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Written Statements

Wednesday 17 July 2013


Concurrent Jurisdiction

The Attorney-General (Mr Dominic Grieve): The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has today published the final guidelines to prosecutors on decision making in certain cases involving concurrent jurisdiction. The guidelines, which take immediate effect, follow a recommendation in the report of the review of the UK’s extradition arrangements by the right hon. Sir Scott Baker that there should be more transparency about the principles that are applied by prosecutors in this jurisdiction when determining whether criminal proceedings should be brought here or in another jurisdiction.

The guidelines were issued on an interim basis and were the subject of a consultation exercise that ended on 31 January 2013, The interim guidelines were reviewed in light of the comments received and to ensure that they were consistent with the forum bar legislation that was approved by Parliament earlier this year. The guidelines provide guidance for prosecutors in cases where criminal investigations have been commenced in more than one jurisdiction and involve suspected criminal conduct that crosses international boundaries. The CPS recognises that decisions made in accordance with these guidelines will form the basis of consideration for the courts when applying the forum bar.

The director of the Serious Fraud Office has indicated that his prosecutors will also consider themselves bound by this guidance.

Copies of the guidelines will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Business, Innovation and Skills

Traineeships (16 to 24-year-olds)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Skills (Matthew Hancock): As part of plans to reform the education and skills systems we need better support for young people aged 16 to 24 who are focused on securing an apprenticeship or sustainable job.

Traineeships for 16 to 19-year-olds were announced in May 2013 and I made a written ministerial statement at that time. We published a framework for delivery for 16 to 19 traineeships and indicated that the programme would be extended up to age 24 in due course.

Today, I am publishing an updated framework for delivery for traineeships, following the announcement in the recent spending review that traineeships will become available to young people up to age 24. Traineeships will address the needs of young people and employers directly, providing an important link between school or

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college and apprenticeships or sustainable work. This is a key part of my drive to ensure greater rigour and responsiveness in further education, placing the employer and their needs at the heart of delivery.

Government funding for the programme will begin for 16 to 24-year-olds from August this year. Traineeships will be designed to help young people develop both skills and work experience and have flexibility around this core to respond to individuals’ needs.

Copies of the document we are publishing today will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Cabinet Office

Ministerial Pensions

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Mr Francis Maude): The Public Service Pensions Act 2013 abolished separate pension arrangements for future holders of the great offices of state. Future holders of the great offices of state will instead accrue pension in the ministerial pension scheme.

Amendments to allow future holders of the great offices of state to participate in the ministerial pension scheme are therefore required.

These amendments will:

Allow future Lord Chancellors, Prime Ministers and Commons Speakers to remain members of the ministerial pension scheme on appointment.

Allow the current Lord Chancellor to rejoin the ministerial pension scheme for future appointments.

The changes do not affect the current Prime Minister and Speaker.

The amendments do not make any provision in relation to an accrued right which puts—or might put—a person in a worse position than the person would have been in apart from the provision.

The details of the new scheme will be laid in the House today, along with a copy of the response to the consultation from the chairman of the parliamentary contributory pension fund trustees.

Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Miss Chloe Smith): Today the Government are introducing the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill to the House of Commons, with explanatory notes and impact assessments.

This is the first Government to proactively publish meetings that Ministers and permanent secretaries have with external organisations. The Bill will extend this transparency to give the public more confidence in the way third parties interact with the political system, ensuring that these activities are accountable and properly regulated. These parties play an important role in the political process, helping to inform policy making and ensuring views are heard by those in Government.

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This Bill will ensure that we know who lobbyists lobby for; how much money is spent on third-party political campaigning; and to make sure trade unions know who their members are.

Part 1 of the Bill introduces a statutory register of lobbyists which will address the problem that it is not always clear whose interests are being represented by consultant lobbyists. It will enhance transparency by requiring consultant lobbyists to disclose details about their clients on a publicly available register and will complement the existing Government transparency regime whereby Government Ministers and senior officials proactively disclose information about who they meet.

The Government will today respond to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee’s report “Introducing a Statutory Register of Lobbyists”. We are grateful to the Committee for its detailed consideration and scrutiny of the Government’s initial proposals for a register.

Part 2 of the Bill sets out new rules on third parties campaigning in elections, ensuring that spending by third parties is controlled and fully transparent. In particular, it will expand the scope of controlled campaign expenditure. It will also reduce national spending limits for third parties, ensure that, above a certain limit, political parties explicitly authorise third-party spending which supports that political party, and introduce geographical limits on the amount that third parties can spend in individual constituencies.

Part 3 of the Bill will give assurance of trade unions’ compliance with the existing obligation to maintain the register of members by requiring trade unions to produce an annual membership audit certificate. It also gives the certification officer new powers in relation to investigation and enforcement.

A copy of the Bill and explanatory notes can be found on the website:



Alcohol Fraud

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Sajid Javid): I can inform the House that the Government are today publishing the response to the 2012 consultation on legislative measures to tackle alcohol fraud.

Alcohol fraud is a serious problem which HMRC estimates leads to revenue losses of approximately £1.2 billion a year. It also has a detrimental impact on the legitimate businesses attempting to compete in this sector. This is why the Government consulted last year on potential measures to deal with this problem. Measures covered by the consultation included beer fiscal marks, supply chain legislation and a registration scheme for alcohol wholesalers. The consultation also explored alternatives to these options that could assist HMRC’s enforcement strategy.

The responses to the consultation highlighted the potential anti-fraud benefits but also some considerable impacts the proposed measures might have on legitimate alcohol supply chains. After fully examining the case for and against the proposed measures, the Government have decided not to proceed with beer fiscal marks or supply-chain legislation at this time.

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Compelling evidence was provided on beer fiscal marks to show that, although it could be a useful tool to counter trade in illicit products, the costs of affixing stamps to goods could be significant for the UK brewing industry and particularly for legitimate importers and exporters. Therefore, the Government will not be proceeding with the introduction of beer fiscal marks at this time to allow exploration of other, less burdensome options to address alcohol fraud.

Regarding supply-chain legislation, the consultation highlighted issues regarding the practicality and cost of introducing new “track and trace” systems across the brewing industry, as well as concerns regarding the likely effectiveness of the measure. The Government do not therefore intend to legislate for this measure at this time, but wishes to continue to explore available and emerging technologies that could help to secure alcohol supply chains. The Government will also consult shortly on new proposals to strengthen due diligence obligations of excise businesses throughout the supply-chain.

The Government note the positive response across all sectors towards the option to register alcohol wholesalers and can also see that there could be benefits in authorising this part of the supply chain, which is frequently the point at which illicit products are distributed. The Government wish to consult further with relevant sectors informally over the summer of 2013 to refine the design of a registration scheme, and fully understand the costs, benefits and implications if it were introduced. This will also include seeking views on the specific powers and sanctions that would be essential if the scheme is to be effective. The outcome of this further work will inform the Government’s future decision on whether to proceed with wholesaler registration.

The consultation also considered a large number of alternative measures, including many proposed by industry. The Government intend to progress a wider programme of change to policy and enforcement to strengthen the current “Tackling Alcohol Fraud” strategy. Full details of that programme, will be published shortly but will include steps to increase collaboration with industry and between enforcement agencies; measures aimed at tightening controls in the existing excise regulatory system; dealing more robustly with those found holding or moving illicit goods, and increasing co-operation with other EU member states.

A copy of the full response to the consultation will be available online on the GOV.UKsite at:


Commission on Devolution in Wales

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Danny Alexander): The first report of the Commission on Devolution in Wales made 33 recommendations to increase the financial accountability of the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Government.

After careful consideration of the commission’s recommendations, the Government recognise that the Assembly’s financial accountability and autonomy would be enhanced if it was funded through a combination of block grant and self-financing.

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However, the Government wish to consult with business on the potential impacts of devolving stamp duty land tax (SDLT) to the Assembly in advance of making a full response to the commission’s first report.

The commission’s first report included the recommendation that SDLT

“should be devolved to the Welsh Government with Welsh Ministers given control over all aspects of the tax in Wales”.

Further to the commission’s analysis underpinning their report and the Government’s subsequent assessment of its recommendation, the Government would like to seek further views, especially from business, on devolving SDLT. In particular, the aim would be to understand the potential impacts on the construction industry and housing market given the populous border between Wales and England.

Based on the outcome of this short and targeted consultation, the Government will make their response to the commission’s recommendations. The Government will also set out how this can help, including through looking at the Welsh Government having early access to borrowing, to support a funding solution for the M4 improvement scheme in south Wales.

Fiscal Sustainability

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Danny Alexander): Today the independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) published its third fiscal sustainability report (FSR). This document meets its requirement to prepare an analysis of the sustainability of the public finances each financial year, and provides an important insight into the state of the public finances taking into account the significant impact of demographic change. The report was laid before Parliament earlier today and copies are available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

The OBR/FSR projections show that public sector net debt is expected to fall to a trough of 66% of GDP in the early 2030s, before rising to reach 99% of GDP in 2062-63 in the absence of further policy change. The FSR shows that, without additional policy change, an ageing population is projected to increase age-related spending by 4.4% of GDP between 2017-18 and 2062-63, as health, social care and pension expenditure become an ever larger proportion of total public spending and the economy.

The FSR also examines the long-term sustainability of Government revenues. As in previous years, the OBR projects that oil and gas revenues will decline markedly over the coming decades. Updated projections show revenues declining from 0.4% of GDP this year to 0.03% of GDP in 2040-41, with total revenues over the projection period revised down by £11 billion. The OBR consider the impact of alternative scenarios for oil and gas prices and for production and conclude that revenues will fall below 0.1% of GDP in the coming decades, even in these more optimistic scenarios.

The Government are committed both to strengthening our fiscal position now and making it sustainable for the long term. The OBR analysis makes it clear that the Government’s medium-term consolidation plan is essential to restoring long-term sustainability of the public finances. A deterioration in the primary balance in 2017-18 worth

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1% of GDP could increase projected public sector net debt in 2062-63 to around 150% of GDP. The OBR discusses the impact of changes to policy on their long-term projections. They show that excluding policy changes announced since the 2012 FSR, public sector net debt would have been projected to be around 50% of GDP higher by 2062-63. They identify the additional spending reductions announced for 2017-18 as one of the key factors in containing the growth of spending over the long-term, demonstrating the importance of the Government’s programme of fiscal consolidation for the long-term health of the public finances.

The FSR presents long-term projections of state pension expenditure including the Government’s new single tier state pension. The single-tier reforms will restructure current expenditure on the state pension into a simple flat-rate amount, to provide clarity and confidence to better support saving for retirement. This reform will cost no more than the current system.

The single tier reforms will complement the bold measures already taken by this Government to improve the sustainability of UK pension systems. Bringing forward the increase in the state pension age to 66 to 2020 is expected to deliver savings of around £30 billion while bringing forward the increase to 67 to 2028 is expected to deliver savings of around £70 billion. Further, the Government have set out their plans to consider future changes to the state pension age in a more regular and structured manner, ensuring that the state pension age keeps pace with changing demographics and putting state pension expenditure on a more sustainable footing.

Together, single tier and state pension age reform will provide individuals with greater certainty about their retirement income and ensure a more sustainable system which represents a fair outcome across generations. This provides a solid foundation upon which individuals can plan for their retirement.

Reform of the state pension comes alongside the Government’s reforms to public service pensions. The Government have set out a package of reforms to rebalance taxpayer and member contributions in the short term, and to ensure that costs are sustainable and fair in the long term. The new scheme designs, rebalancing of contributions between members and the taxpayer, and switch to uprating by the consumer price index (CPI) are forecast to save £430 billion over the next 50 years.

The OBR’s report also focuses on the pressures of an ageing population on social care spending, and the projections reflect for the first time the impact of the historic reforms to social care funding announced earlier this year. The Government will introduce a cap on lifetime care costs, greater means-tested support for residential care and deferred payments, so that nobody faces unlimited care costs, more people get support with their residential care costs sooner, and nobody is forced to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for residential care. The Government are also taking action to deliver better, more efficient care. For example, the spending round set out radical plans to create a £3.8 billion pooled budget shared across health and care, to deliver more integrated services, which we expect to manage down pressures across both services.

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Deputy Prime Minister

Recall of MPs

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Miss Chloe Smith): The coalition programme for Government included a clear commitment to establish a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and 10% of his or her constituents have signed a petition calling for a by-election.

We set out our proposals and draft legislation in a White Paper which has been scrutinised by the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee and we have today issued our full response to their report.

In our response, we have reiterated our intention to proceed with the introduction of a recall mechanism and to legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows.

We believe this recall mechanism will go some way to restoring trust and accountability to the political process. It will provide an important tool for the House to add to its own suite of disciplinary measures and will give a reassurance to constituents who should not have to rely on their MP choosing to stand down following the committal of a serious wrongdoing.

The recall mechanism we are proposing will have two triggers. Firstly, where a Member receives a custodial sentence of 12 months or less, a recall petition will be automatically opened in that Member’s constituency (under the Representation of the People Act 1981, where a Member receives a custodial sentence of more than 12 months, they are automatically disqualified from membership of the House). If 10% of constituents sign the petition, the MP’s seat will be vacated and a by-election called. The former MP may stand as a candidate.

Secondly a recall petition will be opened where the House of Commons resolves that one of its members should face recall. This will ensure that a Member could also face recall where they have committed serious wrongdoing which did not result in a custodial sentence, for example, a serious breach of the House of Commons Code of Conduct. This will be a new disciplinary power for the House to help ensure that it is able to deal with disciplinary issues effectively. Constituents would again then have the opportunity to decide if a by-election should be held.

We welcome the Committee’s thorough consideration of the proposals and have accepted many of their recommendations, particularly on the conduct of the recall petition. The process of pre-legislative scrutiny has been valuable and will result in an improved Bill being presented to Parliament in due course.


Primary Assessment and Accountability

The Minister for Schools (Mr David Laws): I am pleased to announce today the launch of our consultation on primary assessment and accountability.

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We believe it is crucial that as many children as possible should leave primary school having reached a level that leaves them ready to progress and achieve their full potential at secondary school. Our reforms to the national curriculum, statutory assessment and school accountability for primary schools are designed to ensure that pupils are well prepared for the next stage of their education and that schools do not allow pupils to fall behind.

We want to see a step change in attainment at the end of primary school. In the past, the achievement bar was set too low and too few pupils cleared this bar. Our ambition is that all pupils, excepting some of those with particular learning needs, should be secondary ready at age 11—that means using a higher measure of what success looks like. We are already raising the threshold for the percentage of pupils to be ready for secondary school to 65%. But we know that schools and teachers have already raised their game way beyond this. For that reason, we will expect a very high proportion of pupils—85%—to reach the new, higher secondary readiness threshold for a school to be above the bar. Since we know that both children and schools can achieve this, it is right that we set this as a minimum standard.

Our new national curriculum is designed to give schools genuine opportunities to take ownership of the curriculum. The new programmes of study, published on 8 July, set out what pupils should be taught by the end of primary education. Teachers will be able to develop a school curriculum that delivers the core content in a way that is challenging and relevant for their pupils.

Statutory assessment in core subjects at the end of key stages is designed primarily to enable robust external accountability. We will continue to prescribe statutory assessment arrangements in English, mathematics and science. National curriculum tests in English and mathematics will continue, and will show whether pupils have met a demanding secondary readiness standard, which will remain the same from year to year. We propose to report pupils’ test results as a scaled score, such as those used in international surveys, to make sure that test outcomes are comparable over time. We will report each pupil’s ranking in the national cohort by decile to show their performance relative to their peers nationally.

It is vital that we set high aspirations for all schools and pupils. Our new targets will prepare children for success. At the moment, pupils are being asked to reach a bar that too often sets them up to fail. So that all children—whatever their circumstances—can arrive in secondary school ready to succeed, we are giving significantly more money to primary school pupils eligible for the pupil premium. This will support this step change in ambition.

We introduced the pupil premium in 2011 to help schools close the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils. In 2014-15, total funding through the pupil premium will increase by an extra £625 million to a total of £2.5 billion. We will use the extra funding to increase the level of the pupil premium for primary schools to £1,300 per pupil compared with £900 in the current year. This 44% rise in the pupil premium is the largest cash rise so far. This should enable more targeted interventions to support disadvantaged pupils to be “secondary ready” and achieve our ambitious expectations for what pupils should know and be able to do by the

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end of primary education. We believe in early intervention because the greater the numbers of disadvantaged pupils that leave primary school with basic literacy and numeracy, the greater their chances of achieving good GCSEs.

We also want to treat schools fairly by acknowledging the performance of schools whose pupils achieve well despite a low starting point. We will therefore look at how we can introduce a reliable, robust measure of progress that we can take into consideration when holding schools to account. A school that does not achieve the attainment threshold will not be judged to be below the floor standard if its pupils are making good progress. The progress measure will also help identify coasting schools, whose pupils do not achieve their full potential. Ofsted will focus its inspections more closely on schools below and just above floor standards, and inspect schools with good performance on these measures less frequently.

We will continue to report on the progress pupils make during primary education. In order to measure pupils’ progress, we need to measure how each pupil’s end of key stage 2 test results compare with the results of pupils with similar prior attainment. Currently the baseline against which we measure progress is at the end of key stage 1. We could continue to keep the baseline at this stage. Alternatively, we could introduce a similar teacher-led baseline check early in reception, which would help teachers understand the stage the child has reached and allow the crucial progress made in reception, year 1 and year 2 to be reflected in the accountability system. Our consultation seeks views on which is the best option.

Finally, we recognise that teachers are professionals, and we want to give schools more freedom over the way they measure assessment. We have already announced that we will remove the current system of national curriculum levels and level descriptions, which imposes a single system for ongoing assessment and prescribes the detailed sequence for what pupils should be taught. This will leave schools free to decide how to track pupils’ progress. Ofsted will expect to see evidence of pupils’ progress, but inspections will be informed by the pupil tracking data which schools choose to keep.

The results of national curriculum tests, along with summative teacher assessment, will continue to be published. These provide important information for parents, governors, Ofsted, the wider public, and the secondary school where the pupil will continue their education. The Department will continue to use floor standards to identify schools which are underperforming.

I will place a copy of the consultation on primary assessment and accountability in the Libraries of both Houses.

Energy and Climate Change

New Nuclear Power Stations (Community Benefits)

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Michael Fallon): The Department of Energy and Climate change is today announcing a package of benefits for the communities that host any new nuclear power stations.

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The new nuclear programme will substantially contribute to the Government’s growth strategy, creating significant numbers of jobs around the UK, bringing investment in the UK’s nuclear and wider construction supply chains, and encouraging growth for local businesses in the surrounding communities.

The community benefit package recognises the role of communities that are being asked to host such large infrastructure projects that will contribute significantly to national energy generation and growth, and the reduction of the UK’s carbon emissions.

The total package will be proportionate to the amount of energy the power station generates, up to a value of E1000 MW per annum for up to 40 years. In the case of Hinkley, this could amount to approximately £128 million. The package will be delivered in two distinct phases.

In the first phase, authorities will benefit from the business rates retention arrangements which were introduced by the Government in April this year. They will keep a share of the business rates paid in their area, and also keep a share of any increase in business rates, subject to payment of any levy that might be due. Authorities hosting new nuclear power stations will therefore benefit significantly from the increase in revenues that will arise from the development of those facilities. They will get the reward from these increased revenues for up to 10 years.

The second phase is intended to deliver the remainder of the package over the period 2030-60 which will be an annual payment of equivalent amounts, funded by DECC. These funds are specifically intended to benefit the local communities who are hosting new nuclear power stations and the Government fully expect that the local authorities will involve their communities in developing their spending plans, with Government also providing assistance and support in its development. Given the amount of time before this phase of funding will be issued and recognising the differences between communities, DECC will extensively discuss the implementation of this funding with each local area to determine how the needs of the community may best be served.

Business rates are a devolved matter and business rates retention does not apply in Wales. As a result, DECC will work with the Welsh Government to provide a community benefits package equivalent to that delivered in England for the communities surrounding Wylfa power station.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Foreign Affairs Council

The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) on 22 July in Brussels. The FAC will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland.

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Introduction—Water Security

Baroness Ashton will update the FAC on the EU’s work on water security in her introductory remarks. We do not expect a discussion. Conclusions that acknowledge the importance of water security and endorse the EU water diplomacy strategy paper are under negotiation.

Introduction—Western Balkans

Baroness Ashton will then briefly outline progress on the Serbia/Kosovo dialogue. The UK remains a strong supporter of the EU-facilitated dialogue. It is important that the momentum for normalising relations between Kosovo and Serbia is maintained. We expect conclusions on Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) that focus on support for the EU special representative and for early resolution of the Sejdic-Finci constitutional issue that is preventing BiH’s stabilisation and association agreement from coming into force. These conclusions should mirror the strong messages Commissioner Füle and Baroness Ashton have been passing to BiH’s leaders this month.

Human Rights

Ministers will discuss the EU’s external human rights policy, one year on from the adoption of the EU strategic framework and action plan on human rights and democracy, and the appointment of Mr Stavros Lambrinidis as EU Special Representative for Human Rights. We expect conclusions to be adopted that reaffirm the Council’s determination to promote and protect human rights and democracy around the world.

Southern Neighbourhood

On Syria, we expect Baroness Ashton to update Ministers on progress made in preparing for the Geneva II talks. This will be an oral presentation. The UK will continue to encourage increased humanitarian assistance from EU member states and institutions; to ensure the EU continues to focus on a political solution to the Syria crisis; and to encourage the EU to engage in concrete planning for a post-Assad transition in Syria.

Following the intervention by the armed forces in Egypt, Ministers will discuss the situation in Egypt and consider the EU’s response. The UK remains committed to supporting Egypt in its transition to democracy. We will press for conclusions which make it clear that the Egyptian authorities should make good their promises for a swift return to democratic processes; that political leaders and journalists who have been detained are charged with recognised crimes or released; and that a free media is guaranteed.


Ministers will discuss a number of issues under the Africa item on the agenda, such as the Great Lakes region, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, and Mali.

On the Great Lakes region, Ministers will discuss what an EU strategy in support of the peace, security and co-operation framework for the Great Lakes region should contain. We expect to agree conclusions that focus EU efforts on such work.

Ministers will discuss Somalia, looking ahead to the EU-Somalia conference in Brussels on 16 September, and will agree conclusions that take stock of recent progress and agree priority issues for the coming months. We expect the conference to focus on bringing together Somali and international partners to agree a new deal compact; securing the required financing to implement the Government’s priorities; and providing a platform

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for the Federal Government of Somalia to set out a clear political vision and process for building an appropriate federal system. The UK will push for ambitious conclusions that set out the EU’s long-term commitment to providing support and assistance to Somalia.

Ministers will also discuss the current setback in implementation of oil and security agreements between Sudan and south Sudan, as well as the conflicts in the Sudanese states of southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur and the south Sudanese state of Jonglei. The discussion will be an opportunity to agree priorities for EU activity in the coming months. Ministers are expected to agree conclusions.

On Mali, conclusions are being prepared that will record the latest developments in the run-up to presidential elections which begin on 28 July, and will take note of an European External Action Service (EEAS) options paper on possible civilian CSDP activity in Mali in the future. We are urging further discussions with both the UN and the Malians in order to identify clearly how the EU might add value. We expect any discussion at the FAC to focus on these issues.

Eastern Partnership

Baroness Ashton will brief Ministers on her and Commissioner Füle’s recent visits to Moldova, Armenia and Georgia. Ministers will then discuss the proposed outcomes for November’s eastern partnership summit in Vilnius, ahead of a ministerial meeting of the eastern partnership that will take place after the FAC. The ministerial meeting will focus on progress made over the last year and expectations for the summit. The UK supports the efforts of eastern partners in seeking a closer relationship with the EU through association agreements and deep and comprehensive free trade areas on the basis of continued and irreversible political and economic reform.

Middle East Peace Process

The FAC will revert to the middle east peace process as agreed at the June FAC. Ministers will take stock of recent developments, including ongoing US efforts, led by Secretary of State John Kerry, to make progress toward the resumption of direct and substantial negotiations and further consider how the EU can support these efforts.


The evidence that Hizballah’s military wing is a terrorist organisation and that they have engaged in terrorism on EU soil is compelling. That is why we believe that their formal listing by the EU as a terrorist organisation is fully justified. We are working closely with EU partners on this issue and want to reach a robust, collective EU position.

International Criminal Court

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): Today is World day of International Criminal Justice. I take this opportunity to reiterate the Government’s strong support of global efforts to tackle impunity and bring those responsible for the most serious crimes of international concern to justice. As part of this work I am pleased to announce that we have today launched a new strategy to support the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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We will work to ensure that the ICC retains its independence, delivers justice, increases its membership, builds more support for its decisions from states and from the United Nations Security Council, gains wider regional support and completes its work more efficiently.

We will help build a stronger, universal ICC, complementary to domestic jurisdictions, by being a strong advocate for the ICC in our diplomatic relations and encouraging states not party to the Rome statute of the ICC to consider becoming a state party, or supporting its work. We will address the issues of non-co-operation by working on this through our network of embassies in those states where it is a problem and by ensuring that we follow our own guidelines on essential contact. We will use our voice in the UN Security Council to promote the ICC where it has a role. And we will promote the role of international justice in UK policy.

It is our clear hope that through universality of the Rome statute and the development of domestic jurisdictions the ICC’s role will eventually become increasingly limited. Until then we will continue to support the ICC as it plays a vital role achieving justice for the victims of the worst international crimes.

I have placed a copy of the strategy in the Libraries of both Houses. It is also available on: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office.

President U Thein Sein of Burma (Visit)

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): From 14 to 16 July Burma’s President Thein Sein visited the United Kingdom for discussions with the Prime Minister, the Defence Secretary, the Secretary of State for International Development, Lord Green and I.

This was the first official visit of a Burmese president to the UK. It was an opportunity to discuss with President Thein Sein the significant political reforms his Government have achieved over the last two years, including releases of political prisoners, ceasefire agreements with 10 out of 11 ethnic armed groups, and steps to increase freedom of expression. It was also an opportunity to urge further progress in areas where additional reforms are needed.

The Prime Minister and I also raised our concerns about a wide range of human rights and ethnic issues, including the continuing plight of the Rohingya community in Rakhine state. I welcomed the president’s announcement of the abolition of the Nasaka security forces in Rakhine state. The president committed himself during his visit to releasing all political prisoners by the end of 2013, and said that he hoped over the coming weeks to achieve a nationwide ceasefire with the ethnic armed groups. The president also welcomed our initiative on preventing sexual violence in conflict. He acknowledged the need to reform the constitution ahead of the 2015 elections.

The Secretary of State for International Development emphasised the need for the president’s leadership on ethnic reconciliation, peace-building and inclusive growth, and confirmed our continued commitment to supporting Burma, notably helping foster private investment, jobs and better livelihoods, advance health care and schooling,

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bolster peace-building, and provide humanitarian aid to people hurt by conflict and ethnic violence. She also announced £10 million for the 2014 census, £5.65 million to support Burma’s economic development and £13.5 million for a humanitarian programme in Kachin delivering food, shelter, water and adequate sanitation.

We emphasised the importance of reforming the Burmese military and of pursuing a sustainable ethnic peace process. The focus of our future defence engagement in Burma will be on adherence to the core principles of democratic accountability and human rights. The Defence Secretary offered to support the participation of around 30 Burmese officers in the British military’s flagship “Managing Defence in the Wider Security Context” course in January 2014. We sought assurances from the president that any links to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), contrary to UN Security Council Resolutions, have ended.

The president met a range of British businesses at events hosted by the UK ASEAN Business Council, and discussed the importance of transparency, building a stable regulatory framework and harnessing private investment for the good of the people. We will offer our support to develop Burma’s financial services sector; Lord Green launched the financial services taskforce, which will support the development of financial services in Burma to help facilitate economic growth.

The British Government will continue to work with the Burmese Government and build constructive ties to secure long-term democratic development and reform, while making it clear, both directly and through the UN, our human rights concerns, especially in the areas affected by ethnic conflict.


HFEA and HTA (Government Response)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Anna Soubry): The Department of Health is today publishing Government response to the independent report, “Review of the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority” by Justin McCracken.

On 25 January 2013 I announced to the House that, following a consultation carried out in 2012 on proposals to transfer functions from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), I had commissioned an independent review of both bodies which would also give serious consideration to their merger. This review was conducted by Justin McCracken, the then chief executive of the Health Protection Agency, between January and April 2013 following which he reported to me and the Minister for the Cabinet Office.

We have now considered Mr McCracken’s report in detail and have taken careful note of his conclusion that the current arrangements deliver generally effective regulation and achieve high levels of public and professional confidence. We have also closely examined his finding that there is little overlap in the activities of the two bodies and his conclusion that greater efficiency is to be gained from reducing the burden of regulation than

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from structural reform. The review recognises that there is scope for improvement in the ways the bodies operate, and that efficiencies can be achieved by way of a review of human tissue legislation. There are 18 recommendations in total to help achieve a reduction in the burden of regulation. Most of the recommendations are aimed at the HFEA and HTA and we will work with them to ensure they are implemented.

The report recommends that the Government review human tissue legislation. We recognise the importance of that and understand that there will be particular sensitivities around such an undertaking but believe that the evidence presented in the McCracken report is persuasive. We are committed to safeguarding the principles of the Human Tissue Act (and the requirements of EU legislation) but believe that after nearly a decade in force, a review of this legislation is timely. We aim to produce a consultation document in this financial year.

The Department, therefore, accepts Mr McCracken’s recommendations in total, and will work closely with the HFEA and HTA as they implement those recommendations for them.

In conclusion, we believe that implementation will bring about increased efficiency and effectiveness of the regulators while maintaining public and professional confidence in these sensitive and complex areas.

A copy of the Government response to the report of the independent review of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority by Justin McCracken along with a copy of the independent report, “Review of the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority and the Human Tissue Authority” have been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.

2010 Adult Autism Strategy for England

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb): In line with duties under the Autism Act 2009, the Department of Health is currently leading a review of progress in relation to the 2010 adult autism strategy for England “Fulfilling and rewarding lives” and its related statutory guidance.

The adult autism strategy is an essential step towards realising the Government’s long-term vision for transforming the lives of and outcomes for adults with autism. The Department of Health is the lead policy Department for implementation of the strategy but with delivery shared across a range of Government Departments and agencies, and local health and social service providers, who have the freedom and responsibility to decide how best to design and deliver services for their local populations.

The autism strategy has five areas for action aimed at improving the lives of adults with autism:

increasing awareness and understanding of autism;

developing clear, consistent pathways for the diagnosis of autism;

improving access for adults with autism to services and support;

helping adults with autism into work; and

enabling local partners to develop relevant services.

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The strategy is not just about putting in place statutory autism services but about enabling equal access for people with autism to support and opportunities through reasonable adjustments to everyday services, training and awareness raising.

The review is an opportunity for us across Government to assess whether the objectives of the strategy remain fundamentally the right ones, to take an honest look at what progress is being achieved by local authorities and the NHS, and consider what should happen to continue to make progress. We will issue a report after the investigative stage of the review which will last until the end of October, on revising the strategy as necessary by March 2014.

The National Autistic Society’s (NAS) “Push for Action” campaign coincides with the review and has a central thrust on local implementation. We are working with NAS and other key partners to ensure that the voices of people with autism and their families and carers are heard during the review and there will be a range of opportunities for people to feed in. I would welcome views and input from hon. Members and their constituents during these processes.

Home Department

Disclosure and Barring Service (Annual Report)

The Minister of State, Home Department (Mr Jeremy Browne): The 2012-13 annual report and accounts for the Disclosure and Barring Service for the four-month period from 1 December 2012 to 31 March 2013 is being laid before the House today and published on www.gov.uk. Copies are available in the Vote Office.

Terrorism Acts

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): Mr David Anderson QC has completed his third annual report as the statutory independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, on the operation of the Terrorism Act 2000 and part 1 of the Terrorism Act 2006 in 2012. This report will be laid before the House today and copies will be available in the Vote Office.

I am grateful to David Anderson for his thorough report and will, following consultation with other relevant departments and agencies, publish the Government’s response as a Command Paper in due course. At that time the response will also be made available in the Vote Office.


Advisory Council on National Records and Archives (Triennial Review)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mrs Helen Grant): I am today announcing the triennial review of the Advisory Council on National Records and Archives. Triennial reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that NDPBs continue to have

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regular independent challenge on their remit and governance arrangements. The review will challenge the continuing need for the function of the council and its form. In conducting the review, officials will be engaging with a broad range of stakeholders and users. The review will be aligned with guidance published by the Cabinet Office. If it is agreed that it should remain as an NDPB, the review will consider its control and governance arrangements to ensure that it is operating in line with the recognised principles of good corporate governance. I intend to announce the findings of the review early next year, and will place a copy of the report in the Library of the House.

Freedom of Information Act (Code of Practice)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mrs Helen Grant): My noble friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, Lord McNally, has made the following written ministerial statement:

The Government will today issue, under section 45 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a new code of practice in relation to the release and reuse of datasets under FOIA. It supplements but does not replace the existing code of practice issued under section 45 for public authorities on the discharge of their current obligations under part 1 of FOIA.

This new code of practice will provide guidance for public authorities on best practice to follow in discharging their new responsibilities in relation to datasets provided for by section 102 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. Section 102, which is not yet in force, amends section 11 (means by which communication to be made) and section 19 (publication schemes) of FOIA and inserts new sections 11A and 1B. Once commenced, these changes, which form an important part of our transparency agenda, will mean that where a person requests information under FOIA that is or forms part of a dataset, and expresses a preference to receive it in electronic form, the public authority must (if FOIA requires the dataset to be released) provide the dataset in an electronic form which allows its reuse. The result will be that the public authority must, first, provide the dataset in a reusable format, where reasonably practicable; and, secondly, grant a licence (in accordance with one of the specified licences referred to in this code) under which its datasets may be reused.

In particular, this code of practice provides further guidance on key definitions and the circumstances where it will be reasonably practicable for public authorities to provide datasets in a reusable format; the disclosure of datasets; their reuse, including licensing and charging arrangements; the circumstances where it may be appropriate to publish updated versions of datasets on an ongoing basis; and the provision of advice and assistance to applicants in relation to these provisions.

The code of practice will take effect when section 102 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 is commenced on 1 September. To coincide with commencement. Regulations authorising the charging of fees for reuse of datasets will be made and laid before Parliament under section 11B of FOIA. These will also come into force on 1 September.

In line with my responsibilities under section 45 of FOIA, I will arrange for a copy of the code of practice to be laid before each House of Parliament.

North Liverpool Community Justice Centre

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mrs Helen Grant): I am today launching a consultation on the closure of North Liverpool Community Justice Centre. It is proposed that the work of the centre, and the principles of its problem-solving approach, moves to Sefton magistrates court less than two miles away.

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North Liverpool Community Justice Centre has operated from its Boundary Street site, a former primary school, since September 2005. However, the local work load has fallen to the extent that the centre is now underutilised. In the light of current and future financial constraints it is increasingly difficult to justify the ongoing operation of the Boundary Street site.

In this case, and on any future local consultations on court and tribunal closures, I believe that a consultation period of six weeks is sufficient to canvass the views of interested parties rather than a 12-week national consultation exercise. I am committed to ensuring that we continue to provide court and tribunal users with effective access to justice while seeking ways to do so at a lower cost and alongside our efforts to improve the efficiency of the justice system as a whole.

The consultation document is published on the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk

Probation Trusts (Triennial Review)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Jeremy Wright): On 27 March 2012, in his written statement—Official Report, column 129WS, announcing the launch of consultations on community sentences and probation reform, my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for Justice explained that the consultation exercise and subsequent Government response would form the basis of stage 1 of the triennial review of probation trusts. That is, it would identify and examine the key functions of these non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs), look at how they contribute to the work of Government, and consider whether they were still needed.

Triennial reviews are a central part of the sponsorship and governance relationship between a Department and their NDPBs. All NDPBs are subject to triennial review, and the probation trusts formed part of the wider programme of such reviews for the Ministry of Justice.

On 9 May this year, following a further public consultation, my right hon. Friend the Justice Secretary announced the publication of “Transforming Rehabilitation: A Strategy for Reform”. This set out the Government’s plans for transforming the rehabilitation of offenders by opening up rehabilitation services to a more diverse range of providers, drawing from the best of the voluntary, community and private sectors, equipped with the flexibility and incentives to reduce reoffending, extending statutory support to some 50,000 offenders who receive prison sentences of under 12 months and putting in place a nationwide “through the prison gate” resettlement service.

As an integral part of developing the strategy, we looked in detail at the full-range of probation trust functions and at how we could organise the public sector probation service in the most efficient manner to discharge its new responsibilities. This is in line with the requirement of a triennial review to look at the function and form of an NDPB and to consider the best delivery model, options for which would include moving delivery from an arm’s length body to an in-house provision. On that basis, we will create a new national probation service, working to protect the public and building upon the expertise and professionalism already in place.

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The design of our delivery model is based on our goals of harnessing the expertise of a more diverse market of providers to reduce reoffending, making use of new payment incentives and protecting the public from the most serious offenders through a strong public sector which is organised in the more efficient way for the delivery of its new functions. By sharing back-office functions within the public sector we can release efficiency savings to invest in rehabilitation, and by MOJ through National Offender Management Service (NOMS) managing the new public sector probation service directly, we can ensure that contract managers can effectively oversee the work of both the public sector probation service and competed providers, and how they interact. In considering the most appropriate delivery model, the consultation and strategy have addressed the central questions asked by stage 1 of a triennial review.

In line with the Cabinet Office central guidance on triennial reviews, where a review recommends that an NDPB no longer continue in its current form, there is no need to proceed to stage two of the review. This statement, therefore, marks the formal closure of the triennial review. In line with Cabinet Office guidance, my right hon. Friend, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, has signed off the outcome of the triennial review.

Northern Ireland

Security Situation

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mrs Theresa Villiers): Following the decision by the UK and Irish Governments to wind up the Independent Monitoring Commission in 2011, my predecessor made a commitment to provide bi-annual updates to the House on the security situation in Northern Ireland. This is my second such statement as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Overall threat in Northern Ireland

This statement comes after a very successful G8 summit in Northern Ireland that passed without significant incident. This is an achievement of which we should all be proud. Nevertheless we remain vigilant in the face of the continuing threat from terrorism in Northern Ireland.

We are currently at the height of the parading season in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, rioting has once again broken out in connection with 12 July parades. As well as causing damage and injury directly, such disorder also potentially provides opportunities for terrorist attacks on police, as illustrated by the pipe bomb thrown at the police on Monday from Brompton Park in Ardoyne.

Since my last statement to Parliament in February 2013, the threat level in Northern Ireland has remained at “Severe”. This means that an attack remains highly likely.

There were 24 national security attacks during 2012, compared with 26 attacks in 2011. So far this year there have been 10 national security attacks. Some of these involve the use of relatively simple and basic pipe-bomb devices, but these can be lethal. There have also been a number of more sophisticated attacks, including two failed attempts to use mortars against PSNI stations. Many more attacks were prevented and disrupted through the excellent work of the PSNI and their security partners.

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I would like to congratulate and thank the PSNI and the security service for their highly effective work in countering the threat from terrorism.

Police officers, soldiers and prison officers continue to be the primary target of the terrorist groups. This was illustrated by an attempt last week to lure police officers to a house in Alliance avenue in North Belfast where two pipe bombs had been primed to go off to kill anyone who opened the front door. A similar attempted attack took place in May when two PSNI officers were shot at when responding to a reported burglary in west Belfast near Twinbrook and a pipe bomb was thrown at them. Were it not for effective deployment of the training all PSNI officers receive on dealing with this kind of “come on” attack, these incidents could well have had fatal consequences.

Another device near the M5 at Newtownabbey could have fatally injured the three police officers who attended the incident.

There was a serious risk with all of these attacks that people in the local community could have been injured or killed, as well as police officers.

One of the most significant incidents of the past 6 months was an attempted mortar attack on a Londonderry PSNI station in March. It was aimed at murdering police officers but such devices are highly dangerous and inaccurate. This attack could have caused mass casualties amongst anyone who happened to be in the vicinity if it had been successfully fired. This provided further evidence that so-called dissident republican groups have no regard to the people living in the areas which they target. It was only through the highly effective work of the PSNI that this attack was disrupted as it was underway.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland and the security service, along with An Garda Siochana, continue to demonstrate a robust commitment to bringing to justice those who carry out such attacks.

Northern Ireland has already witnessed a historic year with the G8 summit in Fermanagh and the accompanying visit by the President of the United States to Belfast. The successful delivery of these events would not have been possible without the co-operation of the PSNI, security service, An Garda Siochana and police forces from across the UK who came to Northern Ireland to provide mutual aid support. Despite recent public order problems, this year contains further opportunities to present a positive image to the world, with events associated with the Derry-Londonderry city of culture and world police and fire games.

Those who dedicate themselves to making Northern Ireland a safer place will continue to work together to ensure that these events pass off successfully and without incident.

Activity of republican paramilitary groups

The so-called “new IRA” continues to contribute significantly to the threat in Northern Ireland. They have conducted one national security attack—the brutal murder of prison officer David Black in November last year.

That they have only conducted one attack is at least in part down to the achievements of the security forces. As mentioned earlier, in March of this year PSNI successfully intercepted a mortar in Londonderry moments

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before it was deployed. In April, a young member of this grouping was caught in possession of five handguns and in June the PSNI recovered a quantity of high explosive. These disruptions serve to prevent specific attacks while also demonstrating to potential terrorists across Northern Ireland the reach of the security services.

The efforts of the PSNI has been ably supported by An Garda Siochana. In March, An Garda Siochana arrested five persons following the shooting dead of Peter Butterly in a car park near Drogheda, County Louth. Three of the men were subsequently charged with membership of an unlawful organisation, namely the IRA. In the same month, eight men were arrested in connection with terrorist activities and have also been charged with membership of an unlawful organisation. In recent weeks, An Garda Siochana recovered their biggest ever find of dissident arms and explosives including approximately 15 kg of Semtex. This is a significant find which has undoubtedly saved lives.

Despite these successes for the security forces, this grouping continues to try to develop its capability. Its lethal intent and disregard for the wishes and safety of the wider community means that it remains a high priority for the PSNI and their security partners.

Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH) has been very active over this period and has demonstrated increased lethal intent, including IED, shooting and pipe-bomb attacks on PSNI officers in the Belfast area. In March the group was responsible for a failed mortar attack against New Barnsley PSNI station in north Belfast, as well as a large vehicle-borne IED which was abandoned in County Fermanagh. Fortunately the group has had only limited success; if the devices been deployed and functioned as intended, they would almost certainly have resulted in injuries or fatalities.

Continuity IRA (CIRA) has splintered into several competing factions. These groups continue to be dangerous. Over the last six months they have been responsible for a shooting attack against PSNI officers in Craigavon as well as multiple hoax devices. These hoaxes are extremely disruptive to the community with families evacuated from their homes and suffering from a range of disturbances on an all too regular basis.

Groups involved in these terrorist attacks continue to engage in a range of criminal activity including fuel laundering, smuggling, drug dealing, robbery and extortion.

Threat to Great Britain from Northern Ireland-related terrorism

The threat level in Great Britain remains at “Moderate”, which means an attack is possible but not likely. We recognise, however, that dissident republican terrorists continue in their aspiration to conduct an attack in Great Britain. All threat levels are, of course, kept under constant review.

Activity of loyalist paramilitary groups

As noted in my last statement on the security situation in Northern Ireland, the UDA and UVF leadership remain committed to their ceasefires, although individuals associated with these groups continue to be engaged in criminal activity.

Paramilitary-style shootings and assaults

Throughout this period, paramilitary style attacks continued with involvement by both republican and loyalist groups. These attacks, which include beatings,

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shootings and even murder, continue to cause significant and irreparable harm to families on both sides of the community.


The Government continue to offer their full support to the PSNI to ensure that they have the capability they need to tackle the threat. The Government recently confirmed that the PSNI will receive an additional £31 million funding in 2015-16 to tackle the threat faced from terrorism in Northern Ireland. That funding package extends the £199.5 million of support provided to the PSNI by this Government in 2011. The ongoing provision of £31 million in security funding for the PSNI is part of the Government’s continuing strategy to maintain pressure on the terrorists to make Northern Ireland a safer place for everyone.

Co-operation across Government and agencies has been strengthened by the working arrangements around the G8 summit, including even stronger links with Irish counterparts. I hope that these new relationships can provide a sound basis on which to further enhance our work on tackling the threat faced in Northern Ireland. Cross-border co-operation with An Garda Siochana remains strong and they continue to work with PSNI to ensure that those who exploit the border for criminality and terrorism are bought to justice. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the role of An Garda Siochana in ensuring a successful, safe and secure G8 summit. I keep in very close contact with the Northern Ireland Justice Minster, David Ford, and the Irish Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter TD.


There have been some striking successes for Northern Ireland this year, not least of which is the G8. The Government are committed to building on that success. However, the significant public disorder that has occurred on and around 12 July provides an illustration of some of the continuing policing and security challenges in Northern Ireland.

We remain fully committed to tackling the threat from terrorism and keeping the people of Northern Ireland safe and secure.


High Speed Rail (Phase 2)

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): Today I am beginning a period of public consultation on the proposed route for phase 2. This is the route the new high-speed line will take from the west midlands to Manchester and Leeds, with connections to the west and east coast main lines to serve the rest of the north of England and Scotland.

HS2 will be a vital part of our infrastructure. This new high-speed line will open up opportunities for this country that we have not seen in generations. Its scope to transform this country is enormous.

The delivery of a state-of-the-art, safe, reliable high-speed network will not only better serve our great cities but will return Britain to the forefront of engineering and construction. We must seize the chance to deliver it.

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We can generate jobs, support regeneration and growth in cites and unite regions. This will enable them to better compete with the capital, building a stronger Britain.

Phase 2 will turn HS2 into a truly national asset that we can be proud of. It is vital that we get it right. We need the views of the people who will be affected by the HS2 line or who stand to benefit from it, including representatives of cities and businesses to ensure that the high-speed lines from the west midlands to Manchester, Leeds and beyond are the very best that they can be.

This is an opportunity to strive for the very best in every aspect—to boost our regions, to embrace new and sustainable technology and to ensure the very best passenger experience. The views we get during this consultation will play an important part in informing my decision on a final route, station and depot options by the end of 2014.

The phase 2 consultation will run for six months and will be accompanied by a series of public information events from mid-October 2013 to early January 2014 where people will be able to review local information and speak directly with HS2 Ltd staff about the proposals.

Although HS2 will benefit the whole country, the Government understand the impact and anxiety that these proposals have on property owners affected by the route. That is why I am today launching an exceptional hardship scheme (EHS) to assist property owners during the early stages of phase 2 development. The scheme is designed to assist owner-occupiers of residential, agricultural, and small business property before the route itself is firmed up.

It is a temporary scheme to help people whose properties are affected by the plans for the line, and are experiencing (or are at risk of experiencing) exceptional hardship because they can not sell them. Successful applicants will have their properties purchased at 100% of their un-blighted open market value. That is, the value of the property were there no proposals for phase 2 of HS2.

It is not the only opportunity for compensation. As plans for the phase 2 line are firmed up, we will consider options for further long-term discretionary compensation. We will shortly launch a fresh consultation on such options for phase 1. All this is in addition to statutory compensation measures.

I am determined to find the solutions that benefit the greatest number of people, best support our cities and have the least impact on our environment. Our consultations

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with the public are a vital part of achieving these goals—we want people to join the debate on phase 2 of HS2—and help us to shape a network we can all be proud of.

Copies of the consultation document, “High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain’s Future Consultation on the route from the West Midlands to Manchester, Leeds and beyond”; “HS2 Phase Two Exceptional Hardship Scheme Decision document”, and other supporting documents will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Work and Pensions

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Mr Mark Hoban): The informal Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council met on 11 and 12 July in Vilnius. I represented the United Kingdom.

On the first day, there were three simultaneous workshops covering: efficiency and effectiveness of the social investments; implementation of the European alliance for apprenticeships; and wage-setting mechanisms and economic growth. The UK attended the first workshop on social investments and stated that effective spending was about how money was spent rather than the amount and that member states can benefit hugely from sharing experiences. The UK urged caution about using relative poverty to measure the situation and referred to the consultation the Government are running to look at alternative measures of poverty. The UK found the Commission’s multi-dimensional model and focus on the root causes of poverty helpful.

On the second day, the discussion focused on the social dimension of the economic and monetary union (EMU). Setting out its vision for a social dimension of the EMU, the Commission outlined its proposals for action under the three pillars: better monitoring of social policies, better co-ordination of social policies, and better involvement of social partners. The United Kingdom highlighted that spill-over was not so relevant to member states outside of the eurozone. The UK stressed the importance of respecting subsidiarity and proportionality, and that primary competence in this area lay with member states and the Commission.