Cookies: We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. By continuing to use the site you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
House of Commons Hansard
x
Written Statements
20 July 2020
Volume 678

Written Statements

Monday 20 July 2020

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Vaccine Taskforce

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am today updating Parliament on the work of the Vaccine Taskforce in securing a vaccine against covid-19.

Tackling this virus is the biggest challenge that this country has faced in peacetime history. Today I am announcing the recent steps that the Vaccines Taskforce has taken towards making a successful covid-19 vaccine available as soon as possible to the UK population and the wider world.

I can inform the House that we have signed agreements with the BioNTech/Pfizer alliance and Valneva to purchase their vaccines. This is part of our strategy to procure a portfolio of promising vaccine candidates, giving us the best chance of securing a successful one at the earliest opportunity. Demand for a successful vaccine will be high and placing these orders early will give us access to the doses we need if and when any of these candidates prove to be safe and effective in clinical trials and receive regulatory approval.

I am also announcing that the Government have issued a letter of intent in advance of entering an agreement to secure an antibody that may be used as a therapeutic treatment in support of the wider vaccination programme. The antibody, manufactured by AstraZeneca, is currently in clinical trials and could be available for use by the second quarter of 2021, if those trials are successful.

Clinical trials play a vital part in the vaccine development process. Today, the Government are also launching the NHS covid-19 vaccine research registry. This new website will enable people in the UK to volunteer for future vaccine studies planned in the UK, playing their part in our national effort to ensure a covid-19 vaccine is available as soon as possible.

[HCWS387]

Contingencies Fund Advance

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I hereby give notice of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s intention to seek an advance from the Contingencies Fund of £5,070,000,000 to provide funding for the Nuclear Liabilities Fund (NLF).

The funding will be used to increase the NLF’s public sector assets, by making £5.07 billion available to the NLF in the form of a deposit in the national loans fund. This offers an alternative investment opportunity to the NLF, which otherwise would re-allocate moneys within the next month into investments in its privately held asset portfolio. Such re-allocation would increase public sector net debt, and so this alternative funding arrangement avoids this immediate negative fiscal impact. The payment to the NLF is fiscally neutral.

The trustee directors of the NLF have a fiduciary duty to ensure the NLF remains on track to be sufficient to meet certain future decommissioning liabilities. Parliamentary approval for additional capital of £5,070,000,000 will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £5,070,000,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

The cash advance will be repaid upon receiving Royal Assent on the Supply and Appropriation Bill.

[HCWS388]

Unified Patent Court

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am tabling this statement for the benefit of right hon. and hon. Members to bring to their attention the UK’s withdrawal from the Unified Patent Court system.

Today, by means of a note verbale, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has withdrawn its ratification of the agreement on a Unified Patent Court and the protocol on privileges and immunities of the Unified Patent Court, dated 23 April 2018, in respect of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man, and its consent to be bound by the protocol to the agreement on a Unified Patent Court on provisional application, dated on 6 July 2017, (collectively “the agreements”).

In view of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, the United Kingdom no longer wishes to be a party to the Unified Patent Court system. Participating in a court that applies EU law and is bound by the CJEU would be inconsistent with the Government’s aims of becoming an independent self-governing nation.

The agreements have not yet entered into force. However, in order to ensure clarity regarding the United Kingdom’s status in respect of the agreements and to facilitate their orderly entry into force for other states without the participation of the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom has chosen to withdraw its ratification of the agreements at this time. The United Kingdom considers that its withdrawals shall take effect immediately and that it will be for the remaining participating states to decide the future of the Unified Patent Court system.

[HCWS395]

Treasury

Public Service Pensions: Survivor Benefits

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Government are committed to providing public service pensions that are fair for public sector workers and for taxpayers. The Government’s position remains that benefit entitlements should normally be determined based on the rules applicable at the time the member served, to maintain fairness for active scheme members and the taxpayer.

Following the Walker v Innospec Supreme Court ruling, the Government decided that in public service schemes, surviving male same-sex and female same-sex spouses and civil partners of public service pension scheme members will, in certain cases, receive benefits equivalent to those received by widows of opposite sex marriages. The exception to this is in specific schemes where, in the past, improvements in female members’ survivor benefits have involved female members making employee contributions or increasing them.

A case brought in the Employment Tribunal against the Secretary of State for Education (Gavin Williamson) earlier this year highlighted that these changes may lead to direct sexual orientation discrimination within the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, where male survivors of female scheme members remain entitled to a lower survivor benefit than a comparable same-sex survivor.

The Government have concluded that changes are required to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme to address the discrimination. The Government believe that this difference in treatment will also need to be remedied in those other public service pension schemes, where the husband or male civil partner of a female scheme member is in similar circumstances.

Departments responsible for the Administration of affected schemes will consult on and take forward changes as soon as possible. Schemes will notify their members of changes and any actions they need to take.

[HCWS397]

Defence

Service Complaints Ombudsman: Annual Report 2019

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Ministry of Defence (MOD)’s formal response to the Service Complaints Ombudsman’s (SCO) annual report for 2019 on the fairness, effectiveness and efficiency of the Service complaints system has today been placed in the Library of the House.

The ombudsman’s report assessed the fourth year of operation of the reformed service complaints system, which was implemented on 1 January 2016, and the work of her office in 2019. The response sets out MOD’s comments and approach to each of the ombudsman’s new recommendations, the observations that she has made and includes a summary of our position on recommendations made in previous annual reports.

The MOD values the strong independent oversight that the ombudsman brings to the service complaints process, and remains committed to having a system in which our personnel can have confidence. This will include progressing outstanding recommendations and observations, together with improvements identified in Air Marshal Wigston’s report in April 2019 on inappropriate behaviours.

Attachments can be viewed online at: http://www. parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-07-20/HCWS392/.

[HCWS392]

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Community Match Challenge

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

On 8 April, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a £750 million funding package for the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. I wish to set out to the House the details of how £90 million from this package will be allocated.

We are all aware of the vital role that the VCSE sector plays in our society, and this has especially been the case in the past few months. Charities and community organisations have been at the frontline of the coronavirus outbreak, providing trusted support to people and communities.

Through the coronavirus community support fund, £200 million is already being allocated largely to small and medium sized charities in England by the National Lottery Community Fund.

We are now inviting the philanthropists, foundations and grant makers to put forward new funding, which the Government will match on a pound for pound basis.

The Government will match up to £85 million of funding from strategic funders such as philanthropists and charitable foundations. This funding is intended for beneficiary groups that are the most vulnerable and the hardest hit by covid-19. We expect awards to be made principally to charitable grant makers providing aid to small and medium-sized charities. We anticipate funding applications in the £5 million to £20 million range. This innovative approach will build on the expertise of philanthropists and foundations by supporting the charities that they believe will have the highest impact in the areas that we want to focus on, while giving charities longer-term recovery support by allowing the non-Government portion of the match funding to be spent beyond March 2021.

We believe that this approach will stimulate further donations and ensure that a further £85 million of philanthropic funding from those who wish to support their communities during these challenging times will go to charities, further increasing support to the sector.

An additional £4.8 million is also being allocated to the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership to strengthen its support to the voluntary and community sector, and its co-ordinating role with Government and statutory agencies, as they continue to respond to covid-19.

Applications close at midnight on 2 August 2020 and details can be found at the fund website here: https://www. gov.uk/government/publications/community-match-challenge-and-voluntary-and-community-sector-emergencies-partnership.

[HCWS396]

Education

School Funding

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Today I am confirming provisional funding allocations for 2021-22 through the schools, high needs and central school services national funding formulae (NFF). The allocations distribute the second year of the multi-billion school funding settlement that the Secretary of State for Education announced to Parliament on 3 September 2019. Core school funding is increasing by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, and will increase by £4.8 billion and £7.1 billion in 2021-22 and 2022-23 respectively, compared with 2019-20. In addition, we continue to fund the recent increase in pension costs for teachers, worth £1.5 billion a year.

These allocations, which are part of the annual funding cycle, will provide schools and local authorities with certainty of future funding. In addition to this core funding, schools can apply for exceptional funding to cover specific unavoidable costs incurred by schools due to coronavirus—covid-19—between March and July that cannot be met from existing resources. Schools will also benefit from the £1 billion catch-up package for the 2020-21 academic year to directly tackle the impact of the disruption that covid-19 has caused. This includes a catch-up premium worth £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time for all pupils, and a new £350 million tutoring fund for disadvantaged pupils. Guidance on the allocation and use of that funding will be published today.

The funding factors used in the 2021-22 NFF remain the same, but we have made two technical changes, which are detailed in the NFF policy document also published today:

Funding from the teachers’ pay grant and the teachers’ pension employer contribution grant, including the supplementary fund, has been added to the formulae from 2021-22. This will simplify the allocation of this funding—worth almost £2 billion a year—recognising that these grants are part of schools’ core budgets and providing reassurance to schools and local authorities that the funding will continue to be provided.

The 2019 update to the income deprivation affecting children index has been incorporated so that deprivation funding allocated through the formulae is based on the latest data. School funding through the NFF is increasing by 4% overall in 2021-22. The NFF will distribute this funding based on schools’ and pupils’ needs and characteristics.

The main features in 2021-22 are:

The funding floor will ensure that every school is allocated at least 2% more pupil-led funding per pupil compared to its 2020-21 NFF allocation.

The key factors in the NFF will increase by 3%, providing a significant increase to those schools already attracting their NFF allocations.

The minimum per pupil funding levels will ensure that every primary school receives at least £4,000 per pupil, and every secondary school at least £5,150 per pupil, delivering on the Government’s pledge to level up the lowest funded schools.

Funding to cover additional teachers’ pay and pensions costs, previously funded through separate grants, has additionally been reflected in all schools’ allocations. This means that a further £180 and £265 respectively will be added to the minimum per pupil amounts above.

Additional funding for small and remote schools will increase in 2021-22, with primary schools attracting up to £45,000, compared to £26,000 previously, as a first step towards expanding the support the NFF provides for such schools from 2022-23.

High needs funding will increase by a further £730 million, or 10%, in 2021-22—that follows the substantial increase this year and brings the total high needs budget to over £8 billion. The high needs NFF will ensure that every local authority receives a further increase of at least 8% per head of population, compared to this year, with some authorities receiving up to 12%. This vital extra resource will help local authorities to manage their cost pressures in this area. The Government are continuing to pursue a cross-departmental review of the special educational needs and disability (SEND) system to see what further improvements are necessary to ensure that it supports children and young people with SEND as effectively as possible.

In addition, the Department will start negotiations with some of those local authorities with the highest dedicated schools grant (DSG) deficits about supporting them to reduce their deficits over time.

Central schools services funding in 2021-22 will increase by 4% for the ongoing responsibilities that local authorities continue to have for all schools. In line with the process introduced for 2020-21 to withdraw funding over time based on the commitments local authorities entered into before 2013-14, funding for historic commitments will decrease by 20% for those local authorities in receipt of this funding.

The provisional NFF allocations published today will be updated, based on the latest pupil data, to produce final allocations in December that local authorities will receive through the DSG.

Local authorities will continue to use that funding to determine final allocations for all local mainstream schools. In the light of the need to focus efforts on meeting the challenges of covid-19, we are not changing local authorities’ role in the distribution of school funding in 2021-22. The Government will, later this year, put forward their proposals to move to a hard NFF in future, which will determine schools’ budgets directly rather than through local formulae set independently by each local authority. This will level up the school funding system so that all schools across the country are funded on a comparable basis. We will consult widely with local authorities, schools and others to make this transition carefully.

[HCWS393]

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Sanctions and anti-Money Laundering Act 2018: Report on Regulations

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My noble Friend the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) has made the following written ministerial statement:

Today the “Report on Regulations Made under Section 32 of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018” will be laid in Parliament.

The report details the two regulations laid under section 1 of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 during the reporting period from 23 May 2019 to 22 May 2020, and states the relevant human rights purposes of those regulations.

In addition to the actions set out in the report, the Government established the global human rights sanctions regime on 6 July by laying regulations in Parliament. These regulations enable the Government to impose sanctions in response to serious human rights violations or abuses around the world. The Government made immediate use of the powers provided by the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regulations 2020, implementing 49 designations on a range of people and entities.

[HCWS394]

EFTA States and Switzerland: Future Relationship

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Government are pleased to announce that we have moved into formal negotiations on our future relationships with both the EEA EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Switzerland from the beginning of July.

The Government have already been working closely with all four non-EU states on a range of issues related to our future relationship. We have successfully delivered a number of agreements, including the EEA EFTA separation agreement signed in January this year, which broadly mirrors provisions in the EU withdrawal agreement on citizens’ rights and a small number of other relevant separation issues. With the Swiss, we have concluded and signed agreements in five key areas; trade; air services; road transport; insurance; and citizen’s rights.

The EEA EFTA states and Switzerland are important European economic partners, with bilateral trade totalling approximately £27 billion with the EEA EFTA states and around £39 billion with Switzerland in 2019. We also enjoy close co-operation with these countries across a range of areas outside of trade, which is why the Government are seeking to agree measures that span across the entire breadth of our relationship.

EEA EFTA states

Negotiations with the EEA EFTA states will continue to take place alongside those we are conducting with the EU. In some areas, our future relationship with these states will be closely tied to the UK’s future relationship with the EU by virtue of their participation in the EU single market, via the EEA agreement, and other EU-led initiatives. In others, these countries have the flexibility to agree bespoke bilateral arrangements. The ongoing negotiations will need to take account of this, but we are clear in our aim of protecting the close levels of existing co-operation we have we these key European partners, and building ambitious future facing agreements befitting our close relationship with them.

A successful UK-EEA EFTA future relations dialogue took place on 16 July. We will be publishing further details of these negotiations on the Government’s website soon, providing further details on the scope of the arrangements we are seeking to agree.

Switzerland

Over the last three years, a dedicated high-level UK-Swiss continuity dialogue has proven highly successful in advancing vital work to uphold our excellent relations with the Swiss in the context of our EU exit. The continuity arrangements we have reached with Switzerland have given vital certainty to citizens and businesses alike. The Government are seeking to build on these strong foundations in the future: we are now convening a new UK-Swiss future relations dialogue to open the next chapter in our relations.

Our first UK-Swiss future relations dialogue took place on 1 July. The Government are taking a sequenced approach to our joint endeavours with Switzerland before the review clause in our trade continuity agreement activates in 2021. First, we will aim to resolve residual separation issues as far as is possible. Secondly, we will also aim to address issues that are dependent on our negotiations with the EU or indeed related negotiations. Thirdly, we will begin exploring new bilateral opportunities where we can make progress together in 2020.

Sequencing

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is working with other Government Departments to secure the delivery of these negotiations. The Department for International Trade continues to be responsible for all trade and economic arrangements. In non-trade areas, Departments responsible will seek arrangements which deliver on UK interests and provide maximum coverage across the full scope of our relationship with these countries.

The Government are aiming to bring some of the agreements negotiated with these states into effect by the end of the transition period in line with our approach to EU negotiations. Further details on the progress of these negotiations will be made available to Parliament as they develop. Indeed, our future relationship with these key partners is a Government priority.

[HCWS390]

Housing, Communities and Local Government

Building and Fire Safety

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I would like to update Parliament on the Government’s progress in overhauling the building and fire safety system, as part of our unwavering commitment to ensuring that people, and the buildings they live in, are safe.

Building safety

We must never forget the 72 people who lost their lives as a result of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Countless lives were torn apart by that tragedy, and we owe it to the deceased, the bereaved, the survivors, and the residents of all high-rise buildings to ensure that we do all we can to prevent a repeat of events like that fateful night occurring again.

We promised to overhaul the system and to establish a national building safety regulator at its heart. Today I am pleased to be making a significant step towards that fundamental reform by publishing the draft Building Safety Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny, before the final Bill is brought forward to Parliament.

The Bill will establish the regulator in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and give it significant powers to improve safety and performance across the built environment, especially in higher-risk buildings.

These reforms will improve safety and performance standards across all buildings. However, certain buildings warrant even closer oversight because the potential for significant consequences should a fire spread or the structure fail. It is right that we have a more stringent regime where the risk is deemed greatest, to protect the greatest number of people. Initially the scope of the more stringent regime will apply to multi-occupied residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height or more than six storeys, whichever is reached first. We have designed the new regime so its scope can be changed if the evidence base or operational experience suggest it should.

The Bill will provide a stronger framework to make sure those responsible for managing building safety risks in higher-risk buildings are held to account, with stronger enforcement powers and sanctions where those rules are not followed. It will also ensure that the residents of high-rise buildings have a stronger voice, alongside giving them better access to safety information about their building, clarifying their rights and providing recourse to raise safety concerns directly to the regulator.

The draft Bill applies to England only with the exception of the policies to require developers to belong to a New Homes Ombudsman scheme, strengthen the oversight of the construction products regulatory regime, and allow the Architects Registration Board (ARB) to monitor the competence of architects. Further detailed analysis of the territorial extent is provided in the explanatory notes.

Building safety financing

The Government are clear that it is unacceptable for leaseholders to have to worry about the cost of fixing historic safety defects in their buildings that they did not cause.

The draft Bill proposes a new building safety charge, which will give leaseholders greater transparency around costs incurred in maintaining a safe building. We want these to be fair and proportionate, which is why I have deliberately included numerous powers in the Bill that will enable us to limit the building safety costs that can be re-charged to leaseholders.

This is a topic that we are particularly committed to developing further throughout the process of scrutiny and as the Bill is finalised for introduction. I have asked Michael Wade, senior adviser to the Cabinet Office, to accelerate this work with leaseholders and the financial sector. We must remove barriers to fixing historic defects and identify financing solutions that protect leaseholders from unaffordable costs; but we must also ensure that the bill does not fall on tax payers. We will update on any further measures required before the final Bill is introduced to Parliament.

Establishing the building safety regulator

As I announced in January, the HSE is establishing the regulator in shadow form, and I am today announcing that I have set aside £16.4 million in this financial year for HSE to recruit the people and develop the capabilities that will enable the regulator to hit the ground running once its powers come into effect.

HSE has a strong track record of improving safety and fostering a safety-first culture within the construction and major hazards industries, and will draw on years of experience to deliver results quickly and effectively. As shadow regulator, HSE is playing an increasingly important role in the Government’s building safety programme: it is supporting work on how to identify higher-risk buildings; supporting work by the National Fire Chiefs Council to assess the fire risk in every high-rise residential building by end 2021; and supporting work with early adopters in the construction industry, social landlords and local government to trial the new regime, and to promote culture change across the industry. I am today announcing that HSE will also take over as chair of the Joint Regulators’ Group, which advises the Government on ways to strengthen the regulatory regime; and will take over the Independent Expert Advisory Panel, which advises the Government on fire safety in high-rise residential buildings.

Over coming months, the shadow regulator will engage with and advise residents, building owners, the construction industry and other regulators on how the new system will operate, what it will mean for them, and what they should do now to make their buildings safe and prepare for the new regime. In the autumn, we will kick off work to appoint the first national chief inspector of buildings, who will lead the new regulator.

We, and the public, expect industry to manage building safety risks now and prepare to fulfil their duties when this new regime comes into effect. The public expects and demands industry to implement these reforms with conviction and speed. The new Building Safety Regulator stands ready to work hand in hand with industry to bring about a culture change that prioritises residents and their safety.

Fire safety reforms

The Home Office is also today publishing a fire safety consultation, which sets out proposals to strengthen the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005—the fire safety order—and improve compliance for all regulated buildings; implement the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase 1 report recommendations for multi-occupied residential buildings which require a change in law; and, seeks views on the effectiveness of the arrangements for consultation and information sharing between building control bodies and fire and rescue authorities in relation to building work. This is alongside a commitment to overhaul the fire safety order’s supporting guidance.

Proposals for multi-occupied residential buildings, mostly high-rise buildings, include prescribing in law the frequency of checks of fire doors; that responsible persons (RPs) carry out inspections of other key fire-fighting equipment, not just lifts designed to be used by firefighters; and that RPs provide information to residents including in relation to fire safety—including evacuation and other specific information—in an accessible format.

Our proposals go beyond the Grenfell Tower Inquiry’s recommendations in several areas. In others, our proposals prioritise residents’ safety in a way that is practical, proportionate and effective to the risks the inquiry has identified. The Government want to listen to the views of those who have experience of these matters, including those who have been personally affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The proposals set out in the Home Office consultation will further deliver the Government’s objective to improve building and fire safety in all regulated premises where people live, stay or work.

Construction products

The Bill also enables us to progress our commitment to radically strengthen oversight of the regulatory regime for construction products. The Bill will make sure a wider range of construction products are subject to strengthened safety regulations. It will also strengthen the powers available to the Government, paving the way to create a new national regulatory function that will have oversight of the construction products regulation. The Government are developing options for how this new national regulatory function could be implemented.

Other housing measures

The draft Bill also contains measures to protect the rights of all new build home buyers by requiring developers to belong to the New Homes Ombudsman. It also includes new measures that will make access to redress swifter and more effective for all social housing residents.

Pre-legislative scrutiny

These are extensive reforms that it is incumbent on us all to get right. The Building Safety Bill is a large and complex piece of legislation, reflecting the scale of the reforms needed. In this spirit, I am publishing the Bill in draft form to ensure it receives the due and proper consideration it deserves through pre-legislative scrutiny from Parliament, from industry, from regulatory bodies, and from residents. I want to thank those that have helped shape the legislation so far, including those who contributed to the “Building a Safer Future” consultation and who have engaged in various forums with my Department. I now encourage colleagues from across both Houses to engage wholeheartedly in strengthening these proposals so that together we can further improve the legislation and deliver greater safety for residents.

I will deposit copies of the draft Building Safety Bill, delegated powers memorandum and impact assessment in the Libraries of both Houses. A copy of the full fire safety consultation and its impact assessment will also be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

[HCWS391]

Transport

Crossrail: Annual Update

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Over the past year, several milestones have been reached on the Crossrail project and work continues despite the new challenges presented by covid-19.

When complete, the Elizabeth line will be transformative, reducing overcrowding, delivering spacious new trains, adding significant additional rail capacity to London and the south-east, and delivering a huge boost to the recovering UK economy. Its benefits will be vast and long lasting.

Important progress is being made on taking the Crossrail project towards completion and for its transition to Transport for London (TfL), the future Elizabeth line operator.

In December last year, TfL Rail commenced operating services between Paddington and Reading using the new UK built class 345 trains, marking another important stage in the delivery of the Elizabeth line. This year, the higher capacity nine carriage trains are being introduced along this part of the route.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has approved the new trains to run in passenger service between Paddington and Heathrow airport, paving the way for a future increase in services to four trains per hour, adding important extra service capacity to the local rail network. Final testing and driver training is taking place with Bombardier and MTR Elizabeth Line ahead of the services being introduced.

Over the past year, Crossrail Limited (CRL) has made further progress on the final completion of the new central section. Signalling and train software testing has progressed and a number of assets including completed shafts and portals together with the new custom house station have now been handed over to TfL. All the stations in the central section are now ready for the trial running of services, with the exception of Bond Street, which requires further work.

Network Rail (NR) works on the eastern and western sections of the route have continued to progress over the past year with the delivery of the enhanced ticket halls and access improvements on the surface section progressing at Ilford and Romford; Acton main line, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing, Southall, Hayes and Harlington and West Drayton, with step-free access being prioritised where possible.

In March this year, future Elizabeth line stations Hanwell, Iver, Langley, and Taplow were also provided with step-free access from street to platform.

Together, these milestones represent key steps forward in the operational development of the railway.

But there have been challenges as well.

In January, CRL announced that it planned to open the central section of the railway in summer 2021 and the full Elizabeth line by mid-2022, citing challenges with completing the software development and the safety assurance processes preventing it from meeting its previously planned opening window. Progress was further affected by the safe stop announced on March 24, when CRL ceased all physical work at its construction sites, including Network Rail’s station upgrade works, as a result of the covid-19 crisis and in line with TfL’s decision to pause work on project sites, though essential, business critical and remote assurance work continued.

In November last year and before the impact of covid-19, CRL announced that it would not be able to deliver the railway within the funding package originally announced by the Department and the Mayor of London in December 2018, and that it would require between £400 to £650 million in additional funding.

The further schedule delays and cost increases to this project since the last annual update are very disappointing. A revised funding package will now need to be developed for Crossrail that is fair to UK taxpayers, with London as the primary beneficiary bearing the cost.

Works have now restarted as part of Crossrail’s recovery plan with sites operating within the framework of Public Health England’s safety guidelines, with CRL intensely focused on achieving the next key programme milestone—commencement of the intensive testing of the railway, known as trial running.

CRL is currently in the process of updating its cost and schedule forecasts in the light of its recovery plan, including assessing the impact on its opening schedule, and will make a further update on this shortly.

A further update to the overall costings for Network Rail’s programme show that the Crossrail on network works require an extra £140 million of funding with the cost of the surface works package now standing at just under £3 billion. The additional costs, which were assessed before the covid-19 crisis, are the result of some station and power upgrade work taking longer than planned.

The Department will continue to work with its joint sponsor, TfL, to closely scrutinise the project, supporting its delivery as soon as is safely possible and to deliver the vital assurance and safety certification that is required before passenger services can commence.

The Department will also work with TfL to oversee the effective review and evolution of Crossrail’s future governance arrangements to make sure the right decisions are taken as the project moves towards completion, and that it successfully transitions to TfL operations as soon as possible. CRL together with both sponsors remain committed to ongoing transparency with regard to the project.

During the passage of the Crossrail Bill through Parliament, a commitment was given that an annual statement would be published until the completion of the construction of Crossrail, setting out information about the project’s funding and finances. Further details on CRL’s funding and finances in the period to 29 May 2020 are set out in the table below. The relevant information is as follows:

Total funding amounts provided to Crossrail Limited by the Department for Transport and TfL in relation to the construction of Crossrail to the end of the 354 period 22 July 2008 to 29 May 2020—excluding recoverable VAT on land and property purchases.

£14,164,813,354

Expenditure incurred—including committed land and property spend not yet paid out—by Crossrail Limited in relation to the construction of Crossrail in the period 30 May 2019 to 29 May 2020—excluding recoverable VAT on land and property purchases.

£1,014,218,000

Total expenditure incurred—including committed land and property spend not yet paid out—by Crossrail Limited in relation to the construction of Crossrail to the end of the period 22 July 2008 to 29 May 2020—excluding recoverable VAT on land and property purchases.

£14,972,678,000

The amounts realised by the disposal of any land or property for the purposes of the construction of Crossrail by the Secretary of State, TfL or Crossrail Limited in the period covered by the statement.

£16,000,000

The numbers above are drawn from CRL’s books of account and have been prepared on a consistent basis with the update provided last year. The figure for expenditure incurred includes moneys already paid out in the relevant period, including committed land and property expenditure where this has not yet been paid. It does not include future expenditure on contracts that have been awarded.

[HCWS389]

Transport for London: Extraordinary Funding and Financing

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I wrote to the House on 18 May 2020, to share details of the extraordinary funding and financing agreement reached with Transport for London (TfL). That package of support, which was agreed between the Government, the Mayor and TfL, included a number of conditions, and I am today writing to update Parliament on two of those.

To help avoid such drastic action in the future, work has been under way on the Government-led review of TfL’s future financial position and structure, and we have now published the terms of reference for that review.

I am pleased to also announce the appointment of the two Government special representatives to attend the TfL board: Andrew Gilligan and Clare Moriarty. They will also be able to attend TfL’s finance and programme investment committees. These positions required a specific skillset and have therefore been made through direct ministerial appointment.

Clare Moriarty is a former civil servant and has been permanent secretary for the Department for Exiting the European Union and for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and she was previously director general, Rail Executive and director general for corporate services in the Department for Transport.

Andrew Gilligan advises the Prime Minister on transport matters and worked closely with TfL for three years, acquiring detailed knowledge of its operations, as former cycling commissioner for London.

[HCWS398]

A303 Sparkford to Ilchester Application: Update

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I have been asked by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Transport (Grant Shapps), to make this written ministerial statement. This statement concerns the application made under the Planning Act 2008 for the proposed construction by Highways England of a continuous dual carriageway on the A303 linking the Podimore Roundabout and the Sparkford Bypass.

Under section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make his decision within three months of receipt of the Examining Authority’s report unless exercising the power under section 107(3) to extend the deadline and make a statement to the House of Parliament announcing the new deadline. The Secretary of State received the Examining Authority’s report on the A303 Sparkford to Ilchester Development Consent Order application on 12 September 2019 and the deadline for a decision was previously extended from 12 December 2019 until 17 July 2020 to allow for further work to be carried out.

The deadline for the decision is to be further extended to 20 November 2020, an extension of four months, to enable further information to be provided by the applicant and interested parties on outstanding concerns raised by the Examining Authority and consideration of that provided information before determination of the application by the Secretary of State.

The decision to set a new deadline is without prejudice to the decision on whether to give development consent.

[HCWS399]