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Written Statements

Volume 705: debated on Friday 10 December 2021

Written Statements

Friday 10 December 2021

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Concussion in Sport: Government Response

I wish to inform the House that the Government have today published their response to the report by the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee into concussion in sport.

Sport is a central part of our national identity and culture. The welfare and safety of everybody taking part in sport is of paramount importance, and the Government are committed to taking action to reduce the risks involved. The actions set out in this report do not represent the final word on the subject and we recognise there is more work to do to continue to make sport as safe as possible for all those who participate in it.

The Government are grateful to the DCMS Select Committee for undertaking its extensive inquiry into concussion in sport. The Committee’s report has reinforced the importance of the topic and provided valuable insights that have helped inform the Government’s thinking.

Our response outlines the Government’s approach to reducing the risks associated with concussion and head injuries in sport. This will involve working with partners from across the sport, health, education, academic and technology sectors.

A full response to each of the Committee’s recommendations is also provided in a separate annex to the report.

Within the report, the Government have committed to:

Commission a set of shared high-level protocols around concussion in sport across the UK.

Write to UK Sport and Sport England to explore ensuring funded bodies make use of these shared protocols.

Work across Departments to improve the protocols and pathways for use in treating concussion in sport injuries in NHS A&E settings.

Direct sports to work with Player Associations on training protocols for players’ long-term welfare.

Convene a sports concussion research forum of experts to identify the priority research questions and improve the coordination with research funding bodies.

Write to National Governing Bodies to emphasise the importance of player welfare (including concussion) when formulating their governance procedures.

A copy of the Government response to the DCMS Select Committee report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Fisheries: Annual Negotiations

At the time of writing, annual negotiations on fisheries are ongoing between: the UK, EU and Norway (the Trilateral); the UK and the EU; the UK and Norway; and the UK and the Faroes Islands.

As regards the Trilateral, which will determine catch limits for six jointly managed stocks in the North Sea (cod, haddock, saithe, whiting, plaice, herring), discussions have been fruitful and we expect agreement between the three parties to be reached later this afternoon (Friday 10 December).

Bilateral negotiations between the UK and the EU on 2022 fishing opportunities on jointly managed stocks are ongoing. Discussions have been constructive so far and there is opportunity to intensify talks before 20 December if necessary.

We are continuing to discuss possible exchanges of fishing opportunities with Norway and the Faroes. If there are agreements to be reached, of which we remain optimistic, we hope to conclude them in the next few weeks.

We have also concluded a number of other negotiations this year, including in Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and on catch limits for three straddling species (mackerel, Atlanto-scandian herring, and blue whiting) with coastal State partners in the North East Atlantic.

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Housing, Communities and Local Government

Delivery Supply Chain: Planning Controls

I wish to update the House on the measures the Government are taking to facilitate flexibility within the delivery supply chain and mitigate challenges faced by construction sites.

Due to the covid pandemic, the logistics sector is facing an exceptional challenge resulting from the acute shortage of HGV drivers across the distribution network. This has resulted in missed deliveries which have the potential to lead to significant shortages and hinder economic growth.

Through a previous written ministerial statement made by the former Secretary of State, dated 15 July 2021, the Government responded to these pressures proactively by ensuring the industry had the tools available to adapt effectively and minimise any disruption to the public. The statement made it clear that local planning authorities should take a positive approach to their engagement with food retailers and distributors, as well as the freight industry, to ensure planning controls are not a barrier to deliveries of food, sanitary and other essential goods.

I am now expanding the scope of these measures. The purpose of this written ministerial statement, which comes into effect immediately, is to make it clear that local planning authorities should take a positive approach to their engagement with all supply chain stakeholders to ensure planning controls are not a barrier to the supply of all goods and services.

Many commercial activities in England are subject to controls which restrict the time and number of deliveries from lorries and other delivery vehicles, particularly during evenings and at night. These restrictions may be imposed by planning conditions, which are necessary to make the development acceptable to local residents who might otherwise suffer from traffic, noise and other local amenity issues. However, this needs to be balanced with the public interest, for all residents, to have access to shops which are well stocked.

The National Planning Policy Framework already emphasises that planning enforcement is a discretionary activity, and local planning authorities should act proportionately in responding to suspected breaches of planning control.

Local planning authorities should not seek to undertake planning enforcement action which would result in unnecessarily restricting deliveries, having regard to their legal obligations.

Construction output has also been inconsistent in recent months and not returned to pre-February 2020 levels. Construction sites in England may also be subject to controls which restrict the hours within which they can operate. Wherever possible, local planning authorities should respond positively to requests for flexibility for operation of construction sites to support the sector’s recovery.

The Government recognise that it may be necessary for action to be taken in relation to the impacts on neighbours of sustained disturbance due to deliveries and construction outside of conditioned hours, particularly where this affects sleep. In this case a local planning authority should consider any efforts made to manage and mitigate such disturbance, taking into account the degree and longevity of amenity impacts.

This statement will replace all the previous statements on these matters.

This written ministerial statement only covers England and will expire on 30 September 2022, giving direction to the industry and local planning authorities over the next 10 months. We will keep the need for this statement under review.

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Prime Minister

Intelligence and Security Committee: Annual Report 2019-21

The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament has today laid before Parliament a report covering the work of the Committee between July 2019 to July 2021. The Government welcome the independent and robust oversight of the security and intelligence agencies and the wider intelligence community that the Committee provides. As this report demonstrates, the work of the Committee is wide-ranging, on topics vital to ensuring the public can have confidence that our world-class intelligence agencies continue to operate effectively and proportionately in light of the threats we face.

The period covered in this report has been a particularly challenging one, and it is a testament to the Committee that it has been able to provide oversight despite disruption to its work plan from the pandemic. The Government look forward to seeing the conclusions of a number of ongoing Committee inquiries.

The agencies and wider intelligence community value the oversight the Committee provides and have ensured Committee requests in this period have been given high importance. However, it is proper and right that agency and intelligence community resources continue to be appropriately prioritised to ensure the safety and security of our nation; the agencies have shown both resilience and ingenuity in continuing to deliver despite the challenges this period has brought. the intelligence community and Government were in touch with the Committee during the drafting of this report, and would remind the Committee of the importance of mutually agreeing timelines for returns to ensure these are reasonable and achievable.

During the period covered by the Committee’s report, the Government have published three formal responses to ISC reports, which address the recommendations and conclusions the Committee have made: Russia, published on 21 July 2020; Northern Ireland-related Terrorism, published 11 February 2021; and GCHQ Procurement: A Case Study, published 22 July 2021.

The Government remain confident that the current memorandum of understanding with the Committee is sufficient to allow for robust oversight of the agencies and wider intelligence community. The National Security Adviser has written to the ISC Chair to restate this position.

I would like to again thank the Committee for its work, and I look forward to working with it as it continues its vital oversight duties.

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