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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
09 July 2018
Volume 644

Written Statements

Monday 9 July 2018

Treasury

JHA Opt-in Decision: Assignment of Claims

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The Government have decided not to opt in (under the UK’s JHA opt-in protocol) to the proposal for a regulation on the law applicable to the third-party effects of assignments of claims.

In the proposed regulation, the competence for the EU to act stems from Article 81 (2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. As such, the entire regulation represents justice and home affairs obligations, thereby triggering the UK’s opt-in.

The proposal applies a general rule that the law of the country where the assignor has their habitual residence governs the third-party effects of the assignment of claims (“law of the habitual claim”), but carves out three exceptions to the above rule, applying the law of the assigned claim to (i) the assignment of cash credited to a bank account; (ii) the assignment of claims arising from certain types of derivatives; and (iii) in certain circumstances to securitised entities. This is different to current market practice in significant parts of UK financial services, where the law governing a claim is determined by contractual agreement (“law of the assigned claim”).

The Government have concluded that it is in the UK’s interest not to opt in to this regulation. Its provisions would have significant unintended consequences for financial services market practices in the UK. It would create uncertainty for financial services transactions, could require changes to business as usual functions, and introduces an applicable law test that may contradict existing applicable law provisions such as those relating to securities.

Until the UK leaves the EU it remains a full and participating member. We will continue to work with the EU institutions, with the aim of ensuring that UK objectives are preserved as the negotiations progress on any compromise text. The Government will also continue to consider the application of the UK’s right to opt in to, or opt out of, forthcoming EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case by case basis.

[HCWS836]

UK's Counter-terrorist Asset Freezing Regime

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Under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010 (TAFA 2010), the Treasury is required to prepare a quarterly report regarding its exercise of the powers conferred on it by part 1 of TAFA 2010. This written statement satisfies that requirement for the period 1 January 2018 to 31 March 2018.

This report also covers the UK’s implementation of the UN’s ISIL (Daesh) and al-Qaeda asset freezing regime (ISIL-AQ), and the operation of the EU’s asset freezing regime under EU regulation (EC) 2580/2001 concerning external terrorist threats to the EU (also referred to as the CP 931 regime).

Under the ISIL-AQ asset freezing regime, the UN has responsibility for designations and the Treasury, through the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under the ISIL (Daesh) and al-Qaeda (asset-freezing) regulations 2011.

Under EU regulation 2580/2001, the EU has responsibility for designations and OFSI has responsibility for licensing and compliance with the regime in the UK under part 1 of TAFA 2010.

A new EU asset freezing regime under EU regulation (2016/1686) was implemented on 22 September 2016. This permits the EU to make autonomous al-Qaeda and ISIL (Daesh) listings. The first designation under the regime was made during this quarter, and is recorded in the fifth column of the annexed table.

The annexed tables set out the key asset-freezing activity in the UK during the quarter.

The recently passed Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act will help ensure that UK counterterrorist sanctions powers remain a useful tool for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to consider utilising, while also meeting the UK’s international obligations.

Under the Act, a designation could be made where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the person or group is or has been involved in a defined terrorist activity and that designation is appropriate. This approach is in line with the UK’s current approach under UN and EU sanctions and would be balanced by procedural protections such as the ability of designated persons to challenge the Government in court.

Attachments can be viewed online at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-07-09/HCWS838/.

[HCWS838]

Crown Dependencies: Double Taxation Agreements and Protocols

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Double Taxation Agreements and Protocols with The Crown Dependencies (Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey) were signed on 2 July 2018 in London. The text of the agreements are available on HM Revenue and Customs’ pages of the www.gov.uk website and will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. The text of the agreements and protocols will be scheduled to draft Orders in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.

[HCWS837]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Chemical Weapons Convention: Conference of States Parties

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On 26-27 June 2018, 152 States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) met in special session to address the pressing issue of upholding the global ban on the use of chemical weapons. In a previous statement on 30 November 2017, I updated the House on the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)—UN Joint Investigative Mechanism [HCWS291]. The Prime Minister has briefed the House on various occasions following the use of a nerve agent in Salisbury in March this year [12 March 2018, Volume 637 and 14 March 2018, Volume 637] and the chemical weapons attack in Douma in April [Debate on 16 April 2018, Volume 639].

This special session of the Conference of States Parties was the first such meeting convened at a State Party’s request since 2002. The UK alongside a number of international partners called this meeting to provide an opportunity for the international community to address the use of chemical weapons in Malaysia, Syria, Iraq (by Daesh) and the UK.

The UK proposed a draft decision, co-sponsored by 30 States Parties entitled “Addressing the threat from chemical weapons use”. The aim was to bring together the 193 members who have signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention to reaffirm their support for the Convention and for the OPCW, and to secure effective action to protect the global norm against CW use. We consulted widely with international partners on the draft of the decision, building broad support across all geographic regions.

Opposition from a few States meant, as we had anticipated, that consensus was not possible. But proposed amendments from Kazakhstan, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran and Burundi were defeated by substantial margins, leading to Russia, China and Burundi withdrawing alternative texts that sought to paralyse the work of the OPCW.

Most importantly, the decision we secured empowers the OPCW to attribute responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, both past and if needed, in the future. The crucial gap left by the ending of the mandate of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigation Mechanism last November, due to a series of Russian vetoes in the UN Security Council, has been filled. The decision also mandates the director general of the OPCW to make proposals at the next meeting of the Conference of States Parties in November to establish independent, impartial expert arrangements to identify those responsible for the use of chemical weapons, if requested by any State Party which is investigating possible chemical weapons use on its territory.

The decision covers a range of related issues. It officially recognises the findings of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism in 2016 and 2017, confirming four chemical weapons attacks by the Syrian regime between 2014 and 2017 including significantly the sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun in April 2017, and the use of chemical weapons by Daesh on two occasions in 2015 and 2016. It authorises the sharing of information gathered by the OPCW with the Independent Impartial and Independent Mechanism set up by the UN General Assembly under resolution 71/248 (2016) and other relevant investigatory entities established under UN auspices. And it provides for additional action by the OPCW to provide further assistance to the States to help prevent the threat posed by non-state actors.

The UK-drafted decision, adopted by 82 votes to 24 at a meeting attended by 152 (the largest number of States ever to have attended a Conference of States Parties) sends a clear message that the international community has not been deceived by the diplomatic manoeuvring of recent months and concluded that action must be taken to protect the Convention, and prevent impunity for chemical weapons use.

The Convention is a key element of the international disarmament and arms control system. This welcome outcome was the product of determined diplomacy over many years, and a particular effort in the weeks prior to the Conference. The achievement is all the more notable in light of the deadlock in the UN Security Council where all attempts to continue, or revive international investigations into responsibility for chemical weapons use in Syria were vetoed over the last year.

The UK is proud to have led the diplomatic efforts to secure this outcome. We look forward to working with all members of the Chemical Weapons Convention to implement the decision. The UK will continue to work with States around the world to support progress towards universal and effective national implementation of the Convention and uphold the ban on chemical weapons development, production, stockpiling and use. The UK will contribute an additional £1 million to the work of the OPCW in order to assist the implementation of the decision and the OPCW’s work with States to uphold non-proliferation and disarmament.

[HCWS835]

Transport

Roads Update

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Today I am publishing the Government’s zero emission road transport strategy “Road to Zero”. The transition to zero emission road transport is happening now across the world. It will mean fundamental changes to the global automotive market, worth over £1.5 trillion a year, bringing new jobs and growth opportunities for the UK. These include those we are already enjoying through Nissan in Sunderland, producing one in eight zero emission cars bought in Europe in 2017, and the London Electric Vehicle Company near Coventry, which put the world’s first electric black taxis on the streets of London earlier this year.

This Government’s vision is to build a Britain that is fit for the future. Leading the industries of the future and building the UK’s competitiveness in the face of major global economic trends are key parts of our industrial strategy. That is why our 2040 mission to put the UK at the forefront of the design and manufacturing of zero emission vehicles is central to the future of mobility and clean growth industrial strategy grand challenges.

The benefits are not just economic. Road transport is one of the biggest contributors to poor air quality in some of the UK’s towns and cities. And transport is the largest greenhouse gas-emitting sector in the UK. The work we are doing today to make road transport cleaner will mean we are handing the next generation a better, cleaner, greener Britain. It will improve the health and lives of people across the UK. It will help us achieve our statutory long-term greenhouse gas targets and our air quality commitments.

We have already made significant progress thanks to this Government’s £1.5 billion investment. Today there are more than 150,000 ultra low emission vehicles in the UK and around 14,000 public chargepoints, with hundreds more being added every month. There is a network of over 1,300 rapid chargepoints—one of the largest in Europe.

But we need action on a number of fronts to give certainty to the market and the consumer that the Government are fully behind this transition. The “Road to Zero” strategy sets out both our long-term ambitions and the measures we are taking to get there. It builds on our industrial strategy, automotive sector deal, clean growth strategy and the UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations.

Government’s long-term ambitions

As set out in the Government’s N02 plan, we will end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. By then, we expect the majority of new cars and vans sold to be 100% zero emission and all new cars and vans to have significant zero emission capability. By 2050 we want almost every car and van to be zero emission. We expect this transition to be industry and consumer led, supported in the coming years by the measures set out in this strategy. We will review progress by 2025 and consider what interventions are required if not enough progress is being made.

In addition, by 2030, we want to see at least 50%, and as many as 70%, of new car sales being ultra low emission.

Government have a key role to play. The strategy contains a package of measures covering the three key issues: supply of vehicles to the market; consumer demand; and a fit for purpose infrastructure network.

The right infrastructure to support the transition

If we are to help people to make the right choice of vehicle for their journey, then one element will be to reduce range anxiety on electric vehicles. The strategy sets out a package of measures to ensure that electric vehicle drivers will be able to easily locate and access charging infrastructure that is affordable, efficient and reliable. We will continue to provide grants to encourage people to charge at home overnight, both on and off streets. This is how we envisage the majority of charging will take place.

Today we are announcing our intention that all new homes, where appropriate, should have a chargepoint available. We plan to consult as soon as possible on introducing a requirement for chargepoint infrastructure for new dwellings in England. We will look at how to achieve this in the most cost-effective way, mindful of the Government’s housing supply objectives. We also want all new street lighting columns to include charging points, where appropriately located, in residential areas with current on-street parking provision.

Workplace and public infrastructure will also be vital. The strategy contains a range of measures to support the development of these networks. These include an increase to the grant available for workplace charging, a joint pilot with Highways England to increase electrical capacity at a motorway service area, Highways England’s commitment to ensuring there is a chargepoint every 20 miles along the strategic road network by 2020 and the £400 million charging infrastructure investment fund announced at Budget 2017 to accelerate the roll out of chargepoints.

In this parliamentary Session we have taken the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill through Parliament, now only awaiting Royal Assent, to improve the experience and provision of chargepoints. The Bill gives Government powers to ensure that chargepoints are available at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers, with Metro Mayors granted powers in relation to the latter. It also gives powers to ensure that chargepoints are easily accessed and used across the UK. This includes providing a uniform method of accessing public charge- points and refuelling points; making certain information publicly available in an open and transparent format; and setting reliability standards.

We will also ensure the electricity system now and in the future is ready for this transition. We and the energy sector are confident that existing market mechanisms will be able to meet additional electricity demand. Provisions in the aforementioned Bill to mandate smart charging, and our £30 million R and D investment in technologies allowing electricity to pass from vehicles into the grid at times of peak demand, will help alleviate these effects. We have launched an electric vehicles energy taskforce to bring together the relevant parts of industry and Government to ensure the transition is smooth.

The supply of vehicles and associated technologies to market

In our automotive sector deal, we made major new commitments to research and development in zero emission vehicle technology, and to developing competitive UK supply chains. This included the £246 million Faraday battery challenge, which is already supporting the development of battery technology in the UK. We will continue to support our established multi-million pound research and development programme for ultra low emission vehicles, which has been estimated to have a rate of return of £8 for every £1 invested.

The industry has an ambition to increase the level of UK content by value in domestically built vehicles to 50% by 2022. We want to work with industry to set a target at least as ambitious for the ultra low emission vehicle supply chain as we look to secure investment in UK battery manufacturing.

Consumer and business demand for ultra low emission vehicles

A recent survey indicated that around 38% of consumers considering a new car purchase would consider an electric car. However, only 2% of new car sales are currently ultra low emission.

More models are coming to market, giving consumers greater choice. Battery prices are coming down and we are committed to keeping in place our plug-in car and van grants until at least 2020. The tax system also favours ultra low and particularly zero emission vehicles over conventional ones. The strategy recognises that consumer incentives in some form will continue to play a role in driving uptake beyond 2020. And with industry we are launching the 2018-19 Go Ultra Low consumer campaign to promote the benefits of these vehicles and improve understanding of the choices available. Government will lead consumer uptake with 100% of central Government car fleets being ultra low emission by 2030.

Reducing emissions from conventional vehicles

However, it’s important to recognise that today over 99% of global car and van sales are petrol or diesel. Our strategy sets out how we will reduce emissions from the vehicles on our roads now and during the transition to zero emission vehicles. We will do this by increasing the supply and sustainability of low carbon fuels, accelerating the adoption of fuel efficient motoring and ensuring that our future approach to vehicle emissions regulation as we leave the European Union is at least as ambitious as current arrangements.

Cleaner diesel vehicles can play an important part in reducing CO2 emissions from road transport during the transition to zero emission vehicles whilst meeting ever more stringent air quality standards. For diesel vehicles to play their part fully, their air quality impact must continue to be reduced. We welcome the continued innovation and investment by vehicle manufacturers to develop cleaner diesel vehicles that meet the more challenging real driving emissions (RDE) requirements, delivering critical improvements in NOx emissions on our roads.

In addition to working in Europe to set ambitious new EU CO2 emissions standards for HGVs, we also recognise the need to reduce emissions from existing HGVs significantly. Working in partnership with industry leaders, the Government are also announcing a new industry-wide voluntary commitment for reducing HGV greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2025.

The strategy also sets out the results of our assessment of the environmental performance of the road vehicle fuels and technologies available to consumers. It is clear that zero emission vehicle options deliver the greatest environmental benefits regardless of vehicle type or use.

In the transition to zero emission vehicles, clear and consistent consumer information will be essential. We will set up a road transport emissions advice group to bring together Government, industry and consumer groups to work together to meet this challenge.

Conclusions

We cannot deliver this strategy alone. We are committed to working in partnership with industry, businesses, academia, environmental groups and others. That includes the devolved Administrations of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, who are taking significant steps to accelerate the transition. This is a UK-wide strategy and our core package of vehicle and chargepoint grants applies across the UK. We are working with local areas. We are also playing a leading role internationally, bringing together the international community in September’s groundbreaking zero emission vehicle summit.

Other changes are happening to the automotive sector including automation and new business models, which are challenging our assumptions about how we travel. The future of mobility grand challenge has been established to harness the opportunities presented by these changes and consider their impact on our society. Later this year, we will be publishing our strategy for the future of urban mobility, and we will shortly be engaging on this.

By putting the UK at the forefront of the twenty-first century transport revolution, we can ensure our automotive sector—one of our greatest success stories—continues to thrive and create good jobs across the country. We can set a global standard for managing technological change to maximise economic and environmental benefits. We will work with industry to achieve this ambition, and share the benefits this opportunity presents. Helping us achieve our goals of cleaner air, a better environment, zero emission vehicles, a strong clean economy.

A copy of this document is being placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The attachment can be viewed online at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2018-07-09/HCWS839/.

[HCWS839]