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Written Ministerial Statements

Thursday 20 December 2012

Attorney-General

Guidelines for Prosecutors (Doctrine of Joint Enterprise)

The Attorney-General (Mr Dominic Grieve): The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has today published guidelines for prosecutors on the use of the doctrine of joint enterprise by prosecutors. On 17 January 2012, the House of Commons Justice Committee published its report on the use of the doctrine of joint enterprise by prosecutors (11th report of session 2010-12, HC 1597). In its conclusions and recommendations, at paragraph 3, the Committee recommended that the DPP issue guidance on

“the proper threshold at which association becomes evidence of involvement in crime”.

As a result of this recommendation, the DPP drafted guidelines to prosecutors on the use of the doctrine of joint enterprise. On 11 September, the DPP commenced a limited consultation on the draft guidelines with a number of interested parties. As is generally acknowledged, the law of joint enterprise is complex, and it was felt a targeted consultation with lawyers, academics and campaigners, rather than a general consultation, would be of most benefit. That consultation exercise concluded on 19 October and the DPP has now considered the guidelines in the light of the responses received and, where appropriate, amended the guidelines accordingly. Owing to the limited nature of the consultation exercise no interim guidelines were issued.

The guidelines clarify that where association evidence is relied on, the circumstances of the association of the suspect with the principal offender, together with the other evidence in the case, must give rise to the inference that the suspect was assisting or encouraging the principal’s offence. The guidelines note that in some circumstances it may be appropriate to consider alternative charges which may be available and which do not require the use of the joint enterprise doctrine. In the event that the particular circumstances apply and no such alternative is available, the guidelines caution the prosecutor to weigh carefully the merits of proceeding with the more serious charge under the doctrine of joint enterprise. Each case will need to be considered on its own facts and on its own merits before a decision is made on prosecution.

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

Business, Innovation and Skills

Business Bank

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Vince Cable): The impact of the financial crisis on the cost and availability of credit is seriously affecting the economy. The Government have already taken action

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to ease the flow of credit to small and medium sized-businesses including by working with the Bank of England to launch the funding for lending scheme, by putting in place access to finance schemes such as the £1.2 billion business finance partnership and the seed enterprise investment scheme, and providing additional funding for the enterprise finance guarantee.

However, many good small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) still struggle to raise finance from their banks. Furthermore, well before the financial crisis Britain suffered from structural failings in finance, in long-term credit in particular. Now as the economy recovers, there is a risk that UK businesses lack the support they need to grow.

As set out in the autumn statement 2012, the Government therefore plan to deploy an extra £1 billion to create a business bank. We will maximise the bank’s impact and reach by exploring joint investment with the private sector and the use of Government guarantees. The bank will make wholesale interventions in the business finance market to facilitate the development of a greater diversity of non-bank business finance sources and to tackle other long-standing market gaps. We will also take steps to bring together Government finance schemes for small and medium-sized businesses so that they are managed as a single portfolio and ensure businesses are aware of and can access Government-backed business advice.

I wish to outline to the House how we will achieve this and what are the key milestones along the way.

We envisage the business bank operating on a commercial basis within a strategic framework set by Ministers. It will be charged with finding ways to fill gaps in the business finance market, based on economic analysis. A number of options are being considered including capital investments and guarantees for long-term finance products, as well as a wider range of wholesale funding activities which could become relevant over time. Detailed design of the activities will need to reflect the requirement to ensure our proposals are fully consistent with state aid rules. We plan to start a dialogue with the Commission about our proposals in January.

At the same time, and in order to start acting swiftly, we propose to use £300 million of the new funding to co-invest alongside the private sector in sources of finance that help diversify the business finance market. These investments will be made under section 8 of the Industrial Development Act 1982. Further detail of how this funding will be made available will be provided at Budget 2013 after engagement with market participants in the new year.

I am also creating an advisory group, which will comprise independent business and finance experts and advise the Government on the setting up and strategic direction of the new institution. Sir Peter Burt has very kindly agreed to chair this advisory group and additional members will be appointed very shortly. I can also announce today that Keith Morgan has joined the Government to lead the design work for the future business bank. The group will provide advice on:

The activities and specific segments of the market on which different activities of the business bank should focus

The design of existing interventions and how they could best be improved

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The detailed design of the new interventions, how to make them most effective, and how to attract private sector capital if desirable

How to ensure better joining-up of wider Government-funded business advice and support as well as enhanced awareness of and access by businesses to this support

The role of Government in such an organisation, and at what level

The overall implementation plan

The marketing plan for these activities

The key roles in terms of design and execution risk for the implementation phase.

We will use their expertise to develop proposals for the bank’s interventions and discuss and, where relevant, agree these interventions with Her Majesty’s Treasury, the Bank of England, UK regulators and the European Commission.

I will present more detailed proposals on these matters to the House next year.

Copyright Reform

The Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Vince Cable): Today the Government are publishing the final part of their response to their copyright consultation: “Modernising Copyright: a modern, robust and flexible framework”.

The response sets out Government decisions on changes to “copyright exceptions”: freedoms in copyright law that allow third parties to use copyright works for a variety of economically and/or socially valuable purposes without permission from copyright owners.

The Government are committed to achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is shared across the country and between industries. Following the Hargreaves review of intellectual property and growth, and an extensive consultation process, the Government believe that the copyright framework can be improved to make the UK a better place for consumers and for firms to innovate, in markets which are vital for future growth, without harming the UK’s valuable creative industries.

The Government have considered the responses to the consultation carefully, alongside the views of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee and others. They intend to make changes to widen existing or introduce new exceptions for private copying; parody; education; quotation and news reporting; text and data mining; research and private study; preservation; disabilities; public administration and reporting. These measures take account of what the Government have heard from creative industries about the need to minimise potential adverse impacts of any change.

The Government intend to make these changes via secondary legislation in autumn 2013. Prior to this, the Government will publish the draft regulations for technical review.

The response document will be published on the Business, Innovation and Skills, and Intellectual Property Office websites and a copy will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr William Hague): On 6 December I travelled to Dublin to attend the 19th Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) ministerial council—the organisation’s key decision-making body, which marked the culmination of Ireland’s 2012 OSCE chairmanship-in-office (CiO). My right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe also attended.

A key outcome was agreement on a new initiative designed to inject a fresh dynamic into the OSCE as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act in 2015. The “Helsinki +40” process tasks upcoming CiOs (Ukraine 2013, Switzerland 2014, Serbia 2015) to strengthen co-operation, enhance implementation of existing commitments and develop new approaches to realising a comprehensive “security community” well equipped to respond to the evolving threats to our collective security and prosperity. I spoke in support of the initiative urging all OSCE participating states to use this opportunity to develop a clear, reinvigorated vision of how the OSCE can best support security and stability across the region.

Through my plenary intervention I called on all states to implement sincerely and consistently their OSCE commitments, not least on human rights. I urged the OSCE to concentrate its efforts where it had most relevance and impact, in particular on election observation, media freedom, conflict resolution, violence against women, cyber-security, and conventional arms control and confidence and security-building measures.

The Irish CiO’s overriding objective was to agree a balanced package of decisions across the OSCE’s three dimensions: politico-military, economic and environmental and human. This was a pragmatic aim which this Government fully supported. Significant agreements were reached on a statement on the Transnistrian conflict, the first of its kind since 2002; development of a framework on counter-terrorism, as part of the OSCE’s work to address transnational threats; and a declaration on good governance, anti-corruption and transparency.

In the human dimension the UK supported adoption of decisions on media freedom, and racism and xenophobia; both key strands of the OSCE’s human rights work. It was disappointing that, in a repeat of the 2011 Vilnius ministerial council, no agreements were possible in this dimension; a clear indication of the divisions that persist within the OSCE on approaches to human rights issues. We are deeply concerned that a number of participating states appear to be falling short of their human rights commitments in the OSCE. The UK will work with the incoming Ukraine CiO to ensure that human rights, democracy and fundamental freedoms are at the forefront of the OSCE’s agenda through 2013.

Health

Parliamentary Written Questions (Correction)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Dr Daniel Poulter): I regret that the written answers given to the hon. Member for Hartlepool (lain Wright) on 6 November 2012, Official Report, column 584W, the

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right hon. Member for Warley (John Spellar) on 22 October 2012,

Official Report

, column 711W, the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) on 20 February 2012,

Official Report

, column 713W and the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) on 10 January 2012,

Official Report

, column 120W, contained some incorrect information.

The written answers pertained to the cost of exit packages incurred by primary care trusts (PCTs) and the information provided in the original answers incorrectly included a negative figure for one PCT, due to an error in compiling the figures for the annual report and accounts within the Department.

In respect of the answer given to the hon. Member for Hartlepool (lain Wright), a table showing the corrected figures is given below.

Category2010-112011-12
 

£000s

£000s

Compulsory redundancies

87,911

83,106

Other departures

134,982

91,589

Notes: 1.“Other departures” include early retirements (except those due to ill health), voluntary redundancies, mutually agreed resignation scheme, pay in lieu of notice etc. 2. Voluntary redundancies are not separately identifiable from other departures; therefore, an overall figure for redundancies is not available.

In respect of the written answer given to the right hon. Member for Warley (John Spellar), a table showing the corrected figures is given below.

Category2009-102010-11
 

£000s

£000s

Compulsory redundancies

4,457

60,367

Other departures

1,737

111,749

Notes: 1.“Other departures” include early retirements (except those due to ill health), voluntary redundancies, mutually agreed resignation scheme, pay in lieu of notice etc. 2. Voluntary redundancies are not separately identifiable from other departures; therefore, an overall figure for redundancies is not available.

In respect of the written answer given to the right hon. Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), the corrected information is as follows.

The total resource cost of exit packages for primary care trust (PCT) staff leaving their organisation in 2010-11 was £172.1 million. A table breaking down this cost for each PCT has been placed in the Library. The total value of £172.1 million includes £60.4 million for compulsory redundancies and £111.7 million for other departures. The figure for other departures includes the cost of both early retirements (excluding those relating to ill health) and voluntary redundancies. However, it is not possible to separately identify the value of either of these costs from the data collected.

In respect of the written answer given to the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Jonathan Reynolds) on 10 January 2012, Official Report, column 120W, the corrected part of the reply is given below.

Information from the audited NHS (England) summarised accounts for the financial year 2010-11 shows that the total resource cost of staff exit packages for strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and National Health Service trusts in the 2010-11 financial year was £223 million. This figure includes £88 million for compulsory redundancies and £135 million for other

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departures. The figure for other departures includes early retirements (excluding those because of ill health). It is not possible to separately identify this cost, or the cost of voluntary redundancies from the data collected.

Transport

Port of Dover

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mr Simon Burns): In January 2010 Dover Harbour Board (DHB) submitted a voluntary transfer scheme in accordance with section 9 of the Ports Act 1991, which allows a relevant port authority to voluntarily submit a transfer scheme, which, if confirmed by the Secretary of State for Transport, would allow the port to be privatised. This was followed by a statutory consultation period on Dover’s transfer scheme that ended on 25 March 2010.

On 16 May 2011 the then Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Mr Hammond), launched a consultation on the criteria that the Government consider relevant when considering the appropriateness of the sale of a major trust port. The revised criteria—“Secretary of State for Transport’s Guidance Note concerning procedure for the sale of trust ports”—was published on 3 August 2011.

In response to the revised criteria, DHB submitted more information in June 2012, and there was a further six-week period for representations which ended on 27 July 2012.

I took over as decision Minister from the right hon. Member for Chipping Barnet (Mrs Villiers) in September 2012 and wish to announce the decision, on behalf of the Secretary of State to the House, today.

I have decided not to confirm DHB’s transfer scheme. I reached my conclusion taking into account the published policy. I concluded that the transfer scheme proposed would not ensure a sufficient level of enduring community participation in the port. I also concluded that so far as the board made the application in order to be able to obtain the additional finance necessary to undertake the proposed redevelopment of the Western Docks, there were other options available to secure that redevelopment.

The full decision letter will be available on the Department’s website shortly after this statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond), as maritime Minister will now discuss with DHB their plans for the future of the port.

Government Car and Despatch Agency

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): I am publishing today details of the charges incurred by Departments for the use of official Government cars provided to Ministers by the Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) during the year 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012. This is in line with previous annual statements.

The charges recorded in the statement show a continuing reduction in the amount spent on official cars for Ministers. Costs to Departments have seen a 49% reduction in the

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latest figures when compared to those of the previous year and a 72% reduction when compared to the figures for April 2009 to March 2010:

2009-10April 2010May 2010-March 20112011-12

£6.7m

£0.8m

£2.9m

£1.9m

Official cars are an essential service for Ministers in order that they can carry out their work effectively but we are committed to continuing our focus on the cost of this service.

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The charges recorded in the statement also reflect the progress made on restructuring the service to maximise value for money while improving standards of service delivery. This programme of reform includes the development of a new service model which will offer up further cost savings on the provision of the service. The new service model was announced in February 2012 and introduced in April 2012. The associated charges will be reflected in next years’ written ministerial statement.

The figures for 2011-12 are:

DepartmentAllocated Cars(1)Allocated CostMinisterial Car PoolTotal Cost

Attorney-General’s Office

1

£76,645.29

£15,495.00

£92,140.29

Cabinet Office

1

£58,097.77

£24,456.90

£82,554.67

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

1

£71,075.32

£3,270.71

£74,346.03

Department for Education

1

£71,912.21

£91,270.73

£163,182.94

Department for Communities and Local Government

1

£83,689.50

£119,130.47

£202,819.97

Department for Culture, Media and Sport

0

£0.00

£1,740.81

£1,740.81

Department for Energy and Climate Change

0

£0.00

£36,687.79

£36,687.79

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

1

£74,013.16

£5,691.82

£79,704.98

Department for International Development

0

£31,649.41

£48,434.94

£80,084.35

Department for Transport

1

£84,818.65

£56,221.79

£141,040.44

Department for Work and Pensions

1

£87,388.17

£57,117.69

£144,505.86

Department of Health

1

£7,885.11

£119,966.86

£127,851.97

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

0

£0.00

£23,020.77

£23,020.77

HM Treasury

1

£105,640.88

£47,802.27

£153,443.15

Home Office

1

£75,922.71

£60,919.17

£136,841.88

Ministry of Defence

0

£0.00

£0.00

£0.00

Ministry of Justice

1

£91,509.03

£103,405.45

£194,914.48

Northern Ireland Office

0

£0.00

£34,289.71

£34,289.71

Scotland Office

0

£0.00

£60.00

£60.00

Wales Office

1

£78,067.12

£6,380.00

£84,447.12

 

13

£998,314.33

£855,362.88

£1,853,677.21

(1)Number of allocated cars as of 31 March 2012. One allocated car service terminated mid-year.

Where Ministers were provided with a protected service because of their need for greater security, the costs related to this service are not included as this is not aid for directly by Departments but centrally by the Home Office.

Ministers may use other means of transport or other secure providers of car services, so the official figures provided by GCDA for the statement may not reflect the total spend by Departments on cars used for ministerial travel.

These figures do not cover the full costs of delivering the car service. These are set out annually in the GCDA annual report and accounts.

Rail Franchising

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): I would today like to give an update on the situation in relation to franchised train operator London Midland (LM).

Passengers who use LM trains may be aware that the operator has been experiencing difficulties recently, with a number of services being cancelled due to a shortage of driving staff

This situation has caused inconvenience and disruption, particularly to passengers in the west midlands, many of whom have expressed their dissatisfaction to me. I very much share their disappointment that they have not had the reliable service that they rightly expect.

However, although the recent levels of performance have been extremely disappointing, I am pleased to say that the measures that LM have put in place are beginning to work.

LM has implemented increases to driver efficiency to enable drivers to operate an increased number of routes during existing shifts, improved driver training processes, provided additional incentives for drivers to work overtime and put in place new measures that allow for drivers to cover shifts on other parts of the network where there are shortages.

This is in addition to the ongoing training programme that LM is undertaking to ensure that new drivers enter productive service as quickly as possible.

However, LM’s performance has been of such a level that they are now in breach of their contractual obligations. We have made London Midland aware that they must now take action to compensate passengers for the disruption caused. We have, therefore, agreed with LM that they

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will provide a substantial package of passenger benefits by way of compensation for the inconvenience that has been caused.

LM has agreed to spend an additional £4 million over the remainder of the franchise to put in place measures to ensure that these problems do not happen again. In addition, the package of passenger benefits includes the issue of five free rail day passes to London Midland season ticket holders, with an expected value of up to £3.5 million. We have also agreed that London Midland will invest a further £2.25 million in infrastructure improvement projects. We have required London Midland to discuss with Centro, the west midlands passenger transport executive, how the majority of this money will be invested for the benefit of those passengers who have experienced the worst disruption.

As a result of this consultation, LM has agreed that most of this money should be directed towards measures such as improvements to safety and security at stations and improving the reliability and efficiency of LM trains.

Lastly, we have also agreed with LM that they must make available an additional 500,000 advance tickets on key routes on the LM network, giving a net benefit of

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around £1.9 million to passengers who will be able to take advantage of these cheaper fares over the next two years of the franchise.

I hope that LM will be able to remain the operator of this franchise for the remainder of its contract—to September 2015. But London Midland will continue to work to challenging performance benchmarks for the remainder of the franchise, and we will take further action (including ending the franchise early and re-tendering it, if appropriate) in the event of any recurrence of performance problems.

In addition to the package of passenger benefits, we have agreed to revise the profile of performance benchmarks for the next year, to include additional measures that can penalise LM financially in the event of further poor performance. We have also agreed financial measures to ensure that the reduction in revenue as a result of the free and discounted tickets is borne by LM, and not by the taxpayer.

I am confident that this package, on balance, represents a good deal for passengers and taxpayers, and sends a message to the industry that this level of cancellations is unsatisfactory. I hope that LM can now put this period behind it, and continue to operate a good service for its passengers for the remainder of its franchise.