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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
03 November 2016
Volume 616

Written Statements

Thursday 3 November 2016

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Trade Union Industrial Action: Electronic Balloting

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Section 4 of the Trade Union Act 2016 specifies that the Government should make provision for an independent review to consider the delivery of secure methods of electronic balloting of trade union members.

The Government are committed to the independent review and I am pleased to announce today that Sir Ken Knight CBE, the former Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser for England, will chair the review.

I am publishing the terms of reference in parallel. The review will start shortly and the final report presented to Parliament no later than December 2017.

[HCWS234]

Health

Gosport Independent Panel: Terms of Reference

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I wish to update the House about the investigation into Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

On 10 July 2014, the former Minister for Care Services (Norman Lamb), announced the establishment of the Gosport independent panel, chaired by Bishop James Jones, to review documentary evidence held across a range of organisations concerning the initial care of families’ relatives and subsequent investigations into Gosport War Memorial Hospital.

When the former Minister announced the terms of reference for the Gosport independent panel on 9 December 2014 the Government expected the panel to complete its work by December 2017 [HCWS78].

As a consequence of the greater number of families now in contact with the panel and the increase in the volume of material the panel is reviewing, the panel now expects to complete its work in spring 2018.

It is also available online at: http://www.parliament.uk/writtenstatements.

[HCWS233]

Home Department

Immigration Rules

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My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a statement of changes in immigration rules as set out below. These changes continue our reforms to the UK immigration system.

The changes we are making to the rules will ensure that those who do not qualify for international protection on account of their conduct, for example serious criminality, are not granted settlement or limited leave to remain in the UK under the immigration rules.

We are also abolishing the “28-day grace period”, during which we currently accept out of time applications for a range of routes including work and study, to encourage greater compliance with the immigration rules. This will make clear that people must comply with the rules and make any application for further leave before their current leave expires.

The changes also include the reduction in the threshold of NHS debt from £1,000 to £500 for family cases and armed forces cases to align with changes made elsewhere in the rules in April 2016.

The changes also provide for a new English language requirement for non-European economic area national partners and parents applying to extend their stay in the UK. The new requirement, which can be met by passing, as a minimum, an A2 level common European framework of reference for languages speaking and listening test, will apply to partners and parents whose current leave on a five-year route to settlement under the family rules is due to expire on or after 1 May 2017.

The new A2 requirement will deliver on the Government’s manifesto commitment to ensure that those coming to the UK on a family visa with only basic English become more fluent over time. We believe this will improve integration in communities. An associated statement of intent and policy equality statement will be published today on gov.uk.

Following a review by the independent Migration Advisory Committee, on 24 March 2016 the Government announced two phases of reforms to tier 2, to be implemented in autumn 2016 and April 2017. The changes being laid today implement the first phase of these reforms. This includes changes to the salary thresholds for tier 2 (general) and short-term intra-company transfers (ICTs), and closure of the ICT skills transfer category. There are exemptions from the new salary for certain occupations in health and education.

We are also making technical changes to the immigration rules to clarify the concepts of a first country of asylum and a safe third country.

[HCWS235]