Thursday 17 December 2020
Criminal Cases: Guidelines on Disclosure
I wish to provide an update in relation to the Attorney General’s guidelines and the CPIA code of practice.
The disclosure of unused material in criminal cases remains a crucial part of ensuring a fair trial takes place and is essential in avoiding miscarriages of justice. Unfortunately, the failure to disclose material promptly has led to the collapse of a number of trials and has impacted on the public’s confidence in the administration of the criminal justice system.
It is a priority for this Government to continue to encourage improvements in the disclosure process and to achieve permanent change. It is essential that we ensure there are fair trials for all and that we increase confidence in the criminal justice system.
The Proposed Changes
In November 2018, the Government published a “Review of the efficiency and effectiveness of disclosure in the criminal justice system”, which made a set of recommendations to improve disclosure performance and to address the key challenges of modern disclosure practice. The review recommended that the Attorney General’s guidelines on disclosure required an update in order to truly reflect the challenges of today’s disclosure regime.
The guidelines provide a set of high-level principles on the disclosure of unused material in criminal cases, aimed at assisting investigators, prosecutors and defence practitioners in England and Wales apply the disclosure regime contained in the CPIA code of practice.
The changes seek to provide a better representation of the challenges the modern-day investigator, prosecutor and defence practitioner faces. The updated guidelines address the need for culture change, earlier performance of disclosure obligations, the use of technology and balancing the right to privacy with the right to a fair trial.
This is an opportunity to take a crucial step in the disclosure process, both to deal with issues that have been a long-standing concern and to provide practitioners with the tools they need to handle their disclosure obligations effectively.
Following the successful parliamentary passage of the statutory instrument in relation to the code of practice, I can now confirm that both the guidelines and the code will be effective from 31 December 2020. The Lord Chancellor and I thank all of those who have engaged with us during the process and we are grateful for the role that they have played in recognising the complex challenges that affect the proper performance of the duty of disclosure.
Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee Meeting
The Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee met today, 17 December, by video conference.
The meeting was co-chaired by the UK Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office, and European Commission Vice President, Maroš Šefčovič, and attended by alternate Joint Committee co-chairs, the First Minister and deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, and member state representatives.
The Committee undertook a review of Specialised Committee activity and withdrawal agreement implement- ation throughout the transition period. The Committee agreed to publish the second citizens’ rights Specialised Committee Joint Report on residency and to finalise the list of arbitrators before the end of the transition period. The Joint Committee also adopted the following five decisions:
Triangulation of social security coordination between the UK, EU, European free trade agreement (EFTA) states;
The Northern Ireland protocol:
Determination of goods not at risk;
Errors and omissions in the withdrawal agreement;
Arrangements under article 12(2) of the protocol.
Both the UK and EU made five unilateral declarations relating to the Northern Ireland protocol:
Human and veterinary medicines; and
Article 10(1) of the protocol.
The decisions adopted at this meeting demonstrate the UK’s and the EU’s commitment to the implementation of the protocol in full so the people of Northern Ireland can have the fundamental legal assurances they need. Both the UK and the EU reiterated their commitment to upholding obligations under the withdrawal agreement and protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) agreement in all respects.
The UK and the EU emphasised their commitment to EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU, and to ensuring that their rights under the withdrawal agreement are protected. The Committee agreed to extend withdrawal agreement social security co-ordination between the UK and EU to European free trade agreement (EFTA) states from 1 January 2021.
The UK and the EU took the opportunity provided by this meeting to underline the commitment to continued constructive engagement through the Joint Committee processes after the end of the transition period.
Separately, the UK has confirmed that it will provide additional funding of over £200 million to the PEACE PLUS programme up to 2027, on top of the £300 million already committed, recognising its important contribution to the promotion of peace and reconciliation, and to cross-border economic and territorial development of Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland.
Government’s Civil Estate: Efficiency and Sustainability
I have today laid before Parliament, pursuant to Section 86 of the Climate Change Act 2008, the “State of the Estate in 2019-20”. This report describes the efficiency and sustainability of the Government’s civil estate and records the progress that Government have made since the previous year. The report is published on an annual basis.
The attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-12-17/HCWS669/.
2025 UK Border Strategy
Today, the Government will publish the 2025 UK border strategy. As we reach the end of the transition period, we have a unique opportunity to redesign our border for the benefit of the UK. The 2025 UK border strategy sets out how we will do this in partnership across the nations of the UK, the border industry and users of the border.
The 2025 UK border strategy sets out the transformations we will make to the border to create the most effective border in the world, harnessing the power of technology and data to revolutionise how the border operates. Implementing these transformations will make it easier for UK businesses to export and import while improving our ability to keep the UK safe and secure.
The strategy has been developed using the wealth of evidence and insight we received from stakeholders across the UK through the consultation we ran over the summer. The target operating model for the border which the strategy sets out will help businesses understand the longer term ambitions for the UK’s border, and plan and invest accordingly.
The 2025 UK border strategy has today been laid as a Command Paper.
The attachments can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-12-17/HCWS668/.
Bilateral Loan to Ireland
I would like to update Parliament on the loan to Ireland.
In December 2010, the UK agreed to provide a bilateral loan of £3.2 billion as part of a €67.5 billion international assistance package for Ireland. The loan was disbursed in eight tranches. The final tranche was drawn down on 26 September 2013. Ireland has made interest payments on the loan every six months since the first disbursement.
On 7 December, in line with the agreed repayment schedule, HM Treasury received a total payment of £407,852,313.75 from Ireland. This comprises the repayment of £403,370,000 in principal and £4,482,313.75 in accrued interest.
In October, as required under the Loans to Ireland Act 2010, HM Treasury provided the latest statutory report to Parliament covering the period from 1 April to 30 September 2020. The report set out details of future payments up to the final repayment on 26 March 2021. The Government continue to expect the loan to be repaid in full and on time. The next statutory report will cover the period from 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021. HM Treasury will report fully on all repayments received during this period in the report.
Contingencies Fund Advance: National Savings and Investments
HM Treasury and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury have agreed additional resource DEL funding of £40,500,000 for National Savings and Investments to respond to covid-19 issues, build greater operational resilience and prepare for a major retendering event.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £40,500,000 will be sought in a supplementary estimate for National Savings and Investments. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £40,500,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.
Covid-19 is the biggest threat this country has faced in decades and, throughout the first and now second waves of the virus, the Government have sought to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods while also supporting businesses and public services across the UK, with over £280 billion of support spent so far. The vaccine deployment is a milestone in the recovery from the pandemic and the eventual return to normal life. While vaccination of the most vulnerable people has begun, it will take some time for the vaccine to be rolled out to the wider population. During this time, the Government remain committed to supporting people and businesses and providing them with the certainty they need.
In my previous statement to the House on 5 November 2020, I said we would review the scheme in January 2021. However, to provide certainty to businesses so that they can plan for the remainder of the winter and the new year, we have undertaken this review earlier. As the CJRS is already UK-wide, these changes will continue to apply to all devolved Administrations.
Following my last update in November, I can announce today that the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) will be extended by another month, until the end of April 2021, with employees continuing to receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. Employers will be required to pay wages, national insurance contributions (NICS) and pensions for hours worked; and NICS and pensions only for hours not worked. The eligibility criteria for the scheme will remain unchanged, as I have previously set out.
The Government-guaranteed covid-19 business loan schemes—the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), the coronavirus large business interruption loan scheme (CLBILS) and the bounce back loan scheme (BBLS) have been open since the spring. As of 13 December, over 1.5 million businesses have been supported with facilities worth more than £68 billion.
To support UK businesses through continuing economic disruption, the Government have decided to extend the closing date to new applications for CBILS, CLBILS and BBLS. The schemes, currently due to close on 31 January 2021, will now be open to applications until the end of March. Together, the schemes provide vital support across all sectors of the UK economy for businesses who have been impacted by coronavirus. The loans can be used to support businesses with any liquidity needs, whether covering costs, additional expenditure or investment. We are extending the schemes now, ahead of Christmas and further into the new year, to provide businesses with continued access to the support they need through any continued disruption in early 2021. The British Business Bank will provide accredited lenders with further guidance in due course.
The Government will provide a further update on covid-19 economic support at Budget, which will be held on 3 March 2021.
Financial Services Update
On 24 November, in a written ministerial statement (WMS) (HCWS595), I committed to working with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to lay before Parliament and publish online before the December recess Dame Elizabeth Gloster’s report into the FCA’s regulation and supervision of London Capital and Finance plc (LCF) and the FCA’s response.
This WMS provides an update on the investigation, the FCA’s response and the Government’s response. Pursuant to Section 82 of the Financial Services Act 2012, the report into the independent investigation, the FCA’s response and a statement of reasons for withholding any material have been laid in the House today.
LCF was an FCA-authorised firm that primarily offered an unregulated investment product—commonly known as mini-bonds—to retail consumers. It entered administration in January 2019, impacting 11,625 people who invested around £237 million.
The Serious Fraud Office and FCA enforcement have launched an investigation into individuals associated with LCF. The Financial Reporting Council has also launched investigations into the audits of LCF.
I know that this has been a very difficult time for LCF bondholders. For some, this will have formed part of an investment portfolio, but for others, it will have represented a significant portion of their savings.
In May 2019, I directed the FCA to launch an independent investigation into the events relating to the FCA’s regulation and supervision of LCF. To lead the investigation, I approved the appointment of Dame Elizabeth Gloster, who has had a distinguished career as a barrister and as a judge, in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
On 23 November 2020, Dame Elizabeth delivered her report to the FCA. It concludes that the FCA did not effectively supervise and regulate LCF during the relevant period. She makes nine recommendations for the FCA, focusing on how they should improve their internal authorisation and supervision processes. The Government welcome the FCA’s apology to LCF bondholders and their commitment to implement all of Dame Elizabeth’s recommendations.
Dame Elizabeth also makes four recommendations for HM Treasury regarding the regulatory regime, which we accept in full.
First, Dame Elizabeth rightly recognises the challenges the FCA faces in regulating almost 60,000 firms and recommends that the Treasury should consider the optimal scope of the FCA’s remit. The Government agree that they need to consider whether this scope is manageable, but it would be premature to do so before the ongoing FCA transformation programme has been delivered. I have discussed this reform programme with the Chair and Chief Executive and I am convinced it is the best means to address the recommendations. I have today exchanged letters with Mr Rathi agreeing that he will provide regular updates on the progress of these vital reforms.
Secondly, with regard to the regulation of mini-bonds, in May 2019 I announced that the Treasury would review the regulation of non-transferable debt securities. The FCA have also banned the promotion of high-risk “speculative illiquid securities”—including some of the riskiest “mini-bonds”—to ordinary retail consumers. Building on this work, and in light of Dame Elizabeth’s report, the Treasury will launch a consultation in the new year on the regulation of non-transferable debt securities.
Thirdly, Dame Elizabeth raises concerns about a potential gap in responsibilities between Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the FCA in relation to the innovative finance ISA (IF ISA) products.
The FCA is making improvements to its oversight of financial promotions and, with HMRC, the Treasury is urgently looking at the sufficiency of checks on IF ISA managers and at the penalties regime. To improve communication and intelligence sharing, the FCA and HMRC are working to update their memorandum of understanding, and will set up an ISA intelligence working group. Reflecting the findings in Dame Elizabeth’s report, the Treasury will also look at how understanding of the ISA wrapper could be increased so that consumers recognise that, as with any investment, there can be risks as well as possible rewards.
Finally, Dame Elizabeth notes the challenges that increased financial activity online poses for regulation. The FCA already has powers to take a variety of enforcement action against firms that carry out fraudulent activity. Nevertheless, the Treasury will continue to keep the legislative framework under review. As part of this, the Treasury is working with the FCA to consider whether paid-for advertising on online platforms should be brought into the scope of the financial promotions regime. The Treasury is also working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure that fraudulent online advertising is addressed as a priority harm through its online advertising programme.
It is important to acknowledge again that LCF’s failure had a significant impact on the bondholders who have lost their hard-earned savings. There are several ongoing, interlinked processes addressing the reasons for the failure of LCF and seeking to recover bondholders’ investments. The three main channels through which bondholders can seek compensation are:
First, LCF’s administrators are pursuing legal action to recover money. This process is ongoing, but is not expected to recover bondholders’ investments in full, with the current estimate being that recoveries will be as low as 25% of a bondholder’s investment.
Secondly, the financial services compensation scheme (FSCS) has carried out extensive investigations to determine whether LCF bondholders were eligible for FSCS compensation, and it has since compensated 159 bondholders who transferred out of stocks and shares ISAs to LCF bonds. The FSCS is also continuing to issue decisions to LCF bondholders who may have received misleading advice and it will provide an update in the new year. These activities—arranging transfers and advising on investments—are regulated activities and therefore eligible for compensation. In total, as of the start of December, the FSCS has paid out just over £50.9 million in compensation to 2,584 LCF bondholders. There is also an ongoing legal process, with a hearing scheduled for 19 January, which may further affect eligibility for FSCS coverage.
Lastly, the FCA will consider claims for compensation from LCF bondholders through their complaints scheme, which is available to bondholders who believe they have suffered financial loss as a result of actions or inactions of the FCA.
The Government recognise that LCF’s failure and the loss of investment has had a significant and distressing impact on LCF’s bondholders. With any investment there is a risk that, sometimes, investors will lose money. The purpose of regulation is to ensure that investors have the right information to understand their risk. Within this system, even the best regulators, doing everything right, will not be able to, and should not be expected to, ensure a zero-failure regime.
And the Government cannot, and should not be expected to, step in to compensate for every failure and every loss.
But it is clear in the case of LCF that there are multiple, complex reasons why people lost money. And the Government recognise that there is likely to be some variation in how much of their investment bondholders are able to recover through these processes.
The Government therefore announce that, taking into consideration the specific and complex set of circumstances surrounding the collapse of LCF, the Treasury will set up a compensation scheme for LCF bondholders. The scheme will assess whether there is a justification for further one-off compensation payments in certain circumstances for some LCF bondholders.
I will provide a further update in the new year with more detail on the Government’s approach.
I would like to reiterate my sympathy for LCF bondholders and my commitment to act on Dame Elizabeth’s recommendations, to ensure that our regulatory system maintains the trust of the consumers it is there to protect.
Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing: National Risk Assessment
The UK’s status as a global financial centre, our openness to trade and investment, and the ease of doing business here are all vital for our prosperity. These remarkable strengths also make us vulnerable to the risk of illicit financial flows from money laundering and terrorist financing. The Government are committed to tackling these risks which undermine our economy and society and enable those who wish us harm to fund their activities.
Today, the Treasury and the Home Office are jointly publishing the UK’s third national risk assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing (NRA). This assessment updates the findings of the second NRA to take account of new information and developments that have emerged since its publication in 2017. The report has also been laid in Parliament.
The key findings of the 2020 NRA are as follows:
The traditional high-risk areas of money laundering remain, including financial services, money service businesses (MSBs), and cash. However, new methods continue to emerge within these, as criminals adapt to increased restrictions and exploit vulnerabilities in different sectors and emerging technology.
The cryptoasset ecosystem has developed and expanded considerably in the last three years, leading to increased risk of money laundering.
The ability to conceal the beneficial owners make the art market attractive for money laundering, and art market participants have been assessed as posing a high-risk of money laundering.
Professional services remain attractive to criminals as a means to support laundering the proceeds of crime, through the creation and operation of corporate structures, the investment and transfer funds to disguise their origin, and through lending layers of legitimacy to their operations.
The UK’s terrorist financing threat continues to involve low levels of funds being raised by UK individuals for the purpose of lifestyle spending and low sophistication attacks.
Since 2017, the UK’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regime has undergone review by the financial action taskforce. The UK achieved one of the best ratings of any country assessed so far in this round of evaluations, outperforming other states who are at the forefront of tackling money laundering and terrorism financing. However, no country can afford to be complacent, and there remain vulnerabilities that we must work to address.
Since the 2017 NRA, the Government have continued to take action to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. We have built on the success of the economic crime public-private partnership through the inception of the economic crime strategic board and the publication of the economic crime plan in 2019. We have also created the National Economic Crime Centre, and the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision, both of which have helped to further strengthen and co-ordinate our response to money laundering. The Government are also bringing forward plans to further strengthen corporate transparency through reforms to Companies House and the register of companies.
The UK will look to remain a leader in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, and we will continue to revise and reform our response to economic crime as new risks and methodologies emerge. The publication of the third NRA today is an important step in this fight, as it provides a critical component of continued partnership and prioritisation between Government, law enforcement, supervisors and the private sector.
Tax Exemptions: Employers
On 9 July 2020, the Government agreed to introduce an income tax exemption and national insurance contributions (NICs) disregard to ensure that coronavirus antigen testing provided to employees outside the Government’s national testing scheme will not attract tax and NICs liabilities.
The Government are now introducing a second income tax exemption and NICs disregard, to ensure that employees who purchase their own coronavirus antigen test and are reimbursed by their employer will not attract tax and NICs liabilities.
The Government recognise the importance of covid-19 testing. Currently, regular tests are available through the Government testing programme to a wide range of employees, including NHS workers. If an individual is tested through the Government testing programme, no tax or NICs liability will arise.
Under normal rules, the cash reimbursement of a test by an employer to an employee would constitute earnings, and the amount reimbursed would be subject to income tax and class 1 NICs as a result. However, the Government introduced NICs regulations—the Social Security Contributions (Disregarded Payments) (Coronavirus) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1523) on 14 December and will introduce a tax exemption in the next Finance Bill to ensure that no tax and NICs liabilities arise.
These exemptions will ensure that income tax and NICs will not be due on employer-reimbursed antigen tests carried out during the current tax year 2020-21.
Easement for employer-provided cycles exemption
The tax exemption for the employer provision of cycles and cyclist’s safety equipment was introduced to support employers in promoting healthier journeys to work and to encourage green commuting. Many employers offer this in the form of cycle-to-work schemes.
One of the conditions of the exemption is that the cycling equipment provided should be used mainly for qualifying journeys (to or from work or in the course of work).
The Government’s covid-19 restrictions have required many employees to work from home where possible. Therefore, many existing users of the scheme are not travelling to work and may be unable to meet the condition for qualifying journeys. Under the current application of the rules, these individuals would become liable to an income tax benefit in kind charge.
However, the Government will introduce a time-limited easement to disapply the condition which states that cycles must be used mainly for qualifying journeys. The easement will apply to existing users and will allow those individuals to continue to benefit from the tax exemption without needing to meet the qualifying journeys condition.
The easement will be available to employees who have joined a scheme and have been provided with a cycle or cycling equipment on or before 20 December 2020. The easement will be in place until 5 April 2022, after which the normal rules of the exemption will apply.
Therefore, employees who have joined a scheme and have been provided with a cycle or cycling equipment on or before 20 December 2020 will be permitted to an easement, and will not have to meet the qualifying journeys condition until 5 April 2022. Employees who join a scheme from 21 December 2020 will need to meet all the normal conditions of the exemption.
Budget 2021: Office for Budget Responsibility Forecast
Special Resolution Regime Code of Practice
I have today laid before Parliament an update to the special resolution regime code of practice. This update accounts for the transposition of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) II; changes made to the special resolution regime as a result of onshoring, including removing references to the concept of state aid; and increasing alignment with the Bank of England and HM Treasury crisis management memorandum of understanding.
The special resolution regime code of practice provides industry and the wider public with important guidance on how UK authorities would use the tools provided by the special resolution regime to protect UK financial stability by resolving failing financial institutions in an orderly way.
This version of the code of practice reflects the transposition of BRRDII through provisions in the Bank Recovery and Resolution (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1350). These provisions will come into effect on 28 December and update the UK’s resolution regime. The approach to transposition has been tailored to suit the UK’s resolution regime, and the code of practice provides further guidance on what this means for firms.
The UK authorities have taken all the action they can to mitigate risks of disruption to cross-border financial services at the end of the transition period. As part of this preparation, the Treasury has amended the code of practice where EU legislation, including the concept of state aid, was referenced previously.
As set out in the Banking Act 2009, the code of practice has been updated in consultation with the Bank of England, the Prudential Regulation Authority, the Financial Conduct Authority and the financial services compensation scheme.
The Treasury has also consulted the banking liaison panel, a group of industry stakeholders who represent the interests of banks, and who have expertise in law relating to the UK’s financial system and to insolvency law and practice.
This updated version of the code of practice will provide firms with the certainty and clarity they need by setting out how the UK’s resolution regime will operate following changes in legislation and as a result of the ending of the transition period.
The report has been published on gov.uk: https://www. gov.uk/government/publications/banking-act-2009-special-resolution-regime-code-of-practice-revised-march-2017.
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
United Kingdom Internal Market Bill
The UK Internal Market (UKIM) Bill is fundamental to providing a reliable legal basis for the effective and coherent functioning of the UK internal market. It guarantees that businesses and consumers across the UK are not subject to harmful internal trade barriers following our exit from the EU single market regime. Legislation of this kind must be in place across the whole UK in order to provide businesses and consumers from all parts of our country with the same legal protections and advantages.
From the outset, it has been the UK Government’s objective to legislate for the UK Internal Market Bill with the consent of all the devolved legislatures. At every stage, we have followed the spirit and letter of the devolution settlement and worked hard to secure legislative consent for this vitally important piece of legislation for all of the UK. We have also engaged with businesses, business representative organisations and wider stake- holders, such as academics, across the entire country since the Bill’s introduction to better understand expectations, needs and concerns. The UK Government regret the Scottish Government’s decision to withdraw from UK-wide work on the internal market in spring 2019.
The engagement with the Welsh Government, in particular, has resulted in tangible changes to the Bill to accommodate concerns as well as strengthen devolved involvement within the machinery of the legislation. This includes putting the relationship between the market access principles and common frameworks on the face of the Bill as well as ensuring that the Secretary of State is obliged to seek the consent of the devolved Administrations when panel appointments are made to the Office of the Internal Market (OIM). We have also agreed to have an annual meeting to review the operation of parts 1to 4 of the UK internal market legislation with the devolved Administrations, including the Office for the Internal Market’s reports and new developments that might require the use of delegated powers, using our intergovernmental structures.
The UK Government do however deeply regret that the Scottish Parliament and Senedd Cymru have both refused to provide their consent for the Bill. We have maintained, throughout the Bill’s passage, that the Government are open to discussing the concerns of each devolved Administration, and would make changes to the Bill where it is possible, without undermining the necessary purpose and integrity of the legislation. Proceeding with the Bill to Royal Assent is necessary to put the legal structures in place which provide clarity and consistency for businesses and citizens working across the country.
The Sewel convention envisages situations where the UK Parliament may need to legislate for the whole country in this way. The exceptional circumstances of our departure from the EU, and the need to provide a UK-wide legal underpinning for the internal market, is clearly one such situation. This Government are fully committed to the Sewel convention and the associated practices for seeking consent. Indeed, in the current legislative session of Parliament alone, the UK Government have secured (to date) 37 LCMs from the devolved legislatures; this is in addition to the hundreds of other LCMs passed by the devolved legislatures over the last 21 years of devolution. We will, of course, continue to seek legislative consent, take on board views, and work with the devolved Administrations on all future Bills that engage the legislative consent process, just as we have always done.
The UK Internal Market Bill will allow people to do business reliably and seamlessly across all parts of the UK and enable the UK Government to boost our economic recovery, increase investment across the whole UK, create new jobs and be stronger as a country as we emerge from this pandemic. The UK Government stand as the conservator of this great Union—the most successful political and economic Union in history—as a force for bettering peoples’ lives, with devolution delivering clear benefits for all UK citizens. The UK Internal Market Bill will help to ensure that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland remain more prosperous, stronger and safer together.
Future Nuclear Deterrent
On 18 May 2011, the then Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox), made an oral statement to the House, Official Report col. 351, announcing the approval of the initial gate investment stage for the procurement of the successor to the Vanguard class ballistic missile submarines. He also placed in the Library of the House a report “The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Deterrent: The Submarine Initial Gate Parliamentary Report”.
As confirmed in the 2015 strategic defence and security review, this Government have committed to publishing an annual report on the programme. I am today publishing the ninth report, “The United Kingdom’s Future Nuclear Deterrent: 2020 Update to Parliament”.
A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.
The attachment can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-12-17/HCWS671/.
Educational Settings: January 2021 Return and Funding
As a Government we have made it a national priority that education and childcare settings should continue to operate as normally as possible during the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak, and we have continued to work with the profession to continue full-time face-to-face education.
Since the start of the academic year, the continuing efforts of leaders, teachers and staff across education and childcare has ensured that settings remain as safe and covid-19 secure as possible. That remains the case but the return at the start of January 2021 will take place in exceptional circumstances, when winter risks are acute and at a critical point in national efforts to control the virus.
We announced on 15 December 2020 that we will be deploying the latest rapid-result coronavirus tests to schools and colleges from January to enable weekly screening for the workforce and daily testing for the workforce and students who are a close contact of a positive case. This will help us to find those with the virus and isolate them quickly. It will also help us reduce the need for self-isolation of close contacts of positive cases, keeping staff and students in education and childcare. We will continue to work closely with schools, colleges, directors of public health and directors of children’s services to implement this plan.
Today we can announce that we will be offering all secondary schools (including all-through schools and middle deemed secondary schools), colleges, special schools and alternative provision settings the help, support and supplies to test as many secondary-age and FE students as possible as they resume education in January. We have prioritised these settings because they have seen more disruption so far, associated with older children and young adults having had higher rates of covid-19. This will help identify asymptomatic cases—which make up a third of all cases—limiting the spread of the virus, and we strongly encourage all schools and colleges to participate. In middle deemed secondary schools, testing would be for years 7 and 8 pupils.
Already, the implementation of safety measures and the system of controls in place in education settings creates an inherently safer environment for children, young people and staff, in which PHE and DHSC have confirmed the risk of transmission of infection is substantially reduced. Given the exceptional public health circumstances, when settings return in week commencing 4 January, testing will help to identify asymptomatic cases more quickly. This will avoid individuals carrying the infection unknowingly and potentially spreading it in the local community.
For the week commencing 4 January, secondary schools (including middle/all-through schools, special schools and alternative provision) and colleges will only offer on-site provision for vulnerable children and young people, children of critical workers, those studying for or taking exams this academic year. They will provide remote education to all other pupils, before a full return to school and college from 11 January. The groups attending school and college from 4 January will be prioritised for testing, alongside the school workforce. Schools that wish to can use an extra inset day on 4 January to prepare to deliver the testing. Early years settings and primary schools will be open as normal in week commencing 4 January
Testing will not be mandated and all students will be expected to attend school or college from 11 January regardless of whether a test has been undertaken (unless they are self-isolating because they have tested positive for coronavirus, have symptoms or have been advised to isolate by NHS Test and Trace).
To deliver testing at this speed and scale, armed forces personnel will support directly through planning with schools and colleges, in every local area. The remaining testing workforce will be made up of volunteers and agency staff and reasonable costs will be reimbursed. Schools and colleges that opt in will need to provide a few members of staff to support the testing programme.
Testing, along with existing infection prevention and control measures such as ventilation, increased hygiene, and wearing of face coverings in communal areas of secondary schools where appropriate, can limit the number of children and young people missing out on face-to-face education because they have to isolate.
We realise that this year has been incredibly difficult for staff, students, pupils and parents. I want to thank all involved in education and childcare for their tireless dedication. The hard work of our education workforce has already substantially reduced the risk of transmission of covid-19 within education settings, and we will now use this new testing approach to be sure to reduce the risk of local community transmission in this age group and ensure more young people are able to remain in education, benefiting from the national priority of keeping education open for all.
This policy will be kept under review in light of scientific evidence, and the Government will provide further advice if necessary.
Today I am also glad to confirm school and early years revenue funding allocations for 2021-22. This announcement covers the dedicated schools grant (DSG), the pupil premium and the free school meal supplementary grant. The DSG distributes the second year of the multi-billion school funding settlement that I announced to Parliament on 3 September 2019. Compared to 2019-20, core school funding is increasing by £2.6 billion for 2020-21, £4.8 billion for 2021-22, and £7.1 billion for 2022-23. In addition, we continue to fund increases in teacher pay and pension costs from 2018 and 2019, worth £2 billion in 2021-22.
The distribution of the DSG to local authorities is set out in four funding blocks for each authority: a schools block, a high-needs block, an early years block, and a central school services block. In July 2020, the Minister of State for School Standards informed Parliament of the publication of primary and secondary units of funding for the schools’ block, and the provisional allocations for the high-needs block and central school services block. In the DSG, these have now been updated with the latest pupil numbers to show how much each local authority will receive in 2021- 22.
In the schools’ block, funding in 2021-22 is increasing by over 3% per pupil, or 3.5% overall, compared to this year. In the high-needs block, funding to support children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is increasing by 10%.
I am also confirming the final hourly funding rates for the free early education entitlements in 2021-22. As a result of the £44 million investment in 2021-22 announced by the Chancellor in the spending review, we will increase the hourly funding rates for all local authorities for the two-year-old entitlement by 8p an hour. Funding for the three and four-year-old entitlement will increase by 6p an hour in the vast majority of areas. We are increasing the minimum funding floor for the three and four-year-old offer to £4.44 per hour.
Twelve local authorities have had their 2020-21 hourly funding rates for three and four year-olds protected by the “loss cap” in the early years national funding formula, to ensure that they do not face large drops to their funding rate. Funding for 10 of these local authorities will be maintained in 2021-22 and two will see an increase to their hourly rate as they come off the loss cap in 2021-22.
I can also confirm that supplementary funding for maintained nursery schools will continue for the whole of the 2021 -22 financial year, and the Government’s commitment to the long-term funding of maintained nursery schools is unchanged.
Today, I am also announcing that the pupil premium will continue in 2021-22 with the same per pupil funding rates as in 2020-21. We will use the October 2020 census to calculate individual school-level allocations. This will ensure that this targeted investment can continue to support the most disadvantaged children in our schools.
Finally, I am also confirming that the free school meal supplementary grant, which was due to end in 2019-20, will be extended for one additional year, to 2020-21.
Health and Social Care
Covid-19: Tiers System
Local action is vital to our strategy of suppressing the virus, while protecting the economy, education and the NHS, until a vaccine can make us safe. Help is on its way thanks to the rollout of a safe and effective vaccine, but we are not there yet.
While we have moved to a localised approach through the tiers system, we have been clear that these must be tough, recognising that case rates are rising in many areas of the country, and our knowledge that the winter months are the most challenging for our NHS.
We have assessed each area individually, and as Monday’s decisions on Essex and today’s decisions on Waverley and parts of Hampshire show, we are prepared to move at a more localised level where the data and human geographies permit.
As set out in the covid-19 winter plan, there are five indicators which guide our decisions for any given area, alongside consideration of “human geographies” like travel patterns.
Case detection rates in all age groups
Case detection rates in the over 60s
The rate at which cases are rising or falling
Positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)
Pressure on the NHS.
While each metric is important in its own right, the interplay between each indicator for a given area is equally important, so a hard and fast numerical threshold on each metric is not appropriate.
These are not easy decisions, but they have been made according to the best clinical advice, and the best possible data from the JBC.
The regulations will require the Government to review the allocations at least every 14 days. We will also take urgent action when the data suggests it is required, as we did on Monday.
The first formal review took place yesterday, and the allocations and a detailed rationale can be found as an attachment online.
I will also deposit the data packs used to inform these decisions in the Libraries of both Houses.
These changes will be implemented from 00:01 on 19 December. This list will also be published on gov.uk and a postcode checker will be available for the public to check what rules apply in their local area.
1. 16 December Tier Review (16 December Tier Review.docx)
Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-12-17/HCWS677/
Contingencies Fund Advance
The Department of Health and Social Care has sought a repayable cash advance from the contingencies fund of £34,000,000,000.
The Department of Health and Social Care’s net cash requirement cash limit has been used in full between April 2020 and December 2020 to support the running costs of the Department, NHS and arm’s length bodies, including expenditure on the covid-19 pandemic.
The Department of Health and Social care will seek a significant increase to its voted funding at supplementary supply estimate to cover the increased costs of the covid-19 pandemic and this will be used to repay the advance after the Supply and Appropriation Act has received Royal Assent in March 2020.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £33,350,000,000 and additional capital of £650,000,000 will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department of Health and Social Care. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £34,000,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the contingencies fund.
Reciprocal Healthcare Arrangements
Today I am notifying the House about arrangements the Government have made to support people who require ongoing, routine healthcare treatment in order to be able to travel to the European economic area or Switzerland after the end of the transition period, should there be no further negotiated outcome with the EU. These arrangements would commence from 1 January 2021.
Current reciprocal healthcare arrangements enable large numbers of UK-insured individuals to access healthcare when they live, study, work or travel in the European economic area or Switzerland, and vice versa when European economic area or Switzerland-insured individuals come to the UK. Although some people are covered under the withdrawal agreement, for everyone else these arrangements will come to an end on 31 December 2020.
Negotiations on future arrangements with the EU are ongoing and include necessary healthcare provisions. If agreed, such provisions would provide effectively the same healthcare cover as the European health insurance card (EHIC). The Government continue to work hard to secure these arrangements.
In the event we have not reached an EU-wide agreement on reciprocal healthcare, the Government will implement a time-limited healthcare scheme that supports UK residents with ongoing, routine treatment needs, who are visiting the European economic area or Switzerland from 1 January 2021. This type of treatment was previously covered under the EHIC scheme.
This Government will introduce the scheme with the intention that it is used by individuals who are certain to require treatment while abroad, such as regular dialysis, oxygen therapy or certain types of chemotherapy. The Government recognise that these ongoing, routine treatment costs can be expensive, and makes travelling abroad extremely challenging for many people.
The scheme will be temporary and will cover travel that takes place between 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021. People applying for the scheme must be ordinarily resident in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland and entitled to the treatment on the NHS. Individuals will need to work with their NHS clinician to agree their treatment requirements and confirm they meet the criteria in the scheme.
The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) will deliver this scheme for the whole of the UK. NHSBSA is an arm’s length body of the Department of Health and Social Care. It provides a range of critical central services to NHS organisations, NHS contractors, patients and the public.
The exception to the new scheme is travel to Ireland as the UK and Irish governments are committed that UK and Irish residents should continue have access to necessary healthcare when visiting the other country.
The Government will assess its options for reciprocal healthcare if we do not achieve an EU-wide arrangement. This includes the possibility of negotiating bilateral arrangements on social security coordination, including reciprocal healthcare, with individual EU member states.
The Department of Health and Social Care will publish further guidance on the scheme, its criteria and application process shortly.
Provisional Police Grant Report: England and Wales 2021-22
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has today published the provisional police grant report (England and Wales) 2021-22. The report sets out the Home Secretary’s determination for 2021-22 of the aggregate amount of grants that she proposes to pay under section 46(2) of the Police Act 1996. A copy of the report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Today the Government are setting out the provisional police funding settlement for 2021-22. Overall funding for the policing system will total up to £15.8 billion, a £636 million increase on the 2020-21 funding settlement. Within this, available funding to police and crime commissioners (PCCs) will increase next year by up to an additional £703 million, assuming full take-up of precept flexibility. This would represent an increase to PCC funding in cash terms of 5.4% on top of the 2020-21 police funding settlement.
The additional funding for PCCs includes an increase of £415 million to Government grants for the recruitment of a further 6,000 additional officers by the end of March 2022, the second year of the police uplift programme (PUP). This increased investment for year 2 will allow PCCs and their forces to continue building on the excellent progress made so far in year 1 of the PUP, where, so far, 5,824 of the year 1 target of 6,000 officers have been recruited.
We are expanding the scope of the police uplift programme for year 2 to bolster capability in serious and organised crime units across forces and counter-terrorism policing. Strengthening policing’s presence in the organised crime units will help us meet our manifesto promise to counter the growth of serious and organised crime, including fraud, county lines, child abuse and cyber-crime. The uplift in counter-terrorism policing will ensure they have the resources needed to maintain capacity against a changing and increasingly complex threat picture. Recruitment allocations for year 2 of the programme are set out in the tables available as an attachment online.
To ensure that progress in recruitment is maintained, and to track the use of this investment efficiently, the Government will continue to ring-fence £100 million of the additional funding. PCCs will be allocated their share of ring-fenced funding in line with their funding formula allocation, and will be able to access the funding as they progress against their recruitment targets. Further information will be set out as part of the grant agreements for 2021-22. Each PCC will be awarded a local (territorial policing) officer recruitment target as in year 1, and for year 2 will also be provided a regional and organised crime unit officer target, also in line with their funding formula allocation. The ROCU uplift will be funded through PCCs using the same mechanism. As ROCU functions require more experienced officers, forces will release existing officers to ROCUs and replace them with the additional officers recruited via the PUP to ensure overall workforce growth.
Funding for the recruitment of officers in counter-terrorism policing will be paid to forces through dedicated counter-terrorism policing grants.
As set out as part of the spending review 2020, PCCs will also be able to raise further funding through precept flexibility, subject to confirmation at the final local government finance settlement. PCCs will be empowered to increase their band D precept by up to £15 in 2021-22, without the need to call a local referendum. If all PCCs decide to maximise their flexibility, this would result in up to an additional £288 million of funding for local policing next year. It is for locally accountable PCCs to take decisions on local precept.
In addition to this, PCCs will receive a portion of the £670 million of additional grant funding announced for local council tax support as part of the spending review 2020. This funding will help local authorities to continue reducing council tax bills for those least able to pay, including households financially hard hit by the pandemic. Further details on the proposed allocation methodology have been announced as part of the policy paper on covid-19 support in 2021-22.
This settlement will provide PCCs with £12.3 million funding for capital expenditure. £52.3 million capital funding will be spent on national priorities and infrastructure including police technology programmes, the College of Policing and serious organised crime programmes.
It is important that we ensure counter-terrorism policing has the resources needed to deal with the threat we face. That is why funding for CT policing will total up to £914 million in 2021-22. This continued investment in CT policing will support record high numbers of ongoing counter-terrorism policing investigations and enable the UK to respond more quickly and effectively to keep the country safe from a range of threats, wherever they take place.
In addition, CT policing will receive £32 million for a new CT operations centre. The new CT operations centre will co-locate partners from across law enforcement, the UK intelligence community and the criminal justice system to improve the way in which we respond to a range of threats, including terrorism, and some elements of hostile state activity and organised crime.
PCCs will be notified separately of force-level funding allocations for CT policing, which will not be made public for security reasons.
The Home Office will continue to invest in law enforcement through funding for national policing priorities.
This settlement of £1.1 billion in 2021-22 for national policing programmes and priorities builds on the Government’s commitment to reduce serious violence and crime and clamp down on county lines. This will allow us to “surge” the police’s response to violent crime where it is most prevalent, expand police capacity to tackle online drivers of violence and build stronger evidence on how to prevent homicides. We are continuing to invest in violence against women and girls, and the scourge of domestic abuse.
Tackling serious and organised crime and delivering our manifesto commitment to strengthen the National Crime Agency (NCA) is also a critical part of the Government’s wider crime reduction agenda. As criminal networks become increasingly adaptable and resilient, we need to ensure that the funding is available to support the police in disrupting organised criminal activity. To this end, this settlement will protect funding for the NCA to target drug trafficking, child sexual exploitation and abuse, economic crime and organised immigration crime. ROCUs, which are an essential part of this approach, will also see their officer numbers boosted as part of the PUP. This will unlock the outcomes we all want to see for the country—more of the highest harm criminal enterprises disrupted and dismantled, more disruptions and convictions of high harm organised criminals, reducing the cost of serious crime to our economy, and increasing confidence in the UK’s financial system.
Transformation and reform
The Government will continue to support the completion of national transformation policing programmes delivering enhanced national capabilities across policing. This will include: continuing delivery of the Single Online Home digital platform to forces and providing better engagement between the police and the public; completing the roll out of the National Enablers programme to ensure all forces have the enabling tools that support collaboration and agile ways of working in response to covid-19 and access to cyber-security capabilities to increase resilience; helping forces to deliver a fully accredited, more integrated and sustainable forensic service; maintaining investment in forensics, including digital forensics, to build capability across policing and for new officers; and further development of the national data analytics solution to support preventative policing interventions and the formation of the new National Crime and Justice Lab through the use of data analytics to identify perpetrators and protect the vulnerable to effectively reduce crime. We are also increasing funding for the National Police Chiefs Council to boost co-ordination of, and response to, national issues and providing strong central support so chief constables can focus on fighting crime.
I have established and chair the Strategic Change and Investment Board (SCIB), which forms part of the sub-governance of the National Policing Board. The SCIB will oversee all national law enforcement programmes; it will co-ordinate, prioritise and drive investment in and delivery of national capabilities across the policing system to ensure they support Government priorities around crime prevention and reduction. The SCIB will also oversee the investment in major technology programmes and, through the newly established Digital and Technology sub-board, it will support delivery of complex technology programmes and prioritise policing’s future investment requirements.
Outcomes and efficiency
The Government expect the police to continue to build on the progress made on improving efficiency and productivity in return for the significant increase in investment. As such, the Government expect to see:
6,000 further officers—on top of the first tranche of 6,000 to be recruited in 2020-21—recruited by the end of March 2022. The Government will ring-fence £100 million of the funding for the uplift, which will be paid to forces in line with their progress in recruitment.
£120 million of efficiency savings from across the law enforcement sector—which are reflected in the funding set out as part of the settlement—delivered in 2021-22. We expect these to be delivered through a combination of improved procurement practices (including the delivery of £20 million of savings through BlueLight Commercial) as well as savings in areas such as estates, agile working and shared/enabling services. We expect the policing sector to work with the Home Office in setting up and supporting a new Efficiency in Policing Board. The board will improve the evidence base on efficiencies delivered to date, identify opportunities for gains over this and future SR periods, share best practice in relation to the delivery of efficiencies, and monitor and support delivery of gains.
Policing needs to ensure that high quality data is collected and utilised effectively to support local delivery, identify efficiencies and support the National Policing Board’s drive to deliver the best possible policing outcomes for the public. The Home Office and National Police Chiefs Council will bring together in one document their strategies, plans and initiatives for improving data collection and use across the sector and with key delivery partners such as criminal justice agencies.
This settlement sets out the Government’s continued commitment to supporting and investing in our police. I am extremely pleased with the progress forces have made on recruitment, and we are firmly on track to meet the first-year target. This year has once again highlighted the police’s exceptional bravery and commitment to public service. Sector leaders, frontline officers and staff have responded with speed and flexibility to the unprecedented challenges brought about by the covid-19 pandemic. Since March 2020, forces have redesigned their working practices, adapted to implement new and evolving covid-19 regulations and collaborated to ensure all personnel have had the necessary equipment and support to do their jobs safely. Officers and staff have worked tirelessly with the public to build understanding of the rules intended to control this deadly virus, all the while continuing to tackle crime and disorder in our communities. This is policing at its best, and I would like to express my immense gratitude for these continued exemplary efforts.
I have set out in a separate document, available online, the tables illustrating how we propose to allocate the police funding settlement between the different funding streams and between police and crime commissioners for 2021-22. These documents are intended to be read together.
Attachments can be viewed online at: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2020-12-17/HCWS663.
Housing, Communities and Local Government
Building Safety Update
I have today announced the next set of measures as part of our ongoing support to the thousands of leaseholders who have found themselves living in unsafe buildings through no fault of their own.
These measures support our unwavering commitment to improve the safety of buildings across the country, which will be enshrined in law next year through the Building Safety Bill.
£30 million waking watch relief fund
Research undertaken and published by my Department has illustrated clearly the excessive costs some leaseholders are facing to fund interim safety measures such as waking watches. Such excessive costs are a national scandal, and it is right that we step in to support leaseholders in this position.
That is why today I have announced a new £30 million fund for leaseholders in England to pay for the installation of fire alarm systems in high-rise buildings with cladding, removing or reducing the need for costly interim safety measures such as waking watches. Our research suggests that this will save individual leaseholders an average of £137 per month and collectively over £3 million per month.
This step is supported by the National Fire Chiefs Council, who have been clear in their updated October guidance that building owners should move to install common fire alarms as quickly as possible to reduce or remove dependence on waking watch.
The fund will open in January, but importantly, will also provide immediate, emergency support to Wicker Riverside apartments in Sheffield to ensure that the 35 evacuated families should be able to return to their homes before Christmas. They were told to evacuate after the building failed fire safety tests.
This intervention will help worried leaseholders by providing financial support and delivering a better, long-term fire safety system in their buildings.
Building safety fund
In May we launched the £1 billion building safety fund to accelerate the removal of unsafe non-ACM cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings, taking the Government’s total funding for cladding remediation to £1.6 billion.
Demand for this fund has been significant, receiving over 2,700 registrations since opening. My Department has been working at pace and with building owners to process these registrations and ensure that as many buildings as possible can access the fund—a task that has been made challenging by the failure of many buildings to provide basic eligibility information.
It has become clear that many building owners will be unable to complete applications by our intended deadline of 31 December 2020, adding to the concerns of many leaseholders. To address this, I have announced that building owners will now have until 30 June 2021 to complete their applications.
This means that hundreds more buildings will be remediated and thousands of residents will be protected from costs. We are also making good progress on applications already received and expect many more to be agreed before Christmas.
ACM cladding remediation
Today we have also published the latest data setting out our progress in removing the most dangerous “Grenfell-type” ACM cladding.
We have continued to prioritise this vital safety work throughout the pandemic, seeing a 50% increase in buildings where workers have started on site this year compared to December 2019 and an increase of 58% in fully remediated buildings. This work is particularly challenging due to the complex construction issues affecting many buildings which must be overcome to ensure they are remediated safely.
Final figures for the year will be published in January, and we expect this to show that around 95% of high-rise buildings with ACM cladding identified last year will have started remediation works by the end of 2020. This is significant progress that we will continue to drive forward to meet our commitment that these buildings should be fully remediated by 2022.
Ongoing work to support leaseholders
Today’s measures are another important step in our ongoing work to support leaseholders, and they build on progress we have already made. This includes securing agreement that owners of flats in buildings without cladding do not need an EWS1 form to sell or re-mortgage their property—benefiting nearly 450,000 homeowners. Real progress has been made in an incredibly challenging and complex area.
We have been clear that the building industry must contribute towards the costs of making homes safe and set right decades of unsafe practices. Work continues at pace to develop further financial solutions to protect leaseholders. I look forward to announcing further details in the new year.
Local Government Update
It is a matter of public record that Merseyside Police have for many months been conducting an investigation which has resulted in a number of arrests made on suspicion of fraud, bribery, corruption and misconduct in public office, both in December 2019 and in September 2020. Further arrests were made on 4 December 2020 in connection with offences of bribery and witness intimidation. This investigation involves a significant connection to Liverpool City Council.
This raises significant concerns as to whether the authority is currently complying with its best value duty under section 3 of the Local Government Act 1999.
Having carefully considered the evidence available to me, including information provided by the city council in response to requests from my Department, it is clear that the council has taken significant steps to improve governance and assurance processes within the council, with respect to the authority’s planning, highways, regeneration and property management functions. However, given the seriousness of the issues identified through the police investigation, and to support the council to continue to strengthen its governance, and deliver services for the people of the city, I would like to have direct, independent assurance that the council is compliant with its best value duty. I have therefore today decided to exercise the powers granted to me by Parliament under the Local Government Act 1999 to appoint Max Caller CBE to carry out an inspection of the authority’s compliance with its best value duty. The matters to be covered by the inspection will be the authority’s planning, highways, regeneration and property management functions and the strength of associated audit and governance arrangements.
I have asked Max Caller CBE to report findings to me by 31 March 2021, or such later date as he agrees with me.
I hope honourable Members will appreciate that we cannot be drawn into more detail while investigations are ongoing. Once the inspection is complete, I will carefully consider the inspection report. If it shows that the authority is in breach of its best value duty, I will then consider whether or not to exercise my powers of intervention under section 15 of the 1999 Act.
At this challenging time with respect to the covid-19 pandemic, it is critical that Liverpool City Council continues to deliver public services and carry out its other statutory duties as effectively as possible, and I thank those working in the council for all they have done to date. My Department is committed to providing the local authority with whatever support it may need to address these issues. Honourable Members and the people of Liverpool can be assured that the Government will do all we can to support the city of Liverpool.
Independent Review of Terrorist Supervision: Government Response
In November last year, Usman Khan, a convicted terrorist being supervised in the community on licence and managed under the statutory multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA), attacked and killed Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones at Fishmongers’ Hall, London Bridge. This was a terrible atrocity that understandably aroused significant public concern, and as part of our response to it, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I commissioned a review into the effectiveness of MAPPA in the management of terrorist and other extremist offenders. We appointed Jonathan Hall QC, the Government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, to undertake the review.
In his report, Jonathan Hall found that MAPPA is a well-established process and did not conclude that whole- sale change is necessary. However, he made important recommendations to enhance the statutory agencies’ capabilities in managing terrorist offenders under MAPPA. We published his report on 2 September and indicated that we would in due course provide him with a formal response to his recommendations. I can tell the House that the Home Secretary and I have today written to Jonathan Hall, setting out how we are implementing the key changes which he recommended.
I have placed a copy of our letter in the Library of the House.
The Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill is introducing a number of changes which Jonathan Hall subsequently recommended, including giving judges the power to define crimes as terror-related, even if not terror offences as set out in law, and requiring high-risk terrorist offenders to undergo polygraph tests while on licence. We will legislate next year to introduce further powers for the police and probation service in line with Jonathan Hall’s recommendations.
The creation of a new national security division in the National Probation Service will mean there are twice as many probation staff dedicated to the supervision of terrorism-risk offenders and strengthen its work with police, prisons and the security services.
Keeping our communities safe is the Government’s first priority and we have made considerable investment in counter-terrorism. Our security services, police, prison and probation officers epitomise public duty and we hope that these new powers and ways of working will help them to further improve the tremendous, challenging work they do.
Recent atrocities in France and Austria have shown us that continued vigilance is needed to protect the United Kingdom from the scourge of terrorism and extremism. We believe that implementing agreed recommendations from Jonathan’s report will, alongside improvements already in progress by counter-terrorism police and the National Probation Service, strengthen the supervision of these dangerous offenders and give the statutory agencies the tools which they need to defeat those who threaten us and our way of life.
Judicial Conduct Investigations Office: Annual Report 2019–20
With the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice, I will today publish the 14th annual report of the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO).
The JCIO supports the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor in our joint statutory responsibility for judicial discipline.
The judiciary comprises approximately 22,000 individuals serving across a range of jurisdictions. Over the past year, the JCIO received 1,292 complaints against judicial office holders, and 42 investigations resulted in disciplinary action.
I have placed copies of the report in the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. Copies are also available online at: https:// judicialconduct.judiciary.gov.uk/reports-publications/
Contingencies Fund Advance
I hereby give notice of the Department for Transport having drawn advances from the Contingencies Fund totalling £5,808,000,000 to enable expenditure on covid-19 support packages to be spent ahead of the passage of the Supply and Appropriation Act. The schemes include: emergency measures agreements and emergency recovery measures agreements with the train operating companies; the covid-19 bus services support grant; safeguarding critical ferry freight routes; and supporting regional transport networks such as Transport for London and light rail networks.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £4,574,000,000 and additional capital of £1,234,000,000 will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department for Transport. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £5,808,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.
The cash advance will be repaid upon receiving Royal Assent of the Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill.
Machinery of Government Change: Social Mobility Commission
The sponsorship and secretariat of the Social Mobility Commission will move to the Cabinet Office to be part of the new Equality Hub. This machinery of government change will put the commission’s work at the heart of Government and ensure that our commitment to levelling up and equality of opportunity is the responsibility of all Departments. This change is also in line with the recommendation from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. The change will take effect on 1 April 2021.