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Written Statements

Volume 598: debated on Monday 20 July 2015

Written Statements

Monday 20 July 2015

Business, Innovation and Skills

Audit and Auditor Regulation

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Minister for Intellectual Property (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) has made the following statement.

The Government will require all public interest entities i.e. listed companies, banks, building societies and relevant insurers to put their audit out to tender at least every 10 years and change their auditor at least every 20 years. The Government also intend that public interest entities that retendered audit engagements should benefit from transitional recognition of that retender where possible.

The Government intend that the Financial Reporting Council (the FRC) should be the UK competent authority for the regulation of auditors, but that legislation will require it to delegate regulator tasks so far as is possible to recognised supervisory bodies that meet criteria set out in the legislation. Overall this would mean the FRC would only have to conduct audit inspections, investigations and disciplinary cases in relation to public interest entities, and would oversee the work of the recognised supervisory bodies for other audits.

It would still be open to a recognised supervisory body to ask the FRC to agree to undertake work that would otherwise have been delegated to the recognised supervisory bodies. As now the FRC would also have the ability to take over any particular inspection or investigation if it deemed it to be in the public interest.

To minimise the compliance cost for business the FRC and the recognised supervisory bodies will be obliged to co-operate with each other, and the legislation will provide they should all be able to rely on each other’s work.

The Government do not intend to make statutory provision for the regulation of accountants. This would be a matter for the professional bodies.

The Government will publish a more detailed consultation in the coming months building on their further consideration of the responses to the discussion document that my Department published last December.

The Government also welcome the agreement of the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to update the existing rules on Audit Committees.

[HCWS147]

Further Education

The Government’s productivity plan: “Fixing the foundations” sets out the Government’s ambition for a professional and technical education system that provides individuals with clear, high-quality routes to employment, and that supports the Government’s overall fiscal and economic objectives.

These objectives can only delivered by strong institutions, which have the high status and specialism required to deliver credible routes to employment and progression in the labour market. Providers also need to be more efficient to ensure institutional stability, and to make best use of scarce public resources.

As joint Minister for Skills for BIS and the Department for Education, I am today publishing a policy statement setting out how we will facilitate a restructuring of the post-16 education and training sector, through a series of area-based reviews of provision.

The reviews, which will focus on FE and sixth-form colleges, will be led by steering groups consisting of chairs of governors, LEPs and local authorities, FE and sixth-form college commissioners and regional schools commissioners. Under their oversight, the reviews will undertake analysis, consider options and propose solutions. Colleges remain independent institutions, and I expect governing bodies to use the process to make informed decisions on structures to support the best outcomes for learners and employers, and long-term stability.

We will actively encourage local authorities and LEPs to drive these pieces of work in partnership with the commissioners. Where combined authorities with devolution arrangements are in place we would expect them to take lead.

This approach will enable a transition towards fewer, larger, more resilient and efficient providers, and more effective collaboration across institution types. A critical aspect will be to create greater specialisation, with the establishment of institutions that are genuine centres of expertise, able to support sustained progression in professional and technical disciplines, alongside excellence in other fundamental areas—such as English and maths. This will ensure that we have the right capacity to provide good education and training for our young people across England, and will include the creation of a new network of prestigious institutes of technology, and national colleges to deliver high standard provision at levels 3, 4 and 5.

We have already piloted the area based approach in Norfolk and Suffolk and in Nottingham. I am announcing today that the first full area-based review will take place in Birmingham. The Birmingham review will have an initial focus on FE colleges in Birmingham city and Solihull, but will have scope to consider a broader geography and range of provision where relevant. We will take forward the review in partnership with individual institutions, the local authorities and the LEP.

I welcome views on this policy statement, and will issue fuller guidance on the process for reviews in the coming weeks.

The report is available online at www.gov.uk.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2015-07-20/HCWS152/

[HCWS152]

Cabinet Office

Freedom of Information

We are committed to being the most transparent Government in the world.

To deliver that goal we are opening up Government to citizens by making it easier to access information and increase the volume available, with a record 20,000 datasets now on www.data.gov.uk , while protecting a private space for frank advice. We are strengthening accountability and making public services work better for people. The World Wide Web Foundation’s open data barometer and Open Knowledge’s global open data index ranked the UK as the world’s leading country on open Government.

We are proud of these achievements and are committed to going further. Our next open Government national action plan will develop an offer on transparency that further strengthens this Government’s commitment to open Government.

Our aim is to be as open as possible on the substance, consistent with ensuring that a private space is protected for frank advice. To that end as a Government we must maintain the best environment for policy makers to think freely and offer frank advice to decision-makers. The most effective system is when policy makers can freely give advice, while citizens can shine a light into Government.

We fully support the Freedom of Information Act but after more than a decade in operation it is time that the process is reviewed, to make sure it is working effectively. The Government have therefore today established an independent, cross-party Commission on Freedom of Information. The commission’s terms of reference are as follows:

“The Commission will review the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (‘the Act’) to consider whether there is an appropriate public interest balance between transparency, accountability and the need for sensitive information to have robust protection, and whether the operation of the Act adequately recognises the need for a “safe space” for policy development and implementation and frank advice. The Commission may also consider the balance between the need to maintain public access to information, and the burden of the Act on public authorities, and whether change is needed to moderate that while maintaining public access to information.”

The commission will be chaired by Lord Burns, and will comprise the right hon. Jack Straw, Lord Howard of Lympne, Lord Carlile of Berriew and Dame Patricia Hodgson.

The commission will report to the Minister for the Cabinet Office and will publish its findings by the end of November.

The Prime Minister has also confirmed that policy responsibility for freedom of information policy will transfer from the Ministry of Justice to the Cabinet Office. This change will be effective from 17 July 2015.

[HCWS153]

Treasury

Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Act 2012: Annual Report

The annual report to Parliament under the Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Act 2012 for the period 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015 has today been laid before Parliament.

The report is prepared in line with the requirements set out in the Infrastructure (Financial Assistance) Act 2012 that the Government report annually to Parliament on the financial assistance given under the Act.

Copies are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

[HCWS154]

ECOFIN

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council was held in Brussels on 14 July 2015. Ministers discussed the following items:

Current Legislative Proposals

The presidency informed delegations about the state of play of current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

Presentation of the work programme of the Luxembourg presidency

The Luxembourg presidency presented its six-month work programme in the ECOFIN area.

Five Presidents Report: Completing Europes Economic and Monetary Union

The Commission presented the Five Presidents’ report on the plan for completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union. There was an exchange of views on short term measures.

[HCWS155]

Counter-Terrorism Asset Freezing

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 seventeenth report under the Act and it covers the period from 1 April 2015 to 30 June 2015. This report also covers the UK implementation of the UN al-Qaeda 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-Qaeda 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 30 June 2015:

TAFA 2010

EU Reg (EC) 2580/2001

Al-Qaeda regime UNSCR1989

Assets frozen (as at 30/06/2015)

£39,000

£11,0001

£53,0002

Number of accounts frozen in UK (at 30/06/15)

49

10

21

New accounts frozen (during Q2 2015)

11

0

0

Accounts unfrozen (during Q2 2015)

3

0

4

Total number of designations (at 30/06/15)

30

33

304

(i) New designations (during Q2 2015, including confidential designations)

0

0

3

(ii) Number of designations that were confidential (during Q2 2015)

0

n/a

n/a

(iii) Delistings (during Q2 2015)

1

0

7

(iv) Individuals in custody in UK (at 30/06/2015)

3

0

0

(v) Individuals in UK, not in custody (at 30/06/2015)

1

0

3

(vi) Individuals overseas (at 30/06/2015)

19

10

230

(vii) Groups

7

23 (1 in UK)

71

Individuals by nationality

(i) UK Nationals3

(ii) Non UK Nationals

9

14

n/a

n/a

Renewal of designation (during Q2 2015)

2

n/a

n/a

General Licences

(i) Issued in Q2

(ii) Amended

(iii) Revoked

(i) 0

(ii) 0

(iii) 0

Specific Licences

(i) Issued in Q2

(ii) Amended

(iii) Expired

(iv) Revoked/Redundant

(v) Refused

6

0

1

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

Legal Proceedings

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

The appeal 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, where MF’s appeal was dismissed.

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

Two individuals designated under TAFA 2010 lodged appeals against their designations on 27 May 2015.

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. Ali Gholam SHAKURI

22. Qasem SOLEIMANI

23. A (restricted designation)

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 SHAHLAI*

9. Ali 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-Islamiyya (a.k.a. Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya) (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)

1 This does not duplicate funds frozen under TAFA.

2 This 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 30/06/2015. Additionally the figures reflect an updating of balances of accounts for certain individuals during the quarter, depleted through licensed activity.

3 Based 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

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

* EU listing rests on UK designation under TAFA 2010

[HCWS156]

Defence

UK Embedded Forces

UK Armed Forces regularly have embeds in the forces of our close partners. Embedded UK personnel operate as if they were the host nation’s personnel, under that nation’s chain of command, but remain subject to UK domestic, international and host nation law. Our partners likewise have personnel operating under UK command.

Embeds allow the UK military personnel to gain direct experience of key capabilities and equipment; make a positive contribution to our defence relationship with our closest allies; and can directly contribute to enhancing the UK’s military capability. Embeds aboard the US carriers have ranged from aircraft handlers to pilots; they have been crucial to developing our own Queen Elizabeth class carriers, and the handling of F35B aircraft.

UK personnel have embedded with other nations’ air forces since the 1950s. In recent years, UK personnel embedded with US air forces have participated in operations in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, and with the French and Dutch in Mali. The UK currently has over 250 exchange personnel in the armed forces of allies including the US, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Germany.

Ministerial approval is required for UK embeds deployed with allied forces on operations. Since the international coalition commenced military operations against ISIL last year, up to 80 UK personnel have been embedded with US, Canadian and French forces. They have undertaken a range of roles including planning, training and flying and supporting combat and surveillance missions. A small number of embedded UK pilots have carried out airstrikes in Syria against ISIL targets: none are currently involved in airstrikes.

The convention that before troops are committed to military operations the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter, except in the event of an emergency, applies to the deployment of UK forces. UK personnel embedded within other nations’ armed forces operate as members of that military.

[HCWS149]

Energy and Climate Change

Implementing Geological Disposal: Annual Report

I am pleased to announce today the publication of the fifth annual report of the Government’s Implementing Geological Disposal programme. The programme is focused on implementing the geological disposal of higher activity radioactive waste.

The UK Government remain firmly committed to geological disposal as the right policy for the long-term safe and secure management of higher-activity radioactive waste, and continue to favour a voluntarist approach based on working with communities that are willing to participate in the siting process.

The publication of the Implementing Geological Disposal White Paper in July 2014 set out the policy framework for the future implementation of geological disposal in the UK. Government have been progressing the ‘Initial Actions’ set out in the White Paper, and formal discussions between interested communities and the developer will not begin until the ‘Initial Actions’ have been completed.

The fifth annual report can be found at: http://www. gov.uk/decc. I have also written to the Chairs of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee and the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, and I have made available copies in the Libraries of the House.

[HCWS148]

Health

Cap on Care Costs

My noble Friend Lord Prior of Brampton has made the following written ministerial statement.

In 2010 the previous Government asked Sir Andrew Dilnot to lead the Commission on Funding of Care and Support to make recommendations on how to achieve an affordable and sustainable funding system for care and support for all adults in England. The commission recommended the creation of a cap system to protect people from the risk of very high care costs. This recommendation was accepted and plans put in place to implement from April 2016.

This Government still accept that recommendation and remain firmly committed to delivering this historic change. However, the proposals to cap care costs and create a supporting private insurance market were expected to add £6 billion to public sector spending over the next five years. A time of consolidation is not the right moment to be implementing expensive new commitments such as this, especially when there are no indications the private insurance market will develop as expected. Therefore in light of genuine concerns raised by stakeholders, we have taken the difficult decision to delay the introduction of the cap on care costs system until April 2020.

This is not a decision that has been taken lightly. A letter from the Local Government Association, dated 1 July, was clear that we need to think carefully about all the options, including postponing new initiatives. I am attaching a copy of this letter and a response from the Minister of State for care services. This is therefore what we will do and further announcements will follow in due course. Furthermore, we will continue with other efforts to support social care, in particular through the better care fund, which will drive the integration of social care and the NHS going forward.

We have an ageing population, which is something to be celebrated, but it inevitably means there are more people who will need care and support and we must ensure that the system can respond. This is an issue that had been ignored by successive Governments for far too long and I remain proud that we are taking on this thorny issue and setting out clear plans to address it.

Vital steps have already been taken to improve the care and support landscape. The first phase of the care and support reforms enshrined in the Care Act came into force in April this year, introducing the biggest reforms to care and support in over 65 years. For the first time ever, we have a single, modern legal framework for care and support that places the person and their health and wellbeing at its heart. There are now national eligibility criteria for care and support across England. Carers now have the right to support to meet their needs. And deferred payment agreements are available across England ensuring that people should not be forced to sell their home in order to pay for their care in their lifetime.

The introduction of the cap on care costs system will be the biggest reform to how care is paid for since 1948 and we must ensure that the new system works from day one. Local authorities and partners have consistently warned us of the risks of implementing this too quickly. We will therefore not be complacent, but work hard to use this additional time to ensure that everyone is ready to introduce the new system and that people can understand what it will mean for them. This includes taking the time to take stock on some of the other elements of the care and support reforms that are intended to support the cap system.

I am able to confirm that we will delay the full introduction of the duty under section 18(3) of the Care Act on local authorities to meet the eligible needs of self-funders in care homes to April 2020 to allow more time to be taken to consider the potential impact on the market and the interaction with the cap on care costs system. I can also confirm that the proposed appeals system for care and support will now be considered as part of the wider spending review. Further announcements will follow in due course.

We will also look at what more we can do to support people with the costs of care. The new pension flexibilities introduced in April create a real opportunity for us to continue to work with the financial sector to look at what other products may be created to help people meet the costs of care, creating even more choice and enabling people to better plan and prepare for later life. To this end I will be holding an urgent meeting with representatives from the insurance industry along with HM Treasury and other Government Ministers to work through what this announcement means for them and how Government can help them to bring forward new products. These discussions will continue over the summer.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2015-07-20/HCWS145/ .

[HCWS145]

Infected Blood

My noble Friend Lord Prior of Brampton has made the following written ministerial statement.

Before 1991, thousands of patients contracted HIV, hepatitis C, or both viruses, from treatment with NHS-supplied blood or blood products. This is aptly described by many as one of the great tragedies of modern health care and on the 25 March 2015 the Prime Minister apologised on behalf of the Government to all those that were infected. I would like to start by repeating this sentiment and state, on behalf of this Government, how sorry we are for what happened and for the distress caused to those affected and their families.

In March, Lord Penrose published the report of his public inquiry into infections acquired in Scotland. As infection occurred before devolution, this is of relevance for the Westminster Government. Lord Penrose scrutinised events over a period of nearly 18 years between 1974-91. The report, together with over 5,000 documents from the period 1970-85 which have already been published by Government, provides a comprehensive picture of events and decisions made. We have also committed to releasing all additional documents from 1986-95 late this summer.

Lord Penrose made one recommendation: to take all reasonable steps to offer a hepatitis C test to everyone (in Scotland) who had a blood transfusion before September 1991 and who has not been tested for hepatitis C. In England, guidance to GPs has been issued over the years by the Department of Health, the NHS, and other health organisations which recommend that a hepatitis C test should be offered to patients who received a blood transfusion in the UK before 1991 or were treated with blood products before 1986. This can currently be found on the NHS Choices website. In light of Lord Penrose’s recommendation, the Department will be acting to ensure that GPs are reminded of this duty.

The terms of reference of the Penrose inquiry did not include financial support for those affected. However for some time we have been listening to the many concerns about the existing arrangements and have been considering how we might improve that support. Concerns have been raised by individuals that have been affected, MPs, and the all party parliamentary group (APPG) on haemophilia and contaminated blood, and include: the complex nature of the organisations, and the criteria for, and charitable nature of, some payments. I would therefore like to briefly acknowledge the work of all the MPs who have raised the profile of this tragedy. Most significantly, however, I would like to recognise the work of affected individuals, and their representatives, who have tirelessly campaigned for many years.

On 25 March the Prime Minister also announced that £25 million would be allocated to ease transition to a reformed system of support for affected individuals. While no decisions have yet been made on how this money will be spent, I must emphasise that the money will not be used for administrative costs, but will be used appropriately to support any transitional arrangements once we have consulted on how a new scheme might be structured.

Transition to a reformed scheme remains a priority for this Government. Decisions on the overall DOH budget from 2016-17 onwards will be determined as part of the forthcoming spending review.

While I understand that beneficiaries to the current schemes may be frustrated by this wait, this is an extremely complex and sensitive area and any reform plans must be carefully considered before a consultation can be launched.

[HCWS146]

Home Department

National Crime Agency Remuneration Review Body

The second report of the National Crime Agency (NCA) 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 NCA officers designated with operational powers. I wish to express my thanks to the chairman and members of the review body for their careful consideration of the evidence.

Following an independent review of the evidence supplied by the NCA, the Home Office, Her Majesty’s Treasury and the relevant trade unions, the NCA Remuneration Review Body has recommended various pay increases with an average annual award increase of approximately 1%. This is in line with the Government’s policy that public sector annual awards should average up to 1% for 2015-16. I accept these recommendations in full.

Copies of the NCA Remuneration Review Body’s second report are available in the Vote Office and on www.gov.uk.

[HCWS151]

Visa Requirements for Tier 1

I am announcing today that from 1 September 2015, individuals who are applying for entry clearance as an entrepreneur or an investor under the tier 1 category will be required to provide a criminal record certificate from any country in which they have lived for 12 months or more in the previous 10 years.

Under the previous Government we changed the immigration rules to introduce a requirement to provide an overseas criminal record certificate where that is required. We will introduce this requirement in a controlled way and learn the lessons from implementation as we roll out the requirement to other categories of migrant.

[HCWS150]