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Written Statements

Volume 705: debated on Wednesday 15 December 2021

Written Statements

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Cabinet Office

Border Controls

My noble Friend, the Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, the right hon. Lord Frost, has today made the following ministerial statement:

On 14 September, the Government announced a revised timetable for the final stages of the introduction of controls on incoming goods. These controls relate primarily to customs, sanitary and phytosanitary —SPS—controls, and safety and security declarations. The first phase of these new controls is implemented on 1 January 2022.

Implementing these arrangements for goods moving from the island of Ireland, whether from Ireland or from Northern Ireland, is particularly complex. This is because there are specific treaty and legislative commitments to “unfettered access” for goods from Northern Ireland, because there are currently “standstill” arrangements in place for operating the Northern Ireland protocol, and because negotiations on the protocol itself are still under way and will not be definitively completed by 1 January.

Given this wider uncertainty and complexity, and the undesirability of bringing in new changes while the protocol arrangements themselves remain unsettled and while diversion of trade is already occurring, the Government have decided that the right thing is to extend, on a temporary basis, the current arrangements for moving goods from the island of Ireland to Great Britain for as long as discussions on the protocol are ongoing.

This means that goods moving from the island of Ireland directly to Great Britain will continue to do so on the basis of the arrangements that apply currently, until further notice; and will not, for now, be affected by the changes being introduced on 1 January for all other inbound goods.

The Government believe that this pragmatic act of good will can help to maintain space for continued negotiations on the protocol. It also ensures that traders in both Ireland and Northern Ireland are not faced with further uncertainty while the protocol arrangements themselves are still under discussion.

This will be given effect through legislation by 1 January 2022 and the Government will continue to work with the devolved Administrations and interested stakeholders.

These arrangements are temporary and we will continue to keep them under review as negotiations on the protocol continue. We will ensure traders have sufficient time to adapt to any future changes.

The border operating model will be updated to reflect this and a copy will be placed in the Library of both Houses.

[HCWS486]

Conflict, Stability and Security Fund Allocations

I wish to update the House on the progress of the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) for financial year 2020-21, as well as to announce the initial regional and thematic allocations for this financial year (2021-22).

The CSSF is a cross-Government fund which uses both Official Development Assistance (ODA) and non-ODA funding to enable the integrated delivery of National Security Council priorities. In 2020/21, the CSSF spent £1,260.2m million against a final cross-Government allocation of £1,264.8m million (99.64% spend). A further breakdown of spend against regional and thematic allocation, by department and by discretionary and non-discretionary spend is included in the CSSF’s annual report for 2020-21, published today.

The report outlines how the fund adapted to and tackled challenges caused by the global Covid-19 pandemic. It details further improvements made on monitoring and evaluating results to ensure value for money, including the introduction of new fund level outcomes: Conflict and Instability, State Threats, Transnational Threats and Women, Peace and Security. The report demonstrates how CSSF programmes have delivered clear and impactful results against these fund outcomes across portfolios.

A copy of this document will be placed in the libraries of both Houses and has been published on gov.uk.

The CSSF allocation for financial year 2021-22 is £875.61 million, of which £375.48m is ODA and £500.13 million is non-ODA. The CSSF will continue to support the delivery of the Government’s top national security priorities as set out in the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy, including the UK’s international response to conflict and instability, transnational threats and state threats.

FY 2021-22 Allocations (millions)

Allocation

Non-ODA

ODA

Total

Middle East North Africa

38.300

60.500

98.800

Eastern Europe, Central Asia

39.660

46.900

86.560

Africa (sub-Saharan)

30.169

36.000

66.169

Western Balkans

8.500

33.900

42.400

Overseas Territories

34.041

5.000

39.041

South Asia

4.300

30.200

34.500

Asia Pacific

0.600

8.500

9.100

Americas

1.000

8.000

9.000

REGIONAL TOTAL

156.570

229.000

385.570

Counter Extremism

13.220

20.000

33.220

Serious and Organised Crime

6.500

14.500

21.000

Cyber

6.000

12.000

18.000

Multilateral Strategy

3.800

5.500

9.300

Gender, Peace and Security

0.500

4.880

5.380

Migration

0

5.000

5.000

National Security Communications Team

3.000

0

3.000

THEMATIC TOTAL

33.020

61.880

94.900

Peacekeeping

229.800

80.400

310.200

AMISOM

30.000

0

30.000

MOD UN Ops Africa

28.640

0

28.640

MOD UNFICYP

18.100

0

18.100

Non-Discretionary TOTAL

306.54

80.400

386.940

Corporate Delivery Support & Other (this includes Joint Funds Unit and pilot activities)

4.000

4.200

8.200

TOTALCSSF

5.00130

375.480

875.610

[HCWS487]

National Cyber Strategy 2022

I am pleased to announce the publication of the new National Cyber Strategy.

This strategy builds on the significant progress made through the National Cyber Security Strategy 2016-2021 and delivers on a commitment made in the Government’s Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy which was published earlier this year.

Exponential advances in technology combined with decreasing costs have made the world more connected than ever before. The pandemic has accelerated this trend, but we are likely still in the early stages of a long-term structural shift. The global expansion of cyberspace is changing the way we live, work and communicate, and transforming the critical systems we rely on in areas such as finance, energy, food distribution, healthcare and transport. In short, cyberspace is now integral to our future security and prosperity. This offers extraordinary opportunities for technologically advanced countries like the UK to pursue their national goals in new ways.

As such, this strategy reflects our ambition to cement the UK’s position as a leading cyber power. While cyber security remains at the heart of this strategy, it now draws together the full range of the UK’s capabilities inside and outside Government, with a particular emphasis on taking the lead in technologies relevant to cyber. It calls for a truly joined up, national strategic approach that is shaped by and helps guide decision-making in organisations across the country, and provides the basis for stronger collaboration with our partners in the UK and around the world.

Our vision is that the UK in 2030 will continue to be a leading responsible and democratic cyber power, able to protect and promote our interests in and through cyberspace in support of national goals:

a more secure and resilient nation, better prepared for evolving threats and risks and using our cyber capabilities to protect citizens against crime, fraud and state threats;

an innovative, prosperous digital economy, with opportunity more evenly spread across the country and our diverse population;

a science and tech superpower, securely harnessing transformative technologies in support of a greener, healthier society; and,

a more influential and valued partner on the global stage, shaping the future frontiers of an open and stable international order while maintaining our freedom of action in cyberspace.

The strategy is built around five core pillars which focus on: investing in our people and skills; increasing cyber resilience; taking the lead in the technologies vital to cyber power; advancing UK global leadership in cyber; and detecting, disrupting and deterring our adversaries.

As announced in the spending review, the Government will be investing £2.6 billion in cyber and legacy IT over the next three years to support the strategy. This is in addition to significant investment in the National Cyber Force announced in the spending review 2020.

We will invest more than ever before in a rapid and radical overhaul of Government cyber security, setting clear standards for Departments and addressing legacy IT infrastructure.

Government’s critical functions will be significantly hardened to cyber-attack by 2025 and we will ensure that all Government organisations—across the whole public sector—are resilient to known vulnerabilities and attack methods by 2030.

A copy of the National Cyber Strategy has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS484]

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Afghanistan: Humanitarian Situation

My noble Friend the Minister for South Asia, United Nations and the Commonwealth, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, has made the following written ministerial statement:

Afghanistan is facing a serious and worsening humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates that 22.8 million people, over half the population, are now suffering “crisis” or “emergency” levels of acute malnutrition, over a third more than at this time last year. Afghanistan is now estimated to have more people suffering from “emergency” levels of acute malnutrition, 8.7 million, than any other country.

The UK has been at the forefront of efforts to address the situation, including through our presidency of the G7. The Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Minister of State have discussed the situation extensively with world leaders including in the margins of COP26. The Foreign Secretary represented the UK at a G20 leaders meeting on 12 October that agreed to step up emergency aid. Lord Ahmad visited New York in late October to speak to senior UN officials, and has been in regular contact since August, with the UN’s emergency relief co-ordinator, heads of UN agencies including the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs as well as other senior officials such as the head of the ICRC and the Aga Khan Development Network. In November, he also met with Deborah Lyons, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.

We have used our engagement with Taliban to press them to ensure a suitable environment for aid delivery, as well as to respond to international concerns on terrorism, the protection of human rights, especially the rights of women, girls and members of minorities, and the departure of non-Afghan nationals and Afghans eligible for resettlement overseas. These were our top priorities during the visit to Kabul by the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Afghan Transition, Sir Simon Gass, on 5 October, as well as in telephone calls and subsequent meetings by UK officials with the Taliban in Doha.

The UN Secretary General launched a flash appeal for Afghanistan on 13 September. The event was attended by the then Foreign Secretary and by Lord Ahmad. But further efforts will be needed. The UN has requested nearly $4.5 billion for 2022, the largest humanitarian appeal on record, reflecting the magnitude of the humanitarian challenge ahead.

The UK was at the forefront of this, and in August, the Prime Minister said that the UK would double its assistance for Afghanistan to £286 million this financial year.

On 3 September, the Government announced the allocation of up to £30 million of this for Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries, of which £10 million has been disbursed directly to humanitarian agencies in the region.

On 31 October, the Prime Minister announced the allocation of £50 million in immediate support for vulnerable communities within Afghanistan. We have now disbursed £49 million of this, in addition to the disbursement of over £32 million for humanitarian activity inside Afghanistan between April and October. 1.

On 12 December, the Foreign Secretary announced the allocation of a further £75 million to provide life-saving food, and emergency health services as well as shelter, water and hygiene supplies. Through the £75 million and £50 million allocations, the UK will support over 3.4 million people, with emergency food, health, shelter, water and protection. We will work with aid agencies to prioritise those most at risk, including households headed by women and people with disabilities. The funding will be channelled through the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund, the World Food Programme, the International Organisation for Migration, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Population Fund and International Rescue Committee.

In addition, the Government have today committed to matching donations from the British people to the Disasters Emergency Committee Afghanistan appeal, up to £10 million. This means that public donations will have greater impact and give life-saving support to more people in Afghanistan.

So far this financial year, we have disbursed over £81 million within Afghanistan and £10 million to support Afghan refugees in the region. A full breakdown appears in the annexes attached. All our humanitarian assistance is going to UN agencies or trusted and experienced international NGOs and not to the Taliban.

We are particularly concerned by the impact of the situation on women and girls. We are consulting women’s organisations, Afghan women leaders and implementing partners to understand how best to support their needs. In allocating UK funds, we are seeking to ensure that women, girls and other marginalised groups have equal, safe and dignified access to assistance and services.

The humanitarian crisis has been a central subject of all our conversations with the Taliban. We have pressed them to respect humanitarian principles and allow aid agencies to operate freely. The Taliban wrote to the UN’s emergency response co-ordinator on 10 September promising to respect humanitarian principles, including free access for aid workers.

We are monitoring the situation carefully. Our partners report that aid delivery channels are open and humanitarian access is reasonable. But aid workers also face challenges as a result of the liquidity shortage, which makes payments more difficult. We are working closely with multilateral organisations, banks and NGOs to address these.

The UK has also taken a leading role in international discussions on how to support essential basic services. We are encouraging the World Bank and its shareholders to use the $1.5 billion in the Afghanistan reconstruction trust fund for this. We welcome the decision by the World Bank’s Board on 30 November to transfer $280 million to support the humanitarian response and basic health services via UN agencies. We are also working with G7 partners to encourage the World Bank to produce options to allocate the $1.2 billion remaining in the fund.

Attachments can be viewed online at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2021-12-15/HCWS489/

[HCWS489]

Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Housing Update

I wish to update the House on the publication of the Government response to the 2021 Future Buildings Standard consultation and the laying of a statutory instrument today to implement the outcomes of this consultation, and our previous consultation on the Future Homes Standard.

Today’s publication of the consultation response, and the implementation of an ambitious uplift to the building regulations, will ensure new homes and buildings in England are highly efficient, with significantly lower carbon emissions. This marks an important step on our journey towards a cleaner, greener built environment and it supports us in our target to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

The Future Buildings Standard consultation

We have recently conducted a two-stage consultation on proposed changes to the building regulations and the associated statutory guidance. Today I am publishing the Government’s response to the second stage of the consultation, the Future Buildings Standard consultation.

The Government response to the first stage of the consultation, the Future Homes Standard consultation, was published in January this year. It set out our plans for the Future Homes Standard, an ambitious new standard for new homes to be introduced from 2025. It also set out plans for an uplift in standards for new homes in 2021 as a stepping stone towards the 2025 standard.

The Future Buildings Standard consultation built on that by setting out plans for the Future Buildings Standard, to be introduced for new non-domestic buildings in England from 2025. The consultation also set out plans for an uplift in standards in 2021 in advance of implementing the 2025 standard.

The Government response to the Future Buildings Standard consultation confirms that, with implementation starting from 2025, the Future Buildings Standard will produce highly efficient non-domestic buildings which use low-carbon heat and have the best fabric standards possible. The 2021 uplift to the building regulations will support the delivery of the Future Buildings Standard through a 27% reduction in the carbon emissions of new non-domestic buildings in England.

The consultation response sets out the measures we are taking to simplify and clarify the guidance on ventilation and safeguard the health of building residents and users. Covid-19 has also shown the importance of ventilation in reducing the spread of infection. The consultation response confirms that we are introducing new guidance to mitigate the risks of airborne infection.

The consultation response also confirms our intention to introduce a new requirement on overheating mitigation in the building regulations. This will mean new residential buildings must be designed to reduce overheating. This is an important part of our work to adapt our country to face climate change, and it will protect people where they live and sleep. Several local authorities have already set overheating mitigation policies for their areas, and we have learnt from them in developing this national standard. The new overheating standard is a part of the building regulations and is therefore mandatory, so there will be no need for policies in development plans to duplicate this.

I am placing a copy of the Government response to the 2021 Future Buildings Standard consultation in the House Library.

Implementation of the 2021 uplift to the building regulations

Together, the policies set out in the Government response to the Future Buildings Standard consultation and the policies set out in the Government response to the Future Homes Standard consultation, form the policy for the 2021 uplift to the building regulations. The 2021 uplift is intended to provide a meaningful and achievable increase to the energy efficiency standards in the short term and support industry to prepare and position itself to build to the full standards from 2025, as well as delivering the outcomes on ventilation and overheating covered above.

Alongside publication of the Government response to the Future Buildings Standard consultation, I have laid a statutory instrument to implement the amendments to the building regulations and I have published new statutory guidance.

Implementing this uplift is a significant moment for the sector and on our journey to net zero. It provides a pathway towards creating homes and buildings that are fit for the future, and a built environment with lower carbon emissions and homes adapted to the overheating risks caused by a warming climate.

[HCWS495]

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

BEIS Update

The last few months have seen unprecedented increases in the levels and volatility of wholesale gas prices across the globe. This has been due to multiple international factors in supply and demand and has led to a shift in the size and shape of the energy retail market, with a significantly higher number of supplier exits than would normally be expected during this period.

Three principles have consistently guided the Government’s response. Customers, and particularly vulnerable customers, should be protected. We will not be bailing out failed companies with poor business models. And we must not return to the cosy oligopoly of the past.

The energy retail market is the main interface between consumers and the energy system, and its stability and effectiveness is vital. Ofgem has today set out in its open letter to energy suppliers the further steps it is taking to protect consumers, provide greater certainty for investors, and strengthen the resilience of the sector.

Future of the energy retail market

Earlier this year, the Government published an Energy Retail Market Strategy for the 2020s. This strategy set out our vision for a market which enables net zero and where:

Consumers should receive appropriate levels of protection, pay a fair price for their energy, and be able to easily engage with the market to exercise choice;

Energy companies should invest in innovative products and services to unlock the benefits of low-carbon technologies; and

Consumer choice and active market competition contribute towards a lowest-cost flexible energy system, which gives the right price signals and drives the uptake of low-carbon products and services.

This vision remains the right one. However, we also need to take account of the lessons from recent months to ensure that the energy retail market is resilient, sustainable, and continues to protect consumers as we move to a net zero energy system.

The Government therefore intend to review these lessons as part of a wider refresh of the current energy retail market strategy, with the aim of publishing an updated strategy as soon as possible, once the market has stabilised. We are inviting views on how future Government policy can best achieve the vision set out earlier this year, and how the lessons from recent market developments should inform this. We are particularly interested in:

How the retail market can help achieve the best outcomes for consumers, no matter how they engage;

How energy companies can help drive the private investment needed to achieve net zero; and

How the retail market, its underpinning regulatory framework and the energy price cap, may need to evolve to enable a lowest-cost, flexible and resilient energy system that continues to protect consumers.

To enable this refresh of our overall retail market strategy, and to help stabilise the market in the short-term, the Government is therefore pausing policy development on the recent public consultation on opt-in and testing opt-out switching. The Government are grateful to all those who took the time to respond to this consultation, and to the other recent Government calls for evidence on third-party intermediaries and on the transparency of carbon content in energy products. The Government will set out next steps on these issues and publish a summary of responses in due course.

This is a key opportunity to help shape the future of the sector and I would encourage every interested party to engage in this process.

The Energy Price Cap

The energy price cap has shielded millions of customers from price volatility in wholesale markets. As announced earlier this year, the Government remain committed to seeking to legislate to extend the energy price cap beyond the existing longstop date of December 2023, when parliamentary time allows, subject to conditions for effective competition not being in place. We continue to reflect on the price cap’s effectiveness and will take this into account in the design of any future cap.

Fairness and Affordability

The Government remain committed to publishing a fairness and affordability call for evidence on the options for energy levies and obligations to help rebalance electricity and gas prices and to support green choices, with a view to taking decisions in 2022.

[HCWS497]

Treasury

Overseas Framework Consultation

The Chancellor’s Mansion House speech and accompanying document—"A new chapter for financial services”—set out the Government’s vision for an open, green and technologically advanced financial services sector that is globally competitive and acts in the interests of communities and citizens, creating jobs, supporting businesses and powering growth across all of the UK.

In December 2020, HM Treasury published a call for evidence on the UK’s overseas framework, and the regimes within it, to ensure that they continue to work effectively and support the UK’s consumers, firms and markets. The Government issued a response to that call for evidence and set out next steps for this review in July 2021.

In doing so, the Government stated that they remain committed to maintaining a safe, open and globally integrated financial system, enabling international financial services business by reducing barriers and frictions, where safe and practicable. Our overseas framework, including regimes such as the overseas persons exclusion, has been a fundamental part of the success of the UK as a global financial centre.

In responding to the call for evidence, the Government said that there were four principal areas that they wanted to look at in more detail:

The overseas persons exclusion (OPE);

Investment services equivalence under Title VIII of the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (MiFIR);

Recognised overseas investment exchanges (ROIEs);

The Financial Promotion Order (FPO) in general, and specifically in relation to the distribution of certain overseas long-term insurance products in the UK.

The Government’s response to the call for evidence noted that there are still information gaps about how firms use the OPE, how they might do so in future, and what the implications are for UK financial markets, including their resilience and safety. We have been working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority, the Bank of England and the Prudential Regulation Authority to gather further information in preparation for an upcoming consultation on the UK’s regime for overseas firms and activities. This involves considering whether the access for overseas firms remains appropriate following the UK’s exit from the EU and given technological developments that are changing how firms can serve their clients.

The Government are committed to maintaining an overseas access regime that ensures firms based in the UK can connect with counterparties and customers globally, while continuing to ensure that those with significant UK business lines continue to maintain the appropriate operations, regulatory permissions and authorisations in the UK; and are able to be supervised effectively. We want to ensure the UK remains a world-class environment to do business and maintain the ability of UK and global firms to benefit from the UK’s deep wholesale markets, which has been key to the UK’s leading global role in financial services.

The Government have noted the feedback from respondents to the call for evidence that the current overseas framework is complicated, difficult to navigate and that the implications of any changes to the framework should be carefully considered. As such, the Government intend to assess how the current framework is being used and consider the implications of any reforms in careful detail before bringing forward proposals on potential changes to the UK’s regime for overseas firms and activities. The consultation will also consider changes to the UK’s overseas framework which will make it more coherent and easier to navigate, reinforcing the Government’s commitment to maintaining an open financial centre.

In considering how best to move forward, the Government want to be fully informed about the views of stakeholders. We would emphasise the importance of further evidence being provided on how these regimes are used, and how market participants navigate them, so we can ensure they continue to support the principles that guide our approach to cross-border financial services.

[HCWS490]

Defence

Armed Forces Covenant and Veterans Annual Report

Today, I am pleased to lay before Parliament the Armed Forces Covenant and Veterans Annual Report 2021. The covid-19 pandemic has once again seen the armed forces step up to support the nation in its hour of need. The UK’s promise to support our armed forces community and to ensure they are treated fairly is as important as ever. We owe them a profound debt of gratitude and have a duty to ensure that those who serve, or who have served, in our armed forces, and their families, suffer no disadvantage in comparison to other citizens. In some cases, special consideration is appropriate, particularly for those such as the injured or the bereaved. This is what the covenant sets out to do. In the same vein, this Government have committed to making the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran, acknowledging veterans’ service to this country and setting out our plans in the “Strategy for Our Veterans”.

Never has the armed forces covenant and support to veterans been more vital, and we recognise that partners across the UK, at all levels of the public, private and charitable sectors, have been working hard to support the armed forces community throughout the covid-19 pandemic. I am proud to lay this report before Parliament, with the full blessing of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Office for Veterans’ Affairs, as a demonstration of that work.

Highlights from this year’s report include:

The new Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service in England, which launched in October 2020, with seven regional “pathfinders” running until the end of March 2023.

The launch of Operation Courage in England in March 2021, bringing together existing mental health services for veterans into one comprehensive pathway.

Record levels of investment in service family accommodation in the financial year 2020-21, with a total of £160 million invested—this investment is enabling 775 long-term empty properties to be completely refurbished, and a further 10,200 properties to be significantly improved.

The development of a new method for recording and reporting cases of suicide within the veteran community, in order to produce a national measure of the total number of veterans who die by suicide each year—this will enable an understanding of its prevalence to better inform future policy.

But while progress has clearly been made, both this year and across the 10 years since the covenant was established, more still needs to be done. The next reporting period—October 2021 to September 2022—will see the creation of the new covenant duty, which will require certain public bodies to have regard to the principles of the covenant when exercising specific functions in the areas of housing, healthcare and education. It will also see the delivery and initial implementation of the new Armed Forces Families Strategy, providing a framework that reflects modern and diverse family needs and encourages recruitment to and retention in service.

This year’s report is a collaborative effort, with input from service providers and professionals from a diverse array of backgrounds. We would like to thank colleagues across central Government, the devolved Administrations and local authorities, and those at every level and from every sector who are continuing to drive forward the work of the covenant and “Strategy for Our Veterans”. We are also grateful to the external members of the Covenant Reference Group who were consulted throughout the process and provided their independent observations.

[HCWS491]

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UK and Crown Dependencies: Fishing Licences

This statement provides an update on the written ministerial statement made on 3 November 2021.

It sets out the number of fishing licences issued by the UK and the Crown dependencies since the trade and co-operation Agreement (TCA) was signed on 24 December 2020. The information is correct as of 12.30 pm on 15 December 2021.

This statement now includes the number of licences issued for “direct replacement” vessels. Our approach for licensing replacement vessels will be published by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO), which is the UK’s single issuing authority, on gov.uk.

Throughout this process, the UK’s approach has been evidence-based and in line with our commitments under the trade and co-operation agreement (TCA). We have licensed vessels where sufficient evidence has been provided that demonstrates that a vessel qualifies for access under the TCA. Where that evidence has not been provided, licences have not been issued.

UK waters

The number of licences that have been issued to EU vessels to fish in UK waters are as follows.

UK overall total

Applications received

Applications approved

Applications not approved

1,871

1,822

49

UK 12-200nm zone

The majority of licences were granted on 31 December 2020 with 1,285 EU vessels licensed. The numbers below are accurate as of 13 December 2021.

Applications received: 1,669

Vessels licensed: 1,669

By Member State:

Member state

Applications received

Licences issued

Applications not approved

Belgium

64

64

0

Denmark

120

120

0

France

736

736

0

Germany

49

49

0

Republic of Ireland

355

355

0

Lithuania

2

2

0

Netherlands

194

194

0

Poland

2

2

0

Portugal

49

49

0

Spain

90

90

0

Sweden

8

8

0

UK 6-12nm zone

Vessels over 12m

Applications received: 109

Applications approved: 106

Vessels currently licensed: 99

By Member State:

Member state

Applications received

Licences issued

Approved but unallocated or withdrawn

Applications not approved

Belgium

21

18

1

2

France

88

81

6

1

Vessels under 12m

Applications received: 50

Applications approved: 20

Vessels licensed: 19

By Member State:

Member state

Applications received

Licences issued

Approved but unallocated or withdrawn

Applications not approved

France

50

19

1

30

Direct replacement vessels

Applications received: 43

Applications approved: 27

Vessels licensed: 27

By Member State:

Member state

Applications received

Licences issued

Applications not approved

Belgium

2

1

1

France

41

26

15

Crown dependency waters

Licensing figures for the Crown dependencies are as follows:

Jersey

Total applications

Full licences issued

Temporary licences granted. Valid until 31-01-22.

Further information from the Commission/member state required if they are to become full licences

Lapsed on 30-10 due to lack of evidence

217

130

33

54

Jersey has also received 11 applications for replacement vessels, which are pending until the methodology is finalised.

Guernsey

Total applications

Full licences issued

Approved but unlicenced applications as the vessel is no longer active

Applications not approved

58

40

3 these will be issued to replacement vessels in due course

15

Guernsey’s transitional arrangement which allows 167 French vessels including those that have now been issued with a full licence, to continue fishing on a temporary basis, will remain until 31 January 2022.

Isle of Man: no applications received.

[HCWS492]

Health and Social Care

Covid-19 Update

The UK’s covid-19 vaccine programme continues to work tirelessly to protect the nation against the virus. As of 14 December, 51.2 million people have now received their first covid-19 vaccine dose and 46.8 million have had their second dose. Over 24 million people have also received a third dose/booster vaccine, which we now know is essential in providing the best protection against the Omicron variant.

Temporary suspension of 15-minute observation period

The SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529 (Omicron) was designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation on 26 November 2021. Since its discovery, scientists around the world have been working at pace to understand whether this strain could escape the vaccine, and if so, to what extent. On Friday 10 December, the UK Health Security Agency published an early analysis of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines’ effectiveness against Omicron. This analysis indicated that two doses of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines were insufficient to give adequate levels of protection against infection and mild disease. However, the study estimated that a third booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine increases the protection against symptomatic disease for the Omicron variant to 71% for those who received a primary course of the AstraZeneca, and 76% to those who received a primary course of the Pfizer vaccine.

Based on current trends, the Omicron variant is projected to become the dominant variant of coronavirus in the UK in the coming days and weeks, and therefore it is vital that we increase the pace of the booster programme. To this end, on 12 December 2021, the Prime Minister announced all eligible adults would now be offered a booster jab before the end of the year—bringing forward our target by a month. We need to do everything we can to speed up the pace of the booster programme and that is why I have agreed, based on advice from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers (CMOs), and lead Deputy Chief Medical Officers (DCMOs) for vaccines, to temporarily suspend the 15-minute observation period for the mRNA vaccines.

The UK CMOs have advised that the 15-minute observation period should be temporarily suspended for first, second and homologous or heterologous boost vaccinations with mRNA vaccines. The CMOs’ views are aligned with those of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s Commission on Human Medicines (CHM). The CHM will keep the suspension under close review.

Those individuals with a history of allergic reactions will continue to be managed in line with the advice set out in the UK Health Security Agency’s Green Book on Immunisation.

How the 15-minute suspension is operationally implemented will be determined by each nation in line with their needs. The UK Health Security Agency updated the Green Book to reflect the change from on Tuesday 14 December. The updated Patient Group Direction and Protocol will be published shortly.

The advice of the CMOs and DCMOs, and the MHRA, can be found at the following links. www.gov.uk/government/publications/suspension-of-the-15-minute-wait-for-vaccination-with-mrna-vaccine-for-covid-19-uk-cmos-opinion/

www.gov.uk/government/news/temporary-waiver-of-15-minute-observation-period-after-covid-19-mrna-vaccines

I will update the House in a similar manner as and when there are further important developments in the covid-19 vaccine deployment programme.

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Home Department

Data Sharing: Immigration

Today, I am pleased to announce the publication of the Home Office’s review into data sharing arrangements between the Home Office and police on migrant victims and witnesses of crime with insecure immigration status.

The review follows a commitment made in response to recommendation 2 of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services “Safe to Share” report, published in December 2020.

Having considered the views of domestic abuse and modern slavery sector groups the Home Office review acknowledges the concerns raised around the current data sharing arrangements and recognises that there is room for improvement to give migrant victims greater confidence to report crimes committed against them.

The Home Office is committed to supporting the reporting of crime affecting anyone and this includes migrants who have insecure immigration status. Current data sharing practices between the police and the Home Office are essential in protecting those most vulnerable and protecting the public from individuals who are considered to pose a risk of harm to communities.

The review recommends establishing an immigration enforcement migrant victims protocol as an alternative to a data sharing firewall and to give greater transparency to victims on how their data will be shared. The protocol will set out that no immigration enforcement action should be taken against that victim while investigation and prosecution proceedings are ongoing, and the victim is receiving support and advice to make an application to regularise their stay. It will set out, in line with the code of practice for victims rights, what information and signposting IE could offer to migrant victims to help them regularise their stay and thereby reduce the threat of coercion and control by their perpetrators.

The review sets out a commitment to identify safeguards to mitigate the deterrence effect of data sharing and explore analytical options to assess the barriers to reporting crime(s) amongst migrants with insecure immigration status within the UK, to identify further initiatives that could encourage reporting.

The police and Home Office will develop and implement a comprehensive stakeholder and outreach engagement programme designed to promote reporting of crime amongst migrants with irregular immigration status. A key component of this work will focus on building trust and confidence in immigration enforcement and police activities in supporting migrant victims.

The review has been laid before the House and will also be available on www.gov.uk.

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Justice

Justice Update

I am today announcing the publication of Sir Christopher Bellamy’s “Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid” report.

Since his appointment as chair of the review at the end of last year, Sir Christopher has undertaken a “whole-system” review of criminal legal aid fee schemes and the market of providers in England and Wales, considering its role as an enabler of many functions of the criminal justice system. Throughout his review, Sir Christopher has been supported by a dedicated expert advisory panel including legal practitioners, academics and members of the judiciary. Evidence to the review has been wide-ranging, reflecting the experiences of the legal profession, victims, witnesses, and defendants. I would like to thank Sir Christopher for his dedication in undertaking this important review and members of the expert advisory panel and other contributors for their comprehensive work.

I am extremely grateful to members of the Bar, the solicitor profession and chartered legal executives for their continued professionalism, dedication, and adaptability in delivering vital public services, particularly against the challenges of the pandemic, including their commitment to reducing court backlogs.

Sir Christopher has set out his vision for the role of legal aid in an efficient and effective criminal justice system. I recognise the importance of remuneration in delivering long-term sustainability of the market and I will consider his recommendations on this matter very carefully.

Beyond the important issue of funding, I welcome many of the principles underpinning his vision for the role of legal aid in an efficient and effective criminal justice system. I agree that data-sharing and transparency can enable us to make a better assessment of the efficiency, incentives, costs and effectiveness of criminal legal aid. My Department is continuing to explore ways to improve the availability and accessibility of data across the criminal justice system. Alongside the review, the Government have supported greater transparency by launching criminal justice system scorecards, which bring together data on a range of performance measures.

I am committed to ensuring defendants and other users of criminal legal aid services have access to high-quality advice from a diverse range of practitioners. I will carefully review Sir Christopher’s findings and consider where there are opportunities for the Government and the legal professions to work together to improve diversity to achieve a more equal gender and ethnicity balance within the profession and to support young barristers after pupillage.

I also recognise the importance of ensuring suitably experienced advice is available as early in a case as possible, so that cases are resolved at the earliest opportunity, increasing efficiency and improving outcomes in the criminal justice system. Sir Christopher makes specific recommendations on pre-charge engagement, which I will consider carefully.

It is important that the provision of criminal legal aid services meets the needs of its users, which may differ between regions. We will carefully examine the findings in the review around the potential for improving local outcomes, and in particular the potential future role of local criminal justice boards.

Beyond Sir Christopher’s review, the Government continue to support the defence profession and the wider criminal justice system. The Government have committed to invest £2.2 billion between 2022-23 and 2024-25 to meet increased demand on the criminal justice system from the additional 20,000 police officers and to fund the system’s recovery from covid-19. As part of the latest spending review, the Government have also committed over £200 million across the spending review period to complete the £1.3 billion court reform programme by the end of 2023. The court reform programme is an important step towards digitising court and tribunal services and enhancing the experience of their users.

In his review, Sir Christopher notes that listing decisions are for the judiciary. He also notes that how cases are listed is important to efficiency and to the experience of victims, witnesses and practitioners. We will consider Sir Christopher’s analysis to see where we can support further improvements.

My Department will continue to work with legal professionals and the judiciary on the future of remote hearings. As with listing, while the format of hearings is a judicial function, there are issues to consider around consistency.

We will consider Sir Christopher’s findings fully, and consult before taking decisions regarding his specific recommendations. It is right that such a detailed report receives the thorough consideration that it deserves, while giving the legal profession an indicative timeline. Therefore, I intend to publish a full response no later than the end of March 2022 alongside a consultation on all policy proposals.

Sir Christopher’s report can be found on gov.uk and I have placed copies in the Libraries of both Houses.

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Prime Minister

Covid-19 Update

I am announcing today the appointment of the right hon. Baroness Heather Hallett DBE as chair of the forthcoming public inquiry into the covid-19 pandemic, which is set to begin its work in spring 2022. The inquiry will be established under the 2005 Inquiries Act, with full powers, including the power to compel the production of documents and to summon witnesses to give evidence on oath. The inquiry will be held in public. In consultation with Baroness Hallett, I intend to appoint additional panel members in the new year in order that the inquiry has access to the full range of expertise needed to complete its important work.

Baroness Hallett retired from the Court of Appeal in 2019 and was made a crossbench life peer. She has conducted a range of high-profile and complex inquests, inquiries and reviews, including acting as coroner for the inquests into the deaths of the 52 victims of the 7 July 2005 London bombings; as chair of the Iraq Fatalities Investigations; and as chair of the 2014 Hallett Review of the administrative scheme to deal with “on the runs” in Northern Ireland. Baroness Hallett’s appointment to this role follows a recommendation made by the Lord Chief Justice.

Baroness Hallett is currently acting as coroner in the inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess, who died in July 2018 following exposure to the nerve agent Novichok. The Home Secretary announced on 18 November that a public inquiry would be established into these matters, and the inquest adjourned, in order to permit all relevant evidence to be heard. A new chair for that inquiry will be appointed early in the new year.

The public inquiry into covid-19 will play a key role in examining the UK’s pandemic response and ensuring that we learn the right lessons for the future. In doing so, it must ensure that those most affected by the pandemic—including those who have sadly lost loved ones—can play their proper role in the process. I will now consult Baroness Hallett and ministers in the devolved Administrations on the terms of reference for the inquiry and will publish these in draft in the new year. Baroness Hallett has agreed to then take forward a process of public engagement and consultation—including with bereaved families and other affected groups—before the terms of reference are finalised. I will make a further statement when it is time for that process to begin.

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Transport

Road Improvements: Consideration of Environmental Matters

I have been asked by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Transport (Grant Shapps) to make this written ministerial statement. This statement confirms that it has been necessary to extend the deadlines for decisions on the following two applications made under the Planning Act as indicated below to allow for further consideration of environmental matters:

M25 Junction 28 Improvement project: for the proposed development by National Highways which would authorise the creation of a new two-lane loop road with hard shoulder, for traffic travelling from the M25 northbound carriageway onto the A12 eastbound carriageway towards Essex. The Secretary of State received the Examining Authority’s report on 16 September 2021 and the current deadline for a decision was 16 December 2021. The deadline is now extended to 16 May 2021.

A1 Northumberland – Morpeth to Ellingham Improvements: the proposed development comprises the widening of approximately 20.6km stretch of the A1 between Morpeth to Ellingham with approximately 14.5km online widening and approximately 6.1km new offline highway. The Secretary of State received the Examining Authority’s report on 5 October 2021 and the current deadline for a decision was 5 January 2022. The deadline is now extended to 5 June 2022.

Under section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make his decision within three months of receipt of the Examining Authority’s report unless exercising the power under section 107(3) to extend the deadline and make a statement to the House of Parliament announcing the new deadline.

The Department will also endeavour to issue decisions ahead of the deadlines above wherever possible.

The decision to set new deadlines is without prejudice to the decisions on whether to give development consent for the above applications.

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Electric Vehicles: Grant Scheme and Charging Infrastructure

I am making this statement to update the House on changes being made today to the Government’s plug-in vehicle grant scheme as well as our plans to regulate to improve the experience for drivers charging electric vehicles.

Plug-in grant scheme

For over a decade, the plug-in vehicle grant scheme has helped to boost the uptake of zero and ultra-low emission vehicles by offsetting their up-front cost, supporting our goal of eliminating tailpipe greenhouse gas emissions in our drive towards net zero, as well as removing air pollutants that harm human health.

The Government have invested over £1.5 billion since 2010, supporting nearly half a million vehicles. The approach has worked—it has helped to kick-start a market that is now moving forward at pace. Over 150,000 zero emission cars have been sold so far this year, more than one in 10 of all new cars sold. Electric van uptake is also accelerating at pace, with grant orders up 250% this year compared with 2020. And almost 50% of mopeds sold in 2021 have been electric, with some models costing the same up-front as an internal combustion engine equivalent.

Last year the Government announced a further £582 million to continue the plug-in grants until at least 2022-23, and more money was allocated at the spending review in October. This funding remains in place. However, with demand so strong, it is right that we seek to focus the grants, which are funded by the taxpayer, on the areas where they will have the most impact and where the market still needs Government support.

From today, the Government will provide grants of up to £1,500 for electric cars priced under £32,000, focusing on the more affordable vehicles and making best use of taxpayers’ money. Wheelchair accessible vehicles are being prioritised, with a higher grant of £2,500 for vehicles priced under £35,000. Small vans will also receive £2,500, and large vans £5,000, with a per financial year limit of 1,000 grants per business to ensure that funding is spread fairly. There will be no changes for small or large trucks, which receive £16,000 and £25,000 respectively. Motorcycles priced up to £10,000 (L3e category) will receive £500 and mopeds (L1e) will get £150. These changes will allow the scheme’s funding to go further, helping more people and businesses to switch to an electric vehicle.

Generous tax incentives, including zero road tax and favourable company car tax rates, which are a strong driver of uptake and can save drivers over £2,000 a year, remain in place. It is expected that the total cost of EV ownership will reach parity during the 2020s compared to petrol and diesel cars.

Improving drivers experience of charging

The UK has been a global frontrunner in supporting provision of charging infrastructure along with private sector investment. Our vision is to have one of the best infrastructure networks in the world for electric vehicles, and we want charge points to be accessible, affordable and secure. Government and industry have supported the installation of over 27,600 publicly available charging devices including more than 5,000 rapid devices. Government have also supported the installation of almost 250,000 charge-points in homes and businesses.

Earlier in the year Government consulted to improve the consumer experience at public electric vehicle charge points. Next year we will introduce new rules that will increase confidence in our electric vehicle charging infrastructure. This will mandate a minimum payment method—such as contactless payment—for new 7.1 kW and above charge points, including rapids. Consumers will soon be able to compare costs across networks in a recognisable format similar to pence per litre for fuel and there will be new standards to ensure reliable charging for electric vehicle drivers.

Conclusion

Today’s announcement, which is part of a wider package of £3.5 billion funding that this Government are investing to support the automotive sector and consumers in the transition to zero emission vehicles, is in response to a market-led acceleration towards greater electric vehicle ownership.

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