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Written Statements

Volume 636: debated on Tuesday 20 February 2018

Written Statements

Tuesday 20 February 2018



A meeting of The Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will be held in Brussels on 20 February 2018. The UK will be represented by Mark Bowman (Director General, International and EU, HM Treasury). European Union Finance Ministers will discuss the following:

Early Morning Session

The Eurogroup President will brief Ministers on the outcomes of the 19 February meeting of the Eurogroup, and the European Commission will provide an update on the current economic situation in the EU.

Financial services legislation

The Bulgarian presidency will present information on current financial services legislative proposals, followed by an exchange of views.

Sustainable finance

The Council will hold an exchange of views on the recommendations of the High-Level Expert Group on sustainable finance.

Discharge of the 2016 EU Budget

Ministers will be asked to approve a Council recommendation to discharge to the European Commission in respect of the 2016 EU Budget.

EU Budget guidelines for 2019

Ministers will be asked to approve Council conclusions on the EU Budget guidelines for 2019.

Public procurement and strategic investment

The European Commission will present information on the public procurement strategy it adopted on 3 October 2017.


EVEL Analysis

I have today published a written submission outlining the Government’s analysis of how the English votes for English laws principle relates to all Government amendments tabled for Report stage of the Finance (No.2) Bill.

The Department’s assessment is that the amendments do not change the territorial application of the Bill. The analysis holds if all the Government amendments be accepted.

I have deposited a copy of the submission in the Library of the House.


Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bovine TB

Five years into the current bTB strategy, drafted in 2013 and published a year later, the time is right to review progress on the various elements of the strategy. I envisage further reviews will take place at five-yearly intervals in the future.

The purpose of the review is to consider progress made to date and what further actions might need to be prioritised now in order to ensure we maintain progress towards our target of becoming officially TB free after 25 years.

Bovine TB is a slow-moving insidious disease which presents major challenges. It can be difficult to detect; it can be harboured in the wildlife population; no vaccine is fully effective and none of our diagnostic tests are perfect. The review will be forward looking. Its aim is to identify what actions we could take now to ensure that other elements of the strategy, such as cattle vaccination or improved genetic resistance, are ready to deploy at later phases of the strategy.

We now have over 20 cull zones that are operational and we envisage additional ones for 2018. Although it is too early to make definitive conclusions, early analysis suggests that the first two cull zones are seeing the anticipated impact in terms of reduced incidence of the disease. However, we do need to consider what further steps or actions should follow the conclusion of each four-year cull. After all, none of us wants to be culling badgers forever. The review will therefore also consider such issues.

The review will be led and overseen by an external chair and I am delighted that Professor Sir Charles Godfray has agreed to take on this role. Professor Godfray is a population biologist with interests including ecology and epidemiology, currently based at the University of Oxford where he is director of the Oxford Martin School. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society. He chaired the independent scientific review of the randomised badger control trial, and is chair of DEFRA’s Science Advisory Council.

The chair will be supported by a small working group, membership of which will be confirmed in due course. The chief veterinary officer and the director of animal and plant health will provide oversight within the Department.

The review is expected to commence in March and to be completed by the end of September 2018. The findings will be submitted to DEFRA Ministers for consideration with a final report published in due course.

As well as this work, DEFRA has launched a consultation on the principle of allowing badger control in the low-risk area to enable rapid action to tackle outbreaks at the local level where there is evidence of infection in badgers linked with infection in cattle, and to help preserve the area’s low disease incidence. Any decision on whether or not to implement badger control in the low-risk area will be taken by the Secretary of State following the consultation, once all the responses have been considered alongside relevant scientific evidence and veterinary advice.

The terms of reference for the review and the consultation have been published on the website and placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Health and Social Care

Fixed Recoverable Costs in Lower-value Clinical Negligence Claims

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health (Lord O’Shaughnessy) has made the following statement:

Today I am publishing a document summarising the responses we received to our consultation ‘Introducing fixed recoverable costs in lower value clinical negligence claims’.

Following the end of the consultation in May 2017, the right hon. Lord Justice Jackson published a report “Review of Civil Litigation Costs: Supplemental Report Fixed Recoverable Costs”, which included a recommendation that The Civil Justice Council should, in conjunction with the Department of Health and Social Care, set up a working party with both claimant and defendant representatives to develop a bespoke process for clinical negligence claims initially up to £25,000 together with a grid of fixed recoverable costs for such cases.

Ministers at the Department of Health and Social Care and the Ministry of Justice have accepted this recommendation and I would like to inform Parliament that work has commenced in setting up the working party with both claimant and defendant representatives.

The document I am publishing today sets out a summary of what we heard in our consultation, and points to The Civil Justice Council working group as the next step in developing the fixed recoverable costs policy and the report into fixed cost proposals by Professor Paul Fenn.

It is also available online at:


Home Department

Rights of EU Citizens Resident in the UK

The Government have been clear since the start of negotiations with the EU that protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK, together with the rights of UK nationals living in EU countries, was their first priority.

Since the opposition day debate on 29 November 2017 secured by the hon. Member for North East Fife (Stephen Gethins) on the vital issue of safeguarding citizens’ rights, we have delivered on that commitment and reached an agreement with our EU partners on citizens’ rights. The agreement was set out as part of a joint report issued on 8 December 2017, and provides more than three million EU citizens living in the UK with certainty about their future rights and, most importantly, allows them and their families to stay in the UK.

The agreement will protect EU citizens who have been exercising free movement rights in the UK at the time of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Family members, including those from outside the EU, living lawfully in the UK with a qualifying EU citizen at this point are also protected.

As part of our citizens’ rights agreement, we have agreed with the EU that we will introduce a new settled status scheme under UK law for EU citizens and their family members who are covered by the agreement. Those who have already had five years of continuous residence in the UK will be eligible to apply for settled status. Others will be able to remain in the UK to build up their five years’ residence.

We have agreed with the EU that the eligibility criteria for UK settled status will be the same as, or more favourable than, those set out in the EU Directive 2004/38/EC for acquiring permanent residence. In line with this, we have already committed to setting the evidence requirements to suit the demands of this unique situation and have taken a unilateral decision to introduce more favourable provisions to ensure that everyone lawfully in the UK on exit day will be able to stay. For example, we will not require evidence that economically inactive EU citizens have previously held comprehensive sickness insurance or apply a “genuine and effective” work test. We are engaging closely with representative bodies for EU citizens in the UK to understand all the different circumstances under which they have built their lives in the UK so as to tailor evidential requirements appropriately.

Those who obtain settled status under the agreement on citizens’ rights will be granted indefinite leave to remain in UK law. This status will provide the holder with the same access to benefits, education and healthcare as those who have obtained permanent residence under EU law.

In addition, those granted indefinite leave to remain in line with this agreement will also benefit from certain more favourable entitlements than those with permanent residence under EU law. For example, their status will not lapse unless they have been continuously absent from the UK for over five years, as opposed to two years.

Importantly, our agreement on citizens’ rights has also opened the door for us to finalise work on the development and delivery of the new system for settled status applications.

The scheme, which will open for applications by the end of 2018, will be streamlined, user-friendly and will draw on existing Government data to minimise the burden on applicants to provide evidence.

The Home Office will work with applicants to ensure that their application is not refused on minor technicalities, and caseworkers considering applications will exercise discretion in favour of the applicant where appropriate. As a result, we expect the vast majority of cases to be granted.

To ensure all EU citizens and their families have enough time to apply for UK status, the scheme will remain open for applications for at least two years after the UK leaves the EU. During this period, they will enjoy the rights conferred by the agreement. The application fee will not exceed the cost charged to British citizens for a UK passport, and for those who already have a valid permanent residence document there will be a simple process to exchange this for a new settled status document which will be free of charge.

The agreement reached in December will now be converted into the legal text of the Withdrawal agreement. The withdrawal agreement and implementation Bill will incorporate the contents of the withdrawal agreement, including the agreement on citizens’ rights, into UK law by primary legislation. This will mean that the agreement on citizens’ rights will have direct effect in UK law and EU citizens can rely directly on it.

We are pleased with the progress we have made on citizens’ rights. Reaching an agreement with the EU on this and other separation issues is an important step on our journey towards a new relationship with our European partners.

The Government hugely value the contributions that EU citizens and their families make to the economic, social and cultural fabric of this country, and we have been clear from the start that we want them to stay. The agreement we have reached with the EU will allow EU citizens to do this and continue living their lives as they do now.


Housing, Communities and Local Government

Housing Market

The Government believe that consumers should have swift, effective routes to complain and to access resolution when things go wrong with their home—whether they are a tenant, or a homeowner.

We are concerned that the current redress landscape is confusing and does not always support this. There are multiple redress providers, each operating different practices. Even this array of schemes does not provide for every eventuality. Some people have no option but to take a grievance through the courts.

On Sunday 18 February the Government launched a public consultation on strengthening redress in housing. The consultation is open to consumers, providers of housing services, and existing redress schemes, and asks how we can make the system simpler and more effective for consumers.

It asks about consumers’ experiences of redress, and how to improve “in-house” complaint processes to ensure that issues get resolved as quickly as possible.

It considers the practices that redress schemes should adopt in terms of timeliness, accessibility and transparency; and it considers the powers that schemes require to operate effectively.

It also considers gaps in redress, and how these could be filled. This includes consideration of how to implement our commitment to require that all private landlords join a redress scheme, as well as improving access to redress for buyers of new-build homes.

Finally, the consultation also seeks views on whether redress should be consolidated into a single housing ombudsman service and, if so, what form this might take.

The policy proposals primarily relate to England. The UK Government will be discussing these issues with devolved Administrations where existing legislation also has scope outside England.

The consultation will run for eight weeks and ends on 16 April 2018.

Copies of the consultation document will be placed in the House Library and are available on the Government’s website here:



UN Convention Against Torture

The OPCAT, which the UK ratified in December 2003, requires states parties to establish a “National Preventive Mechanism” (NPM) to carry out visits to places of detention to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Government established the independent UK NPM in March 2009, and extended its membership in December 2013, and in January 2017. The UK NPM is currently composed of 21 scrutiny bodies covering the whole of the UK, and prepares annual reports on its activities. It also has an independent website at:

Following previous practice, I have presented to Parliament the eight NPM annual report (Command Paper 9563). This report covers the period from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. I commend the important work that the NPM has carried out over this period and the NPM’s independent role in safeguarding the human rights of detainees across the UK. I also note the NPM’s observations around prisons, children in detention, police and court custody, immigration detention, and health and social care detentions.