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Written Statements

Volume 732: debated on Tuesday 2 May 2023

Written Statements

Tuesday 2 May 2023

Cabinet Office

Closure of Gov.UK Verify

I would like to update the House on the Gov.UK Verify programme, following the written ministerial statement in April 2022 made by my colleague Heather Wheeler MP. As planned, the Gov.UK Verify programme has now closed. The final Government service stopped using the platform on 30 March 2023.

Many services which used Gov.UK Verify have moved to Gov.UK One Login—the new Government-built solution which enables users to prove their identity and access central Government services online. The Government Digital Service is using lessons learnt from Gov.UK Verify to help in the development of Gov.UK One Login and provide people with an experience that is representative of a modern, forward-looking democracy.


Circumstances leading to the Resignation of a Senior Civil Servant

On 6 March 2023, the Minister for the Cabinet Office and HM Paymaster General announced in reply to an urgent question that the Cabinet Office had been asked to look into the circumstances leading to the resignation of Sue Gray, the former Permanent Secretary for the Union and the Constitution, and committed to update Parliament as appropriate.

This process has involved interviewing relevant persons to establish further details on the contact between Ms Gray and the Leader of the Opposition. I can update the House that Ms Gray was given the opportunity to make representations as part of this process but chose not to do so.

I hope the House will understand that, in order to maintain confidentiality towards an individual former employee, I am unable at this stage to provide further information relating to the departure of Ms Gray whilst we consider next steps.

All civil servants are required to follow the civil service code which sets out the four core values of the civil service:

Integrity—putting the obligations of public service above your own personal interests

Honesty—being truthful and open

Objectivity—basing your advice and decisions on rigorous analysis of the evidence

Impartiality—acting solely according to the merits of the case and serving equally well Governments of different political persuasions.

Section 4.4.9 of the civil service management code sets out that all members of the senior civil service are in the “politically restricted” category, which places further restrictions on their political activity.

In addition, there is a requirement under the directory of civil service guidance, which underpins the civil service code, that

“contacts between senior civil servants and leading members of the Opposition cleared with...Ministers.”

The impartiality and perceived impartiality of the civil service is constitutionally vital to the conduct of Government. Ministers must be able to speak to their officials from a position of absolute trust, so it is the responsibility of everyone in this House to preserve and support the impartiality of the civil service.

Separately, the Cabinet Office has made submissions to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA), the independent appointments watchdog, in relation to Ms Gray’s application for advice under the business appointment rules, prior to her taking up an appointment as chief of staff to the Leader of the Opposition. The Government’s confidential assessment is in line with the usual process and ACoBA will consider evidence from a range of sources to make a recommendation on any appropriate restrictions on the appointment. As set out in the business appointment rules, the aim of the rules includes avoiding any reasonable concerns that

“a former civil servant might improperly exploit privileged access to contacts in Government or sensitive information”.

The decision on any recommended restrictions on the appointment is for ACoBA.

The Government will provide a further update to the House in due course.



Notification of Contingent Liability

The independent Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England decided at its meeting ending on 3 February 2022 to reduce the stocks of UK Government bonds and sterling non-financial investment-grade corporate bonds held in the Asset Purchase Facility by ceasing to reinvest maturing securities. The Bank ceased reinvestment of assets in this portfolio in February 2022 and has since commenced sales of corporate bonds on 28 September 2022, and sales of gilts acquired for monetary policy purposes on 1 November 2022.

The previous Chancellor agreed a joint approach with the Governor of the Bank of England in an exchange of letters on 3 February 2022 to reduce the maximum authorised size of the APF for asset purchases every six months, as the size of APF holdings reduces.

Since 16 January 2023, the total stock of assets held by the APF for monetary policy purposes has fallen from £851 billion to £821.3 billion. In line with the approach agreed with the Governor, the authorised maximum total size of the APF has therefore been reduced to £821.3 billion.

The risk control framework previously agreed with the Bank will remain in place, and HM Treasury will continue to monitor risks to public funds from the APF through regular risk oversight meetings and enhanced information sharing with the Bank.

There will continue to be an opportunity for HM Treasury to provide views to the MPC on the design of the schemes within the APF, as they affect the Government’s broader economic objectives and may pose risks to the Exchequer.

The Government will continue to indemnify the Bank, the APF and its directors from any losses arising out of, or in connection with, the facility. If the liability is called, provision for any payment will be sought through the normal supply procedure.

A full departmental minute has been laid in the House of Commons providing more detail on this contingent liability.


Culture, Media and Sport

Appointments Update: BBC Board Chairman

On Friday 28 April, Richard Sharp submitted his resignation as chair of the BBC Board. On the same day, the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments published the decision notice on the inquiry into the appointment process for the chair of the BBC Board.

I understand and respect Richard Sharp’s decision to stand down, and following his resignation letter to me I wrote to him. A copy of this exchange of letters will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The board proposed that Richard Sharp stay in post until the next board meeting on 27 June 2023, while an acting chair is appointed in line with the charter. This will provide certainty and stability. A process will also commence to appoint a permanent new chair.


UK Concussion Guidelines for Grassroots Sport

I wish to inform the House that His Majesty’s Government announced the UK concussion guidelines for grassroots sport in conjunction with the Sport and Recreation Alliance on Friday 28 April:

The vast majority of people participate in sport safely, but reducing the risks associated with concussion and making sport even safer for everyone is an ambition shared by both Government and the sport sector. Ultimately, we want more people to participate in sport and have a positive, enjoyable and safe experience.

The new UK concussion guidelines for grassroots sport are, therefore, a significant step forward. The most important message is: “If in doubt, sit them out”, and the new guidelines are designed to help those at grassroots level:

RECOGNISE the signs of concussion;

REMOVE anyone suspected of being concussed immediately and;

RETURN safely to daily activity, education/work and, ultimately, sport.

The guidelines are designed for everyone involved in grassroots sport from school age upwards—participants, coaches, volunteers, parents—as well as those working in education settings and healthcare professions. The guidelines are aimed at grassroots sport where trained healthcare professionals are typically not available to manage concussed individuals.

The guidelines have been developed by an independent drafting group of leading UK and international experts in the field of sport-related concussion who used the latest and most robust scientific and medical evidence available. The guidelines have been endorsed by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and supported by the NHS and the home nations’ chief medical officers.

The UK-wide high level guidelines are part of a wider package of work being taken forward under the Government’s Action Plan on Concussion, as set out in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Command Paper of December 2021.

Since publication of the Command Paper, through the action plan, the Government have created a distribution network of key stakeholders to share the new concussion guidelines and directed UK Sport and Sport England to ensure that the guidelines are implemented where appropriate by sports in receipt of public funding.

We have also encouraged sport national governing bodies to discuss training protocols with player associations. For the longer term, we have also created an Innovation and Technology panel of experts to work with companies in the tech industry to explore technological solutions, and established a new Sports Concussion Research Forum to identify the research questions that need answering in this important area.

We encourage Members of the House to share this important message widely to ensure that the benefits of sport are enjoyed safely.


Home Department

Draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill

Today, I am pleased to announce the publication of the draft Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill, also known as Martyn’s law, for pre-legislative scrutiny by the Home Affairs Committee. The draft Bill (CP 840) has been laid before the House and is also available on

The Government confirmed their intention to bring forward Martyn’s law in December 2022. Since this announcement, officials have been working at pace to finalise the proposals.

The plans have been developed following extensive engagement with security partners, business and victims’ groups, including Figen Murray and the Martyn’s Law Campaign Team. The Government would particularly like to thank Figen Murray, whose son Martyn Hett was killed in the Manchester Arena attack, for the significant contribution she has made through her tireless campaign to introduce the Bill.

The threat from terrorism is evolving and enduring. One of the most significant long-term trends, irrespective of ideology, is individuals—or small groups—who plan or carry out terrorist attacks without being part of an organised terrorist group. This type of terrorism is not new, but it is now the most prevalent, and it presents unique challenges for our counter-terrorism response.

Attacks have tended to be “low-complexity” involving “low-sophistication” attack methodologies. For example, we have seen attacks that utilised knives and vehicles. Individuals may not have any relationship with or direction from established terrorist groups—but just because an attack is low-sophistication, it does not mean it is less deadly.

This trend is not exclusive, as such individuals are capable of higher-complexity attacks involving more sophisticated attack methodologies, such as the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing. This trend of radicalised self-initiated actors makes identification and disruption difficult, and it becomes increasingly challenging to predict threat at specific locations.

This is why it is right that Martyn’s law should seek to improve protective security and organisational preparedness at a wide range of public premises across the UK. Those responsible for certain public premises will be required to consider the threat from terrorism and implement reasonably practicable and proportionate mitigating measures. It will also establish an associated inspection and enforcement regime, which will seek to educate, advise, and ensure compliance with the requirements of the Bill.

The requirements within the Bill will only apply to qualifying premises—in short, qualifying premises have specific uses and a large capacity. Qualifying premises are split into two tiers, the “standard duty” and the “enhanced duty”. Standard duty premises are those with a capacity of 100 to 799 people. Enhanced duty premises are those with a capacity of 800 people or more. The Bill allows for provision to be made for some qualifying premises to be treated as standard duty premises when they would otherwise be enhanced duty premises, and vice versa.

Standard duty requirements have been developed to ensure there is a baseline level of protection and preparedness throughout the UK. These requirements will help keep the public safe, while at the same time not unduly burdening business. The enhanced tier requirements are more extensive because those premises have a responsibility to keep larger numbers of people safe.

The regulator will apply a “reasonably practicable” test to carefully consider what it is reasonable to expect of a specific premise; there will not be a one size fits all approach. In all instances, the Government and the regulator will provide guidance and support to ensure we do everything possible to alleviate the burden on business.

The requirements that apply to enhanced duty premises will also apply to large events held at non-qualifying premises, known as qualifying events. These are public events with a capacity of 800 or over that require express permission for entry—with or without payment.

We recognise that it would not be appropriate for all locations to consider and put in place security measures. Striking the right balance between protecting the public and proportionality has been at the heart of policy development and the Bill.

I am looking forward to working with the Home Affairs Committee to ensure that the legislation is robust and delivers on its core aims ahead of a formal introduction into Parliament.


Science, Innovation and Technology

Product Security Regime: Implementation Plan

I am repeating the following written ministerial statement made today in the other place by my noble Friend, the Minister for AI and Intellectual Property, Viscount Camrose:

The Government are determined to cement the UK’s place as a science and technology superpower by 2030. We will grow the UK economy, create high-paid jobs of the future, protect our security, and radically improve people’s lives through science, innovation and technology. To ensure that consumer connected technology is more secure against cyber threats, the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2022 (PSTI Act) will mandate that minimum security requirements must be complied with before consumer connectable products can be supplied to UK customers. UK consumers will be the first in the world to benefit from these protections.

I have now made commencement regulations which will bring part 1 of the PSTI Act into effect on 29 April 2024. The Government are also today publishing the technical wording of the new security requirements within the full draft text of the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure (Security Requirements for Relevant Connectable Products) Regulations 2023. Manufacturers and other businesses in the supply chain of these products now have 12 months to transition their businesses to comply with these new security requirements.

From April next year, consumers and businesses across the UK will benefit from world-leading security protections from the threat of cyber-crime:

Universal default and easily guessable default passwords will be banned on consumer connectable products—meaning UK customers will enjoy additional protections from their products being compromised by hackers, and used to launch cyber-attacks against citizens, businesses, critical national infrastructure, and nation states.

Device manufacturers will have to publish contact information allowing vulnerabilities relating to their devices to be reported to them. This will enable manufacturers to maintain an awareness of, and therefore address, existing or future cyber security risks.

Manufacturers will have to be transparent about how long their products will receive security updates for. This will provide security-conscious consumers with vital, standardised security information, that they can use to inform their purchasing decisions, and drive the provision of longer security update periods through market forces.

Manufacturers will also be required to ensure that a customer is made aware of a product’s security update support period before allowing them to purchase the product on the manufacturer’s website.

Officials at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology have been working closely with industry, consumer rights organisations, and cyber security experts, to ensure the requirements this legislation will set out satisfy the Government’s ambitions. Today, in addition to making commencement regulations, the Government are publishing the technical wording of the new security requirements within the full draft text of the PSTI (Product Security) Regulations 2023:

Once the notification requirements of international bodies, including the World Trade Organisation, have been complied with, the final draft regulations will be laid before Parliament for scrutiny.