Thursday 25 February 2021
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
The UK condemns the coup in Myanmar in the strongest possible terms and we stand with the people of Myanmar who were clear at the elections in November that they want a democratic future.
Since 1 February the UK has led a strong, co-ordinated international response to support the Myanmar people and put pressure on the military.
We have led statements by G7 Foreign Ministers on 3 February and 23 February: convened an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council and co-ordinated a statement from all members condemning the coup on 4 February and co-led a special Session of the Human Rights Council on 12 February.
Last week, alongside our Canadian counterparts, we also announced sanctions on three individuals responsible for serious human rights violations committed by the military and police.
Today I am announcing further measures to increase the pressure on the Myanmar military following the coup.
First, the UK will impose sanctions on six military members of Myanmar’s State Administration Council for their role in overseeing human rights violations. This includes the Commander-in-Chief, General Min Aung Hlaing, Secretary of the SAC, Lieutenant General Aung Lin Dwe, Joint Secretary of the SAC, Lieutenant General Ye Win Oo, General Tin Aung San, General Maung Maung Kyaw, and Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun. The measures prevent these individuals from travelling to the United Kingdom and freeze any assets held in this country.
Secondly, the UK will temporarily suspend all trade promotion in Myanmar and launch a strategic review of the UK’s trade and investment approach. We are clear that UK businesses should not be supporting the military or their businesses. The joint FCDO-DIT review will look at identifying sectors with limited exposure to the military, opportunities for responsible development and mitigating the risk to Myanmar’s poorest.
Thirdly, I can confirm that following a review of all UK aid in Myanmar, the UK has suspended all support involving the Myanmar Government directly or indirectly unless there are exceptional humanitarian reasons. Support for Government-led reforms has been stopped and planned programmes will close. Our remaining programmes will focus on reaching the poorest and most vulnerable in Myanmar.
The international community has sent a clear message to Myanmar. The military must hand back power to the democratically elected Government and release all those detained arbitrarily.
Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee Meeting: 24 February 2021
The European Union and the United Kingdom held the first meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee following the end of the transition period on 24 February.
The parties welcomed the progress made on citizens’ rights in recent weeks in implementing the rights of UK nationals in the EU and EU citizens in the UK under the withdrawal agreement, and reiterated the importance of communication and support to the most vulnerable.
Further to the meeting of the Joint Committee co-chairs on 11 February 2021, the EU and the UK also took stock of the implementation of the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland and of work to find pragmatic solutions. The parties acknowledged the importance of joint action to make the protocol work for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland. In that spirit, the EU and UK reiterated their full commitment to the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement in all its dimensions, and to the proper implementation of the protocol. Building on the recent outreach by the Joint Committee co-chairs, there would be further joint engagement with business groups and other stakeholders in Northern Ireland. The UK and the EU underlined their shared commitment to giving effect to those solutions agreed through the Joint Committee on 17 December 2020, without delay. The UK noted that it would provide a new operational plan with respect to supermarkets and their suppliers, alongside additional investment in digital solutions for traders in accordance with the protocol.
Noting the need for ongoing engagement and the shared desire to act at pace, the UK and EU agreed that a further Joint Committee would be held to provide further steers and where appropriate approvals, and would liaise on timings.
Reconsidering a Prosecution Decision: Revised CPS Guidance
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has today published revised guidance to prosecutors on when they may institute or reinstitute criminal proceedings after a decision not to prosecute or to terminate proceedings has been communicated to a suspect or defendant.
The guidance sets out the framework for when this is possible as a matter of law and the governing principles that apply to the CPS decision. Victims of crime and the public have a legitimate expectation that those who commit offences will be brought to justice. Where it is legally possible to do so, and the evidential and public interest test provided for in the code for Crown Prosecutors is met, there are two important protections for the suspect, to ensure that there is no injustice done: first, the right of a defendant to revive proceedings in the magistrates’ court, under section 23(7) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985; secondly, the court’s power to stay any proceedings which amount to an abuse of the court’s process.
The guidance also provides a non-exhaustive list of eight examples to illustrate the types of situations where cases are discontinued and later reinstated. They include where a further review shows that the original decision was wrong, when further evidence is anticipated in the near future, where significant evidence is later discovered, when a case is reviewed further in light of the findings of an inquest and where there are outstanding lines of inquiry to be completed or relevant material to be obtained. The guidance clarifies the procedure to be adopted and establishes the level of seniority at which any decision must be made. The fundamental evidential and public interest considerations have not changed.
A copy of the revised guidance has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Finance Bill 2021
The Finance Bill will be published on 11 March. Explanatory notes on the Bill will be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office and placed in the Libraries of both Houses on that day. Copies of the explanatory notes will also be available on gov.uk.
As usual, a full copy of the Budget resolutions will be made available after the Chancellor’s Budget statement on 3 March. This includes resolutions made under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act 1968 for those measures that are expected to come into effect ahead of Finance Bill Royal Assent.
In line with the approach to tax policy making set out in the Government’s documents, “Tax Policy Making: a new approach”, published in 2010, and “The new Budget timetable and the tax policy making process”, published in 2017, the Government published draft legislation for Finance Bill 2021 on 21 July 2020 and 12 November 2020, which is available on gov.uk. The Government remain committed to legislating those measures published in July and November 2020, subject to confirmation at Budget in the usual way.
War Pensions Scheme Uprating 2021
The new rates of war pensions and allowances proposed from 12 April 2021 are set out in the tables below. The annual uprating of war pensions and allowances for 2021 will take place from the week beginning 12 April. Rates for 2021 are increasing by 0.5% in line with the September 2020 consumer price index.
Rates Rates 2020 2021 (Weekly rates unless otherwise shown) £ £ War Pensions Disablement Pension (100% rates) Officer (per annum) 10,071.00 10,123.00 Other ranks (weekly amount) 193.00 194.00 (Weekly rates unless otherwise shown)Age allowances payable from age 65 40%-50% 12.90 12.95 over 50% but not over 70% 19.90 20.00 Over 70% but not over 90% 28.25 28.40 Over 90% 39.80 40.00 Disablement gratuity (one off payment) Specified minor injury (min) 1,230.00 1,236.00 Specified minor injury (max) 9,181.00 9,227.00 1 – 5% gratuity 3,070.00 3,085.00 6 – 14% gratuity 6,f825.00 6,859.00 15 – 19% gratuity 11,937.00 11,997.00 Supplementary Allowances Unemployability allowance Personal 119.30 119.90 Adult dependency increase 66.30 66.65 Increase for first child 15.40 15.50 Increase for subsequent children 18.10 18.20 Invalidity allowance Higher rate 23.60 23.70 Middle rate 15.40 15.50 Lower rate 7.70 7.75 Constant attendance allowance Exceptional rate 145.60 146.40 Intermediate rate 109.20 109.80 Full day rate 72.80 73.20 Part-day rate 36.40 36.60 Comforts allowance Higher rate 31.30 31.50 Lower rate 15.65 15.75 Mobility supplement 69.50 69.85 Allowance for lowered standard of occupation (maximum) 72.80 73.16 Therapeutic earnings limit (annual rate) 7,280.00 7,436.00 Exceptional severe disablement allowance 72.80 73.20 Severe disablement occupational allowance 36.40 36.60 Clothing allowance (per annum) 249.00 250.00 Education allowance (per annum) (maximum) 120.00 120.00 Widow(er)s Benefits Widow(er)s’—other ranks (basic with children) (weekly amount) 146.40 147.15 Widower(er)s’—Officer higher rate both wars (basic with children) (per annum) 7,786.00 7,825.00 Childless widow(er)s’ U-40 (other ranks) (weekly amount) 35.07 35.25 Widow(er) – Officer lower rate both wars (per annum) 2,704.00 2,718.00 Supplementary pension 97.95 98.44 Age allowance (a) Age 65 to 69 16.70 16.80 (b) age 70 to 79 32.10 32.25 (c) age 80 and over 47.60 47.85 Children’s allowance Increase for the first child 23.00 23.10 Increase for subsequent children 25.55 25.70 Orphan’s pension Increase for first child 26.30 26.45 Increase for subsequent children 28.75 28.90 Unmarried dependent living as spouse (maximum) 144.05 144.80 Rent allowance (maximum) 55.10 55.40 Adult orphan’s pension (maximum) 112.55 113.10
(Weekly rates unless otherwise shown)
Disablement Pension (100% rates)
Officer (per annum)
Other ranks (weekly amount)
(Weekly rates unless otherwise shown)Age allowances payable from age 65
over 50% but not over 70%
Over 70% but not over 90%
Disablement gratuity (one off payment)
Specified minor injury (min)
Specified minor injury (max)
1 – 5% gratuity
6 – 14% gratuity
15 – 19% gratuity
Adult dependency increase
Increase for first child
Increase for subsequent children
Constant attendance allowance
Full day rate
Allowance for lowered standard of occupation (maximum)
Therapeutic earnings limit (annual rate)
Exceptional severe disablement allowance
Severe disablement occupational allowance
Clothing allowance (per annum)
Education allowance (per annum) (maximum)
Widow(er)s’—other ranks (basic with children) (weekly amount)
Widower(er)s’—Officer higher rate both wars (basic with children) (per annum)
Childless widow(er)s’ U-40 (other ranks) (weekly amount)
Widow(er) – Officer lower rate both wars (per annum)
(a) Age 65 to 69
(b) age 70 to 79
(c) age 80 and over
Increase for the first child
Increase for subsequent children
Increase for first child
Increase for subsequent children
Unmarried dependent living as spouse (maximum)
Rent allowance (maximum)
Adult orphan’s pension (maximum)
Schools Capital Funding
Today, I am announcing £489 million of capital funding to support local authorities to create new school places needed for September 2023. This investment will support the Government priority to ensure that every child has the opportunity of a place at a good school, whatever their background.
The funding announced today is on top of our commitment to invest £23 billion in the school estate between 2016 and 2021, and the £750 million to create places needed by September 2022 that we announced last year. These funding allocations will allow local authorities to plan ahead with confidence, and to invest strategically to ensure they deliver good school places for every child who needs one.
Full details of this announcement, including allocations broken down by local authority, will be published on the Department for Education section on the gov.uk website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ basic-need-allocations.
Health and Social Care
International Recruitment of Health and Social Care Personnel: Code of Practice
I am announcing today the publication of the revised code of practice for the international recruitment of health and social care personnel.
The new code represents an important step forward in the UK’s approach to ethical international recruitment. It takes account of the latest World Health Organisation advice on ethical international recruitment and promotes effective, fair and ethical international recruitment practices, which should be embedded across every part of the health and social care systems. This is an important step as the Government’s manifesto commitment for 50,000 more nurses by 2024 will see a significant increase in the number of nurses who will come from overseas alongside the growth in UK-trained nurses.
The code represents part of the UK’s contribution to international health worker mobility that offers benefits to migrants, their country of origin and to the UK. With a projected 18 million more health workers needed to achieve universal health coverage in low and lower-middle income countries, the code sets out the UK’s approach to supporting international health and social care systems, alongside safeguards on active recruitment of staff from countries with the most pressing health and social care workforce needs.
The code clearly sets out responsibilities for recruiters, employers and the Government on how to maintain ethical recruitment on an ongoing basis.
Safety of UK Plasma for Fractionation to Make Immunoglobulins: Revised Advice
I would like to inform the House that the Government have decided to allow the use of UK sourced plasma for the manufacture of immunoglobulins.
In the wake of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) epidemic in the 1990s, a number of extra precautionary safety measures were introduced to protect patients from exposure to blood products that may increase their risk of developing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). This included the advice in 1998 of the then Committee on Safety of Medicines, that no UK plasma should be supplied for the manufacture of fractionated plasma-derived medicinal products. This has meant that over 250,000 litres of plasma are incinerated or not used for patient care each year.
Over the last 15 years, accrued scientific evidence has indicated that the risk of vCJD through the transfusion of UK plasma is much lower than initially thought; there have been no known transfusion transmissions of vCJD from any blood components since 1999. The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO) evaluated the risk of transmission of vCJD and recommended that the current risk reduction measures be withdrawn.
In 2020, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) undertook a comprehensive review of the safety of UK plasma to make immunoglobulins. The Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) considered the evidence and recommended that UK-sourced plasma can be used for the manufacture of immunoglobulins subject to several risk-mitigation measures.
The CHM’s recommendation is available online at:
Upon receiving this expert advice, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has approved these recommendations, as have the Ministers in the devolved nations. This means that for the first time in over 20 years, UK plasma can again be fractionated to increase the availability of immunoglobulin medicines for the benefit of NHS patients in the UK.
This also means that convalescent plasma could potentially be fractionated and used, as part of a clinical trial, to produce hyperimmune globulin as a potential treatment for covid-19 patients.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has directed NHS England and NHS Improvement, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) and the MHRA to begin preparations to appoint a fractionator(s) through a competitive process. The aim is to secure a domestic supply of immunoglobulins, starting with circa 250,000 litres of plasma that NHSBT is already collecting and not using for transfusion. We expect the first UK-sourced immunoglobulin product to be available for NHS patients in 2022.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has also directed the MHRA to introduce a condition in new and existing authorisations granted to blood establishments, that plasma collected in the UK (including convalescent plasma) should be used for the benefit of UK patients, at least until domestic demand is met.
The Welsh and Scottish Governments and the Northern Ireland Executive have also directed their respective blood services to take forward work on this.
I am today publishing the Government response to two consultation documents on judicial pensions which my Department launched, and which I presented to this House, on 16 July 2020:
(i) in “Judicial pensions: proposed response to McCloud” we outlined our proposals for addressing the unlawful age discrimination identified in the McCloud litigation in respect of the 2015 reforms of the judicial pension scheme; and
(ii) in “Proposals for a reformed judicial pension scheme” we set out our plans for reforming the judicial pension scheme with the aim of addressing the serious problems of judicial recruitment and retention that had been identified by the Senior Salaries Review Body.
Both consultations closed to responses on 16 October 2020, and we have taken the time to give very careful thought to the responses we received. We are currently finalising our response to a further consultation on the judicial mandatory retirement age, which we will be publishing in due course.
Addressing the discrimination identified in the McCloud litigation
In our consultation on the McCloud litigation, we sought views on both the scope and shape of our proposals for addressing the discrimination identified in the case, in which it was held that the 2015 judicial pension reforms unlawfully discriminated against younger judges.
In the light of the responses we received, the Government response to the consultation confirms that, subject to parliamentary time and approval of the necessary legislation, the Ministry of Justice will run an options exercise in 2022 for non-claimant judges in scope of McCloud. This will enable eligible judges to choose, retrospectively, whether to have accrued benefits in the 2015 pension scheme or the legacy scheme from 1 April 2015. Membership of the chosen scheme will end when the reformed judicial pension scheme comes into effect, following which all judges will join the new pension scheme.
The response document is available online at:
Reforming the judicial pension scheme
The majority of responses we received to “Proposals for a reformed judicial pension scheme” were positive and acknowledged that our proposed reforms would make a significant contribution to resolving recruitment and retention issues.
In response to some concerns that were raised about our proposal to introduce a uniform member contribution rate, we have decided to give judges the temporary option of reducing their contributions to the scheme in return for a commensurate reduction in the accrual rate.
Save for the addition of this new feature, we will implement the reformed scheme in line with the proposals set out in the consultation document we published last July, subject to the necessary parliamentary approval.
The response document is available online at:
Reform of the judicial pension scheme has been a personal priority of mine as Lord Chancellor, and I am pleased that we are in a position to progress a reform package that will resolve the serious recruitment and retention problems facing the judiciary. It is vital that we continue to attract and retain high-calibre judges, thereby securing the proper functioning of our justice system and supporting the UK’s wider prosperity.
The aim, subject to parliamentary time allowing the necessary legislation to be passed, is to implement the reformed scheme in April 2022.
The two consultation response documents have been placed in the Library of the House.
“Closed Material Procedure” Provisions in Justice and Security Act 2013: Statutory Review
I am today announcing the establishment of the statutory review of the “closed material procedure” (CMP) provisions in the Justice and Security Act 2013.
The use of CMP is set out in sections 6 to 11 of the Act, about the disclosure of sensitive material in civil proceedings. In particular, section 6 of the Act empowers senior courts, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court, including in Northern Ireland, and the Court of Session in Scotland, to make a declaration that the case is one in which a closed material application may be made in relation to specific pieces of material, the disclosure of which would be damaging to national security. An application for the declaration may be made by either the defendant or the claimant and a court can also make a CMP declaration of its own motion. Information on the use of CMP under the Act is already publicly available and can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/use-of-closed-material-procedure-reports
Section 13 of the Act contains a requirement to review the use of CMP under the Act, as soon as reasonably practicable, after five years from when the relevant section of the Act came into force. The review must therefore cover the period from 25 June 2013 to 24 June 2018.
These are the terms of the reference for the review, broadly mirroring the requirements set out in the Act and its explanatory notes:
“1. In accordance with s. 13(1) and (2) of the Justice and Security Act 2013, to review the operation of the following sections of the Act covering the period from 25 June 2013 to 24 June 2018:
Section 6 (declaration permitting closed material applications in proceedings)
Section 7 (review and revocation of declaration under section 6)
Section 8 (determination by court of applications in section 6 proceedings)
Section 9 (appointment of special advocate)
Section 10 (saving for normal disclosure rules)
Section 11 (general provision about section 6 proceedings)
2. In relation to the above, to review the operation of section 17(3)(e) (disclosure proceedings) of the Act, and of those procedure rules relevant to sections 6-11 of the Act.
3. To report to the Secretary of State for Justice.
In accordance with s. 13(5) and (6) of the Act, the Secretary of State must lay a copy of the reviewer’s report before Parliament. Before doing so, the Secretary of State may, after consulting the reviewer, exclude from the copy any part of the report that would, in the opinion of the Secretary of State, be damaging to the interests of national security if it were included in the copy laid before Parliament.”
I am pleased to confirm that Sir Duncan Ouseley, retired High Court Judge, has accepted to conduct the review. He has been selected on the basis of his extensive judicial experience, including on national security cases, which will be an asset to complete the review promptly and effectively.
Sir Duncan Ouseley was called to the Bar (G) in 1973, took Silk in 1992, (Nl) in 1997 and was elected a Bencher in 2000. He was appointed a Recorder in 1994, a Judge of the High Court (Queen’s Bench) in 2000 and Chairman of the Special Immigration Appeal Commission from 2003 to 2006. He was appointed President of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal from 2003 to 2005 and Lead Judge, Administrative Court from 2010 to 2015. The Honourable Sir Duncan Brian Walter Ouseley retired from the High Court (Queen’s Bench) with effect from 17 May 2019.
Contingencies Fund Advance
I hereby give notice of the Scotland Office’s intention to seek an advance from the Contingencies Fund. The Department requires an advance to meet an urgent cash requirement pending parliamentary approval of the Supplementary Estimates 2020-21.
The Scotland Office’s net cash limit for 2020-21, approved in the main Supply Estimate, will be reached by the start of March 2021. This is a consequence of meeting in full the funding requirements of the Scottish Government. Significant additional consequential funding for the Scottish Government, arising from announcements made by the UK Government, will be provided in the Supplementary Supply Estimate. This will cover the increased costs incurred by the Scottish Government in response to the covid-19 pandemic.
Parliamentary approval for additional non-budget expenditure of £3,537,561,000 will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Scotland Office. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £3,537,561,000 will be met by a repayable cash advance from the Contingencies Fund.
The advance will be repaid immediately following the Royal Assent of the Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill in March 2021.
Work and Pensions
Personal Independence Payment
The Department has published the latest update on progress on making backdated payments to personal independence payment claimants who are affected by the MH and RJ decisions of the upper tribunal. The release is published at:
The MH decision changed how overwhelming psychological distress is considered when assessing someone’s ability to plan and follow a journey. The RJ decision changed how we decide whether someone can carry out an activity safely and if they need supervision. We started the administrative exercise on 25 June 2018 and a frequently asked questions document is available in the Library of the House and at: http://data. parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2020-0061/FAQ_-_Implementation_of_legal_decisions_MH_and_RJ.pdf
As at 17 January 2021, we have assessed 890,000 cases against the MH decision and 990,000 cases against the RJ decision. Around 6,600 arrears payments, totalling around £32 million, have been made.
It should be noted that in supporting the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the exercise was paused from April to October 2020.
We will release a further update by the end of 2021.
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Recon“United Kingdom Research and Innovation: PhD Funding”
I am tabling this statement for the benefit of hon. and right hon. Members, to bring to their attention the support that the Government are providing to United Kingdom research and innovation (UKRI) funded doctoral students to address the challenges related to covid-19 restrictions. This is an update to the statement laid on the 22nd February, which contained an administrative error.
When lockdown began last year, UKRI communicated immediately that PhD studentships should not be suspended, ensuring students could continue to receive their stipends. In April 2020, £44 million of urgent funding was announced for up to 6-month extensions for PhD students in their final year who could not complete their studies as originally planned due to covid-19 restrictions. This was taken up by 77% of eligible students.
In November 2020, a further £19.1 million was allocated to research organisations hosting UKRI funded students. This enabled those organisations to target additional support to those UKRI funded students who needed it most including those whose study had been impacted by caring responsibilities or health reasons, and those in their final year.
These two phases of funding amount to over £60 million of funding and will provide support to approximately 10,000 students.
Since the introduction of the current restrictions in January, the Government have continued to monitor the impact on the research sector. I asked UKRI to explore what else could be done to help and I can now confirm that we will be providing additional support to UKRI funded PhD students.
The £7 million unused from the April allocation for course extensions will now be made available to allocate extensions, based on need, to those students still to complete their studies. Additionally, UKRI is exploring options to increase flexibility for grant holding organisations to allocate existing funding for training and cohort development activity to fund extensions.
Research England will also be delivering around £11million of block grant funding to English universities as a contribution to their support for their postgraduate research communities, including to students funded by universities themselves and to self-financed students.
By the end of this phase of support funding, UKRI will have provided additional support, including extensions, to around half of all their funded students who were studying at the start of the first lockdown extension. This support has been targeted at those most in need and with equality, diversity and inclusion considered throughout.
Ensuring that the research sector in the UK has the people and skills it needs is crucial to realising Government ambition to cement our status as a science superpower. We will continue to monitor this situation closely, to ensure that we are able to consider additional support if necessary.