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Written Statements

Volume 667: debated on Monday 4 November 2019

Written Statements

Monday 4 November 2019

Cabinet Office

Work of the Department

The Cabinet Office sits at the heart of Government, overseeing the delivery of the Prime Minister’s priorities and policies, and ensuring that taxpayers’ money is focused on high-quality public services. The Government need to do more, and better, for less, and we are achieving this with new ways of working. Procurement has undergone significant reform since the collapse of Carillion, the construction company, in 2018.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Cabinet Office helped drive Government efficiencies of £52 billion. Its work to cut costs and make savings, while supporting Departments to operate more effectively, has continued at pace across digital, procurement, fraud and beyond. At the same time, the Cabinet Office has focused on improving infrastructure delivery, maintaining the integrity of the union and co-ordinating national security. It has also launched significant new initiatives, including improved cyber-security, the Office for Veterans’ Affairs and the Geospatial Commission.

Value for taxpayers through outsourcing and commercial policy reform

Government Departments are working more closely with industry on quality public services and value for money, driving a reform agenda from the “Outsourcing Playbook” of guidelines, rules and principles launched in February 2019. This complements existing compulsory guidance, such as HM Treasury’s Green and Orange Books.

It also builds on our investment since 2010 in a stronger functional model, which has released significant cash and operational benefits through robust central leadership. In all, 14 Government functions across the civil service affect every civil servant and every part of Government. Each function sets strategies for efficiency and effectiveness, driving continuous improvement and leading to better quality services for citizens.

We estimate that from 2016-17, at least £2.5 billion in commercial benefits has been achieved by the central commercial team, working with Departments. In addition, we estimate that central procurement expertise and frameworks have delivered around £2 billion of benefits.

Our debt function, and its innovative debt market integrator policy—which provides additional capacity and capability—has collected at least £400 million between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Our fraud and error function established the world’s first profession for counter fraud. It has identified counter fraud and error savings of at least £300 milion across Government since 2017 and helped save at least £200 million via national fraud initiatives. It promotes the UK as a world leader in public sector counter fraud, well-positioned to share international best practice and contribute to the global fight against fraud and corruption.

The grants management function has developed the Government grants information system—the most comprehensive picture of the grants landscape published by Government online. Across Government it has helped managers to make more effective grants and has enabled the identification of inefficiencies and fraud, delivering value for money on taxpayers’ spending.

Cutting property costs from the central Government estate

The Government are also transforming their use of land and property. In 2017-18 we cut running costs for central Government estates by £22 million and took out 156,000 square metres—contributing to wider running cost savings of £760 million, in real terms, since 2010. Since 2015, sales of surplus property have raised an estimated £2.5 billion. Since 2013, the One Public Estate programme has invested £70 million across the public sector, including local Government. This has supported the collection of over £140 million in capital receipts and saving over £20 million of running costs.

Harnessing the power of digital for Government and the public

Making Government digital has been a major reform area since 2017. We estimate that from 2016-17 the Government Digital Service has enabled total benefits of around £1.9 billion with its advice on more streamlined and value-for-money approaches. The public has responded positively to our focus on digital: the number of users accessing GOV.UK Verify rose by 4.5million between October 2017 and October 2019.

Supporting our veterans with better long-term outcomes

The UK aims to lead the world in its support for veterans. From its position at the centre of Government, the new Office for Veterans’ Affairs ensures that every Department plays its part in bringing about better outcomes for veterans, particularly in terms of their mental health, jobs and homes. With £5 million of funding secured for next year, the OVA will ensure that Departments work together, and with charities, to support veterans and showcase their contributions to society during and after leaving service.

Unlocking economic value through the new Geospatial Commission

The Cabinet Office aims to unlock up to £11 billion of economic value a year by making better location data accessible. A new digital map of underground pipes and cables will help save lives and reduce disruption caused by their being struck in error: pilot projects have begun in London and the North East. We are on track to deliver our National Geospatial Strategy in spring 2020, and also the digital OpenMastermap commitment.

Strengthening the UK’s cyber security

In its first three years, the National Cyber Security Strategy has driven transformational change across Government and society. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which links world-class intelligence capabilities with outward-facing public engagement, has given the UK an internationally-respected national technical authority.

Tackling the cyber threat relies on the UK having the necessary skills, talent, innovation and research. The National Cyber Security Programme has invested heavily in the domestic cyber sector, with funding and expert support for start-ups creating a pipeline of the services and expertise we need to remain a world-leading 21st century economy.

An ambitious international agenda complements domestic cyber interventions. Through diplomacy we seek to build consensus on the universal benefits of a free, open and secure cyberspace and shape the development of norms that dovetail with our values.


Business: Pre-election Period

The Prime Minister has today written to ministerial colleagues providing guidance on the conduct of Government business during the pre-election period. The Cabinet Secretary has also issued guidance to civil servants on their conduct during this period. The guidance comes into force at 00:01 on Wednesday 6 November.

Copies of the documents have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and published on

Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000: Statutory Review of Sums

As required under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), this statement confirms that the Government will not be making an order during the course of this Parliament to alter the specified sums and reporting thresholds for (broadly) donations and loans to political parties and candidates.

PPERA allows the Secretary of State or the Minister for the Cabinet Office to amend the majority of the sums and reporting thresholds contained in the Act by order. This can be done either to reflect an alteration in the value of money (e.g. arising from a change in inflation rates) or to give effect to a recommendation made by the Electoral Commission.

Where the Secretary of State or the Minister for the Cabinet Office decides not to amend the sums contained in part 4, part 4A, schedule 11, section 95(B)(6), schedule 11 A, schedule 15 and schedule 19A of the Act, a statement must be made to Parliament explaining why. Broadly, these provisions set the sums and reporting thresholds relating to donations and loans to political parties and permitted participants in referendums.

The Government had no grounds to consider the existing sums in PPERA to be inappropriate. With the date now set for an early general election on 12 December, we are now unable to prepare and lay secondary legislation by the end of this Parliament in any event.


Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UK Space Agency: Sustainable Development

The UK Space Agency is offering up to £8 million in grant funding to tackle sustainable development challenges in developing and emerging countries.

These challenges include the growing need for developing countries around the world to build resilience to the effects of climate change. Today’s funding will help to forge new partnerships with countries and better understand their needs.

This round of funding includes a collaboration with Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, who will provide match funding and invite UK organisations and other international partners to work with them on projects to deliver sustainable benefits to small island developing states in the Pacific.

The funding comes from the UK Space Agency’s international partnership programme, a £30 million-a year-programme funded by the global challenges research fund.

Through supporting satellite-led information projects, the international partnership programme makes a real and practical difference to the lives of citizens and builds skills and expertise.

This is the third round of funding from the international partnership programme, which already supports 33 projects in 44 countries. These projects help developing countries tackle a wide range of challenges including deforestation, food security and disaster resilience.

In addition, this call invites consortiums to bid on any topic with any developing country. This will help to forge new partnerships with countries and understand their needs ahead of a follow-on funding call to underpin operational capabilities.

The international partnership programme is the world’s largest space for a sustainable development programme, involving 120 UK organisations and 147 international organisations since 2016. I am pleased to note that the programme was recently recognised by Space and Satellite Professionals International in the “Better Satellite World” awards.


Shale Gas Exploration

This statement provides an update on the Government’s policy regarding shale gas exploration.

The Government continue to recognise the importance of natural gas as a source of secure and affordable energy as we aim to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The Committee on Climate Change predicts that we will still be consuming almost 70% of the gas we consume today in 2050 under our net zero target as significant reductions across building, industry and power are offset by demand for gas to produce hydrogen. It is therefore critical that the UK continues to have good access to natural gas from both domestic and international markets.

Given shale gas has the potential to provide a new source of domestic energy, the Government have supported the development of the UK shale gas industry. Domestic gas production provides jobs and other economic benefits. The industry is currently in an exploration phase and the Government have always been clear that it will only allow development in a way which is safe and sustainable—both for the environment and local people. We have therefore taken a precautionary, evidence-based approach to exploring this potential, underpinned by world-leading environmental and safety regulations.

Following seismic events in 2011 that were connected to shale gas exploration, the Government introduced regulations to mitigate these risks. A traffic light system was introduced to monitor real-time seismic activity during operations, with a clear framework for stopping operations in the event of specified levels of seismic activity.

The Government also introduced tighter controls over the shale gas industry through the Infrastructure Act 2015. This included the requirement for operators to obtain hydraulic fracturing consent from the Secretary of State which requires careful consideration and detailed scrutiny of the necessary technical and legislative requirements. This consent ensures that all the necessary environmental and health and safety permits have been obtained before activities can commence.

While the regulatory and legal framework for shale gas activities has operated effectively to date, it is right that Government and regulators regularly review whether it remains fit for purpose in light of further evidence from shale gas operations.

Cuadrilla, a private company exploring for onshore oil and gas, obtained hydraulic fracturing consent in 2018 to undertake shale gas exploration activity at their site at Preston New Road, Lancashire. Hydraulic fracturing operations took place in 2018 and 2019. Their operations were tightly controlled by the relevant independent regulators, including the Oil and Gas Authority, who are responsible for regulating the licensing of exploration and development of England’s onshore oil and gas reserves, including shale gas.

Following a seismic event of magnitude 2.9 on 26 August 2019, hydraulic fracturing at Preston New Road was suspended by the Oil and Gas Authority, in accordance with its strict regulatory controls. While seismicity was at a level below that at which we would expect significant damage, seismic activity at this level does impact local communities and was clearly unacceptable. An event of this significance was considered highly unlikely in the detailed plan that Cuadrilla provided to the regulator before their activities began.

In parallel to itsaction following the 26 August 2019 event, the Oil and Gas Authority has been analysing in detail data drawn from Cuadrilla’s earlier operations that took place at Preston New Road last year. This included commissioning a series of expert reports to better understand and learn from the induced seismicity observed in 2018. The Government have recently received these reports and they are being published alongside a summary of their findings by the Oil and Gas Authority today. The Oil and Gas Authority summary report contains a number of findings and interim conclusions and highlights that the causes of seismicity are highly dependent on local geology. While we cannot draw definitive direct comparisons between this site-specific evidence and other prospective shale gas sites, the limitations of current scientific evidence mean it is difficult to predict the probability and maximum magnitude of any seismic events, either in the Fylde or in other locations.

The Government have always been clear that we will take a precautionary approach and only support shale gas exploration if it can be done in a safe and sustainable way, and that we will be led by the science on whether this is indeed possible. It remains our policy to minimise disturbance to those living and working nearby, and to prevent the risk of any damage.

The Oil and Gas Authority intends to commission further research to incorporate new data from Cuadrilla’s more recent operations. The Oil and Gas Authority has made clear that it cannot evaluate with confidence whether a proposal to resume hydraulic fracturing in the Fylde, or to start operations elsewhere, will not cause unacceptable levels of seismicity. The OGA is therefore unlikely to approve future hydraulic fracture plans unless new evidence is presented.

On the basis of the current scientific evidence, Government are confirming today that they will take a presumption against issuing any further hydraulic fracturing consents. This position, an effective moratorium, will be maintained until compelling new evidence is provided which addresses the concerns around the prediction and management of induced seismicity. While future applications for hydraulic fracturing consent will be considered on their own merits by the Secretary of State, in accordance with the law, the shale gas industry should take the Government’s position into account when considering new developments.

Finally, alongside the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, I can confirm that the Government will not be taking forward proposed planning reforms in relation to shale gas that were subject to consultation last year. These include the proposals on the principles of a permitted development right for non-hydraulic exploratory shale gas development; making community pre-application consultation compulsory for shale gas development; and proposals to bring shale production development into the nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIP) regime. Full Government responses which summarise the responses to these consultations have been published today.



Tax Credits, Child Benefit and Guardian's Allowance

The Government will bring forward regulations that will increase most tax credits rates and thresholds and will increase the Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance rates in line with the general rise in prices as measured by the September 2019 Consumer Price Index. The annual up-rating of benefits will take place for Tax Credits, Child Benefit and Guardian’s Allowance in the first full week of the tax year. In 2020, this will be the week beginning 6 April.

The annual up-rating process takes into account a variety of measures:

The majority of working-age benefits were frozen at their 2015-16 levels for four years under the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. From April 2020, the majority of elements and thresholds in Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit will be increased by CPI (1.7%). In line with established practice and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s expectations in their welfare forecast, the maximum rate of the childcare element, the family element, the withdrawal rate and the income disregards will remain unchanged.

Child Benefit will be increased in line with CPI (1.7%) from April 2020.

As set out in legislation, Guardian’s Allowance will be uprated in line with prices, measured by CPI (1.7%).

The full list of proposed benefit and credit rates will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses in due course.



Armed Forces Training: Ukraine

The UK military training mission in Ukraine, Operation Orbital has been extended by a further three years to March 2023. UK armed forces personnel deployed on Operation Orbital have trained over 17,500 members of the armed forces of Ukraine since 2015. It is much appreciated by the Ukrainians and has helped to save lives. The training is focused on building the resilience and capacity of the Ukrainian armed forces. It includes the identification of mines and improvised explosive devices (lEDs), infantry skills, medical care and logistics. In 2018, the training was expanded to include anti-armour, counter-sniping and mortar planning. In early 2019, Operation Orbital was expanded to include training and support to the Ukrainian navy. We intend to develop it further over the next three years with more focus on maritime support and at the institutional and operational level.

This extension of Operation Orbital will mean we can train thousands more personnel in the armed forces of Ukraine and continue to make a real difference in support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.



I have today published Sir John Parker’s review of the implementation of the National Shipbuilding strategy. I am very grateful for Sir John’s efforts in producing this review and are delighted that he has identified so much positive progress. Sir John noted how Defence has embraced the strategy with enthusiasm and evident cultural change. A copy of the review has been placed in the Library of the House and it is available on

To build on the success and progress we have made so far, this Government are committed to reinvigorating British shipbuilding industry for both the civil and military sectors and investing in the next generation to ensure a pipeline of skills for the future. That is why the Prime Minister has appointed me to act as the Shipbuilding Tsar on behalf of this Government, to better realise the potential that this sector can offer across the four Home Nations and to reinvigorate UK shipbuilding. This role brings together other Government Departments to shape policies and strategies. As Shipbuilding Tsar, I will work closely with my colleagues across Government to bring together the brilliant work already being done, and to ensure British shipbuilding thrives.

A significant success already delivered by this key strategy and Sir John’s recommendations is the Type 31 preferred bidder announcement to Babcock with contract award due by the end of the year. This major milestone demonstrates a transformation in the way this Department can deliver a rigorous warship acquisition programme securing the best capability for our armed forces and extraordinary value for money for the taxpayer. It is an exemplar of what Sir John Parker envisaged and has shown that the MOD can deliver contracts with a grip on content, specification, design and pace.

Sir John also acknowledged the impressive export success of the Type 26 which has already been selected as the baseline design to deliver nine Hunter class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy and up to 15 Canadian Surface Combatants for the Royal Canadian Navy. We will continue to build on this success and work alongside the Department for International Trade to deliver a competitive naval export plan. This will identify and strengthen opportunities for British shipbuilding and the wider supply chain.

Across Government, a huge amount of work is under way to review the pace and nature of the forward warship programme and to understand the skills needed to design and deliver these ships and their systems. We are already working collaboratively with industry to align these priorities and ensure we maintain the industrial base required to deliver future capability and platforms for our armed forces.


Home Department

Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group: Annual Report

My noble Friend the Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Williams of Trafford) has today made the following written ministerial statement:

I am pleased to announce the publication of the first annual report of the Biometrics and Forensic Ethics Group. The group was established to meet the current needs for ethical review following the expansion of the National DNA Database Ethics Group remit and provides Ministers with independent advice on matters relating to data ethics and ethical issues in forensic science and biometrics.

I would like to thank the group for their strategic advice concerning the use of biometric identifiers and for their continued oversight of the work of the Forensic Information Databases Service Strategy Board. Technologies pertaining to forensics and biometrics are rapidly evolving and the recommendations from the group are more relevant than ever before, particularly with the expansion of the group’s remit this year to include ethical problems posed by analysis of large data sets.

The Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group annual report can be viewed on the website of the group at and a copy will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Home Department

Unauthorised Encampments: Police Powers

Today I am announcing the Government’s plans to consult on criminalising the act of trespassing when setting up an unauthorised encampment in England and Wales. I recognise the distress and misery that some unauthorised encampments cause to many communities and businesses across the country. Currently, this kind of trespass is a civil matter and the powers available to the police are limited.

My predecessor, my Right hon. Friend the Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid), announced to the House of Commons on 6 February that we would carry out a public consultation on amending the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to lower the criteria that must be met for the police to be able to direct people away from unauthorised sites. He also announced that the Home Office would conduct a review of how trespassing while setting up an unauthorised encampment could be made a criminal offence in England and Wales, learning lessons from other countries like the Republic of Ireland, where this is already a criminal offence.

I am announcing today that having considered the legislation in the Republic of Ireland, I would like to test the appetite to go further than the original proposals. I would like to broaden the existing categories of criminal trespass to cover trespassers on land who are there with the purpose of residing in their vehicle for any period, and to give the police the relevant powers to arrest offenders in situ and to seize any vehicles or other property on unauthorised encampments promptly.

Tomorrow, we will launch a public consultation on whether criminalising unauthorised encampments would be preferable to the amendments we originally proposed to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, and if so, how it should work. The consultation will be available tomorrow at strengthening-police-powers-to-tackle-unauthorised-encampments and will be open for four months. A copy of the consultation will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

I thank Members for their continued engagement on this important issue.



Today, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) changed the UK national terrorism threat level from ‘SEVERE’ to ‘SUBSTANTIAL’. This means that a terrorist attack is likely.

The decision to change the threat level is taken by JTAC independently of Ministers. JTAC conducts a formal review of the terrorism threat level every six months.

This is a systematic, comprehensive and rigorous process, based on the very latest intelligence and analysis of internal and external factors which drive the threat.

Despite the change in the threat level, terrorism remains one of the most direct and immediate risks to our National Security.

‘SUBSTANTIAL’ continues to indicate a high level of threat; and an attack might well occur without further warning.

As ever, the public should remain vigilant and report any concerns they may have to the police.

Government, police and intelligence agencies will continue to work tirelessly to address the threat posed by terrorism in all its forms. The threat level is kept under constant review.


Work of the Department

Today I am updating Parliament on the work of the Home Office since 2010.

The first duty of Government is to protect the public. Since 1782, the Home Office has led work to keep the country safe from those who seek to do the country and its citizens harm. In doing so, we make a vital contribution to the Government’s plan for a stronger, fairer and outward-looking country.

The Home Office has a responsibility to tackle crime, fight terrorism, and secure our borders.

Crime, Policing and Fire

The Government have promoted public safety by strengthening policing capabilities, our response to serious violence, domestic abuse and extremism, strengthened our response to fires and civil emergencies and the harm that they cause and strengthened the safeguards on which vulnerable people rely.

We have strengthened the local democratic accountability of police forces through the introduction of police and crime commissioners (PCCs) in 2013, enabled greater collaboration between emergency services by providing powers for PCCs to take on responsibility for fire and rescue services (Policing and Crime Act 2017), provided powers for PCCs, and supported strong and integrated city regions with Mayors performing the role of a PCC.

We have supported our frontline police officers by providing £7.5 million to fund the national police wellbeing service and a £10 million fund to support the deployment of tasers. We announced at the Queen’s Speech plans for a Police Protection Bill to put the police covenant on a statutory footing—giving legal protection to police drivers when pursuing a subject or responding to an emergency, and allowing special constables to join the Police Federation.

We responded to increased demands on our police, by providing the best police funding settlement in a decade in 2019-20, with total funding increasing by over £1 billion (including council tax) and by launching a recruitment campaign for 20,000 additional police officers over the next three years. £144 million was awarded, over a five-year period, for an uplift in armed policing capability and capacity in England and Wales to ensure we can respond more quickly and effectively to a terrorist attack (2017-18).

We have tackled the harm caused by drugs and serious violence through a new drug driving offence (Crime and Courts Act 2013), new powers to seize drug cutting agents (Serious Crime Act 2015), tackling “legal highs” (Psychoactive Substances Act 2016), tougher controls on knives and corrosive substances (Offensive Weapons Act 2019), funding £100 million in 2019-20 to support a surge in police operational activity and investing in violence reduction units. Establishing the national county lines co-ordination centre that has led to over 2,500 arrests, over 3,000 individuals engaged for safeguarding, and significant seizures of weapons and drugs. We have also changed the law to allow specialist clinicians to prescribe medicinal cannabis in 2018. For the first time in the UK, expert doctors have been given the option to legally issue prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines when they agree that their patients could benefit from this treatment. However, we are clear that this does not pave the way towards legalising cannabis for recreational use.

We have also introduced measures to reduce and prevent crime to ensure people feel safe in their homes and communities. We have invested £22 million to support early intervention programmes that prevent and tackle serious violence, and an additional £200 million in 2018 for the youth endowment fund to support important work in the community to prevent vulnerable children and young people from being drawn into crime and violence. We also launched a £25 million safer streets fund this year to help areas put measures in place to prevent burglary, theft and other offences in crime hotspots.

We have protected people from harm and supported victims, by tackling forced marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) through the creation of FGM protection orders and criminalised breach of forced marriage protection orders (2015), a new offence of failing to protect a girl from FGM (2015), extended extra-territorial jurisdiction over FGM offences committed abroad (2015), and brought in a new FGM mandatory reporting duty (2015). We have protected people from domestic abuse by providing access to information through “Clare’s law”, committing £100 million (£80 million announced in 2016; an additional £20 million announced in 2017) to tackle violence against women and girls. We also announced at the Queen's Speech that we would strengthen the protection and support for victims and their children through the introduction of the Domestic Abuse Bill.

We have tackled the harm caused by extremism through empowering 253 locally-led projects to challenge extremist narratives and increase the resilience of communities as part of our “Building a Stronger Britain Together” programme that has awarded around £9 million of Government funding since 2015, and through establishing the commission for countering extremism in 2018 to drive innovative thinking on how best to tackle extremism. We also launched the first counter-extremism strategy in 2015 to protect communities from the wider social harms caused by extremism. We also increased our funding for security measures to protect religious institutions from hate crime. We have awarded approximately £1.5 million to protect over 130 places of worship through our places of worship protective security programme.

We have published plans to ensure we can keep the public safe online. Working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), we published the online harms White Paper earlier this year that sets out our plans for world-leading legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online. This package comprises of legislative and non-legislative measures and will ensure companies have appropriate systems and processes in place to deal with harmful content to keep their users safe.

We have supported fire and rescue services to protect the public from fire in England, with the “Fire Kills” campaign contributing to a sustained fall in the number of fires and casualties, strengthening national capabilities to respond to major incidents including flooding, wildfires, or terrorist attacks, and providing stronger national leadership and accountability through the creation of an inspection regime (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, HMICFRS) in 2017, a new independent Fire Standards Board (2018) and a Fire Protection Board (2019).

Serious and organised crime

The Home Office has also strengthened its response to tackling serious and organised crime.

We created the National Crime Agency (NCA) in 2013 to lead and co-ordinate UK law enforcement’s response to serious and organised crime by strengthening the UK’s borders, fighting economic crime, fraud, corruption and cyber-crime, and protecting children and young people from sexual exploitation and abuse. Since 2013, NCA operations have led to over 12,800 arrests in the UK and overseas, and over 8,200 children safeguarded. We also have disrupted serious and organised crime by establishing a network of regional organised crime units (ROCUs).

We published a new serious and organised crime strategy in 2018 to tackle the evolving threat and the increasing resilience and adaptability of criminal networks. The overarching strategic aim is that there will be no safe space for serious and organised criminals to operate. On 29 October we announced a review that will enhance the response to serious and organised crime. The review will look to identify ways of bolstering the response to threats such as county lines, people trafficking and drugs.

We have tackled the harm of modem slavery by becoming the first country in the world to introduce dedicated modern slavery legislation (Modern Slavery Act 2015) that included slavery and trafficking prevention and risk orders, by ensuring perpetrators can receive a maximum life sentence for these appalling crimes and by establishing the UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner. We have also invested £33.5 million into the modern slavery fund, delivered an ambitious package of reforms to the national referral mechanism (NRM), and launched the single competent authority in 2019. We have seen a six fold increase since December 2016 in the number of police led modern slavery operations (over 1,200 live operations as at the end of 2018-19).

We have made a significant investment in tackling all forms of child sexual exploitation and abuse in recent years and the step change in our response is already drawing this hidden crime out of the shadows as demonstrated by a 227% increase in reporting of child sexual abuse offences to police since 2013. We have announced an additional £30 million to safeguard children from child sexual exploitation and abuse. This additional funding, taken together with an additional 20,000 officers and more money for prosecutors and prison places, will help us redouble our efforts to tackle child sexual abuse. The additional funding will build on our significant investment in recent years, which included £40 million in a package of measures to protect children and young people from sexual abuse and exploitation in February 2017 and a further uplift of £21 million to improve how our law enforcement agencies reduce the volume of offending and pursue the most dangerous and prolific offenders, announced in September 2018. In 2016 all UK police forces, and the National Crime Agency, were connected to the child abuse image database, allowing them to identify and protect victims quicker than before. We are also leading international efforts to tackle what is a cross-border crime through the Five Country Ministerial and the UK-funded WePROTECT Global Alliance summit.

We have tackled cyber-crime through launching cyber-crime units in each of the 43 police forces across England and Wales, and teams to tackle illicit use of the dark web across regional and organised crime units. We also established the national cyber- crime unit in 2013, a powerful new unit within the National Crime Agency to collaborate with partners to fight cyber-crime, protect the public and reduce harm to the UK from online crime.

We have recognised the impact that economic crime has on the public and how this underpins serious and organised crime. The national economic crime centre (NECC) was established to act as the national authority for the UK’s law enforcement response, which froze £65 million worth of assets in the first year and in 2018-19 almost £217 million of the proceeds of crime was collected. The global standard-setter for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing, the financial action task force, assessed in 2018 that the UK has the strongest regime of over 60 countries assessed to date. Since 2014, the joint money laundering taskforce has provided a mechanism for law enforcement and the financial sector to share information and work more closely to tackle money laundering and economic crime. In January 2019, the Government established a new public-private partnership to tackle economic crime, and in July 2019 we published a new asset recovery action plan and a public-private economic crime plan. We also introduced new legislation, the Criminal Finances Act 2017, that improved our ability to tackle money laundering and corruption and recover the proceeds of crime and counter-terrorist financing. This included the creation of unexplained wealth orders that required those suspected of corruption to explain the sources of their wealth, and helped to facilitate the recovery of illicit wealth, stopping criminals using the UK as a safe haven for the proceeds of international corruption.

Security and counter-terrorism

The Home Office is responsible for keeping the United Kingdom safe from the threat of terrorism.

We have equipped our law enforcement and emergency responders with capabilities to protect citizens against the threat from terrorism and provided an additional £160 million for counter-terrorism policing this year (2019-20) taking funding for counter-terrorism policing to over £800 million. From July 2010 to June 2019 there have been 2,661 persons arrested, with 1,667 charged for terrorism-related activity under the Terrorism Act 2000 and subsequent legislation. In addition, we continue to provide executive oversight of MI5, under the Security Service Act 1989 (amended in 1996).

We have introduced legislation which balanced new powers to help the UK respond to the threat of terrorism and protect the public with safeguards for civil liberties. We introduced the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 to close gaps in existing counter-terrorism legislation and ensure compatibility with the digital age, the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 increased the legal powers and capabilities of law enforcement and intelligence agencies to disrupt terrorism and prevent individuals from being radicalised, and the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011 (TPIMs) introduced a new system to replace the control order system.

We strengthened our response to tackling terrorism following the attacks in 2017 that claimed 36 lives and changed the lives of many more. We launched a strengthened counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) in 2018; introduced the victims of terrorism unit to ensure support to all those affected by terror attacks in the UK and overseas; and both MI5 and counter-terrorism policing conducted reviews to learn lessons and improve the operational response.

The Home Office has stopped and prevented dangerous groups from harming UK citizens. We have added 33 groups to the list of proscribed organisations, extended the proscription of Hezbollah and implemented 10 name change orders covering 20 aliases. The Home Office has also hardened the country’s defences against hostile state activity. Following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury in March 2018, we worked with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to expel 23 Russian diplomats who had been identified as undeclared Russian intelligence officers. The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019 included a power for the police to stop individuals at UK ports and the Northern Ireland border area to determine if they are or have been involved in hostile state activity, and we are currently considering whether further primary legislation is required in this area. We have also ensured the removal of people who pose a threat to this country to keep our citizens safe. We enabled the deportation of Abu Qatada and removal of other terror suspects who pose a risk to the safety of this country and whose presence would not be conducive to the public good. We achieved the extradition of Abu Hamza to the US where he has been convicted of serious terrorist charges.

We have ensured that communities are safe by preventing vulnerable individuals from radicalisation and rehabilitating them where necessary. We have provided support to individuals assessed as being vulnerable to radicalisation through the Channel programme. During 2017-2018, a total of 7,318 individuals were referred to the Prevent programme with 1,314 individuals referred on to, and supported by, Channel. We have also worked with civil society organisations to deliver Prevent local projects to around 300,000 people from 2014 to build resilience to terrorist and extremist ideology.

We have worked to ensure that we tackle terrorism and protect our citizens by working with tech companies to remove illegal terrorist content from the internet. We showed global leadership by playing a key role in the establishment of the global internet forum to counter terrorism to ensure international co-ordination on this issue, and we announced in 2018 the development of new technology to automatically detect terrorist video content on any online platforms.

We have developed and implemented robust investigatory capabilities with strong privacy protections enabled by the world-leading Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which maintains essential powers and enhances safeguards to underpin intelligence agency and law enforcement operations to protect the public. We have signed the world-first data access agreement with the US, which will strengthen and speed up investigations into organised crime, child abuse and other serious crimes. We have also established a world-leading oversight regime through the office of Investigatory Powers Commissioner (IPC) to oversee the use of these powers, and the Office for Communications Data Authorisations, under the remit of the IPC, which independently authorises requests for communications data. On encryption, we have led international efforts to stop companies designing out their ability to access communications, even where this access is necessary to save lives.

We have also published the world leading counter-unmanned aircraft strategy in October 2019 that will allow us to harness and safeguard the economic and social potential drones can bring to the UK and to protect the public from malicious or negligent use.

Border, immigration and citizenship system

We have tackled illegal immigration by doubling the maximum penalty for employing an illegal worker to £20,000, simplifying right to work checks and strengthening the ability to collect unpaid penalties (Immigration Act 2014). These measures allowed us to deport foreign criminals under “deport first; appeal later”. We have shut down bogus colleges; and cracked down on illegal working and sham marriages. We also introduced the Immigration Act 2016 provided new powers for councils to crack down on unscrupulous landlords and evict illegal migrants more quickly, extended the successful “deport first; appeal later” measures, and created a new offence of illegal working which means people who are here illegally cannot benefit from working.

We have tackled foreign national offenders, deporting almost 50,000 since 2010, and are legislating to increase the penalties for those seeking to enter in breach of their deportation order. In 2018-19, immigration enforcement made 593 disruptions (of these 71 were major) against individuals and organised crime groups (OCGs) involved in the exploitation of people through modern slavery and organised immigration crime. This is an increase of 42% and 41 % respectively on the previous year for the number of total disruptions and major disruptions.

The Immigration Act 2016 also introduced the immigration health surcharge to ensure migrants coming to the UK for a time-limited period contribute to the national health service, and the immigration skills charge that placed a levy on businesses to help improve the skills of British workers.

We have transformed our visa operations with the same-day super priority visa service, the only European country to offer a visa decision in 24 hours. We have also reformed the study visa system to tackle abuse, while at the same time the UK remains the second most popular destination in the world for students. University sponsored applications increased by 11% last year to over 202,000—the highest ever level, and 31 % higher than in 2010-11. We have worked with the scientific community to develop a new fast-track visa route for the brightest and best, with a view to launching it later this year. The fast-track immigration route will be designed to attract elite researchers and specialists in science, engineering and technology, ranging from those at the very start of their careers to the winners of internationally recognised prizes and fellowships.

We have tightened up our controls on borders and immigration ahead of and in preparation for our departure from the EU by recruiting up to 1,000 additional Border Force staff. We have committed to end to freedom of movement between the EU and the UK and pave the way for a new points-based system. We have extended ePassport gates to nationals of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States showing that global Britain is already open for business.

We have strengthened our borders to help tackle the trafficking of drugs and illegal goods. Border Force made 43,930 drug seizures from financial year 2010-11 to 2017-18, with an increase in annual drug seizures from 3,954 in 2010-11 to 6,545 in 2017-18.

We successfully developed and launched the EU settlement scheme in March 2019, a free scheme enabling EU citizens resident in the UK to obtain the status they will require to live and work in the UK in future. The latest internal figures show there have been over 2.2 million applications and more than 1.8 million people have been granted status. We are processing up to 20,000 applications a day.

We have reduced asylum claims made in Britain from a peak of 84,000 in 2002 to around half that. In order to dissuade people from making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, we have resettled 17,000 of the most vulnerable refugees affected by the conflict in Syria since 2015 and are on track to reach our commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees by 2020. We also increased the amount of money we pay to local authorities to look after unaccompanied asylum-seeking children by up to 33% in May 2019. We granted protection to 18,519 people in year ending June 2019 (up 29% from the previous year).

The Government deeply regret what happened to some members of the Windrush generation and have made it clear that responding to this is a priority. On 24 May 2018 the Home Office announced the Windrush scheme, which ensures that people affected directly, their children born in the UK and those who arrived in the UK as minors can apply for citizenship, or various other immigration products, free of charge. In total, 8,124 individuals have been granted some form of documentation, either under the initial arrangements put in place prior to the establishment of the Windrush scheme or under the Windrush scheme itself.



Judicial Conduct Investigations Office: Annual Report

With the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice, I will today publish the thirteenth annual report of the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO).

The JCIO supports the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor in our joint statutory responsibility for judicial discipline.

The judiciary comprises approximately 23,000 individuals serving across a range of jurisdictions. Over the past year, the JCIO received 1,672 complaints against judicial office holders. Fifty five investigations resulted in disciplinary action.

I have placed copies of the report into the Libraries of both Houses, the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office. Copies are also available online at:


Northern Ireland

Independent Reporting Commission: Second Substantive Report

I have received the second substantive report from the Independent Reporting Commission (IRC).

The IRC emanated from the Fresh Start agreement of November 2015. The agreement set out the Northern Ireland Executive’s commitments around tackling paramilitary activity and associated criminality. This work continues to be taken forward through a Northern Ireland Executive Action Plan which contains 43 recommendations.

This second substantive report builds on the work already undertaken by the Commissioners. While the report provides an update on progress achieved to date, the Commission rightly continues to remind us of the challenging work still to be done. Also, as my predecessor referenced last year, the absence of a functioning executive continues to have an adverse impact on delivery of this important work. I remain resolute in finding a way forward in relation to that.

I would like to thank the Commissioners for all of their work to date.


Electoral Commission Committee

Contingencies Fund Advance: The Electoral Commission

As a general election will now be held on 12 December, the Electoral Commission will be required to undertake additional unplanned work to provide guidance to parties, non-party campaigners, candidates and electoral administrators; to observe and report on the election; to secure compliance with political finance law in relation to party and campaigner spending; to raise public awareness of the election and voter registration deadlines; and to ensure resilience of the commission’s functions through this important electoral event. Because unscheduled electoral events are not included in the plans approved by Speaker’s Committee for the main estimate, additional funding will be required.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £2,500,000 will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Electoral Commission. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £2,500,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.


Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority Committee

Contingencies Fund Advance: Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

As a general election will be held on 12 December, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority will be required to undertake additional unplanned work to support new, departing and returning MPs in setting up and winding up their offices and providing other guidance and support. Unscheduled elections events are not included in the main estimate plans approved by Speaker’s Committee for IPSA, and additional funding will therefore be required.

Parliamentary approval for additional resources of £30,150,000 will be sought in a supplementary estimate for IPSA. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £30,150,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.


Work and Pensions

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

The UK did not attend the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) in Brussels on 24 October 2019.

The UK Government have decided that from 1 September until exit day, UK Ministers and officials will only attend EU meetings where the UK has a significant national interest in the outcome of the discussions.


Welfare and Pensions Update

I am announcing the proposed social security benefit and pension rates for 2020/21.

More than 10 million people in receipt of working-age benefits will see their payments increase at the rate of inflation next year.

Some 2.5 million people on universal credit and claimants on legacy benefits will receive a 1.7% rise in April. This includes people receiving jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), employment and support allowance (ESA), income support, housing benefit and universal credit.

The basic and new state pensions will increase at the highest rate for 8 years, by 3.9%, boosting the retirement incomes of 13 million people. Pensioners receiving the full new state pension will get an extra £344 a year. The basic state pension will increase by £263 a year.

The pension credit standard minimum guarantee for a couple will be £265.20 a week, the basic state pension will be £134.25 per week, the full rate of the new state pension will be £175.20 per week, and the universal credit standard allowance couple one or both over 25 will be £507.37 a month.

The annual up-rating of benefits will take place for state pensions and most other benefits in the first full week of the tax year. In 2020, this will be the week beginning 6 April.

A corresponding provision will be made in Northern Ireland and the Scottish Government will lay its own statutory instrument in respect of increases to carer’s allowance in Scotland.

The annual up-rating process takes into account a variety of measures:

The basic and new state pensions will be increased by the Government’s “triple lock” commitment, meaning that they will be up-rated in line with the highest of prices (CPI), earnings or 2.5%. Consequently, they will be up-rated by 3.9% (the May-July average weekly earnings figure).

The pension credit minimum guarantee will also be increased by earnings in line with legislation. The pension credit savings credit maximum amount will be increased in line with CPI (1.7%).

Benefits linked to the additional costs of disability, and for carers, are increased by the annual rise in prices (1.7%). A number of other elements—including non-dependent deductions—will also be up-rated in line with prices.

Working age benefits will be increased by CPI (1.7%) from April 2020. Those linked to child tax and working tax credits will be up-rated in line with those benefits.

Universal credit work allowances will be increased in line with CPI (1.7%) from April 2020.

The full list of proposed benefit and pension rates will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses in due course.

This will increase expenditure on social security benefit and pension rates by £5 billion. This includes £3.9 billion more to be spent on pensioner benefits. From April 2020 the yearly basic state pension will be worth over £1900 more in cash terms than in 2010. £1 billion more will also be spent on working-age benefits, ensuring that we continue to support the most vulnerable in society.