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Written Statements

Volume 657: debated on Monday 1 April 2019

Written Statements

Monday 1 April 2019

Treasury

Bilateral Loan to Ireland

HM Treasury has today provided a further report to Parliament in relation to the bilateral loan to Ireland as required under the Loans to Ireland Act 2010. The report relates to the period from 1 October 2018 to 31 March 2019.

A written ministerial statement on the previous statutory report regarding the loan to Ireland was issued to Parliament on 15 October 2018, Official Report, column 33WS.

In line with the agreed repayment schedule, the first repayment on the principal of the loan from Ireland falls due on 15 April 2019. HM Treasury will update Parliament when this payment has been received, and report on it fully in the next statutory report.

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Contingent Liability: Notification of Reduction

The Term Funding Scheme (TFS) was introduced in August 2016 and indemnified by HM Treasury as part of the Bank of England’s (Bank’s) Asset Purchase Facility (APF), which also included the Corporate Bond Purchase Scheme (CBPS) (£10 billion) and gilt purchases (£435 billion). The TFS provided funding to banks and building societies at a rate close to bank rate for a term of up to four years. This supported the transmission of the August 2016 cut in bank rate to lending rates faced by households and businesses. The maximum authorised size of the TFS was £140 billion, and the actual size of the scheme when the drawdown window closed on 28 February 2018 was £127 billion.

In view of the scale of potential losses on TFS holdings relative to the Bank’s level of loss-absorbing capital at the time, the HM Treasury indemnity over the APF was extended to include all assets held under the TFS. The increased indemnity was duly notified to the chairs of the Treasury Committee and Public Accounts Committee on 4 August 2016, and a full departmental minute was laid on 15 September 2016. The most recent increase in the APF indemnity, following the increase in the authorised limit for the TFS to £140 billion, was notified to Parliament by laying a full departmental minute on 20 November 2017.

Under the new Finance Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which was agreed in June 2018 between the Bank and HM Treasury and notified to Parliament on 21 June 2018, it was agreed that HM Treasury would provide a £1.2 billion capital injection to the Bank, bringing its total loss-absorbing capital to £3.5 billion. This additional capital would allow the TFS to move from the Treasury-indemnified APF to the Bank’s un-indemnified balance sheet, and would result in the end of the Treasury’s £140 billion contingent liability with respect to potential losses in the TFS.

The Bank received the £1.2 billion capital injection on 22 March 2019 with the result that the TFS has now transferred to the Bank’s un-indemnified balance sheet. At the moment the capital injection was transferred, HM Treasury also notified the Bank that the £140 billion contingent liability associated with the TFS portion of the APF had been extinguished. The risks associated with any gains or losses on TFS holdings will now be managed against the Bank’s augmented loss-absorbing capital.

HM Treasury will continue to monitor risks to the Bank’s overall capital and financial position (including the TFS) through regular meetings with the Bank as set out in the new Finance MoU. The enhanced risk control framework previously agreed with the Treasury with respect to the remaining Treasury-indemnified APF schemes (gilt purchases and the Corporate Bond Purchase Scheme) will remain in place.

A full departmental minute is laid in the House of Commons providing more detail on this contingent liability.

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Defence

Modern Service Life

Three new initiatives, aimed at modernising the living and working arrangements for Armed Forces personnel will be launched today, 1 April. Our people are at the heart of Defence and these measures, including flexible working arrangements, expanded accommodation options and new cohabitation rules, are designed to modernise our Armed Forces and ensure they remain a competitive employer that meets the ever-changing needs and expectations of service personnel and their families.

First, from today, the Ministry of Defence is introducing flexible service to regular service personnel from all services. Personnel can apply to work part-time—reducing their normal working pattern by 20% or 40% and or request restricted separation—which limits the amount of time spent away from their normal home base to no more than 35 days per year. Pay and annual leave entitlements will be amended accordingly. Flexible service periods are subject to operational capability, limited to three years and individuals cannot exceed four years of flexible service in a 12-year period.

Secondly, current accommodation policy is being amended from today, to allow couples in long-term relationships, to live together in Service Family Accommodation (SFA) subject to availability. Service personnel who have more than four years’ service in the Armed Forces and who are in a long-term relationship or have residential responsibility for a child and are able to provide appropriate evidence of this, will be eligible to apply to live together in surplus SFA at all UK bases where properties are available. They will retain their marital status category but will not become eligible for wider allowances. This important change in policy to allow cohabitation will benefit all services and all ranks.

Finally, the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) will be launched in September, at the first pilot site, Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde. Two further pilot sites, Aldershot Garrison and RAF Wittering, will be launched in 2020. The pilot will last approximately three years and evidence will be gathered over the pilot period to refine the policy as the pilot develops. FAM will provide more choice to service personnel regarding where and with whom they live, making use of the private rental sector (including housing associations), alongside existing options of single living accommodation, SFA and home ownership. Accommodation entitlement will change to reflect the size of the family, rather than one’s rank as in current policy, promoting fairness and ensuring homes are fit for purpose. The FAM policy has been designed so that the cost to service personnel to rent property will be broadly the same as the equivalent type of SFA.

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Health and Social Care

Clinical Negligence Indemnity Cover

I am today updating the House on recent developments regarding indemnity arrangements for NHS general practice in England.

The Government have today launched the Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice (CNSGP), operated by NHS resolution on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. The regulations establishing the scheme are at:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2019/334/contents/made. NHS resolution have published guidance covering the scope and operation of the scheme:

https://resolution.nhs.uk/services/claims-management/clinical-claims/clinical-nealigence-scheme-for-general-practice/. The new scheme delivers a key component of the GP contract for 2019-20 and is expected to contribute to the recruitment and retention of GPs in the future. The scheme provides comprehensive cover to all GPs and their wider practice team for clinical negligence relating to NHS services occurring from 1 April 2019. All GPs and others providing primary medical services are automatically covered under the scheme. In addition, GPs and their practice staff providing other types of NHS services as part of their GP practice are also covered. There is no charge for this cover.

In parallel, to deliver on our commitment to put in place an existing liabilities scheme (ELS), we have agreed commercial terms with the Medical Protection Society covering claims for historic NHS clinical negligence incidents of their GP members occurring at any time before 1 April 2019. NHS resolution will have oversight of the arrangements for the new scheme and for an interim period claims handling will be retained by the MPS. Discussions are ongoing with other Medical Defence Organisations.

The Department will keep the operation of both CNSGP and the ELS arrangements under close scrutiny to ensure an effective service for GPs and the value for money of both schemes.

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Home Department

Serious Violence: Prevention

Tackling serious violence is a top priority for the Government. In April 2018, we published the “Serious Violence Strategy” that set out the need for a multi-agency approach to effective action against serious violence. The Government are today announcing the publication of a consultation on a new legal duty to support a multi-agency approach to preventing and tackling serious violence.

We know that different risk factors can impact on an individual’s vulnerability and susceptibility to becoming a victim or perpetrator of serious violence. These risk factors include domestic abuse, truancy, school exclusions and substance abuse. Evidence suggests that targeted interventions that can help mitigate and protect children and young people against these factors. It is with this in mind that a duty to prevent and tackle serious violence should reinforce an emphasis on early intervention and prevention with young people.

Our vision for a duty is to ensure agencies are focused on and accountable for preventing and tackling serious violence through a multi-agency preventive or ‘public health’ approach. This would include:

different organisations working together through partnerships to prevent and tackle serious violence as a priority;

involving and consulting communities and young people;

regular sharing between agencies of data and intelligence and identify those most at risk of becoming affected by serious violence;

using that information to develop a programme of early interventions;

partnerships that are not constrained by organisational, professional or geographical boundaries;

partners working together to agree joint funding for services;

using evidence including relevant evaluations to inform decision-making; and

organisations being held accountable for their work on serious violence, including being subject to inspections.

The Government welcome responses to the consultation document from the public, those with expertise in working with young people at risk of criminal involvement and or re-offending or victimisation, those involved in law enforcement and, more generally, the communities affected by serious violence including the voluntary and community sector. This includes relevant professionals, such as those working in social care, education, law enforcement, local government, community safety, youth services, offender management, public health and healthcare; and, in recognition of multi-agency approaches outside England and Wales, we would also welcome responses from across the UK.

The consultation, which launches today, 1 April, will run for a period of eight weeks, closing on 28 May and can be found on the gov.uk website at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?'>https://www.gov.uk/government/publications? departments%5B%5D=home-office&publication _filter_option=consultations.

This consultation fulfils the commitment for the intention to consult on a new legal duty made by the Home Secretary on 2 October. The other measures announced included the £200 million youth endowment fund and the review of drug misuse.

These measures build on the Government’s Serious Violence Strategy published on 9 April 2018. The strategy represents a step change in the way we think and respond to serious violence. The approach establishes a new balance between prevention and rigorous law enforcement activity. It shifts our approach towards steering young people away from crime in the first place and put in place measures to tackle the root causes. We believe that the approach set out in the strategy, with a greater emphasis on early intervention, will address violent crime and help young people to develop the skills and resilience to live happy and productive lives away from violence.

More recently, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 13 March that an additional £100 million funding in 2019-20 will help in the police’s immediate response to the rise in serious knife crime, enabling priority forces to immediately begin planning to put in place the additional capacity they need. The funding will also be invested in violence reduction units, bringing together a range of agencies including health, education, social services and others, to develop a multi-agency approach in preventing knife crime altogether.

The consultation will be placed in the Library of both Houses and an online version will be made available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?'>https://www.gov.uk/government/publications? departments%5B%5D=home-office&publication _filter_option=consultations.

To help analyse the responses please submit your response using the following online form: https://www. homeofficesurveys.homeoffice.gov.uk/s/N1VZW/.

Stop and Search: Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

The Government are also announcing greater powers for the police to use stop and search to help tackle violent crime. The Government have lifted two conditions set out in the Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme (BUSSS) regarding use of Section 60 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA) 1994 powers in seven force areas particularly affected by serious violence.

We have been clear that we support the necessary and proportionate use of stop and search powers to tackle serious violence and are determined to work with the police to crack down on serious violent crime.

Therefore, we are making it simpler for police to use section 60 (s60) of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act (CJPOA) 1994. Section 60 powers allow all individuals, within a specific area and for a limited amount of time, to be searched for weapons in anticipation of serious violence without suspicion. Such searches, when used correctly, are an important operational tool that enable forces to dissipate potential violent situations or recover offending items, for example, in anticipation of retaliatory or escalating levels of gang violence.

The Home Secretary chaired a meeting with senior police chiefs from Merseyside, the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester, South Wales, West Midlands, South Yorkshire, and West Yorkshire on 6 March. The officers cited the potential benefits of lifting conditions placed on the use of s60 powers by the Government’s Best Use of Stop and Search scheme. Introduced in 2014, the Best Use scheme is signed up to by all forces in England and Wales.

The police must be supported to help protect the people, and therefore as of 31 March 2019 we have lifted the conditions placed in these seven force areas particularly affected by knife crime, so as to:

reduce the level of authorisation required for a section 60 from senior officer to inspector;

lower the degree of certainty required by the authorising officer so they must reasonably believe an incident involving serious violence ‘may’, rather than ‘will’, occur.

This will mean there are 3,000 more officers able to authorise the use of these powers, and forces will feel more confident using them where appropriate—as judgments as to where violence definitely “will” take place can be hard to make.

These changes will be reviewed after six months, and a year—at which point we will decide whether to make these changes permanent and national. The College of Policing will also work alongside forces to create new guidelines on how best the police can engage with communities on the use of stop and search. We will also continue to support the use of stop and search where fair and effective, by all other forces.

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