Thursday 1 December 2016
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Marrakesh Climate Change Conference
The annual conference of the parties (COP) to the United Nations framework convention on climate change took place in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 7 to 18 November. The United Kingdom was represented by myself (Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry) who has been negotiating for the UK and promoting British business. The conference was described as an “implementation COP” focused on starting the process of turning the first global climate change deal, known as the Paris agreement, into a clear blueprint for action.
The UK aims for Marrakesh were to: (a) strengthen action and ambition; (b) make progress on implementing the Paris agreement; and (c) demonstrate the UK’s leadership on climate change. These objectives were achieved.
(A) Regarding strengthening action and ambition, there were two key outcomes:
The Marrakesh action proclamation underlined that the global commitment to tackling climate change is irreversible, calling for raised ambition and strengthened co-operation.
Announcements made by Governments, businesses and other non-state actors further emphasised the global momentum and the action being taken. On behalf of the UK, the Minister of State pledged support for many initiatives that will support countries in meeting their emissions reduction targets as the world aims to achieve carbon neutrality in the second half of the century.
(B) Regarding progress on implementing the Paris agreement, consensus was secured on all of the areas where decisions were mandated, including the terms of reference for the Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage, and the Paris Committee on Capacity Building. Further progress included:
The first meeting of the countries who ratified the Paris agreement (CMA1);
Discussions on detail of the rulebook to support implementation of commitments and setting a deadline to finalise by 2018 with a review in 2017;
Agreement for an inclusive and transparent consultation on mitigation commitments ahead of the facilitative dialogue in 2018 to assess progress, in order to inform the next round of national pledges on mitigation;
Agreement that the adaptation fund should serve the Paris agreement subject to decisions on governance and modalities to be taken at COP24 (in 2018); and
Agreement to a five-year work plan on “Loss and Damage” which will start in 2017. This will include a review of the sources of finance for loss and damage but does not admit new or separate financial arrangements for loss and damage.
(C) Regarding demonstrating UK’s leadership and commitment, we:
Announced that the UK had ratified the Paris agreement. On this occasion, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy reiterated that we look ahead to continuing our leadership on climate action and ensuring that British business continues to play a key role in the new global low-carbon economy. We believe it will benefit the UK while we implement our industrial strategy to deliver an economy that works for all.
Co-led with Australia the production and presentation of the $100 billion road map on behalf of donor countries, setting out how the goal of mobilising $100 billion of public and private climate finance by 2020 will be achieved.
Hosted a Green is GREAT pavilion, showcasing British strengths in managing the impact of climate change and providing a platform to show and sell British innovations.
Underwent our second “multilateral assessment” setting out progress to meeting our 2020 emissions reduction targets and lessons that could be shared.
The positive outcome from Marrakesh will help to implement what was agreed in Paris more effectively. It caps a year of continued momentum on climate change, including the rapid entry into force of the Paris agreement, and agreements on phasing down hydro-fluorocarbons under the Montreal protocol and offsetting the growth in civil aviation emissions at the International Civil Aviation Organisation. From Government and private sector commitments to reduce emissions, it is clear that the economic and political drivers behind the global transition towards a low-carbon future—as well as the commercial opportunities that transition affords—remain.
Culture, Media and Sport
56th Horserace Betting Levy Scheme
On 9 November 2016 the Chair of the Horserace Betting Levy Board (the HBLB) informed me that the HBLB had been unable to approve a recommendation from the Bookmakers’ Committee as to the terms of the 56th Levy scheme. Under section 1 (2) of the Horserace Betting Levy Act 1969 (the Act), it therefore now falls to me to determine those terms. The Act allows me to determine a new scheme for the said period, or direct that the current scheme shall continue to have effect for that period.
In the March 2016 Budget, the Government set out a timetable for replacing the current Horserace Betting Levy by April 2017. It remains the Government’s intention to replace the current Levy scheme by this date. However until such time as the legislation has passed, the existing statutory requirements remain. Therefore my determination for the 56th Levy scheme will only apply should the new Levy not be in place by April.
With this in mind, and having considered the arguments put forward by both betting and racing, I have decided to direct that the current Levy scheme should continue to have effect for 2017-18. In making this determination I have had regard to the offer made by the Bookmakers’ Committee and taken into account the racing members of the board’s reasons for rejecting this offer. Any discussions or negotiations about voluntary Levy contributions in respect of offshore remote betting operators are outside the scope of my statutory role in making this determination.
Having concluded the determination, I would like express my disappointment that the HBLB and Bookmakers’ Committee were not able to agree the Levy scheme and that it has been necessary to refer this matter to Government.
Better Combat Compensation
Today I am publishing a consultation on proposals to provide better compensation for deaths or injuries sustained by servicemen or women in combat. Copies of the consultation are available in the Library of the House and on the www.gov.uk website.
The Government are proud of the armed forces compensation scheme which provides compensation to service personnel who suffer illness or injury attributable to their services or, in the case of those who have died, provides it to their families, whether or not anyone was legally at fault. Separately, the courts may award damages where the Ministry of Defence has been found to be at fault; however, that often leads to lengthy legal cases alleging battlefield negligence.
The Government have been considering options to provide relief for service personnel and their families who may otherwise have to pursue lengthy and stressful claims in the courts. In line with our commitment to the armed forces covenant, we plan to provide better compensation by introducing an enhanced scheme so that members and veterans of the armed forces and their families receive compensation for injuries or death in combat equal to that which a court would be likely to award if it found negligence.
As part of this reform, we intend to clarify in primary legislation the long-standing common law principle that the Government are not liable for damages as a result of injuries or deaths sustained in combat. This will address the “judicialisation of war”, whereby judges second-guess military decisions using criteria that are appropriate for civilian life, but not for the battlefield.
The Iraq Inquiry report by Sir John Chilcot underscored the often challenging circumstances which can contribute to deaths or injuries sustained on the battlefield. The Government are committed to learning the lessons and are reviewing ways in which we can better plan, equip and operate, so that deaths and injuries can be avoided, where possible, in future.
This package will provide relief for individuals and families who in the future will be awarded better compensation without having to pursue lengthy legal action. It will also ensure that the armed forces are able to take the rapid and high-risk decisions essential to operational effectiveness without being inhibited by the risk of future legal claims.
A-Level and AS Qualification
In April this year, the Government announced that GCSEs and A-levels in a range of languages with smaller cohorts will continue and therefore will be reformed in line with other GCSEs and A-levels. This fulfils a commitment made in 2015 to work with the exam boards to ensure the continuation of these qualifications.
The reformed GCSE content for modern foreign languages, published in 2013, is suitable for all the modern languages currently available, and the exam boards are developing specifications for these GCSEs.
At A-level, we have worked with the exam boards to develop specific content for modern languages with smaller cohorts. The Government are today opening a consultation on this content, which will apply to A-levels (and AS) in Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Greek, Modern Hebrew, Japanese, Panjabi, Persian, Portuguese, Polish, Turkish and Urdu.
The content for modern languages with smaller cohorts is largely identical to the reformed A-level (and AS) content which applies to French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Italian and Russian. This was developed by the independent A-Level Content Advisory Board (ALCAB), appointed by the Russell Group to meet the expectations of higher education, and was published in 2015.
This content for modern languages with smaller cohorts addresses the risks associated with the assessment of smaller numbers of candidates, including the challenges of recruiting specialist examiners. The requirement to demonstrate speaking skills is not included in the proposed content, which is consistent with current AS and A-level qualifications in languages with smaller cohorts—with the single exception of Urdu (in which speaking skills are currently required). To secure a suitable level of rigour which is comparable for all modern languages, the Government propose a new requirement for modern languages with smaller cohorts. The proposed content would require students to apply language skills (reading, writing and listening) in combination, by responding to spoken and written sources addressing common subject matter.
The A-level (and AS) content for modern languages with smaller cohorts will apply to courses beginning in September 2018. The current specifications for these languages will remain available for courses beginning in September 2017.
I can also confirm today that A-level history of art and AS and A-level statistics will continue to be offered in England following the exam board AQA’s decision not to offer these qualifications for new courses starting from September 2017. We believe there is value in having a broad range of high-quality choices available to A-level students and our intention has always been that there should continue to be A-levels available in these two subjects. I am therefore pleased that the Pearson exam board has confirmed that it intends to develop new AS and A-levels in statistics and a new A-level in history of art for teaching from September 2017.
Early Years Education
The Government have today published their response to the recent consultation on changes to the funding of the free early years entitlements for three and four-year-olds. The Government response can be found at:
This includes the introduction of an early years national funding formula. This will provide a fairer funding system for nurseries, preschools and childminders.
We are delivering our manifesto commitment to double the free hours of childcare provided for working parents of three and four-year-olds, from 15 to 30 hours a week. Many parents want to go back to work, or work more hours, but cannot afford to because of the cost of childcare. This policy will make childcare more affordable and support parents to return to work, or to work more hours, if that is what they wish to do.
We are backing this with an additional £1 billion every year by 2019-20 including £300 million per year to increase Government funding rates. We are committed to allocating this record level of investment fairly and transparently so that early years providers can deliver free childcare on a sustainable and high-quality basis.
That is why we consulted on proposals to introduce a new funding system that is fair, transparent and maximises funding to providers. Our proposals to improve the way we allocate funding have been positively received and today, I can confirm our final funding policy. Key features are:
a new early years national funding formula from April 2017 that will increase Government funding rates in 80% of local authorities;
a minimum funding rate of at least £4.30 per hour for every local authority;
a requirement for local authorities to pass 95% of their funding to providers;
additional funding, worth £55 million per year, to support maintained nursery schools until the end of this Parliament (2019-20);
a new disability access fund worth £615 per child per year to support disabled three and four-year-olds to access their early years entitlement; and
a requirement for all local authorities to have inclusion funds to channel additional support to children with special educational needs.
These changes will put early years providers in a stronger position to deliver the free entitlements on a sustainable basis. They will help to ensure that every child, whatever their background and individual needs, can access the high-quality early education they need to prepare for school and improve their life chances. And from September 2017, they will support the delivery of 30 hours of free childcare to nearly 400,000 eligible working parents, thus making it easier for them to get on and balance work with their family lives.
Education lies at the heart of this Government’s ambition to make this a country that works for everyone—and today we are reaffirming our commitment by announcing this new, fairer way of funding our early years. It will ensure the dedicated individuals caring for our children have the support they need to give every child the best start, especially when looking after those who are most in need.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Illegal Wildlife Trade: Hanoi Conference
The Hanoi conference on illegal wildlife trade took place on 17 and 18 November 2016, bringing together leaders from across the world to secure international political commitment to action on tackling the illegal wildlife trade (IWT). The Hanoi conference was the third global conference on IWT, following the London conference in 2014 and Kasane conference in 2015. I was delighted to attend the conference on behalf of the UK, alongside His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge. The conference was successful, with 42 countries and the EU adopting the Hanoi statement by consensus and 23 countries, the EU and six international organisations pledging new and specific actions in the statement annex to deliver on their commitments from London and Kasane.
The UK played a key role in supporting Vietnam as chair and host, including direct financial support and seconding staff to the conference secretariat. Our contribution and leadership were widely recognised and commended by international partners. At the conference, I was able to announce an additional £13 million in UK funding for IWT and a number of new initiatives, including expanded British military training for African park rangers; a project with China to deliver joint training to African border forces; additional funding for Interpol to expand its work with key nations, tracking and intercepting illegal shipments of ivory, rhino horn and other illegal wildlife products; and up to £4 million for the International Consortium for Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC).
Finally I was also pleased to announce that the UK will host a fourth high-level meeting on IWT in 2018, to ensure that this urgent global issue stays at the top of the political agenda and that we continue to deliver on our manifesto commitment to lead the world in tackling IWT.
The UK was able to lead further progress in the margins of the conference. I hosted a meeting of ASEAN heads of delegation, attended by the Duke of Cambridge, where I pressed for enhanced collaboration in this critical region, particularly on enforcement. The Philippines, chair of ASEAN in 2017, agreed that IWT would feature on the agenda.
In my meetings with Vietnamese Ministers, I welcomed recent positive steps taken by Vietnam to tackle IWT, and encouraged them to intensify further demand reduction and law enforcement efforts, including in respect of specific cases recently highlighted by NGOs and the media. I made clear the UK’s commitment to ongoing practical co-operation between our two countries on these issues.
That so many countries and organisations came together once more in Hanoi to agree further action on IWT is a positive signal of ongoing political attention and also a consensus on the importance and urgency of the issue. We will remain focused on driving forward this momentum and ensuring the commitments made in Hanoi are delivered in the lead up to the next event in London 2018.
Blue Card Directive
I am confirming the Government’s decision that the UK will not opt into the European Commission’s recent proposal for a revised Blue Card directive, published on 7 June 2016.
The proposal seeks to increase the EU’s attractiveness to highly skilled workers from outside the EU. It runs counter to the UK’s view that decisions on who comes to the country are best framed at national level in accordance with national assessments of economic need. It would also undermine our ability to reduce net migration.
Report of the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation
In accordance with section 36(5) of the Terrorism Act 2006, David Anderson QC, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, has prepared a report on the operation in 2015 of the Terrorism Act 2000 and part 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006.
I am today laying this report before the House, and copies will be available in the Vote Office. It will also be published on the website: www.gov.uk.
I am grateful to David Anderson for his report. I will carefully consider its contents and the recommendations it makes, and will respond formally in due course.
International Financial Institution: Contingent Liability
In 2015, the UK agreed to be a founder contributor of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). As set out in the summer Budget 2015, HM Treasury made an initial capital instalment of US$122,180,000, and committed to subsequent payments of the same amount by the UK Government over the four years from 2017 to 2020. The UK’s overall capital contribution will total US$3,054,500,000, of which these five payments together will make up 20% of “paid-in” capital contribution requiring a cash transfer. The other 80%, $2,443,600,000, is “callable capital”—the AIIB has the right to call for payment for these shares if there is a crisis affecting the bank’s assets or loans. As the paid-in capital is an investment, in return for which we get an asset of a share of the Bank, the Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast this payment as a financial transaction. Financial transactions do not add to public sector net borrowing.
Payment of the second annual contribution of $122,180,000 is in line with the authority provided by this House under the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (Initial Capital Contribution) Order 2015. Parliamentary approval for this will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department for International Development.
Further, the payment of the second instalment of the capital contribution incurs with it a contingent liability. In line with the AIIB articles of agreement, the contingent liability rises in line with the amount of callable capital paid. As such, the UK will increase its current contingent liability of $488,720,000, incurred when the initial capital instalment was paid by a further $488,720,000 to a cumulative total contingent liability of US$977,440,000. A Departmental minute to this effect was laid before Parliament on 1 December 2016 to give at least 14 sitting days’ notice of the intent to incur a contingent liability. The notice period will be completed on 9 January 2017.
Although the AIIB has the right to call for payment of this callable capital incurred when the initial capital instalment was paid, no such instance has occurred in any multilateral development bank in the past. If the liability were to be called, provision for any payment would be sought through the normal supply procedure.
In joining the AIIB the UK has demonstrated its support for China’s initiative to establish the AIIB to address the historic shortage of infrastructure investment in Asia. The AIIB will support economic growth in the region and drive up living standards. The UK’s membership will deepen economic ties with Asia and create opportunities for British businesses.
UK International Development
Our world is changing. So our approach to development needs to adapt and keep pace with it. DFID will champion an open, modern and innovative approach to development.
Today I am publishing “Rising to the challenge of ending poverty: the Bilateral Development Review 2016” and “Raising the standard: the Multilateral Development Review 2016”.
These reviews build on the Government’s UK aid strategy published in 2015 and set out how UK aid will be focused on ending poverty and tackling great global challenges like mass migration, disease and climate change. It demonstrates how investing 0.7% of national income in international development will meet Britain’s moral obligation to the world’s poorest and work in the UK’s national interest.
The bilateral development review sets out how DFID will respond to these global challenges and contribute to a more prosperous, secure and stable world. DFID will follow the money, the people and the outcomes to make our aid more effective, transparent, and accountable to the poorest people in the world and to the taxpayers who fund our programmes.
The multilateral development review builds on a systematic assessment of the performance of 38 multilateral institutions funded by the UK through DFID. The review sets out how the UK, as a committed champion of the multilateral system, will work with its multilateral partners and press them hard to take radical action so they continue to raise their performance. We will back high performers while also pressing them to improve even further.
A copy of these papers and an accompanying document can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-12-01/HCWS296/.
I will also place a copy in the Libraries of both Houses and make further copies available in the Vote and Printed Paper Offices.
Leader of the House
Strathclyde Review: Government Response
On 27 October 2015 the Government commissioned Lord Strathclyde to lead a review into secondary legislation and the primacy of the House of Commons. Lord Strathclyde published his report on 17 December 2015. The Government have today published their response to the review and the four related parliamentary Select Committee reports, a copy of which can be found online. As I informed the House at business questions on 17 November 2016, Official Report, columns 395 to 396, although the Government found Lord Strathclyde’s analysis compelling and we are determined that the principle of the supremacy of the elected House should be upheld, we have no plans to introduce new primary legislation at this time.
Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-12-01/HCWS304/.