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Written Statements

Volume 643: debated on Wednesday 20 June 2018

Written Statements

Wednesday 20 June 2018

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Business Impact Target

This statement sets the Government’s business impact target in respect of the economic impact on business of regulation which comes into or ceases to be in force for this Parliament, along with related matters as required under section 21 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (“the Act”).

It is important to recognise that the Government are setting an ambitious target. The Government are committed to providing legal certainty and a stable environment for business by incorporating all EU law into UK law, as well as taking necessary action in areas such as product safety, plastics and corporate governance. Consequently, the Government will continue to monitor regulatory impacts rigorously, while placing the importance of regulating to tackle these nationally important issues above a strict adherence to the target.

Business impact target1

The Government’s target is for a saving of £9 billion to business and voluntary or community bodies from qualifying measures that come into force or cease to be in force during this Parliament.

Interim target2

The interim target covers the savings to be achieved from qualifying measures that come into force or cease to be in force in the first three years of this Parliament. The Government’s interim target is a saving of £4.5 billion.

Measurement of the business impact target3

The impact of each qualifying measure will be assessed on the basis of its equivalent annual net direct cost to business (EANDCB) measured in 2016 prices and with a 2017 present value base year. As in the previous Parliament, the contribution to the business impact target will be the sum of the EANDCB over the first five years for which the measure will be in force, or the sum of the EANDCB over the full lifetime of the measure for measures that are, or will be, in force for less than five years.

Qualifying regulatory provisions4

Under the Act, the measures that are in scope for the business impact target are described as “regulatory provisions”. That includes both legislation and the activities of Ministers and listed regulators. The Government must designate the categories of regulatory provisions that are to be scored against the target (“qualifying regulatory provisions”). Qualifying regulatory provisions are regulatory provisions that do not fall within any of the exclusions set out below:

a) Regulatory provisions that have been certified by Departments or regulators as falling under the de minimis rule, namely those that have an EANDCB of less than ± £5 million;

b) Regulatory provisions that implement new or changed obligations from European Union regulations, decisions and directives, and other international commitments and obligations, except in cases of gold-plating. This includes measures incorporating EU law into domestic law under the EU Withdrawal Bill and legislation made for the purpose of implementing the EU withdrawal agreement, including implementation of new EU law during the implementation period.

c) Regulatory provisions that have been certified by Departments or regulators as dealing with deficiencies in retained EU law (under the EU Withdrawal Bill and other legislation);

d) Regulatory provisions that are intended to deliver—or to replicate—better competition-based outcomes in markets characterised by market power;

e) Regulatory provisions relating to systemic financial risk;

f) Regulatory provisions relating to civil emergencies;

g) Regulatory provisions concerning fines and penalties, and redress and restitution;

h) Regulatory provisions that implement changes to the classification and scheduling of drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 where these follow the recommendations of the relevant independent advisory body;

i) Regulatory provisions that have been certified by Departments or regulators as relating to the safety of tenants, residents and occupants in buildings that stem from, or relate to, Government’s response to the Grenfell tragedy, reviews, inquiries or working groups;

j) Regulator casework including specific investigation and enforcement activity, individual licence decisions, and individual advice;

k) Education, communications activities, and promotional campaigns by regulators, including media campaigns, posters, factsheets, bulletins, letters, websites, and information/advice helplines;

I) Policy development by regulators, including formal and informal consultations, policy reviews, and ad hoc information requests;

m) Changes to the organisation and management of regulators, except for those resulting from legislative changes or another policy change that is a qualifying regulatory provision;

1 As required under section 21(1)(a) of the Act.

2 As required under section 21 (2) of the Act.

3 As required under section 21 (3)(b) of the Act.

4 As required under section 21 (3)(a) of the Act.


Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Media Matters

On 1 May 2018, I informed the House that I had issued a public interest intervention notice (PIIN) in respect of the acquisition by Trinity Mirror plc (now known as Reach plc) of certain publishing assets of Northern & Shell Media Group Ltd.

The PIIN triggered the requirement for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to report to me on jurisdictional and competition matters, and for Ofcom to report on the following two media public interest considerations:

First, the need for, to the extent that it is reasonable and practicable, a sufficient plurality of views in newspapers in each market for newspapers in the United Kingdom or a part of the United Kingdom; and

Secondly, the need for free expression of opinion in newspapers.

I received the CMA and Ofcom reports on Thursday 31 May and have today published these on the website.

I accept the CMA’s findings that while it is, or may be, the case that a relevant merger situation has been created, the merger does not give rise to a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in any market.

I have also accepted Ofcom’s conclusions that the merger does not raise concerns in relation to plurality of views, nor does it raise concerns in relation to free expression of opinion in newspapers.

In the light of this, and having considered representations submitted by interested parties in response to the PIIN, I have written to the parties today confirming my decision not to refer the merger for a phase 2 investigation.

I have also notified the CMA, in accordance with section 56(1) of the Enterprise Act 2002, to now deal with the matter from a competition perspective.

The role of the Secretary of State in this process is quasi-judicial and procedures are in place to ensure that I act independently and have followed a process which is fair and impartial.


Post-Council for Transport, Telecoms and Energy

The Transport, Telecoms and Energy Council (TTE) took place in Luxembourg. Lord Ashton of Hyde represented the UK at the telecoms session of the Council, on 8 June.

Member states (MS) were asked to vote on a general approach (GA) on the Cybersecurity Act regulation. The UK voted in favour of this GA, after having received waivers from the European Scrutiny Committee (ESC) and European Union Committee (EUC).

This Council went on to hold a progress report/policy debate on the proposed regulation concerning e-privacy, in which the presidency urged MS to help drive progress on the e-privacy regulation.

The Austrian delegation then set out its work programme as the incoming presidency for the second half of 2018. As part of its commitment to completing various digital single market (DSM) initiatives, the Austrian delegation highlighted the importance of continued work on the e-privacy regulation and made clear its ambition to achieve a GA on a .eu top level domain name during the course of its presidency. The Austrian delegation also noted that the next TTE telecoms Council would be held on 4 December 2018.

This session of the Council went on to engage in a policy debate on the directive on the reuse of public sector information (PSI).

The presidency then provided information on the directive on the European electronic communications code (EECC); the regulation on the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC); and the regulation on a framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the EU.

To conclude this session of the Council, the Commission provided information on the state of play of the DSM.


Home Department

Offensive and Dangerous Weapons: Consultation Responses

On 14 October 2017 the Government published a public consultation paper on proposals for new legislative measures on offensive and dangerous weapons.

The proposals included making it a criminal offence for knives purchased online to be delivered to a residential address, making it a criminal offence to possess certain offensive weapons in private and extending the offence of possessing a knife or offensive weapon on school premises to a wider range of educational institutions. Other legislative proposals included amending the offences of threatening with an article with a blade or point or an offensive weapon and updating the definition of a flick knife. The consultation also sought views on making it a criminal offence to sell products containing certain corrosive substances to those under the age of 18 and to possess corrosive substances in a public place, and prohibiting certain large calibre rifles and rapid firing rifles under section 5 of the Firearms Act 1968.

The consultation closed on 9 December and I am today publishing a summary of the responses that the consultation received. A copy of the summary will be placed in the House Library and will be available on the website.


Health and Social Care

Gosport Investigation Report

Today the report of the Gosport independent panel on events at Gosport War Memorial Hospital from the late 1980s to 2001 has been published.

This report follows four years of work by Bishop James Jones and his panel. The Bishop has adopted a strong commitment to a “families first” approach to public disclosure, which means that the process of public disclosure began earlier today with the families themselves.

The report provides a comprehensive account of events at Gosport War Memorial Hospital from the late 1980s to 2001. It has drawn on previous reviews but also on important new material unearthed by the panel.

Given the gravity of issues and the content and scale of the report, we will need to consider its findings with great care and thoroughness across Government in the coming weeks.

All relevant agencies and Departments both nationally and locally, including the Home Office and Ministry of Justice are also giving the report urgent and thorough attention. Once that work is done, the relevant agencies will decide what steps to take next.

Copies of the report have been laid before the House and are available from the Vote Office and at:

An oral statement will be delivered to both Houses later today.