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Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Culture, Media and Sport

Government Olympic Executive (Quarterly Report)

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Hugh Robertson): I am publishing today the Government Olympic Executive’s final quarterly report—“London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games Quarterly Report October 2012”. Following the successful conclusion of the games, this report explains the latest budget position as at 30 September 2012, and outlines the investments which are being made from the public sector funding package for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. The overall cost of the games is forecast at £8.921 billion, a saving of £377 million on the £9.298 billion budget. Including contingency held for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) and the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) risks there remains a total of £480 million of uncommitted contingency within the £9.3 billion public sector funding package (PSFP).

The anticipated final cost of the ODA’s construction and infrastructure programme is £6,714 million, a £47 million reduction since the previous report in June this year. With additional savings in the period to 30 September 2012, the amount saved by the ODA against the original budget has now reached £1,032 million.

The published figures include additional funding made available to LOCOG in the run up to the games, while the costs of policing and wider security, and venue security, have reduced in the period.

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games are viewed as a success by athletes, spectators, dignitaries and the media. Team GB and ParalympicsGB finished third in both the Olympic and Paralympic medal tables with 185 medals won across both games, 63 of which were gold.

The handover of the Olympic park from LOCOG to the London Legacy Development Corporation, the mayoral body responsible for delivering the transformation works, is under way and on track.

Any underspend in the PSFP will be retained by HM Treasury, though any moneys remaining at the conclusion of the programme in the Olympic Lottery Distribution Fund will be transferred to the National Lottery Distribution Fund to benefit lottery good causes.

I would like to commend this report to the Members of both Houses and thank them for their interest in and support for the London 2012 games over the past few years. This is the final report on the games, but further public updates will be made as required until the completion of the programme in 2014.

Copies of the quarterly report October 2012 are available online at: www.culture.gov.uk and will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Balance of Competences Review (Progress Report)

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): I wish to inform the House that, further to my oral statement at the launch of the balance of competences review on 12 July 2012, Official Report, column 468, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is today publishing the timetable for the review including departmental responsibility for the reports into each individual area of competence.

The review will complete its work during 2014 and will look at the scope of the EU’s competences (the power to act in particular areas conferred on it by the EU Treaties) as they affect the UK, how they are used, and what that means for Britain and our national interests.

The review will be divided into four semesters, each containing six to 10 reports. This will allow reports on related topics to be grouped together. The reports from each semester will be published at the end of that semester. If necessary, changes to this timetable will be made in order to take account of any events which could impact upon the timing of a report. The semesters are:

Semester one:

autumn 2012—summer 2013

Semester two:

spring 2013—winter 2013

Semester three:

autumn 2013—summer 2014

Semester four:

spring 2014—autumn 2014

The first semester reviews will be:

an overview on the single market;

taxation;

animal health and welfare and food safety;

health;

development; and

foreign policy.

The single market encompasses such a broad area of competence that it is being split, with further reports on the four freedoms—goods, persons, services and capital—in semesters two and three.

Departments will take a rigorous approach to the collection and analysis of evidence. The Government Department leading each review will, at the appropriate time, publish a call for evidence which will set out the scope of their report and include a series of broad questions on which they would like contributors to focus. The calls for evidence for first semester reports will be published shortly and will be available through the FCO website and through the website of the Department leading each review. The reports into the first six competences will be published in the summer of 2013, along with the evidence received, subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act.

Government Departments will consult widely, including Parliament and its committees, business, the devolved Administrations, and civil society in order to obtain evidence to contribute to their analysis of the issues. Our EU partners and the EU institutions will also be invited to contribute evidence to the review.

The result will be a comprehensive, thorough and detailed analysis of where competence lies and what it means for the United Kingdom. It will aid our understanding of the nature of our EU membership;

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and it will provide a constructive and serious contribution to the wider European debate about modernising, reforming and improving the EU. The review will not produce specific policy recommendations.

I am placing the timetable in the Library of the House. It will also be published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/global-issues/european-union/balance-of-competences-review

Report TitleDepartmental Lead

Semester 1 (Autumn ’12—Summer ’13)

 

1

Internal Market: Synopsis

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

2

Taxation

HM Treasury

3

Animal Health and Welfare and Food safety

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

4

Health

Department of Health

5

Development

Department for International Development

6

Foreign Policy

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Semester 2 (Spring ’13—Autumn ’13)

7

Internal Market: Freedom of movement of goods

HM Revenue and Customs

8

Internal Market: Free movement of persons

Home Office

9

Asylum and Immigration

Home Office

10

Trade and Investment

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

11

Environment

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

12

Transport

Department for Transport

13

Research and Development

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

14

Tourism, Culture and Sport

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

15

Civil Justice

Ministry of Justice

Semester 3 (Autumn ’13—Spring ’14)

16

Internal Market: Services

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

17

Internal Market: Capital

HM Treasury

18

EU Budget

HM Treasury

19

Cohesion

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

20

Social and Employment

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

21

Agriculture

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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22

Fisheries

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

23

Competition

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

24

Energy

Department of Energy and Climate Change

25

Fundamental Rights

Ministry of Justice

Semester 4 (Spring ’14—Autumn ’14)

26

Economic and Monetary Union

FCM Treasury

27

Health and safety and consumer protection

Health and Safety Executive

28

Police and Criminal Justice

Home Office

29

Education

Department for Education

30

Enlargement

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

31

Administrative co-operation, citizenship, information rights and statistics.

Cabinet Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Justice, UK Statistics Authority

32

Subsidiarity, Proportionality and Article 352

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Note: This order and sequencing may be subject to change as the review progresses.  

British Embassy (Madagascar)

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): I am pleased to announce the reopening of Britain’s embassy in Madagascar after seven years. The ambassador, Mr Timothy Smart, will take up his appointment in Antananarivo this month, and the embassy will be fully functional by March 2013.

This marks Britain’s full diplomatic re-engagement with Madagascar after the decision by the last British Government to close the embassy in 2005. The new embassy replaces the British interests section which was set up in the German embassy in November 2008, which was run by a locally engaged member of staff and reported to Britain’s high commissioner in Mauritius.

Having a fully accredited British ambassador and embassy in Antananarivo will enable us to provide more effective systematic support to British business, a stronger trade and investment relationship with Madagascar, and full consular assistance to British residents and visitors.

The resources of a full embassy will also allow us to work more effectively with the international community to support Madagascar’s return to a fully recognised constitutional Government after free and fair elections, as set out in the Southern African Development Community’s road map.

This decision sends a strong signal of British interest in and engagement with Madagascar and the region. And it is part of the expansion of Britain’s diplomatic network in key regions of the world. By 2015 the British Government will have opened up 11 new British embassies and eight new consulates, and sent over 300 extra staff to over 22 countries in emerging economies.

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As I said in Parliament on 11 May 2011, there will be no strategic shrinkage of Britain’s diplomatic influence overseas and we will work to extend the reach of British diplomacy. Reopening the embassy in Madagascar is part of that commitment.

Home Department

Schengen Evaluation Mechanism

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (James Brokenshire): The Government have decided not to exercise their right, under protocol 19 to the treaty on the functioning of the European Union (the Schengen protocol) and the treaty on European Union, to opt out of the regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of an evaluation mechanism to verify the application of the Schengen acquis.

The Government have taken this decision in accordance with the commitment in the coalition agreement which states that we will approach legislation in the area of security and criminal justice on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting Britain’s civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system.

The Government believe that our national interests are best served by participating in this regulation. Through this mechanism we can ensure that member states implement and continue to apply the correct standards, as required by the Schengen acquis, in order to maintain an area of lowered border controls which is secure for its citizens. Our participation will ensure our existing active role in the scrutiny of those policing and judicial co-operation elements of the Schengen acquis in which we participate.

Specified Proceedings Processes

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): Today I am announcing that we will grant the police new powers to prosecute a wider range of offences under specified proceedings provisions. These include driving without due care and attention, and criminal damage when the damage is valued at £5,000 or less.

I informed Parliament in May that, as part of the wider reform of the criminal justice system, the Attorney-General and I intend to simplify and extend these processes, to reduce unnecessary bureaucracy and ensure swifter justice. The new offences will build on the changes already made to enable police to continue to prosecute these cases when the defendant fails to appear in court or enter a plea by post, or where a driver pleads exceptional hardship to avoid a driving disqualification.

These changes will deliver more professional discretion for the police and allow the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to focus on more complex cases, and offer the chance for better outcomes for victims and savings for the taxpayer. They eliminate the need for the police to hand over cases to the CPS where these are straightforward, uncontested and dealt with in the magistrates court.

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Justice

Economic Crime Committed by Commercial Organisations: Deferred Prosecution Agreement (Government Response)

The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice (Damian Green): I am today publishing the Government response to the “Consultation on a new enforcement tool to deal with economic crime committed by commercial organisations: Deferred Prosecution Agreements(1)”.

Economic crime is far from victimless and has a pernicious and damaging effect on our economy and on that of the wider world. Options for dealing with offending by commercial organisations are currently limited and the number of outcomes each year, through both criminal and civil proceedings, is too low. The Government’s consultation paper set out their proposals for an additional tool for prosecutors to deal effectively with white collar crime committed by organisations, the deferred prosecution agreement (DPA).

Some 86% of responses to our consultation agreed that DPAs can play a vital role in helping to overcome the challenges of bringing organisations that commit wrongdoing to justice. There was widespread support for an approach that ensures that redress is available, with wrongdoing seeing the light of day, victims properly compensated and offending organisations facing stringent sanctions. Respondents also endorsed our proposed operational model and processes.

Primary legislation is required to provide for deferred prosecution agreements and accordingly the Government are today tabling amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill which is currently being considered by the House of Lords.

Copies of the document have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office. The document is also available online, at: www.justice.gov.uk/consultations.

(1)Command Paper 8348, 17 May 2012.


Effective Community Sentences (Consultation Response)

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): I am today publishing the Government’s response to its consultation “Punishment and Reform: Effective Community Sentences”, which began on 27 March and ended on 22 June 2012.

While community sentences can be effective in tackling the causes of reoffending, they do not always inspire public confidence. Some community orders do not contain an element that the public would consider demanding or punitive. The average length of a community order has fallen in recent years, and the percentage of successfully completed orders is also still too low. There is also scope for community sentences to do more to repair the harm that crimes cause to victims and communities.

That is why the Government set out a package of proposals to increase public confidence that community orders provide a proper sanction for criminal behaviour,

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while also reducing reoffending and ensuring a better deal for victims. The consultation received nearly 250 written responses. The response I am publishing today summarises the responses we received and sets out the policies we will now take forward. The Government will be tabling amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill to deliver a number of the reforms.

The reforms include:

Requiring courts to include a punitive element in every community sentence, unless there are exceptional circumstances;

Making use of new technology, subject to appropriate safeguards, to track offenders during their sentence to protect the public and help prevent criminals committing further offences;

Working with the courts, judiciary and probation trusts to explore improvements in operational procedures for dealing with breaches of community orders, so that offenders are aware of the consequences of breach and face swift sanctions if they do so.

Expanding courts’ powers to defer sentencing so that restorative justice can take place pre-sentence between victims and offenders. This will form part of the Government’s wider strategy to develop a coherent vision of how restorative justice should apply across all stages of the justice process: including how we build local capacity within available funding, and how we ensure a consistently high quality of delivery through accreditation and training standards;

Making clear that courts can take into account criminals’ assets as well as their income when setting financial penalties;

Giving the courts access to benefits and tax information from the Department of Work and Pensions and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs when setting and enforcing financial penalties;

Removing the current £5,000 limit on compensation orders in the magistrates’ courts.

Copies of the Government response document will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. Both the Government response and associated documents will also be available online at:

https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/effective-community-services.

Transport

HGV Road User Levy

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): For the benefit of Members of the House, I am today setting out some details of the HGV Road User Levy Bill, debated in the House of Commons on Tuesday 23 October. The Bill itself will be walked in after the debate on the Ways and Means resolution.

The HGV Road User Levy Bill with introduce charges for all HGVs that weigh 12 tonnes and over for using the UK road network.

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The Government realise the importance of haulage services provided by both UK-registered and foreign-registered vehicles to our economy, ensuring that goods are brought in and efficiently moved around the country. The key aim of this Bill is to ensure a fairer arrangement for UK-hauliers to help improve their competitiveness.

The legislation being introduced fulfils a commitment in the coalition agreement and is designed to remove an inequality, whereby UK hauliers pay to use many roads abroad, but foreign-hauliers do not pay to use roads in the UK. The levy is designed to be cost neutral for UK hauliers, through offsetting reductions in vehicle excise duty (VED) payments. Changes to VED will be included in the Finance Bill 2014.

The levy will be time based and will vary according to the vehicle type, weight and number of axles. This seeks to ensure that the charging scale is linked to the amount of damage a HGV causes to a road. The levy will be a maximum of £1,000 per year or £10 per day for the largest vehicles. UK-registered HGVs will pay the levy for either a six-monthly or annual period. Foreign-registered vehicles can pay the levy either daily, weekly, monthly or annually. Rebates will be available under certain circumstances. Revenues will be paid into the consolidated fund.

The Bill makes it an offence to fail to pay the levy and, on summary conviction, a fine of up to level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000) will be payable. The Bill also provides for the offence to be subject to a fixed penalty and it allows the Secretary of State to refuse to issue a vehicle licence if he is not satisfied that the appropriate levy has been paid.

The scheme will be administered by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) or the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland. A private company will be contracted by the Department for Transport to administer the payment scheme for foreign-registered HGVs. The contractor will be required to maintain an electronic database of foreign-registered HGVs for which a levy has been paid. UK enforcement agencies will have access to the database.

The scheme will be enforced by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) in Great Britain and the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) in Northern Ireland. These agencies currently enforce UK and foreign hauliers’ compliance with regulations on vehicle roadworthiness, drivers’ hours and other road safety regulations. The police also have enforcement powers.

The Department for Transport conducted a consultation exercise in early 2012, and the findings of this are also being published today, and will be available on the Department for Transport’s website at the following address:

www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/dft-2012-03