Tuesday 27 November 2018
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Competitiveness Council 29 and 30 November
The Internal Market and Industry Day of the Competitiveness Council will take place on 29 November 2018 where the right hon. Lord Henley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, will represent the UK; and the Research and Space Day on 30 November 2018 where I will represent the UK.
Day one—internal market and industry
The Internal Market And Industry Day will consider a number of legislative items including general approaches on the proposed regulations on platform-to-business relations and the general safety of vehicles and a partial general approach on the proposed single market programme as part of the next multi-annual financial framework. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on a future EU industrial policy strategy, and Ministers will have an exchange of views on the future of the single market.
Under any other business there will be an update on the proposed regulation on supplementary protection certificates for medicinal products; information from the presidency on the functioning of the EU on certain categories of horizontal aid, and on the REACH review in the light of industrial competitiveness; a report of the SME envoy network; and information from the Czech, Finnish, Danish and Irish delegations on a study entitled “Making EU Trade in Services Work for All—Enhancing Innovation and Competitiveness throughout the EU Economy”. The day will conclude with information from the incoming Romanian presidency on its proposed work programme.
Day two—research and space
The Research And Space Day will begin with a session on space during which the Council will review the progress report and exchange views on the regulation establishing the space programme of the Union.
The Council will then begin the research session with the adoption of conclusions on the Governance of the European research area.
The Council will then discuss the Horizon Europe package—framework programme for research and innovation 2021-27. The Council will seek to first agree on a partial general approach for the framework programme and its rules for participation and dissemination and secondly it will discuss the progress report for the specific programme implementing Horizon Europe.
Day two will conclude with any other business. The presidency will first provide information on the Evolution of Europe’s space activities: long-term perspective (Space conference) (Graz, 5-6 November 2018). The day will conclude with information from the incoming Romanian presidency on its proposed work programme.
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Ivory Bill: Lords Amendments and EVEL
I have today published a written submission outlining the Government’s analysis of how the English votes for English laws principle relates to all Lords amendments to the Ivory Bill.
The Department’s assessment is that the amendments do not change the territorial application of the Bill. The analysis holds if all the Lords amendments be accepted.
I have deposited a copy of the submission in the Libraries of both Houses.
Offensive Weapons Bill Memorandum
I am today placing in the Library of the House the Department’s analysis on the application of Standing Order 83L in respect of the Government amendments tabled for Commons Report stage for the Offensive Weapons Bill Scheduled for 28 November 2018.
DNA Evidence: Immigration Applications
I am providing an update on progress made following my statement to the House on 25 October on the Home Office’s use of DNA evidence in immigration applications.
I would like to reiterate that no one should have faced a demand to supply DNA evidence and no one should have been penalised for not providing it. I have apologised to those affected by this practice and committed to get to the bottom of what has gone on in relation to DNA evidence.
On 8 November the Home Office published new overarching policy guidance on the use of DNA evidence in the whole of the borders, immigration and citizenship system on gov.uk. This guidance makes clear that the Home Office cannot mandate individuals to provide DNA evidence, or draw any negative inferences from non-provision. However, it also makes clear that individuals can volunteer such evidence to demonstrate a biological relationship. It will help to ensure there is a consistent approach across the whole BICS system and it will be used in parallel with guidance on individual routes and schemes (e.g. Gurkhas).
The Home Office is also arranging bespoke training sessions with frontline staff to ensure that operational practice aligns with the overarching policy position on the use of DNA evidence. The published guidance related to Gurkhas has been corrected and reissued.
On 24 October I established a taskforce so that anyone who feels that their case may have been influenced in any way by an inappropriate demand for DNA testing, can receive advice and support. Details of how to contact the taskforce were sent to hon. Members and publicised on Home Office social media channels as well as on gov.uk. As of 14 November, the telephone helpline had received a total of 25 calls. Seventeen of these calls have been referred to the taskforce and are being actively reviewed.
We will arrange reimbursement for individuals who contact us using the helpline, if the individual has suffered financial loss because the Home Office required DNA evidence from them when we should not have.
Likewise we will proactively contact individuals who are known to have been required to provide DNA evidence and did so, to arrange reimbursement.
The vast majority of outstanding Operation Fugal cases I referred to in my statement have now been concluded and Home Office officials are continuing to work to conclude any remaining cases as soon as possible.
Some cases will take longer to conclude where we have requested further information to help us make a decision. There are a number of cases we are currently unable to conclude where there are outstanding criminal proceedings, although to date there have been no criminal charges brought against any individuals as a result of Operation Fugal.
I can now confirm that I have appointed Darra Singh OBE to conduct the independent assessment on the Home Office’s approach to establishing the numbers involved, the operational response, the policy response and the extent to which follow-up training and communications have addressed the issue. Darra brings significant experience, skills and credibility to this task.
I stated that I will review more broadly our structures and processes to ensure that they deliver a system in a way that is fair and humane. I am considering what form that review will take and I will provide an update to the House in due course.