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Written Statements

Volume 681: debated on Wednesday 30 September 2020

Written Statements

Wednesday 30 September 2020

Cabinet Office

Boundary Commission for Wales: Appointments

I should like to inform the House that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office (Michael Gove) has made the following appointments under schedule 1 to the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986, following a competition run in accordance with the governance code on public appointments:

Huw Vaughan Thomas, appointed as a member of the Boundary Commission for Wales, effective from 5 October 2020 until 4 October 2025; and Sam Hartley, appointed as a member of the Boundary Commission for Wales, effective from 5 October 2020 until 4 October 2025.


Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act: Section 46 Report

My hon. Friend, the Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon), has made the following written statement:

Section 57(3) of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 (“the Act”) provides that, if any report required by the Act is not laid before Parliament at the relevant time, the appropriate Minister must publish a written statement explaining the reasons.

On 11 April 2019 the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Dominic Raab) laid before Parliament the Sanctions (EU Exit) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019/843) (“the correction regulations”) to correct minor errors in a number of sanctions regulations that had been made under the Act during March 2019.

In making the correction regulations, the Minister was required by section 45(2)(b) of the Act to consider in respect of each discretionary purpose (i.e. a purpose which is not in compliance with a UN or any other international obligation) of the sanctions regulations being amended by the correction regulations: that carrying out that purpose would meet one or more of the conditions in paragraphs (a) to (i)of section 1(2) of the Act, that there are good reasons to pursue that purpose, and that the imposition of sanctions is a reasonable course of action for that purpose.

The Minister was further required by section 46(2) of the Act to lay a report before Parliament at the same time as the correction regulations explaining why he was of that opinion that the discretionary purposes had been met.

In this case, the Minister reached the conclusions in respect of section 45(2)(b) for substantially the same reasons as set out in the statutory reports that the Minister had laid before Parliament, in the preceding month, alongside the following statutory instruments: on 7 March in respect of the Iran (Sanctions) (Nuclear) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019/461) (available at:; on 8 March in respect of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019/411) (available at:; on 15 March in respect of the Counter-Terrorism (International Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (S.I. 2019/573) (available at:

However, due to a regrettable administrative oversight in the Department, the report required by section 46(2) of the Sanctions Act was not laid before Parliament. The responsible Department has amended its practices to ensure that all statutory reports are laid before Parliament as required.


Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (Obligations of Undertakings) (Amendment) (England) Reg

On 26 March 2020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force, imposing restrictions on people’s movements and gatherings, and requiring the closure of certain retail and public premises, in the interest of public health in light of the coronavirus pandemic. A review of these regulations must take place at least every 28 days to ensure the restrictions remain necessary. Those regulations are now referred to as the No.2 regulations, given amendments made. They were last amended on Thursday 24 September 2020. Separately, BEIS’ regulations: the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Obligations of Hospitality Undertakings) (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on Saturday 18 September, where hospitality sector business had placed on them obligations which had previously only featured in HMG guidance.

Taking into account scientific advice, and taking into consideration the Government’s assessment, we now require further amendments to the regulations to give effect to changes as announced by the Prime Minister on 23 September 2020 to take effect at midnight on Sunday evening-Monday morning 28 September 2020.

The changes coming into effect are:

That where relevant premises are identified by the Health Protection (coronavirus, wearing of face coverings in a relevant place) (England) regulations 2020, that businesses will have to display signage or use other means to remind people of their legal obligation to wear face coverings;

That in cafés, restaurants, bars and public houses, that singing, dancing and loud music are not permitted, save for specific exceptions being permitted;

That provisions which were included in BEIS original coronavirus regulations regarding respecting the rule of six in relation to taking bookings, admitting parties or allowing mingling of groups, this has been extended beyond hospitality as it was originally drafted, to mirror the scope of the Health Protection (coronavirus, collection of contact details etc and related requirements) regulations 2020.

These regulations should come into force after midnight on 28 September 2020. The hope was to have laid before Parliament on 25 September 2020 but we were timed out as Parliament rose at 15:00hrs.

These regulations follow the made affirmative procedure. These changes are being made under the emergency procedure, approved by Parliament, because it is necessary for Government to respond quickly to the reduced rate of transmission and our assessment of the current situation. While any restrictions and requirements imposed by law place a significant burden on business, the rising R number in England, and other more restrictive measures elsewhere, mean that it is incumbent on Government to act swiftly to prevent more onerous restrictions or closures being required.

The provisions outlined in these new regulations are necessary to prevent, protect against, control or provide a public health response to the incidence or spread of infection in England with the coronavirus. These additional restrictions offer an opportunity for businesses to operate with restrictions, rather than close. These amendments have been prepared urgently. In order to provide urgent clarity and certainty to the public and businesses of the changes being made and what activity is and is not allowed, I have decided that it is necessary for these regulations to come into force on 28 September 2020 and to then be laid before Parliament forthwith.

Under section 45R of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, the relevant instrument may be made without a draft having been laid and approved by Parliament if it contains a declaration that the person making it is of the opinion that, by reason of urgency, it is necessary to make it without a draft being so laid and approved.

I have included such a declaration in these amending regulations.

I hope you understand why we proceeded in this way, and stand ready, as ever, to answer any questions you may have.

Publicly available Government guidance on is being updated to ensure it fully corresponds with the amended regulations. These remain strict measures, but they are measures that we must take in order to protect our NHS and to save lives.


Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry

I am today announcing final terms of reference for the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry. The inquiry follows the conclusion of the group litigation involving postmasters and Post Office Limited (Post Office Ltd) in December 2019, the Prime Minister’s commitment on 26 February 2020 and my written statement of 10 June 2020.

The Horizon dispute and court case has been ongoing for many years and has had a hugely negative impact on affected postmasters and their families. In his judgments in the “Common Issues” and “Horizon Issues” trials, Mr Justice Fraser identified significant failings at Post Office Ltd and with the Horizon IT system over a number of years.

The Government have formed this inquiry to fully understand these events, gather available evidence and ensure lessons have been learnt so that this cannot occur again. Having listened to affected postmasters, the Government have expanded the scope of the inquiry to ensure they get answers to questions that postmasters and others are seeking. the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), my right hon. Friend the Member for Reading West (Alok Sharma) has therefore invited Sir Wyn Williams FLSW to conduct an inquiry following the judgments of Mr Justice Fraser in the Bates versus Post Office Group Litigation into Post Office Ltd’s Horizon IT system and other related issues arising from the findings of Justice Fraser and the settlement reached following this trial.

To reflect the additional focus of Sir Wyn’s work to that announced in June, it will be called an inquiry, rather than a review. Following commitments from both Post Office Ltd and Fujitsu UK to co-operate with the inquiry, the inquiry will be run on a non-statutory basis and have the following terms of reference:

Government want to be fully assured that through the inquiry there is a public summary of the failings that occurred, which were associated with Post Office Ltd’s Horizon IT system. The inquiry will draw on the findings made by Mr Justice Fraser from the Bates versus Post Office Group Litigation (in particular Judgment (No3) “Common Issues” and Judgment (No 6) “Horizon issues”) and other evidence, listen to those that have been most affected, understand what went wrong, and assess whether lessons have been learned and concrete changes have taken place or are underway at Post Office Ltd.

The inquiry shall:

A: Understand and acknowledge what went wrong in relation to Horizon, leading to the Group Litigation Order, by drawing on evidence from the Horizon judgments and affected postmasters’ experiences and identify what key lessons must be learned for the future;

B: Build upon the findings of Mr Justice Fraser, by obtaining all available relevant evidence from Post Office Ltd, Fujitsu and BEIS to establish a clear account of the implementation and failings of Horizon over its lifecycle;

C: Assess whether Post Office Ltd has learned the lessons from the criticisms made by Mr Justice Fraser in the “Common Issues” and “Horizon Issues” trials and those identified by affected postmasters and has delivered or made good progress on the organisational and cultural changes necessary to ensure a similar case does not happen in the future;

D: Assess whether the commitments made by Post Office Ltd within the mediation settlement—including the historical shortfall scheme—have been properly delivered;

E: Assess whether the processes and information provided by Post Office Ltd to postmasters are sufficient; to enable both parties to meet their contractual obligations; and to enable postmasters to run their businesses. This includes assessing whether Post Office Ltd’s related processes such as recording and resolving postmaster queries, dispute handling, suspension and termination are fit for purpose. In addition, determine whether the quality of the service offer for postmasters and their relationship with Post Office Ltd has materially improved since the conclusions reached by Mr Justice Fraser; and

F: Examine the governance and whistleblowing controls now in place at Post Office Ltd and whether they are sufficient to ensure that the failings that led to the Horizon case issues do not happen again.

The inquiry will consider only those matters set out in the preceding sections A-F. Post Office Ltd’s prosecution function, matters of criminal law, the Horizon group damages settlement, the conduct of current or future litigation relating to Horizon and or the engagement or findings of any other supervisory or complaints mechanisms, including in the public sector, are outside the inquiry‘s scope.

The inquiry will be led by Sir Wyn Williams FLSW, as the Chair of the inquiry. He will be supported by up to four independent advisers. These independent advisers will support Sir Wyn Williams by providing advice on the sources, content and interpretation of evidence received as appropriate. They may also provide independent scrutiny and challenge in relation to emerging findings and recommendations.

The inquiry should make any recommendations it sees fit, including actions that may, in its view, be appropriate as a result of its findings. The inquiry will aim to submit its findings to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy at the latest by summer 2021. The final report will be published by the Secretary of State and the Government will respond in due course.

In order to understand the range of issues fully and provide constructive challenge, the inquiry will undertake engagement with significant stakeholder groups, including current and former postmasters, Post Office Ltd, Fujitsu UK, BEIS and other third parties to identify information that is relevant to and within the scope of the inquiry.


Home Department

Windrush Lessons Learned Review Response

Today we are publishing the Home Office’s comprehensive improvement plan, in response to the Windrush lessons learned review. We have worked closely with community leaders and the cross-government Windrush working group to get this important work right, and I am pleased to have the backing of co-chair Bishop Derek Webley on the steps we are taking. I am also grateful to independent reviewer Wendy Williams for the help she has given in shaping our approach.

The Windrush lessons learned review, published in March, exposed unacceptable failings in the Home Office over many years and an “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation”. I have already accepted Wendy Williams’s important findings and repeated my heartfelt apology for the suffering that members of the Windrush generation endured.

The comprehensive improvement plan sets out the action we are taking to put this right and to ensure the mistakes of the past can never be repeated.

It details the work taking place across the Department under the five themes I previously laid out.

Righting the wrongs and learning from the past

We are determined to ensure the Windrush generation have the full help and support they deserve. More than £2.5 million has now been offered through the Windrush compensation scheme and over 13,300 documents have been provided to over 11,500 individuals confirming their status or British citizenship. We are doing more to reach those affected and encourage them to come forward, via a new national communications campaign.

Every member of Home Office staff will also undertake mandatory training on the history of migration and race in the UK so that they better understand the impact of departmental decisions, including when developing and applying immigration policy.

An inclusive workforce

We have relaunched our race action plan to help improve the diversity of staff in senior roles and ensure the Home Office reflects the diverse communities it serves. The permanent secretary has commissioned an overhaul of how performance is managed to better support black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues. To provide robust challenge to our plans to make the Home Office more diverse, external experts will also be invited to join the refreshed strategic advisory board we have established.

Openness to scrutiny

I have directed my officials to engage with community leaders, civil society and the public throughout the policy-making process to understand real-life impacts. It is crucial that the Department is receptive to outside challenge, so I am creating a new community and stakeholder engagement hub at the centre of the Home Office. This will draw on best practice to build knowledge and skills across the Department.

We recognise the particular circumstances of those who travel to this country to work and live and so we are consulting with the cross-government Windrush working group to recommend how best to engage with migrant communities directly and facilitate their feedback into our policy development and operational activity.

In addition, we are overhauling the Department’s risk management framework to ensure all staff have the knowledge and responsibility to act upon risks that are identified.

Inclusive and robust policy making

We are improving how we assess the effect of our policies on people from different backgrounds, including by carrying out more training for staff on how to do this well. We have worked with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on its investigation into how the Department fulfilled its public sector equality duty on policies affecting the Windrush generation. Following the publication of its report, we will work with it to ensure this important duty is fully considered in all our work.

We are also putting in place a set of policy tests to ensure the key findings from the Windrush lessons learned review are applied as new policy is developed.

A more compassionate approachpeople not cases

This theme is the crux of the cultural change the permanent secretary and I want to see. The Home Office must embrace the human impact of its work and empower staff throughout the Department to do the same. To support this, I have launched a new mandatory “Face Behind the Case” training course for all UK visa and immigration staff, with plans to expand this to other areas. A young people’s board is being established to gain crucial insight from those who have recently experienced the immigration system. We are also making rapid progress on the new vision for the Home Office, consulting staff on the core values we all want to embody.

I have already committed to a full review and evaluation of the compliant environment. While it is right that the Department acts against those who are in the UK illegally, we continue to look closely at how innocent people were wrongly caught up in policies designed to target law breakers. The system must be strong, but it also must be just, so if problems are found, I will fix them.

The comprehensive improvement plan will help transform the Home Office and deliver the lasting and meaningful change the Windrush generation deserve. We will monitor our progress and welcome Wendy Williams’s return in September 2021 where I am confident she will see the start of a genuine culture shift.

More detail is available in the comprehensive improvement plan, which has been laid before Parliament (CP 293), available at:

Copies are also available from the Vote Office.