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Written Statements

Volume 590: debated on Monday 5 January 2015

Written Statements

Monday 5 January 2015


Former Members of the Armed Forces and the Criminal Justice System

I am pleased to inform you that we have published a report conducted on the Ministry’s behalf, “Former Members of the Armed Forces and the Criminal Justice System”, on Sunday the 21 December 2014, alongside the Government’s response and two supporting analytical reports.

This review was announced in Parliament in January 2014. The aim of the review was to identify properly the reasons for ex-service personnel ending up in the justice system, to look at the support provided to them and how that support could be improved.

I strongly agree with the report’s findings that we have an obligation to ensure those who serve in the armed forces are not disadvantaged because of their service. While I am reassured by the findings of this report that most ex-service personnel have successful civilian lives and do not enter the criminal justice system, my Government’s response demonstrates that we will consider any recommendation that will improve the lives of the small minority of ex-armed forces that commit offences.

While we are still continuing to explore what more can be done to deliver the recommendations, I am pleased to note there are a number of positive responses, particularly in the areas of identification and tracking of ex-armed forces offenders, data gathering and sharing. We were also able to highlight the benefits for ex-armed forces offenders of Government programmes, such as transforming rehabilitation and liaison and diversion.

As part of the response my Ministry has committed to publish an update next year of progress against the recommendations.

I am grateful to Stephen Phillips MP QC and his team for conducting this review. I would also like to give my thanks to Rory Stewart MP for the work he did establishing the review before handing over to Stephen.

Copies of each of these reports will be available in the Libraries of the House.

Prime Minister

European Council

I attended the European Council meeting in Brussels on 18 December. This was the first Council chaired by its new President, the former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Discussion focused on the new European Commission’s investment plan and structural reform agenda, and on the situation in Ukraine and relations with Russia.

Investment and Structural Reform

At a time of low growth in Europe, encouraging investment and structural reform are urgent challenges. I therefore welcomed the new European Commission’s focus on investment and reform, but warned that there are still many important details to work out.

Highlighting the UK’s expertise in managing the National Infrastructure Plan, I emphasised the importance of proper governance arrangements for the new European Strategic Fund for Investment. In this case, that means ensuring the European Investment Bank can deliver without political interference and resisting the introduction of new rules and procedures. This position was supported by other member states, including Germany, and reflected in the Council Conclusions.

While the establishment of this new Investment Fund is a positive step, it will not be able to deliver the long-term boost to growth that Europe really needs if it is not supported by urgent structural reforms and the appropriate monetary policy.

The UK has identified four priorities for European action on this, which I highlighted in the discussion: increased ambition on deregulation; faster progress on services liberalisation; completion of the digital single market, and the conclusion of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal.

I secured an ambitious commitment in the Council Conclusions to better regulation, in line with the conclusions of the last Competitiveness Council. These make important progress towards several key UK objectives, including targets for burden reduction and greater independent scrutiny of Impact Assessments. This proves that our agenda has gained traction in Brussels, with the new Commission announcing important reforms to enhance the external expertise in its Impact Assessment Board.

To underline the broad political support that exists for TTIP, I convened a meeting in Brussels immediately ahead of the Council in partnership with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). Together with the Prime Ministers from Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Finland and Latvia, along with European and US businesses and leaders of two of the largest political groups in the European Parliament, we discussed the importance of concluding an ambitious and comprehensive TTIP agreement.

TTIP has the potential to inject an extra £100 billion into the European economy every year. As the CBI’s report published on the day of the Council highlights, it would bring significant benefits both to consumers and to businesses, especially SMEs, with the potential to create thousands of new jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. At the Council, I succeeded in ensuring that the conclusions, which set a target completion date of 2015, reflected the need for the deal to be “ambitious” and “comprehensive”.

Leaders also agreed on the need to take action to stop companies avoiding taxes. The UK has been championing this cause since our G8 presidency in 2013. I look forward to Commission proposals in the New Year that will increase transparency around member states’ tax deals with companies.

Ukraine and Russia

The Council also had an important discussion on the situation in Ukraine and relations with Russia. I was clear that the EU needed to get behind the new Government of Ukraine and to help them develop a clear road map to deliver the challenging reforms required to make Ukraine a success. There was wide agreement on this point and the Council’s conclusions confirmed the EU’s continued support for Ukraine.

I also underlined that we cannot forget Russia’s illegal and destabilising actions in Ukraine. On the eve of the Council, member states agreed to deepen the EU’s ban on trade and investment in Crimea. This sends an important signal that we will not forget about Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

With Chancellor Merkel, I was clear that the EU needed to maintain sanctions until we see evidence that Russia is implementing the Minsk memorandum in full, and working for a comprehensive de-escalation of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

While in Brussels, I also held meetings with Prime Minister Kopacz of Poland and Prime Minister Borisov of Bulgaria. The main issue discussed in both meetings was the situation in Ukraine and relations with Russia.

A copy of the Council conclusions has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and can also be found at: