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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
30 April 2018
Volume 640

Written Statements

Monday 30 April 2018

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Business Update

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I am today publishing a consultation document which sets out a range of proposals to reform the law governing limited partnerships, including Scottish limited partnerships.

The United Kingdom has a global reputation as a great place to do business. People looking to grow or relocate a business come to Britain confident in our high corporate standards. Part of that confidence derives from our strong transparency requirements, which ensure people know who they are doing business with. Transparency also helps combat illicit activity which is a vital underpinning of the UK’s business environment, a key theme of the Government’s industrial strategy.

The UK is a world leader on corporate transparency and we want to retain this position, so we continue to look for opportunities to improve the transparency and integrity of our legal framework. In response to concerns that limited partnerships might be being misused, we sought and received evidence last year. The evidence demonstrates that the limited partnership, including its Scottish form, continues to fulfil important functions in key sectors of our economy. But it also highlighted that there are ways in which the legal framework governing limited partnerships could be strengthened and updated.

The proposals I am consulting on aim to strike the right balance between maintaining high corporate standards while maintaining the UK’s attractiveness as a place to do business and I look forward to hearing from interested parties.

I have placed copies of the consultation document in the Library of the House.

[HCWS656]

Housing, Communities and Local Government

Carbon Monoxide Detection and Safety

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Carbon monoxide which can be released if a boiler or fire is faulty or poorly maintained can be a silent killer.

The Government take the risk and consequences of carbon monoxide poisoning seriously and we have been working closely with my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) on this important life safety issue.

The Government with their agencies continue to raise awareness about the risks. For example, our national fire safety campaign helps fire and rescue services promote carbon monoxide messaging and Gas Safety Week is a national campaign to help raise awareness in homes with gas appliances.

Regulation also has an important role to play. Since 2010, our building regulations have required carbon monoxide alarms when solid fuel appliances are installed and in 2015 we introduced further regulation to require alarms when homes that have a solid fuel appliance are privately rented. The Government have consulted recently on the effectiveness of the regulations in the private rented sector.

As a result of our actions, the number of carbon monoxide poisonings has fallen and incidents are thankfully rare but we cannot be complacent.

In recent years there have been improvements in carbon monoxide alarms and the cost has fallen and Government think it is now right to look at the requirements for carbon monoxide alarms generally to see whether they need to be strengthened.

The Government are therefore launching a review of the requirements and the evidence base which underpins these with a view to consulting by the end of the year. Any future changes in requirements would take account of the outcome of the Government’s consultation on the operation of private rented alarm regulations and the Dame Judith Hackitt independent review into building regulations and fire safety.

[HCWS657]

Justice

Justice Update

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On 9 January, I announced an immediate review into: the transparency of Parole Board decision making; whether there should be a mechanism to allow parole decisions to be reconsidered; and victim involvement in the parole process. On Saturday I published the full findings of that review and the action I will take in response.

The review has looked at issues with the parole process as a whole following the Parole Board’s decision to direct the release of John Worboys. Under the current law, the policies and procedures of the Parole Board mean decisions are taken behind closed doors. Open justice is an important principle of our justice system. It must not only be done; justice must be seen to be done.

Victims, and the public, must have confidence in the criminal justice system. Parole Board decisions are inevitably difficult, but this makes it even more important that information is available about how the process works. We must support victims as they continue to suffer from the impacts of the crimes committed against them, and make sure they receive timely and accurate information about what is happening in their case, delivered in a considerate way.

This review sets out the action the Government will take. We are:

removing the blanket prohibition on the disclosure of information about Parole Board proceedings, so that victims can be given summaries of the reasons for the board’s decisions. Where the Parole Board chair considers it to be in the public interest, summaries will also be available to the public and the media on request. There will be a presumption that this will happen. This change will come into force on 22 May 2018;

launching a consultation on a new process to allow reconsideration of Parole Board decisions on whether to release a prisoner. We envisage a judge-led reconsideration process which in some circumstances could be open to the public, and with the individual or panel that makes the reconsideration decision named. This consultation will consider how the new process should operate and will be open until the end of July. Once that has completed I will set out my plans for bringing the changes into effect; and,

making immediate changes to how we communicate with victims. We are widening access to the Victim Contact scheme and considering further changes to be included in the Victims’ strategy which we will publish this summer.

In addition to the immediate actions I am taking forward as a result of the review, I have also announced a comprehensive examination of all 27 of the Parole Board rules to ensure that the processes and procedures as a whole are right and fair.

This initial package of measures sets out the immediate action we are taking. It is a vital first step in moving toward a parole system that ensures greater openness, challenge and involvement of victims in the parole process, and towards restoring the confidence of victims and the wider public in the justice system.

[HCWS655]