Thursday 5 May 2016
Business, Innovation and Skills
The Government have worked hard to meet the challenging deadline laid down by the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, and bring the pubs code into force by 26 May 2016.
Good progress has been made. The Government published draft regulations and a consultation in two parts on 29 October and 4 December 2015. The consultation closed on 18 January, and Government published a response document and laid regulations on 14 April 2016.
Since laying the pubs code regulations, we have identified a small number of technical drafting errors.
It is important to get the pubs code right for both tenants and pub-owning businesses. Therefore the Government withdrew the regulations yesterday in order to deal with these errors. This means that the pubs code will not be in force by the 26 May as previously set out.
The Government will address the technical drafting issues with the regulations quickly and re-lay amended regulations as soon as possible, minimising the delay bringing the code into force. The regulations are subject to the affirmative procedure, and so Parliament will have an opportunity to debate the content and give the regulations full scrutiny.
Financial Services Update
I can today confirm that I have laid a Treasury Minute informing the House of the sale of NRAM plc to Cerberus, and the replacement of NRAM plc on the Government’s balance sheet by a new company, NRAM (No.1) Limited (“StayCo”), which will continue to wind down the remaining legacy assets of the former Northern Rock.
The Treasury Minute concerns the transfer to StayCo of assets and liabilities of NRAM plc that were not included in the sale to Cerberus. The Government have also reissued, on a like-for-like basis, the guarantees for StayCo’s directors, replacing the previous arrangements for NRAM plc. StayCo is also taking on NRAM plc’s state aid commitments.
The Government have received the final £520 million from Cerberus as part of the conclusion of this sale. The Treasury’s contingent liabilities have also reduced by £1.6 billion as a result of the withdrawal of the Treasury’s undertaking to NRAM plc.
I will update the House of any further changes to NRAM (No.1) Limited as necessary.
Health Informal Council: 17-18 April 2016
An informal Health Council meeting was held in Amsterdam on 17-18 April 2016 as part of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council formation. The Under-Secretary of State for Health, the hon. Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison) represented the UK.
There was a discussion on innovation and pharmaceuticals and topics raised by participants included health technology assessment, pharmaceutical pricing, the joint procurement agreement and different regulatory mechanisms, including priority designation for medicines (PRIME). The UK stressed its support for regulatory work that helped to get effective innovative products to patients sooner. The UK also stated that some joint working on information sharing on pricing and horizon scanning could be useful but underlined that all work must be voluntary and fully respect member state competence.
There was a discussion on initiatives member states are taking forward at a national level to encourage healthy eating. The UK said that national action was required on a variety of fronts, including partnership working with industry, and underlined the significant cost of type 2 diabetes and the need to focus on children.
The UK stated that it could not just be for consumers to act, and stressed that consumers would want further information, for example, through mobile apps. The UK also stated the importance of physical activity and explained the recent sugar levy announcement.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
The Dutch presidency raised the issue of AMR as a top priority and stressed that a one-health approach covering human and animal health was vital. The UK underlined the cost of inaction, praised the presidency’s desire for an ambitious outcome at the UN General Assembly, and supported their one-health approach. The UK supported an ambitious agenda on AMR which would lead to concrete progress, provided that member state competence was fully respected. The UK also flagged the importance of the current independent AMR review launched by the Prime Minister.