Tuesday 9 November 2021
Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Common Frameworks: Quarterly Report
I am today laying before Parliament a report, “The European Union (Withdrawal) Act and Common Frameworks: 26 March to 25 June 2021”. I am laying this report because it is a legal requirement under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 for quarterly reports to be made to Parliament on the progress of the work to develop common frameworks. The report is available on www.gov.uk and details the progress made between the UK Government and devolved Administrations regarding the development of common frameworks. This report details progress made during the twelfth three-month reporting period, and sets out that no “freezing” regulations have been brought forward under section 12 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act. A copy of the “The European Union (Withdrawal) Act and Common Frameworks: 26 March to 25 June 2021” report has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The publication of the report reflects the Government’s continued commitment to transparency.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
NATO Parliamentary Assembly
The right hon. the Lord Lancaster of Kimbolton has replaced the right hon. the Lord Jopling DL as a Member of the United Kingdom delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Central Bank Digital Currency
The UK, like many countries, is actively exploring the potential role of a retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) as a complement to cash and bank deposits. A retail CBDC would be a new form of digital money, denominated in sterling and issued by the Bank of England, for use by people and businesses for their everyday payments needs. Exploring the opportunities that a CBDC could offer is aligned with the Government’s wider agenda to remain at the forefront of innovation and technology in financial services.
Earlier this year, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a taskforce jointly chaired by HM Treasury and the Bank of England to lead the UK’s exploration of a UK CBDC, along with forums to engage a broad range of stakeholders from across our economy and society, including consumer groups, think-tanks, businesses, academics, financial institutions and technology experts. The taskforce will ensure the UK authorities adopt a strategic and co-ordinated approach as they explore a CBDC, in line with their statutory objectives.
No decision has been taken by the Government and Bank of England as to whether to issue a UK CBDC, which would be a major national infrastructure project. A decision will be based on a rigorous assessment of the overall case for a UK CBDC and will be informed by extensive stakeholder engagement and consultation.
Exploring and delivering a UK CBDC, if there were a decision to proceed, would require carefully sequenced phases of work, which will span several years. I am today setting out the next steps for the exploration of a UK CBDC.
The UK authorities are currently engaged in a process of research and exploration to examine the opportunities and implications of CBDC. As part of those explorations, HM Treasury and the Bank of England will publish a consultation in 2022 setting out their assessment of the case for a UK CBDC, including the merits of further work to develop an operational and technology model for a UK CBDC.
If there is a decision to proceed following the consultation, a development phase would include the publication, by the Bank of England, of a technical specification to explain the proposed conceptual architecture for a UK CBDC. This development phase could involve in-depth testing of the optimal design for, and feasibility of, a UK CBDC.
Following this, a decision would be taken on whether to move into a subsequent build and testing phase. Given the scale and national importance of such a project, this phase would likely take several years and could involve the development of large-scale prototypes and live pilots.
Were the results of each of these phases to conclude that the case for CBDC were made, and that it were operationally and technologically robust, then the earliest date for launch of a UK CBDC would be in the second half of the decade.
The Government are also committed to continuing to work closely with international partners on the cross-border implications of a potential CBDC. The UK, through its G7 presidency, has been leading the global conversation on the opportunities and implications of CBDC. G7 central banks and finance ministries have developed a set of public policy principles for CBDC, and a full report capturing these principles was published in October. These international principles for CBDC represent a step change in the global conversation and are intended to support and inform exploration of CBDCs in the G7 and beyond.
Financial Services: Future Regulatory Framework Review
The Government have today laid before Parliament the second consultation on the future regulatory framework (FRF) review, “Financial Services Future Regulatory Framework Review: Proposals for Reform” (CP 548). The FRF review provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that, having left the EU, the UK establishes a coherent, agile, and internationally respected approach to financial services regulation that is right for the UK.
In his speech at Mansion House on 1 July 2021, the Chancellor set out the Government’s vision for an open, green and technologically advanced financial services sector that is globally competitive and acts in the interests of communities and citizens across the UK. Delivering the outcomes of the FRF review is a key part of achieving this vision.
An initial consultation was published in October 2020. HM Treasury received over 120 responses and has carried out significant further engagement with the sector. The consultation document laid today sets out the Government’s response to the feedback received, and the proposals to deliver the intended outcomes of the FRF review.
The consultation sets out a number of proposals to build on the strengths of the UK’s existing domestic framework of financial services regulation, including by:
Ensuring that, as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) take on greater responsibility, their objectives continue to be appropriate. To reflect the importance of the sector as an engine for growth across the wider economy and the UK’s position as a global financial centre, the Government intend to introduce a new secondary growth and international competitiveness objective for both the PRA and the FCA.
Moving to a system where the financial services regulators take responsibility for setting many of the direct regulatory requirements which were previously set by the EU, establishing a comprehensive FSMA model of financial services regulation for the UK. This will be achieved by repealing the majority of retained EU financial services legislation, with the regulators given powers to replace the current requirements with their own rules. This will ensure a more agile regulatory framework for the future while supporting the UK’s commitment to high standards of regulation.
Ensuring that there continues to be appropriate democratic input into, and public oversight of, the regulators’ activities. This means strengthening the mechanisms through which Parliament holds the regulators to account and which underpin the regulators’ relationship with HM Treasury, in addition to proposals to improve stakeholder engagement in the regulatory policymaking process.
This publication is available on www.gov.uk and will be open for responses until 9 February 2022.
“Future Regulatory Framework Review: Proposals for Reform”: www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-regulatory-framework-frf-review-proposals-for-reform.
Post-16 Education: Capital Funding
Today I am announcing details of the Government’s capital investment of £83 million in 2021-22 to help eligible post-16 education providers accommodate the expected demographic increase in 16 to 19-year-olds.
Thirty-nine post-16 education providers have been awarded a share of the multi-million capital funding for projects that will enable them to add extra capacity where there is a pressing need to ensure there are enough places in their local area to absorb an increase in 16-19 learners. This investment will lead to providers being able to accommodate an extra 14,000 learners. We launched a bidding round for the funding on 18 May 2021. These post-16 education providers will be able to develop new high-quality flexible buildings and facilities, to ensure there will be sufficient places for 16-19 learners in their areas to gain the skills they need to progress and help the economy to grow.
The 39 education providers which will benefit from post-16 capacity funding are:
Post-16 Education Provider Local Authority Aston University Engineering Academy Birmingham Barton Peveril Sixth Form College Hampshire Bedford College Bedford Bilborough Sixth Form College (Better Futures MAT) Nottingham Brokenhurst College Hampshire Christ the King Sixth Form Lewisham Cirencester College Gloucestershire City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College (Potteries Educational Trust) Stoke-on-Trent City of Wolverhampton College Wolverhampton Dixons Sixth Form Academy (Dixons Academies Trust) Bradford Durham Sixth Form Centre County Durham East Kent College Group Kent Hereford Sixth Form College (Heart of Mercia Academy Trust) Herefordshire Hills Road Sixth Form College Cambridgeshire Huddersfield New College Kirklees Inspire Education Group Peterborough Itchen Sixth Form College Southampton Joseph Chamberlain 6th Form College Birmingham Kirklees College Kirklees Long Road Sixth Form College Cambridgeshire Luminate Education Group Leeds Luton Sixth Form College Luton Milton Keynes College Milton Keynes New College Pontefract (New Wakefield Collaborative Learning Trust) Wakefield Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College Leeds Peter Symonds College Hampshire Portsmouth College Portsmouth Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College Darlington Ron Dearing University Technical College Kingston upon Hull Runshaw College Lancashire Sandwell College Sandwell St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College Wandsworth St Vincent College (Lighthouse Learning Trust) Hampshire Suffolk New College Suffolk TEC Partnership North Yorkshire The Henley College Oxfordshire Woking College Surrey Wyke Sixth Form College Kingston upon Hull
Post-16 Education Provider
Aston University Engineering Academy
Barton Peveril Sixth Form College
Bilborough Sixth Form College (Better Futures MAT)
Christ the King Sixth Form
City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College (Potteries Educational Trust)
City of Wolverhampton College
Dixons Sixth Form Academy (Dixons Academies Trust)
Durham Sixth Form Centre
East Kent College Group
Hereford Sixth Form College (Heart of Mercia Academy Trust)
Hills Road Sixth Form College
Huddersfield New College
Inspire Education Group
Itchen Sixth Form College
Joseph Chamberlain 6th Form College
Long Road Sixth Form College
Luminate Education Group
Luton Sixth Form College
Milton Keynes College
New College Pontefract (New Wakefield Collaborative Learning Trust)
Notre Dame Catholic Sixth Form College
Peter Symonds College
Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College
Ron Dearing University Technical College
Kingston upon Hull
St Francis Xavier Sixth Form College
St Vincent College (Lighthouse Learning Trust)
Suffolk New College
The Henley College
Wyke Sixth Form College
Kingston upon Hull
This investment should be seen in the wider context of our reforms to further education. The White Paper “Skills for Jobs Lifelong Learning for Opportunity and Growth” sets out our vision of enabling everyone to get the high-quality skills employers need in a way that suits them. The reforms set out plans to transform technical education, boost UK productivity, build back better from the coronavirus pandemic, and create a more prosperous country for all.
 Eligible education providers that could apply to this fund were: FE colleges, designated institutions, Sixth Form Colleges, 16-19 academies, including free schools, UTCs, Studio schools and Maths schools.
Health and Social Care
Correction to Written Parliamentary Questions
I would like to inform the House that a written answer I gave on 24 September 2020, No. 90063, and subsequent to that, answers 97759, 117196 and 117198, to the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) and the hon. Member for Scunthorpe (Holly Mumby-Croft), were incomplete.
In 2018 the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published guidance on Hearing loss in adults which advises against ear wax syringing due to its associated risks. However, I recognise that by incorrectly implying that ear wax syringing is solely an enhanced service this could have been interpreted to mean that necessary and clinically appropriate ear wax removal should not be free at the point of use on the NHS.
GP practices are increasingly recommending self-care methods as the primary means to support the safe removal of ear wax and to prevent its build up. If, however, a GP practice considers removal clinically necessary, ear irrigation or micro-suction—as clinically appropriate—should either be undertaken at the practice—if they have the expertise and equipment— or the patient should be referred to an appropriate local NHS service.
Local commissioners are responsible for arranging for the provision of medical services to the extent they consider necessary to meet the reasonable needs of the people for whom they are responsible. Therefore commissioners should ensure that there is appropriate access to ear wax removal services, where these are necessary and clinically appropriate for a patient, which are free at the point of use.
International Travel Update
This statement provides an update on international travel.
From 4 am on Monday 22 November, the Government will recognise vaccines on the World Health Organisation’s emergency use listing (WHO EUL) at our border.
In practice, this means that Sinovac, Sinopharm Beijing and Covaxin will be added to our list of approved vaccines for inbound travel, benefiting more fully vaccinated people from countries around the world. The WHO emergency use listing process includes a review of quality, safety and efficacy data performed by WHO experts, and many countries including the United States, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Iceland are already recognising the WHO EUL vaccines. These vaccines are in addition to the existing vaccines we recognise at the border, namely, Oxford/AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer BioNTech and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson).
As such, from 4 am on 22 November, travellers who have proof of vaccination with a full course of these approved vaccines will be treated the same as those fully vaccinated in the UK, and so will not have to self-isolate on arrival or take a pre-departure test, and need to take only a lateral flow device (LFD) test post-arrival (with confirmatory PCR if positive). This will benefit passengers with proof of vaccination from the over 135 countries and territories in scope of the policy.
Further, all under-18s coming to England from non-red list countries will be treated as fully vaccinated at the border and will be exempt from self-isolation requirements on arrival, day eight testing and pre-departure testing.
While public health is a devolved matter, the Government work closely with the devolved Administrations on any changes to international travel and aim to ensure a whole-UK approach.
The Government continue to keep our measures under review and will not hesitate to act if we perceive a risk to public health.