Thursday 27 June 2019
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Environment and Climate Change: Government Response
The Government are in no doubt that the we face an environmental and climate emergency—from climate change to biodiversity decline, from poor air quality to plastic pollution—which requires urgent action. The decisions we make today will affect the future of our planet for generations to come.
The Government’s approach is defined not by the words we use, but by the actions we take. That is why, in October last year, we commissioned the independent Committee on Climate Change to provide advice on the implications of the Paris agreement for our long-term emissions reduction targets, and why the Government have now responded to that advice by setting a new legally binding target for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, via an amendment to the Climate Change Act that came into force on Thursday 27 June 2019. This will bring an end to the UK’s contribution to the emissions that cause climate change.
This latest action builds on the leading role we have taken in solving global environmental challenges, as we move towards a cleaner, resource efficient, more resilient and environmentally sustainable form of economic growth.
The UK was the first country in the world to introduce legally binding long-term emission reduction targets through the Climate Change Act 2008. Between 1990 and 2017, we reduced our emissions by 42 per cent while growing the economy by 72 per cent. We have been independently assessed by PwC as leading the G20 in decarbonising our economy since 2000. The independent International Energy Agency has recently stated that the UK is a world leader in decarbonisation of energy supply, both in terms of actual emissions reductions and ambitions set out in our future carbon targets.
We are continuing this proud record of action; we are now the first major economy in the world to have legislated for a net zero target. This commitment has been made possible by many years of hard work from Members across both Houses of Parliament and beyond.
Clean growth is at the heart of our modern industrial strategy, backed by the UK’s biggest ever increase in public investment in research and development. Whether it be through our global offshore wind industry, our leadership on green finance or our unrivalled research base that is leading the charge on electric vehicles, we are showing the economic benefits of cutting emissions while growing our economy. Low carbon technology and clean energy already contribute more than £44 billion to our economy every year. We already have almost 400,000 jobs in the low carbon economy and its supply chain, and by one estimate this could grow to two million jobs in 2030.
We are taking clear steps to build on this leadership and meet our future carbon budgets, building on our clean growth strategy. Last year we published our Road to Zero strategy, which sets out a clear pathway to zero emissions from road transport, alongside plans to develop one of the best charging networks in the world. In the power sector, £92 billion has been invested in clean energy since 2010, and earlier this year we published the £250 million offshore wind sector deal, which commits the industry to providing a third of electricity by 2030. We are continuing to improve the route to market for renewables, by making up to £557 million available for further contracts for difference, with £65 million budgeted for the latest allocation round 3. And the Chancellor announced the future homes standard, ensuring that by 2025 all new homes are future-proofed with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency.
Climate change and biodiversity decline globally are interlinked threats for wildlife and people. We must solve both challenges or we will solve neither. The recent IPBES report shows we must redouble our efforts at home and internationally. This is why we are introducing the landmark Environment Bill, the first in over 20 years. The Bill will include measures to improve air quality, put the protection and enhancement of biodiversity at the heart of the planning system, improve waste management and resource efficiency, and improve surface waste ground water and wastewater management. The Bill will put environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of Government, establishing the office for environmental protection and introducing statutory environmental principles. We are exploring options for developing a framework of targets to drive environmental improvement alongside sustainable growth.
The Bill will also place the Government’s flagship 25-year environment plan onto a statutory footing. The plan signals a step-change in ambition, setting out how we will improve the environment within a generation, by creating richer habitats for wildlife, improving air and water quality, and curbing the scourge of plastics in the world’s oceans. The first progress report, published in May 2019, finds that 90 per cent of our priority actions have been delivered or are on track for timely delivery.
In December 2018, the Government published a comprehensive resources and waste strategy as a blueprint for moving to a more circular economy which keeps resources in use for longer, eliminating all avoidable waste and doubling resource productivity by 2050.
We have laid the Agriculture Bill in Parliament, which sets out our plans to reward land managers for protecting and restoring the environment and farming sustainably. This year, we will also start developing a new emissions reduction plan for agriculture, in which we will set out our long-term vision for a more productive, low-carbon farming sector. We are putting our new environmental land management scheme at the corner of our agricultural policy, providing public money for public goods, including the protection of habitats which will support our biodiversity goals and climate change mitigation and adaptation. This will help deliver a key outcome set out in the 25-year environment plan.
We have kick-started the creation of a vast northern forest—which will see 50 million trees planted from Liverpool to Hull over the next 25 years—and announced £50 million to help plant new woodlands through the woodland carbon guarantee, with £10 million to plant new trees in our towns and cities through the urban tree challenge fund.
We have committed to publishing an England peatland strategy, which will set out our vision to reverse decline in peatlands and restore them, providing a range of public benefits including carbon storage, biodiversity rich habitats and flood mitigation. Work is underway on four large-scale peatland restoration projects across England, to which we have allocated £10 million, and will restore 6,498 hectares of degraded peatlands. We will also be setting up a lowland agricultural peatland taskforce.
The work of Natural England and its staff in protecting our invaluable natural spaces, wildlife and environment is vital and its independence as an adviser is essential to this. As set out in the 25-year environment plan, it will continue to have a central role in protecting and enhancing our environment for future generations. DEFRA and Natural England have responded to the need to balance public spending and to manage resources rigorously. Natural England has transformed the way it does business, working in partnership and deploying resources where they will have greatest impact.
We should celebrate the progress we have made, but we must go further if we are to deliver net zero and leave the environment in a better state than we found it. With further ambitious domestic policy and concerted international action, solving the challenge of climate change and environmental degradation is possible.
It will require Government—and political parties of all colours—to work together with all sectors of business and society. And we must fully engage young people too, which is why a new youth steering group, led by the British Youth Council, will be set up to advise Government, for the first time giving young people the chance to shape our future climate policy.
It is the year 2020 that the nations of the world must come together to agree stronger action for climate, nature and ocean protection. The UK is committed to leading action globally on halting the loss of biodiversity and developing an ambitious new post-2020 global framework for biodiversity under the convention on biological diversity. We continue to drive action with global partners on climate change and other environmental concerns, as we bid, in partnership with Italy, to host the 26th session of the UNFCCC conference of the parties in 2020 under a UK presidency. If we are to meet the challenge of climate change, we need international partners across the world to step up to our level of ambition.
We will build on the strong frameworks of the clean growth strategy and industrial strategy to deliver the necessary transformation of our economy. Our forthcoming Energy White Paper will outline the Government’s vision for the energy system in 2050 and the actions that will enable the system to evolve during this next decade in order to achieve our 2050 net zero target.
Acting together, we can seize this once-in-a-generation opportunity to tackle one of the greatest threats to humanity.
It is actions like these that will deliver the changes we need to see and help to secure the future of the world we leave to our children and grandchildren.
Implementing Geological Disposal
In 2010 the UK Government committed to report on progress in implementing geological disposal in response to a recommendation by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee. Geological disposal is the Government’s policy for the long-term management of the higher activity radioactive waste that has accumulated over many decades through the use of nuclear technology in industry, medicine and to generate clean electricity. Today the Government are publishing their eighth report.
In December 2018, the Government published, “Implementing Geological Disposal: Working with Communities”, which sets out the policy framework for the future implementation of geological disposal. This also signified the launch of a new process to identify a suitable location for a geological disposal facility in England. The Welsh Government launched a similar process in January 2019. Scotland and Northern Ireland are not participating in the geological disposal programme.
The commitment to report to Parliament on progress on implementing geological disposal was made in relation to a previous siting process which ended in 2013. Since then the Government have carried out a full policy review and with the launch of the new siting process are now implementing this new policy.
Moving forward, Radioactive Waste Management Ltd, the delivery body for the GDF, will provide more focused reports on the progress of the siting process to replace these annual reports.
I will place a copy of “Implementing Geological Disposal: Progress Report” in the Libraries of both Houses.
Public Appointments: Diversity
Today I have published the Government’s response to Lord Holmes’ review into opening up public appointments to disabled people, alongside a refreshed public appointments diversity action plan 2019.
In 2017 the Government published their public appointments diversity action plan making the moral and business case for more diverse public appointments and also setting out our goals and a 10 point action plan on diversity. As part of that action plan, we commissioned Lord Holmes to review the barriers preventing disabled people from taking up public appointments and he reported back in December 2018.
The Government have now responded to Lord Holmes’ recommendations and I take this opportunity to thank him again for his invaluable work and efforts in this important area.
We remain committed to bringing more people from diverse backgrounds into public appointments. The Government have set out how they will take forward Lord Holmes’ recommendations and will include these actions in a refreshed public appointments diversity action plan 2019, published today and deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.
The Government accept the principle of all the recommendations that Lord Holmes has made and believes that there is wider applicability to removing barriers for all groups, not just disabled people. The diversity action plan recommits the Government to their ambitions that 50% of all public appointees are female and 14% of public appointments should be from ethnic minorities by 2022. In December 2020, the Government will also consider the case for setting an ambition in relation to disabled people, once they have taken steps to improve the data.
Attachments can be viewed online at http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-06-27/HCWS1670/.
Single Departmental Plans
The Government have today published an updated set of single departmental plans for 2019-20, covering the duration of the Parliament.
These set out each Government Department’s objectives and how they will achieve them. Taken together, they show how Departments are working to deliver the Government’s programme.
This year, following recommendations from the National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee, and the Institute for Government, CO and HMT officials have worked with Departments to improve single departmental plans in three key areas: to ensure that they are more specific, more focused on departmental priorities and include improved performance indicators.
Building on the introduction of equality objectives last year, this year all Departments’ plans include diversity and inclusion indicators to track the Government’s progress in making the civil service the UK’s most inclusive employee. Each plan too reflects the Government’s ambition on diversity in public appointments that, by 2022, 50% of all public appointees are female and 14% of all public appointments made are from ethnic minorities. They also indicate how Departments are contributing to the domestic delivery of the sustainable development goals. For the first time, Departments’ plans incorporate the principles of the public value framework. This is just one of the steps we are taking to have a greater focus on outcomes delivered for taxpayers’ money.
Single departmental plans allow Parliament and the public to track Departments’ progress and performance against a number of indicators. Their annual report and accounts, which will be published in due course, show how a Department has performed against the objectives in their single departmental plan over the course of the last year.
Single departmental plans will be revised annually to reflect new priorities or changes in responsibilities.
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
The Times and The Sunday Times/Evening Standard
I wish to make a statement on media matters.
The Times/The Sunday Times application to vary 1981 conditions
On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to vary certain conditions put in place in 1981 by the then Secretary of State for Trade. The proposed changes would allow The Times and The Sunday Times to share journalistic resources, subject to the agreement of each newspaper’s editor.
Having considered this application (using my quasi-judicial power as Secretary of State as set out in the Enterprise Act 2002) alongside the representations made to the invitation to comment published on 17 January 2019, I concluded that there had been a material change in circumstances since 1981 that would justify the variation as the effect of the proposed changes did not, in my view, materially impact on the public interest considerations as set out in section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002.
In my written statement to the House on 11 April 2019, I announced that I was minded to accept News UK’s application to vary the 1981 undertakings. However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I also noted that the existing governance arrangements lacked clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities. Before agreeing the application, I therefore made it clear to News UK that their proposals needed to be suitably updated and enhanced to reflect corporate best practice.
I asked officials at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to take forward discussions on these issues with News UK in order to consider proposals from News UK which would address my concerns. Following the conclusions of these discussions, News UK have submitted revised undertakings which, in my assessment, represent a sufficient improvement on those contained in the original proposal and which substantially meet my concerns. I therefore propose to accept the revised News UK undertakings.
Before doing so, and in line with the Enterprise Act 2002, I have today published a consultation notice on the Government website seeking representations on the proposed undertakings. I have also published the revisions to the Times Newspaper Holdings Limited articles of association, which give effect to the agreed changes.
Views are sought on the revised News UK undertakings and the supporting documents by 10 am on Monday 15 July 2019. Responses should be sent to email@example.com or to the DCMS media team, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, 100 Parliament Street, London, SW1 2BQ.
I will consider any representations received on the revised undertakings before this deadline, and will consider whether any further modifications are required in light of them, or if the undertakings are now sufficient. I will keep the House informed of further developments with this matter.
Acquisition of 30% shareholder stake in the Evening Standard.
On 13 June I instructed my officials to write to Lebedev Holdings Limited (LHL) and Independent Digital News and Media Limited (IDNM), the owners of The Evening Standard and The Independent, to inform them that I was “minded to” issue a public interest intervention notice (PIIN). I can confirm today that I am issuing the PIIN.
This relates to concerns I have that there may be public interest considerations—as set out in section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002—that are relevant to the recent acquisition of a 30% stake by the International Media Company (IMC) in LHL and the linked transaction involving the acquisition of a 30% stake by Scalable LP in IDNM and that these concerns warrant further investigation.
I invited the parties to submit representations to me, which they have done. I acknowledge the points they have raised about the structure of the transactions and the turnover of the companies. Nonetheless, I still consider that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a relevant merger situation has been created. I have also noted what they have told me about protections for editorial independence, including the provisions in their shareholding agreement. However, I continue to believe that it may be the case that the public interest considerations of freedom of expression and accurate news reporting are relevant to this merger. I thus consider it appropriate for me to intervene in this matter.
At this stage, my decision to issue the PIIN triggers 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 media public interest considerations in section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002: (2A). The need for (a) accurate presentation of news; and (b) free expression of opinion. I have asked both the CMA and Ofcom to report back to me by 23 August 2019.
My role as the Secretary of State in this process is quasi-judicial and procedures are in place to ensure that I act independently and follow a process which is scrupulously fair, transparent and impartial.
I will update the House once I have received both reports from the regulators and have had time to consider the recommendations.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Agriculture and Fisheries Council
I represented the UK at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Luxembourg on 18 June.
The Council discussed the European maritime and fisheries fund (EMFF) budget for 2021-27, and agreed a partial general approach. The EMFF is part of the wider EU multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, and is intended to ensure the proper implementation of the common fisheries policy’s objectives. While there was disagreement about the level of support for certain aspects of the fund, such as engine replacement and vessel acquisition, Council approved the partial general approach with a qualified majority. Although the EMFF will not apply to the UK once we have left the EU, I supported the proposal in line with the position adopted by the majority of member states.
The Commission then briefed the Council on the progress of the common fisheries policy (CFP) and consultation on fishing opportunities for 2020. While there were a number of successes such as record profits for the industry and improved governance of fisheries through multi-annual plans, the Commission also outlined that challenges remained. In 2020 it will be the first year that all stocks must meet maximum sustainable yield (MSY) while the full implementation of the landing obligation (LO) continues. In an exchange of views, member states generally welcomed the Commission communication and restated their commitment to the CFP objectives. I intervened to express the UK’s support for maximising stocks at MSY, but noted that certain exceptions are necessary, such as in mixed fisheries whereby catches must be managed appropriately and in consideration of low volume quota species. I also called for a formal review of the landing obligation to inform how compliance can be improved.
In public session the Council discussed a presidency progress report on the common agricultural policy (CAP) post 2020 reform package. Open questions across all three CAP legislative files meant that a Council partial general approach on the texts could not be reached at this stage. Most delegations marked areas where they wanted further debate under the incoming Finnish presidency. These include the new delivery model which would give member states more flexibility in the way they use EU funds, achieving environmental outcomes, the exemption of small farmers from conditionality, voluntary coupled support/market orientation, and gender equality.
A number of items were discussed under “any other business”:
The Lithuanian delegation informed Council of the parlous state of the cod stock in the eastern Baltic sea. Lithuania urged the Commission to present an emergency support package for fisheries relying on eastern Baltic cod, including direct EMFF support.
The Commission informed member states about the joint recommendations under article 11 of the CFP regulation in the field of environmental legislation (habitats and birds directives). The Commission highlighted that only a few joint recommendations on fisheries conservation measures had been submitted so far and encouraged member states to submit further joint recommendations.
The Spanish delegation informed Council about the outcome of the congress on the post-2020 CAP green architecture which focused on the environmental and climate change challenges faced by European agriculture.
Exiting the European Union
General Affairs Council
I represented the UK at the General Affairs Council (GAC) in Luxembourg on 18 June 2019. Until we leave the European Union, we remain committed to fulfilling our rights and obligations as a full member state and continue to act in good faith. A provisional report of the meeting and the conclusions adopted can be found on the Council of the European Union’s website at:
Multiannual financial framework 2021-27
Ministers discussed the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-27, ahead of the June European Council. The presidency had streamlined the options on the negotiating table ahead of the June European Council. Ministers agreed that the negotiations should conclude by the end of the year. However, issues that remained unresolved included: the prioritisation of funding between cohesion, common agricultural policy (CAP) and current spending; the framing of the debate on rebates; Horizon Europe; and restating of positions on own resources. The Commission underlined that the new European Parliament (EP) would be ready to restart discussions between the European Commission and the Council of the European Union in July.
Preparation of the European Council on 20-21 June 2019: Conclusions and European Council follow-up
The Council finalised preparations for the European Council on 20-21 June and Ministers broadly accepted the latest draft of conclusions. The agenda comprised: the next institutional cycle; MFF; climate change; the European semester; disinformation and hybrid threats; and external relations.
Member states discussed the projected timeline for the MFF and many requested a special November summit to facilitate further progress on negotiations. On climate, some member states pushed for a commitment to climate neutrality by 2050, as well as upholding the Paris agreement. Other member states continued to resist these proposals and insisted that an EU strategy should not pre-empt their own work in this area.
I intervened in support of the ambitious climate targets and highlighted the UK’s recent commitment to climate neutrality by 2050. I stressed the importance of EU leadership in tackling climate change. I also supported improving the EU’s security culture and enhancing its resilience against external hybrid security threats. I highlighted that countering disinformation remained a key priority for the UK and welcomed the language welcoming the adoption of the restrictive measures regime for cyber threats. On external relations, I underlined the need to continue to tackle Russian aggression and to support the full implementation of the Minsk agreement. I welcomed the inclusion of the relationship with Africa and reference to the five-year anniversary of the downing of flight MH17.
Enlargement and stabilisation and association process
Ministers agreed conclusions on the western Balkans and Turkey, in response to the Commission’s 2019 enlargement package. The conclusions take note of the Commission’s recommendation to open accession negotiations with the Republic of North Macedonia and Albania, based on its evaluation of the positive progress made. They also welcome the Prespa agreement between Greece and North Macedonia. The Council will revert to the issue with the intention of reaching a clear and substantive decision no later than October 2019.
European semester—Horizontal report on country-specific recommendations
Ministers discussed the Commission’s horizontal report on the macro-economic situation of the EU, which draws on country-specific recommendations (CSR), and decided to pass the report to the European Council.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign Affairs Council
My hon. Friend the Minister for Africa attended the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 17 June. It was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HRVP), Federica Mogherini. The meeting was held in Luxembourg.
The High Representative and Foreign Ministers discussed the most pressing issues on the international agenda. They referred to the situation in Venezuela, stressing their concern as the political and humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. They reiterated their call for a political, negotiated solution within the framework of the Venezuelan constitution that would ultimately lead to free, fair and credible presidential elections and their support for efforts in this direction.
The High Representative and Foreign Ministers referred to the Helms-Burton Act, underlining the EU’s commitment to protect its businesses and to draw on all appropriate measures to address the effects of the Helms-Burton Act, including in relation to the EU’s WTO rights and through the use of the EU blocking statute.
They also discussed the situation in the Republic of Moldova, following the formation of the new Government. They reiterated the EU’s readiness to work with a reform-committed Government, on the basis of the EU-Moldova association agreement.
The High Representative also referred to the first anniversary of the Prespa agreement, which was signed by Greece and North Macedonia exactly one year ago.
EU global strategy
Foreign and Defence Ministers discussed the EU global strategy, in light of the High Representative’s third annual progress report: “The EU Global Strategy: three years on, looking forward”. They took stock of progress made in the last three years and reflected on future perspectives, adopting conclusions on EU action to strengthen rules-based multilateralism.
Ministers also focused on security and defence co-operation, and welcomed the substantive progress made to enhance the Union’s security and its role as a security provider and global actor, including through its common security and defence policy.
Common foreign and security policy effectiveness
Foreign Ministers discussed the common foreign and security policy (CFSP)’s effectiveness, reflecting the shifts underway in the global landscape. Ministers reflected on practical ideas for enhancing the effectiveness of the EU’s CFSP and in particular, on how to increase coherence and consistency to strengthen unity.
Ministers expressed their deep regret at the deteriorating situation following the violence on 3 June and underlined the opportunity for positive change in Sudan. The UK Minister led the widespread condemnation of violence and called for accountability, welcoming the messaging in the EU28 statement released immediately after the FAC. She suggested the EU consider targeted measures against those guilty of the most serious crimes and human rights violations.
Ministers expressed support for the AU’s leadership role and their efforts (alongside Ethiopia) to secure agreement for a civilian-led transition authority, delivering on the aspirations of the Sudanese people. There was broad agreement that the EU should provide immediate assistance to support humanitarian needs, while preparing a longer-term package to support a civilian transition authority.
Informal lunch on the middle east with the Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi
Foreign Ministers had an exchange of views with the Foreign Minister of Jordan, Ayman Safadi. They focused on latest developments in the region, including Syria, tensions in the Gulf region, and prospects for the middle east peace process.
The Council agreed a number of measures:
The Council adopted conclusions on security and defence in the context of the EU global strategy.
The Council adopted conclusions on a new EU strategy on central Asia, adapting the EU policy to new opportunities that have emerged in the region.
The Council adopted conclusions on the EU’s engagement to the Black sea regional co-operation.
The Council adopted conclusions approving EU human rights guidelines on safe drinking water and sanitation.
The Council decided to revoke the framework for restrictive measures against the Maldives that it had adopted on 16 July 2018.
The Council approved and authorised the signature on behalf of the EU of a joint declaration with the Pacific alliance.
The Council adopted a decision on the position to be taken, on behalf of the European Union, in the Trade Committee established under the interim partnership agreement between the EU and the Pacific states, to take account of the accession of Samoa and of future accessions of other Pacific island states.
Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act: Human Rights Violations
I am today laying before Parliament a report, “Report on Regulations Made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 in Relation to Gross Human Rights Violations”, as required by section 32 of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018.
The report details the 17 regulations laid under section 1 of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 during the reporting period from 23 May 2018 to 22 May 2019, including seven regulations which state a relevant human rights purpose. In this time, the Government prioritised preparation on sanctions for a no-deal exit, specifically on making the necessary secondary legislation to carry over existing EU sanctions into UK law on exit day.
We have also included information on additional actions the Government have taken related to human rights sanctions. I can confirm to the House that HMG are actively considering establishing a UK autonomous human rights sanctions regime. Whilst the UK continues to be a member of the EU or during the implementation period, EU sanctions will apply in the UK, including those regimes which have a human rights element. We will look to use the powers provided by the Sanctions Act to the fullest extent possible during this period, but there are some limitations on the measures that we can impose autonomously.
Health and Social Care
Junior Doctors Contract Review
I am delighted to tell the House that we have successfully brought to an end the junior doctors dispute, following a review of the 2016 contract. The British Medical Association announced yesterday that junior doctors had overwhelmingly—by 82%—backed a four-year deal incorporating pay increases, and improved flexibility and conditions. The vote by BMA members means that the BMA and NHS employers will now move to collectively agree the amended junior doctor contract.
Throughout negotiations we have worked closely with the NHS and the BMA to agree an offer which recognises the dedication of our 39,000 junior doctors to their patients and our nation’s health.
The agreement also includes improved working conditions. The contract changes prioritise doctors’ physical and mental wellbeing through introducing new limits on working hours, more breaks and making it easier to get time off for important moments in their lives.
This is a “something for something” deal—guaranteed pay increases in return for contract reform which will help improve productivity, recruitment, retention and motivation. There will be around £90 million of investment into the contract including a new pay point for the most senior doctors in training, an allowance for those working less than full time to support flexible working and increased pay for those working the most weekends or whose shifts end in the early hours of the morning. Taken alongside an 8.2% four-year pay rise, this will give junior doctors and current medical students the support they fully deserve.
The NHS would be nothing without its dedicated workforce. For our junior doctors, as well as all our staff and volunteers, I want the NHS to be an incredible place to work. This deal marks another step in our long-term plan for the NHS, which will safeguard our health service and benefit us all for generations to come.
Biometrics Commissioner: Annual Report
My noble Friend the Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford), has today made the following written ministerial statement:
I am pleased to announce that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is today publishing the fifth annual report of the Biometrics Commissioner, together with the Government’s response.
The Commissioner, Paul Wiles, is appointed under section 20 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. His responsibilities are:
to decide applications by the police for extended retention of DNA profiles and fingerprints from persons arrested for serious offences but not charged or convicted;
to keep under review national security determinations made by chief officers under which DNA profiles and fingerprints may be retained for national security purposes;
to exercise general oversight of police use of DNA samples, DNA profiles and fingerprints. His report is a statutory requirement of section 21 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
I am grateful to Mr Wiles for this report, which we have published in full.
Copies of the report will be available from the Vote Office. The Government’s response will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories: Beneficial Ownership Information
Today I am laying before the House the 18-month statutory review of the implementation of the exchange of notes on beneficial ownership between the United Kingdom, Crown dependencies and relevant overseas territories.
In 2016, the UK, the three Crown dependencies (CDs: the Bailiwick of Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey including Alderney but not Sark, and the Isle of Man) and the six overseas territories with global financial centres (OTs: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar and Turks and Caicos Islands) committed to enhance the effectiveness of long-standing co-operation between law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in sharing beneficial ownership information for corporate and legal entities incorporated in their respective jurisdictions. These bilateral arrangements between the UK and each of the OT and CD jurisdictions are called the exchange of notes (EoN) and came into force on 1 July 2017. Law enforcement authorities for each participant can submit a request for information to another participating dependency or territory, who can also do likewise with the UK.
The UK, CDs and participating OTs jointly completed a six-month internal review of the EoN arrangements covering the period 1 July 2017 to 31 December 2017. A written ministerial statement covering that review was laid before Parliament on 1 May 2018.
Under section 445A of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, I am required to prepare a report covering the first 18 months of implementation of the EoN, including an assessment of their effectiveness, to cover the period 1 July 2017 to 31 December 2018.
Officials from the joint anti-corruption unit in the Home Office carried out this review in collaboration with officials from the other participating jurisdictions. During the course of this review, the CDs and OTs have reiterated to the UK authorities their commitment to the EoNs, as demonstrated by their positive and proactive approach to implementation and engagement in the review process.
I am pleased to provide the following key findings of the review and recommendations for the future of these arrangements.
The findings and recommendations of this review are based on material supplied by, and discussions with, all of the participating jurisdictions. The position varies across these different jurisdictions, and not all of the findings and recommendations of this review apply to all. Where a jurisdiction already complies with the points covered by a particular finding or recommendation, it should continue to do so.
UK law enforcement agencies (LEAs) report that the EoN have been extremely useful in accessing the information needed to support ongoing criminal investigations.
This process gives UK LEAs rapid access to beneficial ownership information on over half a million entities based in the three CDs and six participating OTs. This represents 87% of businesses in scope of the scheme. Plans are in place for this to reach 100% by December 2020. In addition, these jurisdictions have reciprocal access to information on 3.8 million UK entities through the UK’s people with significant control public register.
During the first 18 months of operation, 296 requests were made, of which 118 asked for multiple pieces of information in a single request. This equates on average to nearly four requests per week. Responses were provided for all requests made, and all but four were provided within the agreed time frame.
As many of these requests are in support of long-running investigations, it is too soon to quantify the full outcome in terms of successful investigations, but interim indicators are positive.
The statutory review notes a number of challenges during the first six months (July-December 2017), including some information being shared with caveats on its use and the occasional use of out-of-date contact address lists when making or responding to an information request. Substantial progress was made on all of these issues following an internal review, but some residual administrative issues remain.
This review did not identify any instances in which a search, or any details about a search, became public knowledge, including in relation to the beneficial owners of companies being investigated.
This review has made seven recommendations:
All registers should be completed by the end of 2020 at the latest;
participants may wish to review best practice on verifying information in the beneficial ownership registers;
if third parties need to be contacted to respond to a query, the requesting LEA should be informed before communication takes place, and suitable legally binding agreements should be in place to prevent disclosure;
LEAs should use the correct contact details when making requests;
existing dialogue and engagement should continue;
consideration and discussion on the appropriateness of expanding the scope of EoN to include civil tax cases or beneficial ownership information for trusts should continue; and
evidence should continue to be gathered on the impact of the process with regard to long-term benefits.
Participants in the EoN arrangements will take forward the recommendations of this statutory review, and will take responsibility for tracking progress. The next joint internal annual review of the EoN arrangements will take place next year and will cover the performance for 2019.
It should be noted that this review is in addition to ongoing monitoring of the practical application of the commitment by all participants.
Copies of the statutory review will be available from the Vote Office and it will also be available on the gov.uk website.
National Crime Agency Retention of Specialist Skills
I am today laying before the House of Commons a departmental minute on the use of contingent liability by the Home Office for the NCA retention of specialist skills (ROSS) litigation.
The litigation relates to 15 claims from current NCA officers and the application of an abatement to those officers who chose to retire and return under the NCA’s ROSS scheme.
The NCA’s precursor, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), implemented ROSS in 2009, drawing on guidance from the Home Office. A section of the ROSS policy enabled officers, where there was exceptional need, to retire and return to their posts, whilst accessing their pensions (including the lump sum element). Those officers who retired and returned under ROSS had their salaries abated to reflect the pension income.
Housing, Communities and Local Government
Housing Market: House Building and Leasehold Reform
Making sure the housing market works is a key priority for this Government. Today I am announcing a number of additional measures the Government are taking to ensure we deliver the homes this country needs and promote fairness for people, wherever they live.
The Government have set an ambitious target to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. Last year more homes were provided than in all but one of the last 31 years. In September 2018, the Prime Minister announced an additional £2 billion to support long-term strategic partnerships with housing associations through to 2029. Today we are launching the bidding process for £1 billion of this funding through Homes England and are working with the Greater London Authority to launch bidding for a further £1 billion for housing associations in London as soon as possible. This marks the first time any Government have invested such long-term funding in new affordable homes through housing associations, supporting the development of more ambitious long-term plans to build the homes this country needs.
We are also announcing today that the Government will be providing £2.85 million to support the development of 19 new garden villages. These new communities stretch from County Durham in the north to Truro in the south-west and together have the potential to deliver 73,554 homes.
Planning is also a core part of ensuring we deliver our home-building ambitions but the process is currently too costly and decision-making takes too long. The forthcoming accelerated planning Green Paper must explore new approaches to meeting the cost of the planning service. We will invite innovative proposals to pilot new approaches to meeting these where this improves performance, including considering whether local authorities could recover a greater proportion of these costs and reinvest the additional revenue into improving the speed and quality of planning services.
The Government have also been clear that we must cultivate a housing market which provides people with the fair and decent housing they deserve. Yesterday, the Prime Minster announced that we will shortly be consulting on the removal of section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act. This will end so-called “no fault evictions”. As part of the consultation, we will also review the existing grounds for possession and provide additional grounds for when landlords need to move into or sell their property. We also plan to reform the court process for housing cases to make it more efficient, ensuring landlords can swiftly and smoothly regain their property where they have a legitimate reason to do so.
When moving home, some tenants struggle to provide a second deposit to their new landlord, while they wait for their first deposit to be returned. These tenants risk falling into debt or ultimately finding themselves trapped in their current home, missing out on the opportunity of finding a better place to live or a new job. We want to understand the scale of this problem, as well as seeking new approaches. That means tenants do not have to provide a second full deposit to move home. This could include approaches to allow tenants to directly “passport” their deposit between tenancies.
To protect the rights of homebuyers and hold developers to account when things go wrong, we also announced our intention to introduce a new homes ombudsman and, when parliamentary time allows, to legislate mandating that developers of new build homes belong to this ombudsman scheme. Today, we have taken a further step, and published our consultation to inform the proposed UK-wide legislation, including on the design and delivery of the ombudsman, the approval mechanisms and standards that it must meet and on whether a code of practice for developers should be underpinned in legislation. The consultation will run until 22 August 2019 and is available on the Government’s website here:
We are also acting on our commitment to end exploitative and unfair leasehold practices which have no place in a modern housing market. Today, we are publishing our response to the technical consultation on reforms to the leasehold system. As announced in December 2017, we will legislate to ensure that unless there are exceptional circumstances, all new houses will be sold on a freehold basis. Through the consultation, we have also decided that:
Ground rents on future leases will be reduced to a peppercorn of £0, meaning leaseholders will no longer be charged a financial sum for which they receive no material benefit;
Freeholders on private and mixed-use estates will receive rights to challenge the reasonableness of estate rent charges and the right to apply to the first-tier tribunal to appoint a new property manager;
Freeholders and managing agents will be required to provide leasehold information within 15 days and set the maximum fee for providing this information at £200 (plus VAT).
Finally, we have previously said the new help to buy: equity loan scheme from 2021 will not be used to support the unjustified use of leasehold houses. Today, we are announcing that we are seeking to vary contracts with developers to ban the sale of leasehold houses, except in the rare cases where this can be justified, within the current help to buy scheme.
Taken together, this package ensures we make progress not just on delivering more homes, but on ensuring decent and fair housing for the people and communities that need them. This is an important part of helping communities to thrive, putting them at the heart of new developments and building a housing market that works fairly for all.
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development: Contingent Liability
Today I have laid a departmental minute relating to the intention by the Department for International Development (DFID) to create an additional contingent liability of $1,912,245,702.50 with respect to the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). This contingent liability would be in the form of “callable” capital, which is a commitment to make a capital contribution to IBRD in the very unlikely event that the IBRD is unable to meet its financial obligations.
The additional callable capital would permit the United Kingdom to subscribe to the additional shares allocated to it in the 2018 IBRD general and selective capital increases. This would support the United Kingdom’s global influence by allowing it to retain its single seat on the World Bank Board and help enable a modest increase in IBRD support to its clients consistent with our development, prosperity and security priorities.
A call from IBRD from shareholders for this capital is considered very unlikely. IBRD has a triple A credit rating, with a very diversified portfolio of investments across a large number of countries. As of 30 June 2018, it held $43.5 billion in equity and a general reserve of $28.6 billion 1. If the liability were to be called, provision for any payment will be sought through the normal Supply procedure.
1 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) management’s discussion and analysis and financial statements, June 30 2018
Female Offender Strategy
Today marks the first anniversary of the publication of the Government’s female offender strategy. With its roots in Baroness Corston’s seminal review of vulnerable women in the justice system in 2007, our strategy set out plans to improve outcomes for women at all points of the justice system, based on our vision to see:
Fewer women coming into the criminal justice system;
fewer women in custody, especially on short-term sentences, and a greater proportion of women managed in the community successfully; and
better conditions for those in custody.
Female offenders can be amongst the most vulnerable in society, in both the prevalence and complexity of their needs. Many experience chaotic lifestyles involving substance misuse, mental health problems, homelessness and offending behaviour, which are often the product of a life of abuse and trauma.
Frequently, women in custody are sentenced for non-violent, low level but persistent offences, often for short periods of time. If we take the right approach to female offenders, one that addresses their vulnerability, follows the evidence about what works in supporting them to turn their lives around, and treats them as individuals of value, it could have substantial benefits for victims, families, and offenders themselves. The strategy launched a programme of work that will take some years to deliver. On this first anniversary, I should like to celebrate the improvements that are already taking place, including on our key commitments below:
We published, last December, a new policy framework for prison and probation staff working with women. This sets out duties, rules and general guidance for staff, and includes accompanying guidance covering a range of issues, such as “caring for perinatal women in prison”.
Lord Farmer’s review for women, commissioned by the strategy, was published on 18 June. I am immensely grateful to Lord Farmer for undertaking this review, which looks at how supporting female offenders in custody and community to engage with their families can lower recidivism, aid rehabilitation and assist in addressing the issues of intergenerational crime. We will look closely at how we can best give effect to Lord Farmer’s findings and recommendations.
We committed to develop a “residential women’s centre” pilot in at least five sites across England and Wales, offering a robust alternative to short custodial sentences. We have recently concluded our first phase of consultation with local voluntary and statutory agencies, partners and providers from a range of backgrounds and specialisms across England and Wales to inform the scoping of this project. We will continue to consult with partners as we refine the design and delivery of the pilot.
Our strategy recognises the valuable role that sustainable community services, such as women’s centres, can play in supporting vulnerable women to turn their lives around. We have invested £5 million in community services for women in 2018-19 and 2019-20. This funding is helping to sustain and enhance existing services, as well as supporting the development of new services in areas without provision. I am looking at opportunities to further increase sustainability of this sector, and would like to see agencies coming together to provide much needed multi-year funding.
Partnership working is a key theme of our strategy, and yesterday we held a major conference to promote multi-agency, whole system approaches (WSA) for local agencies including health, police and crime commissioners and local authorities, to provide them with tools and information to enable them to develop a WSA in their local areas. We are working with other Government Departments, stakeholders and local justice, statutory and voluntary agencies, to develop and publish a national concordat on female offenders by autumn 2019. This will facilitate better joined up working and collaboration at both national and local level to improve outcomes for female offenders.
Work is under way to improve outcomes for female offenders and women at risk of offending across the justice system, aimed at taking a gender and trauma informed approach to female offenders, such as trialling a new checklist for pre-sentence reports on women, to ensure that sentencers receive high quality advice addressing all relevant issues, including details of dependent children, and a new training package, POWER, so that staff working with female offenders have the skills and knowledge they need.
I am grateful to those parliamentarians who continue to take a close interest in this work. I would also pay tribute to the members of the advisory board on female offenders, who provide invaluable advice and challenge on implementation of the strategy’s aims. Together, we can make a real and lasting improvement for these often vulnerable women, and their families.
The female offender strategy is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/female-offender-strategy