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Written Statements

Volume 630: debated on Monday 6 November 2017

Written Statements

Monday 6 November 2017

Communities and Local Government

Local Authority Publicity Code

I issued the London Boroughs of Hackney and Waltham Forest with a written notice, on 2 December 2016, of a direction that I proposed to give requiring that both councils comply with the provisions in the March 2011 code of recommended practice on local authority publicity. This code restricts the frequency of publication of council newspapers, to no more often than quarterly (except for parish councils, who should not issue council newspapers more often than monthly).

I can now tell the House that I have carefully considered representations of both councils, together with other information available about both councils’ publicity, the responses received to the Government’s 2013 consultation “Protecting the Independent Press from Unfair Competition”, and the Government’s response to that consultation. I have also had careful regard to the Department’s equality statement on enforcing the code of recommended practice on local authority publicity, and have considered afresh representations that both councils have made about proposals to direct their compliance with the code to restrict the frequency of publication of its newspapers. I have concluded that it would be lawful and necessary in all the circumstances of Hackney and Waltham Forest to now issue the directions as I had proposed.

As such, in accordance with my powers under section 4A(1), (2) and (3) of the Local Government Act 1986, I have today directed the London Boroughs of Hackney and Waltham Forest, in order to secure the councils’ compliance with the requirements of the code, as follows:

to commission or publish no more than four issues of their respective newspapers (Hackney Today and Waltham Forest News), or any equivalent newsletter, newssheet or similar communication, in the period of one year commencing 6 February 2018, and in subsequent years; and

to ensure that the executive of both councils within 14 days of the date of the direction will take the necessary decisions in order that the councils will be in a position to comply with the requirement on publication from 6 February 2018 onwards.

I will be placing in the Library of the House copies of both directions, the letters to both councils setting out my reasons, the equality statement, and the representations of both councils.

[HCWS226]

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture and Fisheries Council (October)

I represented the United Kingdom at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 9 October in Luxembourg.

The Council opened with an exchange of views on Baltic Sea fishing opportunities. Council agreed to consider EU-wide issues surrounding fishing for eels at the December Agriculture and Fisheries Council, and catch quotas in the Baltic Sea were agreed.

The Council discussed EU-Norway annual fishing consultations for 2018, and there was widespread support for the Commission’s aim to seek a balanced deal with Norway. The UK raised the issue of overreliance on EU stocks, such as blue whiting, in previous agreements on the exchange of fishing opportunities with Norway.

An exchange of views was held ahead of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting on 14 November in Marrakech.

The Council discussed the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Member states supported the sustainable development goals and the role of agriculture in achieving them, but agreed on the importance of exploring vehicles other than the Common Agricultural Policy to achieve the goals.

The Commission gave a presentation updating Council on the market situation in EU agricultural sectors. The Council then discussed the ongoing trade negotiations with Mercosur countries. The UK, alongside several other member states, struck a supportive tone, welcoming progress on the trade agenda while recognising the need to be cautious on certain sectors.

A number of other items were discussed under “any other business”:

The Commission updated Council on the implementation of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Commissioner Andriukaitus gave a read out of the recent Fipronil conference in Brussels.

The German delegation drew the Council’s attention to the importance of the financing of the EU minor use co-ordination facility (EUMUCF).

The Hungarian and Lithuanian delegations presented the joint declaration of Visegrad group, and the Latvia and Lithuania from the Baltic states on the prospects of the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy.

The Austrian delegation informed Council on farming in the Alps.

The Spanish delegation updated Council on the proceedings opened by the US authorities against the import of black table olives from Spain.

The Maltese delegation presented the conclusions of the 41st conference of directors of EU paying agencies.

The Maltese delegation presented the conclusions of the informal meeting of directors for rural development.

The German delegation presented to Council on sustainable and deforestation free supply chains.

On 23 June 2016, the EU referendum took place and the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the European Union and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force. During this period the Government will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU legislation. The outcome of these negotiations will determine what arrangements apply in relation to EU legislation in future once the UK has left the EU.

[HCWS225]

Environment Council (October)

I attended the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg on 13 October. Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, also attended.

I wish to update the House on the matters discussed.

The effort sharing regulation (ESR) and land use, land use change and forestry regulation (LULUCF)

The effort sharing regulation (ESR) and land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) regulation, alongside the EU emissions trading system, will implement the EU’s 2030 emissions reduction target under the Paris agreement.

The Estonian presidency and the Commission called for a swift and ambitious deal so that the EU could demonstrate progress in implementing the Paris agreement ahead of the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP23) in November. On the ESR, member states remained split on the proposed size of the safety reserve of 100 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent put forward by the presidency to address concerns from some member states on the starting point for the 2021-2030 emissions trajectory. The UK and other like-minded member states expressed their desire to keep the size of the reserve as small as possible. After a full table round, the presidency concluded that there was support for the text. However, it put forward a new proposal including an increase to the safety reserve to 115 Mt and a small targeted adjustment to the 2021 emission allocation for two member states (Latvia and Malta).

On the LULUCF regulation the majority of delegations were in a position to support the text as drafted, with a number of delegations sympathetic to the presidency and Commission’s desire to find a solution that would take into account the special circumstances of forest-rich member states. The high ambition group of member states including the UK reinforced the need for caution and reiterated the need to protect the overarching environmental integrity of the regulation. This included pushing to limit the size of managed forest land flexibility. The group also opposed a request for deforestation emissions to be compensated. The presidency proposed a compromise text removing any suggestion that there should be compensation for deforestation. There was a limited increase of 10 Mt in the compensation available to Finland under certain conditions, to recognise the challenges facing the most heavily forested member state.

A general agreement was reached on both pieces of legislation with most member states voting in favour. The presidency announced that the first trilogue with the European Parliament would take place on 19 October.

Adoption of Council conclusions on the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-3)

The Council adopted conclusions on the European Union priorities for the third meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) in Nairobi on 4 to 6 December 2017, on the theme of pollution. The conclusions emphasise the links between pollution and health; underline the need for changes in the way our societies produce and consume goods and services; call for integrated action and co-operation between nations, the business sector and civil society; and look forward to the adoption of an “ambitious, concise and action-oriented ministerial declaration”.

Adoption of Council conclusions on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP23)

The Council adopted conclusions on the Paris agreement and preparations for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings in Bonn on 6 to 17 November 2017 (COP23). The conclusions set out the continued momentum of climate action; a clear desire to make progress on technical negotiations on the Paris agreement rulebook; an expectation for an inclusive facilitative dialogue that will lead to a raising of ambition in 2019-20, and the need for progress on climate action in other international fora.

AOB items

The following items were discussed under Any Other Business.

Reports on recent international meetings

The presidency and Commission updated Council on several recent international meetings:

Sixth session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP 6) to the convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters (Aarhus Convention), (Budva, Montenegro, 11-13 September 2017);

Joint high-level segment under the Meetings of the Parties to the Aarhus Convention and its protocol on PRTRs, (Budva, Montenegro, 14 September 2017);

Third session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOPP 3) to the protocol on pollutant release and transfer registers, (Budva, Montenegro, 15 September 2017);

First meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata convention on Mercury (COP 1), (Geneva, 24-29 September 2017); and the

13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 13), (Ordos, China, 6-16 September 2017).

A more transparent, more effective and safer assessment of chemical substances

The French, Italian and Luxembourg delegations presented information to Council on a more transparent, more effective and safer assessment of chemical substances. They also called for a strategy for a general reduction of exposure to chemicals to ensure a high level of environmental and human health protection.

China Europe Water Platform (CEWP) High Level Conference

The Commission updated Council on the China-Europe Water Platform High-Level Conference (Turku, Finland, 21-22 September 2017).

The importance of good co-ordination and coherence of integrated national energy and climate plans for the implementation of the Paris agreement

The Luxembourg delegation presented information to Council on the importance, for the implementation of the Paris agreement, of good co-ordination and coherence between the integrated national energy and climate plans for 2030 and the long-term emission reduction strategies, as well as of minimum quality, comparability and transparency standards.

Fiftieth session of the international seminar Science for Peace the World Over

The Polish delegation updated Council on the 50th session of the international seminar “Science for Peace the World Over” (Erice, Italy, 18-24 August 2017).

Ratification of the Kigali amendment to the Montreal protocol

The United Kingdom delegation, supported by the Luxembourg delegation, encouraged member states who are in a position to do so to ratify the Kigali amendment to the Montreal protocol by the 30th anniversary Meeting of the Parties to the protocol in Montreal this November, in order to demonstrate leadership on this issue. This was supported by another member state and the Commission. The amendment will come into force in 2019 as long as at least 20 countries have ratified by then.

On 23 June 2016, the EU referendum took place and the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Until exit negotiations are concluded, the UK remains a full member of the European Union and all the rights and obligations of EU membership remain in force. During this period the Government will continue to negotiate, implement and apply EU legislation. The outcome of these negotiations will determine what arrangements apply in relation to EU legislation in future once the UK has left the EU.

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