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Written Statements

Volume 653: debated on Monday 21 January 2019

Written Statements

Monday 21 January 2019

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Times and The Sunday Times: Sharing of Resources and Services

On 10 January 2019, News UK submitted an application to DCMS requesting that the Secretary of State accept proposed undertakings in place of undertakings that were put in place by the then Secretary of State for Trade (the right hon. John Biffin) in 1981.

The proposed new undertakings seek to vary the sections of the 1981 conditions which require that ultimate control over the resources, including journalists, available to each newspaper are kept separately with the editor of each newspaper. The main variation proposed by News UK is to set out explicitly in paragraph 5 of the proposed undertakings that:

“The newspapers may share services and resources, including journalists, to such extent as the editors agree.”

News UK has submitted that the changes would permit a greater sharing of resources and services, including journalists, between The Times and The Sunday Times and that such sharing is a necessary step to mitigate the financial challenges that the two titles will face in the future.

I am placing in the Library of the House today a copy of the application we received from News UK along with details on how to comment on the application. The deadline for comments is 5pm on Monday 11 February. This application will be considered in a quasi-judicial manner through a fair and transparent process.

If, after considering the responses, my decision is to accept the new undertakings, there will be a further consultation on the terms of the new undertakings as required by the legislation.

The proposed undertakings are also available online at:


Exiting the European Union

Voting Rights

Today, I can confirm that the Government have reached a reciprocal agreement with Spain that will secure the rights of UK nationals in Spain, and Spanish citizens in the UK, to stand and vote in local elections now and in the future. This is a positive step forward in our future relationship with Spain and we hope this will be the first of many similar bilateral agreements with other member states.

This agreement with Spain is the first of its kind and secures the democratic rights of over 300,000 UK nationals who are now able to continue exercising their right to vote and stand in local Spanish elections, including the upcoming election in May 2019.

Citizens have always been our priority in the negotiations for our departure from the EU, and in particular to protect the rights of British expats. The UK advocated the inclusion in the withdrawal agreement of the right to vote and stand in local elections for UK nationals living in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK, but the EU did not want to include these rights within the scope of the agreement. Instead, we have been clear that we will pursue these rights on a bilateral basis and that the right of EU citizens to vote in local elections in the UK should be considered alongside the rights of UK nationals. It has always been our priority to secure these reciprocally.

To provide certainty while we pursue these agreements, we do not anticipate any changes to the current primary legislative framework for candidacy and voting rights being made before the May 2019 English and Northern Ireland local elections. These are devolved competences and the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are responsible for their own franchises in local and devolved assembly elections. It is the policy intent of the UK Government that candidates who are validly nominated and elected at the May 2019 local elections in England and Northern Ireland should be able to serve that term of office in full.

I will be depositing the agreement in the Libraries of both Houses.


Home Department

Domestic Abuse

My right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Justice Secretary and I are today publishing the consultation response on transforming the response to domestic abuse and draft Domestic Abuse Bill following the public consultation last year.

Domestic abuse destroys lives. It is a cruel and complex crime that can affect anyone, leaving physical and emotional scars that can last a lifetime. It also places a considerable demand on public services—Home Office research published today estimates the economic and social costs of domestic abuse to society to be £66 billion each year. This consultation response and draft Bill further our ambition to transform the response to domestic abuse and change social attitudes that keep these crimes hidden in plain sight.

On 8 March 2018, the then Home Secretary issued a written ministerial statement (HCWS525) announcing a comprehensive public consultation to address domestic abuse from prevention through to rehabilitation. The consultation ran for 12 weeks and received around 3,200 responses. In addition to questionnaires, we ran a series of national roadshows and themed roundtables with victims and other stakeholders. The Government are grateful to the victims, frontline practitioners and others who took the time to respond to the consultation and supported the events. These responses have helped us to refine and improve our proposals.

To reflect the prevalence and complexity of domestic abuse and the harm it causes, the consultation response is truly a cross-Government effort. It recognises that change needs to occur across all statutory agencies, including in courts, police, schools, social care, housing, welfare and healthcare settings.

For those measures which require legislation to implement, the Government have today published the Domestic Abuse Bill in draft for pre-legislative scrutiny. A joint committee of both Houses will be established as soon as practicable to undertake such scrutiny. Once the joint committee has reported, the Government are committed to introducing the Domestic Abuse Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The draft Bill includes the following measures:

a) Introduce the first ever statutory Government definition of domestic abuse (which will include economic abuse);

b) Establish the office of Domestic Abuse Commissioner and set out the Commissioner’s functions and powers (the competition for the appointment of the Designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner was launched on 4 December 2018);

c) Provide for a new Domestic Abuse Protection Notice and Domestic Abuse Protection Order;

d) Prohibit perpetrators of abuse from cross-examining their victims in person in the family courts and give the court discretion to prevent cross-examination in person where it would diminish the quality of the witness’ evidence or cause the witness significant distress;

e) Create a statutory presumption that complainants of an offence involving behaviour which amounts to domestic abuse are eligible for special measures in the criminal courts;

f) Enable domestic abuse offenders to be subject to polygraph testing as a condition of their licence following their release from custody;

g) Place the guidance supporting the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme on a statutory footing;

h) Ensure that where a local authority, for reasons connected with domestic abuse, grants a new secure tenancy to a social tenant who had or has a secure lifetime or assured tenancy (other than an assured shorthold tenancy) this must be a secure lifetime tenancy; and

i) Support ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the “Istanbul Convention”), by extending the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the criminal courts in England and Wales to further violent and sexual offences.

Ahead of the legislation we have already started to implement measures to improve support for victims and their children. We have launched applications for the designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner role; we have announced successful bids to the children affected by domestic abuse fund with nine projects across the country being funded; and 12 projects have been awarded funding to support female offenders who have experienced domestic abuse.

The Government remain resolute in their determination to fundamentally change the response to this insidious crime through delivering the cross-Government commitments set out in today’s Command Paper. It demonstrates a clear focus on prevention and sets out new measures to: raise awareness; better support victims and their children; ensure perpetrators are pursued and prosecuted; and drive consistently high performance in the response to domestic abuse across all local areas, agencies and sectors.

A copy of the Command Paper (CP 15), including the consultation response, the draft Domestic Abuse Bill and explanatory notes, will today be laid before the House and will be available online at Copies of the Paper on the economic and social costs of domestic abuse; draft Domestic Abuse Bill impact assessment; delegated powers memorandum; and ECHR memorandum will be placed in the House Library.


Prime Minister

European Union (Withdrawal) Act: Section 13(4) Statement

This statement is being made for the purposes of Section 13(4) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and outlines how the Government intend to proceed in the light of the House’s decision on Tuesday 15 January 2019 not to agree to a resolution laid for the purposes of section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

The Government will today table the motions required in both Houses under section 13(6) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. Later this week the Government will also take the steps set out in section 13(11) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. This will require motions pursuant to section 13(11 )(b) to be tabled in both Houses.

It is the Government’s intention, in accordance with the procedure allowed under section 13(13)(b) and (c), for those later section 13(11)(b) motions to be combined with the motion tabled today under section 13(6). The scheduled debates in the House of Lords and the House of Commons, on 28 and 29 January respectively, will therefore be on motions relating to the statements made under both s. 13(4) and s. 13(11)(a).

The joint motion will be in neutral terms, in line with the European Union (Withdrawal) Act, but will now be amendable following the House of Commons decision on 4 December 2018 that, “the provisions of Standing Order No. 24B (Amendments to motions to consider specified matters) shall not apply in respect of any motion tabled by a Minister of the Crown pursuant to any provision of section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The joint motion in the House of Commons will be as follows:

The Prime Minister

That this House, in accordance with the provisions of section 13(6)(a) and 13(11)(b)(i) and 13(13)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, has considered the written statement titled “Statement under Section 13(4) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018” and made on 21 January 2019, and the written statement titled “Statement under Section 13(11)(a) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018”and made on (date on or before 24 January).

An equivalent motion will be tabled in the House of Lords.

Members will be advised that amendments tabled to the original section 13(6) motion will need to be re-tabled when the second joint motion is tabled.

We are following this course of action to avoid any legal uncertainty as to whether the Government have complied fully with the terms of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. Section 13(11) of the Act states that the Government must make the statement and motion mentioned above if, at the end of 21 January 2019, “there is no agreement in principle in negotiations under Article 50(2)”. While the negotiations have yielded an agreement, that agreement has not been approved by Parliament.

Notwithstanding this action, making this statement does not prejudice any further actions the Government may choose to take under section 13(1) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 at a later date.

Earlier today I updated the House on the next steps following the decision not to approve the deal negotiated with the European Union and following initial engagement with senior parliamentarians across the House.