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Written Statements

Volume 660: debated on Thursday 16 May 2019

Written Statements

Thursday 16 May 2019

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

ENABLE Guarantee Scheme

ENABLE guarantee is a scheme administered by the British Business Bank that encourages participating banks and other financial institutions to lend more to small and medium-sized enterprises by either addressing the high capital consumption associated with such lending for banks or by reducing the cost of funding for other financial institutions in order to increase the supply and diversity of finance to SMEs.

British Business Bank programmes are supporting more than £5.9 billion of finance to over 82,000 smaller businesses (as at September 2018). The Department has approved guarantee facilities totalling £1 billion within the ENABLE programme.

We are now extending the scheme to other financial institutions (as defined in the request for proposals available on the British Business Bank’s website), in order to further increase the diversity of supply of funding available to SMEs. This extension will not create a new contingent liability.

The aggregate amount of the guarantees issued by the Department under the scheme is expected to be circa £2 billion, with extension beyond this subject to further review. Within this £2 billion, the aggregate notional amount of the guarantees extended to other financial institutions is capped at £400 million. This enables the Department to manage its risk appetite and limit its credit risk exposure.

As a matter of record, I will be laying a departmental minute today.

[HCWS1560]

Industrial Strategy (West Midlands)

Our modern industrial strategy is a long-term plan to boost productivity and earning power for people throughout the country.

Since 2010, local leaders, working in partnership with Government, have delivered historic city deals with Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Coventry and Warwickshire and the Black Country. Having secured significant growth deal funding, the west midlands then came together as one to capitalise on these important new powers and establish new leadership through two successful devolution deals.

Building on these strong foundations, we set out in the modern industrial strategy to work in partnership with places to develop local industrial strategies. Local industrial strategies are central to our aim of creating prosperous communities across the country. They are being developed locally and agreed with Government. They are long term, based on clear evidence and aligned to the modern industrial strategy.

Today we launched the first of these strategies—the west midlands local industrial strategy. This has been developed locally by the West Midlands Combined Authority, led by Mayor Andy Street, supported by the local enterprise partnerships and agreed with Government.

This strategy sets out how, in partnership with west midlands local leaders, we will work to deliver on a range of commitments including:

delivering on our future of mobility grand challenge, which aims to be at the forefront of the development of cleaner, safer, easier and more reliable future modes of transport, cementing the west midlands’ position as the UK’s automotive heartlands;

playing a leading role in the UK’s trials of connected autonomous vehicles, with the west midlands aiming to deploy the first fully operational connected autonomous vehicles in advance of the 2022 Commonwealth games;

driving investment into electric vehicle manufacturing in the region, completing the UK battery industrialisation centre and maximising the impact of the Faraday battery challenge;

putting the west midlands at the heart of transport innovation in the UK by delivering the UK’s first large-scale 5G test bed; and

helping meet the artificial intelligence and data grand challenge by supporting the development of a west midlands translational medicine and med-tech commission to accelerate the “lab to patient” ecosystem.

The west midlands is a global force and a major part of the UK economy, generating £99 billion of GVA—5% of UK output. The region is growing fast, with output up 27% over the past five years. A record number of people are in work and the lowest number are out of work. Productivity is increasing too, at twice the rate of the UK in 2017-18, while carbon emissions have reduced by 18% over the last five years—showing that while we grow our economy we can reduce the impact on our planet.

The west midlands is a region in renaissance. Together, this work sets the long-term future for how the west midlands can fully realise its potential

A copy of the west midlands industrial strategy will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS1559]

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Cabinet Office

European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and Common Frameworks

I have today laid before Parliament a report, “The European Union (Withdrawal) Act and Common Frameworks - 26 December 2018 to 25 March 2019” 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 third 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 December 2018 to 25 March 2019” report has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The publication of the report reflects the Government’s continued commitment to transparency.

[HCWS1565]

Treasury

ECOFIN

A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) will be held in Brussels on 17 May 2019. The UK will be represented by Mark Bowman (Director General, International Finance, HM Treasury). The Council will discuss the following:

Early morning session

The Eurogroup President will brief the Council on the outcomes of the 16 May meeting of the Eurogroup, and the European Commission will provide an update on the current economic situation in the EU. Ministers will then discuss the possibility of the European Investment Bank developing country strategies.

Excise duties

The Council will be invited to reach a political agreement on the directive on general arrangements for excise duty (recast), the regulation on administrative co-operation of the content of electronic registers, and the directive on the structures of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages.

Economic and monetary union

The Council will hold an exchange of views on the way forward in areas of the economic and monetary union, specifically in regards to the reform support programme.

Current financial services legislative proposals

The Romanian presidency will provide an update on current legislative proposals in the field of financial services.

International meetings

The presidency and Commission will update the Council on the outcomes of the G20, IMF and World Bank spring meetings that took place in April, and the Council will be invited to approve the terms of reference for the upcoming G20 meeting in June.

The Council will then hold a policy debate on digital taxation in the international context, and the Finnish delegation will debrief the Council on the first meeting of the Finance Ministers coalition for climate action.

European semester

The Council will be invited to adopt conclusions on the outcomes of the 2019 in-depth reviews of macro- economic imbalances in member states as part of the macroeconomic imbalances procedure; and the implementation of 2018 country-specific recommendations.

Institutional cycle priorities

The presidency will inform the Council on the follow-up discussions in regards to priorities for the next institutional cycle in the ECOFIN area.

Working lunch

Following on from the discussions at April informal ECOFIN in Bucharest, EU Finance Ministers will hold a working lunch to discuss the challenges of labour mobility and their potential solutions.

[HCWS1564]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Iraq: Export Licence System

This statement updates and supersedes the written ministerial statement of 11 November 2010 on the “Iraq: Export Licence System” (Official Report, 11 November 2010: column 24WS).

UN Security Council resolution 1546 of 2004 (UNSCR 1546) includes an exemption to the arms embargo on Iraq for supplies of arms and related matériel required by the Government of Iraq (GoI) or the multinational force to serve the purposes of the resolution. The written ministerial statement on 11 November 2010 stated that Her Majesty’s Government would consider as exempt from the embargo exports to the GoI, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, diplomatic missions in Iraq, the US forces in Iraq, the NATO training mission in Iraq, the UK naval training mission training the Iraqi navy and entities contracted or subcontracted to the GoI, US or UK forces or NATO.

In the light of the deployment of military forces of non-NATO EU countries in Iraq and in accordance with the GoI request for international support, the Government wish to make clear that they consider as exempt from the embargo exports serving the purposes of UNSCR 1546 to the forces of EU as well as NATO countries deployed in Iraq at the request of the GoI. The Government also wish to make clear that they consider exports serving the same purposes to United Nations agencies present in Iraq at the request of the GoI, and their contractors and subcontractors, as exempt from the embargo.

Accordingly, the Government consider as exempt from the embargo exports to the GoI, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), UN agencies in Iraq, diplomatic missions in Iraq, the NATO [training] mission in Iraq, the forces of NATO or EU countries in Iraq, and entities contracted or subcontracted to the GoI, NATO, the forces of such NATO or EU countries, UNAMI or such UN agencies. As in the statement of 11 November 2010, export licence applications to these end users will not therefore require the approval of the GoI prior to approval of the application but may require extra information to be provided by the entity seeking the export licence. For exports serving the purposes of UNSCR 1546 to entities other than these, the exporter is required to provide a supporting document from the GoI to demonstrate that the proposed export is required and thus exempt from the embargo. All export licence applications for Iraq as elsewhere will be assessed on a case-by-case basis against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria and the Government will not issue a licence where to do so would be inconsistent with the criteria.

[HCWS1561]

NATO Parliamentary Assembly

The hon. Member for Slough (Mr Dhesi) has replaced the hon. Member for Ilford South (Mike Gapes) as a member of the United Kingdom delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

[HCWS1562]

Home Department

EU JHA Opt-in: Cyber-crime

The Government have decided not to opt into (under the UK’s JHA opt-in protocol) either the proposed EU Council decision to participate in the negotiations of the second additional protocol to the cyber-crime (“Budapest”) convention or the proposed EU Council decision to authorise EU-US negotiations on a cross-border data access agreement.

The first proposed Council decision enables the EU Commission to participate in negotiations relating to the second additional protocol to the Council of Europe cyber-crime (“Budapest”) convention, on behalf of the European Union.

The second proposed Council decision authorises the EU Commission to commence negotiations with the US on an EU-US international data access agreement, with the aim of ensuring compliance by US-established service providers to requests from EU member states for stored electronic content. The US’s Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act provides that only an international agreement between the US and a foreign Government can allow for such compliance by US established service providers.

I have decided not to opt into the EU Council decision on participating in the second additional protocol to the Council of Europe Budapest convention to ensure that the UK is able to negotiate its own position and interests, without being limited or bound by the EU negotiation policy. This includes enabling the UK to ensure that a flexible approach is taken in negotiating the protocol to accommodate the different systems and processes of a wide range of participant states (beyond the participating EU member states).

The UK is already in the process of negotiating its own reciprocal UK-US data access agreement, a bilateral treaty (as required under the CLOUD Act) that enables US companies to comply with lawful orders from UK authorities for the production of electronic communications without any conflict of law. As such my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service has decided not to opt into the Council decision on opening EU-US negotiations on cross-border data access. This is in line with the UK’s decision not to opt into the draft EU e-evidence regulation, which sets internal EU rules relating to the production of electronic communications.

Until the UK leaves the EU we remain a full member, and the Government will continue to consider the application of the UK’s opt-in to EU legislation on a case by case basis, with a view to maximising our ability to protect the public.

[HCWS1563]