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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
14 May 2018
Volume 641

Written Statements

Monday 14 May 2018

Defence

Astute Boat 7

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I am pleased to announce today that we have reached a major milestone with the investment of £1.5 billion for the whole boat contract with BAE Systems to build the seventh boat in our Astute class submarine fleet. I also have the privilege to announce that this submarine will be named AGINCOURT.

AGINCOURT is the final boat of the Astute class, underpinning the commitment made by this Government in the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. AGINCOURT is expected to come into service with the Royal Navy in the mid-2020s to undertake a wide range of tasks in support of military operations worldwide.

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

BBC World Service

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The BBC Chairman and I have agreed the “Objectives, Priorities and Targets” (OPTs) for the BBC World Service Licence. The OPTs have been set for a five-year period 2017 to 2022. The licence can be found on the BBC website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/managementstructure/bbcstructure.

The BBC World Service is the world’s largest international broadcaster, broadcasting news, documentaries and discussions in 42 languages. The World Service continues to provide insight and fresh perspective across the major global stories of the year. The total weekly reach of the World Service in 2016-17 was a record 346 million (up from 320 million in 2015-16) and the BBC remains on track to achieve its ambition to reach a global audience of 500 million by 2022.

While many broadcasters are increasingly partisan, people around the world have confidence in the accuracy and impartiality of the BBC’s journalism. The BBC World Service is one of the most influential and trusted of British institutions and it is instrumental in helping to promote Britain and our values around the world. The FCO will continue to support them to enhance the lives of millions of people, making high-quality independent news and analysis accessible in markets of need.

The objectives for the World Service contribute to the fulfilment of the mission and the promotion of the BBC’s public purposes, including providing high-quality news coverage; current affairs; and factual programming to international audiences, which is firmly based on British values of accuracy, impartiality, and fairness. The objectives focus on four key areas:

maximising the reach of all language services;

protecting the BBC World Service’s position as the most trusted provider of accurate and independent international news;

delivering essential news and content that allows audiences to engage in democratic processes as informed citizens, and reflects the values and culture of the United Kingdom to the world; and

demonstrating value for money and transparency, seeking alternative sources of funding where appropriate.

The BBC will report annually against the objectives, priorities and targets I have agreed with the BBC Board. This will include assessment of progress against quantitative targets.

I will meet the BBC Chair (or their nominated representatives) annually to discuss the services, review the performance report, and consider any adjustments that need to be made, including targets. If the BBC Chair and I agree, we may also consider adjustments to services outside this timing, in response to significant changes in market conditions or world events.

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Northern Ireland

Legacy of Northern Ireland’s Past

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As Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my objective is to build a more peaceful, stable and prosperous Northern Ireland, that is fit for the future.

As part of this, we need to address the legacy of Northern Ireland’s troubled past, which continues to cast a large shadow on the present.

There is broad agreement that the current processes for addressing the past are not working well for anyone.

In 2014, the UK Government, along with the main Northern Ireland parties and the Irish Government reached the Stormont House agreement, which contained the most far-reaching proposals yet for addressing the past.

The Government believe that the proposed new legacy bodies in the agreement have the potential to provide better outcomes for victims and survivors and ensure there is no unfair and disproportionate focus on former members of the armed forces and police officers. The new bodies will be under clear statutory obligations to operate in ways which are fair, balance and proportionate.

Having discussed these proposals extensively with political parties in Northern Ireland, we believe that the time is now to allow for a wider public consultation, as we committed to in our 2017 Northern Ireland manifesto.

Now is the time for everyone with an interest in addressing the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past to have their say.

This consultation will run until 10 September and be published on the Government’s website at: http://www.gov. uk/nio.

I have placed a copy of the consultation document in the Libraries of both Houses.

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