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Written Statements

Volume 678: debated on Monday 6 July 2020

Written Statements

Monday 6 July 2020

Cabinet Office

Historic Records Transfer

The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 amended the Public Records Act 1958 and introduced a 20-year rule for the transfer of historic government records to the National Archives. This replaced the 30-year rule in force since 1967. The Act made provision to phase in this change over 10 years, beginning in 2013. The transitional arrangements require the Cabinet Office to transfer records of 1997 and 1998 by the end of this year. The Cabinet Office’s historic records include those of the Prime Minister’s Office. This statement provides an update on the impact of covid-19 on our work in this area.

Since 2015, the Cabinet Office has made two transfers a year, in July and December. The July opening is discretionary and reflects the Cabinet Office’s commitment to opening as much as possible as early as possible.

Measures to contain covid-19 have inevitably had an impact on work in this area. It will not, therefore, be possible to transfer records in July this year. Whilst work has continued as normal in many areas across the Department, archival work requires physical access to hard copy files to complete the review and preparation of documents for transfer.

In addition, the National Archives building in Kew closed to the public and staff on 17 March 2020 and at present is unable to facilitate the transfer of new records.

I remain fully committed to meeting our obligations under public records legislation. The Department is undertaking an assessment of the wider impact of the covid-19 restrictions on work in this area. We will work with the National Archives and the advisory council on national records and archives and will provide a further update to the House in due course.

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Education

Higher Education Student Finance

I am announcing details of student finance arrangements for higher education students undertaking a course of study in the 2021-22 academic year starting on 1 August 2021.

Maximum tuition fees for the 2021-22 academic year in England will be maintained at the levels that apply in the 2020-21 academic year, the fourth year in succession that fees have been frozen. This means that the maximum level of tuition fees for a standard full-time undergraduate course will remain at £9,250 for the 2021-22 academic year.

Maximum undergraduate loans for living costs will be increased by forecast inflation (3.1%) in 2021-22. And the same increase will apply to maximum grants for students with child or adult dependants who are attending full-time undergraduate courses in 2021-22.

We are also increasing support for students undertaking postgraduate courses in 2021-22. Maximum loans for students starting master’s degree and doctoral degree courses from 1 August 2021 onwards will be increased by forecast inflation (3.1%) in 2021-22.

I am also announcing today changes to disabled students’ allowance (DSA) that will increase flexibility for students to access the support that they need. The undergraduate DSA, which is currently structured as four separate sub-allowances, will be simplified into one allowance in line with the postgraduate DSA.

The same maximum allowance (£25,000) will apply to both full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate DSA recipients in 2021-22. This will apply for both new and continuing students. An exception for travel costs will be made to this maximum cap, which means that travel costs will in effect continue to be uncapped.

I am announcing today that individuals who have been granted indefinite leave to remain as a bereaved partner, and resident in the United Kingdom and islands since the grant of such leave, will not be required to demonstrate three years’ ordinary residence in the United Kingdom and islands before the start of a course to qualify for student support and home fee status in relation to new higher education courses from 1 August 2021 onwards.

I am also announcing today that individuals in protection based categories (those with humanitarian protection leave, Calais leave, section 67 leave and stateless leave) starting or continuing higher education courses in 2021-22 will no longer be required to demonstrate three years’ ordinary residence in the United Kingdom and islands before the start of a course to qualify for student support and home fee status.

Further details of the student support package for 2021-22 are set out in the attached document.

I expect to lay regulations implementing changes to student finance for undergraduates and postgraduates for 2021-22 later in 2020. These regulations will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

The attachment can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-07-06/HCWS336/.

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime

I have today laid before Parliament, under the powers of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020.

These regulations enable sanctions to be imposed on those who are involved in serious violations or abuses of human rights. This sanctions regime is not about punishing countries or peoples. It is a smart tool allowing the Government to impose both asset freezes and travel bans on specific individuals or entities in order to provide accountability for and deter serious violations of human rights around the world and prevent those responsible from coming to the UK or laundering their assets here. These sanctions will help to ensure that the UK is not a safe haven for those involved in serious human rights violations, including those who profit from such activities.

The regulations allow Ministers to impose sanctions on persons who are involved in activities that would amount to a serious violation of the right to life; the right not to be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and the right to be free from slavery, not to be held in servitude or required to perform forced or compulsory labour. The global human rights sanctions regime can be used to target different forms of involvement in such violations of human rights, including those who profit from them. The regulations allow for non-state actors as well as state actors to be designated.

The introduction of this autonomous human rights sanctions regime will give the UK an additional, powerful tool to support human rights across the world, and underpin global Britain’s role as a force for good in the world.

Today, I will also publish the first persons to be designated under this new sanctions regime.

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Home Department

M15 Compliance Improvement Review

On 15 July 2019, my predecessor made a written ministerial statement regarding the MI5 compliance improvement review conducted by Sir Martin Donnelly. Sir Martin made 14 recommendations focused on achieving lasting improvements in the areas of compliance, openness and legal assurance.

The director general of MI5 and I remain fully committed to the implementation of the recommendations.

As Sir Martin recommended, it is my intention to independently verify the implementation of his recommendations. However, it has become apparent that, due to the impacts of Covid-19, the start of this verification, which was originally due to be completed by the end of June 2020, will have to be postponed.

MI5 expect to complete the implementation of Sir Martin’s recommendations by the end of 2020. The independent verification will therefore commence at the beginning of 2021.

I have full confidence in the integrity of MI5 officers and their commitment to complying with legal obligations. They do a vital job in keeping our country safe, a task that, at this time of uncertainty, is more important than ever.

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Transport

Travel Corridors

It is vitally important that we manage the risk of a second wave of coronavirus and keep the number of cases of covid-19 in the UK as low as possible. Health protection Regulations concerning international travel came into force in all parts of the UK on 8 June. These require people who arrive in the UK from outside the common travel area to self-isolate for 14 days and to complete a passenger locator form. The regulations have helped to reduce the risk of importing cases into the UK.

For arrivals from some countries and territories into England, where the risk of importing Covid-19 is sufficiently low, the Government consider that it can now end the self-isolation requirement. Therefore, passengers will not be required to self-isolate when they are returning from travel abroad or arriving as visitors to England from a number of exempt countries and territories. Contact information will still need to be provided on arrival except by people on a small list of exemptions.

The process to date

We have been guided by the science and worked closely with health and policy experts from across Government to ensure the steps we are taking will minimise the risk of importing covid-19 cases, while helping to open our travel and tourism sector.

The joint biosecurity centre, in close consultation with Public Health England and the chief medical officer, has developed an approach to assessing the public health risk associated with inbound travel from specific countries and territories. The categorisation has been informed by an estimate of the proportion of the population that is currently infectious in each country, virus incidence rates, trends in incidence and deaths, transmission status and international epidemic intelligence as well as information on a country’s testing capacity and an assessment of the quality of the data available. Data has been used from official sources in each country and modelling by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as well as from Public Health England and the national travel health network and centre. Other data sources may be used in the future.

This categorisation has informed the Government decisions about relaxation of border measures and has allowed us to establish travel corridors through which passengers arriving in England from certain countries and territories will be exempted from the requirement to self-isolate. Those who have visited or transited through any non-exempt country or territory within the 14 days preceding their arrival will be required to self-isolate for the remainder of the 14-day period since they last left such a country or territory. The decision on these exemptions forms part of the first review of the health protection regulations concerning international travel which apply in England. FCO travel advice should always be consulted before booking any travel.

The Government are continuing to discuss this approach with the devolved Administrations who will set out their own approach in time. Passengers travelling from overseas to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from outside the common travel area should ensure they follow the laws and guidance which apply there.

Countries and territories exemption list

From 10 July, unless they have visited or transited through any non-exempt country or territory in the preceding 14 days, passengers arriving from the following countries and territories will not be required to self-isolate on arrival in England:

Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Austria, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bonaire St Eustatius and Saba, Croatia, Curagao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Reunion, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malta, Mauritius, Monaco, New Caledonia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Seychelles, St Barthelemy, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Pierre and Miquelon, San Marino, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Vatican City State, Vietnam.

Ireland is already exempt as part of the common travel area, as are the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. In addition, we will be exempting the 14 British overseas territories. We will keep the conditions in these countries and territories under review. If they worsen we will not hesitate to reintroduce self-isolation requirements.

In addition, the UK Government will be making a small number of sector-specific exemptions to the border health measures as a result of the first review. From 7 July, certain transport workers who do not come into contact with passengers in the course of their journey to England will no longer be required to complete the passenger locator form. This will help pilots, seafarers, and Eurostar and Eurotunnel drivers who make regular crossings without coming into contact with passengers. There will also be additional exemptions for certain groups, including elite sportspersons and essential support staff returning to England or participating in certain elite sports events, and individuals coming to England to work on British film and television productions.

Next steps

My Right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and First Secretary of State has announced exemptions to the global advisory against all but essential travel. Travellers should review this advice before making travel plans, and purchase travel insurance.

The Government will keep the requirements and exemptions set out in the regulations under review. The next review of the regulations will be by 27 July 2020. For further information, please visit https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control.

I hope this announcement provides good news to the many of us who want to enjoy a holiday abroad this year, visit family and friends overseas or travel to do business and will help protect jobs in the international transport and tourism sectors. The Government continue to work closely with international partners around the world to discuss arrangements for travellers arriving from the UK and will continue this engagement ahead of the changes coming into force.

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