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Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Attorney-General

Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station

The Attorney-General (Mr Dominic Grieve): On 13 July 2011 a written ministerial statement was presented to both Houses setting out the decision by Keir Starmer QC, to ask the Chief Surveillance Commissioner and retired Court of Appeal judge, Sir Christopher Rose, to conduct an independent inquiry following concerns about the non-disclosure of material relating to the activities of an undercover police officer and suggestions that the CPS had suppressed evidence in relation to the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station protest cases.

The Director of Public Prosecutions committed to making public the findings of the independent inquiry and a copy of Sir Christopher Rose’s report has today been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report is also available online at www.cps.gov.uk.

Sir Christopher has concluded that although there were individual failings, there was no deliberate or dishonest withholding of information by the prosecution. More detailed conclusions can be found within the report.

Sir Christopher has recommended that more explicit guidance be included in the prosecution team disclosure manual, a recommendation which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have agreed to adopt. In addition and in light of the report, the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided that specific training should be delivered to all senior lawyers in the CPS casework divisions and complex casework units about the proper handling of cases involving undercover officers. All chief Crown prosecutors and any staff who chair CPS case management panels should undergo the same training.

Sir Christopher worked in tandem with the IPCC in this matter sharing all relevant information. Sir Christopher’s inquiry focused on the CPS’ handling of the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station protests. The IPCC are conducting their own inquiry which will be published in due course.

Treasury

Anti-avoidance Regulations

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): The Government are determined to reduce tax avoidance in order to protect the Exchequer, which provides funding for public services, and maintain fairness for the taxpayer.

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Accordingly, the Government are announcing today that regulations have been laid to clarify the time at which companies with foreign currency loan relationships or derivative contracts and matched foreign currency shares, ships or aircraft come within the provisions of the Loan Relationships and Derivative Contracts (Disregard and Bringing into Account of Profits and Losses) Regulations 2004 (the disregard regulations).

These regulations put beyond doubt that companies can only defer foreign exchange gains and losses under the disregard regulations from the date that they have a foreign currency loan relationship or derivative contract which is matched with shares, ships or aircraft. The regulations will apply to shares, ships or aircraft which are matched on or after 6 December 2011.

The clarification follows disclosure of an avoidance scheme in which companies claim to permanently defer foreign exchange gains on foreign currency loan relationships and derivative contracts by retrospectively designating the loan relationship as a hedge of newly acquired foreign currency share capital. The regulations will prevent future avoidance in this area and protect significant amounts of revenue.

Further details have today been published on HMRC’s website, together with the regulations, technical note and tax information and impact note.

Bank Remuneration Disclosures

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr Mark Hoban): The Government have today launched a consultation on a mandatory requirement for the largest UK banks and foreign banks operating in the UK to publish the details of the level and composition of remuneration of their eight highest-paid senior executive officers. The first disclosures would be made in 2012, in respect of the 2011 financial year.

In February 2011, the Government announced an accord between the UK Government and major UK banks under the name “Project Merlin”. As part of this announcement, the Government committed to consulting on extending the remuneration disclosures of the highest-paid non-board executives made under Project Merlin to major UK banks from 2012 onwards.

Remuneration practices in the financial services sector have incentivised excessive risk-taking in some cases, contributing to the severity of the financial crisis. While a number of UK, international and European initiatives have led to improvements in the alignment of risk and reward in the financial services sector, more detailed remuneration disclosures for the highest-paid senior executives at the largest firms will provide better oversight of incentives. This information will encourage improved shareholder governance and enhance public scrutiny, which, in turn, is expected to facilitate better decision making by boards in relation to senior executive pay.

These proposals have been designed to minimise potential costs and external impacts, including the impact on privacy. A full explanation of the regulatory changes and draft implementing provisions is set out in the consultation document and impact assessment. The consultation will be published on the HM Treasury website, and the consultation period is scheduled to end on 14 February 2012.

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Following consideration of responses to this consultation, the Government will take a decision on whether amendments to the draft legislation are required, before publishing a summary of responses document and laying final regulations before Parliament during summer 2012.

Draft Legislation for Finance Bill 2012 and Tax Policy Update

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): Following Budget 2011, the Government consulted on a number of tax policies. Today the Government are publishing the responses to these consultations alongside draft clauses for legislation to be included in Finance Bill 2012. This fulfils our objective to confirm the majority of intended tax changes at least three months ahead of publication.

The draft clauses will be open to technical consultation until 10 February 2012.

Details of the clauses published today are set out in the overview of draft legislation document, which also includes tax information and impact notes for each measure. All publications will be available on the HMT and HMRC websites.

The Government are making additional changes to tax policy. Legislation will be introduced in the Finance Bill 2012 to:

provide that visiting EU forces and their civilian staff receive the tax treatment to which they are entitled under the EU status of forces agreement. Similar treatment already applies to visiting North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces.

exempt from income tax payments of the continuity of education allowance to service personnel in the armed forces.

ensure that individuals provided with security enhanced cars are not unfairly impacted by the abolition of the £80,000 cap on the cash equivalent of the benefit on company cars.

exempt from UK taxation, money earned by non-resident footballers and team officials in relation to the Champions League final in 2013, which will be held at Wembley.

ensure that existing tax rules dealing with tax adjustments arising on a change in accounting policy continue to apply following the expected changes to UK generally accepted accounting practice in 2012. The legislation will apply to changes in accounting policy where accounts are prepared after 1 January 2012.

introduce a lower rate of 20% of the full rates of climate change levy for supplies of taxable commodities used in the recycling of steel and aluminium, from 1 April 2012.

make consequential amendments to stamp duty land tax reliefs arising from provisions of the Health and Social Care Bill.

make further changes to the capital allowances anti-avoidance rules that apply to transactions involving plant or machinery following the announcement on 12 August 2011 to close down a loophole in the legislation.

take a power to modify the stamp duty land tax disclosure of tax avoidance schemes regime to facilitate both the removal of the grandfathering rules for certain avoidance schemes using the sub-sale rules and the removal of the property valuation thresholds for disclosure.

provide double taxation relief for remote gaming duty, general betting duty and pool betting duty following the announcement on 18 July 2011 of a review of remote gambling taxation.

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amend the bank levy to ensure that the liabilities of joint ventures are correctly aggregated into a foreign banking group or a relevant non banking group’s chargeable equity and liabilities; to ensure that double taxation relief can be restricted where the amount of a foreign bank levy subsequently is reduced; and to amend the powers allowing the rules for the exchange of information with foreign authorities to work as intended. The changes to the rules on joint ventures will have effect for chargeable periods ending on or after 1 January 2012.

The Government will propose amendments in Finance Bill 2013 to two pieces of legislation designed to protect the UK tax base. These are contained in sections 714 to 751 of the Income Tax Act 2007 (transfer of assets abroad) and section 13 of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 (gains on assets held by foreign companies closely controlled by UK participators). A further announcement will be made around Budget 2012 and the Government intend to publish a consultation including draft legislation at that time.

The Government also announce the withdrawal of five extra statutory concessions and a consultation on supplementary legislation for two concessions. The withdrawals will have effect from the beginning of the 2013-14 tax year. Further details are available on the HMRC website.

The Government have also tabled two further written statements today which:

set out legislation for Finance Bill 2012 which has effect from today; and

provide further details on non-domicile taxation and the statutory residence test.


Draft Legislation for Finance Bill 2012: Measures with Immediate Effect

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): This Government are committed to creating a fair tax system and will take the necessary steps to prevent the loss of tax revenues.

The Government are announcing today measures which will protect the Exchequer and maintain fairness in the tax system. The legislation for these measures will have effect from today and will be included in Finance Bill 2012.

The protocol on announcements made outside scheduled fiscal events, published at Budget 2011, sets out the criteria the Government will observe when changing legislation with immediate effect. The Government are acting in accordance with the protocol in announcing the following changes to legislation.

Lloyd s stop-loss insurance

Legislation will be introduced to ensure that all premiums payable by corporate members of Lloyd’s in respect of member-level stop-loss reinsurance shall be deducted for tax purposes in the same period in which the profits to which they relate are recognised. The legislation will apply to all premiums paid in respect of policies taken out on or after 6 December 2011 to remove the benefit of the current mismatch without further delay.

Scope of the supplementary charge

The Government are introducing legislation, taking effect from 6 December 2011, to prevent a potential loss of tax by ensuring that the supplementary charge applies

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to ring-fence chargeable gains and to confirm that the scope of the supplementary charge matches that of ring-fence corporation tax.

Section 171a of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 will be amended to provide that an election cannot be made to transfer a ring fence chargeable gain from a company carrying on a ring fence trade to a company not carrying on a ring fence trade.

Section 330 of the Corporation Tax Act 2010 will be amended to put beyond doubt that supplementary charge is charged by reference to all of the ring fence profits of a company that are chargeable to corporation tax; that is by reference to its chargeable gains in addition to the trading profits arising to the company as a result of its ring fence trade.

Further details have today been published on HMRC’s website, together with the proposed draft legislation and tax information and impact notes.

The Government have also tabled two further written statements today which:

set out legislation for Finance Bill 2012 and updates on tax policy; and

provide further details on non-domicile taxation and the statutory residence test.

Non-Domicile Taxation and Statutory Residence Test

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): At Budget 2011, the Government announced a package of reforms to the taxation of non-domiciled individuals and their intention to introduce a statutory definition of tax residence.

Following consultation, the core reforms to non-domicile taxation will be included in Finance Bill 2012 as announced and draft legislation is published today. This comprises the introduction of a higher £50,000 annual charge, a new relief to encourage business investment and technical simplifications to some aspects of the existing non-domicile rules.


The legislation of Statement of Practice 1/09, which is one of the simplifications to the existing non-domicile rules, will be taken forward in Finance Bill 2013 to take effect from April 2013.

The consultation on tax residence raised a number of detailed issues which will require careful consideration to ensure the legislation achieves its important aim of providing certainty for individuals and businesses. The Government will therefore legislate the statutory residence test in Finance Bill 2013 to take effect from April 2013 rather than April 2012. It will introduce any reforms to ordinary residence at the same time. This will give time to consult thoroughly on the detail of these changes well in advance of implementation.

The Government are committed to the form of the statutory residence test outlined in consultation. They will make a further announcement around Budget 2012 when it will publish their response to the recent consultation together with a further consultation on policy detail and draft legislation.

This will ensure that the full package of measures announced at Budget 2011 will be implemented in a two-step programme that will be completed in Finance Bill 2013. The Government remain committed to making no further substantive changes to these rules for the remainder of this Parliament.

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The Government have also tabled two further written statements today which:

set out legislation for Finance Bill 2012 and updates on tax policy; and

set out legislation for Finance Bill 2012 which has effect from today.

Culture, Media and Sport

Government Olympic Executive Quarterly Report, December 2011

The Minister for Sport and the Olympics (Hugh Robertson): I am publishing today the Government Olympic Executive’s Quarterly Report—“London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Quarterly Report December 2011”. This report explains the latest budget position as at 30 September 2011, and outlines some of the investments which are being made to capitalise on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

The anticipated final cost (AFC) of the Olympic Delivery Authority’s (ODA) construction and infrastructure programme is £6.856 billion. This is a decrease of £394 million since July—including £333 million that the ODA has returned to DCMS for transformation work to be carried out by the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), and savings of £61 million. On a like-for-like basis with previous reports, which included the transformation work in ODA’s programme, the ODA’s AFC stands at £7.189 billion.

The ODA has achieved £42 million of savings in the quarter, taking the total amount of savings achieved since the November 2007 baseline to over £910 million. Construction of the venues and infrastructure for the games is 92% complete with the majority of venues on the Olympic park now complete. Contracts for the sale of the Olympic village to Delancey/Qatari Diar (QDD) joint venture have been exchanged generating a net benefit of £14 million above the previous forecast.

With just over eight months to go until the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games, we are in a strong position and the list of completed venues now includes the velodrome (nominated for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2011), the main stadium, the handball arena, the basketball arena, the aquatics centre and the international broadcast centre (IBC). During the “One Year to Go” celebrations at the end of July, the completed aquatics centre was unveiled to the public and diver Tom Daly marked the occasion by taking the first official dive into the pool.

The consistent and careful management of the London 2012 programme has enabled us to fund additional security requirements, and invest in projects to help drive economic growth and tourism as a result of the games, all while staying within the £9.3 billion public sector funding package (PSFP).

The Home Office and LOCOG have undertaken detailed analysis of the venue security staff that will be needed across the UK across a range of London 2012 venues next summer. Our priority is to deliver a safe and secure games therefore we have allocated an additional £271 million for venue security. This figure includes the recruitment

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and training of 23,700 venue security personnel based on more than 100 competition and non-competition venues across the UK.

We are confident that the core safety and security programme can be delivered within the £475million announced in December 2010’s spending review settlement. In order to test the effectiveness, resilience and decision-making capability of key games-time structures and processes, we have also apportioned a further £2.8 million for games-time command, co-ordination and communication testing.

Historically, the opening and closing ceremonies are some of the most memorable and enduring spectacles from every Olympic and Paralympic games. They represent a unique opportunity to showcase the creative talent of the host nation to a global audience of billions. The four ceremonies will have an equivalent airtime value estimated at between £2 billion and £5 billion. To ensure that the UK capitalises on this opportunity, the Government have made available up to £41 million to LOCOG (£7 million of which is Government-held contingency) to support the delivery of the four Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies.

The Government have also allocated £25 million from the PSFP for domestic and international campaigns to drive economic benefits, including tourism, from the games. The “GREAT” campaign launched by the Prime Minister in the autumn and led by VisitBritain, will promote the UK as a destination for tourism and inward investment in key overseas markets. Run in partnership with UKTI, FCO and British Council we estimate that this campaign will attract an extra 800,000 visitors, generating around £400 million of additional spend per annum, as well as attracting £1 billion worth of additional trade and investment. The 70-day Olympic torch relay is a unique opportunity for each of our regions to showcase their culture and heritage to a national audience. Funding of up to £4 million has been released so that we can use the tour to increase domestic tourism across the UK. Through the domestic tourism campaign, it is estimated that 5.3 million additional short break nights will be generated by 2015, creating around £480 million of additional consumer spending.

I would like to commend this report to the members of both Houses and thank them for their continued interest in and support for the London 2012 games.

Copies of the Quarterly Report December 2011 are available online at: www.culture.gov.uk and will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

EU Ban (Keeping of Hens in Conventional Cages)

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr James Paice): I know many members of the House have been following progress on the implementation of the EU-wide ban on the keeping of hens in conventional cages. I, therefore, want to take this opportunity to update the House and explain how the ban will be enforced by DEFRA and the devolved Administrations.

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Council Directive 1999/74/EC, which lays down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens, bans the keeping of hens in conventional (“battery”) cages from 1 January 2012. This represents one of the most significant welfare advances across the EU and DEFRA, along with the devolved Administrations, has been working hard to see it effectively implemented across the European Union.

The Government acknowledge the sterling job that the UK egg industry has done in preparing for the ban and the very big investment made in converting to other production systems, demonstrating its commitment to animal welfare, which is also a serious consideration for many consumers when purchasing food. The vast majority of UK producers will be compliant by 1 January 2012.

It is a different story across Europe. 13 of the 27 member states have said that they will not be ready. There could be about 50 million hens that will still be in conventional cages across the EU in unacceptable conditions on 1 January 2012.

We want to protect our producers who have invested some £400 million in converting out of conventional cages, equivalent to spending £25 per hen housed. To this end, I have met with the Commission a number of times over the last year in an attempt to find a solution. A reliance on infraction proceedings against non-compliant member states will not be enough to deal with the negative impact that non-compliance would cause and that additional enforcement measures would need to be put in place to prevent market disturbance. In September, the Secretary of State wrote jointly with nine other concerned member states to the European Commission urging them to act quickly. At the October Agriculture Council, the Commission indicated that despite their efforts an intra-Community trade ban was not legally possible.

The Commission then turned to looking for a robust enforcement approach that avoids large numbers of producers having to close down their operations and the destruction of millions of hens and non-compliant eggs, while at the same time protecting all those producers who have complied with the ban and implemented a flagship animal welfare issue. While I never wished to see the 2012 deadline delayed, I was willing to explore the idea of a practical solution which would give some protection to UK and other compliant producers, by ensuring eggs from illegal cages did not leave the country of origin.

There was a meeting at official level on 29 November, where the Commission said that the early stages of pre-infraction procedures had already begun with non-compliant member states. The idea of a gentleman’s agreement will not be progressed, but the Commission has asked for action plans from all non-compliant member states, many of whom supported keeping non-compliant eggs within national borders. The Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office missions will be targeted at the beginning of 2012 at non-compliant member states and all member states have been asked to submit lists of compliant and non-compliant producers.

We have decided that the UK enforcement strategy to deal with non-compliance with the conventional cage ban will be robust.

The Government have thoroughly investigated the possibility of taking unilateral action and bringing in a UK ban on all imports of egg and egg products which

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have been produced in conventional cages in other member states. However, given the very significant legal and financial implications of introducing such a ban, coupled with practical difficulties in enforcing it, it is not a realistic option.

Instead, DEFRA and the devolved Administrations will be adopting the most robust enforcement approach available to us within the legal constraints that exist. Risk-based surveillance to ensure imported shell eggs from other member states have been produced in compliance with the cage ban will be in place from 1 January. The Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) is the body responsible for enforcing the conventional cage ban in Great Britain. Its knowledge of the industry and those importing eggs, coupled with an understanding of a member state’s level of compliance will define the level of surveillance.

AHVLA surveillance on imports of shell eggs will use ultraviolet light analysis to identify batches of caged eggs that are not from an enriched cage environment. This technique has successfully been used to date to identify caged eggs within batches described as being produced in alternative systems, for example, free-range. It has not up until now been used to specifically identify different types of caged egg production, but we have had the technique independently validated and it can be done. This technique will be used as a marker to prompt further action. Once suspected non-compliant shell eggs are identified, AHVLA will contact the Competent Authority in the originating member state and ask for confirmation of the system of production.

If they are found to be from an illegal system, they will be prevented from being marketed as class A eggs and would be sent for processing (i.e. be treated as class B eggs)—if indeed any UK processors would accept them. If the eggs were found to be from a compliant system, the eggs would be released.

We believe this scrutiny will mean importers will make greater efforts to ensure the source and integrity of the eggs they import, given the economic disadvantage that would follow if they were importing illegally produced eggs. We have no wish to hinder legal trade or disadvantage compliant producers wherever they are in Europe and we are quite happy to use member states’ own lists of compliant producers, which AHVLA can check against and which will mean that these consignments are less likely to be held up.

However, the import of processed egg, principally in liquid or powdered form, is less easy to trace as the supply chain is less transparent and more challenging to audit. Because of a loophole in the egg marketing regulations, we cannot prohibit the marketing of any eggs produced in conventional cages from 1 January 2012 which are sent to processing (whether sent as ungraded or class B), nor can we prohibit the use of any products made from such eggs. We will continue to press in Europe to get this loophole closed, but until then we are taking steps to establish as much compliance as is possible with the conventional cage ban for egg products by working closely with the food industry.

An essential part of the UK’s enforcement strategy is to ensure that retailers, egg processors, food manufacturers and the food service industry have stringent traceability tests in place to ensure that they are not using non-compliant eggs from either the UK or from other member states. Once again, our industry has risen to that challenge.

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Retailers, food manufacturers, food service companies and processors have come out publically in support of UK egg producers. The British Retail Consortium has guaranteed that conventional caged eggs will not be bought by the major retailers or used as ingredients in their own brand products. They have put in place stringent traceability tests to ensure that they will not be buying conventional caged eggs. Retailers that have made this guarantee are Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Asda, J Sainsbury, Co-operative Group, Tesco, Waitrose, Iceland Foods, Greggs, Starbucks and McDonald’s. Many food manufacturers and food service companies have also given a similar guarantee for eggs or egg products. They include: Premier Foods plc, Marlow Foods Ltd, United Biscuits, Ferrero UK, Apetito, Allied Mills, Allied Bakeries, Burton’s Biscuit Company, Speedibake, Dairy Crest, The Silver Spoon Company, Westmill Foods, Compass, Baxter Storey, and Sodexo. The following egg processors have also signed up to not sourcing conventional caged eggs from 1 January 2012: Manton’s, Noble Foods, Framptons, Fridays, Oaklands Farm Eggs, Lowrie Foods, and the UK Egg Centre. We are in discussion with others who we hope to be able to add to this list.

The UK is 82% self-sufficient in egg and egg products, with the remaining 18% coming from other member states. Of the 18% of egg and egg products being imported, approximately 50% will be imported as shell egg and 50% imported as egg product (liquid or powder). The fact that we have managed to get the majority of UK processors on board, reduces the likelihood of non-compliant egg products being imported and demonstrates that full traceability is possible and should not be used as a justification by others to say that it is not.

Ultimately, it will be for the Competent Authority in each member state to take responsibility at source for ensuring that their producers no longer keep hens in conventional cages post 1 January 2012. If a retailer purchased eggs from a conventional cage that are marked incorrectly as class A, without exercising appropriate due diligence, they would be committing a marketing offence. The caterer, processor or product manufacturer might also be guilty of aiding and abetting such an offence if they knowingly purchased eggs purporting to be class A which derive from illegal cages.

The Government will also do their bit to protect compliant producers. We will be making necessary changes to the Government Buying Standards mandatory criteria to ensure that eggs produced in conventional cages, are not used in any form whether this is fresh, powdered or liquid.

Given our commitment to support compliant producers, we will also be taking tough action against any UK producers found to have laying hens in conventional cages after 1 January 2012. The AHVLA have visited the vast majority of known cage producers to remind them of the need to comply with the conventional cage ban when it comes into force at the end of the year and at the same time find out producers’ intentions, as to whether they will cease production or convert to alternative systems. Similar action has also been taken by Scottish Government officials and officials in the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland. This has helped to build a picture of where remaining non-compliance may be found and thus where risk based inspections should be targeted in the UK from

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1 January 2012. All producers targeted by the intelligence led risk analysis will be visited at the beginning of next year. If contraventions are found at the time of the visit, they will be dealt with using provisions within the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007, which implements Council Directive 99/74/EC, and the egg marketing regulations. A compliance notice will be issued immediately to ensure that conventional caged eggs do not go into the class A market, preventing the producer from benefiting from the production of illegally produced eggs and prosecution will be considered. Similar action will be taken as appropriate in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We will be monitoring the situation carefully in the new year and will not hesitate to raise matters in Europe if any issues arise. I, together with my ministerial colleagues in the devolved Administrations, intend to continue urging the Commission to learn lessons from this experience with the conventional cage ban to avoid the same kind of problems occurring next year, leading up to the EU ban on the use of sow stalls on 1 January 2013.

Home Department

The Draft Immigration (Biometric Registration) Regulations 2012

The Minister for Immigration (Damian Green): The Government are today laying before the House the draft Immigration (Biometric Registration) Regulations 2012. These will complete the roll-out of biometric immigration documents, known as biometric residence permits (BRPs), to all in-country categories of foreign nationals applying to extend their stay in the UK for over six months from 29 February 2012, including settlement, recognised refugees and protection categories.

This is required for the UK to comply with EU regulations (European Council Regulation (EC) No. 1030/2002 of 13 June 2002 Regulation, amended in April 2008 by Council Regulation (EC) No. 380/2008) that the UK opted in to and which lay down a uniform format for residence permits for third-country nationals. The UK Border Agency has been rolling out biometric immigration documents, known as biometric residence permits, by immigration category since November 2008.

We have made significant progress since the roll-out of biometric residence permits began in September 2008 and will complete the in-country roll-out three months before the EU deadline.

The roll-out to overseas applicants coming to the UK for more than six months and to in-country applications made prior to a biometric registration requirement needs significant infrastructure and system changes. No major technical changes are to be made to systems during the accreditation period of the games which runs from 30 March 2012 to 8 November 2012, to ensure that the integrity and robustness of our systems is maintained during this critical time.

For the overseas roll-out of biometric permits, we will return to Parliament with our plans, including policy proposals, for the final stage of the roll-out which will be after the accreditation period of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. To manage the changes

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required to roll out to any migrant who applied in-country before a requirement to apply for a biometric residence permit, we will continue to issue a sticker (vignette) as evidence of leave until 1 December 2012. Any migrant granted leave of more than six months from this date will be required by these regulations to apply for a biometric residence permit if they have not done so already.

To manage the increased volumes of applicants registering their fingerprints and digital facial image, I am pleased to announce that the UK Border Agency has awarded the contract for delivering third-party enrolment to the Post Office Ltd.

Biometric residence permits simplify the checks that the UK Border Agency, employers and public service providers need to undertake to confirm immigration status and eligibility to entitlements in the UK. Our plans to introduce an automated online employers checking service for biometric residence permits from spring next year will make it even easier for employers to conduct quick and easy real-time checks on the validity of the document.

I can confirm that we are publishing the impact assessment for the changes on the UK Border Agency website and I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the House Library.

Criminal Records Regime Review (Government Response)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Lynne Featherstone): I have today placed in the Library of the House the report by Mrs Sunita Mason, the independent adviser for criminality information management, of phase 2 of her review of the criminal records regime, as well as the Government’s formal response to both phases of that review.

I published Mrs Mason’s phase 1 report on 11 February, alongside the Protection of Freedoms Bill. The Bill includes a number of proposals which reflect recommendations from that first report and which will improve the proportionality and efficiency of the employment vetting systems centring on the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). I am pleased to publish today Mrs Mason’s phase 2 report, which addresses wider criminal records issues such as definition, management and international exchange. I am grateful to Mrs Mason for her contribution to this important agenda, which encompasses two central objectives for the Government—rebalancing civil liberties where necessary and maintaining effective, efficient and affordable public protection arrangements.

The Government accept the large majority of Mrs Mason’s recommendations, either unconditionally or in principle. Full details are in the response document.

The significant improvements to the Criminal Record Bureau’s processes which the Government have brought forward in the Protection of Freedoms Bill will, I believe, substantially reduce the cost and administrative burdens involved in pursuing necessary employment checks. And as such, they are also supportive of other key Government priorities such as the growth agenda and the employment law review. They will also ensure greater protection of applicants’ rights as only relevant and accurate personal

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information will ever be disclosed by the police. For example, we are giving the applicant the opportunity under these revised CRB processes to review and, if appropriate, dispute any information held about them by the police prior to it being disclosed to an employer. We have also included a provision to make the CRB process less burdensome on all concerned by introducing a new, online status checking capability that will in effect mean individuals can reuse their certificates for different employers across the same work force and so will no longer need to apply for a new certificate every time they want to take up a new role. This will have a positive impact on business, making it significantly easier for employers to take on staff in relevant sectors.

We do not accept Mrs Mason’s recommendation to scale back significantly eligibility for criminal records checks. The Protection of Freedoms Bill is already being used to reduce very substantially the scope of “regulated activity” from which people can be barred. Against that background we think it is important to retain the capacity to apply for criminal records checks in relation to a broader set of sensitive roles.


We accept in principle Mrs Mason’s recommendation that there should be a clear time scale for the police to make decisions on whether there is relevant information that should be disclosed on an enhanced criminal record certificate. However, we do not accept that the certificate should be issued at the end of a defined period where information is still being considered by the police, as that could pose significant risks to public protection.

In response to Mrs Mason’s phase 2 recommendations, for now we intend to maintain the current arrangements for holding criminal records on the police national computer, while ensuring the controls on accessing those records are sufficiently strong. At the same time, we will take her steer in terms of providing a clearer definition of what constitutes a criminal record and reviewing precisely which convictions and other disposals should be recorded on national systems. Looking further forward, and following establishment of the long-term arrangements for the management and delivery of the PNC services after the NPIA has been closed, we will consider the need for alternative options for sharing and managing criminal records. Similarly, we will review and update the strategy for international exchange of criminal records.

I am clear that, taken as a package, the implementation of Mrs Mason’s recommendations will make a key contribution to our commitment to scale back the criminal records regime to common-sense levels.

Justice

Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mr Jonathan Djanogly): I am today announcing that I have made an order to bring sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Act 2011 (the Act) into force on 1 February 2012. The Act implements, with modifications, recommendations of the Law Commission.

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The Act amends the law of succession in England and Wales where a person disclaims (that is, rejects) an inheritance or is disqualified from receiving an inheritance by reason of the forfeiture rule. The forfeiture rule is defined in section 1 of the Forfeiture Act 1982 as meaning the rule of public policy which in certain circumstances precludes a person who has unlawfully killed another, or unlawfully aided, abetted, counselled or procured the death of that other, from acquiring a benefit in consequence of the killing.

In both these situations, the Act has the effect that the person who disclaims or whose inheritance is forfeited is treated, for the purpose of deciding who may inherit, as having died immediately before the testator or intestate. This will have the effect on intestacy that persons claiming through the person who is deemed to have died, such as his or her children, will be able to inherit. Where there is a will, the identity of the person entitled to the property instead of the person who is deemed to have died will depend on the terms of the will.

The Act also amends the law so that a child is able to inherit his or her parent’s interest in an intestate estate, where the parent dies neither married nor civil partnered before the age of 18 and the child is alive at the time of the intestate’s death.

Scotland

Parliamentary Written Question (Correction)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell): I regret that the written answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) on 15 November, Official Report, column 665W, contained an error. The answer stated that the TaxPayers Alliance applied for permission to bring judicial review against the Secretary of State for Scotland in respect of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Act 2008 (Games Association Right) Order 2009. This is not correct. The application for permission to bring judicial review was made by Big Brother Watch and not by the TaxPayers Alliance.

The correct answer is as follows:

David Mundell: In the last Parliament there were two applications:

(1) Derek Traynor and James Fisher raised petitions for judicial review against the Secretary of State for Scotland and Scottish Ministers in respect of the Scottish Parliament (Elections etc.) Order 2007. The applications were unsuccessful at first instance in the Court of Session, the petitioners appealed, and the appeals remain pending at their request. The legal costs incurred by the Secretary of State for Scotland to date are £4,555.50.

(2) Big Brother Watch applied for permission to bring judicial review against the Secretary of State for Scotland in respect of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games Act 2008 (Games Association Right) Order 2009. The application was refused. The Scotland Office’s legal costs were £7,080. The Scotland Office applied for costs against the applicant. Costs were awarded in part and they have been paid.

There have been no applications for judicial review against the Scotland Office since May 2010.

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Transport

Railway Stations (Access for All)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker): Improving access to Great Britain’s railway stations is a key priority for this Government. I am therefore pleased to announce today a further £37.5 million of “mid-tier” Access for All funding for projects requiring up to £l million of Government support. This forms part of the wider £370 million Access for All programme launched in 2006 which will deliver an accessible, step-free route at 148 key stations. Rail passengers will benefit from better access through the provision of new lifts, ramps, raised “easier access humps” on platforms as well as new accessible toilets.

Major improvements will take place at stations across the country including at London Paddington, St Austell, Stratford, Stratford-upon-Avon and Ystrad Mynach. Network Rail will also receive funding to add tactile edge paving at 27 stations and £5 million to provide “easy access humps” to reduce the stepping distance between the platform and the train. The full list of successful stations will be made available on the Department for Transport’s website.

All work at the stations will be completed by March 2014.

We are also taking the opportunity to increase the funding allocated to train operating companies. This funding will increase from £5 million a year to £7 million a year for the next three years, beginning in April 2012. It is based on the number of stations that they manage and is used to deliver smaller scale or more locally focused access improvements at stations.

Finally, I have agreed to release £57 million from the existing budget earlier than planned to allow the accelerated delivery of obstacle-free routes at 27 stations.

Business Plan (Update)

The Secretary of State for Transport (Justine Greening): The Department for Transport’s business plan says that, following the consultation on high-speed rail which was held earlier this year, we would complete the analysis of consultation responses and announce our subsequent decisions to Parliament in December.

Since taking up office in October I have been considering the issues, raised as part of the consultation and additionally have listened to the views of hon. Members. In order to ensure that my decision is based on a careful consideration of all relevant factors, I have concluded that I should allow myself until early in 2012 to announce my decisions. I am therefore notifying the House that I will not be making a further statement on the subject of high-speed rail this year, but I expect to announce my decisions in January.

Defending Against Piracy (UK Ships)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): The rise in the number of incidents involving pirates in certain parts of the world has highlighted the need to ensure UK-flagged vessels are able to adequately protect themselves against such threats.

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Evidence shows that ships with armed guards are less likely to be attacked and taken for ransom, and the House will be aware that the Prime Minister confirmed last month that the Government now recognise the use of private armed guards as an option to protect UK registered ships and their crews from acts of piracy. This applies in exceptional circumstances as defined below:

when the ship is transiting the high seas throughout the high-risk area (an area bounded by Suez and the straights of Hormuz to the north, 10°S and 78°E); and

the latest “Best Management Practices” is being followed fully but, on its own, is not deemed by the shipping company and the ship’s master as sufficient to protect against acts of piracy; and

the use of armed guards is assessed to reduce the risk to the lives and well-being of those onboard the ship.

I am therefore today, publishing interim guidance to shipping companies on the use of armed guards onboard UK flagged ships. This guidance covers, among other things, the factors to be included in the risk assessment, advice on selecting a private security company, and a requirement for the shipping company to produce a counter-piracy plan and submit a copy to my Department.

A private security company (PSC) employed to put armed guards on board UK ships will require authorisation from the Home Office for possession of any prohibited firearms as defined in the Firearms Act 1968 (as amended). Checks will be carried out by the Home Office and police into the PSC and its personnel before an authorisation is granted.

The guidance to shipping companies and the Home Office process for authorising the possession of prohibited firearms are both interim and will be reviewed within 12 months so that they reflect continuing national and international work to ensure high standards in the provision of armed guards in the maritime domain.

Roads Classification

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker): I am pleased to announce that, following consultation, the Department will be devolving responsibility for roads classification and aspects of the primary route network from April 2012.

This marks the first major revision of these systems since the first Wilson Government, and represents a major decentralisation of power. It will greatly improve the ability of local authorities to make changes on their roads, and greatly reduce the amount of central Government resource needed to run the system.

Under the new system:

Local authorities will have control over roads classification decisions in their area, determining which roads should be “A” roads, “B” roads, etc.

Local authorities will be able to set the roads used by the primary route network (“A” roads with green signs), while central Government retain oversight of the whole system.

Central Government will continue to look after the strategic road network.

For roads classification and the primary route network, the Department for Transport will reduce its role to handling appeal cases and any disputes which might

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arise between local authorities, leaving local authorities to manage their roads in the manner they judge most effective.

As part of the consultation, we also took the opportunity to examine whether there might be better ways to link the management of the system with sat-nav technology. The Department will be taking this work forward, and will make a further statement in the new year.

Work and Pensions

Remploy (Annual Report)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Maria Miller): The Remploy annual report and financial statements 2011 are published today. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will be available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office later today. Electronic copies will be available on the Remploy website:

http://www.remploy.co.uk/about-us/corporategovernance/annualreports.ashx

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I have written to the chairman of Remploy formally approving the agreed 2011-12 performance and resources agreement between the Department and the company, as follows:

Target Description Target

To live within the company’s financial means in the 2011-12 financial year and achieve:

 

operational funding result of

£97.7 million

modernisation of the business within a cost of

£5.4 million

   

Factory businesses to achieve:

 

an operating result (loss) of

£52.5 million

cost per disabled employee of

£24,000

   

Employment Service business to achieve

 

an operating result of

£28.2 million

total job outcomes of

18,000

—of which total disabled job outcomes

16,500

—of which Work Choice job outcomes

7,500

—of which other Grant-in-Aid funded outcomes

1,000

—of which other disabled job outcomes

8,000