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Written Statements

Volume 650: debated on Wednesday 5 December 2018

Written Statements

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Attorney General

Exiting the EU: Publication of Legal Advice

Following the motion passed yesterday in the House of Commons, I am today placing in the Libraries of both Houses a copy, in full, of the final advice that I provided to Cabinet on 14 November on the legal effect of the withdrawal agreement.

The action responds to the Humble Address motion of the House of Commons passed on 13 November.

The release of this advice does not set a precedent for any future release of Law Officers’ advice. It remains a fundamental constitutional convention that neither the fact, nor the content, of Law Officers’ advice is disclosed outside Government without the Law Officers’ consent. That convention provides the fullest guarantee that the business of Governments is conducted at all times in the light of thorough and candid legal advice, which may also enter into matters of acute sensitivity to the public interest. The Leader of the House of Commons has asked the Committee of Privileges to inquire into the serious constitutional implications of Humble Address motions in such circumstances and I very much hope that it moves to do so as swiftly as possible.

The constitutional tensions created between the expression of the will of the House of Commons by these means on the one hand, and the public interest in the Law Officers’ convention on the other, are not themselves conducive to the proper conduct of public affairs. It is necessary that the public has confidence in the ability of Government and Parliament to work together at a time of national decision-making of the most profound significance. The standing of the House of Commons is also of prime importance. For these reasons, having tested the will of the House twice, the Government will respect their decision and, in these exceptional circumstances and to resolve for the present those constitutional tensions, they have decided, with my consent, to publish this advice.

It is the Government’s purpose and intention that the House will be enabled to address clearly the policy and political decisions now before it, bearing the national interest in mind.


Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Industrial Strategy

As part of the industrial strategy, the Government committed to making the most of the UK’s strengths, so that we are at the forefront of new technologies and emerging industries in the years ahead. The life sciences sector is one of the most important pillars of the UK economy, contributing over £70 billion a year and 240,000 jobs across the country.

In 2017, a wide coalition of industry and charity partners, led by the Government’s life sciences champion Professor Sir John Bell, published an ambitious life sciences industrial strategy to set a clear direction for the future economic growth of the sector. The Government’s response came within only 12 weeks of the strategy’s publication with the very first life sciences sector deal. The deal announced nearly £500 million of Government support and over £1 billion of new inward industry investment, bringing together industry partners from across the sector, charities, a range of Government agencies and the NHS to deliver its bold vision at pace.

One year on, the second life sciences sector deal is going even further, announcing additional measures to secure a global lead in the areas of greatest opportunity for the UK. Taken together with the first sector deal, these programmes are building on existing strengths and putting in place the foundations for future growth needed to develop the ecosystem that allows life sciences to continue to thrive in the UK. The second life sciences sector deal sets out:

In early detection of disease and genomics:

Major investments in the last year from Government and sector partners delivering on our commitment to build on our world-leading assets at UK Biobank, further backed by a new, world-first commitment to sequence one million whole genomes in the UK within the next five years, with an ambition to sequence five million in the same timeframe.

A new commitment, backed by up to £79 million of Government funding, to develop a first-of-its-kind, world-leading longitudinal cohort of healthy participants that will enable scientific research into the hidden signs of disease and the development of diagnostic tools to detect and diagnose diseases earlier.

In digital technologies and data analytics we are:

Laying down the building blocks to realise the full potential of NHS data, while maintaining public trust and maximising the benefits for NHS patients.

Setting out further detail on digital innovation hubs which will provide expert clinical research data services with world-leading data analysis and sharing capabilities—a core part of a wider programme to improve health data infrastructure and support digitally-enabled clinical research.

Detailing progress on five centres of excellence in digital pathology and radiology with AI including the announcement of a further £50 million investment in the programme as a first step towards making this a truly national asset to support early and improved diagnosis across the UK and deliver more efficient NHS services.

In advanced therapies:

Significant support has been allocated from the £146 million leading-edge healthcare package (part of the industrial strategy challenge fund) announced in the sector deal last year to build an impressive end-to-end national infrastructure.

Investors have recognised the strength in UK-grown advanced therapy biotechs and UK companies are scaling up their cell and gene therapy manufacturing facilities.

Wider policy measures are supporting the package, including:

Speeding up and streamlining the UK clinical environment.

Developing a regulatory framework that keeps pace with innovative technologies.

Helping the sector access the skills it needs.

The deal also sets out how we are delivering on our commitment to increase R and D spend in the UK to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. We are improving the uptake of innovation in the NHS, implementing the accelerated access review. This year the NHS will set out through its forthcoming long-term plan and the recently announced medicines pricing agreement, how it will be a crucial national partner and beneficiary of innovations flowing from industry.

Industry partners have responded to commitments from Government with a further wave of their own commitments to the UK, generating well over £1 billion in new investment. These include:

A £1 billion investment by UCB, a world-leading pharmaceutical company, in a new discovery research hub in the UK, including a purpose-built R and D facility, early manufacturing and commercial operations which will support around 650 high-value jobs, many in R and D and early manufacturing, enabling further collaborations with UK universities, biotechs and medical research charities.

Over £200 million of further investments from a wide range of companies, including GW Pharmaceuticals, Roche, Celgene Ltd, IQVIA Ltd and Oxford Biomedica Plc.

The strength of the partnership between the Government, the NHS and the life sciences sector is making the UK a global standard bearer for discovery research and advanced manufacturing. We are committed to continuing the hard work of implementation over the coming years because the prize—a globally leading UK life sciences environment —will deliver huge benefits to the people of this country through a stronger economy and a stronger NHS.

Sector deals, where industries are invited to come forward with plans for their future, embody the ethos of our collaborative approach. They show how industry and the Government, working in partnership, can boost the productivity and earning power of specific sectors.

I am placing a copy of the second life sciences sector deal in the Libraries of both Houses.


Health and Social Care

Health: Branded Medicines Pricing

My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Lords) (Lord O’Shaughnessy) has made the following written statement:

Further to my written ministerial statement of Friday 23 November, I am pleased to announce that final agreement has been reached on the 2019 voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing and access between the Department of Health and Social Care, on behalf of the UK Government representing the Governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

The scheme terms are detailed in the documentation for the agreement, a copy of which has been deposited in the Library of the House. The 2019 voluntary scheme has now been agreed by all parties, and will commence on 1 January 2019 for a period of five years.


Home Department

Justice and Home Affairs Pre-Council Statement

The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council of Ministers will meet on 6 and 7 December in Brussels. The Minister for Immigration, my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes), will represent the UK for Interior day. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Hertfordshire (Mr Gauke), will represent the UK for Justice day. The Scottish Government Minister for Community Safety, Ash Denham, MSP, will also attend for Justice day.

Interior day on 6 December will begin with a policy debate on the proposed regulation to amend the European border and coast guard regulation. The regulation aims to reinforce the EU’s integrated border management strategy and further protect the external EU borders by providing the European Border and Coast Guard Agency with a standing corps of 10,000 staff with executive powers, dedicated equipment and the remit to act in third countries. This is a Schengen building measure which the UK does not participate in.

The Commission will present a progress report on the proposed recast of the EU returns directive. The UK chose not to participate in the current version of this directive, and has yet to decide whether to participate in this recast.

The presidency will seek agreement to a general approach on the proposed regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online. The UK supports this proposal which seeks to address the threat posed by the high-speed dissemination of terrorist content online. The UK is content with the outcome of negotiations on the regulation and is supportive of the proposed text, and of adoption of this regulation as soon as possible.

In the main Council and over lunch, there will be further debate on the comprehensive approach on migration, and on the reform of the common European asylum system, specifically the issue of solidarity, responsibility and relocation in the context of the Dublin IV proposal. The UK does not participate in the Dublin IV proposal. The Council will also discuss measures to tackle organised immigration crime. The UK supports work to strengthen the EU’s external borders and to intensify relationships with key third countries in order to break smuggling networks and ensure that refuge is given to those who qualify for international protection.

There will also be a policy debate on Justice and Home Affairs: Priorities for the next MFF (2021-27). These programmes will commence after the UK’s exit from the EU and the end of the envisaged implementation period. The UK will not be participating in any future programmes as a member state.

During Justice day on 7 December, the presidency will seek to agree a general approach on the sale of goods directive.

The presidency will be seeking agreement to a general approach on the recast of Brussels IIa, the foundation EU regulation on family law. The proposed text of the recast improves the procedures supplementing the 1980 Hague convention regarding abducted children; the placement of a child in another member state; automatic recognition of judgments, authentic instruments and agreements; enforcement of these in other member states; and co-operation between the central authorities responsible for the administration of cases arising from the regulation. It also introduces a provision to provide an opportunity for a child to express his or her views in proceedings under the regulation.

The Council will discuss the proposal on the third-party effects of assignment of claims. The focus will be a policy debate on article 4, which determines the basic rule of the proposal. The options for the basic rule are either the law of habitual residence or the law of the assigned claim. The UK has not opted into this proposal so will not intervene. The UK is content with either rule providing there is no disruption to current financial market practice.

The Council will discuss the proposed regulation relating to improving law enforcement access to data held by communication service providers (e-evidence), with the aim of achieving a general approach. As the UK is not participating in the regulation, we do not have a vote and will not intervene.

The Commission is expected to provide an update at this Council on the preparation of draft EU negotiating mandates for the second additional protocol to the (Budapest) cyber-crime convention and to open discussions with the US on the CLOUD Act. The Government will consider the implications of these proposals for the UK when they are published by the Commission.

The Commission will provide an update on the planned preparatory steps on the legal and organisational measures to be taken to make the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) operational. The UK does not participate in the EPPO.

The presidency will be presenting a “state of play” paper on data retention. This reflects working level discussions on responding to the Court of Justice of the European Union’s judgments on the lawful retention of communications data.

Ministers will discuss, and be asked to approve, Council conclusions on ways to reinforce judicial co-operation in criminal justice through mutual recognition tools, including the European arrest warrant and European investigation order. The UK values our co-operation under these tools and will highlight our commitment to the principle of mutual recognition and the importance of close operational working between member states to ensure that they function efficiently.

There will also be a state of play item on EU accession to the ECHR.


Housing, Communities and Local Government

Local Government Finance Settlement 2019-20

In 2016, the Government offered a multi-year finance settlement, which was accepted by 97% of councils, designed to provide funding certainty over the medium term. The 2019-20 provisional settlement will consult on the final year of this four-year deal, while confirming additional resources provided at autumn Budget 2018, including £650 million for social care.

The Hudson review into local government finance, governance and processes recommended that the provisional local government finance settlement be published around 5 December. I have previously confirmed that I accept this recommendation and would aim to publish the provisional settlement on 6 December. This confirmation was made prior to the scheduling of the meaningful vote.

I recognise that my parliamentary colleagues will wish to engage thoroughly in these debates and will also wish to consider the proposed local government finance settlement for 2019-20. I have therefore decided to announce the provisional local government finance settlement after this protected period, by way of an oral statement. I can confirm that the usual period for making representations on the provisional local government finance settlement will not be truncated as a result.


International Development

World AIDS Day

Saturday 1 December marked the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day. It is remarkable how different the global outlook is for people living with HIV in 2018 than it was in 1988. People can live full lives with HIV, as the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) demonstrated so poignantly on 28 November.

We have a lot to be proud of. The UK has now become one of the first countries to meet the United Nations’ 90-90-90 targets. We have demonstrated what is possible if the right services and support are in place, and when stigma and discrimination are challenged.

Globally, huge progress has been made—new HIV infections have halved since their peak in 1996. The UK has played a leading role since the beginning of the epidemic—helping to stop unnecessary AIDS-related deaths, preventing new HIV infections and investing in game-changing research and technology.

However, the end of AIDS is still not in sight. In 2017, nearly 1 million people died of AIDS, and one quarter of HIV positive people still do not know their status. We must continue to expand testing services, get more people on life-saving treatment, and address the structural issues that cause people to become infected.

That is why DFID remains one of the biggest donors to the HIV epidemic. Through our current £1.2 billion investment in the global fund to fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, UK Aid is expanding access to life saving HIV treatment and supporting countries to respond to their own epidemics.

In 2017 alone, UK Aid helped the global fund partnership to provide 17.5 million people with antiretroviral therapy and protect nearly 700,000 babies from being infected by their mothers. Furthermore, our 20-year agreement with Unitaid and ongoing support to the Clinton health access initiative has given the world great advancements in HIV testing and treatment, at affordable costs.

However, the HIV epidemic is complex and cannot be addressed fully with standalone programmes—that is why DFID is delivering an integrated approach. We support the integration of HIV with TB services and signed up to the political declaration at the high level meeting on TB at UNGA 2018, which includes ambitious targets on increasing access to preventative treatments for people living with both TB and HIV. We are also ensuring HIV is included in DFID’s health systems strengthening work, and we have embedded HIV within DFID’s education policy, humanitarian policy and our 2018 strategic vision for gender equality.

HIV and AIDS disproportionately affects women and adolescent girls. AIDS is still, shockingly, the biggest killer of women of reproductive age around the world, and every week around 7,000 young women are infected with HIV. To bring down HIV infections, we must continue to fight for gender equality, stop violence against women and girls and advance sexual and reproductive health and rights.

In places where DFID does not provide aid, we are advocating for public health evidence and human rights. The failure of some countries to address their HIV epidemics is political, not financial. Discrimination against “key populations”—LGBT people, injecting drug users, sex workers, prisoners—drives worrying HIV infection rates in some parts of the world.

As a nation committed to global values, we are championing equality overseas. The UK Government support civil society to challenge harmful policies and attitudes that exclude minorities and put them at greater risk of HIV infection. In July, we announced a £6 million uplift to the Robert Carr civil society networks fund to support grassroots organisations to combat HIV stigma, demand their rights and increase access to HIV services for key populations.

The UK Government are playing a leading role as we strive to reach the sustainable development goal to end AIDS by 2030. On this World AIDS Day, while we commemorate the lives affected by HIV and AIDS, we are also inspired to accelerate our efforts.

From 3 December, DFID is pleased to be joining forces with the Department of Health and Social Care, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Evening Standard for the “AIDS-free Christmas Appeal”. Through UK Aid Match, the UK Government will double public donations of up to £2 million for projects in Maputo and Nairobi—we will help these cities to achieve their own 90-90-90 goals, as we have so proudly done in the UK.