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Written Statements

Volume 696: debated on Monday 7 June 2021

Written Statements

Monday 7 June 2021

Cabinet Office

Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee: Eighth Meeting

My noble Friend, Minister of State, Cabinet Office (right hon. Lord Frost CMG), has today made the following written statement:

The next meeting of the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee will take place in London on 9 June 2021, with delegations attending in person and by video conference.

The meeting will be co-chaired by the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, right hon. Lord Frost CMG, and Vice President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič.

The agenda will include five items:

Welcome and opening remarks from the co-chairs

Formal adoption of the agenda

Stocktake of Specialised Committee activity 24 February - 9 June 2021

Withdrawal Agreement Annual Report

Update on withdrawal agreement implementation

Citizens’ Rights

Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol

AOB

Concluding remarks

The UK delegation will include:

Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, right hon. Lord Frost CMG;

Paymaster General, right hon. Penny Mordaunt MP.

Representatives from the Northern Ireland Executive have been invited to form part of the UK delegation.

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Trade and Cooperation Agreement Partnership Council: First Meeting

My noble Friend, Minister of State, Cabinet Office (right hon. Lord Frost CMG), has today made the following written statement:

The first meeting of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement Partnership Council will take place on 9 June 2021, in person and by video conference, hosted by the UK.

The meeting will be co-chaired by the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, right hon. Lord Frost CMG, and Vice President of the European Commission, Maroš Šefčovič.

The agenda will include nine items:

Introduction

Welcome, opening remarks from the co-chairs

Formal adoption of the agenda

Sanitary and phytosanitary measures and customs and trade facilitation

Fisheries

Law enforcement

Long-term visa fees

Participation in union programmes

Update on institutional framework

Tentative timetable of meetings of Committees under the TCA

Parliamentary Partnership Assembly

Civil Society Forum

AOB

Concluding remarks

The UK delegation will include:

Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, right hon. Lord Frost CMG;

Paymaster General, right hon. Penny Mordaunt MP;

Ministers from the devolved administrations.

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Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Downstream Oil Resilience Bill: Draft Publication

I will this morning lay before Parliament a draft Downstream Oil Resilience Bill which introduces measures that will enable Government to support industry in ensuring the resilience of the fuel supply sector, prevent supply disruptions and maintain the security of fuel supply to consumers.

The sector is currently efficient, flexible and effective in ensuring the continuity of fuel supply and we do not currently expect any disruption to this. We need to ensure that we protect the continuity of fuel supply and that we are prepared and resilient to disruptions when they do occur. The measures set out in the draft Bill will help ensure that critical services and consumers will continue to receive the fuel on which they rely and will reduce the risk of disruption to economic activities from the loss of fuel supplies.

This draft Bill follows a public consultation in 2017, where Government explored options to address sector resilience and concluded that due to high levels of global competition, the sector has gone through a process of restructuring to remain internationally competitive which has reduced its spare capacity. This means that there is an increased risk of market disruption in the downstream oil sector, given the lower capacity to react to sudden supply and demand shocks.

The fuel supply system faces a number of inherent risks, including accidents, severe weather, malicious threats, industrial action, and financial failure. The Government work with fuel suppliers to mitigate such risks and, while individual companies have a good record of managing their own risks, they do not see a commercial return in managing low probability, higher impact risks.

The publication also marks the first step towards the commitment made in the Energy White Paper ‘Powering our Net Zero Future’ to take powers to ensure we maintain a secure and resilient supply of fossil fuels during the transition to net zero emissions. As set out in the Energy White paper and in line with the recommendation from the independent Climate Change Committee, we will decarbonise our energy system, boosting the production of clean energy. The sixth carbon budget will ensure Britain remains on track to end its contribution to climate change. Ensuring a reliable and secure fuel supply to essential services in coming years will be critical and therefore primary legislation is required to build adequate resilience across the whole supply system.

The Integrated Review 2021 sets out our goals to build a more robust position on national security and resilience in order to reduce the impact of shocks and long-term challenges on the life and livelihoods of UK citizens. The Bill is aligned with the Integrated Review’s objectives and outlines solutions to address the current and future risks to the downstream oil sector because we need to ensure that there is a supply of secure, affordable and clean energy which is essential to the UK’s national interests.

The Bill will help the Government identify risks of disruption to the UK fuel supply market in advance and ensure that Government and industry together can implement effective and proportionate contingency plans as early as possible. This includes mandating the provision of information to Government to allow better risk assessment and the design of appropriate mitigating measures, and direction powers that will allow the Government to intervene where supply resilience is compromised, or there is a significant risk that it will be, and the industry has not taken any action. The Bill also introduces new powers that allow the Government to ensure that anyone taking control of critical infrastructure in this sector has appropriate financial and operational measures in place, and a new spending power to allow Government to provide financial assistance to support sector resilience and ensure continuity of supply, where such support is deemed necessary and value for money.

The Bill will apply to all operators and infrastructure in the downstream oil sector with a supply handling capacity above the thresholds which are outlined in the Bill. My Department will continue to work with industry to refine the proposed measures, so that the disruption to market functioning is minimal.

The Bill will also ensure that there is a reliable energy supply and increased resilience which means that the downstream oil sector is able to protect against, react to and recover from any disruption.

The draft Bill will be published with accompanying explanatory notes and an assessment of the potential impacts. The draft Bill will undergo pre-legislative scrutiny by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee to ensure that it is robust and workable.

[HCWS64]

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Regulation of BetIndex Ltd: Update on Review

Further to the statement of 20 April outlining plans for an independent expert review of the regulation of the Football Index gambling product, we are today announcing the full terms of reference for the review and further details.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Oliver Dowden) has appointed Malcolm Sheehan QC to lead the review. He will provide an independent expert account of the actions taken by the Gambling Commission and other relevant regulatory bodies, and consider the lessons to be learnt for the future. He will have access to all the necessary information held by Government and regulatory bodies to conduct the review.

As outlined in the terms of reference which we have also released in full on www.gov.uk, the review will cover the period from the granting of BetIndex’s gambling licence in September 2015 to the Gambling Commission’s suspension of that licence on 11 March this year. It will principally report on the actions of the Gambling Commission in assessing, licensing, and monitoring the operator, responding to concerns and delivering its objectives. The review will also consider how the Financial Conduct Authority responded to questions from the Gambling Commission and how it considered whether the product amounted to a regulated activity under the Financial Services and Markets Act.

It is important that former customers continue to have a voice. The Administrators should have already contacted every former customer so they can submit a claim if they think they are owed money or compensation from the company. Customers will be kept informed through the administration process, including on any opportunities they may have to vote on next steps. The Gambling Commission will also continue to consider information it receives from individuals about the actions of Football Index where it pertains to its ongoing regulatory investigation into BetIndex’s licence. While the Call for Evidence closed on 31 March, former customers can also continue to provide information to DCMS about the Football Index case to inform the Gambling Act review. Hundreds of individuals have already done so, and where relevant to the Terms of Reference for the independent review we will pass those to Malcolm Sheehan QC.

This independent review is expected to provide a report for publication in the summer, and will include recommendations as needed across the full range of questions set out in the terms of reference. Its findings will form part of the evidence informing the Government’s ongoing review of the Gambling Act 2005, which was announced in December 2020. This independent review is entirely separate from the Gambling Commission’s ongoing regulatory investigation and the administration proceedings, and will be done in such a way as to avoid prejudicing either of those processes. A copy of the terms of reference will be placed in the Library of the House.

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Education

Education Recovery

The pandemic and its associated restrictions and disruptions have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s learning, evidenced in recent research from the Education Policy Institute.

Last week I announced the details of the next step in our efforts to make sure children and young people catch up, as part of our ongoing education recovery plans.

A further £1.4 billion will be made available to support education recovery for children aged two to 19 in schools, colleges and early years settings, focusing on two areas where the evidence is clear that our investment will have significant impact: high- quality tutoring and great teaching.

This further instalment is the third major recovery intervention in the past year, building on the £1.7bn already announced, bringing total investment announced for education recovery over the past year to over £3 billion. This forms part of the wider response to help pupils make up their learning over the course of this Parliament.

New measures include:

£1 billion for tutoring

To support those most impacted by the pandemic, particularly disadvantaged students, we will radically expand tutoring to provide up to 100 million hours of tuition for five to 19-year-olds by 2024. This will expand high-quality tutoring in every part of country so that small group tuition is available to those children who need help catching up—not just the most affluent.

In schools, we will provide up to 6 million tutoring courses for five to 16-year-olds by 2024. Children in receipt of tutoring will receive up to 15 sessions of small group or individual tuition to support them to catch up in subjects such as maths or science, delivered by a trained professional or member of school staff outside of their normal lessons. One course of high-quality tutoring has been proven to boost attainment by three to five months, so tutoring will be vital for young people in recovering the teaching hours lost in the last year. For 16 to 19-year-olds, we will extend the 16-to-19 tuition fund for a further two years. Over the coming three academic years, funding will be provided to support the equivalent of 2 million 15-hour courses to accelerate the progression of lower attaining students. Collectively 16-to-19 students will receive up to 32 million hours of small group tuition over the three years.

£400 million for teaching

£253 million new funding to provide 500,000 teacher training opportunities for teachers to access world-leading training appropriate for whatever point they are at in their career, from new teachers to headteachers through extending the roll-out of the early career framework and middle and late career national professional qualification.

£153 million new funding to provide training for early years staff to support the very youngest children’s learning and development. This will involve rolling out new training programmes so that early years staff are supported to help young children with their speech and language skills as well as their physical and emotional development. We will also provide additional support and expert advice for nurseries and other settings implementing our early years reforms, which will reduce teachers’ workloads so they can spend more time supporting children's development.

To ensure that those with the least time left do not miss out, providers of 16-to-19 education will have the option of offering students in year 13, or equivalent, the opportunity to repeat up to one more year if they have been particularly severely affected by the pandemic.

The Government have committed to an ambitious, long-term education recovery plan and the next stage will include a review of time spent in school and college and the impact this could have on helping children and young people to catch up. The findings of the review will be set later in the year to inform the spending review.

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Home Department

Compliance Improvement Review: Independent Verification

In 2019, my predecessor notified Parliament of compliance risks that MI5 had identified and reported to the Home Office and the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. These risks were identified within certain technology environments used to store and analyse data, including material obtained under the Investigatory Powers Act. The compliance risks related to the particular safeguards set out in the Investigatory Powers Act that relate to the processing of material that has been obtained under a warrant—section 53 of the Act and the corresponding provisions.

As part of the response to this, Sir Martin Donnelly, a former Permanent Secretary, conducted an independent review to consider how these risks arose and what could be done to reduce the likelihood of a similar situation arising again in the future. In June 2019, the Compliance Improvement Review’s summary and recommendations were published on gov.uk and work began immediately to address these recommendations. One of these recommendations was

“the satisfactory delivery of this change programme should be independently verified by the end of June 2020.”

On 6 July 2020, I made a written ministerial statement to notify Parliament that due to the adverse impacts of covid-19 the independent verification of the implementation of the recommendations would be delayed until the start of 2021. Despite the ongoing impact of covid-19, the independent verification has now taken place.

The independent verification process was led by Mary Calam, a former director-general in the Home Office. She considered whether the work undertaken since the summer of 2019 had addressed the concerns raised in Sir Martin Donnelly’s report and delivered the outcomes he had intended. Mary had access to all relevant documentation and personnel, and conducted interviews with senior members of the relevant organisations as well as with focus groups of staff. I would like to place on record my thanks to Mary and the review team, who have produced a comprehensive report in a difficult working environment due to covid-19.

I was provided with a copy of the verification report earlier this year and have since had the opportunity to discuss it with Mary. The Investigatory Powers Commissioner and the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament have both received copies of the full report.

The verification report concludes that significant and measurable progress has been made and that the new operating model is an excellent start to ensure any future compliance risks are identified and addressed early. The report finds that

“MI5 have used the Compliance Improvement Review to make fundamental changes across the whole organisation”

and that

“there is new governance to oversee compliance and security risks and resourcing for compliance work has been significantly increased.”

The report further notes that

“the broader changes that MI5 has made to strengthen its legal compliance risk management processes, instil a culture of individual accountability for legal compliance risk and ensure that compliance is built in to new products should give Ministers greater confidence that new risks will be identified early and addressed promptly.”

The report does acknowledge that, in places, work remains to be done and that maintaining high levels of compliance is—by definition—an ongoing effort. MI5 have already put in place a successor programme to take forward further work and the director-general of MI5 and I are fully committed to ensuring this work remains a priority. I will continue to monitor progress through the quarterly MI5 Ministerial Assurance Group which I chair.

I am very grateful to the director-general of MI5 and his staff, as well as my own officials, for the immense progress that has been made since Sir Martin Donnelly completed his compliance improvement review in June 2019.

A copy of the verification summary document will be made available on www.gov.uk and will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS69]

Transport

Local Transport Update

The Government and Mayor of London have agreed a third extraordinary Transport for London funding deal of £1.08 billion for the period up until 11 December 2021. The deal will replace the agreement signed in October 2020, which, following extensions agreed in March 2021 and in May 2021, expired on 28 May 2021.

The funding settlement is further proof of our commitment to supporting the capital and the transport network on which it depends, whilst ensuring that our support is fair to the national taxpayer. The Government will continue to review passenger demand in line with the Prime Minister’s roadmap and will continue to support the fare revenues lost as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.

The funding settlement sets out further measures to sustainably support London’s transport network. Within the next deal period, the Mayor has agreed to; deliver £300 million of savings or new income sources in 2021-2022; deliver £0.5-£1billion of new or increased income sources each year by 2023; prepare a revised medium-term capital investment programme; carry out a review of TfL’s pension scheme; set aside at least £100 million to continue the delivery of active travel programmes; and review options for long term funding reform in partnership with the Government. To help TfL achieve financial sustainability, the Mayor has agreed to prepare a plan to accelerate TfL’s existing modernisation programme of £730 million by April 2023.

The Mayor has agreed to work collaboratively with DfT on a joint programme for implementing higher levels of automatic train operation on the London Underground, as is the case on many metro systems worldwide. Over the course of this funding period, the Mayor and TfL will make progress towards the conversion of at least one London underground line to full automation but with an on-board attendant. This technology has the potential to offer a more punctual, reliable, customer-responsive and safer service that is less susceptible to human error. TfL will also lead market engagement into technology for protecting passengers at station platforms.

London’s underground is the world’s oldest underground railway and the Government are committed to supporting the capital’s transport network, ensuring that it meets the needs of Londoners as we recover from the pandemic and that it is modernised for the 21st century.

TfL and the London Boroughs are responsible for local road maintenance, including bridge repairs. London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham is responsible for the safety and maintenance of Hammersmith Bridge. However, given the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic, during the period of this agreement, we expect to draw up a memorandum of understanding between HMG, TfL and the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham to fund the reopening of Hammersmith Bridge—initially to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic and, depending on cost, to motorists. Funding will be conditional on the following:

All parties must scrutinise and agree the cost of the project.

Each party agrees to pay a share of the cost. Repair costs are to be led by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and TfL; HMG will not directly contribute more than 1/3 of the costs.

That the independent Board responsible for the case for continued safe operation, reporting to London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, will conduct a new assessment for controlled and limited reopening of Hammersmith Bridge to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic once further investigations and report validations are completed at the end of June. London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham shares the assessment with the Government and TfL.

The Government have repeatedly shown that they are committed to supporting the running of essential services across the capital while we recover from this pandemic, while ensuring fairness and value for money for the taxpayer. The Government continue to work with TfL and the Mayor so TfL can be financially sustainable as soon as possible.

This deal takes Government support to TfL since March 2020 to over £4 billion, while continuing to spend money on vital infrastructure projects to level up the national transport network outside of London.

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Motoring Services Agencies Business Plans 2021-22

My noble Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Baroness Vere of Norbiton) has made the following ministerial statement.

I am pleased to announce the publication of the 2021-22 business plans for the Department for Transport’s Motoring Agencies—the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA).

The business plans set out:

The key business priorities that each agency will deliver and any significant changes they plan to make to their services, and;

the key performance indicators, by which their performance will be assessed.

These plans allow service users and members of the public to understand the agencies’ plans for delivering their key services, progressing their transformation programmes, and managing their finances.

The business plans will be available electronically on www.gov.uk and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questionsanswers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2021-06-07/HCWS66/ .

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