding the poor or improving the local environment.
Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation perpetuity fund
Contribution to ensure the ongoing restoration and preservation of Auschwitz- Birkenau.
Bad Arolsen archive Wiener Library
Funded the Wiener Library to get a copy of the international tracing service archive to help UK citizens trace what happened to their relatives during Nazi persecution across Europe.
DCLG and Government Equalities Office jointly provided grant in 2012-13 and 2013-14 on assessing prejudice on the basis of caste among Hindus and Sikhs.
Report representing the conclusions of around 40 Muslim scholars, academics and other participants who took part in the project’s symposia to discuss and consider what it means to be a Muslim living in modern Britain.
Enterprise business connectors
Project run by Business in the Community to help small businesses in Haringey, Salford, Tower Hamlets, Nottingham, Liverpool and Bristol to survive and to grow, and be able to provide local employment, goods and services in some of the most disadvantaged communities through support from large businesses. Secondees from large businesses to be placed in these areas to act as “business connectors” to facilitate interactions.
A national competition run by Mosaic, part of the Prince’s Trust, that aims to inspire knowledge and enthusiasm about business among young people. School teams are supported by specialist business mentors to compete through an online business game. The project was match funded with Apax Foundation.
English language training
Funding additional English language provision for learners with no, or extremely poor, levels of spoken English, who are not in or actively seeking employment, and who are unable to afford course fees.
Faith through a lens
As part of A Year of Service we teamed up with an existing national photo competition—faith through a lens—to have a special category on A Year of Service to both celebrate and act as a record of the volunteering activities undertaken.
Faith-based Regeneration Network
Grant to support faith-based organisations with a focus on community development, regeneration and social action.
Issuing guidance to councils to discourage the translation of documents into foreign languages, to help encourage English language learning and strengthen integration of those who do not speak English into mainstream British society.
Future for Youth
Match-funding to the Future for Youth foundation to run a pathfinder project in Salford to support young people to move into employment, training or education.
Funding to help address the resource pressures on Rushmoor borough council and support other councils with large numbers of retired Gurkhas to manage the integration of retired veterans and their families.
To enthuse secondary age pupils (13-14) about the possibility of a career in industry—engineering, manufacturing, etc. Pupils to undertake an eight-week course with a local industrial firm, learning about the sector and the career options it offers.
Support to Inter-faith Youth Trust to deliver a wide range of projects and activities focused on engaging young people from different faiths and encouraging faith-based social action.
Funded the Jewish Museum work with 12 schools in the London area to improve understanding of the Jewish way of life and to address casual anti-Semitism in schools.
National Citizens Service—Young advisers
Project to deliver young advisors training to between 150-200 young people in 2011-12 and up to a further 375-500 in 2012-13.
National special interest group on the English Defence League
Blackburn and Luton-led national special interest group to share best practice between councils and other partners in countering English Defence League activity.
Operation black vote
One off transitional funding to enable the organisation to develop a sustainable business model.
Searchlight Education Trust—English Defence League project
Volunteer-led community groups organising local news-sheets and community events to generate positive local identities in four areas vulnerable to English Defence League activity.
Show racism the red card—English Defence League project
Workshops for young people aged 11-18 to help them reject the narratives of groups like the English Defence League.
Society of Editors—addressing online hate crime
A moderation guide for user-generated content.
Supported town hall prayers
Encouraging councils to use their general power of competence under the Localism Act to hold prayers at the start of council meetings if they wish.
Tell MAMA—measuring anti-Muslim attacks
Initial start-up grant during 2011-13 to help establish reporting mechanisms and a system that offers advice and support to victims of anti-Muslim attacks and hatred.
The Big Jubilee lunch
DCLG funding enabled the Eden Project to provide targeted support to 20 hard to reach areas where there had been little or no participation in the Big Lunch to date in the run up to the Big Jubilee lunch in 2012 and the Big Lunch 2013.
The Jubilee hour
DCLG support for a campaign to encourage people to volunteer for 60 minutes in recognition of the Queen’s diamond jubilee. Aim to encourage community involvement and to engender long-term volunteering activity.
True Vision—Cross-Government hate crime programme
Support for the online hate crime reporting portal, which includes online reporting of hate crime on the internet and best practice.
World war one—Curzon Institute
This project sought through a series of lectures, films and educational materials to inform communities of the role of Commonwealth nations in securing allied victory in the first world war.
This year, Ministers have also led a series of road shows to engage directly with the public to inform them about our integration projects and cross-Government work tackling extremism and hate crime. To accompany these road shows DCLG produced infographics summarising our broader integration work—rather than just funding projects. These include projects led by other Government Departments. They are available online at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ communitiesuk/sets/72157644380501531/
We continue to implement the actions of the extremism taskforce and are currently working with the Home Office, who are leading on the Government’s new extremism strategy. We will also shortly be publishing a comprehensive report on the Government’s work on tackling anti-Semitism
Community Rights and Big Society
Our work on integration is also complemented by our Big Society and Community Rights programmes. The table below shows the organisations which are funded by my Department as part of our Big Society and Community Rights programmes in the current financial year. Some provide direct support and grants to community groups who wish to exercise their community rights or take control of decisions, services or assets in their areas; other projects are delivered through contracts with external suppliers.
Big Society and Community Rights Projects
Community Ownership and Management of Assets Programme
Community Right to Challenge Programme
Social Investment Business (contract)
10 contracts—each supporting a separate local authority, working with councils to sort delivery via voluntary sector, mutual and social enterprise
Our Place support—including support for “emerging potential” areas and parish councils
Our Place implementation evaluation
Castle Vale—holding funding on behalf of the Balsall Heath Forum
Support for new parish councils
National Association of Local Councils; County Associations of Local Councils
Quality Councils Scheme
National Association of Local Councils
Certificate in Local Council Administration Qualification
Society of Local Council Clerks
Sustainable Communities Act—funding for selector
Local Government Association and National Association of Local Councils
Community Shares Unit
The Co-operatives Advice Line
Diversification of community pubs projects
Pub is the Hub
Just Act—supporting community projects
Community Development Foundation
Nottingham North Rebalancing Project
Nottingham Community and Voluntary Service
Localism Alliance—work to encourage take of community rights in eight deprived areas in England
Civic Voice, Campaign for Real Ale, Supporters Direct and Theatres Trust—Civic Voice will hold the grant on behalf of the other members
Over the 2011-15 spending review period, DCLG was initially expected to spend £43 million on supporting integration projects; since 2010 we have already spent £45 million, and the current estimates are that we will be close to £50 million by March 2015.
Estimated expenditure (£m)2011-122012-132013-142014-15Integration11.014.212.811.9
This spending is in addition to £150 million that has been allocated by the Home Office for the revised Prevent programme since 2011.
The Home Office refocused the Prevent strategy in 2011 to ensure that resources were better targeted. Prevent funding reflects the reassessed priorities following the 2011 Prevent review. Resources are prioritised according to the risk to national security.
But spending money wisely is more important than the quantity of funding. The last Administration’s Prevent strategy was widely criticised and discredited, not least in using councils to “spy” on Muslim communities in a completely counter-productive way; failing to keep track of how taxpayers’ money was spent; insufficient checks on funding going to extremist groups; and confusing work on cohesion with counter-terrorism.
In contrast to the last Administration, we have moved away from supporting separate communities’ identities—“single group funding”—as it undermines integration. We promote British values including equality of all before the law and a belief in democracy. We will not fund or engage with groups which promote violent or non-violent extremism.
Termination of funding
In addition to the projects listed above, as an action which stemmed from the extremism taskforce, my department initiated the faith minorities in action project—designed to encourage integration by promoting inter-faith work, the role of women in faith, tackling youth crime, and also to provide child protection training. The Muslim Charities Forum was awarded this contract.
However, following a formal review of the project, which included examination of allegations made in the press, and of the organisation’s continued poor performance in delivering against agreed objectives, I have taken the decision to terminate its funding. The Muslim Charities Forum has failed to reassure us that they have robust measures in place to investigate and challenge their members. Concerns have also been raised about events held by member organisations, at which individuals with extremist views have been invited to speak. This has undermined their work and means they are no longer able to deliver on the faith minorities in action objectives.
We are determined that faith institutions should have the support they require to carry out their vital work. Faith institutions play a key role in communities. They provide support and moral leadership and a sense of community all around the country. Well-run collaborative faith institutions can provide a bulwark against extremism by providing a local source of identity, a place to temper views through discussion, and a first point of call for concerns individuals may have. We will shortly launch a new call for applications from organisations able to work in collaboration with faith groups and to deliver effective support.
Similarly, my Department has asked Faith Action, who deliver English language training to facilitate social integration, to cease their funding of Islamic Help as part of their project. This decision stems from Islamic Help’s recent invitation to an individual with extremist views to speak at one of their events.
I hope this action illustrates our resolve to cease funding any organisation that supports or is linked to individuals who fuel hatred, division and violence. We will fund only those programmes and organisations that actively encourage integration and uphold fundamental British values.
Sustainable Drainage Systems
As part of the Government’s continuing commitment to protect people and property from flood risk, my Department and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recently consulted on a proposal to make better use of the planning system to secure sustainable drainage systems. Today we are publishing our response to the consultation explaining how we will be strengthening existing planning policy. This will make it clear that the Government’s expectation is that sustainable drainage systems will be provided in new developments wherever this is appropriate.
To this effect, we expect local planning policies and decisions on planning applications relating to major development—developments of 10 dwellings or more; or equivalent non-residential or mixed development (as set out in Article 2(1) of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2010)—to ensure that sustainable drainage systems for the management of run-off are put in place, unless demonstrated to be inappropriate.
Under these arrangements, in considering planning applications, local planning authorities should consult the relevant lead local flood authority on the management of surface water; satisfy themselves that the proposed minimum standards of operation are appropriate and ensure through the use of planning conditions or planning obligations that there are clear arrangements in place for ongoing maintenance over the lifetime of the development. The sustainable drainage system should be designed to ensure that the maintenance and operation requirements are economically proportionate.
To protect the public while avoiding excessive burdens on business, this policy will apply to all developments of 10 homes or more and to major commercial development. The Government will keep this under review, and consider the need to make adjustments where necessary. The current requirement in national policy that all new developments in areas at risk of flooding should give priority to the use of sustainable drainage systems will continue to apply.
These changes will take effect from 6 April 2015. For avoidance of doubt this statement should be read in conjunction with the policies in the national planning policy framework. This statement should be taken into account in the preparation of local and neighbourhood plans, and may be a material consideration in planning decisions.
To support local authorities in implementing these changes, we will publish revised planning guidance in time for the policy changes to take effect, and engage with local government on a capacity building programme.
My Department will today begin consulting on a proposal to make lead local flood authorities a statutory consultee on planning applications for surface water management; and makes changes to the statutory consultee role of the Environment Agency to better reflect the Agency’s strategic expertise and reflect the new responsibilities for local flood management exercised by lead local flood authorities.
Culture, Media and Sport
Independent Library Report
Today I am publishing the Independent Library Report and depositing a copy in the Library of the House. This has been undertaken by William Sieghart and I would like to state on record my particular thanks to him and his expert panel for their endeavour and ambition to create a positive action plan for libraries. I am also very grateful to everyone who has contributed to this important work.
We welcome the panel’s recommendations, which are being considered in detail. I am taking the immediate first step in partnership with local government to set up the joint taskforce to advise on implementation of the recommendations which will be chaired by Dr Paul Blantern, chief executive of Northamptonshire county council. He will be supported by a range of experts with an interest in libraries. This taskforce will report both to Ministers and the Local Government Association and the first meeting is due to take place in spring 2015.
I wholeheartedly support the public library service which has been making a vital contribution to the knowledge, delight and quality of life of communities in every part of England for more than 150 years. They are a cherished part of our cultural heritage, and a key player in our future.
Future Reserves 2020 (External Scrutiny Team Report)
I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of a letter that I have sent to Lieutenant General (Retired) Robin Brims, the chair of the Future Reserves 2020 external scrutiny team to update him on the programme, and particularly on the recommendations that his team’s report made. I am grateful for the work of that team.
The House will recall that the Defence Reform Act 2014 includes a statutory obligation to commission an independent report into the state of the volunteer reserve force. The first review under the statutory arrangements is under way and will report next year.
Nuclear Deterrent Update
On 18 May 2011, the then Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Liam Fox) made an oral statement to the House, Official Report, column 351, announcing the approval of the initial gate investment stage for the procurement of the successor submarines to the Vanguard-class SSBNs. He also placed in the Library of the House a report “The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Deterrent: The Submarine Initial Gate Parliamentary Report”.
This Government committed to publishing an annual report on the programme and I am today publishing the third report, “The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Deterrent: 2014 Update to Parliament”. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.
Deputy Prime Minister
I can today inform the House that the Government have reached an agreement on devolution with the Sheffield city region, which will transfer powers over economic growth to local control.
The deal will give the Sheffield city region LEP and combined authority more control over the key levers of economic growth and job creation, while also strengthening local governance and giving businesses a bigger say in key decisions. The deal covers skills, employment, business support, transport and housing, areas which have been identified by Sheffield city region.
Sheffield city region will assume greater control over skills and business support spending in their area, working closely with the Government. These changes will make the skills and business support systems more responsive to employer demand in the Sheffield city region, and help accelerate growth.
The Government will work closely with Sheffield city region on public transport, aiming to improve bus, tram and train services and moving towards smart, integrated ticketing across the transport network. The Government will also work in partnership with Sheffield city region to dispose of public sector assets in a way that supports economic growth and achieves best value for the public purse.
This deal also lays the foundations for the Government and Sheffield city region to continue working together on further devolution, while also strengthening the city region’s governance and capacity to deliver. As part of this, Sheffield city region will consider different options for improving local governance and accountability, including the possibility of a directly elected mayor. Any further agreements will be subject to further discussions at local and national level.
Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill
Today the Government are introducing the Lords Spiritual (Women) Bill to the House of Commons, with explanatory notes.
The Bill follows the legislation permitting women to be ordained bishops. That was completed by the General Synod of the Church of England on 17 November. With the way clear for the first women to be appointed, it is right that those women should be among the Bishops who occupy seats in the House of Lords—known as Lords Spiritual. This Bill is intended to allow that to happen sooner than it would under the existing rules.
Currently, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of Durham, London and Winchester automatically take seats in the House of Lords. The remaining 21 seats are occupied by bishops in order of seniority—length of service. Under the current system, it would be many years before women bishops were represented in the Lords.
The Government’s Bill, which is supported by the Church of England, proposes a modification of this rule for the next 10 years, so that if a female bishop is available when a Lords Spiritual seat becomes vacant, they will automatically be appointed to the House of Lords. If no female bishop is available, the vacancy would be filled by the next most senior male bishop, as currently happens.
A copy of the Bill and explanatory notes can be found on the website:
School Breakfast Clubs (European Aid)
The Government plan to use the UK share of the fund for European aid to the most deprived to provide additional support for school breakfast clubs in England. Under the plans, which will be led by the Department for Education, this money would be allocated to schools with particularly high rates of disadvantage, as measured by free school meal eligibility.
We believe that breakfast clubs effectively target help to many of the most deprived children—providing nutritious meals in some of the poorest areas, supporting academic attainment, promoting healthy eating habits at a young age and saving families money. This funding would be in addition to existing support provided by the Government—we have already committed just over £1 million over two years to support an expansion of breakfast clubs in poor areas.
The UK’s allocation is worth €3.96 million (or £3.1 million) over seven years from 2014 to 2020, and can be used to deliver one or more of the following: food aid for the most deprived people; consumer goods for homeless people; consumer goods for children; and non-labour market social inclusion activities for the most deprived. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland decided not to participate, due to the small sums involved and the administrative effort required. The allocation has been deducted from the UK’s structural fund allocation—European social fund and European regional development fund.
This use of the fund for European aid to the most deprived is subject to final agreement with the European Commission, and will be managed in accordance with the fund’s stringent eligibility, accounting and evidence requirements.
A copy of the draft operational programme can be found online at: http://www.parliament.uk/ writtenstatements.
Reformed AS and A-Level Content
The Government are reforming AS and A-level qualifications to ensure they are academically rigorous and provide students with the knowledge and understanding to prepare them for higher education, and employment.
The Government have already published subject content for the first group of A-levels to be reformed. Today I am publishing revised content for A-levels in ancient languages, modern foreign languages, geography, mathematics, and further mathematics. The content for these A-levels was recommended by the A-level content advisory board (ALCAB), drawing on advice from subject experts, universities and subject associations.
By giving university academics a leading role, we are making sure that these qualifications will provide students with the skills and knowledge needed for progression to undergraduate study. I am grateful to ALCAB for their expert advice, and I am accepting their recommendations.
In ancient languages there is a clearer requirement to study literary texts in the original language.
In modern foreign languages the content has been strengthened, with new requirements for students to translate unseen material both into and out of the target language at both AS and A-level.
In geography, content has been updated to reflect the approaches to geography taken by universities and geographical organisations, with a better balance between physical and human geography.
In mathematics, all the content is now prescribed in detail. Students will be required to study both mechanics and statistics. There is an increased emphasis on mathematical problem solving to ensure students understand the underlying mathematical concepts.
In further mathematics, the A-level builds on the mathematics content with 50% of content prescribed. AS-level includes new minimum requirements for matrices and complex numbers, with 30% of content prescribed.
Copies of the content for reformed A-levels are available.
Alongside these announcements, Ofqual is today confirming its decisions on how these subjects should be assessed, including the proportion of non-examination assessment and the assessment objectives for each subject.
These reformed A-levels will be ready for first teaching in September 2016, apart from mathematics and further mathematics for which first teaching is deferred until September 2017. This will give mathematics students the best opportunity to benefit from the new qualifications at GCSE and A-level. The decision is informed by advice from ALCAB and Ofqual’s chief regulator.
The Department has also consulted upon the content for GCSEs in art and design, dance, music, computer science, physical education (PE), citizenship, cooking and nutrition, design and technology, and drama, and A-levels in dance, music and physical education and drama and theatre, and is currently consulting on proposed content for GCSE and A-level religious studies. For all these subjects we will publish content early next year.
Energy and Climate Change
Lima Climate Change Conference
The annual conference of the parties (COP) to the United Nations framework convention on climate change took place in Lima, Peru, from 1-14 December. The United Kingdom was represented by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
What we agreed
All countries in the United Nations framework convention on climate change committed at the COP in Durban in 2011 to negotiate, by 2015, a new global, legally binding agreement, applicable to all nations, to come into force by 2020. In Warsaw, last year, all agreed to bring forward their intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) to that agreement well in advance of Paris, and by the first quarter of 2015 for those that are ready to do so.
The UK’s key objectives for the Lima conference were to secure: (a) clarity on the process next year for parties to communicate their INDCs well in advance of Paris; (b) draft elements of a negotiating text of the new agreement; and, (c) continuation of the work on emission reductions between now and 2020. These objectives were achieved.
Regarding a process next year, we secured three key outcomes:
1. Agreement that quantifiable information should accompany countries’ INDCs next year, that countries will have to set out their INDC in a clear, transparent and comprehensible manner, and explain why they believe it is fair and ambitious, so that the international community can understand the level of ambition behind each INDC and its contribution to the below two degree goal. This is a crucial step to create trust in the new regime.
2. Agreement that countries’ INDCs should represent a progression beyond current targets, which is important as it demonstrates willingness by all countries to enhance emissions reduction actions. It is clear that mitigation is at the core of INDCs. Countries may opt to also include in their INDCs information on their adaptation contribution or planning processes, if they wish.
3. Agreement to a synthesis report, which the UNFCCC will put together by 1 November 2015, which will assess the aggregate effect of INDCs. Ahead of this, the UK anticipates a debate within the international community about the INDCs submitted and what they represent in terms of fair and ambitious contributions to the two degree objective, even though this was not formally mandated by the Lima outcome.
Regarding the draft elements text, the Lima COP successfully elaborated the elements of a draft negotiating text of the new agreement and annexed this to the main Lima COP decision. We expect it to now form the starting point for negotiations next year. These elements are only draft and cover a wide range of options from different perspectives, including many we will not support. Negotiations on the content will resume next year. All countries will need to work together to move from these elements containing options to a full draft negotiating text by May 2015.
Regarding progress on increasing mitigation ambition before 2020: we agreed the continuation of the technical expert meetings on specific initiatives until 2020, and that these meetings would be limited to mitigation action only.
In addition, there was agreement to that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities would apply to the new agreement but that it would do so,
“in light of different national circumstances”.
This represents acceptance that this principle—often referred to as differentiation—will, in the new agreement, reflect countries’ evolving and particular circumstances, rather than be based on a binary view of countries circumstances.
We also reached a balanced decision on finance, which I brokered alongside the South African Environment Minister. The decision sees countries welcome the capitalisation of the green climate fund—more than $10 billion committed in the initial capitalisation round—as well as other initiatives, and calls for increased transparency and predictability of climate finance.
This was also a conference that dealt with the important mechanics of the existing international climate regime and continued to build the foundations for the global agreement in 2015, including on REDD+, market mechanisms, the regime for measuring and reporting emissions and progress by the UNFCCC institutions, including the financial and technology mechanisms, the adaptation committee and the Warsaw mechanism on loss and damage.
Overall, the Lima outcome was broadly positive. We secured the basis for everything the Government want to see in the final agreement, which was outlined in Government’s vision for the new agreement—“Paris 2015: Securing our prosperity through a global climate change agreement”—that I published on 9 September 2015. We achieved a good result on climate finance by demonstrating again the UK’s leadership in this area, which helps enhance our reputation and credibility internationally. The UK continued its strong record of leading on climate change action: demonstrating our ambition at home, our support to developing countries and our leading influence in the EU and with international partners.
Looking ahead, 2015 will be an intensive year of negotiations, with negotiators working to refine the elements of the draft negotiation text, with a view to preparing a first draft of the negotiating text of the agreement by May 2015 and countries, especially the major economies, submitting their INDCs to the new deal in the first quarter of 2015.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Today I am updating the House on the measures we have taken to tackle TB in cattle since we published our strategy in April 2014.
Between 1997 and 2010, TB in cattle increased ninefold, threatening the future of our beef and dairy industries and our food security. England has the highest incidence of TB in Europe, and that is why we are taking strong action to beat the disease.
This Government are pursuing a comprehensive strategy, based on best international practice, supported by leading vets and endorsed by the Government’s chief scientific adviser, DEFRA’s chief scientist and the chief veterinary officer. This approach includes cattle movement restrictions, badger vaccination in the edge area—bordering the high-risk area—and culling where the disease is rife.
Cattle measures remain at the heart of the strategy and that is why we have steadily reinforced them over this Parliament. In the coming months we plan to launch a consultation on further cattle measures including statutory post-movement testing for cattle entering the low-risk area. This measure will help us remain on course to achieve TB-free status for the low-risk area of England by 2019.
On 2 September 2014, I announced our badger edge vaccination scheme which will create a buffer zone to help prevent the spread of TB to new parts of the country. We are working closely with wildlife organisations, vets and farmers to establish large areas within which a high proportion of the badger population will be vaccinated for a minimum of four years.
Badger culls were carried out in the autumn. Culling ended on 20 October 2014 and I am today publishing the report and supporting data of the independently audited results. I have placed the summary report and the chief veterinary officer’s advice in the Library of the House.
In west Somerset, 341 badgers were safely and humanely removed, against a minimum of 316, while in west Gloucestershire, 274 badgers were safely and humanely removed, against a minimum of 615. The results in Somerset show that this approach works. The results in Gloucestershire reflect the challenges of extensive unlawful protest and intimidation.
The chief veterinary officer reviewed the effectiveness and humaneness data and supports the continuation of culling by a combination of cage trapping and controlled shooting as part of our comprehensive strategy. In his view the outcome of this year’s cull in Somerset indicates that industry-led culling can, in the right circumstances, deliver the level of effectiveness required to be confident of achieving disease control benefits.
As part of our focus on practical measures to reduce the risk of disease spread, I am today publishing a biosecurity action plan developed by industry and Government. We have recently awarded £50,000 in small grants to livestock markets to support voluntary risk-based trading of cattle and we have been working with the private sector to develop a TB-risk accreditation system for cattle herds. To help all farmers manage the risk of TB we plan in early 2015 to launch a web-based map showing locations of TB breakdowns and to publish TB reports for the edge and low-risk areas. We will also be starting a trial of a new service to provide farmers within the two badger cull areas with bespoke advice on how better to protect their farms from TB.
TB can also affect other animals and humans. We have introduced additional TB measures for south American camelids including statutory compensation and consolidated existing legislation concerning TB in deer. We are planning a further review of TB controls in non-bovine animals.
We have continued to invest in TB research and I am today publishing a summary of the research that we are funding this year. Over this Parliament, we have invested over £24 million into TB vaccine research. An independent report on the design of field trials of cattle vaccine and a test to detect infected cattle among vaccinated cattle (DIVA) shows that before cattle vaccination field trials can be contemplated, we need to develop a better DIVA test. This research is likely to take a further two years. We are also investing in research on badger diagnostics and improving epidemiological analysis of the disease, while the dairy industry is progressing DEFRA-funded research potentially to enable farmers to breed cattle with greater genetic resistance to TB.
Finally, I am pleased to confirm that the European Commission has informed us that our comprehensive TB eradication programme is approved, securing further financial support from the European Union in 2015.
The Government are determined to continue implementing all elements of our comprehensive strategy until this terrible disease is eradicated. Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/ writtenstatements
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
British Council Annual Report
Copies of the British Council’s annual report and accounts for the 2013-14 financial year have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report can also be found at the British Council’s website at: www.britishcouncil.org
During the period the British Council received £162,400,000 grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
EU: Balance of Competences Review
I wish to update the House on the progress of the balance of competences review that my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague) launched on behalf of the Government in July 2012. I am pleased to inform the House that the fourth and final set of reports has been published today on the gov.uk website at: https://www.gov.uk/review-of-the-balance-of-competences As per the written ministerial statement of 23 October 2012, the reports were written by lead departments for each policy area. This set of reports covers economic and monetary policy; education, vocational training and youth; enlargement; information rights; police and criminal justice; subsidiarity and proportionality; and voting, consular and statistics.
With publication of this final set of reports, all 32 reports in the balance of competences review are now complete. The review provides the most extensive analysis of EU membership ever undertaken by any member state and draws upon nearly 2,300 pieces of evidence to consider the impact that EU action has on the UK national interest and future challenges that may arise. In doing so, it provides an important contribution to the ongoing debate on EU reform and will be a valuable aid for future policy-makers, as well as a resource to enable people to judge for themselves how current arrangements are working.
Calls for evidence for fourth semester reports were published in March 2014. We saw a high level of interest and received nearly 350 pieces of written evidence. The review attracted input from a broad spectrum of experts and interested parties including parliamentary committees, Members of the European Parliament, the devolved Administrations and Crown Dependencies, business groups, think-tanks, academics, civil society groups and professional membership associations based both in the UK and beyond. The evidence we received in the fourth semester was again of high quality and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed.
As with previous semesters, the reports have undergone rigorous internal challenge to ensure they are balanced, robust and evidence-based. Evidence submitted—subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act—will be published alongside the reports on the gov.uk website to ensure transparency.
The fourth semester reports, along with reports from all previous semesters, are available at: https://www.gov.uk/review-of-the-balance-of-competences. Copies of the reports will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and hard copies will be made available in the Vote and Printed Papers Offices.
Falkland Islands: South Atlantic Medal
I am pleased to inform the House that in 2015 the South Atlantic Medal will be presented, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, to the Falkland Islands, in recognition of the assistance provided to the forces of the United Kingdom during the liberation of the Islands in 1982. The islanders’ individual acts of courage exemplified the indomitable will and personal commitment to defending the islands’ right of self-determination.
Military Personnel (Protection and Immunity)
I wish to inform the House of arrangements put in place to regularise the status of British military personnel serving in Iraq, as part of our contribution in response to the Government of Iraq’s request for support in dealing with the threat posed by ISIL. As I mentioned in my statement to the House on 16 October 2014, Official Report, column 468, and as described in the statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 13 October 2014, Official Report, column 9WS, UK military personnel are being deployed in support of the Iraqi security forces’ capacity-building efforts.
ISIL is a clear national threat to the UK, as it is a global threat to our international partners and the region. ISIL makes no distinction between cultures, countries and religions. If it is left unchecked, we will face a so-called Caliphate, run by terrorists, on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member, with a declared and proven determination to attack our country and our people.
The Government of Iraq are in the front line of the struggle. It is vital that local Iraqi forces are able to take on ISIL terrorists, and that they are given the support they need to do so. We are keen to do what we can to help provide that support and enhance the Iraqis’ own efforts to defeat ISIL.
Deploying military personnel to assist the Government of Iraq is a key part both of building our relationship with Iraq and of our strategy to deal with the threat of ISIL.
UK military personnel initially deployed to Iraq in August 2014, at the explicit request of the Government of Iraq, in order to help stabilise the humanitarian situation in northern Iraq. The UK has since expanded its support to the Government of Iraq, by providing training and assistance, so that their forces can roll back ISIL’s advance on the ground.
After long discussions with the Government of Iraq, we are clear that coalition countries will not be offered a status of forces agreement at this time. The only way currently agreeable to the Government of Iraq to place coalition military personnel on a satisfactory legal footing is to accredit them to their respective embassies in Baghdad and, to facilitate that, to issue them with diplomatic or official passports. (United States military personnel are an exception. They are in Iraq on the basis of an existing strategic framework agreement.)
We will therefore exceptionally issue official passports to military personnel going to Iraq who will be on the ground and directly providing training and assistance. These staff will be accredited to the British embassy in Baghdad and will be accorded the privileges and immunities of administrative and technical staff under the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations by the Government of Iraq.
This is an exceptional measure based on the urgency of the requirement to respond to the Government of Iraq’s request for assistance, and the need to ensure that our personnel have sufficient legal protection. Several of our coalition allies have adopted or are adopting the same measure.
In the meantime we will continue to work with the Government of Iraq and our coalition allies to find a more sustainable solution.
I will inform the House if the situation changes.
Mental Health and Policing
The Government have today published the report of the Government’s review of the operation of sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983. This has been an important piece of work, conducted jointly by the Home Office and the Department of Health.
It is our overarching objective for all public services to respond at the right time to the needs of people experiencing mental health crises. We also need to improve the outcomes for people experiencing mental health crises when they come in to contact with the police. This review showed that there are areas where this is working well and areas where there is still room for improvement.
We have been fortunate that this review took place alongside both the Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into policing and mental health and the Health Select Committee’s report into child and adolescent mental health services. This work rightly highlighted the unacceptable state of affairs when a vulnerable child can be held in a police cell at the point of mental health crisis. Police stations must only be used in genuinely exceptional circumstances and never for a child or young person aged under 18. We therefore propose amending legislation to this effect subject to the next Parliament.
The review makes a number of other recommendations. It points out that making better use of alternative places of safety would be advantageous as we recognise that there is not one solution which is appropriate for all people at all times. There was a clear consensus that a maximum period of detention under these sections is too long at 72 hours, and the review therefore proposes reducing this to 24 hours, while still emphasising the need to complete assessments as soon as possible.
Although there is no space remaining in this Parliament to make these changes, I believe there is a general consensus that these issues must be addressed. Therefore I hope that in the next Parliament the momentum that has been generated will be maintained.
The following documents are available as attachments online at: http://www.parliament.uk/writtenstatements, and copies have been placed in the Library of the House.
Review of the operation of Sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983: Review Report and Recommendations;
Review of the operation of Sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983: A Summary of the Evidence;
Review of the operation of Sections 135 and 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983: A Literature Review,
The Centre for Mental Health’s report, Review of Sections 135 & 136 of the Mental Health Act: The views of professionals, service users and carers on the codes of practice and legislation.
Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill
The Government are today publishing for public consultation a number of documents relating to the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill. These are:
A draft code of practice for officers exercising functions under what will become schedule 1 of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 in connection with seizing and retaining travel documents.
Draft guidance relating to the duty under what will become chapter 1 of part 5 of the Bill for named authorities to have due regard to the need to prevent people from
A draft revised code of practice for examining officers who exercise port and border controls under schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 to examine goods.
A consultation on the proposed Privacy and Civil Liberties Board under clause 36 of the Bill.
The first consultation document seeks responses to a draft code of practice on the proposed powers under schedule 1 of the Bill to seize and retain travel documents temporarily at a port where there is reasonable suspicion that the person is travelling for the purpose of involvement in terrorism-related activity outside the United Kingdom. The responses to this consultation will inform the development of the code to ensure that the power is exercised appropriately and effectively.
The Bill proposes to place a duty on named authorities to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. The provisions in the legislation allow the Secretary of State to issue guidance to specified authorities about discharging their duty. The draft guidance sets out the type of activity we expect specified authorities to consider when complying with the duty. It has sections on each of the sectors under the duty, which aims to give sufficient detail for specified authorities to have clarity about the types of activity they need to consider when complying with the duty, while allowing for local differences and innovation.
Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 (schedule T) allows an examining officer, normally a special branch police officer, to examine goods to determine whether they have been used in commission, preparation of instigation of acts of terrorism. Clause 35 and schedule 5 of the Bill include amendments to schedule 7 and other legislation, which would clarify the legal position in relation to where goods may be examined and the examination of goods which comprise items of post. We are consulting on a draft revised code of practice for examining officers who exercise schedule 7 powers at ports and the border, which reflects changes that would be made to the code should these provisions receive Royal Assent.
Clause 36 of the Bill provides the Home Secretary with a power to create a Privacy and Civil Liberties Board. The board will support and provide extra capability to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation in delivering robust independent scrutiny and oversight to UK counter-terrorism legislation. This is an important area and any changes to existing arrangements must be carefully considered. This consultation therefore invites comments on the proposals and provides an opportunity for all interested parties to influence key elements of the board, including its composition and functions. We will carefully consider the outcome of the consultation before bringing forward regulations to set out the detailed arrangements of the board.
Copies of these documents will be placed in the House Library.
Further to my statement of 10 May 2013 announcing the creation of the Daniel Morgan independent panel to shine a light on the circumstances of Daniel Morgan’s murder and my statement of 3 July 2014 announcing the appointment of Baroness Nuala O’Loan as the new chairman of the panel, I can today announce that two additional members will join the panel:
Professor Rodney Morgan—Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Bristol.
Samuel Pollock OBE—Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Policing Board.
The work of the independent panel is set out in the full terms of reference which were placed in the Library of the House in May 2013. These provide that the panel will seek to complete its work within 12 months of the documentation being made available.
Police Bail: Statutory Time Limits
The College of Policing published last week the results of its consultation on improving the way pre-charge bail is managed, which provides the police with welcome guidance on the way they should operate the current system. However, as I announced in my speech to the college’s annual conference on 15 October, we also need to look at statutory time limits on the use of pre-charge bail, as that is the only way we can ensure that people do not spend months or even years on bail only for no charges to be brought.
I am today publishing a consultation paper setting out potential changes to the legislation underpinning pre-charge bail that would result in the greatest reform of that legislation since it was passed 30 years ago. The end result of the proposed changes should be to reduce both the number of individuals subject to, and the average duration of, pre-charge bail. The measures being consulted upon include:
Enabling the police to release someone pending further investigation without bail in circumstances where bail is not considered to be necessary;
Setting a clear expectation that pre-charge bail should not last longer than a specified finite period of 28 days, as recommended by the College of Policing;
Setting the extenuating circumstances in which that period might be extended further, and who should make that decision;
Establishing a framework for the review by the courts of pre-charge bail;
Considering whether extension of pre-charge bail should only be available in certain types of case, such as fraud or tax evasion, or in all cases where there are exceptional reasons for an extended investigation;
Considering how best to enable the police to obtain timely evidence from other public authorities; and
Considering whether individuals subject to pre-charge bail should be able to challenge the duration as well as the conditions in the courts.
The consultation document is available online at http://tinyurl.com/hocons and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House; the closing date for responses is 8 February 2015.
Violence Against Women and Girls
Domestic abuse is a serious crime that shatters the lives of victims, trapping them in cycles of abuse that too often end in tragic and untimely deaths. There are over a million calls for assistance to the police each year for domestic abuse-related incidents, but only 78,000 prosecutions. It is clear that the criminal justice response to domestic abuse can be improved and I am determined to achieve this.
In September 2013 I commissioned Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary to review the police response to domestic abuse because I was concerned that it was not as good as it should be. Sadly, when HMIC reported their findings in March, my concerns were realised. I am clear that there must be an immediate and lasting change in the police response to domestic abuse. This means a change in culture right from the officers in charge to those on the front line. I am chairing a National Oversight Group to make sure this happens. This work remains a priority, however I am also keen to ensure the police and other frontline agencies have the tools they need to respond to domestic abuse.
The Home Office ran a consultation over the summer seeking views on whether the law on domestic abuse needs to be strengthened. Some 85% of respondents agreed that the law in this area is inadequate, and 55% agreed that it should be strengthened with a new offence to close the gap in the law relating to coercive and controlling behaviour in intimate relationships.
Today, I can inform the House that we will be tabling amendments to the Serious Crime Bill at Committee stage to strengthen the protection afforded to the victims of domestic abuse. A new offence of domestic abuse will provide an additional charging option where there is continuous or repeated coercive or controlling conduct, the cumulative impact of which can be no less traumatic for the victim than physical violence.
I will place a copy of the consultation response document in the Library of the House.
Marriages: Non-religious Belief Organisations
I am today publishing the Government’s response to the consultation on “Marriages by non- religious belief organisations” launched on 26 June 2014 and concluded on 18 September. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The consultation sought views on whether the law should be changed to permit non-religious belief organisations to solemnise marriages in England and Wales. I am grateful to all who responded to the consultation.
The Government have considered the full range of responses and the range of issues associated with any options for change and which have implications for marriage solemnisation more broadly. It is the Government’s view that the legal and technical requirements of marriage ceremonies and registration in England and Wales need to be reviewed and potentially reformed before or at the same time as making a decision on whether to take forward the specific proposal to permit legally valid marriage ceremonies for those with non-religious beliefs.
It is important that we resolve these issues in as timely a manner as possible. The Government will ask the Law Commission if it will undertake a broader independent review of the law concerning marriage ceremonies, requesting that the Commission begins work as soon as possible. The Government will start to work with the Commission in January to consider the scope of such a review.
Office of the Public Guardian: Review of Supervision
My hon. Friend and former Under Secretary of State for Justice (Helen Grant) announced in a debate on 30 October 2012, Official Report, column 53WH, a fundamental review by the Public Guardian of how the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) supports him in the supervision of deputies appointed by the Court of Protection. Deputies are appointed where a person lacks the mental capacity to manage their own affairs and has not previously nominated anyone to have lasting power of attorney. Concerns had been raised by Members about the charges that professional deputies were making, and this element was incorporated into the fundamental review.
The review aimed to make sure that there is a responsive, robust and case-sensitive approach to the supervision of deputies. The objective is that there should be effective and proportionate oversight and swift investigation of allegations of wrongdoing, to make sure that people who lack mental capacity are properly protected and their needs are met.
The review has now concluded and has identified ways in which the OPG can improve the protection it affords those lacking capacity, and the service it provides to those it is supporting and supervising. This includes a move to supervising according to deputy type. This will enable staff to specialise in one of the deputy types—lay, professional or local authority—and become more familiar with the challenges faced by a particular vulnerable group.
Concerns about the charges levied by professional deputies are also being addressed as a result of the fundamental review. New measures which have been agreed with stakeholder groups include targeted assurance visits to professional deputies and their clients carried out by a specialist OPG team and a requirement for deputies to submit annual plans and asset inventories, with work and cost estimates. Standards for professional deputies are also being developed.
A key element in the new framework will be the use of digital channels, which will allow more sophisticated monitoring and make services easier to use for deputies. This will dovetail with the culture change at the OPG, which will put the people it serves at the heart of all it does.
The proposed changes were included in a public consultation, to which the Government responded on 21 August 2014, and in engagements with stakeholder groups which continue.
I will place a copy of the review in the Libraries of both Houses.
It is also available online at: http://www.parliament.uk/writtenstatements.
I am today signing contracts with the new owners of the 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs). This is another major step towards implementing the Government’s probation reforms.
Despite almost £3 billion a year investment in prisons and just under £1 billion in delivering sentences in the community, overall reoffending rates have barely changed over the last decade.
The very highest reoffending rates are among prisoners sentenced to custodial sentences of under 12 months. The current system is simply not addressing this problem— many of these prolific offenders, with a host of complex problems, are released on to the streets with little or no support.
For the first time in recent history, these reforms will mean that virtually every offender released from custody will receive statutory supervision and rehabilitation in the community. The Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 will extend this statutory supervision and rehabilitation to all 45,000 of the most prolific group of offenders sentenced to less than 12 months in custody.
We are also putting in place an unprecedented nationwide “through the prison gate” resettlement service to support offenders from custody into the community.
This is the most diverse market we have ever had for any competition in the Ministry of Justice. The contracts that I will be signing today demonstrate how we are bringing together the best of the public, voluntary and private sectors with a wide range of skills and experience to improve rehabilitation provision.
In nearly all of the 21 areas, a mutual or voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisation is involved at tier 1 or as a strategic partner, and six of the CRCs will be run with the involvement of a probation staff mutual. All new owners have included VCSE organisations in their proposed supply chains and 75% of the 300 subcontractors named are VCSE or mutual organisations.
Our transforming rehabilitation reforms are part of a programme across the whole justice system, making it ready to meet the challenges of the future. We are creating a justice system that produces more effective and more efficient services for all—reforming offenders, delivering value for the taxpayer and protecting victims and communities.
I have placed a copy of the final list of new owners in the Library of the House.
It is also available online at: http://www.parliament.uk/writtenstatements.
National Security Strategy/Strategic Defence and Security Review
On behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister and other members of the National Security Council, I am pleased to present the fourth annual report of progress in implementing the 2010 National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review as attached. Copies are also being placed in the Library of the House.
The global context
Over the last year the country has faced a wide range of risks and threats. The Government have taken resolute action and tough decisions in response, sticking to the adaptable approach to national security we adopted in 2010. Islamist extremism, with most lately the emergence of ISIL, is the struggle of our generation; and we are working closely with international partners to tackle this, deploying UK armed forces to combat the emergence of this senseless, barbaric organisation. Russia’s illegal actions in Ukraine and conflict in the middle east have created instability and uncertainty. Tensions in east Asia have added to the risks in that region. Sophisticated and targeted cyber attacks continue to cost the UK economy several billion pounds per year; the dangerous and irresponsible leaking of sensitive information by Edward Snowden has had far-reaching consequences. The Ebola virus is wreaking immense damage in west African nations, and posing a potentially devastating threat to others.
The National Security Council (NSC) this Government introduced have transformed the Government’s analysis and decision-making on tackling these challenges. It has continued to meet regularly, bringing together the relevant departments and ensuring that national security issues are seen from both foreign policy and domestic policy perspectives.
At the heart of the national security strategy lies the restoration of our economic strength. After the deepest recession in peacetime history, Britain now has the fastest-growing major advanced economy in the world. But the eurozone remains weak and there are worrying signs of slowing growth in some emerging markets. We have enhanced our engagement with countries of growing economic and strategic importance to the UK, creating 250 new front-line posts in Turkey, India, China, Africa, the Americas and east Asia since 2011. We are helping British companies to identify opportunities and win business in key markets; promoting transparency, a rules-based international economic system and open markets; countering risks to economic stability including threats to growth from energy and resource insecurity; and promoting the UK as a creative, innovative and trustworthy partner and a world-class destination for business, tourism and study.
In defence, the Government have brought the budget under control, allowing us to supply our armed forces with the high-quality equipment they need and properly fund equipment programmes. In July, Her Majesty the Queen formally named the first of two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. In September, I announced that we will bring both into service, ensuring that one will be available at all times. In July, I announced a £1.1 billion investment programme including £800 million for intelligence and surveillance equipment for the armed forces. The Successor Deterrent programme is on track: 2016 will see the delivery of our first production Joint Strike Fighter test and evaluation aircraft enabling the first front-line squadron to become operational by 2019. The first of three Rivet Joint signals intelligence aircraft was deployed to support operations in Afghanistan this year well ahead of schedule. Along with procurement of 589 multi-role Scout armoured vehicles, nine Voyager aircraft, the A400M Atlas transport aircraft and new Chinook helicopters, these assets will significantly enhance our armed forces’ capabilities.
Alliances and partnerships
In September, the UK hosted the NATO Wales summit, the largest ever gathering of world leaders in the UK. Allies were united in addressing a range of major challenges and reached important conclusions: pledging to provide strong support to help Ukraine improve its own security; on defence spending, leaders agreed publicly for the first time to reverse the trend in declining defence budgets and to continue further work to reform NATO; on countering Islamist extremism; on our future support to Afghanistan; and on supporting our military and their families, signing an armed forces declaration that recognises the contribution that men and women in the armed forces make, and sets out a commitment to support them and their families. All of these were UK priorities. The commitments made will ensure the Alliance is agile, equipped and funded to deliver Allied security with partner countries and organisations. Following on from the Wales NATO summit, the London conference on Afghanistan, held in December, allowed the international community, civil society and wider stakeholders to set out their commitments to Afghanistan’s future.
The armed forces covenant
The Government have continued to strengthen the armed forces covenant and so reinforce the essential bonds of trust and mutual respect between the armed forces and society, ensuring recognition of the sacrifices they make in their critical and often hazardous role. We have used the LIBOR fines to invest in the covenant including establishing a £40 million veterans’ accommodation fund and a £20 million childcare fund; and to invest a further £10 million per annum from 2015-16 for the covenant. From April 2015, widows, widowers and surviving civil partners of all members of the armed forces pension scheme who remarry will retain their pension for life. Following the Sir John Holmes independent review of military medals and policy issues, MOD continues to ensure that all those eligible receive their awards in a timely fashion; and on 21st October 2014, I presented the South Atlantic Medal to personnel who became eligible following extension of the criteria.
Extremism and counter-terrorism
In December 2013, the extremism taskforce recommended a bolder approach to extremism along with related practical measures. Since December 2013, a dedicated police team has taken down more than 46,000 pieces of unlawful content encouraging or glorifying terrorism; and we have strengthened our approach to tackling extremism in our schools, universities and prisons. The Government have worked to dissuade people from travelling to the region of Iraq and Syria, and to intervene when they return. And working closely with international partners to mitigate terrorist threats overseas, the Government have continued to focus on building security and justice capacity overseas to help contain such threats, including through partnerships where UK interests are most at risk.
The Government have also worked to ensure that the police and the security and intelligence agencies continue to have the powers and capabilities they need to tackle all new and existing counter-terrorism threats, whether home grown or international; and that those powers are proportionate and subject to close scrutiny. The increasing threat we face means that we will now make an additional £130 million available over the next two years, including new funding to enhance our ability to monitor and disrupt self-starting terrorists.
We have also introduced the new Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill to Parliament. The Bill contains important new powers to help fill the gaps in our armoury in tackling the increased threat that we face. The provisions in the Bill will strengthen our counter-terrorism powers to prevent travel; stop suspects returning unless they do so on our terms; relocate individuals within the UK to help break their links with extremist networks; and strengthen our border and aviation security. And in July, Parliament passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act to maintain, where possible, current communications data and interception capabilities.
Instability and conflict overseas
We have adopted an integrated approach to tackling instability and conflict overseas, drawing on skills and capacities across Government in the fields of intelligence, diplomacy, development, defence engagement, trade promotion and stabilisation. Conflict prevention is most likely to succeed when it uses diplomatic efforts with development programmes and defence engagement around a shared integrated strategy. From 2015-16 this will be supported by the new £1 billion conflict, stability and security fund, replacing the current conflict pool. In 2013, the UK became the first G7 country to achieve the target to contribute 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) in official development assistance (ODA). The UK is on track to meet the 2010 commitment to spend 30% of ODA in fragile states by the end of 2014-15.
The national cyber security programme is delivering major improvements to our understanding of, and ability to counter, the rapidly changing nature of cyber threats, supported by £860 million of investment up to 2016. In the past year, the programme has included improving critical national infrastructure resilience; incentives for business to improve cyber security and support for the UK’s cyber security sector; investments in cyber skills and research; police operations to crack down on cyber crime; and international efforts to protect and promote UK interests in cyber space.
Crime and border security threats
The Government have strengthened our national capability to fight serious and organised crime. The National Crime Agency is already making a tangible difference, working closely with police forces, regional organised crime units and international partners. In its first year, it has achieved over 920 disruptions against serious and organised criminals. The Government are providing £37 million of funding to regional organised crime units in 2014-15 to support increased capabilities and capacity. Furthermore, updated co-ordinating bodies along with close and collaborative working across law enforcement agencies are delivering a new strategic approach to tackling border security threats. And use of technology and intelligence to check people and goods remains central.
Resilience and civil emergencies
For civil emergencies, the national resilience capabilities programme is enhancing our ability to manage natural hazards like pandemic infectious disease, severe flooding and extreme weather. In response to last winter's severe weather, we have committed over £565 million in flood recovery support funding. Over 90% of flood and coastal erosion management projects have been completed, and others are planned or under way. The joint emergency services interoperability programme, has enabled over 10,000 priority police, fire and ambulance service personnel to be trained in new guidance and principles, improving the joint response of the emergency services to any major or complex incident. And a new, secure web-based service Resilience Direct is enhancing information-sharing about emergencies among organisations, responders and planners.
The Ebola outbreak in west Africa is a public health crisis requiring an urgent international response. Left unchecked, the disease has the potential to become a serious global threat with economic and security consequences. The UK has so far committed £230 million to tackle Ebola and has been active in generating global support, including a commitment of €1 billion from the EU and a strong statement of support from the G20. Within Sierra Leone, our specialist expertise and military capabilities are working to support the infrastructure and training needed to scale up the response. The Government have also introduced arrangements to screen travellers from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia at key UK ports of entry.
The approach to national security that we adopted in 2010 has continued to enable us to address the challenges we have faced this year.
Haulage: Road Tank Vehicle Compliance
Further to the written ministerial statement given by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Robert Goodwill) on 24 October 2013, the Department for Transport has continued to work with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and industry to resolve an issue around the incorrect certification of fuel tankers manufactured in South Africa and certified as meeting international standards by Bureau Veritas. Following a detailed investigation these tankers were found not to be in full compliance with internationally agreed regulations (the European agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road—“ADR”).
Since the previous statement, about 100 new replacement tankers have been entering into service, reducing the number that are not in full compliance to around 130 tankers. During this time the Department for Transport commissioned a £1.5 million research programme to inform decisions about the future use of these vehicles. Based on the outcome of the research published today on the Department’s website www.gov.uk/dft, the date by which those tankers built after the middle of 2010 are to be withdrawn—about 70 tankers—will be extended subject to the outcome of further work to establish acceptance criteria that may allow an individual tanker to continue in use for up to 12 years after entering into service. Those tankers still in service that were built before the middle of 2010 are to be withdrawn as originally planned a year ago.
Over the same period new tankers from the manufacturer have been certified as ADR compliant by a different tank inspection body for supply to the UK, starting in the next few months. In the meantime, the Department has an ongoing dialogue with industry over plans to resolve this issue using a process that maintains fuel supplies while upholding safety.
Work and Pensions
Access to Work
In the course of my evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee inquiry into Access To Work, I accepted that during the reorganisation of access to work operations, from April to October 2014, we had not met our customer service standards. Today I am pleased to report that we have achieved a significant improvement in customer service well ahead of schedule and our outstanding claims awaiting payment are now generally running at less than one day’s worth of intake, compared with nearly 18 days’ worth in October, so that payments will usually be made within 10 working days of receipt of a claim.
In addition I set out that I did not wish to delay making further improvements to the programme, which is on course to support more disabled people in work than last year. I am therefore pleased to announce the following improvements:
establishing specialist teams to ensure that they understand the issues faced by customers and can produce consistent decisions. We have already established teams covering deaf and hearing loss customers, visually impaired customers and those with mental health conditions, and others are being considered;
setting up a technology and innovation forum to help customers, stakeholders and staff understand how existing and emerging technology can help provide the support disabled people need to get and keep employment;
working with stakeholders on a series of events early next year to raise awareness of the Mental Health Support Service;
ensuring that communication with customers can be made via email more easily, subject to the customer’s request for a reasonable adjustment. This will better meet customer accessibility requirements and greatly speed up the resolution of cases;
working with stakeholders to develop user-friendly guidance, with the aim of beginning to publish this by the end of March 2015;
improving transparency of the programme. I will set out more information about programme performance in the next set of official statistics due in January, and at that time will explore how this can be further expanded in subsequent releases.
Finally, I will consider carefully the findings of the Work and Pensions Select Committee Report into Access to Work when it is published and will respond to it in due course.
Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council
The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 11 December 2014 in Brussels.
The Council agreed general approach on both the directive applying existing employment directives to seafarers and the proposed regulation on the European network of employment services (EURES). On seafarers, the UK supported the proposal as a whole but tabled a statement setting out concerns around the legal basis. On EURES, the UK supported as this met the Government’s domestic goals. This dossier will now be passed to the Latvian presidency to take forward negotiations with the European Parliament.
The Council reached political agreement on a directive concerning working time in inland waterway transport. The UK opposed this directive and together with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland and Malta tabled a joint statement highlighting the inadequacy of the Commission’s impact assessment and the lack of adherence to better regulation principles. The UK also tabled a second statement with Hungary and Malta which raised concerns about the lack of representation during the social partner negotiations.
There was an exchange of views on the subject of “Investing in Youth Employment”, including discussions on the implementation of the youth guarantee and the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. In this, the UK welcomed the commitment to tackle youth unemployment in Europe and highlighted the success of the UK approach to youth employment. The UK reiterated the message that national labour markets must determine the appropriate response.
The European Commission presented the annual growth survey 2015, the joint employment report and the alert mechanism report, and invited views from member states. In the discussions, the UK intervened to welcome the package presented while raising concerns over the increased role of social and employment indicators in the procedures to tackle macroeconomic imbalances as this could distract from the employment and growth focus of the European employment strategy.
In introducing the proposed directive for gender balance of non-executive directors on company boards, the presidency noted that further work was needed. The presidency invited the incoming Latvian presidency to take it forward.
The Italian presidency reported on progress of the directive to encourage improvements in the workplace health and safety of women who are pregnant or breastfeeding where disagreements between the Council and the European Parliament remained. The presidency noted that the Commission was considering withdrawing the proposal as a result of the deadlock, but hoped that progress could be made.
There was a progress report and orientation debate on the proposed directive on equal treatment of persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The UK and other member states (MS) supported the aims of the proposal, however concerns were raised by the UK and a few other MS that some areas of the proposal, particularly those covering education and social protection strayed into the field of MS competence.
The Council adopted conclusions on the review of the implementation by the MS and the EU institutions of the Beijing Platform for Action.
Under any other business, the Italian presidency presented a report of the Rome conference on “Unlocking the potential of the Social Economy for EU Growth”, held in Rome on 17-18 November 2014. The Latvian delegation presented the work programme of its upcoming presidency.
Remploy Ltd will publish its annual report and accounts for 2013-14 later today. I will place a copy in the Libraries of both Houses and electronic copies will be available on the Remploy website.
Remploy Ltd achieved the following against its 2013-14 performance and resources agreement:
Total operational funding of: target £67.3 million; achieved £62.8 million
Factory businesses operating cost of: target £10.5 million; achieved £4.5 million
Employment service operating funding of: target £30.3 million; achieved £30.3 million.
Employment service business to achieve:
Total disabled job outcomes: target 16,000; achieved 14,797
of which Work Choice job outcomes: target 8,500; achieved 9,143
of which other disabled job outcomes: target 7,500; achieved 5,654.
I have written to the chairman of Remploy Ltd confirming the following 2014-15 performance and resources agreement between the Department and the company:
Total operational funding result of £33.6 million
Employment service operating funding result of £30.3 million.
Employment service business to achieve:
Total disabled job outcomes: 16,000
of which Work Choice job outcomes 9,000
of which other disabled job outcomes 7,000.
Work Choice cumulative job outcome performance 36,450.
This information is set out in attached tables, which can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/ writtenstatements