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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
13 October 2016
Volume 615

Written Statements

Thursday 13 October 2016

Treasury

Banking Act 2009: Reporting

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The Treasury has laid before the House of Commons a report required under section 231 of the Banking Act 2009 covering the period from 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2016. Copies of the document are available in the Vote Office.

[HCWS187]

UK Bilateral Loan to Ireland: Statutory Report

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HM Treasury has today provided a further report to Parliament in relation to the bilateral loan to Ireland as required under the Loans to Ireland Act 2010. The report relates to the period from 1 April 2016 to 30 September 2016.

A written ministerial statement on the previous statutory report regarding the loan to Ireland was issued to Parliament on 26 April 2016, Official Report, column 36WS.

[HCWS188]

Defence

Call-out Order for the Reserves to Counter the Threat of Daesh

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With the expiry of the call-out order made on 20 September 2015, a new order has been made under section 56(1B) of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable reservists to be called into permanent service in support of United Kingdom operations to counter the threat of Daesh.

Under the call-out order made on 20 September 2015, 155 reservists have been called out for operations. We anticipate a continued requirement for reservists, with the right skills and experience, over the period the new order will be in force. This is fully in line with our policy of having more capable, usable, integrated and relevant reserve forces.

The new order takes effect from the beginning of 30 September 2016 and shall cease to have effect at the end of 29 September 2017.

[HCWS189]

Call-out Order for the Reserves to Support Defence Objectives

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Changes made by the Defence Reform Act 2014 allow reservists to be called out under section 56(1B) of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 if it appears to the Secretary of State that it is necessary or desirable to use members of a reserve force for any purpose for which members of the regular services may be used. Reservists called out under this power may be required to serve for a period of up to 12 months.

With the expiry of the orders made on 20 September 2015, I have made four new call-out orders under section 56(1B) of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to continue to allow reservists to be called into permanent service to support defence engagement activities—for example the provision of short-term training teams and military capacity building overseas; global counter-terrorism and counter-piracy; maritime security objectives and the operation of our permanent joint operating bases (PJOBs) in the south Atlantic islands, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cyprus and Gibraltar.

Under the orders made on 20 September 2015, 492 reservists have been called out —171 for defence engagement, 125 for global counter-terrorism and counter-piracy, 51 for maritime security operations and 145 for the operation of PJOBs. We anticipate a continued requirement for reservists, with the right skills and experience, over the period the new orders will be in force.

For operations that fall outside the scope of these orders, for example military aid to the civil authorities, or warfighting, or for operations which are likely to involve a large number of reservists, I would expect to make separate call-out orders.

These new orders take effect from the beginning of 30 September 2016 and shall cease to have effect at the end of 29 September 2017.

[HCWS190]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Government Wine Cellar: Annual Statement

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I have today placed a copy of the annual statement on the Government wine cellar for the financial year 2015-16 in the Libraries of both Houses.

Following the outcome of the review of the Government hospitality wine cellar in 2011, this fifth annual statement continues our commitment to annual statements to Parliament on the use of the wine cellar, covering consumption, stock purchases, costs, and value for money. The wine cellar has been self-funding since 2011-12, through the sale of some high-value stock and payments made by other Government Departments for events organised by Government hospitality.

The report notes that:

Consumption by volume fell by 32% in FY 2015-16 due to fewer Government events, particularly during the general election period;

Sales of stock amounted to £40,390 (cf. £71,050 in FY 14-15);

Further funds from other Government Departments added £15,848 to the overall receipts (cf. £21,514 in 14-15);

Purchases amounted to £40,177, a reduction of some 43% (cf. £70,432 in 14-15);

The highest consumption level by volume was again of English and Welsh wine, at 44% of the total (cf. 44% in 14-15).

Attachments can be viewed online at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2016-10-13/HCWS186/

[HCWS186]

Foreign Affairs Council: 17 October

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My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council on 17 October. The Foreign Affairs Council will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. The meeting will be held in Luxembourg.

Foreign Affairs Council

The agenda for the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) is expected to include the European global strategy, external migration, Tunisia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ministers will have a discussion on Syria over lunch.

European Global Strategy

EU Foreign Ministers will discuss the follow-up to June’s European global strategy, including the security and defence implementation plan. The UK remains committed to European security and will engage constructively in these discussions, including ensuring complementarity with NATO.

Migration

Ministers will discuss migration issues. We expect an update on progress establishing partnership frameworks, currently focused on co-operation on migration, with five initial priority countries—Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal. The UK welcomes the comprehensive approach envisaged under the partnerships, including tackling the root causes of irregular migration. We will continue to argue that the EU must also look strategically at the regions and countries which offer the most opportunity for impact, including in Asia, to deliver the most effective and sustainable response to the migration crisis.

There is also likely to be discussion of the follow-up to the UN high-level meeting on large movements of migrants and refugees and President Obama’s Refugee summit in New York in September. The high-level meeting, hosted by the UN Secretary-General on 19 September, agreed the New York declaration for migrants and refugees, which announced plans for the adoption in 2018 of two global compacts: on safe, orderly and regular migration, and on refugees. Strong EU engagement in these negotiations can help deliver a better global system for managing migration. For the UK, this means helping to ensure that refugees claim asylum in the first safe country they reach; better distinguishing between refugees fleeing persecution and economic migrants; and recognising that all countries have the right to control their borders.

Tunisia

Following the recent publication of the Joint Communication on EU support for Tunisia, Ministers will discuss the country’s economic and security challenges. The Joint Communication proposes to increase the EU’s financial assistance and activity in governance, civil society, tackling unemployment and corruption, and other measures. We expect discussions will also cover options for increasing support on trade and the implementation of economic reforms, in the context of Tunisia’s International Investment Conference in November. Ministers will debate the ambition for increased EU activity, and whether the measures set out by the EU are appropriately focused.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Discussions will focus on the EU response to the political impasse and recent violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The European External Action Service is preparing a co-ordinated EU response to press the DRC Government to respect fundamental freedoms and human rights, as well as to pressure them to set a date and timetable for presidential elections in 2017. We are aiming for an agreement in principle on sanctions on figures in the DRC security forces that are responsible for suppression of fundamental freedoms and abuse of human rights. This would be to influence the Government and security figures to respect human rights and focus on finding an inclusive political solution to avoid further bloodshed over the coming weeks and months, especially around 19 December when President Kabila’s democratic mandate expires.

[HCWS185]

Transport

High Speed Rail (Preparation) Act 2013: Financial Report

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The High Speed Rail (Preparation) Act financial report is published today under Section 2 of the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Act 2013. The report covers the period from 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016.

A copy of the report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS183]

Rail

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My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Grayling), is today announcing that rail passengers will soon be able to claim compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late under an improved compensation scheme.

Delay Repay 15 will be introduced within months on Govia Thameslink Railway services, including Southern, and then rolled out across the country. Passengers will be able to claim 25% of the cost of the single fare for delays between 15 and 29 minutes. The existing compensation thresholds will apply for delays from 30 minutes with passengers able to apply for compensation through the train operating company.

Following its introduction on GTR services, Delay Repay 15 will be rolled out across the network starting with the new South Western, West Midlands and South Eastern franchises.

All franchise competitions let by the Department will include requirements to introduce this policy and the Department will explore opportunities to roll this out for all DFT franchises this Parliament.

Delay Repay is currently operated by the majority of operators and a number of existing franchises, including Virgin Trains West Coast and c2c, have also taken steps to introduce automatic compensation for certain ticket types.

The existing Delay Repay thresholds are as follows:

• 50% of the single fare for delays of 30 to 59 minutes;

• 100% of the single fare for delays of 60 minutes or more;

• 100% of the return fare for delays of two hours or more.

As well as Delay Repay, the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 on 1 October strengthened the right of passengers to claim compensation for poor service.

[HCWS184]