Monday 5 December 2016
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
EU Energy Council
The Energy Council is taking place in Brussels on 5 December. I will be representing the UK, and below are the agenda items to be discussed.
The Council will hold a policy debate on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning measures to safeguard the security of gas supply and repealing regulation (EU) No 994/2010. This will focus on possible alternative approaches for regional co-operation, exchange of information on commercial contracts and solidarity. The Council will consider the structure of core regions or groups of countries working together to address specific risks. The debate will also cover the role of competent authorities and the Commission in accessing contract information on security of supply issues and whether a solidarity mechanism should be harmonised or reflect member state specificities.
The Commission introduced the “winter package” on 30 November. As expected this is comprised of legislative proposals for the update of the energy efficiency, energy performance of buildings and renewable energy directives together with new legislative proposals on electricity market design and governance of the energy union.
The Commission will update the Council on progress on developing the external dimension of the EU energy policy. This will be followed by an exchange of views on whether progress has been made on strengthening the common voice of the EU in relations with partners beyond its borders; which countries or regions are the most relevant for the EU; and the tools to be used to enhance mutual cooperation. It will also cover how the EU should best approach the ongoing transformation of the global energy system, and respond to reform processes within international energy organisations.
The presidency will provide an update on the “state of play” on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council, setting a framework for energy efficiency labelling. This will focus on the delays in the trilogue negotiations between European Parliament, Council and the Commission.
The presidency will also provide a short “state of play” update on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing an information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements and non-binding instruments between member states and third countries in the field of energy.
The Commission will update the Council on recent developments in the field of external energy relations.
Finally, Malta will inform the Council of the priorities for their presidency in the first half of 2017.
Public Service Ombudsman Bill
I am pleased today to publish the draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill.
The draft Bill sets out the Government’s plans for a new public service ombudsman. The Government want to make it as simple as possible for everyone to pursue a complaint about public services. The measures in this draft Bill will ensure that anyone who makes a justified complaint can expect a rapid, effective remedy and that their voice will be heard. The new body will provide simpler access to individuals who believe they have suffered injustice or hardship and to share the learning from failures to improve services for everyone.
The draft Bill would abolish the present parliamentary and health service ombudsman and the local government ombudsman and create a new organisation with strengthened governance and accountability. It would improve access to the ombudsman’s services by allowing for all complaints to be made with or without the help of a representative and in a variety of formats to meet the digital age. The draft Bill provides powers designed to allow the new ombudsman to work more effectively including an explicit role in championing improvements in complaints handling.
I am grateful for the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee for their work in championing an improved ombudsman service. I look forward to Parliament and the public’s consideration of our proposals.
Finance Bill 2017 (Draft Clauses)
The Government have consulted on a number of tax policies following announcements made at Budget 2016 and previously.
Today, the Government are publishing draft clauses for Finance Bill 2017, along with associated responses to consultations. This fulfils our objective to consult, where possible, on draft clauses for the Finance Bill at least three months in advance of the introduction of the Bill.
The Government will publish draft legislation for the following measures in January 2017:
Making Tax Digital
Social Investment Tax Relief
Clarification of tax treatment for partnerships
The remaining draft legislation for tax deductibility of corporate interest expense and loss relief reform will also be published in January 2017.
Further detail on the clauses published today can be found in the overview of legislation in draft, which includes corresponding tax information and impact notes. All publications will be available on the gov.uk website.
Hillsborough: Operation Resolve
Following the decision of Assistant Commissioner Jon Stoddart OBE to stand down as head of Operation Resolve on 5 September 2016, I am pleased to inform Parliament that I have appointed Assistant Commissioner Rob Beckley QPM as the head of Operation Resolve.
Operation Resolve, established in December 2012, is examining the full circumstances surrounding the planning and preparation for and the events on the day of the FA cup semi-final on 15 April 1989 at Hillsborough, Sheffield at which 96 Liverpool football club supporters died. It is an IPCC managed investigation, its terms of reference can be found at:
Rob Beckley has been appointed to the Metropolitan police as Assistant Commissioner to carry out the investigation. Most recently he was chief operating officer, College of Policing, retiring on 30 March 2016, having previously served in the Metropolitan Police Service, Thames Valley, Hertfordshire constabulary and Avon and Somerset police, where he was deputy chief constable.
I am pleased to inform Parliament that Her Majesty the Queen has approved a two-year extension to the appointment of Craig Mackey QPM, Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.
I recommended this extension to Her Majesty having had regard to a recommendation from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and a representation from the Mayor of London as occupant of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
My recommendation recognises the important contribution the deputy commissioner has made both nationally and to the Metropolitan Police Service as it has been undergoing a period of transformation.
The extension to 22 January 2019 provides stability for the Metropolitan Police Service and enables the deputy commissioner to continue to play a vital role in cutting crime and keeping Londoners safe.
World Trade Organisation
The United Kingdom is a founding member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In addition to the general obligations of membership, all WTO members undertake specific commitments in their goods and services schedules: WTO members’ goods schedules set out upper limits for tariffs and detail any tariff rate quotas, and WTO members’ services schedules set out commitments and reservations across all sectors and list specific sectoral commitments and reservations.
The UK’s WTO commitments currently form part of the European Union’s schedules. When we leave the EU we will need UK-specific schedules. In order to minimise disruption to global trade as we leave the EU, over the coming period the Government will prepare the necessary draft schedules which replicate as far as possible our current obligations. The Government will undertake this process in dialogue with the WTO membership. This work is a necessary part of our leaving the EU. It does not prejudge the outcome of the eventual UK-EU trading arrangements.
Work and Pensions
Employment Outcomes of Drug or Alcohol Addiction, and Obesity: Review
Today I am publishing Professor Dame Carol Black’s independent review into the impact on employment outcomes of drug or alcohol addiction, and obesity (Cm 9336). This fulfils a manifesto commitment.
Dame Carol makes 13 recommendations for Government intended to help improve the employment rates for those with drug or alcohol addition, and obesity.
The review does not recommend addicts should be mandated to treatment, providing evidence that this would not improve employment outcomes, or meet legal or ethical concerns. The review makes clear recommendations for improving welfare and health services, building new evidence, and focusing on the role of employers—all with the aim of increasing job outcomes for people with addictions. There is a limited focus on obesity in the review, a reflection of the weak evidence that obesity directly causes unemployment.
The Government welcome the report and will carefully consider its findings. The Government are grateful to Dame Carol, and her team, for the hard work that has gone into this review.
Communities and Local Government
Opportunity and Integration
Dame Louise Casey has today released her report on how to boost opportunity and integration in isolated communities. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library of the House, and it is also available through my Department’s website.
Dame Louise was commissioned to carry out her review by the then Prime Minister in July 2015. The review conducted through a combination of written consultation, visits and engagement across the country with members of the public and statutory agencies, round tables with academics, faith leaders and analysis of research and data. I am most grateful to Dame Louise for the thoroughness of her review and the comprehensive report.
This country has long been home to many different cultures and communities, but all of us have to be part of one British society. It is right that we celebrate the positive contribution that diverse groups make to British life, but we also need to recognise that more needs to be done to make sure nobody is excluded or left behind. To do that, we need to take a serious look at the evidence and must not shy away from the challenges we face. Dame Louise’s report is a crucial step in that process, and I will be studying her findings very closely.
The report considers population change, patterns of residential and school segregation, social interactions between different groups in society, public attitudes and values, social and economic exclusion, equality impacts of cultural and religious practices, hate and extremism, past approaches and the role of leadership. It concludes with a series of recommendations to Government for promoting integration that could be implemented as a new programme across Government.
I will carefully consider the findings in this review, in consultation with my Government colleagues and faith and community leaders, and will bring forward proposals in due course.