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Written Statements

Tuesday 8 October 2013


Loan to Ireland

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Sajid Javid): I would like to update the House on the loan to Ireland.

Ireland completed the 10th quarterly review of its International Monetary Fund and European Union programme of financial assistance on 9 May 2013, following which, the utilisation period for the final instalment of the UK bilateral loan began. HM Treasury and Ireland mutually agreed that the utilisation period would conclude on 30 September 2013.

Upon request, the Treasury disbursed the last instalment of £403.37 million on 26 September 2013, with a maturity date of 26 March 2021.

The interest rate charged on the loan is calculated as set out in the loan agreement as the UK’s cost of funds plus a service fee of 18 basis points per annum, creating an effective per annum interest rate on this tranche of the loan of 2.740%. The UK more than covers its cost of funds.

HM Treasury has today provided a further report to Parliament in relation to Irish loans as required under the Loans to Ireland Act 2010. The report relates to the period from 1 April 2013 to 30 September 2013.

A written ministerial statement on the previous statutory report on the loan to Ireland was issued to Parliament on the 25 April 2013, Official Report, column 60WS.

The Treasury will provide a further report to Parliament in relation to the bilateral loan as required under the Loans to Ireland Act 2010 as soon as is practicable following the end of the next reporting period, which ends on 31 March 2014.

The Government believe that it is in our national interest that the Irish economy is successful and its banking system is stable. The Government continue to support Ireland’s efforts to improve its economic situation.

Public Service Pension Reform

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Danny Alexander): The interim report of the Independent Public Service Pensions Commission (IPSPC) found that current pension structures, combined with fair deal requirements, are a barrier to plurality of public service provision. The Government announced at the spending review 2010 that they would accept the suggestion to review the fair deal policy.

The Government confirmed via a written ministerial statement on 4 July 2012, Official Report, column 53WS, that the overall approach to the fair deal would be retained, but that this would be delivered by offering access to the public service schemes for staff compulsorily transferred out of the public sector. In November 2012 the Government published their response to the consultation which set out their position in more detail.

On publishing the consultation response in November 2012 the Government announced a further consultation to seek views on how the reformed fair deal policy

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should apply to staff that have already been compulsorily transferred out of the public sector under the old fair deal.

The consultation process has now concluded. When existing contracts are retendered, there will be a presumption that staff covered by the fair deal policy should be offered access to a public service scheme. However, we will provide flexibility for employers to provide a broadly comparable scheme where—but only where—legal requirements are a bar to providing access to a public service scheme. The Government expect that in the vast majority of cases, when a contract is retendered, previously transferred staff will be offered access to a public service pension scheme.

Yesterday I published both the response to the consultation on retendering of existing contracts, and new guidance setting out how the reformed policy will operate. Both documents are available at the link:


The Government are grateful to all those who responded to the consultation and assisted with reform. The new approach to fair deal will ensure that staff compulsorily transferred out of the public sector will continue to have access to good quality pensions. It will also achieve better value for money for the taxpayer by reducing the costs and risks to employers associated with the provision of broadly comparable pension schemes, thereby opening public services to greater competition.

I am placing a copy of the consultation response on retendering and the new fair deal guidance in the Libraries of both Houses.

Help to Buy

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr George Osborne): The Government are committed to supporting people who aspire to become homeowners. Since the financial crisis, increased deposit requirements and falling equity values have left many hardworking households unable to get on to the housing ladder or trapped in homes unsuited to their aspirations and needs. This has particularly impacted first-time buyers, who have found it increasingly difficult to purchase their own home.

The Government have today published final scheme rules and a commercial fee for the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme, which was announced at Budget 2013. The Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee has been designed to increase the availability of high loan to value mortgages to borrowers who are able to afford the monthly repayments but who are unable to save the large deposits required by lenders since the financial crisis.

The publication of the final scheme rules enables lenders to sign up to the scheme three months earlier than planned and start offering mortgages under the scheme. As a result, a number of lenders will begin offering high loan to value mortgages to borrowers. These mortgages will be entered into the scheme in January. In the coming months, the Government expect more lenders to sign up.

The Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme is open to all lenders with permission to enter into regulated mortgage contracts in the UK. The scheme rules set out the eligibility criteria that a lender will need to apply to

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every loan they wish to place within the scheme. Both new and existing properties are eligible, but in order to be eligible the loan must:

be on a property in the UK;

be on a property with a purchase price of £600,000 or less;

be a residential mortgage, and not buy-to-let;

be a repayment mortgage, not interest only;

be for the buyer’s only property (i.e. it cannot be used for second homes);

not be used as part of a shared equity or ownership scheme;

not be subject to another guarantee (whether provided by the Government or by anyone else).

The scheme rules also contain safeguards to ensure that lending under the scheme is responsible. For each loan, participating lenders will need to demonstrate that the borrower was subject to an affordability test, that the loan will remain affordable if there is a rise in the interest-rate, and that the lender has verified the borrower’s income. For each loan the lender will also need to be able to demonstrate that the borrower was not “credit impaired” (using the definition from the Financial Conduct Authority).

These safeguards on responsible lending are complemented by other features of the scheme which ensure that the taxpayer is protected. If a lender chooses to participate in a given category of lending, they will be required to put all eligible loans that they originate in that category into the scheme. There are nine categories in total, with participation in each LTV band (80-85%, 85-90% and 90-95% LTV) split into three categories depending on whether the lender chooses to participate for loans for new house purchase only, or also for different types of remortgage transaction. This approach, whereby all eligible loans must be put into the scheme, ensures that lenders cannot only use the scheme for their riskiest loans.

The Government have also today published the fee that lenders participating in the scheme in 2014 will pay when purchasing a guarantee. The fee charged to lenders will differ depending on the loan to value of the mortgage. As set out in the scheme outline document published alongside the Budget, the fee has been calculated so that the scheme is self-financing and adheres to European Commission guidance on state aid. The fee therefore contains three elements: administration cost, cost of capital and expected losses. The fee will be reset on an annual basis to take account of any changes in the macro-economic forecast and using data on mortgages already guaranteed under the scheme. Lenders will be given the final fee for the following year three months in advance. The fee levels for 2014, which will be charged as a percentage of the original loan balance, will be:

90 basis points for loans with a loan to value of more than 90% and less than or equal to 95%;

46 basis points for loans with a loan to value of more than 85% and less than or equal to 90%;

28 basis points for loans with a loan to value of at least 80% and less than or equal to 85%.

To ensure the ongoing stability of the UK housing market, the Government have built a role into the scheme for the Financial Policy Committee (FPC). The Chancellor has asked the FPC to work with him every September, starting in 2014, to assess the ongoing impact of the Help to Buy scheme. Following that annual assessment he has proposed that the FPC advise him on

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whether the key parameters of the scheme—the house price cap and the fee charged to lenders—remain appropriate. At the end of the scheme’s three-year life, if a future Government propose to extend the scheme, the FPC will be asked to give its assessment of the impact of the scheme on financial stability and advise whether it should be continued.

The Government will make available up to £12 billion of guarantees to support the scheme during its three-year life.

Copies of the scheme rules have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Communities and Local Government

Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Brandon Lewis): I wish to inform the House of steps that my Department is taking to protect taxpayers’ interests and ensure probity in the spending of public money. As part of the coalition Government’s programme of decentralisation, Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation has been closed and its functions transferred to the local council.

It has come to the Department’s attention that correct procedures were not followed by the corporation, resulting in irregular payments being made during the closure process.

A departmental investigation has identified spending on items including: training for former staff in patchwork, pottery and jewellery-making, the purchase of software and associated training for personal use by a senior executive of the closing body, and payment in lieu of notice when this could have been avoided through timely issuing of notice periods to staff.

The Department considers this to be a serious failing in the chief executive’s responsibilities to safeguard public money, as set out in HM Treasury’s “Managing Public Money”. The Department takes allegations of impropriety very seriously. The Department stripped the chief executive of his designation as accounting officer on 17 October 2012, and commissioned an investigation which has found:

During the winding-up period there had been serious control weaknesses in the corporation leading to irregular payments in lieu of notice because of a failure to issue redundancy notices in good time, and failure to seek and obtain explicit approval for such payments from the Department.

Expenditure on training and the purchase of software incurred in the period from April 2012 to closure was not in accordance with the corporation’s policy and was novel and contentious. Approval should have been sought from the Department to incur this expenditure but this was not done.

The chairman and chief executive set up a company together in May 2012 while still employed by the corporation. The involvement of the chairman and chief executive in the company was not reported in the board’s register of interests and while there were no transactions between the company and the corporation and the company did not trade in the period before the corporation’s closure the failure to disclose the interest was a serious omission.

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Ministers regard this as totally unacceptable. The Department is now supporting Thurrock borough council in legal action to recover funds from the former chief executive and director of resources to protect taxpayers’ interests. I hope this sends out a strong signal about our zero tolerance towards wasting public money.

I am placing a copy of the investigation report in the Library of the House.

Conference Recess (Department's Work)

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr Eric Pickles): I would like to update hon. Members on the main items of business undertaken by my Department since the House rose for conference recess on 13 September.

Supporting shoppers and local shops

We are determined to make the country the best place to start and grow a business. The coalition Government are setting business free from red tape to the tune of over £212 million a year so local traders can generate the kind of enterprise that is vital to our economic growth. Reducing Government interference is improving Britain’s international reputation as a low-regulation, pro-business nation.

We have already stripped back bureaucratic Whitehall planning rules and tackled unpopular parking practices that reduced parking spaces and increased parking charges that hold back the high street. However, there is more to do in order to support local shops and shoppers from disproportionate parking enforcement which forces shoppers to out-of-town superstores or just to shop online.

On 27 September, together with the Secretary of State for Transport, I announced plans to publish details of further reforms, including stopping CCTV being used for on-street parking enforcement and new open data on parking to allow the public to “go compare”. In due course, we will be publishing proposals for consultation on:

updating parking enforcement guidance to support local shops;

tackling wrongly-issued fines;

stopping unacceptable parking fine collection practices;

reviewing unnecessary yellow lines and the scope for residents’ reviews;

reviewing the grace period for parking offences;

clamping down on anti-social driving and encouraging social responsibility;

spreading best practice on supporting town centres and tackling illegal parking; and

analysing the impact of different transport policies on town centre vitality.

On 1 October, my Department outlined changes which will cut red tape which makes it harder for local firms and traders to set up business improvement districts where high streets stretch across council boundaries. Business improvement districts are a tried and tested approach, used in towns and cities across the world, to fund improvements in local trading areas.

The potential for business improvement districts to successfully support town centres growth was outlined by Mary Portas in her review of high streets. There are currently over 150 business improvement districts across the UK working on issues such as town centre safety, improvement of public realm, support for local traders and parking initiatives.

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Extending family-friendly tenancies

The private rented market is a vital asset to this country, and plays an important role in providing flexible accommodation for those who do not want to buy, or are saving up for a deposit. Families deserve stability for their children, and all tenants deserve a good and transparent service from their landlords and lettings agents.

On 1 October, I announced a package of measures for longer fixed-term, family-friendly tenancies that will provide tenants with more information to help them request longer tenancies where they want greater stability for their families, avoid hidden fees when renting a home and demand a fair deal from their landlords and letting agents.

A model tenancy agreement, developed with the sector, will clearly set out the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, and provide the rental market with an industry benchmark for written tenancy agreements.

In addition, a new tenants’ charter will ensure all tenants know what to expect from their tenancy and, if something goes wrong, where to go for help. This will include greater transparency about lettings agents’ fees, helping to stop unreasonable practices and unfair charges.

The charter will work alongside the new compulsory redress schemes for lettings agents, which will be able to investigate agents that have not been clear about fees and, where a complaint is upheld, require compensation is paid to the tenant.

Stopping rip-off repair charges

On 7 October, I announced plans to crack down on councils that sting private leaseholders with huge bills for their share of the “repairs” to the building and communal areas. It is reasonable for those purchasing under right to buy or on the open market to pay their fair share towards maintenance, but they should not be used as a cash cow.

Under the current rules there is no universal mandatory limit to the amount that councils can charge leaseholders for improvement works. While the vast majority of councils have behaved reasonably, Ministers believe a number have abused their position, leaving leaseholders with huge bills which they are unable to pay and feel powerless to resist.

A new consultation paper proposes that councils which get Government funding to help maintain their tenants’ homes should in future only charge leaseholders a maximum of £10,000 over a five-year period for repairs, or £15,000 for those in London.

Backing self-builders

We want to give more people the opportunity to build their own homes and ensure that self-build is not the preserve of the few. The coalition Government have already taken steps to dismantle barriers that hold back self-build projects: limited land availability and reluctance by lenders to provide finance and red tape.

On 17 September, we announced a series of measures to ensure the self-build market is opened up to those on lower incomes. For the first time community self-build and community-led affordable housing projects will be able to apply for a share of £65 million from the affordable homes guarantees programme to build the affordable homes they want in their area.

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In addition to this new planning practice guidance has been introduced to ensure councils meet the demand for self-build in their area. This will include compiling a local register of people who want to build their own homes so they can be given first priority when new brownfield sites become available.

New council tax discounts will also be introduced for family annexes, removing an unfair council tax penalty surcharge. Genuine self-builders will be exempted from paying inappropriate section 106 tariffs and the community infrastructure levy, which will cut the cost of self-build by thousands of pounds.

Boosting enterprise and regeneration

Last week, the Prime Minister reinforced his commitment to supporting businesses and ensuring that Britain can continue to attract investment and remain competitive on a world stage. The enterprise zones are part a key of this agenda, and they are already showing progress with over 180 businesses, close to half a billion pounds of private sector investment and nearly 4,000 jobs, and many more in the pipeline.

On 7 October, we announced £100 million of extra funding for enterprise zones to complete infrastructure projects and compete for new businesses. The money will fund projects such as road building and land clearance that will unlock areas previously idle, turning them into prime economic sites that will bring home new businesses and help the local economies grow.

Getting Britain building

The coalition Government’s planning reforms and housing investment is supporting the construction industry to get Britain building the homes the next generation needs, while conserving our countryside.

Figures published on 27 September showed a significant increase in the number of major residential developments being decided upon by councils. In the year ending June 2013, district level planning authorities in England decided 2% more residential decisions and 14% more major residential decisions. This is helping construction firms gain approvals and restart previously stalled developments that have planning permission.

The latest statistics are also backed by figures released in the Home Builders Federation’s latest housing pipeline report that reveal a 49% year-on-year increase in the number of planning approvals for new homes in England in the second quarter of 2013.

Helping communities to shape their future

The Localism Act has given communities unprecedented powers over their lives, neighbourhoods, towns and cities. One year on from their launch, new community rights are being used successfully by communities all across the country; getting involved and taking on local planning issues, providing their own services and protecting treasured local assets. There is now a genuine neighbourhood planning movement occurring with more than 500 communities already using these powers and many hundreds more taking steps to make use of this important new right.

To ensure continued momentum, on 26 September we announced a £7.5 million funding boost enabling councils around the country to claim up to £100,000 a year to help their communities start a neighbourhood plan, with an additional £25,000 for plans that pass a successful examination.

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On 19 September, my Department together with the Arts Council England granted five towns across England a share of £400,000 for projects to increase community participation in the arts. These could include getting theatre touring companies to take in those towns, organising for artist residencies locally, making it easier for people to attend or submit works to local arts festivals and making more use of public display spaces.

Improving local government services

Councils have a vital role to play in tackling the deficit left by the last Administration and this Government are clear that councils demonstrating the best in innovation that successfully redesign services will be supported.

The tide of change that began with sharing management teams is now going further to include shared service delivery across council boundaries and many local authorities are charging ahead and leading by example.

As part of the coalition Government’s commitment to high-quality public services my Department confirmed that Bournemouth and Surrey and 16 other winners, to be announced shortly, will share the £9.2 million transformation challenge award. The funding will help them to remain at the cutting edge of service transformation while delivering efficiency savings.

Further support for transformation in the public sector will follow in 2015 with an £100 million award so even more councils can adopt more efficient practices and innovative service deliveries.

On 3 October, my Department announced that 10 leading “enterprising libraries” will receive a share of £450,000 to help local people get started in business. As part of wider action to support local economic growth, enterprising libraries will turn library spaces into incubators for business ideas by provide coaching, advice, meeting spaces, and IT support to people interested in developing a proposal and taking it to the market.

The projects are focused on fostering entrepreneurship by supporting budding business minds in the local community who are interested in becoming self-employed. The funding announced will help more people access the same kind of services across the country.

Offering a fair deal to firefighters

We all hold our brave fire men and women in the highest regard. Despite offering firefighters a fair deal and one of the most generous pension schemes in the public sector, on 24 September the Fire Brigades Union held a four hour strike. All our fire and rescue authorities in England had contingency plans in place and that they proved robust. Should the Fire Brigades Union carry out more industrial action ensuring public safety will continue to be our first priority.

Our fair offer means a firefighter who earns £29,000, and retires after a full career aged 60, will get a £19,000 a year pension, rising to £26,000 with the state pension. An equivalent private pension pot would be worth over half a million pounds and require firefighters to contribute twice as much.

The firefighter pension age of 60 was introduced in 2006 and is in line with the police and armed forces. We have been clear with the Fire Brigades Union that our pension reforms are not introducing a national fitness standard.

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Increasing town hall transparency

My Department continues in its drive for more openness and transparency across Government. On 20 September, we updated our plain English guide to openness and transparency on interests to make it clear that personal interests will necessarily include membership of any trade union and so should be registered by councillors.

This clarity will give local people the confidence that their councillors are putting residents’ interests before their own and is an important tool in helping to prevent conflicts of interests when councils are considering issues directly affecting trade unions, such as reviews of taxpayer-funded subsidies given to trade unions.

Flying the flag

England’s historic counties continue to form an important part of our cultural and local identity in this country and many people remain deeply attached to their home county. This sense of pride and shared identity is one of the things that bind communities together.

In the past, it has been known for many parts of Whitehall and municipal officialdom to shun historic counties, many of which date back over a thousand years of English history. My Department is changing that and has been clear that communities should be free to proudly fly their flags without barriers and we are encouraging more local communities to create their own local flags.

Over the recess period we have proudly hoisted the flags of Cumberland and Westmorland above our headquarters. We have also raised a purple flag in recognition of the contribution and excellence of our town centres in establishing and managing thriving, vibrant and safe early evening atmosphere.

I am placing copies of the associated press notices and documents in the Library of the House.


Director of Service Prosecutions

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond): Under section 364 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 the Director of Service Prosecutions is appointed by Her Majesty the Queen. The term of the current incumbent, Bruce Houlder QC, comes to an end on 30 November.

I can inform the House that Her Majesty has appointed Andrew Cayley QC to succeed Mr Houlder as Director of Service Prosecutions. Mr Cayley is a former British Army officer who was until recently the International Co-prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia, nominated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

I should also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Mr Houlder. As the first Director of Service Prosecutions he faced the significant and challenging task of creating a single organisation—the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA)—from the three single-service prosecuting authorities. Mr Houlder, a highly respected member of the Bar, has demonstrated, through his commitment and professionalism, that the decisions to establish an independent tri-service prosecuting authority and to appoint a civilian to lead it were the right ones. Under his leadership, the SPA has become securely established as a respected independent prosecution service, underpinning the operational effectiveness of the armed

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forces, and instilling continued confidence in the service justice system. As he hands over his responsibilities to Mr Cayley, I would like to express my personal gratitude for the important contribution he has made, including his agreement to stay in post for some extra months to ensure a smooth handover to his successor.

“Scotland Analysis: Defence”

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond): The UK Government have today published the sixth paper in its Scotland analysis programme, “Scotland analysis: Defence”. This series of publications is designed to inform the debate on Scotland’s future within the United Kingdom ahead of next year’s referendum.

The “Scotland analysis: Defence” paper analyses the UK’s approach to defence and the potential consequences of Scottish independence. From a defence perspective, the arguments for Scotland remaining in the UK are extremely strong. As part of the UK, Scotland benefits from a very high level of security and protection provided through the UK’s integrated defence capabilities and network of international defence alliances and relationships, as well as from the opportunities for industry available through the UK’s single, domestic defence market. An independent Scottish state could not come close to replicating these benefits.

Scotland benefits from the full range of UK defence capabilities and activities. These defend UK airspace, patrol the surrounding seas and help to protect everyone in the UK against both natural and man-made threats. Scotland also benefits from the UK’s extensive defence engagement overseas to project influence and help to safeguard and establish peace and security in countries affected by conflict or instability, maintain competitive advantage and tackle security threats before they reach the UK.

In the event of a vote for independence, an independent Scottish state would lose the benefits of one of the largest defence budgets in the world and of an integrated approach to defence that currently protects all parts of the UK, while offering significant economies of scale, as well as contributing to conflict prevention and resolution, and to humanitarian operations overseas. The start-up costs and complexity of establishing separate defence capabilities for an independent Scottish state would be very significant, and would need to be factored into the Scottish Government’s budget estimates.

The UK’s defence is rooted in a strong network of international alliances and relationships, underpinned by the reputation and effectiveness of the UK armed forces, which means the UK is able to exercise significant global influence to advance its security and prosperity objectives.

In a globalised world, an independent Scottish state would have to start from scratch, as a new and much smaller state, in forming alliances, building relationships and forging its reputation. It would cease to enjoy the influence that derives from the UK’s established status as a key player within the international system, and the opportunities this offers to advance the UK’s security and prosperity objectives.

The substantial defence industrial footprint in Scotland benefits from UK defence contracts, in particular the shipbuilding industry. The scale of UK defence helps to sustain defence industry in the UK and its success in the

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exports market. The sustainability of the defence industry in an independent Scottish state could be a cause for considerable concern, as it would no longer be eligible for contracts that the continuing UK chose to place or compete domestically for national security reasons, and would lose the support to exports provided by the UK’s extensive international defence engagement and the reputational benefits of affiliation with the UK’s armed forces in the highly competitive global market.

Future papers from the Scotland analysis programme will be published over the course of 2013 and 2014 to ensure that people in Scotland have access to the facts and information ahead of the referendum.


Children and Families Bill

The Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove): I am proposing an amendment to the Children and Families Bill that will make significant changes to the legislation regarding young carers. This is in line with the commitment made on Commons report by my colleague the Under-Secretary of State for Education, the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mr Timpson) to look at how the legislation for young carers could be improved. This amendment will be considered during the House of Lords Committee stage of the Children and Families Bill.

Improving outcomes for carers is a priority for this Government as we said in 2010 when we published “Recognised, valued and supported: next steps for the carers strategy”. We are clear that effective whole family approaches to assessment are essential to improving support for adults and young carers alike. My Department has been working with voluntary sector partners for several years to encourage local services to adopt “whole family” approaches to supporting young carers and their families. In that time we have funded and shared some excellent good practice examples and delivered numerous workshops and seminars. While we have seen plenty of appetite for working in this way and some changes to the way local services are designed and delivered, change has been slow. Meanwhile, data from the national census show us that the number of young carers is rising.

Recent evidence from the Children’s Society’s Hidden from View report indicates that young carers are no more likely to be in contact with support agencies than their peers. Carers trust found that the majority of those that are identified as young carers still do not get an assessment of their needs or access to the support they and their families need. The consequences can be serious and long lasting. Hidden from View also found that young carers achieve on average nine grades lower than their peers at GCSE which can have consequences for their long-term economic prospects and life choices.

It is clear therefore that we need to do more to support young carers. With the Care Bill also under consideration by Parliament, this is an ideal opportunity to ensure that young carers get equal consideration and protection. That is not to say that they should be treated the same as adult carers. We are committed to ensuring

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that young people are protected from excessive or inappropriate caring responsibilities. The best way to achieve that is to ensure that the person being cared for, whether that is an adult or a child, is assessed and has all their eligible needs met first. To do this effectively requires local services working together across the statutory and voluntary sectors to consider the whole family’s needs. Edward Timpson has worked and will continue to work closely with the Minister of State, Department of Health, the Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) who is responsible for care and support to ensure that that our respective pieces of legislation and associated guidance work together to deliver support to the whole family.

Both Departments have worked closely with interested parties over the summer, including the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, the Association of Directors of Adult Services, the National Young Carers Coalition, the Local Government Association, practitioners and young carers themselves. Our proposals reflect these discussions. We have also identified key principles to consider in the drafting of regulations and statutory guidance about a whole family approach to assessment of adults under the Care Bill. Draft regulations and guidance will be published for consultation in the spring.

Through this amendment to the Children and Families Bill we believe we have arrived at a solution that will deliver four things: it will consolidate and simplify the legislation relating to young carers’ assessments, making rights and duties clearer to both young people and practitioners; the right to an assessment of needs for support will be extended to all young carers under the age of 18 regardless of who they care for, what type of care they provide or how often they provide it; make it clear to local authorities that they must carry out an assessment of a young carer’s needs for support on request or on the appearance of need, and provide the appropriate links between children’s and adults’ legislation to enable local authorities to align the assessment of a young carer with an assessment of an adult they care for.

This amendment will work with provisions in the Care Bill that also support the combining of assessments, and the forthcoming regulations on a whole family approach to assessing and supporting adults. Together they will provide a clear legislative framework that will support local authorities to consider the needs of the whole family, deliver co-ordinated packages of support and protect children and young people from excessive or inappropriate caring roles.

Energy and Climate Change

Smart Meters

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Mr Edward Davey): I am pleased to announce that four companies have signed contracts to establish and operate the Data and Communications Company (DCC) providing the shared infrastructure needed for energy suppliers to roll out 53 million electricity and gas smart meters by 2020. This represents a significant milestone in the roll out of smart meters in Great Britain.

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Smart meters offer a range of intelligent functions. They will provide consumers near real-time information on their energy use in pounds and pence, as well as accurate bills to help them better manage their energy use. The roll out will support investment and growth, offering significant net benefits to the GB economy.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has been leading and co-ordinating the work of a wide range of parties to develop the policy, regulatory and commercial platform to roll out smart meters, through the smart meters implementation programme.

Within this programme, DECC has conducted competitions on behalf of industry to establish and operate the Data and Communications Company. The Department announced the award decisions in principle on Wednesday 14 August, subject to the completion of contracts. This process has successfully concluded as described below.

DCC Licence

Capita plc has been awarded the DCC licence. The DCC licensee will manage the smart metering service on behalf of its users and will contract with, and manage, the data and communications service providers. The estimated value of the licence over 12 years is approximately £175 million. The DCC licensee will be regulated by Ofgem.

Data Service Provider contract

CGI IT UK Ltd has signed a contract with Capita plc as the data service provider. CGI will develop and operate the system controlling the movement of messages to and from smart meters. The estimated value of this contract over eight years is approximately £75 million.

Communications Service Provider contract for the North region

Arqiva Ltd has agreed a contract with Capita plc as communications service provider for the north region (north of England and Scotland) and will provide wide area communications to and from the smart meters. The estimated value of this contract over 15 years is approximately £625 million.

Communications Service Provider contracts for the Centre and South

Telefónica UK Ltd has agreed a contract with Capita plc as the communications service provider for the centre (midlands, East Anglia and Wales) and south (south of England) regions. The estimated value for these two contracts over 15 years is approximately £1.5 billion.

The smart energy code will be administered on behalf of its parties by the smart energy code administrator and secretariat. Gemserv Ltd has been awarded a contract to perform this role valued at approximately £10 million over four years.

I am grateful to all bidders for their participation in these competitions and for the high quality of responses received. At the same time it is important that we acknowledge that this marks the beginning of a new set of challenges. To realise the important benefits for consumers, these companies must now build and test their systems and work closely with energy suppliers (and other service users like network operators) to support the smart meter roll out. This will require ongoing commitment from industry, from Government and from the Data and Communications Company.

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More information on the DCC’s role in the smart metering system can be found on the Government’s website


Coal Authority

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Michael Fallon): I am today announcing the start of the triennial review of the Coal Authority. Triennial reviews are part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that non-departmental public bodies continue to have regular independent challenge.

In line with the standard practice of such reviews, we will consider the authority in two stages. The review will first examine whether there is a continuing need for Coal Authority’s functions and its form, and whether it should continue to exist at arm’s length from Government.

Should the review conclude there is a continuing need for the body, it will then go on to examine whether the body’s control and governance arrangements continue to meet the recognised principles of good corporate governance.

I will announce the findings of the review by the spring of next year.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Westgate Shopping Centre: Terrorist Attack

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): I would like to inform the House about the Government’s response following the terrorist attack on the Westgate shopping centre in the Westlands area of Nairobi between 21 and 24 September. In doing so, I wish to repeat our message of profound sympathy to the Kenyan Government and the Kenyan people affected by this incident. I also, once again, express our condolences to the families and friends of the British citizens, and other nationals, killed in the attack. As the Prime Minister said on 22 September this was

“”an absolutely sickening and despicable attack of appalling brutality”.

Within hours of the terrorist attack unfolding on Saturday 21 September, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office activated its 24-hour crisis response centre. Travel advice, including details of the FCO emergency helpline number, was issued on 21 September advising UK nationals to avoid the area around the Westgate shopping centre. Also on 21 September, the Prime Minister spoke to the Kenyan Government to express the condolences of the British people and to offer any assistance we could provide.

Six British nationals were killed in the attack and three were injured and hospitalised. We were in touch with the next of kin and provided consular support and assistance to the families. A rapid deployment team was sent to Nairobi on 21 September to support the work of our High Commission in providing assistance to British

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nationals. Extra assistance measures, designed to provide additional support and assistance to British nationals in crisis situations, were activated. We have also been liaising closely with other Governments with affected citizens to share information on the situation and our response.

In response to a Kenyan request, the UK was able to provide assistance at the scene in the identification of bodies and the collection of forensic evidence. Other UK support has included the provision of rations and medical supplies to the Aga Khan hospital where many of the wounded victims were taken. We have continued to work closely with the Kenyan authorities and other international experts in providing expert support for the Kenyan-led operations.

The UK-Kenya partnership is strong and wide. We work together on many shared goals. The UK and Kenya have a mutual interest in tackling terrorist threats. In line with the UK’s overall approach to addressing terrorism overseas, we are committed to helping Kenya strengthen its capacity to investigate, prosecute and detain terrorists in line with international human rights obligations. Our support also extends to helping Kenya strengthen its borders and counter security threats that emanate from across its international borders. In recent years, this has included capacity building, training and the provision of specialised equipment. We will continue to discuss opportunities for co-operation with the Kenyan Government.


Science and Technology Committee

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Dr Daniel Poulter): My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health, Earl Howe, has made the following written ministerial statement:

I would like to inform the House, together with my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Universities and Science (Mr David Willetts), that the Government response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into Regenerative Medicine, Cm 8713, was laid before Parliament on 1 October.

The Government welcome the Committee’s report and agree with many of its helpful findings and recommendations.

The Government remain committed to the field of regenerative medicine and we recognise the significant role that regenerative medicine has in delivering the next generation of healthcare, providing possible treatments or cures for areas of unmet medical need. Regenerative medicine is recognised as one of the UK’s eight great technologies, given its huge opportunities for technological advance and the economic benefits we believe it can bring to the UK economy.

Following the recommendations of the report we are setting up a regenerative medicine expert group to develop an NHS regenerative medicine delivery readiness strategy and action plan. This group will draw and build on existing initiatives outlined in the response to ensure the NHS is fully prepared to deliver the innovative treatments that regenerative medicine offers. In addition, this group will monitor the effect that regulation has on the progress of regenerative medicines in the UK,

“Government Response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into Regenerative Medicine” is available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office. It is also available at:


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Personal Health Budgets

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb): In October 2011, the Government announced that people receiving NHS continuing health care (NHS CHC) would have the “right to ask” for a personal health budget (PHB), including a direct payment, subject to the results of the PHB pilot programme. This commitment was confirmed in November 2012, following the publication of the independent evaluation of the pilot programme.

This “right to ask” for a PHB will be enshrined in secondary legislation and will take effect in April 2014. These amendments make it clear that clinical commissioning groups will need to develop the capacity and capability to deliver PHBs, as it imposes an obligation to give serious consideration to requests for PHBs. The “right to ask” for a PHB is not the same though as an automatic entitlement to a PHB. There will be some people for whom a PHB is not appropriate because, for example, their existing package of care is the best way of managing their needs.

I am today announcing to the House that the position is to be strengthened for those groups who gain the “right to ask” for a PHB in April 2014, as from October 2014 this group will further be given the “right to have” a PHB. A “right to have” will guarantee that people in receipt of NHS CHC and those transitioning in from social care or children’s services will have continuity of care in the services they receive. Those already on NHS CHC will be able to continue to access the services they are familiar with as they will be in control of how their budget is spent and have the confidence to exercise choice. Similarly, those who are new to NHS CHC, those who transition in from social care budgets or those who transition from children’s services will be able to continue to access the services they are accustomed to without the fear that this power to choose will be taken away from them when they move to a new package of care. There will continue to be people for whom PHBs are not appropriate but by giving a “right to have” we will ensure that they will only be declined on clinical or financial grounds which are deemed to make a PHB unviable.

I believe that this policy will ensure stability and continuity for those who need it most and go further towards our goal of providing greater personalisation within our NHS.

Home Department

Registered Travellers

The Minister for Immigration (Mr Mark Harper): On 24 September 2013, Border Force launched a registered traveller scheme. Registered traveller will be beneficial to high value, regular travellers to the UK and have a positive impact on economic growth.

Individuals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States of America who have travelled to the UK four or more times as a short-term visitor in a preceding 52-week period will be able to apply to join

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registered traveller online at a dedicated website. Applications will be initially restricted to those registered on the iris recognition immigration system (IRIS) scheme, which has been in place since 2005 and will be fully decommissioned later this year.

Successful applicants will submit information contained in their passport to allow Border Force to undertake background checks prior to their next arrival in the UK, when, if their application is accepted, they will be able to enrol on the scheme. Once enrolled on the scheme, users will be able to access expedited clearance processes at the border. The scheme will initially be in operation at Heathrow and Gatwick airports before being rolled out to other ports in due course.

The period between now and April 2014 has been designated as a proof of concept phase for registered traveller. It is currently intended for registered traveller to operate on a permanent basis from 1 April 2014. The Home Office also intends for there to be an annual charge for the scheme from this point.

I have made an arrangement under paragraph 1 (d) of schedule 23 to the Equality Act 2010 to enable Border Force to process selected individuals from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States of America as “registered travellers”. This arrangement came into force on 24 September 2013 and will allow the scheme to operate on a sound legal basis.

The arrangement is made under the nationality exception contained in the Equality Act 2010. The nationalities covered by the arrangement will be reviewed by the Home Office on a regular basis.

I am placing a copy of the arrangement in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.

Serious and Organised Crime Strategy

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): On 7 October, I published a new cross-Government strategy for tackling serious and organised crime. Its publication coincides with the formal establishment of the new National Crime Agency (NCA).

Organised crime is a threat to our national security. It includes drugs trafficking, human trafficking, and organised illegal immigration, high-value fraud and other financial crimes, counterfeiting, organised acquisitive crimes and cyber crime. It costs the United Kingdom at least £24 billion each year. Crime groups intimidate and corrupt and can have a corrosive impact on our communities. Cyber crime undermines confidence in our communications technology and online economy. Organised immigration crime threatens the security of our borders. We regard human trafficking as a pernicious form of modern slavery. Financial crime may undermine the integrity and stability of our financial markets and institutions. Overseas, organised crime undermines good governance and the stability of countries of strategic importance to our national security. Organised crime groups can facilitate or engage in terrorism.

The aim of the strategy is to substantially reduce the level of serious and organised crime affecting the UK and its interests. It marks the biggest change in our approach to tackling this national security threat for a decade.

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This new strategy uses the framework we have developed for our counter-terrorism work. The immediate priority is to prosecute and continuously disrupt organised criminals and reduce the threat they pose (“pursue”). This includes the formation of the NCA as a powerful new body of operational crime fighters. The agency will hold the single authoritative intelligence picture of the threat to the UK from serious and organised crime and it will have cutting edge capabilities. It will work closely with the police and others, and have a mandate to lead and co-ordinate the national response. We will also ensure that new local partnership boards bring all available powers to bear against organised crime; there is more capability in regional organised crime units; there are new powers to attack organised crime, criminal assets and modern slavery; there is more enforcement action against foreign national criminals and our international network deals with all forms of serious and organised crime, including child sexual exploitation and cyber crime.

We will create a new programme to stop people beginning or continuing to engage in serious and organised crime (“prevent”). This will include raising awareness of the reality of serious and organised crime through new education and communications programmes; using existing intervention programmes (such as for gangs and troubled families) to prevent people from being drawn into different types of organised crime and more aggressive use of legal interventions such as serious crime prevention orders. And at the same time, we will better manage the threat from lifetime career criminals through an effective approach to tracking them into and out of prison.

We will increase protection against serious and organised crime (“protect”). This will include further strengthening our borders—including through the work of the NCA—and ensuring that there is better information sharing with the private sector about the threats we face. We want to see better collaboration between law enforcement and local authorities to contain the risk of organised crime benefitting from local authority procurement and the public to be better informed. And we are proposing a range of new measures to improve, more broadly, our anti-corruption response. We will also ensure that we have more robust contingency planning arrangements in place, and that we support people most affected by serious and organised crime (“prepare”).

Serious and organised crime requires a response across the whole of Government (national and local), the police and our law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies, and close collaboration with the private sector and with many other countries. The public has a part to play. The new strategy sets the framework, and unifying direction, for this response. It sets clear and coherent strategic objectives. It will bring the full power of the state to bear against serious and organised crime.

Copies of the strategy are available in the Vote Office.


Parliamentary Written Answer (Correction)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Jeremy Wright): I regret to inform the House that a written answer I gave on 2 September 2013, Official Report, column 218W, to the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) was incorrect. The hon. Member asked

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the Secretary of State for Justice how many offenders released on licence following a life sentence have committed (a) homicide and (b) other offences in each of the last two years. The response originally stated that there were four murders committed by four offenders. In fact, there were five murders committed by four offenders. All four offenders are now serving whole life tariffs.

The corrected answer is as follows:

Data on life sentence prisoners who commit offences of homicide are taken from the NOMS Public Protection Unit Database.

The most recent figures were published in July 2012 and may be found at the following web address:


In the last two years there were five murders committed by four offenders on life licence, two in one year and three in the other. To provide some context, there are around 1,900 life sentence prisoners on supervision in the community at any one time.

Data on offenders released on life licences who have committed offences other than murder are not held centrally in a readily accessible format for the last two years. To obtain these data would exceed cost limits.

However, there are also data from published proven reoffending statistics for England and Wales for life sentenced prisoners. These statistics are published on a quarterly basis and the latest bulletin, which was published on 26 April 2013 on the Ministry of Justice website, is available at the following address:


Trusts (Capital and Income) Act 2013

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): In a written ministerial statement of 14 March 2013, Official Report, column 27WS, my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Mrs Grant) announced that she had made the Trusts (Capital and Income) Act 2013 (Commencement No. l) Order 2013. This order brought the following provisions of the Trusts (Capital and Income) Act 2013 into force on the dates specified: (a) sections 1 to 3 (inclusive) on 1 October 2013; and (b) for the purpose only of exercising the power to make regulations in accordance with section 104B of the Charities Act 2011 as inserted by that provision, section 4 on 6 April 2013.

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My hon. Friend also said in the same statement that she would make a further announcement about the commencement of the remainder of section 4, which specifies when and how charities may adopt total return investment, following the completion of a consultation by the Charity Commission on the content of the regulations to be made under the new section 104B.

The Charity Commission has now completed the consultation and intends to bring the regulations into force on 1 January 2014. The Trusts (Capital and Income) Act 2013 (Commencement No.2) Order 2013 has therefore been made, which will bring section 4 fully in force on 1 January 2014.

As a result of the making of this order the whole of the Trusts (Capital and Income) Act 2013 will be in force from and including 1 January 2014.


Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): I am today announcing a review of the way in which the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) delivers services to its customers. This includes services to motorists, businesses, the police, the courts, local authorities and others.

We are committed to delivering better quality and better value motoring services to the public, business and other interested parties. In line with the objectives we set out in the Department for Transport’s motoring services strategy last year, we will undertake a review of the DVLA commencing this month. The review will focus on the DVLA’s current operation, services and change portfolio and make recommendations for a future business strategy which will enable digital service transformation and a step change in efficiency, while supporting economic growth and meeting statutory obligations. I am placing a copy of the terms of reference in the Libraries of both Houses and on the Department’s website.

Mary Reilly, a non-executive director of the Department for Transport, will lead the three-month review before submitting a report to Ministers outlining formal recommendations for transformation within the DVLA. We will then consider those recommendations fully before making any decisions and any further announcements.