Thursday 7 January 2016
Serious Fraud Office (Contingencies Fund Advance)
I would like to inform the House that a cash advance from the Contingencies Fund has been sought for the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).
In line with the current arrangement for SFO funding agreed with HM Treasury, the SFO will be submitting a reserve claim as part of the supplementary estimate process for 2015-16.
The advance is required to meet an urgent cash requirement on existing services pending parliamentary approval of the 2015-16 supplementary estimate. The supplementary estimate will seek an increase in both the resource departmental expenditure limit and the net cash requirement in order to cover the cost of significant investigations and the settlement of material liabilities.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £21,137,000 (twenty one million, one hundred and thirty seven thousand pounds) will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Serious Fraud Office. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £15,500,000 (fifteen million, five hundred thousand pounds) will be met by a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund.
The advance will be repaid upon Royal Assent of the Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill.
National Infrastructure Commission: Consultation
Today I have laid the “National Infrastructure Commission consultation document” CM 9182. The consultation will be an opportunity for the public to respond to suggestions about the governance, structure and operation of the National Infrastructure Commission. The consultation will last for 10 weeks until 17 March 2016.
On 5 October 2015, the Chancellor announced the creation of the National Infrastructure Commission to provide expert independent analysis of the long-term infrastructure needs of the country. The commission has been operating in shadow form since then. This consultation document envisages primary legislation to put the commission on a permanent footing and give it the power to access the information and analysis necessary to fulfilling its functions.
It is proposed that the commission will produce a national infrastructure assessment once in every Parliament, setting out its analysis of the UK’s infrastructure needs over a 10 to 30-year time horizon. The Government will then be obliged formally to respond to the commission’s recommendations. The commission will also examine the most pressing and significant infrastructure challenges in studies commissioned by the Government.
This consultation document proposes to set a remit for the commission which will ensure that it recommends infrastructure that is sustainable and affordable and that offers real economic benefits. The Government welcome responses to the consultation document.
Communities and Local Government
Housing and Planning Bill
I am today placing in the Library of the House the Department’s analysis on the application of Standing Order 83L in respect of the Government amendments tabled for Commons Report stage for the Housing and Planning Bill.
Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/writtenstatements
Armed Forces Pay Reform
I am today announcing the introduction of a new pay model for armed forces personnel which will provide a modern, simple and credible remuneration offer for our armed forces that attracts and retains motivated people to deliver our operational commitments.
The current pay system, introduced in 2001, was the first integrated “tri-service” pay system. While a major advance at the time, it is now seen as overly complex with significant shortcomings and inefficiencies, which have led to dissatisfaction among service personnel.
We therefore plan to reform core pay from 1 April 2016 for all armed forces regulars and reservists up to the rank of commodore, brigadier and air commodore, except specialists such as professional aviators and special forces on bespoke pay scales. The new pay model will be both simplified and fairer.
In introducing a new pay system it is important that we recognise and value the contribution of service personnel who work so hard to keep us safe both at home and abroad. This is not a cost-saving exercise, and there will be pay protection to ensure that no service personnel take a pay cut on transition to the new model. Pay reform is integral to work to modernise the overall offer to service personnel and will sit alongside initiatives such as forces Help to Buy, the tenancy deposit loan scheme, the introduction of flexible working options, and of employment support to service spouses.
Rank will continue to be the main determinant of pay and incremental progression will remain a key feature of the new system, though it will be rationalised for both officers and other ranks—up to warrant officer level.
For other ranks where we require a breadth of trades there will also be four pay supplements which will better differentiate pay across the trades, removing the illogical characteristics of the current system. It will substantially reduce the number of pay journeys from potentially 128 different journeys to just four, with an associated reduction in administrative overheads. Crucially for service personnel this will provide a pay system that will be easier to understand and allow individuals to more accurately predict their future pay.
Future Reserves 2020
I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of a letter that I have sent to Lieutenant General (Retired) Brims, the chair of the Future Reserves 2020 external scrutiny team, to update him on the programme, and particularly on the recommendations that his team’s report made. I am grateful for their work.
Disclosure and Barring Service
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report on the second and final phase of its review of the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) will be published today and will be available at: https://www.gov.uk.
The review examined DBS’s data retention policy, its application within the organisation and the teams responsible for its implementation. Its findings do not raise any safeguarding risks to children or vulnerable adults. The DBS is addressing the four recommendations proposed. It has also set out its plans within the report.
A copy of the report will be placed in the Library of the House.
Prison and Probation Inspectorate
I am pleased to announce that Peter Clarke has been appointed as Her Majesty’s chief inspector of prisons for three years, commencing 1 February 2016, and Dame Glenys Stacey has been appointed as Her Majesty’s chief inspector of probation for three years, commencing 1 March 2016.
Peter Clarke is a retired senior police officer, who served in the Metropolitan Police Service for more than 30 years. He rose to the rank of assistant commissioner and also served as head of the anti-terrorist branch and national co-ordinator of terrorist investigations. In 2014 he was appointed education commissioner for Birmingham, to conduct an inquiry into the allegations concerning Birmingham schools arising from the “Trojan Horse” letter. Peter also served on the board of the Charity Commission until January 2016.
Dame Glenys Stacey is currently the chief executive of Ofqual, the exams regulator in England. She is a solicitor by profession and has 17 years’ experience leading public sector organisations, having previously served as CEO of Standards for England, Animal Health, the Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court Committee and the Criminal Cases Review Commission. In August 2015 she announced her intention to leave Ofqual when her current term finishes at the end of February 2016.
These appointments have been made after a recruitment process for these posts which followed the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ code of practice. Both roles were advertised online and candidates were then assessed against the criteria for the posts. An independent selection panel produced a shortlist of candidates deemed appointable. As required under the rules, I then selected my preferred candidates from that shortlist. Peter Clarke and Dame Glenys Stacey appeared before the Justice Select Committee, which concluded both were appointable to the roles of HM chief inspector of prisons and HM chief inspector of probation respectively.
Both appointments are subject to security clearance.