Tuesday 7 May 2019
Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Business: Companies Register
One of the key foundations of our modern industrial strategy is delivering a strong, transparent and attractive business environment in the UK. The strength of the UK’s business environment is founded on our fair and open regulatory frameworks. The companies register is the base on which that strength is built.
While the overwhelming majority of UK corporates operate wholly legitimately, concerns have been expressed about the misuse of UK corporate entities, the filing of false information on the companies register held at Companies House and the use of innocent people’s information on the register to commit fraud and other acts of harm.
In the last three years there have been almost 10,000 complaints to Companies House from people concerned about their personal details, with worries including fraud and misuse of personal details topping the list.
We are therefore seeking views on a series of reforms to limit the risks of misuse. These include measures to: provide greater certainty over the identity of those shown as owning, running or controlling companies, including identity verification; improve the accuracy and usability of data on the register; protect personal information; ensure compliance and take action against offenders; and deter abuse of UK-registered corporate entities. We are committed to minimising burdens on law abiding businesses, especially the smallest. The consultation will therefore look at the best way to minimise burdens on businesses.
These reforms build on our global reputation as a trusted and welcoming place to do business and a leading exponent of greater corporate transparency.
The UK has one of the highest ratings for cracking down on anonymous companies, and the Government’s proposed measures build on the Britain’s world-leading anti-corruption activity. In 2016, the UK became the first country in the G20 to introduce a public register of company ownership, while new protections against identity fraud for company directors were introduced in 2018.
These measures will boost the reputation of the UK’s business environment, ensuring reliability of the UK’s company register. Knowing that a company’s information is accurate and transparent is a fundamental part of a leading business environment—giving entrepreneurs and businesses the confidence they need to do business in the UK.
I will place a copy of the consultation in the Libraries of both Houses.
Timpson Review of School Exclusion
Today the Secretary of State for Education will provide a statement to the House, announcing the publication of the Timpson review of school exclusion and the Government’s response. Both the review and response have been published at: www.gov.uk.
Housing, Communities and Local Government
Early adopters of the Rapid Rehousing Pathway
In December, I announced the locations of the first 11 Somewhere Safe to Stay hubs, one of four elements that make up the Rapid Rehousing Pathway which were announced in the £100 million Rough Sleeping strategy last August. I am pleased to say that all 11 hubs are now operational. Furthermore, I can confirm that all 42 early adopters of the pathway, announced in February, are working hard to get staff in place and several are already delivering services. These 53 early adopters are focused on making sure that those who sleep rough, or are at risk of sleeping rough, are rapidly getting the support they need to move away from the street and sustain secure accommodation.
Rapid Rehousing Pathway new funding
I have now announced the allocations of up to £25.6 million of the second round of Rapid Rehousing Pathway funding. For 108 areas of the country this funding will provide:
20 additional Somewhere Safe to Stay hubs, to rapidly assess the needs of people who are sleeping rough and those who are at risk of sleeping rough and support them to get the right help quickly. This will bring the total number of hubs to 31,16 more than the minimum that we committed to in the 2018 Rough Sleeping strategy.
Up to £6.8 million of funding for 61 areas for supported lettings, offering flexible support funding to help people with a history of rough sleeping to sustain their tenancies in homes made newly available across the housing sector.
At least 130 navigators who will develop relationships with and help over 2,500 people who sleep rough to access appropriate local services, get off the streets and into settled accommodation.
Up to £3.5 million to establish or support 30 local lettings agencies to source, identify, or provide homes and advice for rough sleepers or those at risk.
A full list of the areas funded is available at: https://www. gov.uk/government/publications/rapid-rehousing-pathway-2019-to-2020-funding-allocations.
With this funding, local areas will be able to connect people with the right support and sustainable housing to move them swiftly away from the street and facilitate their recovery. This important work is part of delivering on the commitments outlined in the Rough Sleeping strategy and is crucial in bringing us a step closer towards ending rough sleeping.
Leader of the House
Restoration and Renewal
Today, the Government publishes its response to the Joint Committee’s report on the draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill.
The Joint Committee published its report on 21 March 2019. This report followed careful consideration by the Committee, taking evidence from a range of interested experts and stakeholders. The report set out a series of helpful recommendations on the content of the Bill and on wider issues related to Restoration and Renewal, including matters for the Shadow Sponsor Body to consider.
The Joint Committee was appointed by the House of Commons on 26 November 2018 and the House of Lords on 29 November 2018. It scrutinised the draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill (“the Bill”) by considering written and oral evidence from a range of contributors, including the Leader of the House of Commons, the right hon. Andrea Leadsom MP and the Leader of the House of Lords, the right hon. Baroness Evans of Bowes Park.
The Government welcomes the Committee’s report and considered “an evidence-based approach” the Chair and members of the Committee have taken in scrutinising the Bill. The support of the Committee and its endorsement of the overarching aim of the draft Bill is very important in progressing this important and pressing work. The Government are committed to establish in statute the necessary governance arrangements to oversee the Restoration and Renewal of the Palace of Westminster, and in doing so, ensuring it provides value for money for the taxpayer.
The Government are committed to introducing the Bill as soon as possible. We recognise that this is a significant and urgent task given the current state of disrepair of the Palace. The recent incidents in the Palace of Westminster, including masonry falling from the building have further highlighted the urgency of the works to restore and renew the Palace of Westminster. The tragic fire at Notre Dame has also served as a reminder of the risks to this historic and iconic building.
This is a summary of the main findings from the report by His Honour Brian Barker QC, the Independent Reviewer of National Security Arrangements in Northern Ireland, covering the period from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2018. His Honour Brian Barker concludes:
Throughout the reporting period I have been briefed periodically on the state of threat in Northern Ireland. I received presentations from PSNI and MI5 on the practical effect of their co-operation and mutual reliance. My visits to PSNI establishments and to MI5 left an impression of deep commitment and professionalism, further demonstrated by their openness and willingness to respond to all aspects of my enquiries. Strong cross-border links continue with An Garda Siochana.
The context in which national security activities are performed in Northern Ireland remains challenging and members of the security forces continue to require vigilance in relation to their personal security. Dissident republicans continue to express political conviction to justify violence and law breaking, while loyalist para- militaries maintain control in areas by self-justified intimidation and administration of violence. As in recent years there have been successes and considerable effort devoted to containing and disrupting dissident groups. Nevertheless, planning and targeting continues and attacks occur.
The number of security related incidents for this reporting period are broadly similar to my previous report; in 2017 shooting incidents rose from 49 to 58, whilst the number of security related deaths decreased from 6 to 2. There were 30 bombing incidents, and casualties from paramilitary style assaults (excluding fatalities) increased from 65 to 74; casualties from paramilitary style shootings (excluding fatalities) also increased from 20 to 27. The number of persons arrested and charged under s.41 of the Terrorism Act decreased from 18 to 13.
This period I have focused on Covert Human Intelligence Sources [CHIS]. There is excellent co-operation between MI5 and PSNI on CHIS operations, including frequent meetings between PSNI and MI5 at a senior level to discuss CHIS policy and operations. In accordance with the St. Andrews principles, PSNI manage the majority of national security CHIS. There is a systematic review procedure for CHIS.
The political situation is difficult and complex and throughout this reporting period Northern Ireland was without a functioning Executive and Assembly, despite a number of attempts at negotiations between parties; concern about the effect of the political situation was a recurring theme in many of my stakeholder engagements.
I met a range of stakeholders in this reporting period, including the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB), the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI), the Attorney General (AG) and the Committee on Administration of Justice (CAJ). NIPB highlighted the effect of not being able to fully operate, due to the lack of a functioning Executive or Assembly, and raised concerns that crucial decisions, such as an inability to retain their independent Human Rights Advisor, could lead to a diminution of trust in their work.
PONI outlined the challenge of balancing a large volume of troubles-era complaints against a limit to the resources available to investigate.
The Committee on Administration of Justice (CAJ) raised concerns about the effect of the lack of an NI Executive and the potential impact of EU Exit. They reported that their relationship with PSNI was good and improving. CAJ proposed a framework where the operational boundaries of MI5 and PSNI responsibilities relating to NIRT, paramilitarism and extreme right activity was published. CAJ believe this would have an international benefit and would give accountability and public acceptability.
A meeting with the Attorney General (AG), John Larkin QC, was productive. Within the scope of his remit, the AG explained his hope for improvement to certain elements of the criminal justice system, such as more informative defence statements and better monitoring of entrapment accusations and subsequent requests for disclosure.
Overall, I continue to be impressed with the standards and commitment of the senior members of MI5 and the PSNI and understand the frustration all stakeholders experience due to the lack of a functioning Executive.
I have measured performance in this reporting period against the five key principles identified in relation to national security in Annex E to the St Andrews agreement of October 2006. My conclusions are set out in the attachment table.
Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www.parilament. uk/business/publications/wntten-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2019-05-07/HCWS1538/