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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
22 July 2019
Volume 663

Written Statements

Monday 22 July 2019

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Labour Market Reforms

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The good work plan sets out the Government’s vision for the future of the UK labour market and how we will implement the Taylor review recommendations. It forms an integral part of the modern industrial strategy and this Government’s long-term plan to boost the productivity and earning power of people throughout the UK and to develop better jobs for all. We are now delivering the next phase of the good work plan.

Flexibility has been a key factor behind the success of our labour market, but we are aware there are a small minority of employers who transfer too much risk to the individual, sometimes to the detriment of their financial security and personal wellbeing. The Taylor review termed this “onesided flexibility”. The Low Pay Commission found that this was particularly relevant for low-paid, vulnerable workers and has made recommendations to the Government. We are committed to tackling the problem and on 19 July we launched a consultation with proposals to:

Provide a right to reasonable notice of working hours—with the aim to give workers more certainty about their shifts and work patterns so they can have more control over their working lives.

Provide workers with compensation for shifts cancelled without reasonable notice—the Low Pay Commission found that the practice of cancelling shifts at the last minute, sometimes on arrival at work or partway through a shift was not uncommon.

Earlier this year, the Government also consulted on measures to prevent the misuse of confidentiality clauses in cases of sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. This followed unacceptable cases of their misuse as evidenced in the media, inquiries by the Women and Equalities Committee and individuals’ responses to our consultation. These cases highlighted the seriousness of abuse that has taken place and the impact this has had on the lives of individuals.

We have now published the Government response and will be legislating on the proposals we consulted on, and in some cases going even further. For example, for the first time, no provision in an employment contract will be able to prevent someone from disclosing information to the police or to regulated health and care and legal professionals. The proposals will increase clarity on the limitations of confidentiality clauses, increase protections for vulnerable individuals and ensure employers use confidentiality clauses appropriately.

The Government also recently consulted on proposals to extend redundancy protections for pregnant women and new mothers returning to work. We have now published the Government response to this consultation.

Any form of discrimination against pregnant women and new mothers is unacceptable and unlawful. Despite this, evidence from the Women and Equalities Committee, among others, suggests that new mothers are still being unfairly forced out of work. We are therefore taking action and are committing to extending the redundancy protection period that currently exists for pregnant women for a further six months once a new mother has returned to work. The Government response also looks at how we can increase awareness among pregnant women and new mothers of their maternity rights. As part of this the Government will establish a taskforce which will make recommendations on what improvements can be made to the information available to employers and families.

The reforms we have announced are the next important step in delivering on the Good Work Plan, ensuring we have a labour market that is fit for purpose. We recognise that the world of work is changing and are delivering the necessary reforms to ensure the UK labour market can adapt effectively, and support the needs of both workers and employers.

Copies of the referenced consultations and Government responses will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will be available electronically on the www.gov.uk

website.

[HCWS1788]

Energy Policy: Net Zero Emissions

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On 27 June, the UK became the first major economy in the world to legislate to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Achieving this target will require significant changes in the way we produce, deliver and use energy. We will need to harness the power of innovation and new technology to ensure the energy system remains flexible and resilient. We will need to provide confidence to businesses across the country to invest in a greener future by maintaining clear and stable policy frameworks. We will also have to ensure that as we move to cut greenhouse gas emissions across the economy, the security of our energy supplies is never in doubt and energy costs are kept low for all households and businesses.

As we set out on the path to reach net zero emissions, the Government are today outlining a series of important reforms across the energy system. These include new approaches to how low-carbon infrastructure is financed, potential changes to the retail energy market so it works better for all consumers, a new strategy for tackling fuel poverty and significant changes to the way we set the detailed rules that govern the energy system.

The action we are taking today is only a first step. Continuous action over the next three decades by successive Governments will be required if we are to end the UK’s contribution to global warming and inspire the necessary action at a global level.

The Government have today published the following public consultations and reviews:

Regulated asset base financing model for new nuclear projects

The Government committed in January 2019 to publish an assessment of the regulated asset base model as a means of financing new nuclear projects. We are today publishing that assessment as part of a public consultation on the regulated asset base model. The purpose of this consultation is to set out the basis for our assessment and to seek views from a range of interested parties on how it could be implemented within the current energy system in such a way that allows new nuclear to be built at low cost to consumers. The consultation includes a set of core principles that have resulted from our feasibility assessment and considers important issues such as the approach to risk-sharing under such a model. This consultation will be open for responses until 14 October 2019.

Business models for carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) projects

As we committed to in the CCUS action plan, we are today publishing a consultation on how we can bring CCUS projects to market in the years ahead. This is an important step in order to meet our action plan commitment of delivering the UK’s first CCUS project from the mid-2020s. The consultation seeks views on possible CCUS business models for industry, power, and carbon dioxide transport and storage, as well as a framework to support hydrogen production with CCUS. The consultation sets out the risks that are inherent in first of a kind CCUS projects, and the possible delivery and co-ordination challenges of deploying CCUS at scale. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

The re-use of oil and gas assets for carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) projects

This consultation fulfils the Government commitment in the CCUS action plan to identify existing oil and gas infrastructure that has the potential for re-use and to develop a policy to support the development of CCUS in the UK. It seeks views on whether Government should introduce a discretionary power for the Secretary of State to remove the decommissioning liability from previous oil and gas asset owners if assets are transferred to CCUS projects; and on changing guidance from the Oil and Gas Authority and Government to encourage owners and operators of oil and gas assets to propose a period of suspension prior to decommissioning in circumstances in which there is a reasonable prospect of the asset being acquired by a CCUS project. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Flexible and responsive energy retail markets

The consultation is issued in partnership with Ofgem and sets out a vision for the future energy retail market, the key challenges which the Government and Ofgem wish to address, and the outcomes the retail energy market needs to deliver for all consumers. This includes how the regulatory framework may need to change to facilitate the introduction of innovative products and services that may face barriers today and could support our transition to a greener future. The consultation assesses the case for making reforms which could remove market distortions so as to improve the functioning of the energy retail market as a dynamic and competitive sector. The consultation also outlines how the energy retail market can benefit all consumers, ensuring they are able to secure a fair deal and receive a good level of customer service. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Reforming energy industry codes

This consultation seeks to address the fact that the way the detailed rules governing the energy system are managed may be frustrating the shift towards a greener future. The consultation suggests creating a new function to translate the Government’s vision for the energy system into a strategic direction for codes, as well as giving code administrators more power to change codes, ensuring that vision can be delivered. We propose creating a new process that allows for greater agility in how codes and code changes are governed. We also set out an approach that will ensure we can deliver rules that are clear, accessible and simpler. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Fuel poverty strategy

We are consulting on proposed reforms to the 2015 fuel poverty strategy to ensure that the actions we are taking to support people out of fuel poverty are as effective as possible. This includes a potential change to the way that fuel poverty is measured to ensure that we are able to include all those living in fuel poverty. We also propose making changes to ensure that those most at risk from living in a cold home get the support they need by aligning our fuel poverty policies with medical evidence. We are also proposing a new principle which would ensure that policies contributing to the fuel poverty target are complementary to other Government priorities such as the clean growth strategy. This consultation will be open for responses until 16 September 2019.

Capacity market five-year review and consultation on proposals for capacity market emissions limits

We are today publishing a five-year review of the capacity market mechanism. This review has found that the scheme is working effectively and performance against the original objectives has been achieved. In considering the future of the scheme, we propose focusing on specific areas of the scheme that will need to change as we maintain security of electricity supply while also moving towards net zero emissions. One of the first steps we propose to take is to implement a restriction on the most polluting types of energy generation, such as coal, within the capacity market by introducing new carbon emissions limits. To implement these changes, we are today issuing a public consultation on carbon emission limits within the scheme. This consultation will be open for responses until 2 September 2019.

Facilitating energy efficiency in the electricity system

Increasing our ambition on improving energy efficiency across the UK energy system will be vital if we are to reach net zero emissions. The electricity demand reduction pilot evaluation we are publishing today has concluded that energy efficiency projects are not yet ready to enter the GB capacity market. We are therefore publishing a call for evidence on market barriers to energy efficiency, and how we can create new markets for energy efficiency and secure its role in the wider energy market. This includes considering how energy efficiency could help reduce the requirement for network reinforcement and help compliment the growth in distributed generation. This call for evidence will be open for responses until 25 September 2019.

Funding for advanced nuclear technologies

In addition to the above consultations, we are today announcing that we are developing proposals to invest Government money in the creation of innovative small modular reactors (SMRs) which are less expensive to build than traditional nuclear power plants. As stated to this house on 17 January, we have received a proposal from a consortium of businesses, led by Rolls-Royce, which has proposed a significant joint investment of more than £500 million focused on designing a first-of-a-kind SMR. The consortium expects to more than match any Government funding both by direct investment and by raising funds from third party organisations that wish to invest.

The Government can today confirm that the consortium’s proposal has been accepted into wave 3 of the industrial strategy challenge fund. The challenge is to design a working model that could be operational by the early 2030s. We are looking to make an initial award of up to £18 million to the Rolls-Royce led consortium in early autumn 2019. This is subject to final decisions to invest, including business case and other approvals, and this consortium representing the best option for pursuing this technology. The Rolls-Royce led consortium believes this new technology could create 40,000 jobs at its peak and each power station could produce enough clean energy to power 750,000 homes.

This money is alongside up to £45 million to be invested in the second phase of the advanced modular reactor programme, with project bids currently under consideration.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency plan shortly to publish their modernised guidance for developers of SMRs on their generic design assessment, the process through which reactor designs are scrutinised by the regulators prior to further necessary regulatory steps, including site specific assessment and issuing of site licence and environmental permits, to enable subsequent deployment.

[HCWS1789]

Local Industrial Strategies

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Our modern industrial strategy is a long-term plan to boost productivity and earning power for people throughout the country.

We set out to work in partnership with places to develop local industrial strategies. These strategies are central to our aim of creating prosperous communities across the country. They are being developed locally and agreed with Government, establishing a strong collaborative approach. They are long-term, based on clear evidence and aligned to the modern industrial strategy.

On 16 May we launched the first of these strategies—the west midlands local industrial strategy. We followed this with the Greater Manchester local industrial strategy on 13 June. Now, alongside local partners, we are launching the next local industrial strategies for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc (Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Oxfordshire and the South East Midlands) and the West of England.

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc local industrial strategies mark a major contribution to the Government’s wider work on the Arc with their focus on driving productivity by outlining shared priorities across the region as a whole.

The four strategies set out how partners across the Arc will work to: harness the collective strength of the Arc’s research base, driving greater collaboration in science and research; provide the skills needed for the future economy; maximise the benefits of new transport, energy and digital infrastructure; improve business support and finance for high growth companies and encourage foreign direct investment; and take a natural capital planning approach to development, contributing to the clean growth grand challenge mission.

Buckinghamshire aims to grow the county’s creative, space, advanced manufacturing and digital health sectors, building on the world-leading assets it already has such as the Westcott Space Cluster and Pinewood Studios;

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough aims to build an industrial ecosystem that is globally known for tackling the biggest challenges facing society, with interventions tailored to the needs of each of its sub-economies: Greater Cambridge, Greater Peterborough and The Fens;

Oxfordshire plans to build on the county’s world leading science and tech clusters to be a pioneer for transformative technologies and sectors, with its overarching ambition for the county to be a top three global innovation ecosystem by 2040;

The South East Midlands’ overarching ambition is to position the area as the “Connected Core” of the Arc, a place with the right R&D assets, business environment and networks to foster, test and commercialise new innovations.

The West of England local industrial strategy focuses on four key priorities:

Strengthening innovation and driving productivity by: Connecting researchers, businesses and residents through a Global Centre of Innovation Excellence, and testing new products and services through a new West of England network of living labs;

Supporting all residents to contribute to and benefit from economic success by: targeting support to communities facing challenges, tailoring employment and skills support and linking everyone to jobs, training and services through better physical and digital infrastructure that is accessible, sustainable and low carbon;

Providing businesses with the space, networks and skills they need to boost productivity, grow and thrive by: encouraging uptake of modern technology, management and leadership practices; including more regional providers in businesses’ supply chains and widening access to public procurement for small businesses; and supporting low carbon business models;

Investing in infrastructure that reduces energy demand, lowers carbon emissions and is resilient to the impacts of climate change, supporting businesses to adopt new clean technology and energy efficiency measures.

Copies of these five local industrial strategies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS1762]

Cabinet Office

Defending Democracy Programme

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The UK has worked tirelessly to build our democratic system and values. In recent years, events across the world have demonstrated that sustaining and defending a flourishing democracy is increasingly important.

Therefore, the Cabinet Office is co-ordinating work and expertise across Government under a new defending democracy programme, which has been set up to:

protect and secure UK democratic processes, systems and institutions from interference, including from cyber, personnel and physical threats;

strengthen the integrity of UK elections;

encourage respect for open, fair and safe democratic participation; and

promote fact-based and open discourse, including online.

The Government have already started to roll out measures as part of this. On 5 May 2019 we announced a range of measures to crack down on intimidation, malign influence, interference and disinformation.

Following the Committee on Standards in Public Life report, the Government have published the Online Harms White Paper, committed to a new electoral offence, and will legislate to clarifying “undue influence” which includes acts or threats of violence to manipulate someone’s vote. The Government recognise that rising levels of intimidation in public life can stop talented people, particularly women and those from minority backgrounds, standing for public office. That is why we are taking action to confront it.

As part of the programme, we have also announced a plan for a consultation on electoral integrity, which will seek to address concerns around strengthening provisions which prevent UK democracy from foreign interference. This is something we would certainly invite parliamentarians and others to engage with as it goes forward and will publish in due course.

Though this is a Government programme, we want to work with people from a broad range of perspectives to inform our work. That is why we are inviting the views of parliamentarians, political parties, third party organisations, academics, regulators and others on the programme and its outcomes. At the same time, we will continue to consider all the recommendations already made to the Government.

By taking a broad and inclusive approach, this programme can build a consensus on the way forward to continue to defend our democracy in the future.

[HCWS1772]

Conflict, Stability and Security Fund Allocations 2019-20

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My right hon. Friend Lord Young of Cookham made the following written ministerial statement:

I wish to update the House on the progress of the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) for the financial year 2018-19, as well as to announce the initial regional and thematic allocations for this financial year 2019-20.

The CSSF is a cross-Government fund which uses both official development assistance (ODA) and non-ODA resources to deliver against both national security and UK Aid objectives, through security, defence, peacekeeping, peace-building and stability activity. In 2018-19, the CSSF spent £1,256.8 million against a cross-Government allocation of £1,258.8 million (99.84%). A further breakdown of spend against regional and thematic allocation, by Department and by discretionary and non-discretionary spend is included in the CSSF’s annual report for 2018-19, published today.

The report includes examples of successful programmes and results as well as ways in which the CSSF has made improvements. A copy of this document is attached and has been published on www.gov.uk.

FY 19-20 Allocations

Allocation

Non-ODA

ODA

Total

Middle East North Africa

£20.0 millions

£157.3 millions

£177.3 millions

South Africa

£17.7 millions

£89.6 millions

£107.3 millions

Africa (sub-Saharan)

£33.6 millions

£61.3 millions

£94.9 millions

Overseas Territories

£51.6 millions

£5.1 millions

£56.7 millions

Eastern Europe, Central Asia

£23.2 millions

£28.8 millions

£52.0 millions

Western Balkans

£7.5 millions

£36.0 millions

£43.5 millions

Americas

£0.3 millions

£11.8 millions

£12.1 millions

Good Governance Fund (Western Balkans and Eastern Europe)

£—

£35.9 millions

£35.9 millions

Asia Pacific

£0.3 millions

£5.2 millions

£5.5 millions

Regional Total

£ 154.2 millions

£431.0 millions

£585.2 millions

Migration

£10.0 millions

£17.5 millions

£27.5 millions

Counter Terrorism Programme Fund

£13.3 millions

£12.6 millions

£25.9 millions

Multilateral Strategy

£4.0 millions

£18.6 millions

£22.6 millions

National Security Communications

£2.5 millions

£—

£2,5 millions

Serious and Organised Crime

£3.0 millions

£12.0 millions

£15.0 millions

Commonwealth 18-20 Fund

£—

£36.3 millions

£36.3 millions

Thematic Total

£32.8 millions

£97.0 millions

£129.8 millions

Peacekeeping

£291.0 millions

£86.1 millions

£377.1 millions

MOD Deployed Military Activity Pool

£50.0 millions

£—

£50.0 millions

MOD Afghan Security—Operation TORAL

£110.0 millions

£—

£110.0 millions

MOD Operation TOSCA—UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus

£18.1 millions

£—

£18.1 millions

MOD UN Operations in Africa—Operation CATAN (Somalia) and Operation TRENTON (South Sudan)

£19.4 millions

£—

£19.4 millions

Non-Discretionary Total

£488.5 millions

£86.1 millions

£574.6 millions

Corporate Delivery Support and Other (this includes Stabilisation Unit, Joint Funds Unit and pilot activities)

£—

£16.0 millions

£16.0 millions

TOTAL CSSF

£675.5 millions

£630.1 millions

£1301.2 millions

Attachments can be view online at: http://www.parliament. uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statements/Commons/2019-07-/HCWS1763.

[HCWS1763]

Electoral Integrity: ID Pilots

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Today, the Cabinet Office published its evaluation of the 2019 voter ID pilots. The evaluation shows that a diverse range of local authorities delivered successful pilots. We know this because for the second successive year, the overwhelming majority of people who came to polling stations were able to cast their vote without difficulty.

When surveyed, people in areas testing the poll card model and the mixed photographic and non-photographic model were significantly more confident in—and satisfied with—the process of casting their vote after polling day. Perceptions that there were sufficient safeguards in place to prevent voter fraud at polling stations increased in areas trialling photographic ID and mixed ID models.

Locally issued ID was made available, free of charge, whenever an elector was unsure that they were able to produce the required ID. In Pendle and Woking, 100 such voters made use of the provision. Woking, who were piloting voter ID for a second year, found the number of people who did not return after being asked to present ID had decreased from 2018. Electoral administrators from Woking have inferred this may be due to local electors viewing the ID requirements as the new standard.

Alongside the Government’s evaluation, the Electoral Commission will publish their evaluation on the voter ID pilots today.

Electoral fraud is an unacceptable crime that strikes at a core principle of our democracy, that everyone’s vote matters. In our current system, there is undeniable potential for electoral fraud and the perception of this undermines public confidence in our democracy.

The success of both rounds of voter ID pilots shows voter ID is a reasonable and proportionate measure to prevent this, ensuring your vote is yours, and yours alone. The introduction of this measure across Great Britain will strengthen the integrity of our electoral system and give the public confidence our elections are secure and fit for the 21st century.

Both last year’s pilots and decades of experience of Northern Ireland—including at the most recent local elections—show voter ID does not have an adverse effect on election turnout or participation. We remain committed to rolling out this effective anti-fraud measure and bringing the whole of the United Kingdom into line with Northern Ireland, which has required ID to vote in elections since 1985.

Running pilots again in 2019 allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of how voter ID will work on a wider scale, and what works best for voters before national roll- out. We will continue to look carefully at the evaluations from both the 2018 and 2019 pilots to help inform our next steps and shape how the final policy will look when it is introduced.

Attachments can be viewed online at https://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-07-22/HCWS1767/

[HCWS1767]

Senior Civil Service and Senior Military Pay Awards

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I am today announcing the Government’s decision on pay for the senior civil service and senior military.

The Government received the Senior Salaries Review Body’s (SSRB) report on 2019 pay for the senior civil service, senior military and police and crime commissioners on 7 June 2019. This will be presented to Parliament and published on gov.uk.

Thanks to the Government’s balanced approach to public finances, getting debt falling as a share of our economy, while investing in our vital services and keeping taxes low, we are able to continue our flexible approach to pay policy, allowing us to attract and retain the best people for our civil service and senior military.

We consider all pay awards in light of wider pressures on public spending. Public sector pay needs to be fair both for public sector workers and the taxpayer. Around a quarter of all public spending is spent on pay and we need to ensure that our public services remain affordable for the future.

It is also vital that our world class public services continue modernising to meet rising demand for the incredible services they provide, which improve our lives and keep us safe.

The Government value the independent expertise and insight of the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) and take on board the valuable advice, principles outlined, and constructive challenge to the Government’s recommendations outlined in the report. The Government will follow the SSRB’s recommendations, subject to a small number of differences which are set out below.

Within the current context there remains a need to take into account workforce requirements and affordability when making decisions on senior pay, as well as fairness in the approach for senior and junior grades.

Senior Civil Servants

SSRB recommendations set a 2.2% pay award with money allocated in the following priority order:

0.9% targeted at pay progression and anomalies

0.2% set aside for minima increases

1% increase for all SCS not benefiting from the minima increases, and those benefiting by less than 1% from the minima increases should be “topped up” to a 1% increase (estimated cost of 0.9% of the pay bill)

0.2% set aside to implement any specialist pay proposals.

The SSRB also recommended reductions to the maxima and commented on priority work to be undertaken for the 2020-21 pay award.

The Government accept the SSRB’s recommendations in full with the following exceptions:

The overall figure should be limited to an average 2% increase in line with the figure contained in the delegated pay remit guidance. The reduction of 0.2% will be taken from the money set aside for specialist pay which we will not be implementing this pay year.

The Government accepts the recommendation to decrease the maxima for all pay bands, but to delay implementation of this to next year whilst further work is undertaken on capability-based pay progression to ensure the levels set are robust and there is a clear and positive narrative for reduction.

In addition to the above action for this year’s pay award, the Government commit to:

Developing and evaluate a credible robust capability based pay progression system

continuing to review the SCS performance management system as a priority; and

keeping under review the impact of the interaction between civil service pensions and the current tax rules on recruitment and retention.

The Government will continue to engage closely with the SSRB to help develop our proposals further and invites the review body to contribute towards the further review of the senior civil service pay framework including the commitments made above.

Senior Military Officers

The Government has rejected the SSRB’s headline pay award recommendation, and instead will implement a 2% consolidated pay award with effect from 1 April 2019. The Government has accepted the SSRB’s recommendations on senior military salaries to maintain the 10% increase to base pay on promotion from one-star rank and to not change the current pay differentials for senior medical and dental officers.

Attachments can be viewed online at https://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-07-22/HCWS1771/

[HCWS1771]

Treasury

HMRC Powers and Taxpayer Safeguards

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Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have a vital purpose, to collect the tax revenue that pays for the UK’s public services and benefits system. The Government recognise that public trust is essential to a healthy and effective tax system. UK citizens must know that their tax authority is fair, careful and even-handed and that it adheres to those core values in all its work.

But citizens also need to be reassured that HMRC have the powers they require to ensure that everyone pays their fair share of taxes. In some areas, particularly where HMRC are faced with fraud, evasion and complex avoidance, those powers are necessarily far-reaching. It is therefore of great public importance that they are exercised in a way that maintains public trust, with appropriate oversight and operational checks and balances, and statutory safeguards that enable taxpayers to dispute HMRC’s decisions or complain about their treatment.

I am grateful to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee for its report “The Powers of HMRC: Treating Taxpayers Fairly” and for the opportunity to discuss these matters with them. I have also discussed matters of trust at HMRC in detail with officials and outside stakeholders, and I am today announcing several actions HMRC are taking to maintain and develop public trust in their operations.

Professional Standards Committee

The context in which HMRC operate is changing faster than ever before. New technology presents significant opportunities to make tax administration easier for both HMRC and for taxpayers. But it also presents new challenges, as a small minority of taxpayers who wish to escape paying tax seek new ways to find unfair advantages.

As HMRC adapt to these changes, it is important both that they continue to maintain public trust in their approach to new technologies, and that the powers given by Parliament are implemented carefully and remain subject to appropriate oversight and safeguards.

So HMRC will establish a new professional standards committee to advise the Commissioners of Revenue and Customs. The committee, which will take advice from a range of independent experts, will consider, among other things, issues relating to the implementation of HMRC powers. The committee will not consider individual cases or Government tax policies. HMRC will publish details of the committee’s membership and terms of reference in the autumn.

Powers and Safeguards

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee proposed a review of all powers granted to HMRC since the conclusion of the powers review in 2012.1 have considered this carefully and concluded that a full review of HMRC powers is not necessary at this time. The powers granted to HMRC since 2012 were properly scrutinised before being granted by Parliament. The Government’s view is that they remain necessary and proportionate. I have, however, asked HMRC to evaluate the implementation of powers introduced since 2012 in relation to the powers and safeguards principles, engaging with stakeholders, including taxpayers and their representatives. This will be published in early 2020.

Adjudicator

The adjudicator’s independent role in complaints handling is a core component of ensuring public trust in HMRC, and of HMRC’s evolution as a service organisation.

HMRC will undertake a comprehensive review of the findings identified in the 2019 adjudicator’s report and will publish the results of the review by the end of this year. HMRC are working with the adjudicator to ensure that they have effective mechanisms in place to learn quickly and appropriately from complaints and, if necessary, to make changes to their operational policy and processes.

To enable better access for taxpayers to the adjudicator service, HMRC are also developing a secure digital channel for complaints.

Support for Taxpayers

HMRC understand that some taxpayers will always need extra help in their dealings with them and that others may need additional support at a point in time because they are dealing with a difficult life event. Some taxpayers may become anxious or distressed as a result of compliance activities, or when they get into debt. Ensuring that people who need support are treated with empathy and dignity is vital to maintaining wider public trust in HMRC.

HMRC have provided tailored assistance to taxpayers who need extra help and those in vulnerable circumstances since 2014 via their extra support service and also work closely with the voluntary and community sector. Working with their new customer experience committee, and drawing on the experience of the committee’s independent, external advisers, HMRC have recently embarked on a programme to strengthen the support they provide to taxpayers who need extra help. Importantly, this includes extending the extra support service to people who may need additional help to deal with HMRC investigations and to help resolve disputes wherever possible without litigation. HMRC will report on the effectiveness of these measures in their next annual report.

HMRC will continue to work closely with external representatives through their forums, such as the additional needs working group and individual stakeholder forum, to understand taxpayers’ needs better and to improve support for taxpayers.

Transparency

HMRC have undertaken to increase transparency and enhance public trust by publishing more data and information about the exercise of their powers. HMRC will engage with stakeholders, including taxpayers and their representatives, to identify what further data and information HMRC should publish in support of these goals.

This year, as a first step towards that commitment, HMRC will expand the range of performance and management information they publish in their monthly and quarterly performance publications. Previous reporting focused on specific aspects of their telephony and post processes, for instance, call waiting and post turnaround times, as well as compliance yield figures. From August HMRC will publish further information, including but not limited to, their debt management, registrations and repayment services.

Taxpayer experience

Compliance enquiries are a necessary and important feature of HMRC’s work in collecting the right amount of tax. Maintaining public trust in HMRC requires that these enquiries are carried out, but also that they are done in an appropriate way. Compliance enquiries can be worrying for taxpayers and HMRC are committed to ensuring that their procedures are accessible and impartial and that HMRC officers treat taxpayers with professionalism and respect. This includes taking into account the specific circumstances of taxpayers.

HMRC are reviewing taxpayers’ experiences during compliance enquiries. Drawing on taxpayer feedback, this work will look at how each stage of an enquiry or investigation can affect taxpayers. It will seek to identify improvements in the process and draw out appropriate common standards and expectations. This work includes a review of the content, language and tone of letters, to ensure that they are clear, courteous and tailored appropriately to the needs of the taxpayer, including those who need extra help. In this, HMRC are working closely with a range of stakeholder groups and forums to develop best practice, which should help HMRC to improve the way that they interact with taxpayers.

The Government will provide a further update to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee later this year on all of the areas of work outlined in this statement.

[HCWS1785]

Off-payroll Engagements

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In 2012, HM Treasury implemented a set of rules which required Departments’ most senior staff to be on payroll, and to seek assurance in relation to the tax arrangements of their long-term, high-paid contractors who are off-payroll.

Reforms to IR35 off-payroll working rules in April 2017 require public bodies to deduct tax and NICs if the off-payroll worker works like an employee, compliance of which is monitored by HMRC.

Following a review of the rules, I have concluded that the off-payroll rules implemented in 2012 are now superseded by the IR35 reforms, and the requirement for Departments to include set contractual provisions and conduct an assurance process are no longer necessary.

However, it remains essential that board-level appointments and/or those with significant financial responsibility should be on the payroll of the Department or other employing body, unless there are genuine exceptional circumstances that do not exceed six months. The HMT off-payroll rules have been amended to reflect the outcome of this review, and updated guidance has been published on the Government website, https://www. gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-tax-assurance-process-of-public-sector-appointees

This guidance includes increased transparency requirements, whereby the duration of off-payroll engagements of board members and/or senior officials with significant financial responsibility is to be reported in Departments’ annual accounts in future reporting cycles. This will replace the need for annual reviews.

[HCWS1774]

Defence

Armed Force Pay Review Body Report 2019

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I am today announcing the Government’s decision on pay rises for the armed forces.

The Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) has made its recommendation for the 2019-20 pay award of 2.9%. We are accepting this recommendation in full (to be implemented in September salaries, backdated to 1 April 2019), and I am today laying their 2019 report.

Last year, the Government announced the largest pay rise in nearly a decade for almost a million public sector workers. This year’s award builds on this and focuses attention on increasing pay for the most junior sailors, soldiers, and airmen and women, to ensure that they continue to receive a living wage. Consequently, the basic pay for other ranks on completion of their initial training will now be £20,000. This pay rise of over 6% represents an increase of £1,140 for over 7,200 newly trained sailors, soldiers, and airmen and airwomen.

The pay award also represents an annual increase of £995 in the nominal average salary in the armed forces (which is at the Corporal level), as well as an annual increase of £769 in starting salary for an officer.

For all cohorts, this is in addition to the non-contributory defined benefit pension and access to incremental pay progression.

The AFPRB has also made recommendations on rises and changes to other targeted forms of remuneration and on increases to food and accommodation charges which have been accepted. Where applicable, these rate changes will also be backdated to 1 April 2019.

Thanks to the Government’s balanced approach to public finances, getting debt falling as a share of our economy, while investing in our vital services and keeping taxes low, we are able to continue our flexible approach to pay policy, allowing us to attract and retain the best people for our armed forces.

We consider all pay awards in light of wider pressures on public spending. Public sector pay needs to be fair both for public sector workers and the taxpayer. Around a quarter of all public spending is spent on pay and we need to ensure that our public services remain affordable for the future.

It is also vital that our world class public services continue modernising to meet rising demand for the incredible services they provide, which improve our lives and keep us safe.

[HCWS1770]

Combat Air Strategy

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The Combat Air Strategy was launched a year ago on the opening day of the Farnborough Airshow, at the birthplace of aviation. It re-affirmed the Government’s commitment to the combat air sector, laying out a clear vision for our nation to remain at the leading edge of this sector and providing a clear roadmap to achieve this.

On publication of the strategy, my right hon. Friend, the then Secretary of State for Defence, made a commitment to update the House annually on implementation of the strategy and the programmes it launched. Today I provide this update.

It is worth reflecting on the strategy and its key themes. First, it recognised the strength of our industry and its contribution to the wellbeing of our nation. This sector is economically, strategically important and is enables sovereign decision-making on where and how to deploy our military capability. Secondly, it makes clear that partnering with like-minded allies is the best means to deliver our collective objectives. The update will therefore cover both themes—domestic developments, as well as international.

Domestic update

Alongside the launch of the strategy, the Department re-affirmed our commitment to the approximately £2 billion Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative (FCAS TI). This initiative will mature the technologies needed for our future combat air systems and crucially, develop key skills across both Government and industry. The central pillar of FCAS TI is Team Tempest, a co-funded partnership between Government and our industry partners. Over the last year this partnership has driven a step change in relationships and behaviours between Government and industry by aligning incentives, sharing costs and benefits and creating common interest in pace and agility. The team is on track to delivering 17 European firsts and seven world firsts. The first of these has already been achieved—the embedding of an electrical starter generator by Rolls-Royce within the main body of a powerful military aircraft engine. This increases the power density and reduces the complexity of future aircraft engines, resulting in more efficient engine designs and is fully exploitable to Rolls-Royce’s multi-billion pound civil business. This technology will continue to be matured in the coming years, leading to a fully integrated novel power and propulsion system.

This partnership, and the private and public funding underpinning it, already supports over 1,000 jobs, many of them in high-end design, across the breadth of the country, from BAE Systems in Lancashire, to Rolls-Royce in Bristol and to Leonardo in Edinburgh and Luton. This number is set to rise to 1,800 by the end of this year.

The strategy recognised that there is significant capability residing in UK companies of all sizes and therefore, we are engaging with companies beyond our Team Tempest partners. The Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend, the Member for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew), hosted an Industry Engagement Day on the 19 March at Farnborough where 180 companies representing a wide range of capabilities and sizes, received briefs on the technologies being matured by Team Tempest and the opportunities that exist for further collaboration. I am pleased to announce that the Team Tempest partners have subsequently engaged an additional 500 companies and so far, have let over 120 sub-contracts in support of Team Tempest activities.

The combat air sector is likely to be a key driver in new technologies and skills in areas such as automation, machine learning, advanced manufacturing and big data which will have broader benefit to the economy. Crucial to the long-term sustainability of this sector is ensuring that the skills needed in the future are identified, the workforce trained and that ultimately these skills are transferred to the next generation. Team Tempest has therefore established a dedicated STEM engagement team to inspire young people to be involved in this sector. This approach, along with the assurance provided by the strategy has resulted in record numbers of young people joining the workforce. This year, Leonardo MW will recruit 104 graduates and 62 apprentices, with the majority planned to be involved in Team Tempest activities. Similarly, BAE Systems is planning to recruit approximately 700 apprentices and 300 graduates to grow the percentage (currently 10%) of their Team Tempest workforce that are graduates and apprentices.

Working closely with officials from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Department has launched a skills index to monitor the health of industrial and Government skills critical to the delivery of our national objectives. Industry have provided their inputs and we are analysing the results and intend to present our findings in September. The skills index will be used to inform and measure the success of interventions such as FCAS TI, to ensure the health of the sector.

International update

On F-35, in February, the avionic and aircraft component repair hub in North Wales was awarded a second major assignment of work worth some £500 million by the US Government. This will create hundreds of additional jobs in the UK and was the result of working closely with industry to deliver a national campaign approach.

On Typhoon, the strategy confirmed our commitment to continue to invest in this remarkable platform. In June, NETMA, on behalf of the UK and the other European partner nations, awarded a €54 million contract for the Typhoon long-term evolution study to industry which will explore how to maximise Typhoon’s capability for this decade and beyond.

The FCAS TI programme is maturing technologies for national usage, as well with our international partners. We are contracting our industry to work with their French counterparts on technologies that would maximise interoperability of our current and future platforms, recognising that, as currently envisioned, the Franco-German Système de Combat Aérien Futur (SCAF) acquisition programme does not meet the objectives laid out in our strategy. We are also investing in the development of the next generation lift fan for the F-35B, to reduce weight and improve the overall effectiveness of this world beating platform.

Our next generation acquisition programme will define and deliver the capabilities required when the backbone of the RAF, the Typhoon, leaves service. The team delivering this is working at pace, having within a few months of forming, delivered the strategic outline (business) case, which confirmed acquisition options to deliver our future combat air capability, which are now being explored and tested with potential international partners.

Despite challenging international dynamics, the Department has made great strides in our discussions with potential partners. With the support of wider Government (most notably officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Trade) and our industry, we have launched feasibility studies with potential partners.

We have discovered that there is a great appetite to collaborate with us. We offer a unique partnering approach, recognising the need to deliver ours and our partners’ benefits together, learning from our rich history of collaboration. This approach provides the firm leadership needed and appears to be an attractive alternative to the traditional, dominant-junior partner relationships.

Last week I signed a memorandum of understanding with my Swedish counterpart on this topic. This marks a significant step in aligning our nations, recognising both nations have highly capable combat air sectors. We will work together to mutually develop our understanding of the systems required to deliver our future requirements and how best to develop, deliver and ultimately support them. Beyond Sweden, we are furthering our engagement with other potential partners and I aim to sign similar arrangements over the next year.

From progress to date, we believe that Europe can afford two separate Combat Air programmes. We are investing in technologies, such as open systems architectures and advanced design and manufacturing techniques which offer significant reductions to the time and cost of design, manufacture, in-service upgrades and modifications. We are also ensuring that collaboration will be with partners whose strategic objectives align with our own, including the determination to reduce costs. We recognise that in an effective and efficient collaboration, there will be an optimum number of partners, which may include those outside of Europe.

The strategy’s next major steps are to continue the concept phase until December 2020, gathering evidence on the acquisition options presented and then submit the outline business case. This will select the preferred acquisition route and concept to be taken forward into the assessment phase.

[HCWS1778]

Support for Armed Forces Personnel and Veterans

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Our armed forces do an incredible job to protect us and our nation. They endure great hardships and separation from their loved ones, and they place themselves in harm’s way and bear the physical and mental scars of traumatic experiences. They are prepared to risk their lives for us. We owe them a huge debt, and we also owe them justice and fairness.

The Government are clear that the armed forces are not above the law. It is right that whenever the armed forces embark on operations outside of the UK our people and their chain of command are bound to abide by the criminal law of England and Wales, as well as international humanitarian law as set out in the Geneva Conventions. Our service men and women are required to conform to the highest standards of personal behaviour and conduct. And when they fall short they must be held to account. Justice must be served.

The Government believe that, other than in exceptional circumstances, the conclusion of investigations into allegations made against members of the armed forces should draw a line—addressing the uncertainty faced by armed forces personnel concerned about the prospect of reinvestigation and prosecution many years after the event. But the law as it stands cannot allow that line to be drawn with any confidence. That is why the Government believe change is needed to afford armed forces personnel and veterans greater protection from the threat of prosecution for alleged historical offences committed in the course of duty outside the UK. Armed forces personnel and veterans should not be left with the threat of prosecution hanging over their heads for years to come, in circumstances where their actions have been investigated at the time.

Similar issues arise in relation to civil litigation. Military operations in Iraq resulted in litigation against the Ministry of Defence on an industrial scale: nearly 1,000 claims seeking compensation for personal injury or death (most of which also sought compensation for human rights violations), and approximately 1,400 judicial review claims seeking European Convention on Human Rights-compliant investigation and compensation. Although the law does provide for a time limit in such cases, the courts are currently given broad discretion as to whether to enforce that limit. The effect is that claims have routinely been brought late, with huge numbers of compensation claims permitted to proceed long after the relevant time limit.

The later a claim is brought, especially in respect of allegations emanating from a war zone, the harder it is to assess in a fair and proportionate manner. Records may no longer be sufficiently detailed to be able to prove or disprove specific allegations, and the memories of those involved in incidents fade over time. In such circumstances, the Government may have to choose between settling claims—the merits of which have not been established—or putting armed forces personnel and veterans through the ordeal of giving evidence on the Ministry of Defence’s behalf. This is unfair to our personnel and to the taxpayer, who must pay the associated legal costs.

All of this goes to the heart of what is known as “lawfare”—the judicialisation of war. And the risks and impacts of lawfare are clear: in terms of the financial costs; the stress and strain placed on veterans; the potential impact on the morale of serving personnel and our ability to recruit future armed forces personnel; and the risk that decisions taken on operations may be corrupted in order to avoid the possibility of legal proceedings many years in the future—the “chilling effect” feared by military commanders.

This is why I announced on 21 May (HCWS 1575) my plans to take forward work to address this important and concerning issue. I am pleased to be able to announce today the launch of a public consultation on legal protections measures for the armed forces and veterans.

The consultation document contains proposed measures which we believe can be enacted in a manner which is consistent with our obligations under domestic and international law, while providing genuine benefits to our personnel:

First, a proposal to legislate for a presumption against prosecution of current or former armed forces personnel for alleged offences committed in the course of duty outside the UK more than 10 years ago. This measure would in effect raise the threshold to be applied by prosecutors when considering whether a prosecution is genuinely in the public interest in such cases. Two different options are set out in the consultation document for how this measure could be enacted.

And secondly, a proposal to ensure that going forward, the law reflects the unique pressures faced by armed forces personnel while deployed on operations outside the UK, through the creation of a new partial defence to murder. This would be available to current and former armed forces personnel who caused a death in the course of duty outside the UK through using more force than strictly necessary for the purposes of self-defence, providing that the initial decision to use force was justified. If convicted, the defence would reduce a conviction for murder to manslaughter.

As part of the consultation, we are also seeking views on a proposal to restrict the courts’ discretion to extend the normal time limit for bringing civil claims for personal injury and or death in relation to historical events outside of the UK.

We hope that the proposals set out in the consultation will help ensure that our armed forces receive the justice and fairness that they are owed. And, through the consultation, we hope to test and refine what is proposed with the aim of bringing forward legislation as soon as possible.

[HCWS1784]

UN Mission: Sahel Region

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Reflecting our continued commitment to multilateralism and international peace and security, the UK continues to support increased engagement in the Sahel under the Government’s new strategic approach to Africa.

We have committed to reinforcing our support for countries on the front line of instability, including stepping up to the UK’s role in tackling the underlying causes of poverty and conflict in Mali and the wider Sahel region (Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania).

I therefore wish to announce to the House the intention to expand the UK’s contribution to the United Nations multidimensional integrated stabilisation mission in Mali (MINUSMA) by deploying a long-range reconnaissance task group of 250 personnel in 2020. The UK will support the mission in implementing its mandated tasks—to support the implementation of the peace agreement, promote stability in central Mali and to protect civilians, including supporting the rights of women and children.

The UK’s intent is to provide the UN with high-quality forces to missions where their capabilities are most in demand. The UK contribution will provide improved situational awareness and information provision that will help the mission—military and civilian—in support of the mandate, to progress towards a long-term and sustainable peace in Mali. This will signal a significant shift in the UK’s approach to peacekeeping as we bridge the gap between those who pay and those who deliver by providing a highly employable, highly capable task force.

This announcement is a significant uplift from the two military staff officers the UK currently contributes to MINUSMA HQ, and the funding of a civilian role to support the UN’s work on Sahel issues. It also demonstrates a continued commitment to UN peacekeeping following the completion of our commitment in 2020 to the UN mission in South Sudan.

The UK is committed to supporting the international community in combating instability in Mali, as well as strengthening our wider military engagement across the Sahel region, and is proud to do so under the auspices of the United Nations.

[HCWS1779]

Education

Teachers’ Pay and Conditions

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The school teachers’ review body (STRB) has recommended a 2.75% uplift to the minima and maxima of all pay ranges and allowances in the national pay framework, which is due to be implemented in autumn 2019.

Last year, the Government announced the largest pay rise in nearly a decade for almost a million public sector workers. Building on this, this year I have decided to accept in full the STRB’s recommendations for a 2.75% uplift to the minima and maxima of all pay ranges and allowances.

The pay award will both raise starting salaries and increase the competitiveness of the pay framework. As a result, minimum starting salaries for classroom teachers will see an increase between £652 (Rest of England) and £816 (Inner London), and classroom teachers at the top of the main pay range could see an increase between £963 and £1,110. For more experienced classroom teachers at the top of the upper pay range, it could mean an increase of between £1,084 and £1,327.

As a result, the pay ranges for all teachers and leaders will see an uplift. Thanks to the flexible performance-based pay system we have, schools can choose to give teachers and leaders a higher pay rise where this is appropriate to their local context and budget.

As this award is more than the 2% we assessed was affordable in our evidence to the STRB, I will invest a further £105 million in the existing teachers’ pay grant this financial year. This is on top of the £321 million funding that schools are already receiving through the teachers’ pay grant in 2019-20.

Last year, we specifically targeted early career pay because of the growing retention challenges within the first five years of a teacher’s career. The STRB has recognised the improvements we have made to the unqualified and main pay ranges following the 2% uplift to the main pay range in 2017 and 3.5% uplift to both in 2018.

It is now vitally important to increase the competitiveness of the pay framework and help address the teacher supply challenges across the workforce. This year’s pay award will also support the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy, which I published in January this year. The strategy underpins the early career framework, which provides a fully funded two-year package of support for all early career teachers.

In addition to their pay, teachers continue to benefit from defined benefit pensions, which are amongst the most generous available.

Thanks to the Government’s balanced approach to public finances, getting debt to fall as a share of our economy, while investing in our vital services and keeping taxes low, we are able to continue our flexible approach to pay policy, allowing us to attract and retain the best people for our schools.

We consider all pay awards in light of wider pressures on public spending. Public sector pay needs to be fair both for public sector workers and the taxpayer. Around a quarter of all public spending is spent on pay and we need to ensure that our public services remain affordable for the future.

It is also vital that our world-class public services continue to modernise to meet rising demand for the incredible services they provide, which improve our lives and keep us safe.

I am grateful for the in-depth considerations the STRB has given in concluding their report and recommendations for the 2019 teachers’ pay award.

I will deposit in the Libraries of both Houses a full list of the recommendations and my proposed approach for all pay and allowance ranges.

My officials will write to all of the statutory consultees involved in the STRB’s 29th remit and invite them to contribute to a consultation on my response to these recommendations and on a revised school teachers’ pay and conditions document and pay order. The consultation will last for eight weeks.

[HCWS1766]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Foreign Affairs Council 15 July 2019

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I attended the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 15 July. 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 Brussels.

Current affairs

The High Representative and Foreign Ministers discussed the most pressing issues on the international agenda. This included Turkey's current drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean.

Foreign Ministers also discussed the recent developments in Sudan. Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto reported on his visit to the region on behalf of the EU. Ministers noted that the agreement reached between the Transitional Military Council and Forces for Freedom and Change on 11 July was an important breakthrough, and underlined the importance of supporting the civilian transition, including through additional financial support.

Ministers also touched on Venezuela, following the visit of special adviser Enrique Iglesias to Caracas on 7-10 July. They reiterated the EU’s support for a political solution through the Oslo process, while underlining strong concerns over the human rights situation following the report by the office of the high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet.

The High Representative also covered the EU-Ukraine summit, the fifth anniversary of the downing of MH17, her recent visit to the Sahel region (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger) and the outcome of the fifth EU-G5 Sahel Ministerial meeting in Ouagadougou (9 July).

I briefed the Council on my recent engagement on Iran. The Council discussed the tense situation in the Gulf region and recent announcements and steps by Tehran to reduce its implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). Ministers referred to ways of reducing the ongoing risk of military escalation and reiterated the EU’s regret at the decision by the US to re-impose sanctions on Iran.

Ministers also took stock of ongoing EU efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran, including through the special purpose vehicle "INSTEX" which is now operational. They also urged Iran to reverse the steps taken and reaffirmed that the EU’s commitment to the nuclear deal depended on full compliance by Iran.

The High Representative spoke to Ministers about her visit to Baghdad on 13-14 July. Foreign Ministers took stock of developments in Iraq and discussed how the EU could provide further support.

Central African Republic

Ministers reflected on how the EU could strengthen its support to encourage further implementation of the peace agreement signed in Bangui on 6 February 2019. They agreed to start working on plans for a possible civilian Common Security and Defence Policy mission.

External aspects of migration

Ministers agreed that efforts to address migration should be stepped up. They noted that greater financial resources were needed, especially for the EU trust fund for Africa. Ministers also discussed the importance of accelerating resettlement of persons needing international protection and making progress on the disembarkation of migrants rescued at sea.

Lunch with the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Moldova Nicolae Popescu

Foreign Ministers conveyed their support, as well as their expectations, on the implementation of reforms related to the association agreement, and their willingness to resume conditional EU financial support.

Council conclusions

The Council agreed a number of measures:

The Council adopted conclusions on Iraq.

The Council adopted conclusions on Turkish drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Council adopted conclusions on the EU's priorities at the 74th UN general assembly.

A decision was adopted by the Council on sanctions against North Korea following the annual review.

The Council authorised the opening of negotiations on a joint political declaration of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Union on the 2030 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) implementation.

The Council adopted the EU’s position in view of the second EU-Cuba joint council that will take place on 9 September in Havana.

The Council approved the update of the military requirements for military mobility within and beyond the EU.

The Council approved the adoption of an ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) statement on aviation partnership.

The Council approved the adoption of an ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) statement on "Promoting women, peace and security at the ASEAN Regional Forum".

The Council transposed an amendment adopted by the UN concerning one person listed under the South Sudan sanctions framework.

The Council adopted the position to be taken on behalf of the EU in the Joint Committee established by the framework agreement on partnership and co-operation between the EU and the Philippines.

The Council adopted the position to be taken by the EU in the Cote d'lvoire-EU EPA Committee regarding adoption of protocol 1 concerning the definition of the concept of “originating products” and methods for administrative cooperation (rules of origin).

The Council endorsed the text of six working papers and one information paper to be submitted by Finland on behalf of the European Union and its member states to the 40th assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The Council adopted a decision authorising the Commission to enter into negotiations on the modernisation of the Charter Treaty (10738/19). The Council also adopted negotiating directives (10745/19 ADD 1). In parallel, the representatives of the governments of the member states that are parties to the energy charter treaty adopted a decision authorising the Commission to enter into negotiations for the elements falling under the competence of the member states.

[HCWS1773]

Health and Social Care

Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework

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I am delighted to be able to announce a land mark five-year settlement for the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework. This deal will transform the role of community pharmacy and embed them as the first port of call for minor illness and health advice in England.

Every day, in England there are around 1.6 million visits to community pharmacies. No appointment is necessary, and a person does not need to be registered with a pharmacy to benefit from their support or advice. The potential for community pharmacies to play a greater role across a wide range of health priorities is evident.

Over the last few months we have worked with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) to develop a future vison for community pharmacy and expand their role across three key areas: prevention, urgent care and medicines safety.

We have agreed a settlement that will now translate this vision into practice and begin to transform the role of community pharmacy. It will see community pharmacies better utilised and integrated within the primary medical and community services we are working to deliver.

This agreement will come into effect from October 2019 and will mark the start of a series of developments that will continue over the course of the settlement period, through to 2024.

We will continue to work with the PSNC, and NHS England and improvement to further deliver this programme of work in partnership.

[HCWS1777]

NHS Pay Review Body 32nd Report: Government Response

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I am responding on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the 32nd report of the NHS Pay review Body (NHSPRB). The report has been laid before Parliament today (Cm 147). Copies of the report are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.

This is the second year of the three-year Agenda for Change pay and contract reform deal (2018/19 to 2020/21); the NHSPRB was asked therefore not to make any pay recommendations for 2019/20.

The Government welcome the 32nd report of the NHSPRB and are grateful to the Chair and Members for all their work and helpful observations, on effective workforce planning and how best to support the development of the NHS workforce.

We are pleased that their observations broadly reflect the themes published in the Interim People Plan and will help inform the upcoming final People Plan.

[HCWS1764]

47th Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration Report: Government Response

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I am responding on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the 47th report of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB). The report has been laid before Parliament today (Cm148) and a copy can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-07-22/HCWS1765/ . I am grateful to the Chair and members of the DDRB for their report.

The Government are today announcing pay rises for doctors and dentists working across the NHS.

Building on our ambition to make the NHS the best place to work, as set out in the NHS interim people plan, this is a pay rise that recognises the hard work and dedication of doctors and dentists and puts forward an approach for a potential multi-year deal with contract reform for specialty and associate specialist (SAS) doctors to enhance recruitment, retention, morale and productivity for this group.

We have recently agreed multi-year deals for both non-medical Agenda for Change staff and doctors and dentists in training and this is part of our approach to make the NHS the best employer in the world while supporting the NHS workforce to deliver excellent patient care.

Thanks to the Government’s balanced approach to public finances—getting debt falling as a share of our economy, while investing in our vital services and keeping taxes low—we are able to continue our flexible approach to pay policy, allowing us to attract and retain the best people for our hospitals.

We consider all pay awards in light of wider pressures on public spending. Public sector pay needs to be fair both for public sector workers and the taxpayer. Around a quarter of all public spending is spent on pay and we need to ensure that our public services remain affordable for the future.

It is also vital that our world-class public services continue modernising to meet rising demand for the incredible services they provide, which improve our lives and keep us safe.

This pay rise represents one of the biggest uplifts in pay for medical staff for over a decade. In addition to their pay, medical staff continue to benefit from defined-benefit pensions, which are among the most generous available.

Today’s pay award is worth:

Between £1,940 and £2,630 for consultants

Between £970 and £1,820 for specialty doctors

Between £1,360 and £2,250 for associate specialists

The DDRB were asked not to make a pay recommendation for general medical practitioners as this is the first year of the recently announced five-year contract deal. As part of this agreement, core general practice funding will increase by £978 million per year by 2023-24 providing greater certainty for GMPs to plan ahead.

The Government’s response to the DDRB recommendations takes account of affordability in the context of the NHS long-term plan and the 2019 spending review. Given the NHS budget is now set for the next five years, there is a direct trade-off between pay and staff numbers and our response takes account of this trade-off.

The Government’s response is as follows:

Consultants

A 2.5% general uplift in pay backdated to April 2019.

The value of both national and old style local clinical excellence awards (CEAs) to be frozen.

Specialty Doctors (New Grade 2008) and Associate Specialist (Closed Grade) (SAS Doctors)

The Government take note of the DDRB’s comments on the particular issues of morale and motivation in relation to this group that led to their pay recommendation. We agree that investment in raising the profile and attractiveness of SAS doctor roles is important and we are committing to negotiations on a multi-year pay agreement, incorporating contract reform for SAS doctors. SAS doctors will receive:

A 2.5% general uplift in pay backdated to April 2019.

The potential for an additional 1% on top of the 2.5% already paid to be added to pay in 2020-21 conditional on contract reform, through a multi-year agreement.

Doctors and Dentists in Training

On 27 June the Government announced that junior doctors had overwhelmingly backed a four-year deal incorporating pay increases and improved flexibility and working conditions. This brings to an end the junior doctors dispute and the British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS employers have now collectively agreed the amended junior doctor contract.

The four-year deal guarantees pay increases of 2% per annum for the next four years and there will in addition 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.

General Dental Practitioners

A 2.5% general uplift in the pay element of their contract backdated to April 2019.

General Medical Practitioner Trainers and Appraisers

A 2.5% increase in full to the value of the GMP trainers grant and the GMP appraisers’ grant.

[HCWS1765]

Home Department

Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs: Reappointment

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I am pleased to announce that Dr Owen Bowden-Jones has been reappointed to the ACMD both as a member and as its Chair. This re-appointment is for a three-year term, beginning on 1 January 2020. Dr Bowden-Jones is an experienced clinician who provides assessment and treatment for people experiencing harms from emerging problem drugs.

The ACMD was established under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and provides advice to Government on issues related to the harms of drugs. It also has a statutory role under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.

[HCWS1781]

Police Remuneration Review Body 2019: Government Response

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The fifth annual report of the Police Remuneration Review Body was published today. In line with our letter setting the body’s remit it has made recommendations on pay and allowances for police officers at all ranks in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Government have considered the recommendations of the report insofar as they relate to police officers in England and Wales, which the Home Office is responsible for. We wish to express thanks to the Chair and members of the review body for their work on the report and pay recommendations.

Last year, the Government announced the largest pay rise in nearly a decade for almost a million public sector workers. Building on this, this year the Government have accepted in full the recommendations of the PRRB that a consolidated increase of 2.5% should be awarded to all ranks at all pay points. It has also accepted a corresponding increase to London Weighting and the Dog Handlers’ Allowance and an increase in the on-call allowance for officers in the federated ranks from £15 to £20 for each 24-hour period on-call. These will be implemented with effect from 1 September 2019.

We asked the PRRB to review the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s proposals for progression pay for police apprentices. The PRRB recommended that subject to further review in the next pay round, no change is made to the current arrangements for apprentice progression. The Government have accepted this recommendation.

Thanks to the Government’s balanced approach to public finances—getting debt falling as a share of our economy, while investing in our vital services and keeping taxes low—we are able to continue our flexible approach to pay policy, allowing us to attract and retain the best people for our police forces.

We consider all pay awards in light of wider pressures on public spending. Public sector pay needs to be fair both for public sector workers and the taxpayer. Around a quarter of all public spending is spent on pay and we need to ensure that our public services remain affordable for the future. In addition to their pay, police officers continue to benefit from defined benefit pensions, which are among the most generous available.

It is also vital that our world class public services continue modernising to meet rising demand for the incredible services they provide, which improve our lives and keep us safe.

The Police Remuneration Review Body Report (CP 139) has been laid before Parliament and copies are available in the Vote Office and at www.gov.uk.

[HCWS1769]

Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures: 1 March to 31 May 2019

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Section 19(1) of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (the Act) requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of his TPIM powers under the Act during that period.

The level of information provided will always be subject to slight variations based on operational advice.

TPIM notices in force (as of 31 May 2019)

3

TPIM notices in respect of British citizens (as of 31 May 2019)

3

TPIM notices extended (during the reporting period)

0

TPIM notices revoked (during the reporting period)

1

TPIM notices revived (during the reporting period)

0

Variations made to measures specified in TPIM notices (during the reporting period)

4

Applications to vary measures specified in TPIM notices refused (during the reporting period)

0

The number of current subjects relocated under TPIM legislation (as of 28 February 2019)

1

The TPIM review group (TRG) keeps every TPIM notice under regular and formal review. The second quarter TRG meetings took place on 4 and 13 June 2019.

On 15 March 2019 an individual was convicted for seven breaches of his TPIM notice and was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment.

On 22 March 2019 the trial of an individual charged with breaching his TPIM notice was discontinued as the jury could not reach a majority verdict. The CPS elected not to seek a retrial as it was assessed not to be in the public interest.

On 13 May 2019 an individual was sentenced for one breach of his TPIM notice. He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment (suspended for two years), a 12-hour curfew to be observed for 12 months, 150 hours’ unpaid work, 18 months’ attendance at an extremist risk guidance and identity help programme and a victim surcharge and collection order.

[HCWS1780]

Housing, Communities and Local Government

Strengthening Communities

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On Saturday 20 July I published “By deeds and their results: How we will strengthen our communities and nation”.

The document sets out the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s vision for stronger communities, explaining why communities matter, what strong communities look like, and what Government and partners can do to support their creation.

It also signals the intention that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government work with other Government Departments to champion the importance of communities in every aspect of society, and focus its future work on building stronger communities across the country.

When communities are strong, society is strong. Communities can improve health and wellbeing, enable economic prosperity, help improve the local environment, and provide support in times of crisis. But eight years on from the Localism Act—the last piece of legislation focused on supporting communities—the challenges facing communities have evolved, and the time is right to assess and change the way in which Government can support communities. This is particularly necessary given the long-term divisions which have been exposed following the vote on the UK’s future membership of the European Union.

“By deeds and their results” commits the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to several actions, including:

Holding a national conversation with communities across England about their view of who we are as a nation, their vision for the future of their community and our country, and what local and national Government can and should be doing to support their community to thrive. We want Government and all public bodies to renew their understanding of their role in building stronger communities—this should be informed by direct conversations with people, in partnership with our existing local democratic institutions. The conversation will commence following the UK’s formal departure from the European Union.

Establishing a series of civic deal pilots to test how Government put into practice the principles in “By deeds and their results”. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will work jointly with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on these pilots. We will work with each pilot to consider how Government activities can be better aligned and co-ordinated to support communities in identifying and delivering their own priorities.

Publishing a communities White Paper to renew Government’s focus on building stronger communities across England. This will consider, for example, how community rights are strengthened, promoted and made easier to take up; how funding for communities can be more simplified, integrated and less risk averse; and how communities can best shape local services and decision-making more broadly. The final scope of the White Paper will be developed in partnership with communities, including through the national conversation and civic deal pilots.

“By deeds and their results” is underpinned by four pillars that will inform all work to strengthen communities across our Department:

1. Trust, connectedness and local pride;

2. Active citizenship and local control;

3. Shared community spaces;

4. Shared prosperity, with no community left behind.

This publication represents the next step in an ongoing conversation with communities that will shape the Department’s future activity. By working in partnership with all stakeholders—including other Government Departments, councils, businesses, faith groups and civil society organisations—we can create an environment that supports and enables stronger communities to flourish.

[HCWS1786]

Rented Housing and Park Home Consultation

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The housing landscape has fundamentally changed since the introduction of the Housing Act 1988—an Act that covers both the social and the private rented sector, as well as providing the tenure framework for a number of other landlords. With one in five households now in the private rented sector, with more families with children and older people renting their homes, it is time for a generational change to renting which better meets the needs of this important market.

Yesterday therefore, my Department launched a number of consultations, which will take forward this Government’s commitment to protect tenants, support landlords, drive up standards in the rental sector and make the housing market fairer for everyone.

Cracking down on rogue landlords

The Government are determined that those renting their homes are not forced into inadequate or unsafe housing. The majority of landlords and property agents in the private rented sector provide decent and well-managed accommodation, but there is a small number who knowingly flout their legal obligations and rent out substandard accommodation. These few criminals account for a disproportionate amount of the 25% of private rented homes which are non-decent.

The Prime Minister committed to widen access to information on the database of rogue landlords and property agents to tenants. In its current form, the database is viewable only to local authorities. It is targeted at the most serious and prolific criminals, those who have been convicted of specified banning order offences such as failure to make a property habitable when instructed by the local authority, through to serious crimes such as specified drug and sexual offences.

Our consultation, “Rogue Landlord Database Reform: Widening Access and Considering the Scope of the Database of Rogue Landlords and Property Agents”, seeks views on how to open-up the database so tenants can know more about the landlord who they plan to, from or already rent from. We also want to consider the scope of the database, this consultation therefore also seeks views on whether the database should cover a wider range of relevant criminal, civil and housing regulation breaches to help further raise standards across the sector.

Abolishing section 21 no-fault evictions and supporting landlords to reclaim their property

On 15 April, I announced plans to abolish section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, putting an end to so-called “no fault” evictions and giving tenants the certainty that they will not be asked to leave their home without a valid reason.

The Government want to deliver a balanced and effective tenancy regime that is fair to both landlords and tenants and yesterday published “A New Deal for Renting: resetting the balance of rights and responsibilities between landlords and tenants”. This consultation seeks views on how tenancies should operate in future. It is the first step in a journey that will deliver on our commitment to bring greater fairness and transparency to tenants and ensure they have the security they need to plan for the future.

The consultation also proposes three new grounds and asks for views on the current grounds for eviction and how they can be improved. Landlords should have confidence that they will be able to regain possession of their property if they need to, and the consultation further explores whether the courts could use the accelerated procedure for dealing with possession order applications under some or all of the mandatory grounds in section 8 of the Housing Act 1988.

Taken together, the reforms proposed across these two consultations will build on Government action to drive up standards across the sector, deliver the rental sector the country deserves and needs, and create a housing market that works for everyone.

Protecting residents of park homes

Finally, we have also published a consultation seeking views on how the fit and proper person test for park homes sites will work in practice. In the Government response to the review of park homes legislation, we committed to introducing the test subject to a technical consultation to ensure the effective operation of the test. When implemented, the test will strengthen local authorities’ powers to target the worst offenders and remove unscrupulous and criminal site operators from the park homes sector.

I am making a copy of all consultations available in the Library of the House

[HCWS1787]

New Unitary Councils

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In my written statement of 1 November 2018 [HCWS1058] to the House, I committed to set out in due course the specific circumstances in which I would be prepared to issue a formal invitation to councils under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007, to submit proposals for the establishment of new unitary councils.

Today I am confirming the circumstances in which I would be prepared to issue such an invitation; how I intend to assess any unitary proposals councils make in response; and our continued approach to any proposals two or more district councils may make to merge in order to form a new larger district council.

Locally-led changes to the structure of local government, whether in the form of unitarisation or district mergers, can—with local support—be an appropriate means of ensuring more sustainable local government and local service delivery, enhanced local accountability, and empowered local communities. This statement today continues the Government’s commitment to supporting those councils that wish to combine, to serve their communities better and will consider unitarisation and mergers between councils when locally requested.

However, I recognise that unitarisation may not be appropriate everywhere. I also recognise that it is essential that any local government restructuring should be on the basis of locally led proposals and should not involve top-down Whitehall solutions being imposed on areas. The Government do not support top-down unitary restructuring. This has been the Government’s consistent approach since 2010.

Today, I want to provide further clarity for those councils who might consider the possibility of restructuring, by setting out the factors councils should consider and the processes to be followed—including with regard to local support.

For councils wishing to restructure to form unitary local government, the first step of the statutory process as set out under the 2007 Act is for me to issue an invitation to councils to submit proposals. There are two circumstances in which I will consider issuing such an invitation.

The first circumstance is where the following two conditions are met:

There is a local request for an invitation.

That I consider that the request demonstrates local opinion is coalescing around a single option which is reasonably likely to meet the existing publicly announced criteria for unitarisation.

In forming my view I would carefully consider the request, including the groups making and supporting it and their reasons for so doing. Where I issue an invitation, I would do so to all those councils that I consider to have regard to the area concerned, whether or not they were among those who had made the original request.

The second circumstance is where I consider that doing so would be appropriate given the specific circumstances of the area, including in relation to the long-term sustainability of local services. This is the situation in which my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), issued an invitation to the councils in Northamptonshire.

Following such an invitation, it would be for the councils concerned to decide whether to develop and submit proposals for unitarisation, either individually or jointly by two or more councils.

I confirm that I will assess any locally-led unitary proposal that I receive against the criteria for unitarisation which we announced to Parliament in 2017 and which I and my predecessor have consistently used since then. These criteria state that subject to Parliamentary approval a proposal can be implemented, with or without modification, if I conclude that across the area as a whole the proposal is likely to:

improve the area’s local government;

command a good deal of local support across the area; and

cover an area that provides a credible geography for the proposed new structures, including that any new unitary council’s population would be expected to be in excess of 300,000.

On district council mergers, I confirm that where two or more district councils submit a proposal to merge, I will assess this against the criteria for mergers which we announced to Parliament in November 2017 and which we have used since then. The statutory process for such mergers does not involve my inviting proposals, and I recognise that particularly small district councils may wish to propose merging as a natural next step following a number of years of successful joint working, sharing of services and senior management teams.

The criteria for district council mergers are that, subject to Parliamentary approval, a proposal to merge would be implemented if I had reached a judgment in the round that if so implemented it would be likely to:

improve the area’s local government;

command local support, in particular that the merger is proposed by all councils which are to be merged and there is evidence of a good deal of local support; and

the area is a credible geography, consisting of two or more existing local government areas that are adjacent, and which, if established, would not pose an obstacle to locally-led proposals for authorities to combine to serve their communities better and would facilitate joint working between local authorities.

This statement is intended to provide clarity to councils and communities and help ensure that time and effort are not wasted on pursuing proposals which are unlikely to get the go ahead. It is important that those seeking to pursue locally led proposals are confident that there is a broad basis of common local support for the proposals to avoid unnecessary local conflict and distraction from the delivery of quality public services. The statement underlines the need for any proposals to be innovative, improve services, enhance accountability, have local support and deliver financial sustainability if they are to be taken forward.

Moreover, restructuring is only one of the different ways that councils can move forward. Joint working with other councils and partners could also be an appropriate and sustainable way forward. Such joint working can take a variety of forms ranging from adopting joint plans, setting up joint committees, and sharing back office services, to establishing combined authorities, and may extend across county boundaries. Those in an area will know what is best—the very essence of localism to which the Government remain committed.

[HCWS1790]

International Trade

Consultation on UK Export Finance's Foreign Content Policy: Response

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The Government will today publish the response to the consultation on UK Export Finance’s (UKEF) Foreign Content policy. It sets out the approach UKEF will take to determine the level of non-UK goods, services and intangible assets in transaction supported by UKEF.

The purpose of the new approach is to ensure that UKEF’s support is flexible and meets the needs of UK exporters to help them win business overseas, fulfilling UKEF’s mission to ensure that no viable UK export fails for lack of finance or insurance from the private sector, while operating at no net cost to the taxpayer.

The consultation, published in April 2019, was part of UKEF’s commitment in the Government’s export strategy to review its products and policies to ensure they reflect the full breadth of its capability and the needs of business. The consultation received 28 responses, which were largely supportive of the approach proposed by Government in the consultation and reinforced the need for its foreign content policy to adapt to increasingly globalised supply chains.

The new policy ensures that UKEF will implement a principles-based approach to foreign content, recognising the full contribution of the UK supply chain. This approach will supplement UKEF’s current UK content requirement, making it easier for UKEF to consider support for scenarios which are outside of a specific export contract, but which nevertheless are conducive to supporting and developing UK exports.

This approach will broaden the availability of UKEF support for all sectors including those to which it has not traditionally provided support. To align with this expectation, UKEF will be updating its definitions to clarify UKEF’s ability to support intangible assets.

A copy of the consultation response will be placed in the Libraries of both House.

[HCWS1761]

Justice

Enforcement Agents

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Further to a statement made by the then Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. and learned Friend the Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Lucy Frazer) [Official Report, 26 November 2018; Vol.650, c.2WS], I wanted to update the House on the Ministry of Justice’s review of the implementation of the enforcement agent reforms contained in the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. These reforms, which came into force in 2014, aimed to provide protection to debtors from the aggressive pursuit of their debt from enforcement agents, while balancing this against the need for effective enforcement.

Our review was launched with a call for evidence on 26 November 2018 that ran to 17 February 2019. This sought to provide further information on the operation of the reforms following the Government’s publication of the first post-implementation review on 2 April 2018. This review found that the reforms had led to many positive changes, including improved transparency and consistency, both in terms of the enforcement process and the fees charged by enforcement agents. The report noted, however, that some enforcement agents were still perceived to be acting aggressively and not complying with the new rules.

We received nearly 300 responses to the call for evidence from: individuals who have been visited by enforcement agents; enforcement agents, firms and trade associations; local authorities and other creditors; advice organisations and charities; MPs and members of the judiciary.

I am grateful to the Justice Committee for conducting an inquiry into this important issue. We are carefully considering its recommendations for further reform. We will provide a full response to the report and to our call for evidence, following further engagement with stakeholders over the summer.

Based on their data, civil enforcement agents now enforce around 3 million civil cases each year. Creditors need an effective, sustainable way to ensure that they receive the money owed to them. At the same time, the Government must ensure that those in debt, especially the vulnerable, including those with mental health issues, are treated fairly and given the protections they deserve.

Enforcement agents carry out an important job in often very challenging circumstances.

Many firms have made considerable efforts to make sure that they are treating those in debt fairly, but complaints continue. All enforcement agents must operate to the same high standards. So, we will be pushing forward with a reform package to make sure that people do not face aggressive action from enforcement agents and to improve trust in the industry as a whole.

One area of our focus will be how people can make complaints against enforcement agents. Data submitted to our call for evidence has shown that the volume of complaints made about enforcement agents is much lower than would be expected relative to the volume of debts enforced, and compared to similar industries. While this may in part be due to improvements in the sector, we believe that there are a number of barriers in the current complaints system that may deter people from making a complaint. We will look to address these with enforcement agents and others with a view to making the complaints system more effective, transparent and independent.

We are also considering what role independent regulation of enforcement agents could potentially play in ensuring that vulnerable debtors are treated fairly. We believe that regulation of this sector could be strengthened but we do not yet have a firm view on the form this should take. It is an issue that would benefit from further discussions with stakeholders. We are clear that any further regulation must be effective, proportionate and sustainable.

Alongside considering these reforms, we wish to bring quicker changes to the system to improve how enforcement agents operate. Our call for evidence and the Justice Committee’s inquiry found strong evidence that body-worn cameras are important in protecting both those in debt and enforcement agents, raising standards in the industry and enabling complaints to be properly investigated. We will be taking forward work to make use of body-worn cameras mandatory for all private enforcement agents and to produce best practice guidance.

Under the current system, all enforcement agents have to demonstrate knowledge of the law, customer care, dealing with conflict situations and identifying vulnerable situations. We believe that there is a good case, however, to look again at the guidance and requirements for how enforcement agents interact with those in debt, with a view to addressing any unfair treatment of vulnerable people, including those with mental health issues.

The Ministry of Justice proposes to engage with the enforcement industry, debt advice agencies, creditors and others on these and other issues over the summer before responding in full to its call for evidence and the Justice Committee report. The response will include a full analysis of the variety of evidence submitted to the review and set out proposals for reform to enhance the regulation of enforcement agents. We will consult on any proposals for legislative reform.

This work forms part of wider cross-Government efforts to improve the treatment of those in debt. This includes work by HM Treasury to implement a “breathing space” and statutory debt repayment plan for people in problem debt and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government review of how local authorities can improve the way they collect council tax debt.

[HCWS1776]

Prison Service Pay Review Body Recommendations 2019-20: Government Response

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I am today announcing the Government’s decision on pay rises for prison staff.

The prison service pay review body has made its recommendations for the 2019-20 pay award and we are accepting these recommendations in full.

Last year, the Government announced the largest pay rise in nearly a decade for almost a million public sector workers. Today we are building on that with a pay award that is worth at least 2.2% for all prison staff and 3% for our Band 3 officers on the “fair and sustainable” terms and conditions. This is the second year in a row we have put in place awards over 2% for our prison staff and this year’s settlement represents the highest consolidated increase for over 10 years.

In addition to the headline increases we will also implement the totality of the other review body recommendations. This represents a full package for staff that will support us to recruit and retain prison officers and managers, contributing to safer prisons and reduced reoffending. In addition to their pay, prison officers continue to benefit from defined-benefit pensions, which are amongst the most generous available.

For a Band 3 officer on the modern terms and conditions the pay settlement is worth on average £1,277.

Alongside this investment in pay, prison officers are being trained to be more effective and gain experience in critical areas. The key worker role within the new offender management in custody model is currently being rolled out across prisons. This has been enabled by the investment in additional Band 3 officers, and supports officers at this grade to build more effective relationships with prisoners in order to improve safety and help reduce reoffending.

Thanks to the Government’s balanced approach to public finances—getting debt falling as a share of our economy, while investing in our vital services and keeping taxes low—we are able to continue our flexible approach to pay policy, allowing us to attract and retain the best people for our prisons.

We consider all pay awards in light of wider pressures on public spending. Public sector pay needs to be fair both for public sector workers and the taxpayer. Around a quarter of all public spending is spent on pay and we need to ensure that our public services remain affordable for the future.

It is also vital that our world class public services continue modernising to meet rising demand for the incredible services they provide, which improve our lives and keep us safe.

The report has been laid before Parliament today 22 July 2019 and is available online at: https://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-07-22/HCWS1768/. I am grateful to the chair and members of the review body for their report.

[HCWS1768]

Response to Opposition Day Debate: Prisons and Probation

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Today I would like to update the House on prisons and probation following the Opposition day debate of 14 May 2019.

Our prison and probation systems have faced challenges in recent years, with changes in population, changes in the nature of crimes being committed and wider societal changes impacting the criminal justice sector, such as the use of Spice and other psychoactive substances. We need to ensure that our prisons and probation services provide appropriate punishment, and work with offenders to stop the root causes of criminality, supporting them to re-join their communities.

HMP Birmingham was an exceptional case caused by a number of complex factors and the Government had been working closely with G4S to try and resolve the issues in HMP Birmingham. However, it became increasingly clear that G4S alone was not able to make the improvements that were so badly needed. That is why the Government took decisive action to step in and did so at no additional costs to the taxpayer.

However, the Government are clear that the exceptional experience of HMP Birmingham is no more representative of the wider contribution of the private sector to our justice system than individual failings in the public sector are in the public estate. The Government remain committed to ensuring a mixed market for delivery of services in the justice system. Partnering with the private and voluntary sectors offers the taxpayer greater value for money, greater diversity of provision and greater innovation than we would see from the public sector alone. Our policy remains a commitment to what works; we will continue to resist ideological calls to spend taxpayers money in a particular sector, regardless of value proposition.

Government contracts are never awarded lightly: each is awarded following a robust process. The Government have always been compliant with procurement regulations and follows these diligently when assessing supplier’s suitability.

Through the competition processes we undertake a rigorous financial and operational assessment of bids put forward by any existing or potential operator to ensure bids are of sufficient quality, value for money and affordability. The Government also ensure, through the procurement and contract management processes, that we have sufficient measures in place to have confidence in the delivery and maintenance of the contracted services over their lifetime.

The chief inspector of prisons has highlighted many examples of excellent performance by private prisons in his inspection reports and competition for custodial services in England and Wales is well established, and has been in place since the early 1990s. Privately managed prison providers achieve the majority of their targets, and their performance is closely monitored by the robust contract management processes HMPPS has in place.

Privately-managed prisons have also pioneered the use of modem technology to improve the running of establishments and help promote rehabilitation—innovations that in many cases are still not widely found in the public estate. This includes the development of in-cell telephony to help prisoners maintain ties with their families; interactive story-time activities between prisoners and their children; and the introduction of electronic kiosks, which allow prisoners to have greater control of managing their day-to-day lives.

Private probation providers have drawn on prior experience delivering employability services to improve the sourcing of unpaid work placements for offenders on community sentences, with nine out of 13 community rehabilitation companies rated “Good” for the delivery of unpaid work by HM Inspectorate of Probation. CRCs have also demonstrated their potential to drive innovation in rehabilitation programmes, with London CRC helping pioneer the safer streets partnership to tackle gangs and knife crime and Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC developing the first behavioural intervention targeted at stalking offences.

The Government therefore rejects the call to end plans to run competitions for new private prisons. We are also committed to ensuring a mixed market for service delivery in the probation system, with offender management delivered by the National Probation Service, but up to £280 million allocated for contracting of unpaid work and rehabilitative services from the private and voluntary sector. In addition, we plan to ring-fence an initial £20 million per year for a regional outcome and innovation fund to be spent on innovative, cross-cutting approaches. There will inevitably in any large organisation be occasional instances where service delivery is not as expected, regardless of whether the public or private sectors are responsible. In these instances, we ensure prompt action is taken to rectify any identified issues, and to learn lessons. This Government will not shy away from learning lessons where they are required—and will not seek to denigrate the dedicated work of large numbers of those who deliver our public services simply because of who their employer is.

Instead, this Government are committed to ensuring that all our prisons, public or private, are places of safety and reform, and that our probation services maximise their performance in keeping the public safe by helping offenders on community orders or leaving prison to turn their lives around in the community.

[HCWS1783]

Prime Minister

National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015: Third Annual Report

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Today, I am pleased to announce the publication of the third annual report of the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR). This also provides an annual update on the National Security Capability Review (NSCR). I will be placing a copy of the report in the Libraries of both Houses and publishing the report on gov.uk.

In the SDSR, we committed to giving Parliament an annual update on implementation of the strategy. This annual report sets out our progress in delivering on our SDSR and NSCR commitments and shows how the United Kingdom continues to meet the threats and challenges posed by a changing world, proving the merits of fusion doctrine, as introduced in last year’s NSCR.

The NSCR reinforced our vision and values set out in the National Security Strategy and SDSR of a secure and prosperous United Kingdom with global reach and influence. Our overarching national security objectives: protect our people; project our global influence; and promote our prosperity, continue to be the foundation of our national security approach. In support of each of these objectives, we have made significant progress on a cross-Government programme of activity, overseen by a sub-committee of the National Security Council (NSC).

Much has changed since the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review was published in November 2015 - not least the United Kingdom’s historic decision to leave the European Union. Whilst the principal threats to our national security remain the same, we face a challenge from a resurgence of state based threats. These threats are more complex and are testing the norms of the rules-based international system on which we have come to rely for our prosperity and security. Nevertheless, NATO remains the bedrock of the UK’s defence and the leading instrument of our national security.

Our outlook remains outward facing and the UK will not shy away from defending democratic principles across the globe whilst ensuring British values are safeguarded at home. We value that outreach, and our partnerships and relationships across the world which are the envy of friend and foe alike. They have proven time and again to be a critical factor in our successes on the global stage.

In the SDSR, we made 89 principal commitments. As at March 2019, we have completed 32, with the rest being progressed. The SDSR pledged to deliver a number of complex major projects and programmes, some with a delivery timescale of a decade or more; progress on these is as we would expect at this stage. The NSCR provided 27 further significant commitments of which 3 have already been completed.

We remain the only country in the G20 to meet both the expenditure targets of 2% of GDP on defence and 0.7% of gross national income on overseas development, driving forward the implementation of the sustainable development goals.

[HCWS1775]

Women and Equalities

Supporting Families

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In the good work plan, the Government announced the largest upgrade to workers’ rights in a generation and set out a series of ambitious reforms to ensure the UK leads the world in meeting the challenges of the changing world of work. Building on these reforms, today the Government have launched a consultation on measures to support parents to enter, remain in and return to the workforce. Employees who feel that they are more in control of the balance between home and work commitments are more likely to be engaged at work. Their employers will benefit from greater employee loyalty, commitment and motivation and are likely to be able to draw on a wider pool of talent when recruiting.

The consultation seeks views on:

high-level options for reforming parental leave and pay, and the costs, benefits and trade-offs of potential reforms;

a proposal for a new entitlement to neonatal leave and pay for parents of babies who require neonatal care following birth;

whether employers should have a duty to consider whether a job can be done flexibly and make that clear when advertising a role;

options for requiring large employers (those with 250 or more employees) to publish their family-related leave and pay policies.

The Government’s modern industrial strategy is creating a fairer and more equal workplace, to boost productivity and earning power for all. The consultation supports this by helping people manage their wider commitments in life benefiting both families and employers.

The consultation on parental leave and pay will run for 16 weeks and will end on 8 November.

The remaining consultations will run for 12 weeks until 11 October 2019. The consultation can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/good-work-plan-proposals-to-support-families.

I am placing a copy of the consultation in the Library of the House.

[HCWS1782]