Tuesday 30 April 2019
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will today begin the statutory review of the pubs code (the code) and the pubs code adjudicator (PCA) through the launch of an invitation to all those with an interest to feed in their views and experiences of the operation of code and the effectiveness of the PCA.
Pubs are a vital part of communities across the country. The Government have been supporting them through freezing beer duty, cutting business rates for many pubs and supporting community pubs through changes to planning law and by funding Pub is the Hub’s pub diversification work.
The establishment of the pubs code was provided for by the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (“the Act”) and is set out in the Pubs Code etc. Regulations 2016. The code governs the relationship between large pub owning businesses and their tied tenants, giving tenants certain rights, including the right at certain times to exercise a “market rent only” option, under which their rent is set at the market level and they are no longer required to buy products from their pub owning business.
The pubs code adjudicator (“PCA”) was established by the Act and is appointed by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The role of the PCA includes giving advice and guidance; the investigation of non-compliance with the code; where non-compliance is found, requiring publication of information, imposing financial penalties or making enforceable recommendations; and arbitrating disputes under the code.
Section 46 of the Act requires the Secretary of State to review periodically the operation of the pubs code and section 65 of the Act requires the Secretary of State to review periodically the adjudicator’s performance. The review will look at the period from the establishment of the code and the PCA to 31 March 2019.
The invitation to submit comments and evidence will run for 12 weeks and can be accessed through gov.uk (https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/pubs-code-and-pubs-code-adjudicator-statutory-review). Stakeholders have until 22 July 2019 to respond. Following this, BEIS will analyse the responses and other evidence as set out in the terms of reference. A report on the findings of the review will then be published as soon as practicable and laid before Parliament by the Secretary of State.
The terms of reference for the pubs code and PCA reviews will today be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
British Indian Ocean Territory
Further to my written statement of 26 June 2017 (HCWS10), on 25 February the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos archipelago from Mauritius in 1965. We were disappointed that this matter was referred to the International Court of Justice, contrary to the principle that the Court should not consider bilateral disputes without the consent of both states concerned. Nevertheless, the United Kingdom respects the ICJ and participated fully in the ICJ process at every stage and in good faith. An advisory opinion is advice provided to the United Nations General Assembly at its request; it is not a legally binding judgment. The Government have considered the content of the opinion carefully, however we do not share the Court’s approach.
As outlined in the previous written ministerial statement, we have no doubt about our sovereignty over the Chagos archipelago, which has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. Mauritius has never held sovereignty over the archipelago and we do not recognise its claim. We have, however, made a long-standing commitment since 1965 to cede sovereignty of the territory to Mauritius when it is no longer required for defence purposes. We stand by that commitment.
The joint United Kingdom-United States defence facility on Diego Garcia helps to keep people in Britain and around the world safe. For nearly 40 years the facility has helped the United Kingdom, United States, other allies and our regional partners, including Mauritius, combat some of the most challenging threats to international peace and security, including those from terrorism, organised crime and piracy. The facility also remains ready for a rapid and impactful response in times of humanitarian crisis in the region. These functions are only possible under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom.
As the Foreign Secretary confirmed to PM Jugnauth on 27 April 2019, Mauritius is a valued friend, trading partner and member of the Commonwealth. We are fully committed to our bilateral relationship and also want to deepen and intensify engagement with Mauritius. With regard to the very important matter of the Chagossians we are continuing our work to design a support package worth approximately £40 million, to improve Chagossian livelihoods in the communities in Mauritius, the Seychelles and the UK where they now live.
I have placed a copy of the advisory opinion in the Libraries of both Houses.
Attachments can also be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statement/written-statement/Commons/2019-04-30/HCWS1528.
Health and Social Care
Infected Blood Support Scheme
Today the Government have announced their intention to increase the financial support for beneficiaries of the infected blood support scheme in England, administered by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA).
This follows a meeting on 21 January 2019 between myself, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the infected blood inquiry secretariat and affected beneficiaries where I committed to looking at where further improvements might be made to the support provided by the existing infected blood scheme.
In this announcement, we have set out our plans for a major uplift in the financial support available to infected and affected beneficiaries of the infected blood support scheme in England. The current annual cost of the scheme is estimated at £46.3 million per annum and we expect this will increase to over £75 million to provide for these uplifted payments.
The level of support provided to infected beneficiaries will increase. In addition, the upper threshold level of household income currently used to means-test support provided for the bereaved will also be substantially raised allowing more bereaved beneficiaries to be eligible for additional support from the scheme.
All beneficiaries will be sent a letter by NHSBSA this week setting out the details of the changes and the impact they will have on them. This detailed payment information will also be made available on NHSBSA’s website. All new payments will be backdated to 1 April 2019.
I have also announced my intention to reach out to the devolved administrations to look at how we might provide greater parity of support across the United Kingdom. I will update hon. Members on these conversations in due course.
Today’s announcement reconfirms the Government’s commitment to providing those affected by the infected blood tragedy of the 1970s and 1980s with a fair and transparent support scheme, one which focuses on their welfare and long-term independence.
It also reaffirms the Prime Minister’s support for the infected blood inquiry, which she ordered in 2017, and which specifically asked for the support given to those affected by infected blood be looked at again. The Government will continue to listen to and co-operate fully with the inquiry.