Tuesday 23 July 2019
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Last week, on Thursday 18 July, I gave a speech at the Social Market Foundation which considered three current challenges in relation to competition. The speech is available on the Department’s website at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/competition-rules-must-continue-to-evolve-with-emergence-of-digital-platforms.
The three challenges are: reducing consumer harm caused by the “loyalty penalty” in sectors such as cash savings, mortgages, household insurance, mobile phone contracts and broadband; second, addressing the new competition issues that are arising in digital markets, including in relation to the market power of large platforms; third, harnessing the power of competition to raising the UK’s productivity.
In conjunction with this speech, the Government last week brought forward publications relating to the role and performance of the UK’s competition institutions. Together, these pave the way for further consideration of potential reforms to address the challenges identified.
Strategic steer to the Competition and Markets Authority
On Thursday 18 July, I published the Government’s strategic steer to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). For each Parliament the Government issues a non-binding strategic steer to the CMA. The intention of the steer is to support the CMA in achieving its legal duties and objectives to promote competition, both within and outside the UK, for the benefit of consumers and the UK economy. The steer provides a transparent statement of how the Government sees competition fitting with its wider objectives for the economy alongside the CMA’s accountability framework.
Review of aspects of competition law
I also laid before Parliament on 18 July the review of aspects of the law on competition as required under sections 46 and 56 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. The review considers the effectiveness of competition enforcement and changes made to the competition regime by the 2013 Act.
The review finds that the direction of travel is broadly positive. More competition cases are being opened, merger reviews and market studies are being brought to a conclusion more quickly, and stakeholder views suggest a good degree of confidence in the regime.
The review notes that we need to consider how well-equipped the UK’s competition framework is to respond to current and future competition challenges. In its upcoming Competition Green Paper, the Government will take a wide-ranging look at the institutions, powers and tools that promote and enforce competition in the UK.
Consultation on the statutory audit services market
The Government have also published a consultation in response to the statutory audit services market study by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
We have a problem with audit quality, as has been recognised and analysed by Sir John Kingman’s review, the BEIS Select Committee, the CMA and, more recently, the Financial Reporting Council itself. This is why it is right that we continuously review our audit regime to maintain the UK’s world-leading position.
In October 2018,1 asked Lord Tyrie, Chair of the CMA, to consider what can be done to improve competition in the statutory audit sector. I took this action because I want the UK to continue to benefit from a high-quality, competitive and resilient audit services market. Good governance underpins our modern industrial strategy and audits are a vital contributor to the trust and confidence required in a modern economy.
The CMA’s final report concluded that the statutory audit market has fallen short of what the UK needs in a modern economy, and made a series of compelling and wide-reaching recommendations to improve quality and increase choice in the audit market. I am most grateful to Lord Tyrie and his colleagues for their detailed and comprehensive study, which captures evidence and views from a wide variety of stakeholders. I share their concerns, and I am pleased that this study complements a wider body of work being undertaken to improve audit quality. Most importantly, we have endorsed Sir John Kingman’s recommendation to replace the Financial Reporting Council with an independent statutory regulator with a new mandate and powers.
The Government are committed to creating a fit-for-purpose and proportionate regulatory regime that delivers a competitive and resilient audit market that works for shareholders, investors and the wider public. I would welcome views on the CMA’s final proposals. I would also strongly encourage proposals from the sector outlining what they believe could be done to address the CMA’s concerns on a voluntary basis ahead of regulatory intervention. The Government will then develop a full set of proposals for reform taking account of both the recommendations from the CMA and the outcome of Sir John Kingman’s Review of the Financial Reporting Council. I do not believe that the Government need wait on the outcome of Sir Donald Brydon’s review of the purpose of audit before continuing with the process of reform of the audit market.
The consultation document will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and is available on the gov.uk website. The consultation is open for 8 weeks and I look forward to the continued contribution of interested parties.
Government Chemist Review
The 22nd annual review of the Government chemist has been received. The review will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses plus those of the devolved Administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland. The review will also be laid before the Scottish Parliament.
The Government chemist is the referee analyst named in Acts of Parliament. The Government chemist’s team carry out analysis in high-profile or legally disputed cases. A diverse range of referee analysis work was carried out during 2018, which included pioneering work undertaken to detect mycotoxins in sultanas and Brazil nuts; pesticides in animal feed and formaldehyde in food contact materials, and on molecular biology approaches to support “consumer as analyst” devices for food testing.
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
News UK: Sharing Journalistic Resources
On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to vary certain conditions put in place in 1981 by the then Secretary of State for Trade. The changes proposed by News UK would allow The Times and The Sunday Times to share journalistic resources, subject to the agreement of each newspaper’s editor.
Having considered News UK’s application and representations made following an invitation to comment issued by DCMS on 17 January, I announced, in a written ministerial statement dated 11 April, that I was minded to accept News UK’s application to vary the 1981 conditions.
However, in considering the proposed new undertakings as a whole, I also noted that the existing governance arrangements lacked clarity and certainty over roles and responsibilities. Following discussions between News UK and Officials, News UK submitted revised undertakings which substantially meet my concerns.
On 27 June, as required by legislation, I issued a further consultation notice seeking views on the changes to News UK’s revised undertakings. Two responses were received. Neither response raised any issues that would warrant me seeking further modifications to the undertakings from News UK. Accordingly, I have today formally decided to accept the new undertakings and have today issued a notice of acceptance. A copy of the notice of acceptance with the final signed undertakings and the revised articles of association of Times Newspapers Ltd (TNL) and Times Newspapers Holding Ltd (TNHL) will be published on the Government website. My Department will shortly publish in the issues note circulated to News UK prior to the discussions with Officials.
The new undertakings creates an explicit requirement for the CMA and the Secretary of State to monitor the effectiveness of the obligations placed on News UK and the TNHL Independent National Directors (INDs). As part of this, I can confirm that in line with the Government's commitments on the handling of media merger cases, that DCMS will publish a non-confidential version of the reports from the TNHL INDs which have to be submitted to DCMS and the CMA annually.
Parliamentary Question: Correction
Information supplied by the HR Capability and Business Partnering Division of the Department for Education has been identified as containing incorrect facts in the response provided to two parliamentary questions from the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Angela Rayner), concerning the number and proportion of staff employed in each group of the Department that are apprentices.
In response to PQ226124, the correct figures for the end of February 2019 are that the Department for Education employed 251 apprentices. These can be broken down as follows:
Area No of Apprentices No of Employees per Area Proportion that are Apprentices Early Years and School Group 40 1901 2% Education and Skills Funding Agency 77 1543 5% Government Equalities Office 0 103 0% Higher and Further Education 9 501 2% Operations Group 110 1740 6% Social Care, Mobility and Equalities 15 677 2% Legal Advisors Office 0 14 0% 251 6479 4%
No of Apprentices
No of Employees per Area
Proportion that are Apprentices
Early Years and School Group
Education and Skills Funding Agency
Government Equalities Office
Higher and Further Education
Social Care, Mobility and Equalities
Legal Advisors Office
The Government Equalities Office is captured in Department for Education data because they were still employees of the Department for Education at the end of February. Legal Advisers Office remain departmental employees.
Following the identification of this issue, we have completed an audit of our database. A rigorous new process has been put in place to ensure the robustness of our data.
Higher Education Student Finance
I am announcing details of student finance arrangements for higher education students undertaking a course of study in the 2020-21 academic year starting on 1 August 2020.
Maximum tuition fees for the 2020-21 academic year in England will be maintained at the levels that apply in the 2019-20 academic year, the third year in succession that fees have been frozen. This means that the maximum level of tuition fees for a standard full-time course will remain at £9,250 for the 2020-21 academic year.
Maximum undergraduate loans for living costs will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020-21. And the same increase will apply to maximum disabled students’ allowances for students with disabilities undertaking full-time and part-time undergraduate courses in 2020-21. Maximum grants for students with child or adult dependants who are attending full-time undergraduate courses in 2020-21 will also increase by forecast inflation in 2020-21.
We are also increasing support for students undertaking postgraduate courses in 2020-21. Maximum loans for students starting master’s degree and doctoral degree courses from 1 August 2020 onwards will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020-21. And the same increase will apply to the maximum disabled students’ allowance for postgraduate students with disabilities in 2020-21.
Further details of the student support package for 2020-21 can be found at gov.uk.
I expect to lay regulations implementing changes to student finance for undergraduates and postgraduates for 2020-21 late in 2019 or early in 2020. These regulations will be subject to Parliamentary scrutiny.
The Government will consider the recommendations of the independent panel to the review of post-18 education and funding, published on 30 May 2019, and will conclude the review at the spending review later this year.
Higher education student finance for 2020-21
Fees for full-time and part-time undergraduate students.
Maximum fees for full-time and part-time undergraduate courses will remain at 2019-20 levels in 2020-21.
The maximum fee for standard full-time courses offered by approved (fee cap) providers with an access and participation plan (APP) and a teaching excellence and student outcomes award (TEF) will remain at £9,250 in 2020-21.
The maximum fee for full-time accelerated degree courses offered by approved (fee cap) providers with an APP and a TEF will remain at £11,100 in 2020-21.
The maximum fee for part-time courses offered by approved (fee cap) providers with an APP and a TEF will remain at £6,935 in 2020-21.
Lower maximum fees will remain at 2019-20 levels in 2020-21 for (i) courses offered by providers without an APP and/or a TEF and (ii) overseas study years, work placement years and short final years of full-time courses.
Students undertaking courses at approved (fee cap) providers will be able to apply for up-front tuition fee loans to meet the full costs of their tuition.
Maximum fees for undergraduate courses offered by approved providers are not capped. Students undertaking courses at approved providers will be able to apply for up-front tuition fee loans towards the costs of their tuition which will remain at 2019-20 levels in 2020-21: up to £6,165 for a standard full-time course; up to £7,400 for a full-time accelerated degree course and up to £4,625 for a part-time course.
Living costs support for full-time undergraduate students.
Loans for living costs for new full-time students and continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016.
Maximum loans for living costs for new full-time students and eligible continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020-21.
The maximum loan for living costs for 2020-21 will be £9,203 for students living away from home and studying outside London. The equivalent loan rate for students living away from home and studying in London will be £12,010; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £7,747; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £10,539.
Loans for living costs for new full-time students and continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 who are eligible for benefits.
Maximum loans for living costs for new full-time students and eligible continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016, and who are eligible for benefits, will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020-21.
The maximum loan for living costs for 2020-21 will be £10,490 for students who are eligible for benefits who are living away from home and studying outside London. The equivalent loan rate for students who are eligible for benefits who are living away from home and studying in London will be £13,098; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £9,140; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £11,732.
Loans for living costs for new full-time students and continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 who are aged 60 or over on the first day of the first academic year of their course.
The maximum loan for living costs in 2020-21 for new full-time students and eligible continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 who are aged 60 or over on the first day of the first academic year of their course, will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £3,893.
Maintenance grants and special support grants for full-time students who started their courses before 1 August 2016.
The maximum maintenance grant and special support grant for eligible full-time students who started their courses on or after 1 September 2012 but before 1 August 2016, will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £3,801 in 2020-21.
The maximum maintenance grant and special support grant for eligible full-time students who started their courses before 1 September 2012 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £3,489 in 2020-21.
Loans for living costs for full-time students who started their courses before 1 August 2016.
Maximum loans for living costs for eligible students who started their courses on or after 1 September 2012 but before 1 August 2016, will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020-21.
The maximum loan for living costs will be £6,597 for students who are living away from home and studying outside London. The equivalent loan rate for students living away from home and studying in London will be £9,205; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £5,247; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £7,837.
Loans for living costs for eligible students who started their courses before 1 September 2012.
Maximum loans for living costs for eligible students who started their courses before 1 September 2012 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020-21.
The maximum loan for living costs will be £5,938 for students who are living away from home and studying outside London. The equivalent loan rate for students living away from home and studying in London will be £8,309; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £4,604; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £7,068.
Long courses loans.
Maximum long courses (living costs) loans for new and continuing students who are attending full-time courses that are longer than 30 weeks and three days during the academic year will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020-21.
Targeted support for undergraduate students with dependants and undergraduate students with disabilities.
Maximum dependants’ grants (adult dependants’ grant, childcare grant and parents’ learning allowance) will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020-21 for all new and continuing fulltime undergraduate students.
The maximum adult dependants’ grant will be increased to £3,094 in 2020-21.
The maximum childcare grant payable in 2020-21, which covers 85% of actual childcare costs up to a specified limit, will be increased to £174.22 per week for one child only and £298.69 per week for two or more children.
The maximum parents’ learning allowance payable in 2020-21 will be increased to £1,766.
Disabled students' allowances.
Maximum grants for undergraduate students with disabilities will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020-21.
For a full-time course: to £23,258 for a non-medical personal helper, £5,849 for major items of specialist equipment and £1,954 for other disability related expenditure.
For a part-time course: to £17,443 for a non-medical personal helper, £5,849 for major items of specialist equipment and £1,465 for other disability related expenditure.
Support for part-time undergraduate students.
Fee and course grants for students who started part-time courses before 1 September 2012.
Maximum fee and course grants for students who started part-time courses before 1 September 2012 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020-21. Maximum fee grants will be increased to £959, £1,150 or £1,442, depending on the intensity of study of the course. The maximum course grant will be increased to £314.
Loans for living costs for new part-time students and continuing part-time students starting degree level courses on or after 1 August 2018.
Maximum loans for living costs for new part-time students and continuing part-time students who started degree level courses on or after 1 August 2018 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) in 2020-21.
The maximum loan for living costs for 2020-21 will be £9,203 for students living away from home and studying outside London. The equivalent loan rate for students living away from home and studying in London will be £12,010; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £7,747; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £10,539.
Part-time students qualify for a proportion of the full-time loan for living costs depending on their intensity of study compared with a full-time course.
Support for postgraduate students.
Loans for students undertaking postgraduate master’s degree courses.
Maximum loans for new students starting postgraduate master’s degree courses in 2020-21 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £11,222.
Loans for students undertaking postgraduate doctoral degree courses.
Maximum loans for new students starting postgraduate doctoral degree courses in 2020-21 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £26,445.
Disabled students’ allowance.
The maximum grant for postgraduate students with disabilities will be increased by forecast inflation (2.9%) to £20,580 in 2020-21.
More details of higher education student finance arrangements for the 2020-21 academic year will be published on Government websites in due course.
Health and Social Care
Advancing Our Health: Prevention in the 2020s
Further to the prevention vision published on 5 November 2018, I wish to inform the House of the publication of the Green Paper, “Advancing our Health: Prevention in the 2020s”. The consultation will launch today and will run for 12 weeks.
For the first 70 years of the NHS, we have been successful in helping people live longer. Life expectancy has increased by almost 30 years over the past century. Cancer survival rates are up, mortality rates from heart disease and stroke are down.
Despite this progress, over 20% of our lives are spent in poor health. On average, men born today can expect to live 16 years in poor health and women 19 years. There is also a clear social gradient, with people in deprived areas living shorter lives in poorer health. Now we must move from thinking about life span to health span: the number of years we can expect to live healthy, independent lives.
The NHS is already making good progress, placing prevention at the heart of its long-term plan and supported by our record £20.5 billion additional investment. In the years ahead, the challenge is to deliver on these commitments, to move from a national treatment service, focused on illness, to a national wellness service, focused on good health, and to work even more closely with local authorities who have specific responsibilities around prevention and influence many of the determinants of good health.
As well as modernising prevention services, we also need to lay the foundations for good health across society and make healthy choices easier. This is because less than a quarter of our health is shaped by the services we receive.
Our health is our greatest asset. Just as we save for our retirement, we should be investing in our health throughout life. We know that some people find this easier than others, not because of innate differences in their values or beliefs, but because of differences in their experiences and circumstances. We believe that everybody has the right to a solid foundation on which to build their health. This means giving our children a good start and growing the conditions for good health throughout life.
When it comes to living a healthy life, the modern world presents many challenges. It can feel like the odds are stacked against us. This Green Paper is not about nannying but making healthier choices easier for people, so they are empowered to make decisions that are right for them and their families. To live a healthy, happier life, evidence suggests our focus should be on: eating a healthy diet, being physically active, being smoke-free and taking care of our mental health.
The commitments in the Green Paper help us towards our mission of healthy, happier lives. We aim to publish a Government response by Spring 2020, setting out our proposals in more detail.
Health is a shared responsibility. Only by working together can we achieve our vision of healthier, happier lives for everyone.
Pensions: NHS Clinicians
The NHS pension scheme is a generous and valuable part of the package of pay, terms and conditions for NHS staff, which continues to compare favourably with schemes in other sectors. However, the interaction between the NHS pension scheme and the tapered annual allowance means some clinicians are facing unintended consequences. The tapered allowance rightly aims to see more higher earners contributing towards the public purse by reducing the amount they can save into their pensions tax-free.
The Government have been listening to concerns about the impact on patient care as clinicians decline to take on additional work or seek early retirement in response to the prospect of incurring pension tax charges, and evidence that some NHS clinicians are changing their working patterns due to this issue. The Government are determined to find a solution that provides the right balance of incentives for clinicians to provide the services that patients need. Retaining and maximising the contribution of our highly skilled clinical workforce is crucial to delivery of the ambitions for patient care set out in the long-term plan for the NHS.
The Government have therefore launched a full public consultation setting out proposals to make the NHS pension scheme more flexible for clinicians, to give them more control over their pension growth and tax liabilities. Greater pension flexibility will help clinicians avoid cutting their hours allow them to undertake additional shifts to reduce waiting lists, or take on further supervisory responsibilities.
The consultation proposes a 50:50 flexibility, which lets clinicians halve their pension contributions in exchange for halving the rate of pension growth, balancing simplicity with the need to offer flexibility. Following discussions with clinicians and employers, the consultation goes further and invites views on other measures that Government should consider.
For NHS pension scheme members who do incur annual allowance tax charges, the “scheme pays” facility offers an alternative to finding funds up front to meet any tax charges for saving into their pension while they work. Instead they can choose for the pension scheme to pay the tax charge. The pension scheme will then recoup the tax paid plus interest by deducting it from the value of their pension at retirement. The consultation proposes a potential improvement to the calculation of “scheme pays” deductions so that it is more transparent and staff can better assess the effect on their pension.
The consultation will listen to feedback on all potential ideas on pension flexibility before making changes in time for the new tax year.
Firearms Licensing: Statutory Guidance
Today, I am publishing a public consultation on the introduction of statutory guidance to the police on firearms licensing. The proposed guidance aims to ensure that the highest standards of public safety are maintained in the firearms licensing process, improving consistency between police forces and in court when licensing decisions are appealed. It is being introduced following a recommendation made by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services in September 2015, which found that police forces were not always following the Home Office firearms guidance, resulting in inconsistent application of the law.
We have acted on this recommendation and the Policing and Crime Act 2017 made provision for the Home Secretary to issue statutory guidance to the police on their firearms licensing functions. The police will have a duty to have regard to the guidance, which will include existing safeguards relating to firearms ownership, such as police background checks or the criteria around applicants with a history of domestic violence.
The draft guidance in the consultation also contains new proposals on the arrangements for assessing the medical suitability of firearms applicants, following consideration of how the system is currently operating, and concerns raised about the variation in practice across the country. It is important that the arrangements support doctors in providing the necessary medical information to the police who have responsibility for firearms licensing, and that the police are able to require sight of the medical information before they proceed to grant the firearm certificate. I am seeking views on these arrangements from all those with an interest so that we can ensure the system operates as effectively as possible. It is vitally important to ensure that those in possession of firearms are medically fit, to safeguard the public and the firearm certificate holder themselves.
The consultation is seeking views from police forces, firearms owners and other interested parties and the wider public on the contents of the proposed statutory guidance. I am also consulting the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, as required by the legislation. I will consider very carefully the views which are put forward during the consultation, which will last for a period of eight weeks, following which the Home Office will publish the new statutory guidance. I am committed to efficient and effective operation of the firearms licensing system, and once the statutory guidance has been in place for a suitable period, I intend to review the operation of the new medical arrangements to ensure they are working effectively.
Copies of the consultation along with the draft guidance and impact assessment will be made available on gov.uk and will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
I am today making an announcement on a number of issues related to immigration. These include an expansion of the shortage occupation list (SOL) in line with the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and a planned future amendment in the Immigration Rules to Section 67 leave. I am also providing an update on the Home Office’s response to cheating in English language tests and the Border, Immigration and Citizenship System (BICS) independent review.
Migration Advisory Committee review of the shortage occupation list
On 29 May, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published the outcome of its full review of the shortage occupation list (SOL). I am very grateful to the MAC for a very thorough and comprehensive piece of work. The MAC recommended a number of changes to the main UK-wide SOL, expanding the list to cover a range of high-skilled occupations, including a number of health and social care, engineering and digital technology occupations.
The Government are happy to accept all of the MAC’s recommendations on the composition of the SOL and the necessary amendments will be made in the autumn immigration rules changes.
The MAC also suggested that, in order to combat the particular challenges faced by some remote communities, the Government should pilot a scheme that facilitated migration to these areas. The Government accept that this is an idea worth pursuing. Further details will be given in due course.
Section 67 leave
In June 2018, we introduced section 67 leave to fulfil our legal obligation to those children transferred to the UK under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016. This ensures that those unaccompanied children transferred to the United Kingdom under section 67, and who do not qualify for refugee status or humanitarian protection, are able to remain in this country and build a life here. This form of leave allows them to study, work, access public funds and healthcare, and is a route to settlement which they would not ordinarily have had.
Currently, the immigration rules only provide for section 67 leave to be granted to those who have already had an application for refugee status or humanitarian protection refused. This means that upon arrival in the United Kingdom, the child is required to go through the process of claiming asylum, including providing an account of why they fled their country of origin.
We intend to amend the existing rules to allow those transferring under section 67 to receive this form of leave immediately, as soon as they arrive. This will provide the children, and the local authorities who will care for them, with additional reassurance and guarantee their status in the UK at the earliest opportunity.
Children who have already been transferred to the UK under section 67 and are currently having their asylum claims assessed will also be entitled to section 67 leave automatically once this amendment has been made. Children granted section 67 leave on arrival will still have the opportunity to claim asylum. Should they be successful in an asylum claim, those who qualify will receive refugee or humanitarian protection status.
The Government are absolutely committed to transferring the specified number of 480 unaccompanied children under section 67 of the Immigration Act 2016 as soon as possible.
The Home Office’s response to cheating in English language tests
Five years ago, the scale of this issue was uncovered by Panorama. Their footage revealed systematic cheating in test centres run on behalf of the company ETS. Further investigation showed just how widespread this fraud was. Twenty-five people who were involved have been convicted and sentenced to over 70 years in prison. Further criminal investigations are ongoing, with a further 14 due in court next month.
Our approach to taking action on students has been endorsed by the courts, who have consistently found the evidence the Home Office had was enough to prompt the action that was taken at the time.
Despite this, there have remained concerns that some people who did not cheat may have been caught up and I am aware that some people found it hard to challenge the accusations against them. So earlier this year, I commissioned officials for advice.
This is a complex matter given that we need to work within existing legal frameworks relating to appeal rights, judicial review and administrative review.
I have therefore asked officials to review our guidance to ensure that we are taking the right decisions on these cases to ensure we are properly balancing a belief that deception was committed some years ago against other factors that would normally lead to leave being granted, especially where children are involved. We will update operational guidance to ensure no further action is taken in cases where there is no evidence an ETS certificate was used in an immigration application.
We continue to look at other options, including whether there is a need for those who feel they have been wronged to be able to ask for their case to be reviewed. We intend to make further announcements about this and will update the House in due course.
Review of the border, immigration and citizenship system
In October 2018, I committed to conducting a review of the Border, Immigration and Citizenship System (BICS). The purpose of this review will be to ensure the BICS is ready and able to deliver a world class immigration system.
The review will focus on whether the BICS has in place the right systems, structures, accountability and working practices to deliver against its goals. It will be forward looking in its nature. It will not consider individual policies or goals, but rather whether the system has the right capabilities to deliver against those stated objectives.
I am pleased to announce today that I have appointed Kate Lampard CBE to lead the review.
Kate has previously held senior non-executive roles in the NHS, chaired the Financial Ombudsman Service, and has undertaken important reviews for Government. She has a wealth of skills and experience to bring to this critically important task.
I will place a copy of the terms of reference for the review in the Libraries of both Houses. The review will aim to complete by early 2020.
Police and Criminal Evidence Act Codes of Practice
I am today laying before the House an order under section 67(7A) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (‘PACE’) to amend PACE Codes C and H, which govern the detention, treatment and questioning of suspects by the police. Copies of the revised Codes C and H will also be laid.
These revisions, which will come into operation on 21 August 2019, are being introduced to ensure that the menstrual needs of female and transgender detainees, and the health, hygiene and welfare needs of all individuals in police custody are protected. The new codes include the following revisions:
Each female detainee must be asked if they require or are likely to require any menstrual products while they are in custody. They must be told that they will be provided free of charge and that replacement products are available.
Custody officers must ask all detainees if they wish to speak in private with a member of custody staff about any matter concerning their personal needs relating to health, hygiene and welfare: if the detainee wishes, this member of staff may be of the same sex. These changes provide an opportunity for female detainees to raise issues about their menstrual needs and also for all detainees to raise issues relating to other health and hygiene needs such as products that may be required for incontinence. If detainees wish to take this opportunity to raise health and hygiene needs, necessary arrangements should be provided/made as soon as practicable.
The changes highlight that the clothing and personal effects that detainees may retain include menstrual and other health, hygiene and welfare products. A decision to withhold any such products must be subject to a further specific risk assessment.
Access to toilet and washing facilities must now also take account of the detainee’s dignity. For example, in cells subject to CCTV monitoring, privacy in the toilet area should be ensured by any appropriate means and detainees should be made aware of this when they are placed in the cell.
The changes make it explicit that strip searches and intimate searches of detainees must take due regard of their dignity. This includes the detainee’s health, hygiene and welfare needs including menstruation.
The above provisions around health, hygiene and welfare products take into account the possible needs of transgender individuals.
These revisions were prompted by concerns raised by the Independent Custody Visiting Association (ICVA) that in some cases women were being left without basic menstrual products in police cells.
They received overwhelming support following a public consultation last year, and we have subsequently sought and secured the agreement of the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), in her role as Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, that these straightforward revisions to the codes can be brought into force as soon as possible, as per the commitments made by the then Government during the introduction of section 67(7A) of PACE in 2003, without the approval of a resolution by each House.
I am grateful for the work and support of partners across the policing system, ICVA, and dedicated custody staff across the country. We all share a commitment to ensuring the dignity of detainees, and these changes will to help ensure the needs of individuals are met across the board.
Terrorism Threat Level System
I am today announcing changes to the terrorism threat level system. As recommended in the operational improvement review, the joint terrorism analysis centre have taken an increased role in assessing all form of terrorism, irrespective of the ideology that inspires them.
The national threat level system will now take account of the assessments from all forms of terrorism, including Islamist, Northern Ireland, and extreme right-wing. The threat from Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland will remain separate from the national threat level.
Also, to ensure clarity in the threat level system, I am also announcing the change in definition of the LOW, SUBSTANTIAL and CRITICAL threat levels. The threat levels will now be defined as below:
CRITICAL meaning an attack is highly likely in the near future
SEVERE meaning an attack is highly likely
SUBSTANTIAL meaning an attack is likely
MODERATE meaning an attack is possible but not likely
LOW meaning an attack is highly unlikely
The changes made today do not affect the current threat level. The threat level to the UK from terrorism remains at SEVERE, and the threat level to Northern Ireland from Northern Ireland-related terrorism also remains at SEVERE, meaning that an attack is highly likely.
Threat levels are designed to give a broad indication of the likelihood of a terrorist attack. They are a tool for security practitioners working across different sectors and the police to use in determining what protective security response may be required. They also keep the public informed and give context to the protective security measures which we all encounter in our daily lives.
There remains a real and serious threat against the United Kingdom from terrorism and I would ask the public to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to the police regardless of the threat level.
The decision to change the terrorism threat levels are taken by the independent from Ministers. The joint terrorism analysis centre set the national threat level and the security service set the Northern Ireland-related terrorism in Northern Ireland threat level. These are based on the very latest intelligence, considering factors such as capability, intent and timescale. Threat levels are kept under constant review.
Prison Service Pay Review Body
I am pleased to announce that the Prime Minister has appointed Tim Flesher CB as chair of the Prison Service Pay Review Body. This appointment is for three years, with Mr Flesher’s term commencing on 1 August 2019 and ending on 31 July 2022. This appointment has been made in accordance with the Governance Code on Public Appointments.
It has been a challenging year for the Crossrail project. Since August 2018 when Crossrail Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL), announced that the opening of the Elizabeth line through central London would be delayed, the project has been fully reviewed and reset.
Crossrail Ltd, TfL and the Department for Transport (DfT) have taken significant action in response to issues raised in the independent reviews by KPMG, as well as the reports from the National Audit Office, the Public Accounts Committee and the London Assembly’s Transport Committee. Lessons have been learned and Crossrail Ltd and both project sponsors, DfT and TfL, remain fully committed to the completion of the project which will transform London rail transport, and carry around 200 million passengers per year.
Actions taken this year have included:
The commissioning and completion of two wide-ranging and detailed independent reviews into the project’s governance, and commercial and financial agreements, with all recommendations acted upon by June 2019.
The agreement in December 2018 to an additional £2.15 billion financing package to deliver the final stages of the project in a way that is fair to the UK taxpayer.
The appointment of a new executive leadership team within Crossrail Ltd, a review of the organisational structure to ensure maximum efficiency, and the strengthening of the Crossrail board to ensure the right skills are in place right across the organisation and its board.
The announcement in April 2019 of a revised schedule which confirmed a six month window for delivery of the central tunnel section between Abbey Wood and Paddington, not including Bond Street, with a mid-point in December 2020, with more certainty to follow as testing progresses.
The publication in April 2019 of a joint report by the Department for Transport and the infrastructure projects authority (IPA) on lessons learned from the sponsorship of major projects including Crossrail.
Despite the challenges, the project has seen some key achievements during this year. Main dynamic testing of the trains commenced in January, and Crossrail Ltd recently achieved a further milestone with the commencement of close-headway testing of multiple trains in June.
Fifteen new Class 345 trains are in operation on the eastern and western parts of the route, building reliability and achieving a high standard of performance. Testing of the trains in the Heathrow tunnels is continuing and a TfL Rail service between Paddington and Reading is planned to commence in December of this year. This will be another important stepping stone to the opening of the full railway as soon as possible after the central section is completed.
The Network Rail (NR) On Network works on the eastern and western sections of the Crossrail route are well advanced. Over the past year, work completed has included the installation of the steelwork for new accessible footbridges, stairs and lift shafts at Ealing Broadway, West Ealing and Acton Main Line. The contracts to build and upgrade six ticket halls between Acton Main Line and West Drayton have been awarded, and the new ticket halls at Forest Gate and Gidea Park have now opened to the public.
Updated costings for Network Rail’s programme show that the costs are now forecast at around £2.8 billion. The additional costs are the result of some work taking longer than planned and have been managed by Network Rail from within its own internal budgets. No further funding has been provided from Government, and this has not had an impact on any other programmes.
Further details on Crossrail Limited’s funding and finances in the period to 29 May 2019 are set out in the table below.
The coming months will be critical for the project as Crossrail Ltd work to complete the installation and integration of the tunnel, stations and signalling systems, and Network Rail continue their works on surface sections of the route. It remains a hugely complex project and uncertainty and risk remains across the programme, with significant testing and integration work remaining. The new leadership team has committed to being fully open and transparent as it works through the final stages of the project, which is supported by the Department and TfL. However, it is positive that Crossrail Ltd now has a new plan in place to complete the outstanding works and bring the Elizabeth line into passenger service at the earliest possible date. When complete, the Elizabeth line will transform the rail network in London, reducing overcrowding and increasing central London rail capacity by 10%.
During the passage of the Crossrail Bill through Parliament, a commitment was given that an annual statement would be published until the completion of the construction of Crossrail, setting out information about the project’s funding and finances. The relevant information is as follows:
Total funding amounts provided to Crossrail Limited by the Department for Transport and TfL in relation to the construction of Crossrail to the end of the period, (22 July 2008 to 29 May 2019) £13,165,913,790 Expenditure incurred (including committed land and property spend not yet paid out) by Crossrail Limited in relation to the construction of Crossrail in the period (30 May 2018 to 29 May 2019) (excluding recoverable VAT on Land and Property purchases) £1,481,243,170 Total expenditure incurred (including committed land and property spend not yet paid out) by Crossrail Limited in relation to the construction of Crossrail to the end of the period (22 July 2008 to 29 May 2019) (excluding recoverable VAT on Land and Property purchases) £13,958,459,007 The amounts realised by the disposal of any land or property for the purposes of the construction of Crossrail by the Secretary of State, TfL or Crossrail Limited in the period covered by the statement. £143,778,674
Total funding amounts provided to Crossrail Limited by the Department for Transport and TfL in relation to the construction of Crossrail to the end of the period, (22 July 2008 to 29 May 2019)
Expenditure incurred (including committed land and property spend not yet paid out) by Crossrail Limited in relation to the construction of Crossrail in the period (30 May 2018 to 29 May 2019) (excluding recoverable VAT on Land and Property purchases)
Total expenditure incurred (including committed land and property spend not yet paid out) by Crossrail Limited in relation to the construction of Crossrail to the end of the period (22 July 2008 to 29 May 2019) (excluding recoverable VAT on Land and Property purchases)
The amounts realised by the disposal of any land or property for the purposes of the construction of Crossrail by the Secretary of State, TfL or Crossrail Limited in the period covered by the statement.
The numbers above are drawn from Crossrail Limited’s books of account and have been prepared on a consistent basis with the update provided last year. The figure for expenditure incurred includes moneys already paid out in relevant period, including committed land and property expenditure where this has not yet been paid. It does not include future expenditure on contracts that have been awarded.