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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
07 February 2019
Volume 654

Written Statements

Thursday 7 February 2019

Cabinet Office

European Union (Withdrawal) Act and Common Frameworks

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I have today laid before Parliament a report, “The European Union (Withdrawal) Act and Common Frameworks, 26 September 2018 to 25 December 2018” as required by paragraph 4 of schedule 3 to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

The report is available on gov.uk and details the progress made in discussions between the UK Government and devolved Administrations regarding common frameworks in the second reporting period covered under the legislation, and sets out that no “freezing” regulations have been brought forward under section 12 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act.

A copy of the “The European Union (Withdrawal) Act and Common Frameworks, 26 September 2018 to 25 December 2018” report has been placed in the Library of both Houses. The publication of the report reflects the Government’s continued commitment to transparency.

[HCWS1310]

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Sporting Future Annual Report 2019

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The Government’s Sporting Future strategy, published in December 2015, set out a radical new vision for our approach to sport and physical activity, including how we value and measure their immense contribution to the nation’s health and wellbeing. It placed five key outcomes at the heart of everything we support and invest in—physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, individual development, social and community development and economic development. It identified tackling inactivity and getting people from underrepresented groups more engaged as key priorities. It was a bold new strategy for an active nation and marked the biggest shift in Government policy on sport for more than a decade.

Participation and physical activity

In the third full year of the strategy we have continued to deliver significant achievements. We have seen good progress against the 2020 physical activity targets set by Sport England and will continue to build on our understanding of active lives adult survey data to define robust successor targets for 2025.

A key focus has been developing our understanding of children’s engagement with, and attitude towards, physical activity. The December 2018 publication of the first year’s results of Sport England’s new active lives children survey was a significant milestone in terms of our understanding of how children engage with and think about sport and physical activity. The data on children’s inactivity levels was a wake-up call both for Government and the sector, and has prompted a substantial new focus across Government on improving sport and physical activity for young people. This will be manifested through the cross-government school sport and physical activity action plan which will be published in spring 2019.

Culture and integrity of sport

We have also continued to focus on the culture and integrity of sport. What matters is not just what we do to win medals and enjoy sporting success, but how we go about it. We have continued to work with UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) to implement the findings of the tailored review of UKAD and will be launching a consultation on revising the UK’s national anti-doping policy. We have launched a mental health and elite sport action plan, and UK Sport has reported on the first set of findings from its culture health check, which monitors how athletes and staff in the elite sport system feel they are treated.

Ensuring people feel safe when participating in sport is a significant part of improving and strengthening the culture and integrity in sport. Over the course of the year we have worked across Government and with the sports sector to look at existing processes and strengthen them where possible, integrating sport into the Department for Education’s working together and keeping children safe in education guidance. The governance of sport remains a critical issue and Sport England and UK Sport continue to embed the code for sports governance and work with the sector to improve on issues such as diversity in leadership.

International sport and Global Britain

We have continued our work to ensure that the UK remains one of the big hitters in elite and international sport. UK Sport launched its consultation on its future funding strategy beyond the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, the results of which will be available in February 2019. UK Sport also successfully launched its aspiration fund which will provide invaluable financial support to those sports that do not have immediate medal potential, but which we want to support to improve and develop. We have also revised the gold framework, which provides guidance to partners and agencies seeking to bid for and deliver major sporting events in the UK. The revised framework strengthens the UK’s ability to put on world-class sporting events that will help to further cement its reputation as a world leader on the sporting stage.

Priorities for the future

Looking to the future, cross-government working will be a key priority. Sport and physical activity has an immense role to play in a range of important agendas across Government, be that supporting the NHS to become more prevention focused, joint working with the Department for Education to make sure that a robust sport and physical activity offer to children is available both in and out of school, supporting and informing investment in transport infrastructure so that we are encouraging more people to walk and get on their bikes, or investing in sport and physical activity interventions to help reduce social isolation and strengthen community cohesion.

Supporting underrepresented groups including women and girls, people from BAME backgrounds, disabled people and people from lower socioeconomic groups to get active will continue to be a central focus. These are the groups in society who will benefit the most from getting more active and we remain committed to focusing on these groups as a priority. Equality in sport also applies to what we are able to watch. We can look forward to a number of sporting events on free-to-air TV this year, including the women’s netball world championships and the women’s football world championships. We want sports and broadcasters to continue to work together to ensure sports can continue to grow their appeal and find new audiences.

Preserving and strengthening the integrity of sport will continue to be at the forefront of our work. People having faith in the sports they know and love and athletes having the belief that they are competing on a level playing field are vital pillars of Sporting Future. To this end our focus on ensuring we have robust anti-doping and governance regimes will continue.

One of my highest priorities going forward will be for Government and the whole sport and physical activity sector to work together to ensure that we create the conditions for anyone to get involved and to enjoy the transformative power of both physical activity and witnessing live sport. It is vital that we direct our efforts not only at providing people with sufficient opportunities to get, and stay, active, but that the atmosphere and environment in which that activity takes place—be it grassroots or at the elite level—is safe, supportive and free of discrimination. In recent times, we have seen some worrying instances of discriminatory behaviour across the sporting landscape, notably in football, and I will be bringing together the footballing authorities and other organisations with an interest, to agree what action must be taken to stamp out all forms of discrimination at sports events. I am clear that we must not, and will not, tolerate any form of discrimination in sport and sport administrators, clubs and fans must continue to embrace diversity and tackle racism whenever they encounter it.

As we leave the European Union, we will also continue to work closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Department for International Trade, to maximise the great contribution sport can make to our international profile and our vision for Global Britain. Our hosting of the cricket World cup, with an expected global audience of over a billion people, will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase our country in 2019.

We want to make sure absolutely everyone can benefit from the power of sport and physical activity. It can deliver tangible benefits for people’s physical and mental health, support the delivery of other vital agendas such as improving employment and educational outcomes, and it can act as a powerful tool for bringing communities closer together. I am grateful to all those across Government and the sport and physical activity sector who are working to make the ambition of Sporting Future a reality.

There is much more to do to ensure that the UK becomes, and reaps the benefits of, a truly active nation. I will be laying the formal report of the third annual report to Parliament in spring. This will allow us to incorporate the findings of the third full year of Sport England’s active lives adult survey data results due for publication in April 2019.

[HCWS1311]

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

January Agriculture and Fisheries Council

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The Agriculture and Fisheries Council took place in Brussels on 28 January. The UK was represented by Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, and Lords Minister.

The lead issue on the agriculture-focused agenda was the common agricultural policy (CAP) reform post-2020, divided into two table rounds. The first round focused on strategic plans and horizontal regulations, detailing the changes to streamline the new delivery model, as well as the agricultural reserve. Member states broadly supported the call for the pillar two budget to be maintained, including a proposal which will allow a 35% deviation from annual milestones, among other things.

In the second debate, the Commission’s proposal to lift the ban on vitis labrusca and six forbidden grape varieties was debated. The majority of wine producing member states rejected the proposal on quality and reputational grounds. Commissioner Hogan then gave a presentation on green architecture which focused on member states’ objectives to achieve high-level climate ambitions.

Commissioner Hogan also introduced the non-legislative debate on supporting the growth of plant protein in the EU, setting out a wide range of proposed measures from the Commission’s plan. A declaration, calling for measures to be brought together in an EU-wide action plan was supported by a number of member states.

A number of other items were discussed under “any other business”:

Commissioner Andriukaitis provided an update from the ministerial conference on African swine fever (ASF) held in December 2018.

Slovakia presented their request for an update on the dual quality food issue.

Denmark informed Council about their new international centre for antimicrobial resistance solutions (ICARS). The UK expressed its support, highlighting the new five-year national AMR action plan and the chief medical officer’s recent visit to Copenhagen.

[HCWS1308]

Home Department

Automatic Immigration Bail Referral Pilot

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On 24 July 2018, the Home Secretary laid before Parliament the second independent review by Stephen Shaw CBE, into immigration detention. In responding to that review, the Home Secretary committed to going further and faster with the reforms to immigration detention in four priority areas: encouraging and supporting voluntary returns; improving the support available to vulnerable detainees; increasing transparency around immigration detention; and a new drive on dignity in detention.

As a part of this commitment, the Home Secretary, in agreement with the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, announced plans to pilot an additional automatic bail referral to the First-tier Tribunal of the Immigration and Asylum Chamber at the two-month point, halving the time in detention before a first bail referral.

I am pleased to announce that this pilot will commence on 10 February. It will run for six months and will be evaluated fully.

This is an important additional safeguard for those who are detained, giving them certainty that their detention is subject to further independent judicial oversight. It builds on the current automatic bail referral regime at the four-month point which was introduced last year. I have written to the Chairs of the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights with more detail on the pilot and I will place copies of those letters in the Libraries of both Houses.

Together with the Ministry of Justice, we will consider the key outcomes of the pilot, as part of our continued efforts to ensure we have a detention system that is fair to those who may be detained, upholds our immigration policies and acts as a deterrent to those who might seek to frustrate immigration control.

[HCWS1309]

Transport

Smart Ticketing on the Rail Network

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In November 2017 in our strategic vision for rail, the Department for Transport set out ambitious plans for the roll out of smart ticketing across the network, with the aim of making it more convenient for passengers to buy and receive their train tickets. Over a year later, we have made real progress. Every franchise offers smart cards and/or barcodes and smart tickets are available across almost all of the network.

We now want to go further. Our ambition is to ensure that across regional and urban commuter areas smart ticketing can deliver the kind of pay-as-you-go (PAYG) structure that is used in London, to make journeys easier and smoother for passengers.

In the north of England, the Government have allocated £150 million to the multi-modal PAYG programme already being progressed by Transport for the North and, in London, Oyster ticketing already offers seamless PAYG travel. However, there is demand for PAYG to be deployed more widely, so today we begin consulting on the feasibility of delivering PAYG to an expanded area across the south-east of England. This is just a first step, and we will continue to work with other areas to assess opportunities to roll out PAYG.

The consultation offers the travelling public, business, local authorities and others the opportunity to have their say on how the system could operate and where it could extend to. We are aware that there are views on the appropriate ticketing systems and the way the fares structure could be organised to complement pay as you go travel; these issues are also being considered in the consultation.

[HCWS1307]

Tyres and Vehicle Safety

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Colleagues across the House have expressed concern about the potential dangers posed by ageing tyres. This is also a matter of great concern to the Government, and following my statement to the House of 23 November 2018, I want to update the House further on the measures we are taking to address it.

Colleagues will recall that in 2013 the Government issued guidance advising bus operators against fitting tyres over 10 years old to the front axles of their vehicles. This has proven extremely effective. Since June 2017, 136,263 vehicles have been checked by DVSA at annual test and 82 have been found to be non-compliant, a rate of 0.06%.

However, we have been determined to go further. In November 2018 the Government updated the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency guidance on maintaining roadworthiness, to the effect that tyres of 10 years of age or older should not be used on the front or steering axles of heavy goods vehicles as well as buses and coaches.

All DVSA encounters with GB heavy vehicles, including buses and coaches, identified as using older tyres will be followed up. Between 23 November and 25 January, DVSA carried out 7,500 enforcement checks and found 14 vehicles using older tyres. This reinforces the picture already built up of very low levels of infringement. The changes to maintenance best practice now provide a clear basis for referring cases to traffic commissioners when guidance has been disregarded.

The DFT and its agencies continue to work together to ensure vehicle operators understand how to maintain the safety and roadworthiness of their vehicles, including their tyres, and to enforce any non-compliance.

This strengthening of the roadworthiness guidance followed amendments to the MOT and annual test requirement in 2018 to tighten the control of the use of any tyres exhibiting deep cuts to the tread area. These changes, which apply to all road vehicles subject to MOT tests, were developed in response to new evidence obtained from a DFT-funded collision investigation. This indicated that structural damage to tyres was possible due to corrosion caused by water ingress. As a result, from 20 May 2018 any vehicle found with tyres that have deep cuts will fail their MOT test. This is another example of how the DFT continue to make improvements to vehicle maintenance requirements based on available evidence, so as to improve roadworthiness and safety of vehicles on UK roads.

In addition to these measures, the Government have also commissioned pioneering new research to strengthen our understanding of the effect of age on the integrity of road vehicle tyres. No other country in the world has done work of this nature—we are pushing the boundaries of technical research in order to inform policy and ensure the safety of all road users.

The present work has been commissioned by the Department for Transport and is led by the UK’s transport research laboratory. The project has enlisted expertise from a leading laboratory in the United States, Smithers Rapra, to undertake testing and analysis to find out more about the structural qualities of those tyres. A total of 31 used tyres of different ages, taken from the UK market, have been sent to this laboratory. The sample tyres are all from a single manufacturer and have been assembled so that accurate comparisons can be made. This analysis will be used to address the question of how ageing affects tyres’ integrity. I understand that it will be the first of its kind to be published using this methodology.

The Government are committed to evidence-based policy making, in order to ensure the safety of all road users. Stakeholders and the public expect the Government to act on complete and appropriate evidence, and decisions would otherwise risk legal challenge by affected parties. As I informed the House on November 23, we expect the outcome of this research to be reported in the spring. It will be used alongside existing evidence to inform Government policy.

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