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Written Statements

Volume 737: debated on Thursday 7 September 2023

Written Statements

Thursday 7 September 2023

Business and Trade

Business and Trade update

Since Parliament adjourned for summer recess, the Department for Business and Trade has been carrying out a significant amount of activity in a number of areas. We are updating the House today on progress in these areas.

UK-India trade negotiations

The 11th round of UK-India free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations began on 5 July and concluded on 14 July in London. The 12th round of talks took place in Delhi from 8-31 August. Both rounds were conducted in a hybrid fashion.

During round 11, India’s Minister for Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal, visited London. Discussions covered the status of the negotiations, as well as wider trade and investment opportunities for the UK and India. Shri Sunil Barthwal, India’s Commerce Secretary, also visited the UK during the round to meet with senior UK trade officials and take stock of progress made in the round.

During round 12, between 24-26 August, the Secretary of State visited India to attend the final trade and investment working group of the Indian G20 Presidency. During her visit, she again met with Minister Goyal. Their discussions focused on goods, services and investment. We agreed to hold round 13 in September.

UK-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) trade negotiations

The fourth round of UK-Gulf Cooperation Council free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations began on 17 July and concluded on 28 July in London. The round was held in a hybrid fashion.

Technical discussions were held across 23 policy areas over 44 sessions. Good progress was made and both sides remain committed to securing an ambitious, comprehensive and modern agreement fit for the 21st century.

UK-Israel trade negotiations

The third round of United Kingdom-Israel free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations began week commencing 23 July. The round was held in a hybrid fashion—UK officials travelled to Jerusalem for negotiations and others attended virtually.

We focused primarily on trade in services and procurement, which are key areas not covered by our current trading arrangements under the trade and continuity partnership agreement. Negotiators held text-based and technical discussions across 10 policy areas and 32 sessions in Jerusalem. Both sides continue to work towards an upgraded modern agreement and the fourth round of negotiations will take place in due course.

Smarter regulations

We intend to introduce legislation to further extend recognition of the CE mark in Great Britain for regulations managed by the Department for Business and Trade when parliamentary time allows.

Government have engaged extensively with industry to understand concerns about the requirement to use the UKCA mark on many products from December 2024. We have heard that the planned transition to UKCA poses challenges and costs for businesses. We have listened and we are taking action.

Businesses will have the flexibility and choice to use either the UKCA mark or the EU’s CE mark to place goods on the GB market. This approach is designed to minimise additional regulatory compliance costs for businesses while ensuring consumers can continue to access safe products. We will engage with industry to develop our proposed approach to product markings and CE recognition in a way that benefits both British businesses and consumers.

Departmental responsibility transfer update

Following machinery of Government changes, responsibility for the pre-existing provision for covid loan guarantees and the pre-existing Post Office working capital facility has transferred from the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to the Department for Business and Trade.

Following review, it has been noted that at the Department for Business and Trade’s main estimate for 2023-24 Government officials did not include the cash required to meet payments for these pre-existing arrangements. Parliamentary approval for additional cash of £3,659,625,000 will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department for Business and Trade. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £3,659,625,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the contingencies fund. The cash advance will be repaid upon receiving Royal Assent on the Supply and Appropriation Bill.

Shipbuilding credit guarantee scheme (SCGS)

Today the Secretary of State is laying a departmental minute describing a contingent liability arising from the launch of a shipbuilding credit guarantee scheme (SCGS) before Parliament.

The scheme is a finance instrument which will provide guarantees to banks in respect of loans made to vessel owners and operators seeking to place orders at UK shipyards. The shipbuilding credit guarantee scheme (SCGS) will guarantee a portion of the value of eligible loans, sharing the risk with lenders to encourage offers of finance to UK vessel owners and operators.

The SCGS is one of a number of targeted interventions being taken as part of over £4 billion of Government investment planned through the Government’s national shipbuilding strategy refresh, to encourage UK ship owners and operators to place new orders and upgrade their existing fleets with world-leading shipyards that are based up and down the UK. HM Treasury has approved the arrangements.


Culture, Media and Sport

“A Sustainable Future—Reforming Club Football Governance”: Consultation Response

I wish to inform the House that the Government have today published our response to the White Paper consultation “A Sustainable Future – Reforming Club Football Governance: Consultation Response”.

Football lies at the heart of our nation and it touches the lives of so many of us across the country. Football brings people together, whether at times of national sporting success, or through football clubs that form a vital part of our lives not just for fans, but for their local communities too. Football fosters a sense of belonging and supports local economies.

As the Government set out in the White Paper, “A Sustainable Future - Reforming Club Football Governance”, although English football is an undeniable global success story that should be celebrated, protected and promoted, there are long-standing issues in the game. The football pyramid is a huge asset of this country, but unfortunately some clubs have been run in financially unsustainable ways.

This consultation response is the latest step in the Government’s ongoing commitment to support, promote and protect the national game, as well as ensure that fans are placed at the heart of it. This began with the Government’s 2019 manifesto commitment to an independent fan-led review, which was then carried out in 2021. The Government are extremely grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Tracey Crouch), the chair of the review, for her comprehensive work. This ultimately led us to publish our White Paper in February 2023, which built on the review’s recommendations and set out a comprehensive plan to introduce an independent regulator for English football clubs.

This regulator will have a primary strategic purpose of ensuring that English football is sustainable and resilient, for the benefit of fans and the local communities they serve. This will help to protect our national game, build secure foundations for clubs and ensure fans are always in their rightful place at the heart of football.

Since publishing the White Paper, the Government have undertaken significant engagement with a broad range of stakeholders. This has included regular meetings with the Premier League, English Football League (EFL), the Football Association (FA), the National League and the Football Supporters’ Association (FSA), as well as official and ministerial-level meetings with over 40 football clubs. In addition, the Government have held a series of meetings with leading experts across a variety of fields, including economics, finance, regulation and law. The Government have also received detailed written responses from over 70 key stakeholders including the Premier League and EFL (and a number of their constituent clubs), the FA, the FSA and contributions from industry and legal experts as well as other footballing bodies, including Fair Game, Kick It Out, the Players Football Association (PFA) and Level Playing Field.

I want to thank all the fan groups, clubs, leagues, football bodies and industry experts who have engaged with the Government throughout the entire process, providing their feedback and views on key aspects of the Government’s policy proposals, including financial regulation, corporate governance, financial distributions and fan engagement. I would also like to thank the academics Kieran Maguire and Dr Christina Philippou for their independent, expert analysis of financial sustainability in football. I have personally met with a number of clubs, football authorities and fan organisations to listen to their views and understand how the Government can best achieve our shared goal of a successful, sustainable English game. Across the board, this engagement has been very constructive and has helped the Government to further develop and fine-tune our policy proposals.

The document the Government are publishing today summarises some of the key themes arising out of this ongoing consultation and sets out this Government’s response. This includes topics such as: the case for reform; the scope of the regulator; consistency of the regulatory approach; the independence of the regulator; managing the regulatory landscape; and the regulatory backstop powers on distributions. Furthermore, the document sets out that the Government are currently minded to set up a new independent body to house the regulator; however, all options remain under review.

The Government will continue to work with and engage industry and fan groups as these proposals develop. English football is a £6 billion industry with a unique market structure and complex commercial dynamics. As such, it is crucial that the Government take the necessary time to work closely with key stakeholders to design a bespoke regulatory model that allows for a flexible, agile and proportionate approach. This Government’s approach will seek to minimise the risk of regulatory overlap and burden, by collaborating and sharing information with existing football bodies, which could include co-ordinating rules and processes with industry bodies to minimise gaps, duplication or conflicts. This will balance the need for change to secure the long-term future of our national game and the need to restore fans’ place at its heart with the importance of ensuring continued global success.

The Government are working at pace to deliver and remain committed to legislating to put the independent football regulator on a statutory footing as soon as parliamentary time allows.

I am confident that our White Paper proposals will put football on a more sustainable course for the future, and the Government remain fully committed to working with fans and the wider football community to make them a reality.


Energy Security and Net Zero

Full Chain Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage project: Development Consent

This statement concerns an application for development consent made under the Planning Act 2008 by Net Zero Teesside Power Ltd and Net Zero North Sea Storage Ltd for development consent for a full chain carbon capture, usage and storage project, which includes a new gas-fired electricity generating station with post-combustion carbon capture plant, gas, electricity and water connections and a CO2 pipeline network, located on Teesside.

Under section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make a decision on an application within three months of the receipt of the examining authority’s report unless exercising the power under section 107(3) of the Act to set a new deadline. Where a new deadline is set, the Secretary of State must make a statement to Parliament to announce it. The current statutory deadline for the decision on the net zero Teesside project is 14 September 2023.

The Secretary of State requested further information to be supplied by the applicants Net Zero Teesside Power Ltd and Net Zero North Sea Storage Ltd by 30 May. The applicants submitted this information on 4 August. The Secretary of State has, therefore, decided to set a new deadline of no later than 16 November 2023 for deciding this application, to enable my Department to ensure sufficient time to consider this information and to conduct the necessary consultations with interested parties.

The decision to set the new deadline for this application is without prejudice to the decisions on whether to grant or refuse development consent.


Home Department

Immigration Rules: Statement of Changes

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is today laying before the House a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules.

EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) and EUSS family permits

We are making certain changes to the EUSS, which enables EU, other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens living in the UK by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, and their family members, to obtain immigration status.

The effect of the changes is the removal of the right of administrative review for EUSS eligibility refusals and relevant cancellation decisions made on or after 5 October 2023. In line with the Citizens’ Rights Agreements, a right of redress will continue to be provided through a right of appeal. The changes create streamlined arrangements for challenging a decision and align with the approach taken in the rest of the immigration system (where no dual right of redress exists).

The same changes apply to the S2 Healthcare Visitor route, which provides a route of entry to the UK for people who, before the end of the transition period, had requested authorisation from their EEA home state or Switzerland to receive a course of planned healthcare treatment provided by the NHS under the “S2 arrangement”.

We are also making some minor, technical amendments to Appendix EU for clarification purposes.

Immigration Rules for Pre-1997 Gurkhas, Hong Kong Military Unit Veterans and Family Members

We are bringing the pre-1997 Gurkha settlement concession into the Immigration Rules and at the same time extending the policy to cover pre-1997 members of Hong Kong military units as announced in March 2023.

The policy recognises Hong Kong veterans have similar circumstances to Gurkhas, stationed in Hong Kong prior to handover to China, although never based in the UK. It will enable those eligible who were discharged before 1 July 1997 to settle in the UK. This will be done by extending the provisions of the settlement concession that already exists for former Gurkhas and their families to Hong Kong military unit veterans and their families. Bringing both cohorts under the rules provides greater transparency for these routes and fairness of treatment.

Changes to Appendix Electronic Travel Authorisation

We have made changes to clarify that the ETA exemption for applicants lawfully resident in Ireland who are travelling within the Common Travel Area will require a person aged 16 or above to demonstrate residency in Ireland, if required by a UK official, in order to benefit from this exemption.

The changes to the Immigration Rules are being laid on 7 September 2023.

All changes in the Statement of Changes will come into effect on various dates from 28 September 2023.


Science, Innovation and Technology

UK Science update

The Government have successfully concluded negotiations with the European Union regarding the UK’s participation in EU science and research programmes; Horizon Europe and Copernicus.

From today, UK scientists can bid and participate confidently in the world’s largest programme of research co-operation—alongside their EU, Norwegian, New Zealand and Israeli colleagues—and with countries like Korea and Canada looking to join.

UK academics and industry will be able to bid, secure funding for, and, crucially, lead, the vast majority of new calls that will be opening throughout the autumn. UK researchers and businesses can be certain that all successful UK applicants will be covered through the UK’s association for the rest of the programme, or through the remainder of the UK’s Horizon Europe guarantee scheme as we transition to these new arrangements. All calls in Work Programme 2024 will be covered by association and the UK guarantee scheme will be extended to cover all calls under Work Programme 2023. UK scientists and researchers can lead project consortia under Work Programme 2024—a key ask of the sector—allowing them to shape the next generation of international collaboration.

Under the previous programme the UK established over 200,000 collaborative links, and we will now play a leading role in a range of ground-breaking industry collaborations such as the Al, Data and Robotics Partnership worth over £2 billion, or the Cancer Mission aiming to help more than 3 million people by 2030.

Access to Horizon Europe was a top ask of our research community. We have listened to our sector and in this deal delivered collaboration where it is most valuable to UK science. This provides our scientists with a stable base for international collaboration and makes sure we are on track to deliver on the ambition to make the UK a science and technology superpower by 2030.

The Government have negotiated a bespoke deal in the UK’s national interest. It strengthens UK science, boosts economic growth and delivers for the UK taxpayer. This bespoke deal works for the UK by ensuring that we do not pay for the time we were not associated. It also delivers a new mechanism protecting our taxpayers in case the UK ends up putting significantly more into the pot than our scientists get out. This deal also means that the UK has a greater ability to overperform than other associated countries outside the EU/ EEA reflecting our confidence in UK science.

We will also associate to the Copernicus programme, a state-of-the art capacity to monitor the Earth, and to its services. The UK’s association to Copernicus comes at a crucial moment, where the Copernicus space infrastructure and its information services will evolve further and our contribution to understanding and acting on environmental and climate change related challenges is more important than ever. Access to this unique Earth observation data will provide early warning of floods and fires and allow the UK’s world-leading sector to bid for contracts worth over hundreds of millions. And the UK will have cost-free access to the EU Space Surveillance and Tracking services, providing important information about objects in space.

The UK will not join the Euratom programme. The UK fusion sector has communicated a preference for an alternatives programme that would involve direct investment in the UK sector. We are pleased to announce that we will be doing exactly that. We plan to invest up to £650 million to 2027 in a programme of new, cutting-edge alternative programmes subject to business cases, and will announce further details shortly.