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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
08 October 2019
Volume 664

Written Statements

Tuesday 8 October 2019

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Energy Council

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The UK did not attend the EU Energy Council in Brussels on 24 September 2019.

The UK Government have decided that from 1 September until exit day, UK Ministers and officials will only attend EU meetings where the UK has a significant national interest in the outcome of the discussions.

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Energy Planning Project

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This statement concerns an application made by Orsted Hornsea Project Three (UK) Limited under the Planning Act 2008 for development consent for the construction and operation of the proposed Hornsea Three offshore wind farm and associated offshore and onshore infrastructure in the North Sea and in Norfolk.

Under section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make a decision on an application within three months of receipt of the examining authority’s report unless exercising the power under section 107(3) to set a new deadline. Where a new deadline is set, the Secretary of State must make a statement to Parliament to announce it. The deadline for the decision on the proposed Hornsea Three offshore wind farm development consent order application was 2 October 2019.

The Secretary of State has set a new deadline for deciding the application of 31 March 2020 to allow further information in respect of offshore environmental effects to be provided and considered. The decision to set the new deadline for the application is without prejudice to the Secretary of State’s decision on whether to ultimately grant or refuse development consent.

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Competitiveness Council

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My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Lord Duncan of Springbank—has today made the following statement:

The UK did not attend the Competitiveness Council in Brussels on 26 and 27 September 2019

The UK Government have decided that from 1 September until exit day, UK Ministers and officials will only attend EU meetings where the UK has a significant national interest in the outcome of the discussions.

[HCWS1853]

Treasury

ECOFIN

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A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will be held in Luxembourg on 10 October 2019. The Council will discuss the following:

Budgetary instrument for convergence and competitiveness for the Euro area.

The European Commission will present the governance framework on the budgetary instrument for convergence and competitiveness for the euro area.

Current financial services legislative proposals.

The Finnish presidency will provide an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

European Court of Auditors’ annual report.

The President of the Court of Auditors will present the auditors’ report on the implementation of the budget of the European Union for the 2018 financial year.

The European financial architecture for development.

The chair of the high-level group of wise persons on the European financial architecture for development will present the main findings of their report to the Council. This will be followed by an exchange of views.

Implementation of the anti-money laundering (AML) action plan.

The Council will hold an exchange of views on the progress made in implementing the AML action plan and consider the future strategic priorities in this area.

Anti-money laundering directive: policy towards “high-risk third countries”.

The Council will hold an exchange of views on the policy towards AML-related “high-risk third countries”.

European semester 2019—lessons learnt.

The Council will hold an exchange of views on lessons learnt from the European semester 2019.

Preparation of the G20 meeting of Finance Ministers and central bank governors and of the IMF annual meetings.

The Council will be invited to approve the EU’s G20 terms of reference and international monetary and financial committee statement, ahead of the annual meetings in Washington DC.

Coalition of Finance Ministers for climate action.

The Finnish will present the state of play of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action.

Appointment of a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank.

The Council will be invited to adopt a recommendation to the European Council on the appointment of a new member of the executive board of the European Central Bank.

Capital Markets Union.

The Commission will inform the Council on its plans on the capital markets union and the presidency will outline next steps.

Status of the implementation of financial services legislation.

The Council will take stock of the status of the implementation of financial services legislation.

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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

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Agriculture and Fisheries Council takes place in Luxembourg on 14 and15 October.

As the provisional agenda stands, the main item for fisheries will be fixing the fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2020. Member states will also discuss the regulation on the European maritime and fisheries fund (EMFF) for which a preliminary agreement on the proposal, a partial general approach (PGA), is sought in Council. Ministers will also exchange views on the annual EU-Norway consultation for 2020 and on the 22nd annual meeting of the international commission for the conservation of Atlantic tunas (ICCAT), which will be held in Palma de Mallorca on 18-25 November 2019.

In the field of agriculture the main focus will be the state of play on the common agricultural policy (CAP) reform package. Member States will also exchange views on the EU Forest Strategy post-2020 followed by a presentation by the commission and an exchange of views on stepping up EU action to protect and restore the world’s forests. The Commission will also brief member states on the market situation.

There are currently five items scheduled under “any other business”:

The presidency will brief Ministers on the outcome of the European bioeconomy scene 2019, which was held in Helsinki on 8-10 July;

The Slovenian delegation will brief on the outcome of the Ministerial conference “Strengthening the Generation and Transfer of Knowledge for the Progress of Agriculture and the Rural Areas", which took place in Ptuj, Slovenia on 23 August 2019;

The Italian delegation will provide information on the serious damages caused by the Asian stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) to the fruit and vegetables sector;

The commission will give a state of play on African swine fever; and

The commission will provide a state of play on the major issues within food safety.

[HCWS1851]

Health and Social Care

Continuity of Medical Supplies

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This statement provides an update on my Department’s plans to support the continuity of supply of medicines and medical products into the UK if we leave the EU without a deal on 31 October.

The multi-layered approach put in place by my Department remains essential to help ensure the continuation of medicines and medical supplies across the UK if we leave without a deal. An update on the components are below.

My Department is today writing to pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and the adult social care sector. As part of working closely with the devolved Administrations (DAs) and Crown dependencies, communications will also be shared with healthcare providers across the scope of the programme.

Improving trader readiness for new border arrangements.

Companies need to ensure they are “trader ready” for the new customs procedures involved with importing and exporting goods that will come into place if we leave the EU without a deal. To support industry in their preparations, I am today announcing that, following engagement and feedback with trade associations, suppliers and distributors, the Government are establishing a dedicated trader readiness “support unit” to provide assistance to suppliers of medical goods. These teams of specialists will be able to provide traders operating in the health and social care sector with up-to-date advice and practical guidance on the steps they need to take to prepare. Details on how to access the support unit are being communicated to industry today.

Building up buffer stocks.

My Department’s approach to buffer stocks remains unchanged from 26 June and involves a range of national measures and asks of industry that are designed to provide contingent measures for medicines, medical devices and clinical consumables, blood and transplants, vaccines and countermeasures, supplies for clinical trials and non-clinical goods and services.

Procuring extra warehousing space for stockpiled medicines.

To help ensure sufficient space to store stockpiled medicines ahead of Brexit on 31 October if we were to leave without a deal, my Department previously agreed contracts for additional warehouse space, including ambient, refrigerated and controlled drug storage. We will continue to provide warehousing capacity.

Securing freight capacity.

The Department for Transport-led cross-government procurement for securing freight capacity by 31 October is progressing as planned. On 20 September, as announced by the Secretary of State for Transport, eight companies were successfully appointed to the freight procurement framework. These include ferry operators Brittany Ferries, DFDS A/S, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries, Seatruck and Stena, as well as operators from the aviation and rail industries, Air Charter Services and Eurotunnel.

Also, on 20 September, DfT launched two call-off mini-competitions, which set out the Government’s freight requirements in preparation for leaving the EU. These provided freight operators on the framework the opportunity to bid for contracts to transport medicines and medical products—and other category one goods—into the UK in a no-deal scenario. The deadline for framework suppliers to submit bids was 1 October. Subject to evaluation, contracts with successful freight operators to provide capacity on specific routes will be agreed shortly. Once known, Government will inform industry of the details as soon as possible. In advance of this, the Department is today inviting suppliers of medicines and medical goods to register to access this freight capacity.

My Department is also leading a procurement for an “express freight service” to provide access to an end-to-end solution for medical products to deliver small parcel consignments and pallets. This is designed to be used only if suppliers’ own contingency measures encounter difficulties or there is an emergency need for specific medical products. The bid response window for this procurement has now closed and we are currently reviewing the bids. Again, my Department is looking to award the contract(s) as soon as possible.

Changing or clarifying regulatory requirements.

So that companies can continue to sell their products in the UK even if we leave without a deal, the Government have made changes to, or clarifications of, certain regulatory requirements. Statutory instruments, covering the regulation of human medicines, medical devices and clinical trials were considered and approved by Parliament.

Strengthening the processes and resources used to deal with shortages.

In addition to the normal shortage management routes, my Department has also put in place legislation to enable Ministers to issue serious shortage protocols that, where appropriate, enables community pharmacies to supply against a protocol, for example, to issue a substitute medication instead of the prescribed medication without going back to the prescriber first.

My Department will again be standing up a national supply disruption response (NSDR). The NSDR processes will monitor the supply situation and co-ordinate actions to address supply disruption incidents that occur after Brexit where normal procedures are unable to provide a resolution.

Message to NHS and the public.

Our message to the NHS, the adult social care sector, patients and the wider public remains unchanged.

My Department, working with partners across Government, industry, the health and social care system, devolved Administrations and Crown dependencies, are putting in place these arrangements to protect medical supplies from any potential disruption if we leave without a deal for the whole of the UK and its Crown dependencies, so that service providers, patients and members of the public do not have to take action themselves. Local or personal stockpiling remains unnecessary and could cause shortages in other areas, which could put patient care at risk. It is important that patients keep taking their medicines and order their repeat prescriptions as normal.

As the NAO’s recent report recognised, the scale of the challenge has been unprecedented and the Department, working with pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers, has already achieved a great deal in preparing for leaving the EU, whatever the circumstances. I am confident that the Department is doing everything appropriate to prepare for leaving without a deal on the 31 October.

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Home Department

Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures

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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 her 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 August 2019)

3

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

3

TPIM notices extended (during the reporting period)

1

TPIM notices revoked (during the reporting period)

0

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 31 August 2019)

1

The TPIM Review Group (TRG) keeps every TPIM notice under regular and formal review. Third quarter TRG meetings took place on 4 and 18 September 2019 and 1 October 2019.

The Section 9 TPIM Act 2011 judicial review of the TPIM against QT was heard at the High Court between 24 and 27 June 2019. The judgment in this review is yet to be handed down by the Court.

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International Trade

No-deal Brexit: Temporary Tariff Regime

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Today I am informing the House about updates to the temporary tariff regime announced in March. This regime would come into effect if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019.

The temporary tariff would apply equally to all countries where the UK does not have a trade agreement or other preferential agreement in place, this would include the EU.

The policy announced in March, and updated today, is designed with consumers and producers in mind. The majority of imports will be tariff free, with tariffs only applying on a small percentage of UK imports. The Government have listened to the concerns and needs of businesses and consumers since the temporary tariff regime was first announced and has made three specific amendments to the tariff rates published in March.

Lower tariffs on HGVs entering the UK market, striking a better balance between the needs of British producers and the SMEs that make up the UK haulage industry, ensuring that crucial fleet replacement programmes that help to lower carbon emissions can continue.

Adjusted tariffs on bioethanol to retain support for UK producers, as the supply of this fuel is important to critical national infrastructure.

Applied tariffs to additional clothing products to ensure the preferential access to the UK market currently available to developing countries, compared to other countries, is maintained.

These three specific amendments will enable UK supply chains to continue to operate smoothly, keep prices down for consumers and ensure that we are fully prepared to leave the EU on 31 October whatever the circumstances.

In considering adjustments to the temporary tariff, the Government have continued to give regard to the five principles set out in the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018:

the interests of consumers in the UK;

the interests of producers in the UK;

the desire to maintain and promote external trade of the UK;

the desire to maintain and promote productivity in the UK;

the extent to which goods are subject to competition.

Throughout the temporary period, the Government will also consider exceptional changes where clear evidence is provided by stakeholders against the criteria set out in the Taxation (Crossborder Trade) Act 2018 and would provide a mechanism to hear business and consumer feedback.

The Government aim, where possible, to minimise any new costs to business and mitigate any price impacts on consumers. For that reason, tariffs will only apply to 12% of total UK imports but there will need to be tariffs on some imports to make sure certain industries get the support they need.

This remains a temporary policy that would apply for a period of up to 12 months in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October.

Information on specific tariff rates that would apply under the temporary tariff have been made available through the Government website.

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