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House of Commons Hansard
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Written Statements
26 March 2019
Volume 657

Written Statements

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Adrian Smith Review

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I am pleased to announce that I have commissioned Professor Sir Adrian Smith, Director and Chief Executive of the Alan Turing Institute, to provide independent advice on the design of UK funding schemes for international collaboration, innovation and curiosity-driven blue-skies research.

The UK is a world-leading research nation with a globally connected research base. Collaboration with European and wider international partners is key to our strength in science and research: more than half of the UK’s research output involves such collaboration. The UK is in the top four of global innovation nations and we draw in more internationally mobile research and development (R&D) than other large countries, with a total of 16% of UK R&D investment financed from abroad.

This Government are bringing forward the largest investment in R&D on record. As outlined in our modern industrial strategy, we are committed to reaching 2.4% of GDP invested in R&D by 2027, and 3% in the longer term. International partnerships and collaboration will play an important part in helping to achieve our ambitions, including in supporting the industrial strategy’s grand challenges to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future. Professor Sir Adrian Smith’s advice will help set the direction for the implementation of the Government’s ambition to ensure the UK continues to be a global leader in science, research and innovation, and an attractive country for individuals to study and work. Furthermore, Sir Adrian’s advice will help inform the upcoming spending review.

The terms of reference, outlining the scope, timescale and reporting of this work are below.

Terms of reference for the Commission of Professor Sir Adrian Smith

General

The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has commissioned Professor Sir Adrian Smith to provide independent advice on the design of potential future UK funding schemes for international, innovation and curiosity-driven blue-skies research, in the context of the UK’s future ambitions for international collaboration on research and innovation. This document outlines the terms of reference for this work.

The global landscape for science and innovation is changing, and access to knowledge, markets, skills and partners now takes place on a global basis. Global research and development (R&D) capacity is expanding and non-Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries account for a growing share of global R&D, both in terms of researchers and investment. Better understanding is needed on whether the UK’s current funding mechanisms, resources and bilateral and multilateral partnerships will be fit for purpose when set against the projected trends in international research and innovation, and against new technology and industry roadmaps and the forecast social, economic and environmental trends.

The UK’s participation in Horizon 2020, the current European Union (EU) framework programme for research and innovation, has benefited the UK’s science, research and innovation landscape. It provides opportunities for UK entities to collaborate with EU and international counterparts and funding for multiple elements including innovation, international collaborations and partnerships, and curiosity-driven ‘excellence’ based research. Horizon Europe is the successor to Horizon 2020 and will run from 2021 to 2027. The UK remains committed to ongoing collaboration in research and innovation with partners across Europe. To this end the UK would like the option to associate to Horizon Europe and is continuing to actively shape the development of that programme. However, we are also exploring in parallel credible and ambitious alternatives to deliver positive outcomes for science, research and innovation in the event that the UK chooses not to associate.

Purpose

Professor Sir Adrian Smith has been invited to provide independent advice on how funding future international collaboration, from curiosity-driven ‘discovery’ funding through to innovation, can best be designed to positively impact science, research and innovation in the UK, and to support the Government’s strategic objectives, including the industrial strategy and its commitment to 2.4% of GDP invested in R&D by 2027.

In the immediate term, Professor Sir Adrian will be asked to advise on the design and delivery of elements of the potential alternatives to Horizon Europe association. This will include the Discovery Fund, which aims to provide a UK alternative to the curiosity-driven and excellence-focused elements of Horizon Europe.

On the Discovery Fund Professor Sir Adrian Smith will be asked to consider:

The design of UK alternative funds i.e. the scale, scope and any international elements of proposed funds, and how they could complement the current UK funding landscape;

The delivery of UK alternative funds i.e. how strategic direction could be determined, how proposals could be reviewed.

On international collaboration, Professor Sir Adrian Smith will be asked to consider:

How funding mechanisms, resources, and international partnerships can remain fit for purpose for our global ambition to support the international research and innovation strategy, which will be published in the coming months.

How international collaboration can best support the Government’s industrial strategy and 2.4% target.

Professor Sir Adrian’s advice will help inform the upcoming spending review (as announced in the spring statement) and longer-term value-for-money considerations on international collaboration for research and innovation.

Professor Sir Adrian will have the independence to engage with relevant stakeholders and seek expert advice as he sees fit.

Timescale

It is anticipated interim findings will be presented to BEIS Ministers in the summer of 2019.

Reporting

Professor Sir Adrian Smith will report to me as Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. Professor Sir Adrian will provide an update on progress on a regular (monthly) basis, to BEIS officials. A summary of his interim findings will be published by BEIS.

[HCWS1449]

Young Entrepreneurs: Independent Review

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The UK consistently ranks as one of the most entrepreneurial nations in the world, but there is more we can do to break down the barriers that stop some of our best and brightest young people from all backgrounds starting their own business.

Our modern industrial strategy sets out our plan to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business. We want to ensure we are driving forward a thriving entrepreneurial culture across all corners of society. Harnessing untapped talent will be key to achieving this.

To help us realise this ambition, my Department has this month launched an independent review into how best to tackle the barriers facing aspiring young entrepreneurs, aged 18-30, in England. The review will look at issues including access to finance, access to advice, support and business networks so that we can close the gap between entrepreneurial ambition and reality.

It will also look at the support on offer to young entrepreneurs from disadvantaged and low-income backgrounds and adds to efforts by the Government to improve diversity in the business community, following the Rose review into female entrepreneurship published earlier this month.

The review will be led by Nick Stace, chief executive of the Prince’s Trust. To support the review, Government and the Prince’s Trust are bringing together a steering group comprised of entrepreneurs with experience and insight. Details of this group will be set out in the coming weeks.

The review will make recommendations to Ministers later this year about what can be done to ensure young entrepreneurs are properly supported as they start building the businesses of the future.

[HCWS1453]

Exiting the European Union

EU Exit: EEA and Swiss Nationals

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Today the Department for Exiting the European Union and the Department for Work and Pensions are announcing that, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there will be no immediate changes to entitlements to access public funds for EEA and Swiss nationals coming to live in the UK after free movement ends and before the new immigration system is introduced in 2021.

“Public funds” is defined in immigration rules and includes a range of services and benefits that are provided by a number of Government Departments, local authorities and service providers. This announcement is pertinent to all spending and service Departments.

On 28 January 2019 the Home Secretary set out the immigration provisions for EEA and Swiss nationals coming to the UK after EU exit in the event of a no deal. The provisions will enable the Government to end freedom of movement but recognise the need for transitional arrangements.

In the event of no deal EEA and Swiss nationals arriving after free movement ends and wishing to stay longer than three months would need to apply for temporary leave to remain which, if granted, would be valid for 36 months.

Our announcement today provides details of the transitional arrangements for access to public funds for this group.

These arrangements will provide certainty to individuals arriving in the UK following the ending of free movement, will minimise disruption, and will ensure that changes are made in a sensible and sustainable way over a period of time.

It is important that, in a no-deal scenario, EEA and Swiss nationals who come to the UK after free movement ends know what their eligibility to access public funds will be. This will be on the same basis as for EEA and Swiss nationals now. They will continue to need to meet any eligibility criteria, for example demonstrating that they are exercising an EU qualifying right to reside, such as a worker or self-employed person. As now, those not exercising a qualifying right will not be able to access certain publicly funded services and benefits.

When an individual’s 36 months temporary non-extendable leave expires, a person wishing to remain in the UK will need to apply and qualify for leave under the new immigration system that will be introduced from 2021 onwards. When individuals move into the new immigration system, or if they otherwise change immigration status, their access to public funds may change. The details on the entitlements that will apply in these circumstances will be subject to further consideration. This may mean that some benefits will cease and that entitlements to some services may end. However, the Government are considering their options and announcements will be made in due course.

We are today publishing a paper entitled access to public funds for EEA and Swiss nationals arriving in the UK after EU exit in a no deal scenario, and I will be depositing copies in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS1451]

Housing, Communities and Local Government

Planning Applications: Call-in

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As Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, I have the power to “call in” planning applications, rather than them being left to local planning authorities to determine.

Parliament has entrusted local planning authorities with the responsibility for day-to-day planning decisions in their areas and they should, in general, be free to carry out their duties responsibly, with the minimum of interference and delay. For this reason, successive Governments have been very selective about calling in planning applications. While the call-in power under section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 gives me a wide discretion, it is clear that, in practice, call-in is the exception rather than the rule. Over the past 10 years, called-in planning applications have averaged just 21 per year from the annual average of 480,000 applications received by local councils—that is around one in every 23,000.

On 12 December 2001, the then Government announced that they would, from that date, give reasons for decisions not to call in planning applications. Following a review of the call-in process in 2010, a subsequent statement made on 26 October 2012 reconfirmed that the Secretary of State would continue to be very selective about calling in planning applications and would only consider the use of his call-in power if planning issues of more than local importance are involved. However, the statement of 12 December 2001 about giving reasons for not calling in planning applications was not formally withdrawn.

Having regard to the Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Save Britain’s Heritage v. the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, I have concluded that I need to address directly whether this Government should be bound by a commitment given by a previous Government. This Government fully support the need to be transparent and open in their decision making, and acknowledge the rationale behind the 2001 statement, but a decision on whether to call in a planning application, or not to do so, is inherently about process and not the merits of the application. I am concerned that to give reasons in either eventuality risks blurring this distinction and, as there is no duty in this respect, I will call in those applications where I conclude that such a decision needs to be taken by me and I will not call in applications where I conclude that the decision is best left with the local planning authority.

Therefore, so that my position is clear, I am announcing today that the policy set out in the statement of 12 December 2001 is hereby withdrawn and that, from today, I will not give reasons for calling in or declining to call in planning applications. The call-in policy set out in the statement of 26 October 2012 remains in place.

[HCWS1452]

International Development

Cyclone Idai

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Cyclone Idai, one of the most severe cyclones ever to hit southern Africa, has devastated parts of Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, including many areas that were already affected by severe flooding. The UN estimates that over 2.6 million people have been affected across the three countries. The majority of them are in Mozambique—the country hardest hit by the disaster—where approximately 129,000 people are sheltering in accommodation centres, and where the UN estimates that 1.85 million people are in need of assistance. In Malawi, 87,000 people have been displaced. In Zimbabwe, initial UN figures estimate that 80,000 people have lost their homes entirely. On 25 March, the UN launched a $281.7 million funding appeal for the response in Mozambique.

The UK Government have made £22 million in aid available for the response to date, which is being led by the Governments of the affected countries and the UN. Some £18 million of this is in direct support to the response in the three affected countries and up to £4 million will be used to match the public’s generous contributions to the disaster emergency committee’s cyclone Idai appeal.

In expectation of the extreme weather, DFID-funded partner organisations pre-positioned essential supplies such as hygiene kits and medical supplies. UK aid funding is being used to send life-saving relief supplies and equipment, including 7,550 shelter kits and 100 family tents which are now in use in Mozambique. Following an assessment of need, further supplies are being flown into Mozambique on a charter aircraft from Doncaster Sheffield airport and an RAF A400M Atlas aircraft, which arrived in Mozambique on 26 March.

UK aid is also supporting the World Food Programme (WFP) to feed 400,000 people in the immediate aftermath of the cyclone through the distribution of emergency food and food vouchers. DFID has deployed 12 humanitarian experts to Mozambique, where they are assisting with the co-ordination of the international response. In addition, specialists in food security, nutrition, and water, sanitation, and hygiene from DFID’s Mozambique office are travelling to the affected area. A five-person UK medical assessment and co-ordination team also arrived in Mozambique on 25 March. The team will conduct a scoping visit to Beira and Chimoio this week to assess how the UK can assist in supporting emergency medical and health needs in affected areas. Four further logisticians, in addition to the three already on the ground, are due to arrive in Mozambique on 27 March, and DFID have contracted two airport handling operations experts to provide training to staff at Beira airport.

In Malawi, the UK’s package of emergency support is funding shelter, food assistance, health, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). These will be delivered through the World Food Programme, UNICEF, and the Red Cross. The funding will target the most affected areas of Phalombe, Nsanje, and Chikwawa. Some 65,000 people will be provided with emergency shelter, 150,000 people will receive food assistance for two months, 250,000 people will be provided with WASH support and 130,000 people will be helped to access health services.

In Zimbabwe, UK aid funding has been provided for health, WASH, and child protection assistance in the worst-affected areas, including Chimanimani. DFID is also supporting the immediate provision of emergency latrines and sanitation equipment. DFID is working with leading flooding experts at the Universities of Bristol and Reading, as well as the European centre for medium-range weather forecasts, to forecast how the extent and impact of the floods might change up to 10 days in advance. With more heavy rains forecast over the coming days, and bad weather and access already posing challenges for those on the ground, this allows aid workers to plan ahead and prioritise their resources.

The UK is currently the largest bilateral donor to the response. The UN has allocated $20 million in funding from its central emergency response fund (CERF), to which the UK was the largest donor last year. In addition, the European Commission is providing €3.5 million in support, and a number of other donors have also made contributions. I am in touch with international counterparts to encourage others to contribute and ensure that sufficient funding is made available. Last week, I spoke with both Sir Mark Lowcock, the UN’s emergency relief co-ordinator, and Dr Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus of the World Health Organisation and called on them to ensure that the UN mobilises quickly and effectively. Along with the Minister of State for Africa, I will be speaking with other senior figures and ministers from other donor countries in the coming days to encourage them to contribute to the international response.

Her Majesty the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and I have written to the Heads of State and Foreign Ministers of the affected countries to express condolences and to offer our support and expertise in disaster response.

The UK’s response to the cyclone is a whole-of-government effort both in the affected countries and in the UK. My Department has the overall lead on the response, with support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Cabinet Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Health and Social Care, and Public Health England. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has provided consular assistance to the small number of British nationals in the affected area and has updated its travel advice to advise against all but essential travel to the affected areas in Mozambique. We continue to monitor the situation closely and stand ready to deploy further support should it be required.

[HCWS1450]

Justice

Stillbirths: Coronial Investigations

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I am pleased to announce the publication of a consultation on introducing the coronial investigation of stillbirths in England and Wales (CP 16), which has been laid before the House today.

Under current legislation coroners cannot investigate a death when it is known that the baby was not born alive. If there is doubt whether a baby was born alive, a coroner can investigate—which could include holding an inquest—but must halt that investigation if they determine that the baby was stillborn. Our consultation considers the case for coroners investigating stillbirths and sets out proposals for how these investigations could be undertaken. The proposals seek to deliver three objectives:

to bring greater independence to the way stillbirths are investigated;

to ensure transparency and enhance the involvement of bereaved parents in stillbirth investigation processes, including in the development of recommendations aimed at improving maternity care;

and to effectively disseminate learning from investigations across the health system to help prevent future avoidable stillbirths.

The consultation delivers the Government commitment to consider enabling coroners to investigate stillbirths, made in November 2017, when the then Secretary of State for Health launched a suite of maternity safety strategy initiatives and committed to halve stillbirth rates by 2025.

It is thus a joint undertaking between the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health and Social Care. I and the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Jackie Doyle-Price) are grateful to the many people and organisations that have worked with officials in both Departments as we have developed our proposals.

Since the November 2017 announcement, meetings have been held with a wide range of interested parties including bereaved parents and supporting charities, the chief coroner and a number of senior coroners, NHS representatives, healthcare safety investigation branch officials, officials in the Welsh Government, academics and the Royal Colleges of Pathologists, Midwives, and Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Their insight and expertise have been invaluable in helping us develop our thinking.

The consultation seeks views on the merits of coroners inquiring into the causes of stillbirths and contains proposals as to when and how those investigations should take place, reflecting existing processes and arrangements for coronial investigations into child and adult deaths.

We propose that all stillbirths that occur at or after the 37 week of gestation should be in scope of an inquest and our proposals cover such matters as access to documents and medical examination of the stillborn baby.

A coronial investigation would provide greater transparency in stillbirth cases. Under our proposals evidence would be available to all interested persons, including the bereaved parents, who may not otherwise have the opportunity to hear or read everything that is presented when a stillbirth is reviewed. The coroner would bring judicial independence which would help build confidence in the conclusions of the investigation.

We propose that coroners should identify where lessons can be learnt from individual stillbirths in ways that will deliver system-wide improvements to the delivery of maternity services and the general care and safety of expectant mothers.

Whilst we have been developing our proposals, the private Members’ Bill promoted by the hon. Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Bill, has been progressing through Parliament. The Bill, which is supported by the Government, seeks among other things to place a duty on the Secretary of State to prepare and publish a report on whether, and if so how, the law ought to be changed to enable or require coroners to investigate stillbirths. The consultation document takes account of the views expressed by members of both Houses during the debates on the Bill.

The consultation document and an impact assessment have been placed in the Library of the House and are available online at: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/coronial-investigations-of-stillbirths/. Copies of the consultation document and the impact assessment are being sent to the stakeholders listed at annex A of the consultation document.

We look forward to hearing from anyone with experience of, or an interest in, this important and sensitive area.

The consultation closes on 18 June and the Government will publish their response later this year.

[HCWS1448]