Skip to main content

Written Statements

Volume 608: debated on Thursday 21 April 2016

Written Statements

Thursday 21 April 2016

Cabinet Office

Police and Crime Commissioner Elections: Indemnity for Returning Officers

I have laid a minute setting out the Cabinet Office’s proposal to indemnify returning officers for the police and crime commissioner elections on 5 May 2016 against uninsured claims that arise out of the conduct of their duties. We will also provide a certificate confirming that we will bear any employee liabilities of the returning officer which would otherwise be covered by insurance procured under the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969. An indemnity was previously provided by the Home Office to returning officers for the 2012 police and crime commissioner elections and the Cabinet Office regularly provides indemnities for UK parliamentary and European parliamentary elections. HM Treasury has approved the indemnity in principle.

It is normal practice, when a Government Department proposes to undertake a contingent liability in excess of £300,000 for which there is no specific statutory authority, for the Department concerned to present to Parliament a minute giving particulars of the liability created and explaining the circumstances; and to refrain from incurring the liability until 14 parliamentary sitting days after the issue of the minute, except in cases of special urgency.

Cabinet Office officials have been in discussion with HM Treasury officials and lawyers on the scope of indemnities of this kind and to ensure consistency between indemnities provided in respect of these and other polls. Thus it has not been possible to lay this minute before now. As a consequence, there is now a special urgency as the elections will take place shortly.

[HCWS685]

Defence

Atomic Weapons Establishment Contract

I am announcing the successful completion of a review of the Department’s contract with one of its key suppliers, AWE Management Ltd (AWEML), a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Inc., Jacobs Inc. and Serco. The contract is for the management and operation of the AWE sites at Aldermaston, Burghfield and Blacknest.

As with all major commercial programmes, this contract is kept under regular review to ensure it continues to meet the Ministry of Defence’s requirements in terms of performance, affordability and value for money. As a result of the review, the contract with AWEML has been improved. It provides the opportunity for higher performance incentives, as well as reductions if targets are not met. The duration of the contract is unchanged, running through to 2025. It will also now be a qualifying defence contract under the terms of the Defence Reform Act 2014 and single source procurement framework.

The core commitment in the AWE management and operation contract remains extant—to provide and maintain the nuclear warhead stockpile for the UK’s nuclear deterrent, efficiently and effectively without compromising safety or security, for as long as the Government require.

[HCWS689]

Armed Forces Pay Review Body Report: Government Response

The supplement to the 2016 report of the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body (AFPRB) making recommendations on the pay of service medical and dental officers has been published today. I wish to express my thanks to the chairman and members of the review body for their report. The AFPRB’s recommendations are to be accepted in full with implementation effective from 1 April 2016. Copies of the AFPRB supplementary report are available in the Vote Office.

[HCWS692]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Human Rights and Democracy Report

I have today laid before Parliament a copy of the 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office Report on Human Rights and Democracy (CM 9245).

The report focuses on significant human rights country and policy developments overseas in 2015. It sets out how the Government’s three human rights themes (democratic values and the rule of law; strengthening the rules-based international system; and human rights for a stable world) operate in practice, and includes reports on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s 30 human rights priority countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burma, Burundi, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Libya, Maldives, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

We have also published today the July-December 2015 updates on our previous 27 priority countries online: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/human- rights-and-democracy-report-2015/human-rights-and-democracy-report-2015.

The full report can be read at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/human-rights-and-democracy-report-2015.

[HCWS684]

Home Department

Action Plan: Anti-money Laundering and Counter-terrorism Finance

Today, the Government are publishing an action plan that sets out the steps that the UK will take to strengthen their response to money laundering and terrorist financing, and to protect the safety of its citizens and the integrity of the UK financial system. Copies will be available on www.gov.uk and in the Library of the House.

This action plan will tackle all forms of money laundering, with a particular focus on the illicit funds supporting and generating serious and organised crime, which deprives people of their security and prosperity; terrorism, which poses a direct and immediate threat to our domestic security and overseas interests; and the laundering of the proceeds of overseas corruption into or through the UK, which fuels political instability in the source countries.

This Government have already taken significant action to tackle these damaging crimes and to improve the reputation of the UK, including of our financial and professional services industries. The National Risk Assessment on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (NRA), published in October 2015, was candid and robust in its assessment and set out our current understanding of the risks to the UK and the gaps in our response. The action plan addresses the gaps identified.

The Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption summit next month will galvanise the international response to issues including corporate secrecy, Government transparency, the enforcement of international anti-corruption laws, and the strengthening of international institutions.

This action plan sets out changes that amount to the most significant reform to our anti-money laundering regime for over a decade, since the commencement of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

We will:

Enhance the law enforcement response

Consult on tough new powers to tackle money laundering, including unexplained wealth orders (UWO) to require those who are suspected of money laundering to explain the sources of their wealth; the provision of a linked forfeiture power for use where the answers provided are unsatisfactory, or where the subject of the UWO fails to respond; the provision of a power to designate the highest risk entities and require additional regulatory measures to be carried out on them by the regulated sector; and the closing of loopholes that can be exploited by terrorists to raise and move funds.

Deliver new capabilities and support to take on the most sophisticated ‘high-end’ money laundering cases, and to ensure that operational partners have, and are able to use, an appropriate and effective suite of tools to counter terrorist finance.

The Government have already established a cross-agency taskforce, recently announced by the Prime Minister, to investigate all evidence of illegality that may emerge from the data relating to Mossack Fonseca, the law firm based in Panama.

Improve the effectiveness of the supervisory regime

Undertake a wide-ranging review of the supervisory regime to develop radical options for reform aimed at ensuring we have an effective and proportionate system. Engagement has already begun with stakeholders and the public call for information is included within the action plan.

Increase our international reach

Promote more effective information sharing across international boundaries.

Place new NCA International Liaison Officer posts in selected jurisdictions.

Training will be delivered to, and expertise shared with, key overseas partners to combat terrorist finance.

Work with international partners to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing threats upstream, and develop multilateral approaches in preparation for the Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption summit in May 2016.

Develop a stronger partnership with the private sector

Radically reform the suspicious activity reports (SARs) regime (the statutory regime under which persons in the regulated sector must report suspicions of money laundering or terrorist financing to the National Crime Agency), make better use of public and private sector resources against the highest threats, target the entities who carry out money laundering instead of individual transactions, and provide the National Crime Agency with a suite of new powers, including one to oblige SARs reporters to provide additional information when requested.

Make the Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (JMLIT) a permanent feature of the UK’s anti-money laundering regime, which brings together the financial sector, law enforcement agencies and the Financial Conduct Authority to share information to prevent, detect and disrupt money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

Consult on proposed new powers to provide the financial sector with ‘safe harbour’ for the sharing of information on financial crime.

The reforms to our domestic anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regime set out in the action plan, coupled with the international leadership being shown by the UK through the Prime Minister’s Anti-Corruption summit, will lead to greater disruption of money laundering and terrorist financing activities, the prosecution of those responsible and increased recovery of the proceeds of crime, and a greater protection of the UK financial system.

[HCWS686]

Section 40 (4a) of the British Nationality Act 1981

David Anderson QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, has completed the first review on the operation of section 40(4A) of the British Nationality Act 1981. His report will be laid before the House today.

I am grateful to David Anderson for his considered report. He continues to provide important independent scrutiny of UK counter-terrorism legislation.

The report makes no recommendations, but sets out the evolution of the power under review and provides observations on the power, and on deprivation more broadly. The Government’s positions on the issues raised in the report are a matter of public record.

The report provides the basis for future reviews which may have the opportunity to consider examples of the operation of the power which, as was intended, is only likely to be used in a small subset of the most serious cases..

The next report is required to be produced and laid before the House after 28 July 2019.

[HCWS695]

Refugees and Resettlement

Following my statement on 28 January, the Government have continued to work to provide support to refugee children. We have always been clear that in order to provide the best help to the greatest number of those in need, we need to support the majority of refugees to stay safely in their home region.

That is why we recently doubled our aid for the Syrian crisis to £2.3 billion, our largest ever response to a single humanitarian crisis. This support has reached hundreds of thousands of people in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt. To galvanise international efforts we co-hosted the “Supporting Syria and the Region” conference in London on 4 February, securing pledges of more than $11 billion, the largest amount ever raised in one day for a humanitarian crisis. These commitments will create an estimated 1.1 million jobs for refugees and host country citizens by 2018. By the end of the 2016-17 school year, 1.7 million refugee and vulnerable children will be in quality education with equal access for girls and boys.

Today I am able to announce the results of work with UNHCR and informed by a roundtable with NGOs, local authorities and devolved administrations to provide a resettlement route to the UK, specifically designed for “Children at Risk” from the middle east and north Africa region. On the UNHCR’s recommendation the scheme will not target unaccompanied children alone, but will be extended to all “Children at Risk” as defined by the UNHCR. This broad category encompasses unaccompanied children and separated children—those separated from their parents and/or other family members—as well as other vulnerable children such as child carers and those facing the risk of child labour, child marriage or other forms of neglect, abuse or exploitation.

Through this category we will resettle the most vulnerable children, accompanied by their families, where the UNHCR deems resettlement is in the best interests of the child. We will commit to resettling several hundred individuals in the first year with a view to resettling up to 3,000 individuals over the lifetime of this Parliament, the majority of whom will be children. We will also review the scheme at the two-year mark. This unique initiative will be the largest resettlement effort that focuses on children at risk from the MENA region and will be over and above the commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees under the Syrian resettlement scheme. It will be open to all at risk groups and nationalities within the region, with the best interests of the child at the heart of the scheme. The UNHCR is fully supportive of the launch of this new initiative and the UK’s commitment to assist vulnerable refugee children at risk through further resettlement efforts which uphold the principles of child protection.

The Government are committed to making a full contribution to the global refugee crisis, in particular by helping children at risk. We firmly believe that we can make the biggest difference and add most value by supporting children and their families in the conflict region while providing a route to the UK for the minority of vulnerable or at risk cases where resettlement is judged by the UNHCR to be in the child’s best interests.

At the same time we need to shut down the illegal migration routes to Europe, exploited by human traffickers who encourage people to risk their lives to make perilous journeys. The success of the EU-Turkey migration agreement is a vital opportunity to end the misery and lethal risk that smugglers and organised criminals are causing on a daily basis.

Following discussion with the European Commission and the Greek Government I can today announce that the UK will be offering 75 expert personnel to help with processing and administration of migrants in reception centres, act as interpreters, provide medical support and bolster our existing team assisting the Commission to ensure effective and efficient co-ordination. We will also provide vital equipment and medical supplies. This is in addition to the UK maritime contribution, with three Border Force vessels assisting the Hellenic Coastguard to conduct search and rescue missions, and a Royal Navy vessel as part of the NATO mission in the Aegean.

The teams we send to Greece will include experts in supporting vulnerable groups, such as unaccompanied children and those trained to tackle people trafficking. This will help ensure that vulnerable people, including children, are identified and can access asylum procedures as quickly as possible. This is in addition to the work undertaken by the Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, to visit hotspots and assess what more can be done to ensure unaccompanied children are protected from traffickers.

To increase support to refugees in Turkey the Government are contributing £250 million to the initial €3 billion Turkey refugee facility. This is expected to provide immediate humanitarian support as well as funding for schools, hospitals and housing. We are also working with the Turkish Government to identify what expert support would best assist their immigration and asylum services in handling migrants returned under the EU-Turkey agreement.

We continue to take action within Europe to assist vulnerable migrant children. The UK is the largest bilateral contributor to the humanitarian response to the crisis in Europe and the Balkans with a total contribution of £65 million. This includes nearly £46 million to provide life-saving aid to migrants and refugees including food, water, hygiene kits and infant packs, and protection for the most vulnerable, as well as support to organisations helping Governments build their capacity to manage arrivals in Greece and the Balkans. The efforts of the partners we fund are targeted to reach the most vulnerable—including children.

It also includes the £10 million refugee children fund the Department for International Development (DFID) has created to support the needs of vulnerable refugee and migrant children specifically in Europe. The fund will support three specialist and mandated organisations UNHCR, Save the Children and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to work with host authorities to care for and assist unaccompanied or separated children in Europe and the Balkans. This includes identifying vulnerable children, providing for their immediate support, referral to specialist care, and helping find solutions such as family reunification.

It is important to use the tools available to help children reunite with family wherever possible. The Government are committed to meeting our obligations under the Dublin regulation. We have seconded additional resource into the European Asylum Support Office totalling over 1,000 days of expert support to Italy and Greece to implement and streamline the Dublin process, including to quickly identify children who qualify for family reunion. And we continue to work with the French authorities to address the situation in Calais, including through a permanent bilateral standing committee to improve co-operation on Dublin transfers, particularly family reunion.

The recent secondment of a senior asylum expert to the French Interior Ministry to improve the process for family cases has already resulted in a significant increase in the number of children being reunited with family in the UK. In the last six weeks 24 cases have been accepted for transfer to the UK from France under family unity provisions, more than half of whom have already arrived in the UK. Once an asylum claim has been lodged in another member state we have demonstrated that transfers can take place within weeks.

We will do all we can to ensure that children in Europe with a right to be reunited with their family in the UK are supported to do so. However, the Government remain of the view that relocation schemes within Europe risk creating unintended consequences or perverse incentives for people to put their lives into the hands of traffickers. Instead we are committed to providing safe and legal routes for the most vulnerable refugees from Syria to resettle to the UK. Under the Syrian vulnerable persons resettlement scheme we are committed to resettling 20,000 vulnerable refugees by 2020. In the last quarter of 2015 we resettled 1,085 Syrian refugees under this scheme over half of whom were children.

[HCWS687]

Justice

Civil Legal Aid

On 18 February the Court of Appeal handed down judgment on an appeal in a judicial review challenge to the domestic violence evidence requirements under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). I would now like to inform the House of the steps the Government are taking to respond to the Court’s concerns.

Legal aid is a fundamental part of our justice system, but resources are not limitless. Our overriding approach to legal aid reform is to reduce the burden on the taxpayer of paying for legal aid, while ensuring that it is targeted at the highest priorities. In line with this approach, LASPO removed legal aid from most private family matters while making a clear exception for victims of domestic violence. In such cases, the applicant is required to supply specific evidence of domestic violence, which is set out in regulations.

In this judicial review, the Court of Appeal found that the regulations frustrated LASPO’s purpose in two specific areas. First, in that they required evidence to have been obtained within a two-year period before the application for legal aid. Secondly, because they lacked provision for victims of financial abuse.

We continue to believe that victims of domestic violence in private family disputes should receive legal aid where evidence is provided, and the Court of Appeal has agreed that the Lord Chancellor has the power to make arrangements in regulations to allow this. But there are areas where we need further information—for example, the number of individuals who have evidence over two years old. We also need to more fully appreciate the issues in play in cases of financial abuse, on which there is only limited research available.

We have begun work with domestic violence support groups, legal representative bodies and colleagues across Government to gather data and develop our understanding of these issues. Our findings will be used to inform an evidence-based solution to the Court’s concerns, with the aim of drawing up replacement regulations.

In the meantime we are taking immediate action, through interim regulations laid before Parliament today, to change our arrangements. We are more than doubling the original time limit for evidence—increasing it from two to five years, and we are introducing a provision for the assessment of evidence concerning financial abuse. We are expediting implementation of these changes so they will come into effect on Monday 25 April in order to make sure that victims of domestic violence can receive the support they need as soon as possible, and to give certainty to those considering applications for legal aid. We believe that these arrangements address the Court’s concerns while work continues to find a sustainable longer-term solution.

[HCWS690]

Inquests on Deaths of Service Personnel Overseas

My hon. Friend, the Minister for Defence Personnel and Veterans, and I wish to make the last in our series of quarterly joint statements on the progress of coroner investigations into the deaths of UK service personnel who have died on active service overseas. As in all of our statements, we wish to express our continuing gratitude to all those members of the armed forces who have served or are now serving overseas for their bravery, professionalism, and commitment to service. Our thoughts are especially with the families and loved ones of those who have given their lives in this service.

This statement provides information on the inquests conducted by the Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Swindon, and other coroner areas in England and Wales as at 13 April 2016.

Additional, supplemental, tables have also been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, which give the status and details of all current and previous cases, including whether there has been or will be a service inquiry (formerly known as a Board of Inquiry).

The Ministry of Defence’s Defence Inquests Unit continues to work with coroners (including the cadre of coroners specially trained to conduct investigations and inquests into the deaths of service personnel), with the aim of ensuring that investigations are thorough and that inquests are timely and effective. Under section 12 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 investigations may now be held in Scotland, where appropriate.

Since 2007 our two Departments have provided funding for the additional resources required by the Oxfordshire and Wiltshire and Swindon coroner services, as service personnel who have lost their lives overseas have been repatriated to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire and RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. Coroners have thus been able to conduct investigations into these deaths as well as their local caseload.

We are sincerely grateful to all to those who support and assist bereaved families during this process, particularly coroners and their staff who unfailingly conduct their investigations with families at their heart, and the Chief Coroner who continues to provide leadership and oversight of coroner services.

Current status of inquests

Since our previous statement on 10 September last year, the inquests into the deaths of the five servicemen who died in the Lynx helicopter crash on 26 April 2014 have been held by the Oxfordshire Coroner. A total of 629 inquests have therefore now been held into the deaths of service personnel on active service in Iraq or Afghanistan, or who have died in the UK from injuries sustained while on active service. There are three cases where the death of an injured serviceman did not lead to a formal inquest, although two of these were taken into consideration at inquests into other deaths that occurred in the same incidents. The third death was of a serviceman in Scotland who made a partial recovery but later died from his injuries, and a fatal accident inquiry was not held.

Coroners’ investigations which remain open

As at 13 April 2016, there remain only two open coroner investigations into the deaths of service personnel in Afghanistan. The first relates to the death of Lance Corporal James Brynin on 13 October 2013. The Senior Coroner for West Sussex opened the inquest on 10 March 2016, and subsequently adjourned the hearing pending a police investigation into the death. The Coroner hopes to reconvene the hearing in September this year. The second is that of the death of Sapper Adam Moralee on 5 March 2014. This death is currently subject to a police investigation, and it is not known when this investigation and any subsequent action may be concluded.

An investigation is also open into the death of Private Jamie Sawyer who died while serving on the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus. The Senior Coroner for Birmingham is currently responsible for the investigation of the death, which is on hold while a prosecution takes place in Cyprus.

With the exception of the two inquests mentioned above, which are not expected to be completed for some time, all operational inquests relating to Iraq and Afghanistan have now been completed, and this will therefore be the last of our series of statements on this topic. Our sympathy and condolences go out to the families and friends of Lance Corporal Brynin and Sapper Moralee, and we mean no disrespect to their memory in taking the decision not to provide further updates.

Table detailing inquests into service deaths (WMS tables (updated) April 2016.docx) can be viewed online at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-04-21/HCWS688.

[HCWS688]

Tribunals

The Government have today published a consultation paper proposing new fees for proceedings in the first-tier tribunal (immigration and asylum chamber) and upper tribunal (immigration and asylum chamber).

In the spending review the Government announced that we were investing £700 million in Her Majesty’s Court and Tribunal Service (HMCTS). This will transform our courts and tribunals, reducing complexity in language, processes and systems; helping people reach the best resolution for them; minimising the steps that people need to go through to obtain justice; and improving access to justice. We will invest in better facilities and use technology to reduce paperwork, so that we create a courts and tribunals service fit for the modern age.

At the same time, we must reduce the burden on the taxpayer of running our courts and tribunals. In meeting our spending review settlement, all parts of the Ministry of Justice must contribute to the national effort to reduce the deficit and restore the Government’s finances to surplus. The courts and tribunals service cost £1.8 billion in 2014-15, but only £700 million was received in income. This leaves a net cost to the taxpayer of around £1.1 billion in one year alone.

Our consultation proposes increasing fees in those immigration and asylum proceedings where a fee is payable so that the fee meets the costs of those proceedings in full. We have previously consulted on plans to raise fees for proceedings in the first-tier tribunal (immigration and asylum chamber) in order to recover around 25% of the £84 million annual costs of that chamber. Having re-assessed the Ministry of Justice’s financial position following the spending review, we need to go much further.

In the light of the challenging financial circumstances we face we have already had to take difficult decisions. We have implemented enhanced court fees, above the cost of the proceedings to which they relate, for money claims; possession claims; general applications within civil proceedings; and divorce petitions.

In these financial circumstances, we have concluded that it is no longer reasonable to expect the taxpayer to fund around 75% of the costs of immigration and asylum proceedings. We therefore propose increasing fees in the first-tier tribunal from £80 to £490 for an application for a decision on the papers and from £140 to £800 for an application for an oral hearing. We also propose introducing a new fee of £455 for an application to the first-tier tribunal for permission to appeal to the upper tribunal.

We also believe that the same principles should apply to appeals to the upper tribunal (immigration and asylum chamber) so the consultation also seeks views on introducing fees, set at full cost recovery levels, for these proceedings. The consultation proposes a fee of £350 for an application to the upper tribunal for permission to appeal, where permission has been refused by the first-tier tribunal, and a fee of £510 for an appeal hearing where permission is granted.

We are mindful of the fact that some applicants will face difficulties in paying these fees, so to make sure that the burden of funding the system is shared as fairly as possible we will continue to exempt from fees those in particularly vulnerable positions. This includes those who qualify for legal aid or asylum support; those who are appealing against a decision to deprive them of their citizenship; and those children bringing appeals to the tribunal who are being supported by a local authority. We will also extend our exemptions to protect children being housed by the local authority and the parents of children receiving local authority support. In addition, we are consulting on further extensions to the exemptions scheme in this consultation to make sure we continue to protect the most vulnerable.

Higher fees are never popular but they are necessary if we are, as a nation, to live within our means. These proposals would raise around an additional £37 million a year, which is a critical contribution to cutting the deficit and reducing the burden on the taxpayer of running the courts and tribunals.

Full details of the Government’s proposals are set out in the consultation document which has been published on the gov.uk website.

[HCWS691]

Prime Minister

Senior Salaries Review Body

The 38th report of the Senior Salaries Review Body is being published today. This makes recommendations about the pay of the senior civil service, senior military officers and the judiciary.

We understand the need to ensure that we are able to recruit, retain and motivate staff with the right skills and experience. However, pay restraint continues to be a key part of our plans to finish fixing the public finances. Senior public sector workers, like everyone else, will have to continue to play their part to ensure we deliver security for working people across the country. Moreover, the independent Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that 200,000 public sector jobs have been protected thanks to our average 1% pay policy.

Senior military officers

The Government have accepted the recommendation of a 1% increase to base military salaries for all 2-star officers and above with effect from 1 April 2016. The Government have accepted the recommendation that there is no change to the current pay differentials for senior medical and dental officers.

Judiciary

The Government have accepted the review body’s recommendation of a 1% salary increase for the judiciary.

Senior civil service

The report makes clear the need to take a more strategic approach to senior civil service reward, including better targeting of resources and greater focus on the total package. We welcome this analysis which will inform the civil service workforce strategy.

The Government have accepted in full the recommendation of the Senior Salaries Review Body to introduce an in-year contribution award scheme for up to 10% of staff within current cost limits. This will provide a closer link between pay and performance by enabling departments to provide instant financial recognition for outstanding contribution.

We recognise the concerns of the Senior Salaries Review Body on the pay overlap between delegated grades and the bottom of senior civil service pay band 1. The Government believe that individual departments are best placed to assess the pay position of individuals within their own senior civil service cadre, and indeed the needs of their own delegated grades, and to decide how to prioritise the resources available to address any pay issues.

We have therefore accepted in part the recommendation on raising minimum salaries. The Government accept the increase in minima for pay bands 2 and 3. For pay band 1, a £2,000 increase in the minimum salary would restrict the flexibility that departments have asked for to enable them to target the resources available. Instead, the Government will prescribe an increase of £1,000 and ask departments to give serious consideration to raising salaries by more based on their individual business needs.

Similarly, the Government have accepted in part the recommendation on a flexible framework for base pay awards, but do not support an across the board budget of 0.94%. Instead, as well as raising staff to the new pay band minima, departments should have the flexibility they have asked for to target the remainder of the 1% award to meet their own business needs.

This package of proposals for 2016-17 provides the right balance between necessary pay restraint and the need to recruit and retain people of the right calibre. It gives departments flexibility to target pay increases within the 1 % average award, enables them to reward outstanding performance and will help them to recruit and retain people in business critical roles.

Very senior NHS managers

The report recommends that the Department for Health determines what level of pay increase is appropriate for this year. Such very senior managers are mainly employed by national arm’s length bodies.

The Government have decided to request arm’s length bodies to target the use of the 1% pay award to address both specific local recruitment and retention issues, and reward individual performance.

We will also proceed with the roll out of the new arm’s length body executive and senior manager pay framework, as set out in our evidence to Senior Salaries Review Body.

We are grateful to the chairman and members of the review body for their work on this year’s report. Copies have been laid in the Vote Office, the Printed Paper Office and the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS693]

Staff Counsellor for the Security and Intelligence Services

I have appointed Julian Miller as staff counsellor for the security and intelligence agencies. He will start in May 2016. He was deputy National Security Adviser in the Cabinet Office from 2010 until his retirement in 2015. Previous posts included Private Secretary to the Defence Secretary, Chief of the Assessments Staff in the Joint Intelligence Organisation and director strategy and resources in the Ministry of Defence.

Julian Miller succeeds Desmond Bowen, who has served as staff counsellor since April 2009. I would like to thank Desmond Bowen for his service over the past seven years and the support and guidance he has provided to the staff of the security and intelligence agencies during his tenure.

The position of staff counsellor for the security and intelligence agencies was created in 1987. It is a non-statutory appointment. The post holder is available to be consulted by any member of the agencies regarding matters of conscience about the work of their service, or a personal grievance or other problem which has not been resolved internally. Staff in certain other Departments closely involved in intelligence work are also able to consult the staff counsellor on matters of conscience about their work, provided that such matters arise from or are related to the individual’s access to intelligence.

[HCWS694]