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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
16 July 2015
Volume 598

Written Statements

Thursday 16 July 2015

Cabinet Office

Individual Electoral Registration

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I am today laying before Parliament the Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 (Transitional Provisions) Order 2015, which will end the transition to individual electoral registration (IER) in December 2015.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that the transition to IER should end in December 2016. The Government are concerned that by retaining “carry forward” electors (those who have not yet registered under the new system of individual electoral registration) beyond December this year, this will pose an unacceptable risk to the accuracy of the register. Since the registers published by 1 December 2015 will be used for the parliamentary boundary review and then the elections in May 2016, retaining carry forward electors risks having an unknown number of redundant entries on the registers, which would distort the results of the boundary review, increase the risk of electoral fraud, and potentially compromise the integrity of those elections.

The Government do not agree that we should be making a choice between completeness and accuracy, given the importance of both elements in delivering a fair democratic system which commands the confidence and respect of voters. We need to be more ambitious. We can and should aim to achieve both, which is why the Government believe it is crucial that the registers used to conduct the parliamentary boundary review and for next year’s elections are as complete and as accurate as they can possibly be.

The remaining “carry-forward” group of electors is already only a third of its original size and by December they will have been contacted at least nine times to encourage them to register individually. In addition to this, I am pleased to announce that up to £3 million of additional funding is being made available for all electoral registration officers in Great Britain to target their non IER registered carry forward electors.

This funding will be targeted primarily at those authorities which have more than 5% of their register consisting of carry forward electors. All authorities however will be entitled to bid for funding, if they feel they need to take additional steps to target this group of electors.

[HCWS127]

Treasury

Counter-terrorist Asset Freezing

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Under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010 (“TAFA 2010”), the Treasury is required to report to Parliament, quarterly, on its operation of the UK’s asset freezing regime mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1373.

This is the 16th report under the Act and it covers the period from 1 January 2015 to 31 March 2015. This report also covers the UK implementation of the UN Al-Qaida asset freezing regime and the operation of the EU asset freezing regime in the UK under EU Regulation (EC) 2580/2001 which implements UNSCR 1373 against external terrorist threats to the EU. Under the UN Al-Qaida asset freezing regime, the UN has responsibility for designations and the Treasury has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under the Al-Qaida (Asset-Freezing) Regulations 2011. Under EU Regulation 2580/2001, the EU has responsibility for designations and the Treasury has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under Part 1 of TAFA 2010.

Annexes A and B to this statement provide a breakdown, by name, of all those designated by the UK and the EU in pursuance of UN Security Council Resolution 1373. The two individuals subject to designations, which have been notified on a restricted and confidential basis, under sections 3 and 10 of TAFA 2010 are denoted by A and B.

The following table sets out the key asset-freezing activity in the UK during the quarter ending 31 March 2015:

TAFA 2010

EU Reg (EC) 2580/2001

Al-Qaeda regime UNSCR1989

Assets frozen (as at 31/03/2015)

£39,000

£11,0001

£58,0002

Number of accounts frozen in UK (at 31/03/15)

41

10

25

New accounts frozen (during Q1 2015)

16

0

0

Accounts unfrozen (during Q1 2015)

20

0

0

Total number of designations (at 31/03/15)

31

33

308

(i) New designations (during Q1 2015, including confidential designations)

1

0

10

(ii) Number of designations that were confidential (during Q1 2015)

1

0

0

(iii) Delistings (during Q1 2015)

2

2

6

(iv) Individuals in custody in UK (at 31/03/2015)

3

0

0

(v) Individuals in UK, not in custody (at 31/03/2015)

2

0

3

(vi) Individuals overseas (at 31/03/2015)

19

10

234

(vii) Groups

7

23 (1 in UK)

71

Individuals by nationality

(i) UK Nationals3

(ii) Non UK Nationals

10

14

n/a

n/a

Renewal of designation (during Q1 2015)

12

n/a

n/a

General Licences

(i) Issued in Q1

(ii) Amended

(iii) Revoked

(i) 0

(ii) 0

(iii) 0

Specific Licences

(i) Issued in Q1

(ii) Amended

(iii) Expired

(iii) Refused

8

2

15

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1This does not duplicate funds frozen under TAFA.

2This figure reflects the most up-to-date account balances available and includes approximately $64,000 of funds frozen in the UK. This has been converted using exchange rates as of 31/03/2015. Additionally the figures reflect an updating of balances of accounts for certain individuals during the quarter, depleted through licensed activity.

3Based on information held by the Treasury, some of these individuals hold dual nationality.

4 For full listing details please refer to https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/current-list-of-designated-persons-terrorism-and-terrorist-financing

5For full listing details please refer to www.gov.uk

* EU listing rests on UK designation under TAFA 2010

Legal Proceedings

The damages claim brought by Gulam MASTAFA against a number of Government Departments including the Treasury, remains stayed.

The claim brought by Zana RAHIM continues to progress towards completion.

Proceedings were filed on 29 May 2014 at the High Court appealing against the Treasury’s decision to renew MF’s designation under TAFA 2010. The final hearing took place on 29 April 2015, after the period covered by this report and will be covered in the next quarterly report to Parliament.

An individual previously designated under TAFA 2010 lodged an appeal on 3 November 2014 against his designation, challenging the Treasury’s decision to revoke rather than quash his designation. These proceedings were ongoing during the reporting period.

There were no criminal proceedings in respect of breaches of asset freezes made under TAFA 2010.

Annex A—Designated persons under TAFA 2010 by name4

Individuals

1. Hamed ABDOLLAHI

2. Bilal Talal ABDULLAH

3. Imad Khalil AL-ALAMI

4. Abdelkarim Hussein AL-NASSER

5. Ibrahim Salih AL-YACOUB

6. Ruhul AMIN

7. Manssor ARBABSIAR

8. Usama HAMDAN

9. Nur Idiris HASSAN NUR

10. Nabeel HUSSAIN

11. Hasan IZZ-AL-DIN

12. Mohammed KHALED

13. Parviz KHAN

14. Reyaad KHAN

15. Musa Abu MARZOUK

16. Khalid MISHAAL

17. Khalid Shaikh MOHAMMED

18. Aseel MUTHANA

19. Nasser MUTHANA

20. Abdul Reza SHAHLAI

21. AN Gholam SHAKURI

22. Qasem SOLEIMANI

23. A

24. B

Entities

1. Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)

2. Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN)

3. Fuerzas armadas revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC)

4. Hizballah Military Wing, including external security organisation

5. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—General Command (PFLP-GC)

6. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—(PFLP)

7. Sendero Luminoso (SL)

Annex B: persons designated by the EU under Council regulation (EC)2580/2001[5]

Persons

1. Hamed ABDOLLAHI*

2. Abdelkarim Hussein AL-NASSER*

3. Ibrahim Salih AL YACOUB*

4. Manssor ARBABSIAR*

5. Mohammed BOUYERI

6. Hasan IZZ-AL-DIN*

7. Khalid Shaikh MOHAMMED*

8. Abdul Reza SHAH LAI*

9. AN Gholam SHAKURI*

10. Qasem SOLEIMANI*

Groups and entities

1. Abu Nidal Organisation (ANO)

2. Al-Aqsa E.V.

3. Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade

4. Babbar Khalsa

5. Communist Party of the Philippines, including New People’s Army (NPA), Philippines

6. Devrimci Halk Kurtulu Partisi-Cephesi—DHKP/C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Army/Front/Party)

7. Ejército de Liberación Nacional (National Liberation Army)*

8. Fuerzas armadas revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC)*

9. Gama’a al-lslamiyya (a.k.a. Al-Gama’a al-lslamiyya) (Islamic Group—IG)

10. Hamas, including Hamas-Izz al-Din al-Qassem

11. Hizballah Military Wing, including external security organisation

12. Hizbul Mujahideen (HM)

13. Hofstadgroep

14. International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF)

15. Islami Büyük Dogu Akincilar Cephesi (IBDA-C) (Great Islamic Eastern Warriors Front)

16. Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF)

17. Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) (a.k.a. KONGRA-GEL)

18. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

19. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

20. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—General Command (PFLP-GC)*

21. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—(PFLP)*

22. Sendero Luminoso (SL) (Shining Path)*

23. Teyrbazen Azadiya Kurdistan (TAK)

[HCWS136]

Culture, Media and Sport

Television Licences

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On 9 September 2014 my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), announced an independent review into TV licence fee enforcement. The obligation to conduct a review of the sanctions regime for TV licence evasion is contained in section 77 of the Deregulation Act 2015.

I am pleased today to announce the publication of the report for the TV licence fee enforcement review. This review has been independently led on behalf of the Government by David Perry QC, to whom I would like to record my thanks for his excellent work in considering this difficult issue.

The review is now complete and will be published today. In accordance with section 77(3) of the Deregulation Act 2015, I will lay a report setting out my response to the review within three months.

A copy of the report for the TV licence fee enforcement review has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

Attachments can be found online at: http://www.parliament.uk/writtenstatements

[HCWS129]

Defence

Service Complaints

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I am pleased to release today the Ministry of Defence’s formal response to the Service Complaints Commissioner’s (SCC) annual report for 2014 on the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of the service complaints system.

The SCC’s report commented on the performance of the current service complaints system and looked forward to the changes that will come from the new system under the Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Act 2015. The response sets out how the MOD is addressing each of the Commissioner’s new recommendations which relate primarily to the preparation for and the implementation of the reforms.

The 2015 Act introduces significant reforms of the process and creates a powerful independent voice in the new service complaints ombudsman. It is important that we have a system in which our personnel have confidence to raise matters of concern so they can be resolved.

A copy of the response will be placed in the Library of the House.

[HCWS120]

Iraq and Syria

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The House may welcome an update on the military campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

ISIL presents a direct threat to the UK and to UK interests and the Government have been playing a key role in the global counter-ISIL coalition since its formation last year. The military effort is only one element of the wider coalition campaign to halt, degrade and defeat ISIL and its violent ideology through political, diplomatic and military means. In military terms, we have always recognised that the campaign would be a long one. While ISIL has recently had some tactical successes in Iraq and Syria, it has also lost significant ground, most recently in northern Syria. Its progress has been broadly halted and it is beginning to be rolled back. In Iraq, it has lost some 25% of the territory it held after its advance last summer.

The coalition air campaign has been vital in providing support to those fighting ISIL on the ground and in degrading ISIL’s military capabilities. As part of that campaign, RAF Tornado and Reaper aircraft have now flown over 1,000 missions and UK Tornado, Reaper, Airseeker and Sentinel aircraft have contributed sophisticated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to the coalition to find and strike ISIL. The UK is currently, the only coalition nation conducting manned ISR over Syria and, with the increasing requirement for intelligence understanding across a broad geographic region in Iraq and Syria, we have also taken steps to increase the efficiency of the coalition ISR effort through collaborative force management and sharing arrangements with the US for Reaper and Airseeker. As US systems, these two types are particularly suitable for such co-operation.

Since the outset of the air campaign, we have provided to Parliament a range of information on UK air activity, including on the number of strikes carried out by our aircraft based on UK methodology. As the campaign has progressed, we have had better visibility and understanding of the method used by the coalition to calculate total strike numbers which differs from the method used by the UK. I have concluded that it would be preferable in future to use coalition produced numbers for UK strikes. For transparency, the table below shows the number of strikes carried out to date by both methods. This will result in an apparent reduction in the total number of UK strikes but does not represent a material change in the substantial contribution that the UK has, and continues to make to the counter-ISIL global coalition air campaign. This includes some 30% of the total airborne intelligence effort, reflecting the crucial importance to the coalition of the UK contribution in this field.

The wider coalition military strategy also relies on working with local land forces to build their capability and capacity to help them combat ISIL more effectively on the ground. The coalition has been training Iraqi security forces at four and now five locations. This is a long term effort but, as part of this work, the UK has now trained over 1,600 personnel. The decision to expand our presence in Iraq by a further 125 UK personnel—which will bring total UK forces in Iraq to over 275—will enable us to bring this training to further coalition training sites across Iraq, and will particularly help the Iraqi security forces to combat improvised explosive devices which form the most pernicious threat they face as they combat ISIL. The UK is also participating in a programme with US and regional partners to train the new Syrian forces in regional training centres outside Syria. This nascent programme will take time to bear fruit but demonstrates our willingness to give direct support to members of the armed moderate opposition who show themselves capable and committed to fighting ISIL.

Op Shader: UK Strike Numbers

Monthly Strikes—UK Method

Cumulative Total—UK Method

Monthly Strikes— Coalition Method

Cumulative Total—Coalition Method

September 2014

2

2

2

2

October 2014

15

17

8

10

November 2014

40

57

26

36

December 2014

33

90

26

62

January 2015

46

136

28

90

February 2015

24

136

28

90

March 2015

42

202

29

138

April 2015

34

236

26

164

May 2015

37

273

34

198

June 2015

30

308

28

226

[HCWS132]

Education

GCSEs and A-levels

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Today I am launching a public consultation on revised subject content for seven GCSEs and five A-levels which will be taught from 2017.

This represents an important step in the third phase of GCSE and A-level reform. Our aims for GCSE and A-level reform are unchanged. We are reforming GCSEs and A-levels to be rigorous and more knowledge-based and to match the qualifications used in the best education systems in the world. The reforms aim to ensure that GCSEs are more academically demanding and will be qualifications in which students, employers, and further and higher education institutions can have confidence. At A-level, our reforms aim to ensure that they prepare students for undergraduate study. A priority in the development process has therefore been to secure the views of subject experts, particularly university academics in the relevant subjects.

The subject content documents being published today set new expectations which all awarding organisations’ specifications must meet. Awarding organisations have drafted content, working with Department for Education and Ofqual. An additional consultation will be published in the autumn with content for the remaining subjects to be taught from September 2017.

This consultation is an opportunity for teachers, further and higher education colleges, parents and students, industry and all those with an interest in these subjects to provide their views and allow us to take them into account when redrafting the content for final publication.

Summary of changes to subjects

Astronomy GCSE has been reformed to ensure it has the same level of demand as the newly reformed GCSE science content. Demand has been increased by introducing new areas of knowledge and placing greater emphasis on students’ use of mathematical skills.

The business GCSE content increases breadth and depth of knowledge, and introduces more focus on the overall purpose of business, on how the different parts of a business work together, and on how business decisions are made.

The new economics GCSE content has been significantly strengthened and focuses clearly on economics as a social science, with additional depth added such as requiring students to understand movements along, and shifts in, supply and demand curves, and with more demanding mathematical requirements.

The engineering GCSE has an increased level of demand with a greater emphasis on systems-related content, a detailed section on testing and investigation, and new and more demanding mathematics.

Environmental science A-level has been brought in line with other reformed science A-levels, and requires greater scientific knowledge, understanding and skills.

The new geology GCSE content requires students to study a greater number of minerals, rock types and fossil groups, and there is new content on planetary geology.

History of art AS and A-level content will ensure students study a wide range of art and artists from different movements and periods including pre- and post-1850.

Music technology AS and A-level content is focused on the knowledge and skills which relate solely to music technology, with the content that overlapped with music A-level removed. As a consequence the qualification now includes more technical, scientific and mathematical content.

Philosophy AS and A-level content will enable students to gain a thorough grounding in key philosophical questions and concepts, including through critically engaging with ideas and reading and understanding the work of key philosophers and thinkers.

Psychology GCSE content will require all students to study in more breadth and depth the five core areas of psychology—social, cognitive, biological, developmental and individual differences—including key theories. All students will also be required to develop a strong understanding of research methods including quantitative analysis.

Sociology GCSE content has been updated to reflect the new, more demanding A-level, with additional sections on the sociological approach and with students now required to know and understand the ideas of key sociological theorists.

As with the reform of the GCSE, the Department has developed subject content for design and technology A-level. The A-level retains a specialist focus with students able to study engineering, product design, or fashion design and development. All students will be required to study the core content of design processes that are at the core of contemporary design practice, and the technical principles needed to choose the right solution to address the design need.

[HCWS112]

School Funding

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World class schools are a vital part of the Government’s long-term economic plan, and are one of the key drivers of the productive economy of the future.

We are therefore committed to making school funding fairer, to maintaining the amount of money that follows children into schools and to confirming the extra £390 million fairer funding uplift from 2015-16 in budgets for 2016-17 and beyond. This will help every child, everywhere, to have the best possible chance to reach their potential.

Today we are taking the first steps towards meeting these commitments by publishing the per pupil funding rates for each local authority’s schools budget for 2016-17. This protects the per pupil funding in each authority from 2015-16, meeting the commitment to protect the national schools budget and to base-lining the £390 million extra funding.

We are also publishing the Education Funding Agency’s operational guide; to allow local authorities to start the process of consulting with their schools on how the funding should be distributed in their area.

The forthcoming spending review will set out the Government’s plans for the delivery and funding of public services for this Parliament. It will set out further detail on key delivery priorities for schools and local authorities and confirm funding levels for other grants and programmes. In light of the spending review and any consequent changes to the school finance regulations (which would of course be consulted on), the operational guide may have to be updated and local authorities may have to review the planning and modelling they have undertaken.

Final funding allocations to each authority will be made in December, in line with the latest data on their pupil numbers.

Base-lining the 2015-16 minimum funding levels in 2016-17 is an important step towards making funding fairer. However it remains the case that a school in one part of the country can receive over 50% more funding than an identical school in another part of the country.

I am therefore committed to making schools and early education funding fairer and will put forward proposals in due course.

We recognise the links between funding for early education, schools and pupils with high cost special educational needs. These are complex issues to consider, and we will consult extensively with the sector and the public on them.

[HCWS135]

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Small Waste Oil Burners

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As part of our commitment to cleaner air the Government will amend the current environmental permitting guidance to state clearly that all small waste oil burners burning waste oils in England fall under the scope of the industrial emission directive. This will reduce emissions of air pollutants and it will require all operators of small waste oil burners burning waste oils to meet the requirements of the industrial emission directive or, alternatively, to choose to burn other fuels such as gas or fuel oils.

My Department will conclude a consultation on the amended guidance for England and measures available to help industry with the transition in October 2015. Following the consultation, new guidance will be published in December 2015 that will take effect in April 2016.

I have arranged for a copy of the document to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. A copy is also available on the gov.uk website.

[HCWS111]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Diplomatic Immunity: Offences

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In 2014,14 serious and significant offences allegedly committed by people entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by parliamentary and diplomatic protection of the Metropolitan police, or other law enforcement agencies. Twelve of these were driving-related. We define serious offences as those which could, in certain circumstances, carry a penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment or more. Also included are drink-driving and driving without insurance.

Some 22,000 people are entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom and the majority of diplomats abide by UK law. The number of alleged serious crimes committed by members of the diplomatic community in the UK is proportionately low.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, those entitled to immunity are expected to obey the law. The FCO does not tolerate foreign diplomats breaking the law.

We take all allegations of illegal activity seriously. When instances of alleged criminal conduct are brought to our attention by the police, we ask the relevant foreign Government to waive diplomatic immunity where appropriate. For the most serious offences, and when a relevant waiver has not been granted, we seek the immediate withdrawal of the diplomat.

Alleged serious and significant offences reported to the FCO in 2014 are listed below.

2014

Driving without insurance

Greece

1

Algeria

1

Equatorial Guinea

1

Mexico

1

Driving without insurance, driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence, and without due care and attention

South Africa

1

Driving without insurance, without an MOT, and with tyres significantly worn below the legal limit

Saudi Arabia

1

Driving while under the influence of alcohol, without insurance, and without a valid licence

Malawi

1

Driving under the influence of alcohol

Thailand

1

Saudi Arabia

1

Guatemala

1

Equatorial Guinea

1

In charge of a vehicle under the influence of alcohol

China

1

Possession of a firearm

Saudi Arabia

1

Development of malware for the purpose of fraud

Saudi Arabia

1

We also wish to record a further four offences of conspiracy to cheat the Revenue between 2009 and 2012, of which four former Gambian diplomats were convicted in 2014. These were not recorded in previous written ministerial statements because the cases were either under investigation or were sub judice. Their previous inclusion may have hampered investigations or prejudiced the outcome of criminal proceedings.

Figures for previous years are available in the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ written statement to the House on 15 July 2014, Official Report, column 50WS.

[HCWS128]

Government Wine Cellar

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I have today placed a copy of the annual statement on the Government wine cellar for the financial Year 2014-15 in the Libraries of both Houses.

Following the outcome of the review of the Government Hospitality wine cellar in 2011, this fourth annual statement continues our commitment to annual statements to Parliament on the use of the wine cellar, covering consumption, stock purchases, costs, and value for money. The wine cellar has been self-funding since 2011-12, through the sale of some high-value stock and payments made by other Government Departments for events organised by Government Hospitality.

The report notes that:

Sales of stock amounted to £71,050 (cf. £56,000 in FY 2013-14);

Further funds from other Government Departments added £21,514 to the overall receipts (cf. £16,762 in 13/14);

Purchases amounted to £70,432 (cf. £50,054 in 2013-14);

The highest consumption level by volume was of English and Welsh wine, at 44% of the total (cf. 48% in 2013-14);

Consumption rose in 2014-15 by around 15% due to the significant number of major international conferences and meetings (eg NATO summit, Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict summit).

[HCWS142]

International Justice

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I am pleased to provide Parliament with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s annual statement of Government support for the principles and institutions of international justice in 2014-15 and our plans for the year ahead. Tomorrow marks international justice day, a good moment to take stock of the UK’s contribution to this crucial area of work.

International justice is central to the UK’s foreign policy. It is essential that perpetrators of atrocities are held to account for their actions, and that victims see justice done. International justice does not stop with punishing the perpetrators—it goes further by helping victims of atrocities and their communities to come to terms with the past, starting the healing process and deterring those who might otherwise commit such violations in the future.

In 2014 we showed our commitment to international justice by contributing £8.2 million to the International Criminal Court, £3.2 million to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, £1.5 million to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and £2 million to the Residual Mechanism which will take on the essential functions of the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals when they close. Furthermore, in financial year 2014-15 we made voluntary contributions of £1 million to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and contributed to the international component of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and to the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL). The UK also continues to provide support for the RSCSL through our enforcement of the sentence of Charles Taylor.

UK support for international justice is a key element of our ongoing work to end sexual violence in conflict through the preventing sexual violence initiative. We will continue to promote stronger national and international accountability, including through advocacy and training to improve investigation of these crimes using the international protocol on the documentation and investigation of sexual violence in conflict. We welcome the recently published policy by the ICC prosecutor on sexual and gender-based crimes and will support the prosecutor’s office in implementing it fully.

The continued work of the International Criminal Court and the international tribunals to tackle impunity for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity helps to strengthen the rules-based international system and makes a contribution towards building a safer more secure world. For example, in January 2015 Dominic Ongwen, a senior commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, appeared before the International Criminal Court. This in itself was a major achievement for international efforts to end impunity for the actions of the Lord’s Resistance Army, and for the victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army’s crimes in Uganda. In March 2015, the International Criminal Court issued its judgment on reparations for the victims of Democratic Republic of the Congo warlord Thomas Lubanga. This was the first final judgment including provisions for compensation for the victims.

This coming year will see further progress in international justice. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is currently investigating nine situations. The court has ongoing proceedings against 21 individuals and 12 fugitives who remain at large. The trial of the former Côte d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo will start. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is expected to deliver a verdict in the Radovan Karadžic trial. The formal closure of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda is due to happen in the autumn with all its remaining functions transferring to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia is now in the second phase of a trial dealing with crimes of genocide, forced marriage, and rape, having delivered in 2014 a verdict in the first phase of the trial of the most senior surviving members of the Khmer Rouge. And the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone will continue to uphold the legacy of the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The UK values these institutions and the way in which their activities strengthen international support for the principles of international justice, accountability for crimes, and an end to impunity. We will continue to support these institutions over the next 12 months. We will continue to encourage other states to support these courts and tribunals and to fulfil their legal obligations. We will continue to ensure they deliver value for money by scrutinising budgets and making sure they make the best use of available resources.

This is the third annual update to Parliament on the FCO’s work to support international justice.

[HCWS125]

Diplomats: London Congestion Charge

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The value of unpaid Congestion Charge debt incurred by diplomatic missions and international organisations in London since its introduction in February 2003 until 31 December 2014 as advised by Transport for London was £87,440,287. The table below shows those diplomatic missions and international organisations with outstanding fines of £100,000 or more.

Country

Number of Fines

Total Outstanding

Embassy of the United States of America

80,174

£9,441,370

Embassy of Japan

54,158

£6,374,505

High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

45,511

£5,339,020

Embassy of the Russia Federation

45,650

£5,323,900

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany

34,976

£4,052,895

Office of the High Commissioner for India

32,503

£3,908,465

Embassy of the Republic of Poland

26,365

£3,152,000

Office of the High Commissioner for Ghana

23,979

£2,861,855

Embassy of the Republic of Sudan

22,297

£2,549,135

Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan

18,831

£2,273,760

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

17,523

£2,176,310

Kenya High Commission

17,950

£2,076,095

Embassy of France

15,416

£1,811,555

Embassy of Spain

14,504

£1,715,385

High Commission for the United Republic of Tanzania

13,577

£1,556,810

High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

12,184

£1,478,620

Embassy of the Republic of Korea

11,960

£1,442,550

Embassy of Romania

12,153

£1,426,000

Embassy of Greece

11,420

£1,344,692

Embassy of Ukraine

11,268

£1,315,970

Embassy of the Republic of Cuba

10,235

£1,231,480

South African High Commission

10,567

£1,217,005

People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

10,414

£1,205,110

Sierra Leone High Commission

10,050

£1,149,975

Embassy of Hungary

8,032

£949,185

High Commission for the Republic of Cyprus

7,902

£941,595

Embassy of the Republic of Yemen

6,558

£770,245

High Commission for the Republic of Zambia

6,593

£766,770

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria

6,386

£735,810

Embassy of the Republic of Belarus

5,452

£635,960

Embassy of the Slovak Republic

5,296

£616,425

High Commission for the Republic of Cameron

5,216

£600,685

High Commission of the Republic of Malawi

4,737

£555,170

Botswana High Commission

4,566

£543,940

Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

4,537

£518,185

High Commission for the Republic of Namibia

4,515

£516,455

Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe

4,520

£500,810

Kingdom of Swaziland High Commission

4,347

£494,500

High Commission for the Republic of Mozambique

4,255

£494,410

Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea

3,877

£446,685

Embassy of Austria

3,478

£443,920

Embassy of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire

3,721

£431,350

Mauritius High Commission

3,688

£425,875

Malta High Commission

3,486

£412,810

Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania

3,266

£395,315

High Commission of the Kingdom of Lesotho

3,415

£392,140

Embassy of the Czech Republic

3,383

£390,080

Uganda High Commission

3,278

£385,910

Embassy of Belgium

3,200

£378,200

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

2,955

£351,545

Embassy of the Republic of Liberia

2,934

£350,235

Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

2,953

£344,110

Royal Danish Embassy

2,756

£327,040

Embassy of the Republic of Turkey

2,466

£292,380

Embassy of the Republic of Guinea

2,573

£291,140

Jamaican High Commission

2,429

£284,320

Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

2,280

£279,110

Embassy of the Republic of Latvia

1,995

£238,630

Embassy of Portugal

1,950

£236,460

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

2,244

£235,575

Embassy of Finland

1,921

£227,680

Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

1,979

£227,680

Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia

1,731

£211,670

Embassy of Luxembourg

1,731

£205,500

Embassy of Tunisia

1,594

£193,710

High Commission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

1,560

£193,530

Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco

1,477

£ 185,075

High Commission for Antigua & Barbuda

1,573

£184,840

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

1,689

£183,310

Embassy of the Republic of Iraq

1,192

£149,180

Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan

1,126

£ 143,855

Embassy of Estonia

1,164

£141,615

Embassy of the Dominican Republic

1,081

£127,840

Belize High Commission

990

£121,990

Embassy of the State of Eritrea

1,017

£ 118,320

High Commission for Guyana

914

£ 105,620

Figures for previous years are available in the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ written statement to the House on 15 July 2014, Official Report, column 53WS.

[HCWS134]

Diplomats: Parking Fines

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In 2014, 5,307 parking fines incurred by diplomatic missions and international organisations in the United Kingdom were brought to our attention by councils. These totalled £536,289.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has held meetings with a number of missions about outstanding parking fine debt. In addition, in April this year we wrote to diplomatic missions and international organisations concerned giving them the opportunity to either pay their outstanding fines or appeal against them if they considered that the fines had been issued incorrectly.

Subsequent payments—including amounts waived by councils—totalled £214,154. There remains a total of £322,135 in unpaid fines for 2014.

The table below details those diplomatic missions and international organisations that have outstanding fines totalling £1,000 or more, as of 22 June 2015.

Diplomatic Mission/International Organisation

Amount of Outstanding Fines (excluding congestion charge) £

High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria

49,235

High Commission for the Republic of Zambia

42,520

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

25,990

Embassy of the United Arab Emirates

16,520

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

9,650

Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan

9,390

Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

9,165

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

8,075

Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman

7,940

Embassy of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire

7,645

Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan

7,600

Embassy of the State of Qatar

5,260

Embassy of the Republic of Liberia

5,135

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

5,115

Embassy of France

4,985

High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

4,975

Embassy of the State of Libya

4,795

Embassy of the Republic of Iraq

4,590

Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo

3,860

Embassy of Georgia

3,815

Embassy of the Republic of Angola

3,670

Embassy of Tunisia

3,305

Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea

3,020

Sierra Leone High Commission

2,985

Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan

2,695

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania

2,680

Embassy of the Gabonese Republic

2,670

Embassy of the Republic of Guinea

2,530

Kenya High Commission

2,505

Office of the High Commissioner for Ghana

2,485

Embassy of the Republic of Yemen

2,460

Malaysian High Commission

2,360

Embassy of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

2,080

Embassy of Greece

1,880

South African High Commission

1,825

High Commission of the United Republic of Tanzania

1,815

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria

1,635

Embassy of Brazil

1,600

Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan

1,530

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

1,410

Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco

1,330

Embassy of the Russian Federation

1,330

Brunei Darussalam High Commission

1,315

Embassy of Romania

1,310

Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

1,295

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany

1,270

Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

1,235

Embassy of the Republic of Serbia

1,085

Figures for previous years are available in the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ written statement to the House on 15 July 2014, Official Report, column 51WS.

[HCWS131]

Diplomats: Non-domestic Rates

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The majority of diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom pay the national non-domestic rates (NNDR) due from them. Diplomatic missions are obliged to pay only 6% of the total NNDR value of their offices. This represents payment for specific services received such as street cleaning and street lighting.

Representations by the protocol directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to missions in 2015 led to the settlement of outstanding debts by a number of missions.

As at 14 July 2015, the total amount of outstanding NNDR payments, due before 31 December 2014, owed by foreign diplomatic missions as advised by the Valuation Office Agency is £743,858, an increase of 2.5% over the 2013 figure, as reported in the 2014 WMS (£726,076). However, £99,683 of this outstanding debt is owed by Iran, which is in the process of reopening its embassy in the UK, and Syria—which is not currently represented in the UK. We have therefore been unable to pursue these debts. Three missions are responsible for just under a third of the remainder. We shall continue to urge those with NNDR debt to pay their dues.

Missions listed below owed over £10,000 in respect of NNDR.

High Commission for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

£98,963

Sierra Leone High Commission

£59,949

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

£53,466

Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe

£35,599

Uganda High Commission

£29,549

Embassy of the Republic of Liberia

£24,892

Embassy of the Republic of Iraq

£17,755

Embassy of the State of Qatar

£18,883

Embassy of Ukraine

£18,720

Embassy of the Republic of Albania

£18,374

Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines

£16,691

Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

£16,772

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

£14,676

Ghana High Commission

£14,170

High Commission for the Republic of Cameroon

£13,483

Embassy of the United Arab Emirates

£12,447

High Commission for the Republic of Zambia

£12,797

Embassy of the Republic of Angola

£12,435

Kenya High Commission

£10,555

Figures for previous years are available in the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ written statement to the House on 15 July 2014, Official Report, column 55WS.

[HCWS133]

Foreign Affairs Council

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My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 20 July. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

Foreign Affairs Council

Iran

Ministers will have an exchange of views on Iran and will consider what the joint comprehensive plan of action means for future EU-Iran relations including the EU wider geopolitical approach, beyond sanctions. The Foreign Affairs Council is likely to welcome the Iran deal through conclusions.

Tunisia

After the Bardo Museum terrorist attack in March, the EU and member states agreed to intensify co-operation with Tunisia. Following the further terrorist attack at Sousse on 26 June—which resulted in the deaths of 30 British nationals—Tunisia’s need for support is greater and more urgent than ever. The evolving security situation has meant the FCO is advising against all but essential travel to Tunisia. We have not taken this decision lightly but our first priority will always be the safety of our citizens. We believe it is essential to offer support both to Tunisia’s economy and its security. The terrorist attacks have affected Tunisia’s tourist industry, causing further damage to its economy. At the same time, regional inequalities and high unemployment—particularly among the youth—are fuelling dissatisfaction and extremism.

We will urge the EU to take steps urgently to support regionalisation, micro-financing and job creation—particularly for the youth in regions outside the North/West coastal regions. On security and counter-terrorism, we will urge the EU to support a package of CT and security measures to deepen our understanding of the threat, increase our options to disrupt it, support capacity-building in Tunisia, and ensure our response is fully co-ordinated with international partners. Helping the Tunisians deliver better security is the key priority, and will allow us to review our travel advice.

Middle east peace process

Ministers are expected to discuss what more the EU can do to support prospects for the middle east peace process, including the situation in Gaza.

EU action plan on human rights and democracy

Ministers will discuss the proposed new EU action plan on human rights and democracy for 2015 to 2019, with a view to its adoption by the Council.

Climate change and post-2015 development agenda

The FAC will discuss the outcomes of the Addis Ababa conference on financing for development due to take place 13-16 July, and look forward to the summit on the post-2015 development agenda in New York in September, and the Paris climate conference in December. The UK places high importance on working with developing countries on both these issues.

On the post-2015 development agenda, we believe that there should be a set of clear communications messages in the final outcome and that we, together with EU partners, should communicate the final set of sustainable development goals the world over, encouraging all countries to start focusing on implementing the agenda.

On climate change, we welcome the co-ordinated EU diplomatic effort to demonstrate our climate leadership in support of a global low-carbon transition and to those most vulnerable to climate risks. We continue to press for a global deal in Paris in December, with an ambitious set of emissions reductions contributions from all parties and a framework for future review which keep us on track to limiting global temperature rises to below 2°C.

Mediterranean Migration

We believe that the EU must continue to address the root causes of refugees and economic migrants crossing the Mediterranean and identify comprehensive solutions in those countries from which migrants originate and transit that will reduce the push factors, build stability, create livelihoods, and tackle the criminal gangs and smuggling networks. The UK is leading the way through alleviating poverty and working to stabilise countries of origin and transit. We are disrupting smuggling networks. We are tackling the perception that getting on a boat will lead to automatic entry into the EU. And we continue to work closely with EU and African partners.

[HCWS138]

British Nationals Abroad: Murder and Manslaughter

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is committed to providing high-quality, cost-effective and compassionate support to British nationals abroad, focusing on vulnerable groups and those that most need our help.

In January 2015, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe, announced the completion of the FCO’s review into the support we provide to families in the event of British nationals being murdered abroad, and the establishment of a new unit to provide a more co-ordinated and professional service during these often complex and long-running cases. (Official Report, 22 January 2015; Vol 591, c10-11WS.)

The terrible events in Sousse, Tunisia, in June sadly demonstrate the requirement for such a unit. Since January, the unit has taken on 66 new cases of British nationals murdered abroad, including the victims of the terrorist attacks in Tunisia and the Germanwings airplane crash in March, as well as supporting the families of victims in over 150 ongoing cases. We have renamed the new unit the murder and manslaughter team to make clear the nature of the cases the unit deals with.

The team has also been developing new specialist training for consular officers on managing cases effectively and sensitively, updating information available to the public, strengthening our relationships with partnership organisations, improving the support we provide to families attending trials, and considering what further support we can provide to families of those who have died under suspicious circumstances.

We will continue to monitor and evaluate our progress during 2015-16.

[HCWS124]

Health

NHS Leadership

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I have published today “Learning not blaming” (CM9113), which sets out the Government’s position on the freedom to speak up consultation, the Public Administration Select Committee report “Investigating Clinical Incidents in the NHS”, and Dr Bill Kirkup’s independent report on the Morecambe Bay investigation; and, in a separate document, Lord Rose’s report on NHS leadership.

The three reports cover distinct areas, and the accompanying document addresses the points and recommendations raised in each report. The “freedom to speak up” review by Sir Robert Francis QC, focused on whistle blowing; the Public Administration Select Committee report “Investigating Clinical Incidents in the NHS”; and, the investigation into university hospitals Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, conducted by Dr Bill Kirkup CBE. There are, however, some themes common to each report, including the importance of:

openness, honesty and candour;

listening to patients, families and staff;

finding and facing the truth;

learning from errors and failures in care;

people and professionalism.

In considering points made in these reports, the Government have been guided by the need to build on the work we and the NHS have done in recent years to improve the way in which the NHS treats patients and families, by developing capabilities locally to respond to patients’ and families’ concerns and to exercise proper oversight of care quality.

In recognition of this, the NHS’s own Five Year Forward View emphasises the need for care to be both safe and sustainable over the long term. For each of the reports, we therefore propose specific actions to address the immediate issues they raise, and in doing so make clear that the NHS must develop an improved approach to patient safety and complaints. Our response therefore sets out a strong expectation that we want nothing less than a renewed culture that values learning, not blaming; compassion, not defensiveness; and putting patients and families before systems and institutions.

In summary, we will:

put in place freedom to speak up guardians in each trust to build up capability and capacity locally, at the frontline of service provision;

ensure that every local NHS provider provides training in raising and listening to concerns;

remove the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s current responsibility and accountability for statutory supervision of midwives in the United Kingdom. (The NMC will of course remain responsible for the regulation of midwifery, but the supervision of midwives will be brought into line with the arrangements for other clinical professions);

review the professional codes of doctors, nurses and midwives and ensure that the right incentives are in place to encourage people to report openly, and to learn from mistakes;

set up a new patient safety investigation function to be fully operational from 1 April 2016—the independent patient safety investigation service. An expert advisory group will convene shortly in order to develop the structure, governance and operating model of this new service.

Freedom to Speak Up

The Government have consulted on a package of measures to implement the principles and actions set out in Sir Robert Francis QC’s report. In light of the consultation responses, I can now announce that the role of independent national officer will be hosted by the Care Quality Commission, who intend to have them in place by December 2015. I can also announce that freedom to speak up guardians will be appointed in all NHS Trusts, to build up capability and capacity locally, at the frontline of service provision, following guidance published by the independent national officer.

Robert’s report also called for training on raising and hearing concerns in every local NHS provider organisation. The relevant national bodies will now be working on a package that would include the following content:

the inclusion of content on raising concerns in induction training for all staff;

the inclusion of good practice regarding the raising of concerns for healthcare professionals as part of their professional codes, followed up through continuing professional development;

the regular use of reflective practice, through for example team meetings or Schwartz rounds, to review particular examples when concerns have been raised or not raised and how this might be improved in future;

the inclusion of content on raising concerns in other specific packages of training that NHS workers are expected to undertake or which NHS employers have included in annual training priorities; and

the inclusion of content on raising concerns in initial education and training undertaken by those learning to become healthcare professionals. This is already being considered and developed by health education England.

Morecambe Bay investigation

The Government have accepted all the recommendations of this report.

The recommendation for an independent patient safety investigation service is explained in more detail in our response to the Public Administration Select Committee report.

We will use secondary legislation to remove the Nursing And Midwifery Council’s current responsibility and accountability for statutory supervision of midwives in the United Kingdom. The NMC will of course remain responsible for the regulation of midwifery, but the supervision of midwives will be brought into line with the arrangements for other clinical professions. This will improve the local oversight and accountability for midwifery. Existing arrangements will remain in place until alternative arrangements are introduced.

In addition, I have asked Professor Sir Bruce Keogh to review the professional codes for all regulated staff in the NHS and to ensure that the right incentives are in place to encourage reporting and learning from mistakes, and prevent covering up.

In response to recommendations 25 and 42 in the report, I am proposing to review the regulations that set out statutory requirements for notifications to the Care Quality Commission and Monitor during 2015-16 with the intention of addressing Dr Kirkup’s recommendation that trust boards should openly report the findings of any reviews of care to relevant external bodies.

We would also like to extend this to the commissioning of any such reviews. We will consult on any changes.

In response to recommendation 20, NHS England has established a national review of maternity services, independently chaired by Baroness Cumberlege. It is anticipated that the review will publish proposals on safe and efficient models of maternity care at the end of the year. The review will pay particular attention to the challenges of achieving this objective in more geographically isolated areas.

Public Administration Select Committee report

We accept the recommendations of this report.

Our response sets out the Government’s decision to set up a new independent patient safety investigation service, to be operational from 1 April 2016. IPSIS will operate independently and it will be brought under the single leadership of Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority.

We have also set up an expert advisory group to advise on the scope, governance and operating model of this new service. The membership of this group includes:

Dr Mike Durkin, National Director for Patient Safety

Keith Conradi, Chief Inspector of the Air Accidents Investigations Branch

James Titcombe OBE, Morecambe Bay campaigner and currently working as a patient safety adviser to CQC

Prof Jonathan Montgomery, Professor of Healthcare Law at University College London

Julian Brookes, advisor on clinical governance for the Morecambe Bay Investigation, deputy chief operating officer Public Health England

Carl Macrae, Independent Quality Improvement Expert

Prof Martin Marshall CBE, Professor of Healthcare Improvement at University College London

Dame Eileen Sills DBE, Chief Nurse and Director of Patient Experience, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust

Dr Bill Kirkup CBE, Chairman of the Morecambe Bay Investigation

Kate Lampard CBE, barrister and NHS strategic health authority chairman who provided oversight on the NHS’s Savile investigations.

PASC also recommended that, “draft legislation should be published for scrutiny early in the next Parliament” as part of the establishment of this new function. We will ask the expert group to consider whether the work of the independent patient safety investigation service would benefit from having any legal powers to fulfil its duties effectively.

I am confident that the new service will help to transform the state of patient safety.

Rose

I have today also published the report of Lord Rose’s review of National Health Service (NHS) leadership, “Better leadership for tomorrow”. A copy can be found online at: http://www.parliament.uk/writtenstatements. This is an important report making recommendations for the creation of a single NHS vision, improving training, performance management, reducing bureaucracy and improving management support.

I asked Lord Rose early in 2014 to consider what might be done to attract and develop talent from inside and outside the health sector into leading positions in the NHS and to recommend how strong leadership in hospital trusts might help transform the way things get done. Following the publication of the NHS’s Five Year Forward View, I requested him to extend his remit to consider how best to equip clinical commissioning groups to deliver the vision outlined within that report.

I welcome Lord Rose’s report and his 19 recommendations, all of which I have accepted in principle.

I am announcing today that the Government accept fully the recommendation to transfer responsibility for the NHS leadership academy from NHS England to health education England (HEE).

The Government also accept the need to do more to manage talent in the NHS and I can announce today that talent management for our brightest and best will become a formal responsibility for the single leadership of Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority.

My Department will work with the health and care system to develop plans to implement each of the other recommendations to the extent possible, subject to an assessment of proportionality, cost-effectiveness and affordability.

[HCWS113]

NHS Remuneration: Doctors and Dentists

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I am responding on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the seven-day services reports of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) and the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB). The reports have been laid before Parliament (CM9107 and CM9108). Copies of the reports are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.

This Government are committed to creating a seven-day health service fit for the 21st century with patients receiving the hospital care they need seven days a week by 2020. Patients expect and should receive high-quality, safe care every single day. It is simply wrong that mortality rates are higher for patients admitted to hospital at the weekend than during the week. 6,000 lives are lost needlessly, each year, as a result, making this manifesto commitment a clinical priority and a moral cause.

Last year, I asked the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) and the NHS Pay Review Body (NHS PRB) for their observations on how contract reform for directly employed NHS staff in England might be required to support the delivery of seven-day services.

The DDRB was asked to make observations on proposals for reforming the consultant contract to better facilitate the delivery of healthcare services seven days a week, taking account of proposals for pay progression to be linked to responsibility and patient care, and for reforming clinical excellence awards. It was also asked to make recommendations on a new contract for doctors and dentists in training, including a new system of pay progression.

Similarly, the NHS PRB was asked to make observations on the barriers and enablers of seven-day services within national employment contracts for staff employed under the agenda for change pay framework—AfC which applies to non-medical staff—with particular reference to the impact of premium pay rates for working unsocial hours, incremental pay progression and any transitional arrangements.

I am grateful to the chairs and members of the review bodies for producing these reports.

The case for seven-day services

I am pleased that all those who responded to the PRBs’ calls for evidence accept the compelling case and support the vision for seven-day services with its primary aim of putting patients first and reducing mortality rates at the weekends.

How seven-day services are delivered on the ground must be informed by the clinical needs of local communities; one size cannot fit all. Some trusts are already delivering services across seven days as the PRBs observed, but this is by no means universal. The DDRB said,

“We also investigated the position in healthcare systems elsewhere in the world and it is our understanding that outside of accident and emergency services most international public healthcare systems are not providing a comprehensive twenty-four hour, seven-day service. We therefore conclude that the proposed new NHS arrangements would be trailblazing within healthcare systems.”

The NHS PRB concluded that the agenda for change pay system was not a barrier to the delivery of seven-day services and that more work should be undertaken to understand in more detail how services might be delivered in the future, the workforce implications and transitional arrangements. They also observed that the right of consultants to opt out of non-emergency work in the evenings and at weekends is a contractual barrier to the delivery of seven-day services and the DDRB also observed that,

“the role of consultant presence at weekends to make a difference to patient outcomes is accepted.”

It was noted that this is a contractual protection which is enjoyed by no other NHS professionals or by any other areas of the public sector workforce. DDRB said,

“In our view, the current ‘opt-out’ clause in the consultant contract is not an appropriate provision in an NHS which aspires to continue to improve patient care with genuinely seven-day services, and on that basis, we endorse the case for its removal from the contract.”

The PRBs views on the proposals

The independent DDRB concluded that the key principles proposed by the Government and NHS Employers are reasonable—to improve patient outcomes across the week and to reward greater responsibility and professional competence. They acknowledged the case for changing the contract for doctors and dentists in training (juniors) and concluded that the proposals made are fair, and that removal of the consultant opt-out clause is,

“an opportunity to smooth the transition between the junior doctor grade, which is routinely rostered for weekend working, and the consultant grade, which can choose whether to be rostered or not.”

They found that the core principles for reforming the consultant contract look right; that the proposals should be viewed as a total package of reform across the two contracts; and that there is scope for progressing some elements of consultant reform at different speeds, including early removal of the consultant opt-out. The DDRB endorsed changes to the antiquated approach for time served mainly annual incremental progression in both contracts.

I am particularly pleased that the NHS PRB agreed that contract reform should work for staff and patients and that any reform of the system of premium pay for working unsocial hours should not be done in isolation, but as part of a wider package of reform.

The NHS PRB observed that premium pay rates may not be out of line with comparator industries, but that there is a case for some adjustment to unsocial hours pay, for example, extending plain time working further into the evenings—from 7/8pm currently to 10pm—and noted the move, in some sectors, to plain time working on Saturdays. The DDRB suggested that the night window for juniors and consultants should start at 10pm.

The DDRB supported the proposed approach to the pay package for juniors; while it noted that the rates for unsocial hours and other elements were for the parties to agree, it also noted that total pay for juniors compares favourably with comparator groups and that, given the cost-neutral pre-condition for negotiations, that position will continue. It acknowledged the proposal to undertake further modelling on unsocial hours rates for consultants, while noting that some other professionals working across seven days do not receive any such payments but are expected to work any necessary additional hours as part of professional salary arrangements.

The DDRB recommended a common definition should be applied across all NHS groups, or a rationale for not doing so should be provided. The NHSPRB recommended that this be considered as part of a wider review of AfC, including reform of incremental pay progression so that there is a much stronger link between pay and performance.

We agree with the DDRB that contractual safeguards are necessary. These formed a core part of the proposals for consultants and juniors.

Supported by good staff engagement strategies, it is the overall employment offer, not just pay, that helps the NHS to attract and keep the staff it needs.

The DDRB also said,

“We support the continuation of national CEAs, and given the separation of local CEAs (to be reformed as performance pay, or payments for excellence), that the value of national CEAs will need further consideration.”

Next steps

Given the priority placed on seven-day services by medical leaders and patient groups, I was hugely disappointed that the BMA union walked away from negotiations at such a late stage last October when proposals had been developed. The DDRB has stated that its recommendations and observations,

“provide a roadmap on what could and should be achievable in the interests of everyone with a true stake in the NHS.”

We have lost a year in which we could have been moving towards changes that are in the interests of patients, doctors and the NHS. We cannot afford any more delays.

That is why I am now asking the British Medical Association (BMA) to engage with us rapidly over the summer and to tell me, by mid-September, whether they will work with us, without delay, to introduce modernised professional contracts for engagement and for training, focused on outcomes, on the basis of the recommendations and observations in DDRB’s report.

While we remain prepared to discuss a staged approach to changes for consultants, as recommended by the DDRB, we would be seeking immediate removal of the consultant opt-out, early implementation of new terms for new consultants from April 20160—moving existing consultants across by 2017—and the introduction of a new juniors’ contract from the August 2016 intake. We will also introduce a new performance pay scheme, replacing the outdated local clinical excellence awards so that we reward those doctors who are making the greatest contribution to patient care—the DDRB recommends that these be termed “awards for achieving excellence”. I will consult on removal of the current local scheme in the autumn, alongside proposals for a reformed national clinical excellence award scheme based on the recommendations previously made by the DDRB. We will be mindful of the importance of recognising those doctors who have national leadership roles in the NHS and the substantial contribution made by clinical academics.

The case for change, in the interests of all, is made. We would prefer to agree changes in partnership, as recommended by the DDRB and acknowledging its observation of the need to build mutual trust and confidence; but we will take forward change, in the absence of a negotiated agreement.

The NHSPRB said that the areas of agreement between the parties,

“should provide a positive basis for future discussions and progress on the expansion of seven-day services.”

I welcomed the agreement of the NHS trade unions earlier in the year to enter into talks on contract reform. The NHS trade unions have already agreed to a timetable seeing change beginning to be implemented from April 2016. I am now inviting the AfC trade unions to enter into formal negotiations with NHS employers, to that timetable, to agree a balanced package of affordable proposals for reform.

These reforms need to enable trusts to recruit, retain and motivate the staff they need to deliver high-quality safe care over seven days. All trusts must make the very best use of their pay bill, making every penny work for patients. I know most trusts prefer to use national pay frameworks provided they are affordable and fit for purpose. I recognise that, if national contracts cannot be reformed, it is likely that employers will feel that they need to use the employment freedoms they already have to take contract change forward.

In addition, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has made clear in the Budget that the Government will continue to examine pay reforms and modernise the terms and conditions of public sector workers. This will include a renewed focus on reforming progression pay, and considering legislation where necessary to achieve the Government’s objectives.

I therefore want these negotiations to build on the 2013 agreement on AfC pay progression and remove virtually automatic annual incremental progression from the NHS pay system—as is also proposed for consultants and junior doctors. Pay progression must be related to performance rather than time in the job and those who make the greatest contribution should see that rewarded in the pay system.

[HCWS114]

Home Department

Disclosure and Barring

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In April 2015 the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) informed the Home Office that information in a number of files they held on behalf of the relevant Northern Ireland departments had been destroyed between 2010 and 2013. The bulk of this action was undertaken as part of routine data management procedures by the service’s predecessor organisation, the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), to ensure compliance with data protection legislation. The disposal of the information was, however, in contravention of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the ISA and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Northern Ireland and the Department of Education, Northern Ireland. The MoU was developed in preparation for the ISA taking over responsibility for barring services for Northern Ireland from March 2009, and specified that the files were on loan to the ISA and that information was not to be destroyed.

While it is extremely regrettable that these files have been destroyed I can, however, assure the House that the disposal of this information does not present a safeguarding risk to the public. Nevertheless in the interests of transparency I wanted to inform the House of this matter.

The DBS has conducted a comprehensive internal review to establish the number of files affected. In addition, the Home Office’s Permanent Secretary instructed the DBS board to commission an independent review to establish how many files had been destroyed, and their content where known. Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) were commissioned to undertake this work and a copy of their report on the first phase of the review, including the DBS’s management response, will be placed in the Library of the House today and published on www.gov.uk.

PwC’s report confirms that in total 826 case files were loaned. Four hundred and four files related to individuals who had been previously barred; and 422 files related to individuals where the decision had been not to bar. It concludes that 64 files were destroyed: 62 by the ISA; and a further two files by the DBS. It also confirmed that some information in a further 18 files had been destroyed and a further two files remained unaccounted for. In all cases where the file had been destroyed, the authorities in Northern Ireland had made a barring decision before the files were loaned. In 62 cases the individual had not been barred, and in two cases the individual had been barred. The ISA reviewed these two barred cases and decided that the two individuals should not be transferred onto the new barred lists in line with revised legislation. All cases are reviewed by the DBS if new information comes to light. In the additional 18 files where some information had been destroyed, the DBS confirmed that the information destroyed was not material to the case.

The DBS is taking further steps to identify whether they can locate the remaining two files that are unaccounted for. In both these cases the authorities in Northern Ireland had made a barring decision prior to the loan of the files and neither person was barred. In one case where the original file was unaccounted for, further information came to light and, following normal procedures, the ISA made a determination and the individual was then barred.

In her statement of 12 March 2015 the Home Secretary made it clear that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, chaired by Justice Goddard, would have the full co-operation of Government and access to all relevant information. The Home Office has informed the inquiry secretariat about this matter and the relevant Northern Ireland departments have informed the Hart Inquiry.

On announcing the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, the Home Secretary requested a moratorium on the destruction of material. Following this announcement the DBS revised its data retention policy to stipulate that information in any barring cases that identify sexual abuse should not be destroyed. Any further changes to this guidance will be approved by the Home Office. On 23 June the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse issued further guidance on the detail of what may or may not be destroyed across government and by other agencies. The DBS has assured the Home Office that the DBS will fully comply with the inquiry guidance.

The second phase of PwC’s review will look at wider file management processes and provide a view on the relevant application of, and compliance with, data retention polices. I will make a further statement to the House when PwC’s review is completed.

I also wish to announce that the 2014-15 annual report and accounts for the Disclosure and Barring Service (HC 309) is being laid before the House today and published on www.gov.uk. Copies will be available in the Vote Office.

[HCWS116]

Independent Police Complaints Commission

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I am pleased to announce that today my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and I are publishing the annual report of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) (HC 286). Copies of the report have been laid before the House and will be available in the Vote Office.

This is the 11th annual report from the IPCC, covering their work during 2014/15. In this period the, IPCC have made significant progress as they expand towards taking on all serious and sensitive cases by 2017. They have taken on more staff, restructured their operational work and have more than doubled the number of independent investigations taken on. At the same time they have eliminated their appeals backlog and closed more investigations than in any previous year. Progress continues to be made on the Hillsborough investigations and the IPCC are working towards increasing public confidence having developed their oversight and confidence strategy and responded to the Government’s consultation on police discipline and complaints.

As well as covering the police, the annual report also includes a section on the discharge of their responsibilities in respect of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

[HCWS118]

Justice and Home Affairs Council

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An informal meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council took place on 9 and 10 July in Luxembourg. I attended on the Interior day (9 July), and the UK was represented by senior officials on the Justice day (10 July). The following items were discussed.

The Interior day began with a discussion on counter terrorism, including a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the recent attacks in Tunisia and France.

Member states highlighted the serious and diverse nature of the terrorist threat and the role of social media and technology. One member state called for greater exchange of counter terrorist intelligence at EU rather than national level. Most, however, emphasised the national rather than EU nature of intelligence sharing in this area. A number of member states also called on the European Parliament to make progress on the passenger name records (PNR) directive.

I spoke of the recent cowardly attack in Tunisia, the need for member states to help that country and the importance of the EU providing funding to assist with that effort. I stressed that national security is a matter solely for member states. I also called on member states to engage with their MEPs ahead of the European Parliament vote on the PNR directive.

The meeting then received a number of presentations on cyber security and terrorism. The Commission highlighted the role of Europol and the importance of public-private partnerships. It also stressed the work it was doing at EU level to protect critical national infrastructure.

The informal Council then moved on to migration issues. The Presidency announced that member states (together with participants in the Schengen system who are not EU members) had agreed to resettle approximately 20,000 refugees from outside the EU, following the Commission’s recent recommendation.

I explained that the UK expects to resettle approximately 2,200 people in need of international protection over the next two years, and that this includes a modest expansion of our Syria vulnerable persons scheme. I emphasised that the actual number would be needs based rather than target driven, and that we would decide for ourselves how many people to resettle. The UK will not participate in any European resettlement scheme or in any EU quota system for resettlement.

Discussions then took place on implementing the June European Council’s decision to relocate 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece to other member states on a voluntary basis. These discussions will resume at a special JHA Council meeting in Brussels on 20 July. The UK will not participate in this relocation scheme.

In the migration discussions, I highlighted the need for a holistic approach to the situation which avoided creating additional pull factors. I also emphasised the UK’s support for the Europol JOT- MARE regional task force to tackle the migrant smugglers and traffickers.

Justice day began with a discussion of the draft Directive on the protection of the Union’s financial interests under criminal law (“PIF Directive”). The Presidency sought member states’ views on whether fraud affecting VAT should be included within the scope either of the Directive or of the proposed European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). This issue has led to stalemate in negotiations between the Council and European Parliament.

The overwhelming majority of member states opposed the inclusion of VAT in the scope of the PIF Directive, though some were willing to explore including it within the proposed EPPO. The UK opposed its inclusion in either measure, while making it clear that we will not participate in any EPPO.

Discussion then moved to the proposed EPPO itself. The Presidency sought member states’ views on the authorisations that should be required from national courts before the EPPO can commence cross-border investigations, and the competence of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to rule on the EPPO’s procedural acts. The majority of participating member states agreed that authorisation from the courts in one member state should be sufficient for cross-border investigations, and that the ECJ should have some limited jurisdiction over the proposed EPPO.

This was followed by discussion on the Brussels IIa Regulation on conflict of law issues in family law, where the Presidency invited member states to comment on priorities for the Commission’s forthcoming proposals. The Presidency proposed that the revision should focus on the aspects of the Regulation relating to children, and should cover the free circulation of judgments, the procedure for an effective and swift return of abducted children, and co-operation between central authorities. The Commission, the European Parliament and the fundamental rights agency highlighted the importance of this measure, particularly in the protection of vulnerable children.

While there was overwhelming support for the revision of the Regulation, including the proposed areas of focus, there was no consensus on the abolition of the process by which judgments or orders from one member state are declared enforceable in another (the exequatur procedure). It was agreed by all that the best interests of the child must be paramount in decisions on return, and member states supported better co operation between central authorities. The UK highlighted the need to respect different legal systems, and the importance of safeguards in any revision. The UK also highlighted that improvements could be made in relation to divorce proceedings. The Presidency concluded that the discussion had shown the usefulness of Brussels IIa and that the revision should provide more legal certainty, with the interests of the child at the centre.

Under any other business, the Commission set out its intentions on handling infringement proceedings in respect of EU legislation on judicial co operation in criminal matters. The Commission noted that many instruments were still not fully transposed or the information submitted by member states was incomplete. It would therefore be proactive in taking further action in the autumn, including with pilot cases for non-notification and non-compliance.

[HCWS143]

Police Remuneration

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The first report of the Police Remuneration Review Body was published today. In line with my letter setting the body’s remit, it has made recommendations on pay and allowances for police officers up to and including the rank of chief superintendent in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In addition, the first supplement to the 2015 report of the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) making recommendations on the pay of chief police officers has also been published today. I have considered the recommendations of both reports insofar as they relate to police officers in England and Wales.

I have accepted in full the recommendations of the PRRB. I have also accepted the main recommendations of the SSRB. These will be implemented with effect from 1 September 2015 as follows:

a 1% increase to base pay for all ranks.

a 1% increase to the London weighting payment.

a 1% cent increase to the dog handlers’ allowance.

The proposals are consistent with necessary pay restraint, targeting increases within a 1% average award, balanced with the need to recruit and retain the very best officers.

I wish to express my thanks to the chairman and members of both review bodies for their work on these reports. I am grateful for their observations about the longer term view of police pay and we will continue to work with both bodies and with other partners to ensure that the evidence base is as clear as possible.

The Police Remuneration Review Body report (Cm 9085) and the supplement to the Senior Salaries Review Body report (Cm 9080) have both been laid before the House and copies are available in the Vote Office. The reports are also available to view on gov.uk.

[HCWS117]

Undercover Policing

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On 12 March 2015, I made a statement to the House announcing the establishment of the statutory inquiry into undercover policing and the appointment of Lord Justice Pitchford as its Chairman. The inquiry is to be undertaken by Lord Justice Pitchford alone as Chairman. I also said that my officials would consult Pitchford LJ and those with an interest in the inquiry over the coming months on setting the terms of reference, with a view to making a further statement as soon as possible after Parliament resumes.

This has now taken place and the terms of reference for the undercover policing inquiry are:

Purpose

To inquire into and report on undercover police operations conducted by English and Welsh police forces in England and Wales since 1968 and, in particular, to:

investigate the role and the contribution made by undercover policing towards the prevention and detection of crime;

examine the motivation for, and the scope of, undercover police operations in practice and their effect upon individuals in particular and the public in general;

ascertain the state of awareness of undercover police operations of Her Majesty’s Government;

identify and assess the adequacy of the:

1. justification, authorisation, operational governance and oversight of undercover policing;

2. selection, training, management and care of undercover police officers;

identify and assess the adequacy of the statutory, policy and judicial regulation of undercover policing.

Miscarriages of justice

The inquiry’s investigations will include a review of the extent of the duty to make, during a criminal prosecution, disclosure of an undercover police operation and the scope for miscarriage of justice in the absence of proper disclosure.

The inquiry will refer to a panel, consisting of senior members of the Crown Prosecution Service and the police, the facts of any case in respect of which it concludes that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred as a result of an undercover police operation or its non disclosure. The panel will consider whether further action is required, including but not limited to, referral of the case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

Scope

The inquiry’s investigation will include, but not be limited to, whether and to what purpose, extent and effect undercover police operations have targeted political and social justice campaigners.

The inquiry’s investigation will include, but not be limited to, the undercover operations of the special demonstration squad and the National Public Order Intelligence Unit.

For the purpose of the inquiry, the term “undercover police operations” means the use by a police force of a police officer as a covert human intelligence source (CHIS) within the meaning of section 26(8) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, whether before or after the commencement of that Act. The terms “undercover police officer”, “undercover policing”, “undercover police activity” should be understood accordingly. It includes operations conducted through online media.

The inquiry will not examine undercover or covert operations conducted by any body other than an English or Welsh police force.

Method

The inquiry will examine and review all documents as the inquiry chairman shall judge appropriate.

The inquiry will receive such oral and written evidence as the inquiry chairman shall judge appropriate.

Report

The inquiry will report to the Home Secretary as soon as practicable. The report will make recommendations as to the future deployment of undercover police officers. It is anticipated that the inquiry report will be delivered up to three years after the publication of these terms of reference.

In addition, Mark Ellison QC has submitted his review “Possible miscarriages of justice: impact of undisclosed undercover police activity on the safety of convictions” (HC 291) to the Attorney General. I have today laid the report before the House and copies are available from the Vote Office and on www.gov.uk.

[HCWS115]

International Development

Annual Report and Accounts

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I have today published and laid before Parliament the Department for International Development’s Annual Report and Accounts for the year 2014-15.

The report provides information on DFID’s activities during 2014-15 in line with the International Development (Reporting and Transparency) Act 2006 and includes a full set of accounts for 2014-15. The report will be placed in the Libraries of the House of Commons and House of Lords for the reference of Members and copies will be made available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office. It is also available online at: www.gov.uk.

[HCWS130]

Development Capital

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I am pleased to announce that I have agreed with my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Greg Hands MP) to inject new capital into CDC Group plc—the UK’s development finance institution—to create jobs, boost growth and in doing so help end aid dependency across the developing world.

A new investment of £735 million over the next three years represents the first capital injection the Government have made into CDC in 20 years.

It will place CDC’s investment expertise at the vanguard of our efforts to eradicate global poverty by creating jobs, long term economic growth, better access to basic services and increased tax revenues in developing countries.

This is not only the right thing to do, it is firmly in Britain’s own economic interest as it will help build future markets for British and other businesses to compete in.

Our new investment will allow CDC to support many more businesses throughout Africa and South Asia, building on its already considerable successes. CDC’s latest annual review, published last month, showed that CDC’ backed business have helped create nearly 1.3 million direct and indirect jobs in developing countries last year, while the companies in which CDC invests in Africa and South Asia paid more than £1.5 billion in local taxes.

This investment comes at a crucial time. There remains a considerable shortfall of investment capital across the developing world, particularly in countries and sectors where there are higher levels of risk. This is stifling the potential of promising businesses and keeping countries locked into poverty. Estimates for total investment needs in developing countries range from £2.1 trillion to £2.8 trillion every year.

We know that CDC is ready to take on this challenge. The changes the Government made to CDC in the last Parliament have ensured CDC’s support is now targeted to countries and investments where it is needed most and where it can have the greatest impact. CDC will target job-creating sectors in areas where the shortage of capital is particularly acute and the investment climate is challenging.

In time, this new capital will be redeployed as successful investments deliver financial returns back to CDC to be reinvested in further promising businesses, making every pound go even further in delivering development impact.

This investment is an important element of my Department’s strategy to end aid dependency through job creation, economic growth and tax generation, and will form part of the £1.8 billion we will spend on economic development this financial year. There is clear evidence to show that economic development is the only way we can ultimately defeat poverty. Wherever long-term per capita growth is higher than three per cent, poverty falls significantly.

No single Government or donor can solve this problem. The finance needed to achieve the new sustainable development goals is estimated by the UN at approximately £1.6 trillion every year, but current investment levels are less than half of that.

The Financing for Development Conference, which concludes today in Addis Ababa, has shown global recognition of the importance of public money leveraging private investment. CDC will play an important role in making this happen.

Britain is a nation that stands tall in the world. This new investment will ensure the best of British expertise in finance, development and investment can create a more prosperous world and make a real and lasting difference to people’s lives. This is the right and the smart thing to do, as we help countries to end poverty while building markets that British businesses can benefit from in frontier and emerging markets.

[HCWS122]

Justice

Chief Coroner's Annual Report

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I am pleased to lay and publish the Chief Coroner’s second annual report to the Lord Chancellor, under section 36 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (“the 2009 Act”).

The report covers the Chief Coroner’s work in 2014 and the first half of 2015 and is his second annual summary of the operation of coroner services following the 2009 Act’s reforms which went live on 25 July 2013.

In particular the Chief Coroner’s report sets out:

His work to promote consistency in the resourcing of and practices in coroner offices across England and Wales;

The training and guidance he has facilitated for coroners and their officers, supported by stakeholder events for local authorities and bereavement support organisations;

His plans for the coming year to improve services further.

His Honour Judge Thornton QC has continued to develop the excellent work set out in his first annual report as Chief Coroner, which was published a year ago.

I am very grateful to Judge Thornton for building on his first year’s achievements so effectively. I am grateful too, to coroners and their officers and other staff, for having supported the Chief Coroner to improve services for bereaved people.

I look forward to working with the Chief Coroner in the coming year.

Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office. The document will also be available online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/chief-coroners-annual-report-2014-to-2015

[HCWS137]

Victims Code

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The previous Government updated the code of practice for victims of crime (the Victims’ Code) in 2013 to give victims clear entitlements—including the right to ask to read their personal statement to the court—and to give greater flexibility to core criminal justice agencies to tailor services according to individual need. We are investing more than ever before in services and support for victims of crime but we can, and should, do more.

We have said that we will introduce measures to further increase the rights of victims of crime and we will publish draft clauses in due course.

Before we do so, I am pleased to announce that the Government are consulting on some additional changes we plan to make to the Victims’ Code as part of our commitment to implement the EU Victims’ directive by 16 November 2015.

It is crucial that the needs of victims of crime are put first and the proposed changes will entitle more victims to receive services from a bigger number of organisations.

The first main change we propose is to broaden our definition of a victim so that victims of all criminal offences are entitled to receive support and information under the Victims’ Code. Currently, victims of offences such as careless driving and drink driving are not entitled to receive such support and we propose to close this gap.

The second main change is to extend the Victims’ Code to apply to relevant agencies outside the core criminal justice system who provide services to victims of crime. Most crimes are dealt with by the police and Crown Prosecution Service but there are other organisations with powers to investigate and prosecute. I want to make sure that the victims of crime these agencies deal with are eligible to receive services under the Victims’ Code.

The third main change will entitle victims who report a crime to the police or other competent authority to receive a written acknowledgement which states the basic elements of the criminal offence concerned.

We are also proposing to make a number of smaller amendments to the Code, mostly to clarify it in places or to reflect more accurately what happens in practice.

The consultation documents have been published today and can be found on the Ministry of Justice website at: http://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/revising-the-victims-code.

A copy of the consultation document and draft Victims’ Code have been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS141]

HM Courts and Tribunals Service

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On 23 June 2015 the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice announced his intention to work with the judiciary to reform the courts and tribunals in England and Wales. Reform will bring quicker and fairer access to justice and create a justice system that reflects the way people use services today.

Progress towards a modernised service is already being made. Wi-fi and digital screens have been introduced into many court buildings and a digital case management system for the administration of criminal cases is well under way.

This is encouraging progress, but more needs to be done. There is a broad consensus that the current system is unsustainable and that we have an opportunity to create a modern, more user-focused and efficient service.

Increased use of technology such as video, telephone and online conferencing will help drive these improvements. Straightforward, transactional matters, such as paying a fine and obtaining probate can be dealt with using digital technology to make the processes as straightforward as filing a tax return. Many straightforward cases do not need face to face hearings which should be reserved for the most sensitive or complex cases.

We can only provide better access to justice if we take difficult decisions to reduce the cost of our estate and reinvest the savings. As the Secretary of State told Parliament, this means,

“a significant number of additional courts will have to close.”—[Official Report, 23 June 2015; Vol. 597, c. 755.]

I am today announcing a consultation on the closure of 91 courts and tribunals in England and Wales. I am also announcing the integration of 31 courts and tribunals in England and Wales.

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service operates 460 courts and tribunal hearing centres across England and Wales. The estate costs taxpayers around half a billion pounds each year, and at present, it is underused. Last year over a third of all courts and tribunals were empty for more than 50% of their available hearing time.

Today’s consultation puts forward proposals that aim to reduce this surplus capacity. The buildings being consulted on represent 16% of hearing rooms across the estate which are, on average, used for only a third of their available time. That is equivalent to fewer than two out of five days in a week.

The majority of these courts are not used for at least two thirds of their available time, and one in three is not used three quarters of the time.

Attending court is rare for most people. It will still be the case that, after these changes, over 95% of citizens will be able to reach their required court within an hour by car. This represents a change of just 1 percentage point for Crown and magistrates’ courts and 2 percentage points for county courts. The proportion of citizens able to reach a tribunal within an hour by car will remain unchanged at 83%.

To ensure that access to justice is maintained, even in more rural locations, we are committed to providing alternative ways for users to access our services. That can mean using civic and other public buildings, such as town halls, for hearings instead of underused, poorly maintained permanent courts.

We are reforming the courts and tribunal service so that it meets the needs of modern day users.

As we bring in digital technology for better and more efficient access to justice, fewer people will need to physically be in a court.

This means that we will need fewer buildings, and with many already underused and in poor quality, now is a good time to review the estate.

The consultation will begin on Thursday 16 July and run for 12 weeks. A response to consultation will be published following proper consideration of all views submitted.

A copy of the consultation will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS28]

Judicial Conduct Investigations Office

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With the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice, I will today publish the second annual report of the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO). The JCIO provides support to the Lord Chief Justice and myself in our joint responsibility for the system of judicial complaints and discipline.

Over the past year the JCIO received 2432 complaints and 613 written enquiries, with 75 complaints resulting in disciplinary action. A first substantive response was provided within 15 working days in 98% of all cases and regular monthly updates given to all parties in 97% of cases.

Copies of the report are available in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. Copies of the report are also available on the internet at:

http://www.gov.uk/publications/judicialcomplaints. judiciary.htm.

[HCWS140]

Prison Communications Inquiry

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On 11 November 2014, the previous Justice Secretary made a statement about the apparent recording and monitoring of confidential communications between a prisoner and their Member of Parliament (MP). It was thought that the communications between prisoners and 32 MPs had been monitored by prison staff. Nick Hardwick, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, was therefore asked to conduct an independent investigation into this issue.

Today, the final investigation report is published. The report concludes that there is no evidence of deliberate or widespread attempts to monitor confidential communications with MPs. The monitoring which is believed to have taken place was in the main conducted in error and in ignorance of the rules. Concerns highlighted by HMCIP about failure to follow correct procedures in specific cases are being investigated by NOMS.

I wish to apologise to the House on behalf of the Ministry of Justice for the monitoring which is believed to have taken place. Prisoners and hon. Members should rightly expect these conversations to be confidential.

While I am content that the recording of these communications was done in error rather than by intent, it is unacceptable that this issue was not identified sooner. Since discovering this, we have taken urgent steps to ensure that prison officers have the correct training and processes in place to make sure this will not happen in future.

HMCIP makes 19 recommendations, which have all been accepted. These are aimed at improving levels of understanding among staff and prisoners, ensuring greater consistency in procedures across the whole prison estate, and better systems of governance so that problems are identified sooner.

Since the issue first came to light, NOMS has taken effective steps to ensure that there can be no recording of telephone calls from prisoners to their MP. This was an important first step to provide reassurance both to prisoners and MPs that their communications were confidential.

In response to this report, NOMS will now undertake further work to introduce revised policy and training for staff. NOMS will also revise the information provided to prisoners so that they better understand their responsibilities to identify phone numbers, including their MPs, which are confidential. Checks will be introduced to ensure that any human error is picked up sooner and dealt with promptly.

Recommendations to improve the prisoner telephone system are reflected in the plans for a new prisoner telephony contract, which is due to be let next year. In the meantime, NOMS will work with the current telephone provider to see if any further short terms solutions can be introduced.

NOMS meets regularly with the Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office (IOCCO), who carry out an inspection process and work will be undertaken to see if more can be done to identify errors through the inspection process.

I want to assure Members that NOMS will learn from the criticism and past mistakes to ensure that there is absolute confidence in the future that confidential communications are guaranteed.

[HCWS119]

Data Protection

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My noble Friend the Minister of State for Civil Justice, Lord Faulks QC, attended the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 16 June, where a general approach was agreed on the general data protection regulation. Notwithstanding serious concerns, the UK voted in favour of the general approach, with a view to mitigating the negative implications of the text during the subsequent trilogue discussion, and without prejudice to our decision on the final outcome of negotiations.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, provided a written ministerial statement on 23 June. This updated the House that the UK supported the general approach on the General Data Protection Regulation Council text as a basis for negotiations with the European Parliament. It is with regret that I am informing you of a scrutiny override on this dossier because the Commons Scrutiny Committee had not yet been formed when the Justice and Home Affairs Council took place.

[HCWS126]

Information Commissioner

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On Tuesday 25 November 2014 the triennial review of the Information Commissioner’s Office was announced in Parliament. The review was publicised on my Department’s website and stakeholders were invited to contribute through a call for evidence. I am grateful to all who contributed to the triennial review. I wish to inform the House that it will not be ready for publication before the recess but Ministers will write to the Select Committee when it is published. It will also be available online and placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS144]

Whiplash

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My noble Friend the Minister of State for Civil Justice has made the following written statement.

“In response to widespread concerns about the high number of whiplash claims and the impact they have on the price of motor insurance premiums, the Government have recently implemented a whiplash reform programme. A key component of these reforms was the introduction of an independent IT Portal for the sourcing of medical reports. All initial medical reports used in support of whiplash claims must be obtained through the new portal which is operated by MedCo Registration Solutions (MedCo) an independent industry led not for profit company. The new system makes sure that solicitors are no longer able to obtain a report from an organisation with whom they have a financial link, while maintaining competition between MROs in the market.

The Government committed to undertake a review once six months worth of useable data were available. However, since the Portal went live on 6 April 2015, issues relating to a number of new business practices within this sector have emerged which have the potential to undermine the Government’s policy objectives and public confidence in the MedCo Portal.

Today, therefore, I would like to confirm that the Government are bringing their planned review forward and I invite all stakeholders in the personal injury sector to participate in the public call for evidence which will form a key part of the review process. The review will specifically seek evidence on whether the MedCo IT Portal meets the Government’s objectives, and the evidence provided will be analysed to identify whether changes need to be made to the portal or to the framework of rules underpinning it in order to achieve those objectives.

The Government seek views from stakeholders across the medico-legal reporting services sector in respect of whiplash claims, including representatives from the claimant lawyer, medical and insurance sectors. A report with recommendations for action—if required—will be published in the autumn.

Copies of the Call for Evidence have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The document is also available online at: https://www.gov.uk/consult.justice.”

[HCWS139]

Prime Minister

Interception of Communications Commissioner

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I have today laid before both Houses copies of the half-yearly report from the Interception of Communications Commissioner, the right hon. Sir Anthony May, who is appointed by me to keep under review the compliance by public authorities with part 1 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000. Section 6 of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act (DRIPA) 2014 requires the Commissioner to report on a six monthly basis.

The report includes details on progress of the implementation of DRIPA, the findings of the Commissioner’s investigation into the serious communications data errors which he identified in his March 2015 report, his oversight of directions issued under section 94 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 and various issues relating to the revised acquisition and disclosure of communications data code of practice. The Commissioner finds that two police forces have acquired communications data to identify the interactions between journalists and their sources in two investigations without obtaining judicial approval, in breach of the code of practice introduced in March this year. This was a serious error. The Commissioner’s investigation into these cases is not yet complete. I look forward to receiving more information about them in the next report.

I am grateful to the Commissioner for identifying and detailing the 17 serious communications data errors and for making recommendations to reduce the chances of similar errors occurring in the future. Any error is regrettable and particularly these serious errors that the Commissioner identified. The oversight and scrutiny provided by the Commissioner plays an important role in minimising the chances of errors occurring and ensuring that appropriate steps are taken when they do.

I am also grateful to Sir Anthony and his office for producing another clear, thorough and detailed report. I hope this report will play a part in better informing the continuing debate about the role of the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies, their use of investigatory powers and their oversight. This is Sir Anthony’s last report as Commissioner. I would like to thank him for his important work over the past few years which has been exemplary.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2015-07-16/HCWS123.

[HCWS123]