Tuesday 14 January 2020
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
ENABLE Funding Scheme
‘ENABLE Funding’ is a scheme administered by the British Business Bank which provides senior funding (effectively at commercial terms) to delivery partners and is designed to increase funding diversification for leasing and asset finance providers and peer-to-peer lenders, with the overall purpose of increasing the supply of debt to underlying small and medium-sized enterprises.
Since the scheme began in 2014, senior secured funding has been provided to various delivery partners and their receivable portfolios have been ‘warehoused’ in a special purpose entity. The aggregate sum of certain receivable portfolios reached a desired critical mass whereby a capital markets refinancing (or securitisation) can proceed, repaying the funding. The transaction is expected to complete before the end of the financial year 2019-20.
As part of the transaction, a credit enhancement in the form of a capped second loss guarantee will be agreed. The guarantee issued by the Department is capped at up to £30 million and the ‘second loss’ element means that the participating delivery partners will fund and suffer an agreed amount up to the first loss threshold should defaults in the portfolio occur.
The guarantee is not expected to last for more than seven years and in practice will likely be much shorter. The beneficiary is the securitisation vehicle (a newly incorporated entity) which will purchase the facilities as part of the transaction. The Department will receive a commercial fee in return for the guarantee.
As a matter of record, I will be laying a Departmental Minute today explaining the procedure followed and containing a description of the liability undertaken.
Retail Prices Index: Consultation
Yesterday, I wrote to the Chair of the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee to inform him that the joint consultation between the Government and UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) on a proposed change to address the shortcomings in the Retail Price Index (RPI) will now launch at Budget 2020. The consultation had been scheduled to launch this month. However, following the general election and my confirmation of the Budget date, I have agreed with UKSA that the consultation will now launch at Budget.
The consultation will launch at the Budget on 11 March. It will be open for responses for a period of six weeks, closing on 22 April. The Government and UKSA will respond to the consultation before the Parliamentary summer recess.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 4 October formally commenced the appointment of Mr William Shawcross as his Special Representative on UK victims of Gadaffi-sponsored IRA terrorism. This appointment reflects HMG’s strong commitment to support all UK victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism. The Special Representative has been asked to focus, in the first instance, on investigating the feasibility of calculating a precise number of people affected and the compensation due to them from the Libyan Government. This is an important preliminary step. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) believes that, provided the Special Representative acts honestly, reasonably, in good faith and without negligence in the performance of his obligations under the terms and conditions agreed with him, he should be indemnified against any liability arising from this role. The FCO notified Parliament of its intention to undertake this contingent liability on 15 October 2019. As Parliament dissolved before the 14 sitting days required for its consideration expired, the Departmental Minute is being re-laid today in the House of Commons. Further details are set out therein.
Health and Social Care
I would like to inform the House that a written answer I gave on 8 October 2019, to the former hon. Member for Blackpool South contained an error and wish to correct the formal record.
In my reply, I was incorrectly advised and stated that ‘The Chair at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Chair at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust sought the views of NHS England and NHS Improvement on the possibility of merging services and provision between the two trusts.”
The correct position is that the Chair at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS FT did seek advice from NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI), as to whether they would support a proposal for a joint Chief Executive Officer, working across both organisations. These conversations did not involve discussion around merging services or provision.
Both trusts provided NHSEI with a number of assurances that having a joint Chief Executive working across two organisations would bring actual benefits and improve the care of patient populations in Blackpool and East Lancashire. NHSEI confirmed that they would be happy with those arrangements pending the appropriate approvals from within their own organisations. On 1 May Kevin McGee was appointed as interim Chief Executive of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, while remaining as Chief Executive and Accountable Officer of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust. On 4 October 2019 this joint appointment was made permanent.
Powers under Section 56A and 56AA of the NHS Act 2006 enables an NHS Foundation Trust (FT) to merge with another FT or NHS Trust. The trusts are required to make a joint application to NHS Improvement for any merger to go ahead. Where a merger involves an NHS Trust, this must also be supported by the Secretary of State. Any decisions by the two trusts need to reflect the views of local stakeholders, including local Members of Parliament.
Armed Policing Code of Practice
As Secretary of State for the Home Department, I have today given approval for the College of Policing to issue the code of practice for armed policing and police use of less lethal weapons.
The code of practice describes the roles and responsibilities of chief officers in relation to armed policing and less lethal weapons. It is relevant to all police officers in England and Wales involved in armed policing or the use of less lethal weapons setting out as it does the basic principles of the selection, evaluation, approval, authorisation, acquisition, training and deployment of these weapons by the police.
The code replaces the 2003 code of practice for the police use of firearms and less lethal weapons. The code has a statutory basis in law, meaning that all police officers have a duty to have regard to it. The revised code of practice should be used in conjunction with the College of Policing authorised professional practice (APP) for armed policing. Alongside the APP the code of practice will help to ensure that the police force maintains the high standards for the police use of firearms, specialist munitions and less lethal weapons, for which the UK is renowned.
The new code also addresses the recommendation made to the Home Office by the Anthony Grainger public inquiry. The inquiry, which was established following the shooting of Anthony Grainger by the police in March 2012, concerns the authorisation of new weapon systems. It stated:
“The Secretary for State of the Home Department should ensure that the new code of practice on police use of firearms and less lethal weapons contains an express prohibition on the use of a new weapon system by the police service until the approval process set out in the code of practice has been completed and the new systems has been approved by the Secretary of State”.
The Government accept this recommendation. The revised code makes it clear that all new less lethal weapons and specialist munitions for use by police forces in England and Wales, and all significant changes to these weapons, must be approved by the Home Secretary.
In relation to the other recommendations, addressed to the police and others, it is the Government’s intention to provide a formal response in due course, once we have fully considered the report, and any recommendations therein. My officials have asked the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Greater Manchester police to set out how they will respond to the concerns raised by the inquiry and improve the safety of armed policing operations.
Finally, I would like to thank our police officers for the invaluable role they play in keeping the country safe, and the College of Policing for the work it has done on the code of practice. The code of practice has been laid before Parliament today and copies will be available from the Vote Office. It will also be available to view on the College of Policing website https://www.college. police.uk/Pages/Home.aspx and on gov.uk https://www.gov. uk/government/publications/armed-policing-and-police-use-of-less-lethal-weapons-code-of-practice.