Cookies: We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. By continuing to use the site you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
House of Commons Hansard
x
Written Statements
21 July 2016
Volume 613

Written Statements

Thursday 21 July 2016

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Informal Competitiveness Council

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My noble Friend the Minister of State for Business, Energy and Industrual Strategy (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) has today made the following statement:

The Informal Competitiveness Council, chaired by the Slovak presidency, took place in Bratislava on 18-19 July 2016. Baroness Neville-Rolfe represented the UK on day one (internal market and industry) with David Wilson, Deputy Director, International Knowledge and Innovation Directorate, on day two (research)There were major contributions from Gunther Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society on the digital economy, and by Peter Ziga, the Slovak Economy Minister on the priorities of the Slovak presidency, including the Digital Single Market and principles of better regulation. In a break out session on digital skills, the UK highlighted the importance of working on digital skills in schools, in the workplace and in society, and of bridging the gap on expert skills. The UK confirmed that it would continue to play a full and constructive role in the Council while it remained a member of the EU.

On the second day, member states supported the general principles of the declaration to support young researchers. The UK underlined the value of increased co-operation, but also the need to respect the autonomy of national education systems. Collaboration and regulatory simplification were among the issues that were strongly supported in creating an ecosystem to support innovative SMEs. The UK joined a number of member states in emphasising the importance of further simplification of support programmes and following up on existing commitment to create a more innovation friendly environment.

[HCWS103]

Cabinet Office

Conflict Stability and Security Fund

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I wish to update the House on how the Government have been supporting our national security interests through conflict prevention, peace building, stabilisation, peacekeeping and conflict resolution using the conflict stability and security fund (CSSF).

The CSSF replaced the conflict pool in April 2015, as part of a new, more strategic approach to enhancing the delivery of our national security interests. The CSSF is one of two funding instruments overseen by the National Security Adviser. My right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury will be providing a parallel update to Parliament today on the prosperity fund, which operates on a similar cross-Government basis.

Last year the Government laid a statement before the House announcing the creation of the CSSF. As announced last November in the strategic defence and security review (SDSR), for the current financial year CSSF funding has increased to £1.127 billion and it will increase by a further 19% over this spending review period, reaching £1.322 billion a year by 2019. The CSSF is now one of the world’s largest mechanisms for addressing conflict and instability. Its programmes deliver against over 40 cross-Government strategies set by the National Security Council. Together, these activities help to secure the UK, promote peace and stability overseas and contribute directly to the SDSR’s objectives. The CSSF is designed as a flexible resource. It is supporting the peace processes including that in Colombia, tackling organised crime in the Caribbean, helping Ukraine to build its resilience to withstand external threats, funding a doubling of British UN peacekeepers, and has supported reforming the police and militaries in some of the world’s most challenging environments. Without the CSSF the UK and our international partners would be less secure.

Parliamentary accountability for taxpayers’ money spent via the CSSF is provided primarily through the Joint Committee for the National Security Strategy. Each autumn, the NSC agrees overall annual allocations for the CSSF, though these may change during the year in response to crises. The NSC reviews strategies in the spring. Regional boards on which all NSC departments are represented are responsible for overseeing delivery of programmes against these strategies. A joint unit—the NSS joint programme hub—provides the secretariat, advises the NSC on funding and delivery against the strategies, and advises the regional boards and programme teams on financial management and monitoring and evaluation.

The Government have used the CSSF to mitigate the spill-over of the Syrian conflict into Jordan and Lebanon. We have supported Jordan’s security agencies to maintain its stability in the context of an influx of refugees equivalent to 10% of its population. We have also established community police stations in Syrian refugee camps and trained Jordanian community police. This programme—funded initially by the conflict pool and now the CSSF—has had a tangible impact: security incidents in the camps dropped by two-thirds between 2013 and 2014. We continue to assist the Lebanese military in securing their border with Syria to prevent Daesh’s attempts to infiltrate Lebanon. We have trained 5,782 troops and enabled Lebanon to secure 75% of the border. In Africa we are helping to tackle terrorist groups, including training the Africa Union peacekeepers in Somalia and capacity-building for the Somali military. We have also ensured women’s participation in building Somalia’s future through its state-building processes. In Nigeria we have used CSSF funds to work with the Nigerian armed forces in tackling Boko Haram.

The Government are using CSSF funds to promote a political process and save lives in Syria. This includes training and equipping over 2,700 volunteers across northern Syria to carry out search and rescue, fire-fighting and first aid. These “White Helmets” have saved over 50,000 lives since March 2013.

Gender equality is embedded throughout the delivery of the CSSF. Last year the CSSF spent £26 million explicitly on activities addressing gender equality and a further £159 million on programmes with elements which addressed gender equality.

CSSF funding is strengthening the multilateral system, supporting the UN and other international organisations, to develop more effective multilateral responses to instability. The CSSF funds our contributions to the UN peacekeeping budget. We are the sixth biggest contributor, spending over £300 million in 2015. We are also using CSSF funds to help reform the UN and UN peacekeeping, coordinating outreach to member states to secure pledges of personnel for peace operations and to assist with the transition from pledges to deployments.

The SDSR announced that the CSSF will incorporate additional programmes from 2016-17. These include the good governance fund for the eastern neighbourhood and western Balkans, the north Africa good governance fund, a migration fund and a programme for the overseas territories.

Conflict Stability and Security Fund resources, FY16-17

CSSF

2016-17 (millions)

Peacekeeping and multilateral

385.7

Regional/country strategies

577.8

Security and defence

150

Delivery support, including the stabilisation unit and National School of Government International

13.5

Total

1,127

Attachments can be viewed online at

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-07-21/HCWS123

[HCWS123]

English Language Requirement

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Government believe that the public should expect that all those with whom they interact, within the sphere of public services, have the language abilities required to respond to their needs.

A clear commitment in our manifesto was to ensure that all public sector workers in customer-facing roles can speak fluent English. I am delighted to announce that this manifesto commitment has now been fulfilled, with the Immigration Act 2016 receiving Royal Assent on 12 May 2016.

Part 7 of the Immigration Act 2016 places a duty on all public authorities in scope to ensure that their customer-facing staff can speak fluent English, or in Wales fluent English or Welsh. This will assure citizens that there is not a language barrier that might prevent them from contacting or using public services or inadvertently put them at risk.

It is a clear priority for the Government to ensure public services are delivered to a high standard in spoken English, or in Wales in English or Welsh.

In support of this aim, the Government are today publishing:

A draft statutory code of practice which is intended to support public sector employers in complying with this new duty, while ensuring minimal burden. It provides principles and examples for public authorities to consider when fulfilling their legal duties and obligations. It will also be available in Welsh.

A final impact assessment is available, which evaluates the impact of this duty. It details the problem under consideration, the rationale for intervention and the policy objective. It also evaluates the monetised and non-monetised costs and benefits of the preferred option, as well as considering risks and possible wider impacts of the policy.

The Government have worked with relevant employers throughout the development of the draft code of practice and will continue to do so to ensure that the duty is implemented in a way which ensures a positive impact for employees and service users in frontline organisations.

The code will be laid before Parliament and issued in October but the early publication of the document is intended to support organisations to be ready to adhere to the statutory duty once it comes into force.

All publications will be available at: www.gov.uk and at: www.parliament.uk/writtenstatements.

[HCWS112]

Members' Correspondence

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am today publishing a report on the performance of Departments and Agencies on handling correspondence from Members and Peers during the calendar year 2015. Details are set out in the table. Correspondence statistics for 2014 can be found on 3 June 2015, Official Report, column 15WS.

Departmental figures are based on substantive replies unless otherwise indicated. The footnotes to the table provide general background information on how the figures have been compiled.

Attachments can be viewed online at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-07-21/HCWS118.

[HCWS118]

Treasury

Cross-Government Prosperity Fund

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

In the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) the Prime Minister announced the creation of a new £1.3 billion Cross-Government Prosperity Fund. I am pleased to announce the publication on www.gov.uk of a short paper that details how the fund is operating. This paper can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/cross-government-prosperity-fund-programme/cross-government-prosperity-fund-update.

The Prosperity Fund is a key part of our aid strategy. Using primarily Official Development Assistance (ODA) resources the fund will promote economic reform in developing countries contributing to a reduction in poverty.

The fund supports global and UK prosperity by removing barriers to trade, building prosperity partnerships, and supporting UK business in seizing new opportunities. It enables the UK to deepen relationships in countries across the globe.

Thematic, country and regional priorities for the Prosperity Fund are determined by a careful design and economic diagnosis process. Project design, management and evaluation ensures a strong focus on results and value for money. The fund is investing in areas with the highest potential for inclusive growth, strengthening the golden thread of robust institutions, good governance and reduced corruption.

The fund is accountable to the National Security Council (NSC) and to a ministerial board made up of relevant UK Government Departments. The fund supports a fully joined-up approach to prosperity delivery across Departments and through the Government’s overseas network.

All ODA projects and programmes under the Prosperity Fund comply with the International Development Act, meet the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) ODA criteria, are untied, and meet the UK Government transparency commitments on ODA spend.

The Prosperity Fund is one of two cross-Government funding instruments overseen by the National Security Advisor, Sir Mark Lyall Grant. An update to Parliament on the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) will be provided in parallel.

[HCWS104]

ECOFIN

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I attended this meeting in my capacity as the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council was held in Brussels on 12 July 2016. EU Finance Ministers discussed the following items:

Anti-money laundering

The Commission presented its proposals to amend parts of the fourth anti-money laundering directive (4AMLD), on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, followed by an exchange of views.

Communication on further measures to enhance transparency and the fight against tax evasion and avoidance

ECOFIN heard a presentation from the Commission on further measures to enhance transparency and the fight against tax evasion and avoidance. This was followed by an exchange of views.

Presentation of the work programme of the Slovak presidency

The presidency presented its work programme, this was followed by an exchange of views.

Implementation of the banking union

The Commission gave an update on the transposition of several dossiers linked to the banking union: the single resolution fund, the bank recovery and resolution directive and the deposit guarantee scheme directive.

European semester-country-specific recommendations

The Council adopted the 2016 country-specific recommendations as part of the European semester process.

Implementation of the stability and growth pact

The Council endorsed the draft decisions regarding the performance of Spain and Portugal under the excessive deficit procedure (EDP), based on recommendations by the Commission. The Council agreed with the Commission’s recommendation that Spain and Portugal have not taken effective action against their current targets. As these decisions cover euro area member states, the UK did not have a vote.

Third pillar of the investment plan for Europethematic discussions on investment barriers

The Commission presented on the third pillar investment plan, this was followed by an exchange of views.

Preparation of the G20 Finance Ministers meeting in Chengdu on 23-24 July 2016

The EU Terms of Reference (ToR) were presented to ECOFIN Finance Ministers for endorsement.

Convergence reports from the Commission and the European Central Bank

There was an exchange of views on the convergence reports which concluded that none of the seven EU member states who are obligated to join the euro fulfil the conditions for adopting the euro.

State of play on finalising the Basel Committees post-crisis banking reform agenda

Council conclusions were adopted on the Basel Committee’s post-crisis banking reform agenda.

[HCWS102]

Culture, Media and Sport

First World War Centenary Cathedral Repairs Fund

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am today publishing the list of successful bidders to the First World War Centenary Cathedral repairs fund.

Cathedrals are powerful symbols of Britain’s shared history and are important not only for their architecture, history and religious learning but also as a place for local communities to come together. This fund is helping to ensure that they are in a good state of repair and preserved for future generations.

Decisions on funding allocations are taken by an expert panel, which considers the grant applications against the published criteria for the scheme and decides which cathedrals should receive funding. The panel is chaired by Sir Paul Ruddock and includes senior figures from English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Church of England and the Catholic Church, as well as church architects, architectural historians and grant giving experts.

I am pleased to confirm that the panel has today decided to allocate funding of almost £14.5 million to 39 cathedrals. These are as follows:

Results of the meeting of the Expert Panel, 23 June 2016

Cathedral

Denomination

Project

AWARD

Bradford

CofE

Heating system and asbestos removal

£127,000

Canterbury

CofE

Library corridor roof

£250,000

Carlisle

CofE

Nave and nave aisle roof

£400,000

Chester

CofE

Repairs to flooring and emergency lighting

£120,000

Chichester

CofE

Cloister repairs

£160,000

Clifton

RC

Internal repairs and infrastructure

£700,000

Coventry

CofE

Chapel of Unity exterior slate

£870,000

Derby

CofE

Nave roof repair

£750,000

Durham

CofE

Belfry repairs

£599,000

Ely

CofE

Emergency rewiring

£150,000

Exeter

CofE

N side drainage and W front apron

£170,000

Gloucester

CofE

High level repairs

£486,000

Guilford

CofE

Quire/presbytery roof, repointing, asbestos removal

£499,000

Hereford

CofE

North aisle roofs

£420,000

Leicester

CofE

South face stonework

£300,000

Lichfield

CofE

Chapter House stonework and roof

£690,000

Lincoln

CofE

Triforium roof and NW Transept

£480,000

Liverpool

CofE

Nave roof phase 2

£460,000

Liverpool Met

RC

Repairs to approaches and main entrance

£369,000

Newcastle

CofE

Crypt and east end damp investigation

£25,000

Norwich

CofE

Electrical infrastructure

£190,000

Nottingham

RC

Phase 2 drainage

£115,000

Peterborough

CofE

Repairs to four windows

£15,000

Plymouth

RC

Stonework and window repairs

£644,000

Portsmouth

CofE

North side windows and other works

£240,000

Ripon

CofE

Presbytery stonework repairs

£398,000

Rochester

CofE

Eastern roof repairs

£460,000

Salford

RC

High level repairs and access

£373,000

Salisbury

CofE

Trinity Chapel stonework

£500,000

Sheffield

CofE

Nave, South and North aisle roofs

£480,000

Sheffield

RC

Spire repairs-phase 2

£189,000

Southwell

CofE

South quire aisle roof

£291,000

St Albans

CofE

External stonework

£230,000

St Pauls

CofE

Stone Gallery repairs

£200,000

Wakefield

CofE

Nave windows

£456,000

Westminster

RC

Organ chamber roofs

£300,000

Winchester

CofE

Repair and conservation of major windows

£500,000

Worcester

CofE

Great West Window repairs

£390,000

York Minster

CofE

Quire south side and Lady Chapel stone repairs

£500,000

TOTAL

£14,496,000

The panel will meet again on 17 October 2016 to take decisions on applications to the final round of the First World War Centenary Cathedral repairs fund.

[HCWS122]

Defence

Armed Forces' Pay Review Body

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am pleased to announce that I have invited Tim Flesher CB and Vilma Patterson MBE to continue to serve as members of the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body, for a further three-year term of office commencing on 1 March 2017. This appointment has been conducted in accordance with the guidance of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

[HCWS109]

Reserve Forces and Cadets Association

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I have today placed in the Library of the House a copy of a report into the condition of the reserves and delivery of the Future Reserves 2020 programme compiled by the reserve forces’ and cadets’ association external scrutiny team. This is the second report to be published under the statutory obligation imposed by the Defence Reform Act 2014.

I am most grateful for the work of Lieutenant General Brims and the other members of the team. I will take some short time to consider the report’s findings and recommendations and will provide a full response to the team in due course.

[HCWS107]

Education

Higher Education Student Finance

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am today announcing student finance arrangements for higher education students undertaking a course of study in the 2017-18 academic year beginning in August 2017.

Teaching excellence framework

As stated in the Government’s White Paper “Success as a Knowledge Economy: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice”, published on 16 May 2016, from 2016-17 the Government are introducing a teaching excellence framework (TEF) to provide clear information to students about where the best provision can be found and to drive up the standard of teaching in all higher education providers.

In year one of TEF (2016-17), all higher education providers who have met the eligibility criteria set out in the Government’s White Paper will receive a rating of Meets Expectations. This TEF award will carry financial incentives, as detailed below, for 2017-18 which will last for one year only. A provisional list of providers achieving this rating in year one was published on 7 July 2016 on gov.uk1

The following sections provide details on the maximum tuition fee and fee loan caps in 2017-18 for higher education courses at providers that have been awarded a rating of Meets Expectations in TEF year one (2016-17).

Tuition fees and fee loans for full-time higher education courses

For all new students and eligible continuing students who started their full-time courses on or after 1 September 2012 and are undertaking courses at publicly funded higher education providers that have achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations, maximum tuition fee caps will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18. For publicly funded providers that have achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations and have an access agreement with the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), the maximum tuition fee cap for full-time courses will be £9,250 in 2017-18. For publicly funded providers that have achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations but do not have an access agreement with OFFA, the maximum tuition fee cap for full-time courses will be £6,165 in 2017-18. For publicly funded providers that have not achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations, maximum tuition fee caps for full-time courses in 2017-18 will be £9,000 and £6,000, the same as in 2016-17.

Maximum fee loans for all new students and eligible continuing students who started their full- time courses at publicly funded providers on or after 1 September 2012 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) to £9,250.

Maximum tuition fee and fee loan caps for students undertaking a work placement year of a sandwich course either in the UK or abroad will remain at 20% of the maximum applicable full-time fee and fee loan caps in 2017-18. Maximum tuition fee and fee loan caps for students undertaking an Erasmus study or work placement year or a period of study at an overseas provider that is not an Erasmus year will remain at 15% of the maximum applicable full-time fee and fee loans in 2017-18.

For continuing students who started their full-time courses before September 2012, maximum tuition fee and fee loan caps at publicly funded providers in 2017-18 will be £3,465, the same as in 2016-17.

Tuition fees and fee loans for part-time higher education courses

For all new students and eligible continuing students who started their part-time courses on or after 1 September 2012 and are undertaking courses at publicly funded higher education providers that have achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations, maximum tuition fee caps will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18. For publicly funded providers that have achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations and have an access agreement with OFFA, the maximum part-time tuition fee cap will be £6,935 in 2017-18. For publicly funded providers that have achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations, but do not have an access agreement with OFFA, the maximum part-time tuition fee cap will be £4,625 in 2017-18. For publicly funded providers that have not achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations, the maximum tuition fee caps for part-time courses in 2017-18 will be £6,750 and £4,500, the same as in 2016-17.

Maximum fee loans for all new students and eligible continuing students who started their part-time courses at publicly funded providers on or after 1 September 2012 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) to £6,935.

Tuition fee loans for higher education courses at private providers

For all new students and eligible continuing students who started their full-time courses on or after 1 September 2012 and are undertaking courses at private higher education providers that have achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations, the maximum fee loan will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) to £6,165 in 2017-18. For private providers that have not achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations, the maximum fee loan for full-time courses will be £6,000, the same as in 2016-17.

For all new students and eligible continuing students who started their part-time courses on or after 1 September 2012 and are undertaking courses at private providers that have achieved a rating of Meets Expectations, the maximum fee loan will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) to £4,625 in 2017-18. For private providers that have not achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations, the maximum fee loan for part-time courses in 2017-18 will be £4,500, the same as in 2016-17.

Loans for living costs for new full-time students and continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016

Maximum loans for living costs for new full-time students and eligible continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18.

For students living away from home and studying outside London, the maximum loan for living costs for 2017-18 will be £8,430. I can confirm that the equivalent loan rates for students living away from home and studying in London will be £11,002; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £7,097; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £9,654.

Loans for living costs for new full-time students and continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 who are entitled to certain benefits

Maximum loans for living costs for new full-time students and eligible continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 and who are entitled to benefits will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18.

For students who are entitled to benefits who are living away from home and studying outside London, the maximum loan for living costs for 2017-18 will be £9,609. I can confirm that the equivalent loan rates for students who qualify for benefits who are living away from home and studying in London will be £11,998; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £8,372; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £10,746.

Loans for living costs for new full-time students and continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 who are age 60 or over at the start of their course

The maximum loan for living costs in 2017-18 for new full-time students and eligible continuing full-time students starting their courses on or after 1 August 2016 who are age 60 or over on the first day of the first academic year of their course, will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) to £3,566.

Maintenance grants and special support grants for full-time students who started their courses before 1 August 2016

The maximum maintenance grant and special support grant for eligible continuing full-time students who started their courses on or after 1 September 2012 but before 1 August 2016 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18 to £3,482.

The maximum maintenance grant and special support grant for eligible continuing full-time students who started their courses before 1 September 2012, will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18 to £3,197.

Loans for living costs for full-time students who started their courses before 1 August 2016

Maximum loans for living costs for eligible students who started their courses on or after 1 September 2012 but before 1 August 2016, will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18.

For students who are living away from home and studying outside London, the maximum loan for living costs will be £6,043. I can confirm that the equivalent loan rates for students living away from home and studying in London will be £8,432; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £4,806; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £7,180.

Maximum loans for living costs for eligible students who started their courses before 1 September 2012 will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18

For students who started their courses before 1 September 2012 and are living away from home while studying outside London, the maximum loan for living costs will be £5,440. I can confirm that the equivalent loan rates for students living away from home and studying in London will be £7,611; for those living in the parental home during their studies, £4,217; and for those studying overseas as part of their UK course, £6,475.

Long courses loans

The maximum long courses (living costs) loans for new and continuing students who are attending full-time courses that are longer than 30 weeks and three days during the academic year will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18.

Dependants’ grants

Maximum amounts for dependants’ grants (adult dependants’ grant, childcare grant and parents’ learning allowance) will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18 for all new and continuing full-time students.

The maximum adult dependants’ grant payable in 2017-18 will be increased to £2,834. The maximum childcare grant payable in 2017-18, which covers 85% of actual childcare costs up to a specified limit, will be increased to £159.59 per week for one child only and £273.60 per week for two or more children. The maximum parents’ learning allowance payable in 2017-18 will be increased to £1,617.

Part-time grants and loans

For those students who started part-time and full-time distance learning courses before 1 September 2012 and who are continuing their courses in 2017-18, maximum fee and course grants will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18. Maximum fee grants will be increased to £879, £1,054 or £1,321, depending on the intensity of study of the course. Maximum course grants will be increased to £288.

Disabled Students’ Allowance

Maximum grants for full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate students with disabilities will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017-18.

Student support for part-time students starting a second degree course in STEM subjects

Most students who hold a higher education qualification are currently not entitled to apply for additional fee loan for a second course if that course leads to a qualification that is equivalent or lower in level (ELQ) than their previous higher education qualification.

The Government have previously relaxed ELQ rules in order to help people who already hold an honours degree qualification but who wish to retrain in some science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. Students studying second degree courses on a part-time basis can already apply for fee loans for part-time second degree courses in engineering, technology or computer science.

I can confirm today that ELQ rules are being further relaxed to allow students wishing to start a second honours degree course on a part-time basis from 1 August 2017 onwards to apply for fee loans towards degree courses in the following additional STEM subjects: subjects allied to medicine; biological sciences; veterinary sciences, agriculture and related subjects; physical sciences and mathematical sciences.

Student support for new students starting courses in nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions on or after 1 August 2017.

I can confirm today that from 1 August 2017, all new undergraduate nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students on pre-registration courses will receive support for fee loans and living costs through the standard student support system, rather than through course fees and NHS bursaries for living costs paid by Health Education England (HEE). These students will therefore be subject to the same general student finance arrangements that apply to other undergraduate students in 2017-18.

I can also confirm today that students already holding an honours degree who want to start a second honours degree course in nursing, midwifery and the allied health professions from 1 August 2017 onwards will be able to apply for fee loans and living costs support for their course.

Further details on the undergraduate student package and support arrangements for postgraduate pre-registration nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students from 1 August 2017 onwards will be set out in the Government’s consultation response which is being published in due course.

These changes will enable universities to provide up to 10,000 additional nursing, midwifery and allied health training places by 2020, giving more applicants the opportunity to become a health professional.

Student support for armed forces personnel serving overseas and their families

Students who are undertaking a full-time or part-time distance learning course with a UK provider qualify for loans, and where applicable, disabled students’ allowance if they were undertaking their courses in England on the first day of the first academic year of their course and are living in the UK. Students do not qualify for support for a distance learning course if they are undertaking their course outside the UK. This rule currently places armed forces personnel serving overseas and their families who wish to undertake a higher education course by distance learning at a disadvantage as a result of their service.

I can confirm today that from 1 August 2017, UK armed forces personnel serving overseas, and family members living with them, will for the first time qualify for fee loans for full-time and part-time undergraduate distance learning courses with UK providers. They will also qualify for postgraduate masters loans for full-time and part-time masters degree distance learning courses with UK providers. Those students with disabilities will qualify for disabled students’ allowance. This change will apply to students starting or continuing distance learning courses in 2017-18.

I expect to lay regulations implementing changes to student finance for undergraduates and postgraduates for 2017-18 later this year which will be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. More details of the 2017-18 fees and student support package will be published by my Department in due course.

1https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teaching-excellence-framework-year-1-list-of-eligible-providers

[HCWS117]

Schools Funding

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Government are firmly committed to introducing fairer funding for schools, high needs and early years. This is an important reform, which will fairly and transparently allocate funding on the basis of schools’ and children’s actual needs, rather than simply on historic levels of funding tied to out of date local information. Along with the record levels of funding for schools announced at the spending review, and our commitment to the pupil premium for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, a fairer funding system will set a common foundation that will enable schools—no longer held back by a funding system that is arbitrary, out of date and unfair—to maximise the potential of every child. It will provide a crucial underpinning for the education system to act as a motor for social mobility and social justice.

The first stage consultations on national funding formulae for schools and high needs, which were published in March, have been met with an overwhelmingly positive response from headteachers, teachers, governors and parents.

There is also a strong sense in the response to the first stage of the consultation that this is a once in a generation opportunity for an historic change and that we must get our approach right. I will therefore publish the Government’s full response to the first stage of the schools and high needs consultations and set out my proposals for the second stage once Parliament returns in the autumn. We will run a full consultation, and make final decisions early in the new year. Given the importance of consulting widely and fully with the sector and getting implementation right, the new system will apply from 2018-19. I will set out our full plans for a national funding formula for early years shortly.

In the meantime, I understand the need for local authorities to have sufficient information to begin to plan their schools and high needs funding arrangements for 2017 to 2018. Many of those who responded to the first stage national funding formula consultations emphasised that schools and local authorities need stability, and where there are changes need early notice, as well as a fair system.

In that context, I am confirming that in 2017-18 no local authority will see a reduction from their 2016-17 funding (adjusted to reflect authorities’ most recent spending patterns) on the schools block of the dedicated schools grant (per pupil funding) or the high needs block (cash amount). As usual, we will apply an uplift for high needs later in the year. I am also publishing today detailed funding tables so that authorities can see exactly how this funding has been calculated.

Final allocations for schools and high needs blocks will follow in December on the basis of pupil numbers recorded in the October census.

I am setting this out now so that local authorities can begin the process of setting the budgets of schools in their area and that this can be concluded in time for the start of the coming financial year.

I am also confirming that, for 2017-18, we will retain the current minimum funding guarantee for schools, so that no school can face a funding reduction of more than 1.5% per pupil next year in what it receives through the local authority funding formula. To ensure that local authorities can start planning their budgets for next year with certainty, I do not intend to proceed, for 2017-18, with proposals to create a new central schools block, allow local flexibility on the minimum funding guarantee or to ring-fence the schools block within the dedicated schools grant. These will be covered, for 2018-19 and beyond, in my response to the first stage consultation in the autumn.

I will shortly publish the Education Funding Agency’s operational guide to schools funding in 2017-18, and send the draft Authority Proforma Tool to authorities.

[HCWS98]

Commission for Employment and Skills

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As announced in the 2015 spending review, in order to prioritise funding to allow the core adult skills participation budgets to be protected in cash terms, Whitehall Departments will be withdrawing their funding for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) during 2016-17.

UKCES’ work over the last Parliament has helped in setting the skills agenda for the future and their activities have created the conditions to move to the next phase of more devolution, greater employer ownership and the apprenticeship levy. It is important that we now have new structures to move onto that next phase and we have announced the establishment in England of a new Institute for Apprenticeships.

As a result of these decisions, Whitehall Departments have been working with the UK Commission to agree a way forward.

National occupational standards (NOS) will be managed by the devolved Administrations and transferred to another public sector organisation. Decisions on the detail of how NOS will be managed are the responsibility of the devolved Administrations who are currently considering next steps. The contents of the NOS database will remain publicly available and employers throughout the UK can continue to use NOS if they so choose although they are not a mandatory requirement in England for either qualifications or apprenticeships.

The management of the employer skills survey, the employer perspectives survey and the LMI (labour market information) for All Portal will be moved into the Department for Education. The Investors in People function will continue and the Government are looking at arrangements to secure its future and growth.

All operational activities of UKCES will be concluded by the end of 2016 and it is expected the organisation will be wound up in line with the end of its financial year, 2016-17.

[HCWS121]

Department for Exiting the European Union

UK Presidency of the Council of the European Union

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The UK had been scheduled to host the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2017. On 19 July the Prime Minister confirmed to President of the European Council Donald Tusk that the UK would be relinquishing the presidency of the Council of the European Union, noting that we would be prioritising the negotiations to leave the EU.

President Tusk welcomed the Prime Minister’s swift decision which would allow the Council to put alternative arrangements in place. The Council secretariat will now put in motion the arrangements to allocate the presidency to an alternative member state.

The Prime Minister and President Tusk concluded by looking forward to a strong working relationship.

Attachments can be viewed online at http://www.parliament. uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-07-21/HCWS119/

[HCWS119]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Diplomatic Immunity

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

In 2015, 11 serious and significant offences allegedly committed by people entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom were drawn to the attention of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by parliamentary and diplomatic protection of the Metropolitan police, or other law enforcement agencies. Six of these were driving-related. We define serious offences as those which could, in certain circumstances, carry a penalty of 12 months’ imprisonment or more. Also included are drink-driving and driving without insurance.

Around 22,500 people are entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United Kingdom and the majority of diplomats abide by UK law. The number of alleged serious crimes committed by members of the diplomatic community in the UK is proportionately low.

Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, those entitled to immunity are expected to obey the law. The FCO does not tolerate foreign diplomats breaking the law.

We take all allegations of illegal activity seriously. When instances of alleged criminal conduct are brought to our attention by the police, we ask the relevant foreign Government to waive diplomatic immunity where appropriate. For the most serious offences, and when a relevant waiver has not been granted, we seek the immediate withdrawal of the diplomat.

Alleged serious and significant offences reported to the FCO in 2015 are listed below.

2015

Driving without insurance

The Commonwealth Secretariat

1

Causing or permitting the driving of a vehicle without insurance

St Lucia

1

Driving a vehicle without insurance or a MOT

Nigeria

1

Driving under the influence of alcohol

USA

1

Kazakhstan

1

China

1

Actual bodily harm

Gabon

1

Human trafficking into the UK for the purposes of exploitation, specifically domestic servitude

Saudi Arabia

1

Human trafficking; slavery or servitude/forced or compulsory labour

Saudi Arabia

1

Taking an indecent photograph/pseudo-photograph of a child; and using threatening /abusive/insulting words or behaviour to cause harassment/alarm/distress

Mexico

1

Causing a child aged 13 to 15 to watch/look at an image of sexual activity

Mexico

1

Figures for previous years are available in the Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ written statement to the House on 16 July 2015, Official Report, column 36WS (HCWS128, HLWS112, HLWS112).

[HCWS106]

International Criminal Justice: UK Support

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Sunday 17 July marked the Day of International Criminal Justice, a perfect opportunity to look at the UK’s support of the principles of international justice and its various institutions.

International criminal justice and accountability is a fundamental element of our foreign policy. We continue to voice our support for this principle, and are committed to working with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and international tribunals. This work helps to strengthen the rules-based international system, reduce conflict and promote stability. We firmly believe that there must be no impunity for the most serious international crimes.

In 2015 we showed our commitment to international justice by contributing £7.6 million to the ICC, £3 million to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), £1.4 million to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and £1.8 million to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals which has taken on the residual functions of the former Rwanda tribunal and will do the same for the former Yugoslavia tribunal when it closes. Furthermore, in financial year 2015-16 we made voluntary contributions of £1 million to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and contributed £225,000 to the international component of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The UK also provides practical support for the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL) as former Liberian president Charles Taylor is serving his sentence for war crimes in a British prison. In 2015, the UK worked with partners to secure United Nations authority to commit $12.1 million and $2.44 million to supplement voluntary contributions to the ECCC and RSCSL respectively in 2016. This work helps place the voluntary funded tribunals on a more secure financial footing.

The support we have offered the ICC and the other tribunals has contributed towards their valuable work in entrenching the rule of law, fighting impunity for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, including the use of rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence as weapons of war and the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Their work acts as a deterrent to atrocities, placing a spotlight on individual responsibility, supporting victims and helping to establish an historical narrative of accountability.

The ICC opened their new premises in The Hague in April this year—giving this permanent institution a permanent home. In these new premises, the ICC sentenced Jean-Pierre Bemba (Democratic Republic of the Congo) to 18 years in prison, following its first conviction of rape as a crime against humanity and war crime, on the basis of command responsibility; this also marked the first time in the history of international criminal law that sexual violence against men was charged as the crime of rape.

The ICTY delivered its verdict this year on Radovan Karadžic who was found guilty on one count of genocide, five counts of crimes against humanity and four counts of violations of the laws or customs of war; and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. Karadžic was one of the highest ranking officials to be tried by the tribunal and his trial marked the biggest war crimes trial in Europe since Nuremberg. The judgment was long-awaited following a trial that lasted over four years.

The ICTR finished its judicial work at the end of 2015. The ICTR’s work over the last twenty years has been instrumental in developing international law and making sure that those most responsible for the genocide in Rwanda are held accountable. Its remaining functions were transferred to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals.

The FCO’s support for international criminal justice requires close co-operation with a wide range of stakeholders including partners across Government, law enforcement bodies, international organisations and non-government organisations. Over the next 12 months we will continue to work closely with these partners to ensure that our assessed and voluntary contributions to the ICC and other tribunals are used for maximum effect in the fight against impunity.

This is the fourth annual update to Parliament on the FCO’s work to support international justice.

[HCWS111]

British Council

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Copies of the British Council’s annual report and accounts for the 2015-16 financial year have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report can also be found at the British Council’s website at: www.britishcouncil.org.

During the period the British Council received £161,650 grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

[HCWS99]

Parliamentary Questions and Westminster Hall Debates: Corrections

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has recently reviewed all correspondence and parliamentary proceedings on the subject of allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL) in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition. During this exercise it became clear that the drafting of answers to four written questions and two responses given in debates relating to allegations of breaches of IHL did not fully reflect HMG’s policy as set out in numerous other written questions and debates on this topic. I would like to clarify these.

The responses given on 12 February to Question 24770 (http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-01-28/24770) and on 15 February to Questions 24769 (http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-01-28/24769) and 24771 (http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-01-28/24771) stated “we have assessed that there has not been a breach of IHL by the coalition”. However, these should have stated, as in previous PQs such as 27085 answered on 24 February, “we have not assessed that there has been a breach of IHL by the coalition”.

The response given on 4 January to Question 15523 (http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-11 -09/15523) stated “I regularly review the situation with my own advisers and have discussed it on numerous occasions with my Saudi counterpart. Our judgement is that there is no evidence that IHL has been breached, but we shall continue to review the situation regularly”. However, this should have stated “I regularly review the situation with my own advisers and have discussed it on numerous occasions with my Saudi counterpart. Looking at all the information available to us, we have been unable to assess that there has been a breach of IHL by the Saudi-led coalition. The situation is kept under careful and continual review”.

During the Westminster Hall debate on Human Rights and Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia on 8 June (HC Deb, col WH138), the former Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington) said, “In respect of the allegations about breaches of international humanitarian law, the Ministry of Defence makes assessments of how the Saudis are acting and whether the coalition is observing international human rights obligations. The MOD assessment is that the Saudi-led coalition is not targeting civilians that Saudi processes and procedures have been put in place to ensure respect for the principles of international humanitarian law; and that the Saudis both have been and continue to be genuinely committed to compliance with international humanitarian law.” This should have said, “In respect of the allegations about breaches of international humanitarian law, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) analyses how the Saudis are acting and whether the coalition is observing international humanitarian law. The MOD has not assessed that the Saudi-led coalition is targeting civilians. We have assessed that Saudi processes and procedures have been put in place to ensure respect for the principles of international humanitarian law; and that the Saudis both have been and continue to be genuinely committed to compliance with international humanitarian law.”

During the Westminster Hall debate on War in Yemen: First Anniversary from 22 March (HC Deb, col WH518), I stated that, “we make it clear that we are doing our own assessments to understand whether the equipment we sell has any participation in that and indeed whether the breaches are by the Houthis or the Saudi Arabians.” This should have stated “we make it clear that we are doing our own analysis. We encourage the Saudis to conduct their own investigations to understand whether the equipment we sell has any participation in that and indeed whether the breaches are by the Houthis or the Saudi Arabians.”

These corrections ensure the answers given in all written questions and debates now accurately reflect HMG policy in this area and consistent with other statements and questions answered.

The MOD monitors incidents of alleged IHL violations using available information. This is used to form an overall view on the approach and attitude of Saudi Arabia to IHL. This, in turn, informs the risk assessment made under the consolidated criteria (i.e. whether there is a clear risk that it might be used in the commission of a serious violation of IHL). We are not acting to determine whether a sovereign state has or has not acted in breach of IHL, but instead—as Criterion 2(c) requires—we are acting to make an overall judgement.

It is important to make clear that neither the MOD nor the FCO reaches a conclusion as to whether or not an IHL violation has taken place in relation to each and every incident of potential concern that comes to its attention. This would simply not be possible in conflicts to which the UK is not a party, as is the case in Yemen.

We regularly encourage Saudi Arabia to investigate any allegations of breaches of IHL which are attributed to them; and for their investigations to be thorough and conclusive. Saudi Arabia has publicly stated that it is investigating reports of alleged violations, and that any lessons learned will be acted upon. We continue to believe that they have the best insight into their own military procedures, allowing them to understand what went wrong and apply the lessons learnt in the best possible way, if required. This is the standard we set ourselves and our allies. For example, when allegations have been made against us in Afghanistan and Iraq we have investigated these claims ourselves. We did not expect other states to do this and form judgements on our behalf.

[HCWS125]

Unpaid London Congestion Charge Bills and Fines

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The value of unpaid congestion charge debt incurred by diplomatic missions and international organisations in London since its introduction in February 2003 until 31 December 2015 as advised by Transport for London was £95,811,650. The table below shows those diplomatic missions and international organisations with outstanding fines of £100,000 or more.

Country

Number of Fines

Total Outstanding

Embassy of the United States of America

89,308

£10,626,970

Embassy of Japan

59,533

£7,072,020

High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

50,952

£6,045,440

Embassy of the Russian Federation

46,894

£5,485,360

Office of the High Commissioner for India

36,984

£4,489,825

Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany

35,706

£4,147,600

Embassy of the Republic of Poland

29,304

£3,533,290

Office of the High Commissioner for Ghana

26,482

£3,186,530

Embassy of the People's Republic of China

24,002

£3,016,760

Embassy of the Republic of Sudan

24,466

£2,830,520

Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan

21,849

£2,665,255

Kenya High Commission

19,497

19,497

Embassy of France

16,639

£1,970,090

Embassy of Spain

15,246

£1,811,520

High Commission for the United Republic of Tanzania

15,020

£1,744,075

High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

14,204

£1, 740,700

Embassy of the Republic of Korea

13,418

£1,631,700

Embassy of Romania

12,812

£1,511,410

Embassy of Greece

11,820

£1,396,627

Embassy of the Republic of Cuba

11,435

£1,387,155

People's Democratic Republic of Algeria

11,659

11,659

Embassy of Ukraine

11,503

£1,346,455

South African High Commission

11,556

£1,345,310

Sierra Leone High Commission

11,081

£1,283,745

Embassy of Hungary

8,680

£1,033,295

High Commission for the Republic of Cyprus

8,247

£986,445

Embassy of the Republic of Yemen

7,032

£831,735

High Commission for the Republic of Zambia

7,069

£828,520

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria

6,667

£772,275

Embassy of the Republic of Belarus

5,646

£661,180

High Commission for the Republic of Cameroon

5,594

£649,760

Embassy of the Slovak Republic

5,394

£629,100

High Commission of the Republic of Malawi

5,220

£617,700

Botswana High Commission

5,070

£609,330

Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

4,900

£565,310

High Commission for the Republic of Namibia

4,886

£564,620

High Commission for the Republic of Mozambique

4,713

£553,885

Kingdom of Swaziland High Commission

4,739

£545,395

Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe

4,816

£539,290

Embassy of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire

4,254

£500,510

Embassy of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea

4,204

£489,065

Malta High Commission

4,050

£486,065

Embassy of Austria

4,021

£479,410

Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania

3,832

£468,765

Mauritius High Commission

3,971

£462,535

Uganda High Commission

3,707

£441,615

High Commission of the Kingdom of Lesotho

3,754

£436,210

Embassy of the Republic of Turkey

3,411

£415,035

Embassy of the Republic of Liberia

3,396

£410,100

Embassy of Belgium

3,430

£408,035

Embassy of the Czech Republic

3,432

£396,385

Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

3,140

£368,420

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

3,072

£366,690

Embassy of the Republic of Guinea

2,994

£345,870

Royal Danish Embassy

2,890

£344,395

Jamaican High Commission

2,700

£319,485

Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

2,559

£315,380

Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco

2,164

£274,320

High Commission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

2,102

£263,795

Embassy of Portugal

2,139

£260,900

Embassy of the Republic of Latvia

2,111

£253,710

Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan

1,962

£252,535

Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia

2,037

£252,368

Embassy of Finland

2,095

£250,300

Embassy of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

2,130

£243,340

Embassy of Tunisia

1,953

£240,380

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

2,281

£240,320

Embassy of Luxembourg

1,909

£228,575

High Commission for Antigua & Barbuda

1,770

£210,385

Embassy of the Republic of Iraq

1,579

£199,490

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

1,727

£188,250

Embassy of Estonia

1,342

£164,755

Belize High Commission

1,201

£149,420

Embassy of the Dominican Republic

1,139

£135,315

Embassy of the State of Eritrea

1,120

£131,710

High Commission for Guyana

1,010

£118,035

Figures for previous years are available in the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written statement to the House on 16 July 2015, Official Report, column 39WS.

[HCWS134]

Unpaid Parking Fines

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

In 2015, 4,858 parking fines incurred by diplomatic missions and international organisations in London were brought to our attention by local councils, Transport for London and the City of London. These totalled £477,499.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has held meetings with a number of missions about outstanding parking fine debt. In addition, in May this year we wrote to diplomatic missions and international organisations concerned giving them the opportunity to either pay their outstanding fines or appeal against them if they considered that the fines had been issued incorrectly.

Subsequent payments (including amounts waived by the above authorities) totalled £161,328. There remains a total of £316,171 in unpaid fines for 2015.

The table below details those diplomatic missions and international organisations that have outstanding fines from 2015 totalling £1,000 or more, as of 21 June 2016.

Diplomatic mission/international organisation

Amount of Outstanding Fines (excluding congestion charge)

Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan

£53,708

High Commission for the Federal Republic of Nigeria

£41,531

Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

£20,692

High Commission for the Republic of Zambia

£18,212

Embassy of the Republic of Liberia

£13,795

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

£13,429

Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

£11,885

Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan

£10,950

Embassy of the United Arab Emirates

£8,425

Embassy of the Republic of Côte d’lvoire

£7,421

Embassy of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

£7,305

High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

£6,292

Embassy of Tunisia

£6,020

Embassy of the Republic of Angola

£5,775

Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman

£5,415

Embassy of Georgia

£4,871

Malaysian High Commission

£3,705

Embassy of France

£3,669

Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

£3,352

Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

£3,255

Sierra Leone High Commission

£3,091

People's Democratic Republic of Algeria

£2,935

High Commission of the United Republic of Tanzania

£2,460

Embassy of Libya

£2,457

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria

£2,095

Embassy of the State of Qatar

£2,065

High Commission of the Republic of South Africa

£2,062

Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

£1,965

Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco

£1,944

Embassy of the Republic of Iraq

£1,929

Embassy of the Republic of Yemen

£1,920

Embassy of the Gabonese Republic

£1,910

Embassy of the Russian Federation

£1,887

Embassy of Brazil

£1,827

Kenya High Commission

£1,822

Embassy of the People's Republic of China

£1,490

Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam

£1,255

Embassy of Greece

£1,250

Commonwealth Secretariat

£1,235

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt

£1,150

Figures for previous years are available in the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ written statement to the House on 16 July 2015, Official Report, column 42WS (HCWS131).

[HCWS108]

Outstanding National Non-domestic Rates Bills

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The majority of diplomatic missions in the United Kingdom pay the national non-domestic rates (NNDR) due from them. Diplomatic missions are obliged to pay only 6% of the total NNDR value of their offices. This represents payment for specific services received such as street cleaning and street lighting.

Representations by protocol directorate of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to missions in 2016 led to the settlement of outstanding debts by a number of missions.

As at 27 June 2016, the total amount of outstanding NNDR payments, due before 31 December 2015, owed by foreign diplomatic missions as advised by the Valuation Office Agency is £907,976, an increase of 22% over the 2014 figure, as reported in the 2015 WMS (£743,858). However, £40,838 of this outstanding debt is owed by Syria— which is not currently represented in the UK and we have therefore been unable to pursue this debt. A further £87,020 is owed by Iran, the majority of which was accrued during its embassy’s closure between 2011 and 2015. The Iranian embassy has now reopened and the FCO will be requesting payment of what is owed. Four missions are responsible for just over a third of the remainder. We shall continue to urge those with NNDR debt to pay their dues.

Missions listed below owed over £10,000 in respect of NNDR

High Commission for the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

£100,762

Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan

£81,419

Sierra Leone High Commission

£62,478

Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe

£57,636

Uganda High Commission

£36,885

Embassy of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

£35,257

High Commission for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

£30,154

Embassy of the Republic of Liberia

£27,170

Malaysian High Commission

£26,917

High Commission for the Republic of Zambia

£25,886

Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia

£22,924

Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

£22,688

Kenya High Commission

£21,352

Embassy of the Republic of Albania

£21,258

High Commission for the Republic of Cameroon

£19,281

High Commission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

£15,765

Embassy of Ukraine

£15,675

Embassy of the Republic of Angola

£12,719

Embassy of the Gambia

£12,210

Embassy of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire

£11,987

Figures for previous years are available in the Secretary for State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs’ written statement to the House on 16 July 2015, Official Report, column 43WS (HCWS133).

[HCWS100]

Foreign Affairs Council

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs attended the Foreign Affairs Council on 18 July. The Foreign Affairs Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The meeting was held in Brussels.

Foreign Affairs Council

A provisional report of the meeting and conclusions adopted can be found at: http://www.consilium.europa. eu/en/meetinas/fac/2016/07/18/

The Foreign Secretary made clear to his counterparts that while the UK is leaving the EU, we have no intention of turning our back on Europe and will not any way be abandoning our leading role in European co-operation.

In the aftermath of the attack in Nice, Ministers discussed the fight against terrorism. They observed a minute of silence at 12:00 to pay tribute. The agenda for the Council was adjusted to allow time for Ministers to discuss counter-terrorism in the aftermath of the Nice attack and recent events in Turkey.

Fight against terrorism

Ministers expressed their condolences following the Nice attack and underlined their determination to tackle terrorist threats and their readiness to continue supporting France. The Foreign Secretary emphasised his solidarity with France and made the argument for terrorism to be tackled at source across the globe. He confirmed that the UK would consider what further support could be offered in response to French requests.

Turkey

Ministers discussed the recent events in Turkey. The Council adopted conclusions.

EU global strategy

Ministers discussed the EU global strategy which was presented by HRVP at the European Council on 29 June. The Foreign Secretary set out the Government’s view that the strategy correctly identifies a number of important priorities, including the central role of NATO in providing European security. Ms Mogherini confirmed that the EU External Action Service would produce a written proposal on the implementation of the strategy. Options would be presented to member states in the autumn.

China

Ministers discussed the EU’s strategy towards China following the recent EU-China summit; and adopted Council conclusions. The Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Mr Johannes Hahn, reported that the EU had conveyed clear messages to China on over-capacity and the need to improve access to the Chinese market for EU companies. The Chinese side had raised market economy status. Member states welcomed the strategy.

Latin America

Ministers discussed EU relations with Latin America, focusing on Venezuela, Colombia and Cuba. Ms Mogherini underlined the importance of the forthcoming EU-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Foreign Ministers meeting that will take place in the Dominican Republic on 25-26 October. She also welcomed the finalisation of the EU-Cuba political dialogue and co-operation agreement (PDCA).The Council also took note of recent positive developments in the Colombian peace process. Council conclusions were adopted on Venezuela.

Migration

Due to time constraints, Ms. Mogherini informed Ministers that she would provide an update in writing on the implementation of the migration partnerships envisaged in the conclusions of the June European Council.

Ministers agreed without discussion a number of measures:

The Council adopted conclusions on Somalia.

The Council adopted conclusions on Afghanistan.

The Council adopted conclusions on Pakistan.

The Council adopted conclusions on the recent outbreak of violence in South Sudan.

The Council adopted the agenda for the EU-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Joint Council and ministerial meeting, held after the Foreign Affairs Council.

The Council approved two decisions on the conclusion of a protocol to the EU-Lebanon Euro-Mediterranean agreement to take account of the accession of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania.

The Council adopted a decision on the conclusion of a protocol to the EU-Lebanon Euro- Mediterranean agreement which enables Lebanon to participate in EU programmes.

The Council adopted a common position in view of the eighth meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council with Albania, to take place in Brussels on 8 September 2016.

The Council adopted a decision on the conclusion of a protocol which enables Azerbaijan to participate in EU programmes such as Creative Europe and Horizon 2020.

The Council adopted EU priorities for the 71st United Nations General Assembly (September 2016 to September 2017).

The Council adopted amending legal acts which transpose into EU law the recent UN Security Council resolution renewing UN sanctions on the Democratic Republic of Congo until 1 July 2017.

The Council extended the mandate of European conference on antennas and propagation (EUCAP) Sahel Niger until 15 July 2018 and agreed a budget of €26.3 million for the period 16 July 2016 to 15 July 2017.

The Council adopted a decision on the EU position on the EU-Central America Association Council.

The Council adopted a code of conduct and discipline for EU civilian CSDP missions.

The Council adopted a decision concerning the staff regulations of the European Union Institute for Security Studies.

The Council approved a decision for a temporary relaxation of the rules of origin under the EU-Jordan-Euro-Mediterranean agreement so as to enhance Jordan’s exports to the Union and create additional employment opportunities, especially for Syrian refugees.

The Council approved a decision on the signing and provisional application of a protocol to the EU-Egypt Euro-Mediterranean agreement to take account of the accession of Croatia to the EU.

The Council adopted the EU and its member states’ position for the ministerial conference of the Union for the Mediterranean on employment and labour, which will take place in Jordan on 27 September.

[HCWS21]

Health

NHS England: Annual Assessment

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Today, I am laying before Parliament my annual assessment of the NHS commissioning board (known as NHS England) for 2015-16. I am also laying NHS England’s annual report and accounts for 2015-16 (HC311). Copies of both documents will be available from the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

NHS England’s annual report and accounts includes a self-assessment of performance which describes an organisation that has experienced a year of both progress and challenge. NHS England continues to deliver high-quality care as it progresses with implementing the vision set out in the five year forward view delivering constancy of direction, consistency of leadership and effectiveness of delivery.

In response, my annual assessment welcomes the good progress that NHS England has made against many of its objectives including managing the commissioning system. Additionally it has continued to deliver the specialised services and primary care commissioning systems and improved the operation and management of the NHS. There does, however, remain much to do in order to achieve our agreed goals by 2020. In particular, I have drawn attention to the need to address year-round performance against the standards reflected within the NHS constitution, many of which have been routinely missed this year, as well as the need to make further progress on achieving parity of esteem between physical and mental health.

Although NHS England met its objective to deliver financial balance in the commissioning system this year, the provider sector remains financially challenged. To achieve its financial objective in 2016-17, NHS England must work with its system partners and the Department of Health to jointly deliver a balanced budget across the NHS as well as delivering its share of the productivity and efficiency savings identified in the NHS five year forward view.

Overall NHS England has made progress during 2015-16 but there remains much more to do. The extra real-terms investment of £8.4 billion agreed as part of the 2015 spending review is evidence of this Government’s continuing commitment to the NHS. My Department and I will continue to work with NHS England and its partners to ensure that this investment is used to build on the good work seen so far and to deliver an NHS that provides safe, compassionate and reliable care for those who need it while living within its means.

Attachments can be viewed online at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-07-21/HCWS105/.

[HCWS105]

Healthcare Education

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am publishing today, following a 12-week public consultation, a Government response on how we will implement the healthcare education funding reforms. A copy can be found online.

The reforms, which are for England only, will mean that from 1 August 2017, all new undergraduate nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students on pre-registration courses will receive their student support through the standard student support system for fee loans and living costs support, rather than course fees and NHS bursaries for living costs paid by Health Education England. These students will therefore be subject to the same general student finance arrangements that apply to other undergraduate students in 2017-18.

Overall, the Government response will set out that the majority of these students, including those with children, will have access to more funds under the student loans system while at university; they will have access to at least 25% more living cost support and we are making additional offers on childcare, travel, dual accommodation and provision, in appropriate circumstances, for exceptional hardship funding.

The Government response also sets out transitional arrangements for pre-registration part time students, pre-registration postgraduate courses and dental hygiene and therapy courses applicable for new students commencing their studies in the academic year 2017-18.

The changes will mean we are able to accept more applicants for pre-registration nursing, midwifery and allied health degree courses who get the right grades than we have in the past. Currently two thirds of people who apply to university to become a nurse are not offered a place for training.

We have responded to feedback from key stakeholders, who took part in a constructive consultation, by providing extra funding to help cover additional expenses like travel and more support for students with children. We will work with nursing bodies, universities, hospitals and other partners in taking this forward.

These changes are only part of our plan to expand the NHS workforce—we are also opening up new routes into nursing support roles through apprenticeships for example, the new nursing associate role to widen access further to these professions. The Government are determined to ensure the NHS can adapt to the changing needs of our population, train more nurses in England and reduce the reliance on agency and overseas staff.

Attachments can be viewed online at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-07-21/HCWS126/.

[HCWS126]

NHS Shared Business Services

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) has today published a statement regarding an issue with a mail redirection service which was formerly provided by NHS SBS on behalf of NHS England as part of the Primary Care Support Service.

This matter is also referred to in my Department’s annual report and accounts, published today, copies of which are available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office. I will of course keep the House updated in future as investigations are carried out by NHS England and Shared Business Services and as they seek to determine the effect of this issue.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.parliament. uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-07-21/HCWS120/.

[HCWS120]

Home Department

Cedars Pre-departure Accommodation

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am today announcing the Government’s decision to close Cedars pre-departure accommodation, and replace it with new pre-departure accommodation near Gatwick Airport, as a discrete unit at Tinsley House immigration removal centre. This will maintain the required legal safeguards and focus on welfare for families with children whose return is to be ensured under the family returns process. The new pre-departure accommodation will be operated in line with the statutory framework established by the Immigration Act 2014, specifically in relation to the statutory time limit on stays at the facility and the requirement for the independent family returns panel to be consulted in advance in each case where it is proposed that a family should be placed there.

The Government met their commitment to end the routine detention of children for immigration purposes by fundamentally changing the way in which they deal with families that have no lawful basis of stay in the UK, and limiting the detention of unaccompanied children for removal. The new family returns model introduced in 2011 placed the welfare of the child at the heart of the process. Key parts of the family returns process, including the separate statutory status of pre-departure accommodation, were enshrined in the Immigration Act 2014. The new pre-departure accommodation will operate in line with both the statutory requirements and the wider family returns process, which will remain unchanged.

The low level of use of Cedars pre-departure accommodation over the last few years is a testament to the overall success of the family returns process and, in particular, to the fact that more families are accepting voluntary assistance to leave the UK when they no longer have a lawful basis to stay here. Cedars has from the outset only been intended to be used as a last resort, after all voluntary or other return options have failed, and following the advice of a panel of independent child safeguarding experts.

Stephen Shaw’s review into the welfare of vulnerable people in detention, while recognising that Cedars was an exceptional facility, recommended on value for money grounds that the Home Office should draw up plans either to close Cedars or to change its use as a matter of urgency. The Government accepted this recommendation, and have reviewed the most cost-effective way of providing the necessary component of pre-departure accommodation for the family returns process, while ensuring that safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children involved remain a key priority.

The Government are committed to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of those detained in their care, some of whom may be vulnerable. They are very grateful to Barnardo’s for all its valuable work with families at Cedars and for working with us to ensuring that the new facility continues to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, and builds on the learning and experience of Cedars.

[HCWS114]

Countering Terrorism

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Keeping our people and interests safe—both here and overseas—is the primary duty of Government. The horrific attack in Nice last week was the latest terrible reminder that the threat from terrorism is more acute and more complex than ever before.

Today I have published the annual report for the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST (Cm 9310). It covers developments in the terrorist threat and progress made in our counter-terrorism work in 2015. Copies of the report will be made available in the Vote Office.

The threat from terrorism to the UK and our interests continues to be driven by the situation in Syria and Iraq and, in particular, by Daesh, which has a dedicated external operations structure in Syria. The attacks in Paris in November, in which 130 people were killed, including one British national, demonstrated its ability to co-ordinate and direct complex mass-casualty attacks. The attack on tourists in Tunisia last June led to the death of 30 British nationals, the largest single loss of British life to terrorism since the London bombings in 2005. In March this year, 31 people were killed in the attacks in Brussels, including one British national. There have been further attacks in other parts of the world, including in Bangladesh, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Daesh continues to use propaganda to encourage individuals from around the world to travel to the conflict area, including approximately 850 individuals of national security concern who have travelled from the UK. Daesh is not the only terrorist threat we face: the al-Qaeda grouping in Afghanistan and Pakistan and affiliate groups elsewhere continue to aspire to attack western interests.

The police and the security and intelligence agencies successfully disrupted six terrorist plots to attack Great Britain in 2015 due to their hard work and commitment to keep us safe. We have continued to ensure they have the powers and capabilities they need to disrupt terrorist threats, through the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015, and increased investigative and intelligence resources announced in the strategic defence and security review.

The success of our counter-terrorism effort also depends on a much broader range of domestic and international activity. Through our Prevent and intervention programmes we have worked to safeguard people at risk and challenge the twisted narratives that support terrorism. We have made borders and civil aviation more secure. We have strengthened our existing response to marauding terrorist firearms attacks.

The nature of terrorism in 2015 has underlined the need to look beyond solely domestic solutions. We have worked to ensure that international collaboration on counter-terrorism is matched with co-ordinated action which has lasting impact.

The CONTEST strategy has proven to be successful over a number of years. But our approach must continue to evolve to deal with the changing threat from terrorism. That is why we are currently reviewing CONTEST to ensure the highest priorities are given the right resources and that Government Departments and agencies have a unified approach. We will publish an updated strategy later this year.

[HCWS116]

Child Abuse and Neglect

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Minister for Children and Families (Edward Timpson) and I have today launched a public consultation which considers whether statutory measures focused on reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect should be introduced in addition to our wide-ranging reforms.

Social workers, teachers, police officers, doctors and countless others across the country work together every day to protect our children, making difficult judgements under challenging circumstances. The Government are undertaking a comprehensive programme of reform to deliver better outcomes for children in the children’s social care system. We are improving the quality of front-line practice so that professionals such as police and social workers can respond effectively to the needs of individual children—and we are legislating through the Children and Social Work Bill to strengthen multi-agency arrangements for the protection of children following a review by Alan Wood CBE. We continue to consider what more can be done to protect children from abuse and neglect and the launch of this consultation exercise fulfils the commitments made during the passage of the last year’s Serious Crime Act and in the “Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation” report published in March 2015.

The consultation will run for the statutory maximum of 12 weeks and ends on 13 October 2016. We are seeking responses from anyone with a view on these important issues, from children and families to practitioners, academics and voluntary sector partners.

Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Library of the House and are available on the Government’s website at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications?departments%5B%5D=home-office&publication_filter_option=consultations

[HCWS110]

National Crime Agency/UK International Crime Bureau

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The NCA was established to lead the fight to cut serious and organised crime, and to focus on the relentless disruption of serious and organised criminals. It has the power to task other law enforcement and a capability that reaches from local to international serious and organised crime impacting on the UK.

HMIC have conducted two inspections; the first, a re-inspection of the NCA following its 2014 inspection whereby HMIC carried out a review into the efficiency and effectiveness of the National Crime Agency. The second report focuses on the work of UK’s International Crime Bureau (UKICB) and its activities relating to identifying fugitives and extradition.

I have placed a copy of both reports in the Library of the House. I have asked HMIC to publish both reports on my behalf. They are available online at: www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk.

HMIC find in relation to its re-inspection of the NCA, that the NCA’s approach to prioritising, supervising and managing investigations is rigorous, but that they could support their officers better by investing in more sophisticated equipment. They found that the NCA had an effective leadership approach to build systems and processes, and that while strategic governance arrangements for threats are at an early stage of development, there is a clear commitment from the NCA and its partners to work together on shared priorities.

HMIC’s second report examines the work of UKICB and its activities relating to identifying fugitives and extradition. This inspection, conducted between September and November last year and, picks up on themes from the last NCA report, focusing on the management of risks and the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the UKICB. Overall the report is very positive. HMIC find that UKICB are well led, that risks are assessed in a timely and prioritised manner, there are appropriate measures to mitigate the identified risks, and there is good and improving efficiency and effectiveness in the unit.

HMIC note that the work of UKICB is dependent on interactions with a wide range of stakeholders and that some matters are out their direct control. However, the report identifies a series of recommendations, many of which are in regard to better information gathering/sharing and building on improving/changing relationships with stakeholders all of which should lead to better risk management and efficiencies in the extradition process.

Both reports note a number of areas for improvement—where the NCA already has action underway to improve its capabilities and effectiveness—and makes several recommendations. It is for the director general to respond to these recommendations, in line with the requirements of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

[HCWS113]

Prime Minister

Machinery of Government Change

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

This written ministerial statement confirms the following Machinery of Government change.

The functions of the Office for Civil Society (OCS) have been transferred from the Cabinet Office to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The transfer will include responsibility for youth policy and the National Citizen Service. It will integrate OCS’s work to grow a stronger civil society with DCMS’s existing work to enrich lives. It will also simplify sponsorship responsibilities for the lottery providers.

OCS will continue its cross-Government work in support of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector and their important contribution to public services and the social economy; and its work to promote social and community action, social investment, mission-led business and mutuals.

OCS’s functions relating to policy innovation (the Policy Lab) will remain in the Cabinet Office.

A Cabinet Office note setting out further detail on this change has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

It can also be viewed online at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements.

[HCWS124]

Work and Pensions

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Councils

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 16 June 2016 in Luxembourg where Lord Freud, the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, represented the UK.

Ministers approved this year’s country specific recommendations (CSRs) under the European semester and endorsed the joint Social Protection Committee and Employment Committee opinion. In discussion all member states welcomed the better focus of the CSRs and argued that fewer but more specific CSRs were helpful. The UK welcomed the more focused approach, the importance given to employment polices as well as the recognition that unemployment can be a structural rather than cyclical problem.

Ministers noted progress reports on amending the carcinogens and mutagens directive and the revision of the posting of workers directive. The Commission (Thyssen) confirmed its intention to respond to the yellow card on the posting of workers directive during July.

Ministers adopted Council conclusions on “Combating Poverty and Social Inclusion: An Integrated Approach”, and on “A New Start for a Strong Social Dialogue” without discussion. Ministers also adopted a package of Council conclusions on gender and LGBTI equality. While there was some disappointment that the text was not stronger from a number of member states, the Council’s adoption of LGBTI conclusions for the first time was particularly welcomed by the UK among others.

The European Commission presented its new skills agenda followed by updates on the outcomes of this year’s UN Commission on the status of women meeting, and on international meetings related to the international dimension of social and employment policies.

The incoming Slovak presidency gave an outline of its work programme. Progress reports on the anti-discrimination directive; the European Accessibility Act; and the social partner agreement on the ILO work in fishing convention were all noted without discussion. Italy also introduced its proposal for a migration compact. Over lunch Ministers discussed social protection for the self-employed.

The informal Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council then met on 14-15 July in Bratislava. Lindsay Fullarton, Deputy Head of EU and International Affairs at the Department for Work and Pensions, represented the UK on the first day. Baroness Neville-Rolfe, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, represented the UK on the second day.

The Slovak presidency used the meeting to discuss the social and technological challenges in the future world of work.

The first day involved a plenary session on ageing of populations and the challenges this creates for labour markets and social security systems. The focus of most member state interventions was on migration, demographics and the scope of social protection systems. There was a strong consensus on the need for life-long learning, flexibility in labour markets and recognition of new patterns of work. There were differing views on whether highly skilled migrants were needed and how new ways of working would be covered by labour law, health and safety and social protection.

The second day involved a plenary session on how to address the impact of technological development on the quality of jobs and future skill needs. The UK intervened to highlight the importance of improving digital skills at all levels and the need for policies to address the difficulties of those left behind in society. Baroness Neville Rolfe explained that the UK’s flexible labour market aimed to not exclude these people and ensure their rights regardless of hours worked. Baroness Neville Rolfe’s intervention was echoed and supported by many Ministers who also noted that more needed to be done to ensure that new ways of working had full social, health and safety and labour law protection.

[HCWS97]