Monday 25 February 2019
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Henley) has made the following statement:
The Competitiveness Council took place on 18-19 February. I represented the UK on Day 1 (Internal Market and Industry); and by the Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Chris Skidmore), on Day 2 (Research and Space).
Day 1—Internal Market and Industry
Commissioner Bienkowska presented the Commission's analysis on integrated value chains in the single market. A number of member states called for the single market and services to be at the centre of the March European Council discussion on jobs, growth and competitiveness. The UK recalled the close integration of UK and EU supply chains. The presidency concluded that it would summarise views in writing to the President of the European Council.
The presidency and member states welcomed the co-ordinated action plan on artificial intelligence (AI) and stressed the need for EU and national action to boost cross-border research networks and data flows to maximise EU competitiveness. Commissioner Bienkowska called for the EU to put in place ethical and legal frameworks in line with fundamental rights, stressing the importance of flexibility to encourage innovation. The UK noted that our approach aligned closely with the co-ordinated action plan and called for continuing collaboration to help maintain Europe’s international competitiveness. The Council adopted “Conclusions on the co-ordinated plan on the development and use of artificial intelligence made in Europe”.
The Commission introduced its long-term climate strategy stressing the importance of all sectors contributing to decarbonisation. Member states supported the need for coherence across all policy areas, noting the importance of the circular economy and driving innovation. The UK and others highlighted the opportunities for EU industry provided by combating climate change which could be expected to lead to an overall net increase in higher skilled jobs.
On the European semester, the Commission highlighted competitiveness priorities following the adoption of the annual growth survey in November 2018.
The Commission updated the Council on the recent ECJ ruling against the real driving emissions (RDE) legislation. The UK and others called for the Commission to take action to ensure greater certainty for the automobile industry and sufficient time for them to adapt. The Commission noted that the ECJ did not question the revised tests themselves, but rather the way the Commission had enacted the legislation.
The presidency noted that agreement with the Parliament had been reached on the directive on digital tools in company law and the regulation on enforcement of EU harmonisation legislation on products. The Commission noted that the regulation would improve product safety by facilitating engagement with businesses, co-ordination of market surveillance activities and co-operation between market surveillance authorities and customs authorities.
Day 2 of the Competitiveness Council focused on an exchange of views on the Horizon Europe Package—Framework programme for research and innovation 2021-2027. The presidency concluded that there was a broad consensus on making missions relevant to all member states and that the European Innovation Council (EIC) would need to operate in complementary manner with the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) and InvestEU. The presidency said that it would try to find a balanced compromise in forthcoming trilogues.
The Council concluded with a brief update on the ITER project. The Commission confirmed that ITER was back on track and delays/cost overruns had been addressed.
Relationships and Sex Education
Today, the Secretary of State for Education, will provide a statement to the House, updating on the Government’s proposals for the draft regulations and guidance for relationships education, relationships and sex education, and health education following public consultation. The draft guidance and other materials will be published at: www.gov.uk,
following the statement.
Health and Social Care
Foods Standards Agency: Contingencies Fund Cash Advance
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is seeking an advance from the Contingencies Fund to meet its cash funding obligations relating to preparation work for EU exit. This work has been ongoing throughout this financial year to ensure day one readiness ensuring food safety, supply and security.
Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £11,000,000 and capital of £3,000,000 will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Food Standards Agency. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £10,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.
The advance will be repaid upon Royal Assent of the Supply and Appropriation (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill.
No-deal EU Exit: Medicines and Medical Products
Today, I am updating the House on the Department for Health and Social Care’s plans for the continuity of medicines and medical products in the event we exit the EU without a deal.
My Department has been working closely with trade bodies, product suppliers, the health and care system in England, the Devolved Administrations (DAs) and the Crown Dependencies, to ensure the continuation of the supply of medicines and medical products to the whole of the UK in the event of a no deal EU Exit. This includes the NHS, social care and the independent sector and covers medicines (prescription, pharmacy and general sales list medicines); medical devices and clinical consumables (such as needles and syringes); supplies for clinical trials; vaccines and countermeasures; and blood, tissue and transplant materials.
Together with industry and the health and care system, my Department has analysed the supply chains of 12,300 medicines, close to half a million product lines of medical devices and clinical consumables, vaccines used in national and local programmes, and essential non-clinical goods on which the health and care system relies, such as linen, scrubs and food.
We have also assessed contract risks associated with potential no-deal EU exit in the broader NHS and social care sector in England and within the DAs and are working with suppliers to ensure adequate mitigations are in place for non-clinical goods and services (e.g. hospital food, laundry, IT contracts, etc.).
This has been a very large undertaking but we are grateful for the excellent engagement from all parties—our plans are well advanced as a result.
While we never give guarantees, we are confident that, if everyone—including suppliers, freight companies, international partners and the health and care system—does what they need to do, the supply of medicines and medical products should be uninterrupted in the event of exiting the EU without a deal.
My Department has well established routine procedures to deal with medicine shortages, from whatever cause, and works closely with the MHRA, the pharmaceutical industry, NHS England and others operating in the supply chain to help prevent shortages and to ensure that the risks to patients are minimised when they do arise.
There is no hard evidence to date to suggest current issues are increasing as a result of EU exit.
My Department has overall responsibility on behalf of the Devolved Administrations for ensuring the continuity of supply of medicines, and they have opted to utilise our contingency arrangements so we can work together to ensure the supply of medical devices and clinical consumables. Therefore, all supply arrangements take into account the whole of the UK, reflecting the engagement and co-operation of our colleagues in the DAs.
Around three quarters of the registered medicines and over half the clinical consumables the UK uses come from (or via) the EU. Government estimate that the key risk to supply is reduced traffic flow at the short straits crossing (ie between Calais and Dover or Folkestone).
My Department has put in place a multi-layered approach to minimise any supply disruption:
Building up buffer stocks and stockpiling before 29 March in the following areas:
Medicines: We have analysed 12,300 licensed medicines products. Around 1,800 of these were determined to not be relevant as no longer marketed in the UK.
For the remaining approximately 7,000 ‘POM’ (prescription-only medicines) and ‘P’ (pharmacy only medicines, that can be purchased only from a pharmacy without a prescription) with an EU/EEA touchpoint, we have been working with suppliers to ensure they increase their buffer stocks to hold at least an additional six weeks of stock (over and above usual buffer stock) in the UK before 29 March. The vast majority of companies have confirmed stockpiling plans are in place. For those medicines that cannot be stockpiled because, for example, they have short shelf-lives, such as medical radioisotopes, we have asked suppliers to make alternative routes using airfreight, which some suppliers already do now.
For general sales list (GSL medicines—also known as over-the-counter or OTC products), 500 of which have a EU touchpoint, we have worked with NHS England to identify those which are important for the management of specific health conditions, and are working with suppliers to assure contingency plans for those products.
Medical devices and clinical consumables: My Department has placed extra orders for the medical devices and clinical consumables which NHS supply chain routinely stocks. Although the NHS supply chain organisation normally only covers England, we have worked closely with the national procurement and logistics services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to ensure their demand levels for the UK are covered. Not all suppliers have the capability to hold stock of their full product range in the UK and routinely supply product directly from EU distribution centres to care providers or patients. These suppliers are working on their own contingency measures; however, we have also put in place national contingency measures to provide a reliable and responsive means of moving product into the UK, including additional daily air freight capacity from Maastricht to Birmingham.
Blood, tissues and transplants: NHSBT manages the blood supply in England and is working to ensure there is no disruption to this. We are largely self-sufficient in blood and blood components and do not export or import these products in large quantities. In exceptional cases we export or import very rare blood for urgent clinical need, usually in single unit quantities. NHSBT has put in place stockpiles and other contingency arrangements to ensure a continuous supply of blood (including frozen plasma) and transplant materials. NHSBT has been collaborating with the other UK blood services and is working with its EU counterparts to ensure that the current organ exchange arrangements can continue post exit. The regulators are working with licensed establishments so the import of tissues and cells from EU countries can continue.
Vaccines and countermeasures: My Department is taking the same approach to the supply of vaccines and countermeasures as we are for the supply of medicines (in terms of stockpiling, warehousing and replenishment). Public Health England (PHE) manages significant stockpiles of vaccines for the national immunisation programme across the whole of the UK, as part of their business as usual planning. PHE is working with vaccine suppliers to ensure replenishment of these existing stockpiles continues in the event of supply disruption in the UK.
Supplies for clinical trials: We are working with organisations running clinical trials and have requested these organisations to consider their supply chains for clinical trials ahead of 29 March. We have requested that they ensure contingency arrangements are in place for their supplies. Supplies of clinical trials are transported in small quantities and usually via airfreight.
Non-clinical goods and services: We have been working closely with a range of NHS and social care providers and suppliers to ensure mitigations are in place for non-clinical goods and services (e.g. hospital food, laundry, IT contracts).
Buying extra warehouse space: To ensure sufficient space to store these products, we have agreed contracts for additional warehouse space, including ambient, refrigerated and controlled drug storage. Last week we updated industry on how they can access this additional storage.
Securing, via the Department of Transport (DfT), additional roll on, roll off freight capacity (away from the short straits) from 29 March.
Contracts have been signed by DfT with two ferry companies for the next six months. These routes are away from the Dover Straits where most goods flow from the EU and will run from the following routes: Cherbourg—Poole, Le Havre—Portsmouth, Roscoff—Plymouth, Caen—Portsmouth, Vlaardingen—Immingham, Cuxhaven—Immingham and Vlaardingen—Felixstowe. The Government have purchased the tickets from the shipping freight operators, and these will be sold on at market rate.
There is cross-Government agreement that all medicines and medical products will be prioritised on these alternative routes to ensure the flow of all these products may continue unimpeded.
Companies which supply medicines or medical goods will be offered the option of buying tickets on these routes and my Department is currently engaging with industry to ascertain the likely uptake levels.
We have worked with the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that planes are contracted to bring in medical radioisotopes under the appropriate specialist conditions.
Making changes to, or clarifications of, certain regulatory requirements so that companies can continue to sell their products in the UK even if we have no deal. The MHRA has for this scenario consulted on, and published, further guidance on how medicines, medical devices and clinical trials will be regulated. This guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-guidance-note-on-the-regulation-of-medicines-medical-devices-and-clinical-trials-if-theres-no-brexit-deal.
In August, the Government also published a dedicated technical notice on the unilateral recognition of batch testing of medicines, if there is no deal. This can be found at:
Strengthening the processes and resources used to deal with shortages. My Department has put in place legislation to enable Ministers to issue serious shortage protocols that, where appropriate, enable community pharmacies to supply against a protocol instead of a prescription without going back to the prescriber first. We are working closely with the DAs to ensure a common approach across the UK.
This multi-layered approach is essential: A combination of securing freight, buffer stocks, stockpiling and warehousing, and regulatory requirements, will be needed to help ensure the continuation of medicines and medical supplies in the event of a no-deal exit.
Local stockpiling is unnecessary and could cause shortages in other areas, which could put patient care at risk. It is important that patients order their repeat prescriptions as normal and keep taking their medicines as normal.
Counter Terrorism Legislation: Codes of Practice
On 14 March 2018, in response to the poisoning in Salisbury of Sergei and Yulia Skripal and Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, the Prime Minister announced a package of measures to harden our defences against hostile state activity.
As a first step, schedule 3 to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 provides for new powers to stop, question, search and detain a person at a UK port or the Northern Ireland border area for the purpose of determining whether they are, or have been, engaged in hostile activity. These provisions will serve to address a current gap in our ability to tackle the threat posed by hostile state actors and mirror in many respects the existing powers to stop and question persons at UK ports for counter-terrorism purposes.
The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 also amends schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000 to give effect to two recommendations of the former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Lord Anderson: providing for the suspension of the examination clock while someone receives medical treatment; and including a bar on the use of oral answers given in examination in subsequent criminal proceedings.
The 2019 Act also amends schedule 7 restrictions concerning the right of a detainee to consult a solicitor (by replacing the power for a qualified officer to sit within the sight and hearing of a lawyer-client consultation in certain limited circumstances with a power allowing a senior officer, in those limited circumstances, to direct that the person consults a different lawyer); and limits the power of the state to expand an information sharing gateway in the schedule by means of regulations, constraining the expansion of this gateway to allow information to be shared only with persons that exercise public functions.
Both the Terrorism Act 2000 and the 2019 Act require the Government to consult on the provisions of the codes of practice that are provided to ports and border officers exercising these powers. I am therefore today announcing the publication of the Government’s consultation on:
the draft schedule 3 code of practice; and
draft modifications to the existing schedule 7 code of practice.
A draft of the schedule 3 code was published on 1 November 2018 to support legislative scrutiny of the Bill. There have been a number of changes to this draft to account for amendments made to schedule 3 during the Bill’s passage through the Lords. The existing schedule 7 code has also been updated to reflect the amendments made by the 2019 Act and to make the document clearer and more accessible for law enforcement practitioners.
The Government welcome comments on these documents and will consider any representations before a final version of the draft codes is laid before Parliament for approval. The consultation will last a period of six weeks beginning on Monday 25 February and ending on Friday 05 April. Representations can be submitted by e-mail to this address: Schedule3and7codes@homeoffice.gov.uk and a copy of the consultation and both draft codes will be placed in the House Library and an online version will be made available at:
Housing, Communities and Local Government
On 31 January, the annual rough sleeping statistics were published and showed a welcome 2% reduction in the number of rough sleepers.
These figures also showed that the 83 local authority areas that were part of the Rough Sleeping Initiative (RSI) had seen a 23% reduction in rough sleeping. It has come to our attention that the percentage decrease stated should have referred to 19% rather than 23%. The underlying figures remain unchanged, as does the national 2% reduction. The updated statistics release is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/rough-sleeping-in-england-autumn-2018.
The figures continue to demonstrate that the Rough Sleeping Initiative has had a significant impact on the number of people sleeping rough and is working. That is why we announced a further £45 million for the Rough Sleeping Initiative in 2019-20 as part of the Rough Sleeping strategy. Eleven million pounds of this funding has been set aside for areas that were not part of the initial work of the Rough Sleeping Initiative so that we can build on this work to make sure we continue to support more people off the streets and into safe and secure accommodation.
The comprehensive process for gathering these statistics was, like previous years, run by Homeless Link, the national membership charity for homeless organisations. Local authorities hold a multi-agency meeting to decide whether to count or estimate rough sleepers in their area and when the chosen date for deciding this figure will be. They are responsible for choosing the method that will most accurately reflect the number of people sleeping rough in their area on a single night. All rough sleeping returns submitted by local authorities are then independently verified or validated by Homeless Link to ensure they are robust. Hundreds of volunteers from homelessness sector organisations as well as local authority staff and people from local communities are involved in this process.
Last October, I launched the Supporting Families Against Youth Crime fund to build on the troubled families programme’s proven track record of working with vulnerable families.
This new fund will allow local areas to put a greater focus on working with young people vulnerable to the devastating risks of serious violence. Increasing knife crime, particularly among young people, has been a worrying trend. This fund will bring together keyworkers, community groups, teachers and other professionals to intervene earlier to help stop young people from becoming drawn into gang crime, serious violence and entering the youth justice system.
I am pleased to announce that, in response to the quality of the bids we received, I have decided to increase the fund from £5 million to £9.8 million, which will fund projects in 21 areas across the country, including 10 in London.
The projects receiving funding include those focused on working with children before they make the important transition from primary to secondary school as this is a time when children are particularly vulnerable to becoming involved in crime. Other projects will work with smaller groups of young people already at high risk and carry out in-depth work with parents, carers and professionals to help them understand the risk factors and the dangers of their children being exposed to gang culture.
Many young people across the country are vulnerable to serious violence and youth crime and have experienced childhood trauma which has affected their mental health, resilience, confidence and decision making. For that reason, I am also making workforce development funding available to all other authorities delivering the troubled families programme to contribute to training staff in trauma-informed approaches, emotional coaching and non-violent resolution practices which will better enable them to identify and support these young people.
This new fund is a contribution to a wider package of reforms and funding. The Government’s serious violence strategy set out the trends and drivers behind the increases in serious violence and a major programme of work. Importantly, it talks about the benefits of intervening early and with a multi-agency response, something on which the troubled families programme has a proven track record. Learning from these projects will be shared across Government to support the development of future policies.
The full list of areas receiving funding can be found here: