Tuesday 1 March 2022
Prudential Regulation of Credit Institutions and Investment Firms
Following the global financial crisis, the international Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) agreed standards for prudential regulation to improve the resilience of the banking sector. Prudential regulation ensures that banks, building societies, and investment firms control risk and hold sufficient capital to better absorb economic shocks.
The UK has played an active role in negotiating and agreeing these standards— commonly known as the “Basel 3” standards—and has always been committed to their implementation. The Financial Services Act 2021 (the “FS Act”) was introduced to enable the PRA—as experts—to implement these standards.
The FS Act also introduced the framework for the investment firms prudential regime (IFPR), a bespoke prudential regime for investment firms that do not pose a systemic risk to the financial system, to be implemented by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
This instrument is part of a package of instruments which supports the implementation of the IFPR and Basel 3 standards.
The purpose of this instrument is to:
make changes, including consequential amendments, to primary, secondary, and retained EU law following the introduction of the IFPR and implementation of the Basel 3 standards on 1 January 2022.
make transitional provision for certain securitisations following the implementation of the IFPR. These provisions support requirements which aim to align the interests of the sell-side parties in a securitisation (e.g. lenders) and the buy-side parties (e.g. investors), by ensuring the sell-side parties retain some risk in the product.
make amendments to the Banking Act 2009 to ensure that short-term liabilities owed to investment firms with permission to underwrite or deal on own account will continue to be exempt from bail-in.
address legal deficiencies arising from the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.
This instrument will primarily be made under the powers in the Financial Services Act 2021. It also uses powers in the Banking Act 2009 and the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.
As required under the “enhanced scrutiny procedure” set out in schedule 8 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, the draft instrument and explanatory memorandum will be published online for a period of at least 28 days before the instrument is formally laid in Parliament. To read the full draft statutory instrument and explanatory memorandum, please visit:
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Draft Telecoms Security Regulations and Code of Practice: Consultation
The Government want to ensure that the UK has world-class fixed and wireless digital infrastructure as soon as possible, unlocking the huge economic and social benefits these will bring. As we become more dependent on these technologies, their security and resilience becomes vital. That is why the Telecommunications (Security) Act was passed last year to deliver important improvements to the security of public telecoms networks and services within the UK.
The new telecoms security framework established by the Act is designed to ensure public telecoms providers protect vulnerable parts of their networks and services. The overarching security duties inserted into the Communications Act 2003 will be accompanied by specific security measures contained in regulations. A code of practice will provide detailed technical guidance on the actions providers can take to meet their legal obligations.
I am pleased to inform the House that we have today published a consultation on the draft regulations and a code of practice. The Act requires the Government to consult on any codes of practice that are issued or revised. Given the need to ensure appropriate and proportionate secondary legislation for the initial implementation of the new framework, today’s consultation also extends to the regulations. These were developed through engagement with the National Cyber Security Centre, industry and Ofcom. The responses to the consultation will be used to inform the final regulations and security measures contained in the code of practice.
Telecommunications policy is reserved and the Communications Act applies and extends across the UK.
I have placed a copy of the consultation in the Libraries of both Houses.
Health and Social Care
Covid-19: Vaccination as a Condition of Deployment
Covid-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment—revocation consultation response
On 31 January I announced this Government’s intention to revoke the regulations making covid-19 vaccination a condition of deployment in all health and social care settings, subject to consultation and parliamentary procedure.
My statement before the House on 31 January made clear that vaccination as a condition of deployment was the right policy when the original decision was taken, but that it is no longer proportionate in the light of the most recent clinical evidence regarding the current omicron variant of covid-19, which is intrinsically less severe than Delta, and the high rate of vaccination across the population.
On 9 February Government published a consultation document, “Revoking vaccination as a condition of deployment across all health and social care”. The consultation outlined the latest clinical evidence and the proposed way forward, and sought views from all interested parties on whether the regulations should be revoked, as well as what further steps could be taken to increase vaccine uptake.
The consultation received over 90,000 responses from across the health and social care sector, as well as from members of the public. My Department also conducted engagement sessions with sector representatives. I am grateful to all those who have taken the time to respond to the consultation.
My Department’s officials have carefully analysed the consultation responses. The vast majority of the feedback received supported revocation, with 90% of respondents agreeing that the requirement for covid-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment in health and social care settings should be revoked.
I have considered this strong preference for revocation, the relevant equalities assessment, and the scientific evidence. I have concluded that it is right and proportionate to proceed with revocation of covid-19 vaccination as a condition of deployment in all health and social care settings, and have today published the Government’s full response to the consultation on www.gov.uk. I am also laying the regulations to revoke vaccination as a condition of deployment today. These regulations will come into force on 15 March, and will remove the requirements already in place in care homes, as well as those due to come into force in health and wider social care settings on 1 April 2022.
Irrespective of this step, and while we have a number of defences and mitigations in place, such as antivirals and personal protective equipment, vaccination continues to be our most important weapon in the fight against covid-19. I have made it clear that I consider it a professional responsibility for health and care staff, and others who work in the health and social care sectors, to be vaccinated, and I am glad to note that the professional regulators, the Royal Colleges, the chief medical officer, the chief nursing officer, and the chief midwifery officer among others, agree with this. It is encouraging that 92% of the NHS workforce and 95% of care home staff are now vaccinated with two doses, while 89% of home—domiciliary—care staff have so far received at least one dose of the vaccine.
This Government are committed to working with the health and social care sectors to engage with those who are yet to make the positive choice to be vaccinated. In adult social care, the vaccine boosters taskforce has published a paper to support good practice for driving booster vaccination in England. In addition, Government have committed to consulting on updating the code of practice on the prevention and control of infections, which applies to all Care Quality Commission registered providers of all healthcare and social care in England, to strengthen requirements in relation to covid-19, including reflecting the latest advice on infection prevention control.
While we commit to these actions, we also have measures in place to ensure that those most vulnerable to covid-19 remain protected in health and social care settings, as well as across the country. While the shielding programme ended on 15 September 2021, we have made new antibody and antiviral treatments available to people who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill who test positive for covid-19, to help reduce the development of severe covid-19. On 21 February 2022, Government launched their living with covid-19 plan. The plan confirms that both NHS and adult social care will continue to provide access to free PPE to the end of March 2023, or until the IPC guidance on PPE usage for covid-19 is amended or superseded. Revocation of these regulations plays an important and proportionate role within Government’s approach in ensuring that our entire society, including the health and social care sectors, can learn to safely live with covid-19.
The Government’s response to the consultation is published on www.gov.uk.
Parliamentary Question 496: Correction
I would like to inform the House that a written answer given by the previous Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, on 18 May 2021, parliamentary question 496, was incorrect.
In the response to written question 496, we stated that Public Health England had undertaken an assessment of technologies regarding inactivation methods against covid-19, including the use of UV-C and H202 vapour. However, this information was inaccurate. Public Health England did not make any such assessment. Rather, the UK Health and Safety Laboratory assessed the potential merits of hydroxyl free radical air purification technologies in response to the covid-19 outbreak.
Parliamentary Question 77467: Correction
I would like to inform the House that a written answer I gave on 26 November 2021 to parliamentary question 77467, to the hon. Member for East Renfrewshire (Kirsten Oswald) was incomplete.
Adult social care is largely a devolved matter. However, I recognise that in the original answer that stated the devolved nature of adult social care, it was implied that the health and social care levy is devolved, when it is reserved.
As stated by Her Majesty’s Treasury in their PQ reply on 14 December 2021(90439), the Government have made many assessments of the overall impact of the introduction of the health and social care levy, which were published alongside the announcement. These include the distributional analysis of the impact of the combined tax and spending announcements, a technical annex in the Government’s plan for health and social care and a tax information and impact note.
The revenues generated by the levy will support the health and care sectors across the UK, and DHSC will continue to work closely with devolved Governments at both official and ministerial level. The Secretary of State for Health has discussed the levy with Health Ministers from each devolved Government who are keen to ensure that the revenues raised by the levy benefit citizens across the UK.
Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill
Following the announcement made by the Prime Minister in his statement on Thursday 24 February in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Government are today introducing the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill. The introduction of these measures will enable us to counter illicit financial activity from Russia, enforce sanctions and help in the wider fight against grand corruption and serious crime.
The Bill has three key components:
The introduction of a Register of Overseas Entities (ROE) to require anonymous foreign owners of UK property to reveal their real identities to help address risks of money laundering through our property market.
Reforms to the Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) powers, which will enable our law enforcement agencies to take more effective action against corrupt elites and criminals, compelling them to prove the origins of their funds in the UK.
Changes to the current sanctions regime to enhance financial sanctions enforcement.
These new measures will be followed up with a further economic crime Bill which will be introduced in the coming months.
Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse: Residential Schools Report
Today, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (NCSA) published its investigation report on residential schools.
The report relates to the NCSA’s investigations into the extent of any institutional failures to protect children in residential schools.
I pay tribute to the strength and courage of the victims and survivors who have shared their experiences to ensure the inquiry can deliver its vital work.
The Government will review this report and consider how to respond to its content in due course. I would like to thank Professor Jay and her panel for their continued work to uncover the truth, identify what went wrong in the past and to learn the lessons for the future.
This report has been laid before the House today, and it will also be published on www.gov.uk.
United Kingdom-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement
On 28 February 2022, the Government signed the UK-New Zealand free trade agreement. The deal deepens the special bonds of friendship between two like-minded democracies and reflects our commitment to free and fair trade as a powerful force for good.
It is the second free trade agreement negotiated “from scratch” since the UK left the European Union and, alongside the deal signed with Australia, contributes to the UK’s ambitions in the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. New Zealand supports our bid to join the comprehensive and progressive agreement for trans-Pacific partnership—CPTPP—which includes economies with a joint GDP of £8.4 trillion in 2020.
This agreement delivers the benefits of trade to people, businesses and communities based across the United Kingdom, helping level up our country. The UK-New Zealand trade relationship was worth £2.3 billion in 2020. The agreement is expected to significantly increase this—it is expected to increase bilateral trade by almost 60%, boosting the economy by £800 million and increasing wages across the UK in the long run.
It breaks new ground in areas such as gender equality and consumer protection—with a focus on promoting the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises across the agreement. The deal also includes an ambitious environment chapter that sets new precedents and reinforces our commitments to the Paris agreement and our efforts to meet net zero. Finally, it also reflects our countries’ unique relationship, and the importance for New Zealand of protecting and advancing Māori interests.
The UK Government have published an unnumbered Command Paper titled “Informational Copy of the UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement and associated documents, including the Impact Assessment and draft Explanatory Memorandum”. Copies of these have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Local Transport: Covid-19 Recovery
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Government have provided unprecedented financial support to the bus and light rail sectors, in England outside London. Through the emergency covid-19 funding packages, the Government ensured the immediate impacts of the pandemic on bus and light rail networks were mitigated ensuring services kept running to enable access to jobs, education, and healthcare. In the recovery period, the latest packages, the £226.5 million bus recovery grant (BRG) and the £56 million light rail and tram recovery grant (LRTRG), due to end in April 2022, have supported the sector following the re-opening of the economy and the lifting of social distancing guidelines. We have also provided a further £29 million uplift to the BRG, to mitigate the impact of omicron on patronage over winter.
As the sector continues to deal with the ongoing effects of the pandemic and the emergence of new travel patterns, the financial challenges faced by the bus and light rail sector remain. The Department recognises the importance local transport services have to the people and economies of the areas they serve and understands that the removal of funding now would create a cliff edge with the prospect of overnight reductions in services. Such an outcome would undermine our aspirations set out in the national bus strategy and levelling up White Papers to improve transport connectivity.
I can therefore announce that we will provide over £150 million in further financial support to the local transport sector. This will fund bus operators and local authorities responsible for bus and light rail services from April until October and is the final covid-19 support package the Government will provide to the sector. The funding will assist local transport authorities and operators in running services as they develop new, effective, financially sustainable networks that cater for the needs of the local public and their local areas after the pandemic.
This package of funding shows our commitment to the development of effective financial sustainability plans, taking into account user needs. It will maximise public confidence in local transport, while aligning with our key aims from the national bus strategy, to deliver better bus services.
Veterans Commissioner for Wales
The Minister for Defence People and Veterans and I are pleased to inform the House that the Government have appointed Colonel James Phillips as the first ever Veterans Commissioner for Wales.
The commissioner will act as an ambassador for veterans across all areas of Wales and will play a key role in making the United Kingdom the best place in the world to be a veteran. The role will build on the success of counterpart roles in Scotland and Northern Ireland and will mean that all devolved nations have a Veterans’ Commissioner.
Colonel James Phillips has just completed his own transition to civilian life after 33 years in the Army. He has served in Germany, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq. He has commanded soldiers, sailors and air personnel and worked in NATO, MOD, joint and Army headquarters.
Colonel James Phillips will take up the role as soon as possible after 1 April 2022.
The strategic objective of the Veterans’ Commissioner for Wales will be to improve outcomes for veterans, their families and armed forces families across Wales, building on the significant work already undertaken by the UK Government and within the Welsh Government’s devolved responsibilities. They will work with existing networks and Welsh Government governance structures supporting existing work to deliver the UK Government strategy for our veterans. A fundamental element of this role will be to engage with veterans and their families, listen to their needs and aspirations, and identify any need for positive change, encourage and share areas of good practice communicating these to both the UK and Welsh Governments.
The responsibilities of the Veterans Commissioner for Wales will be:
To listen to and understand the issues and barriers affecting veterans and their families, and using the information to influence improvement in services;
To improve outcomes for veterans and their families through collaboration that will build upon and complement the work of the Welsh Government, public bodies and key stakeholders;
Work with the Welsh Government and key stakeholders to recognise areas of need in service provision and identify the means to address those needs;
Improve co-ordination and integration across services where appropriate to facilitate better communication and outcomes;
To build the profile of veterans and promote wider recognition of the skills, experiences and talents of veterans and the valued contributions they make to communities and employers;
To work with public service providers to support the understanding of the UK Government’s new legislation on “no disadvantage”;
and recognise that armed forces and veterans’ families also require support, including during periods of transition