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Written Statements

Thursday 4 July 2013

Cabinet Office

Security Vetting Appeals Panel (Triennial Review)

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Mr Francis Maude): I am today announcing the triennial review of the Security Vetting Appeals Panel (SVAP). Triennial reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that NDPBs continue to have regular independent challenge on their remit and governance arrangements.

The review will be undertaken by an independent external reviewer, Sir Alex Allan.

The review will challenge the continuing need for the function of the panel and its form. 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.

The aim will be to complete the review in September.


Employee-ownership Sector

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Danny Alexander): At Budget 2013, the Government announced that they would provide £50 million annually from 2014-15 to support the employee-ownership sector.

The Government are today publishing a consultation document setting out proposals for two new tax reliefs to encourage, promote and support indirect employee-ownership structures. One of the reliefs is for capital gains tax on the sale of a controlling interest in a business into an indirect employee-ownership structure. The second is an exemption, up to a certain threshold, from income tax and employer and employee national insurance contributions on a bonus or equivalent payment paid to employees of an indirectly employee-owned structure.

The document outlines the Government’s intentions for these new reliefs and asks questions about the proposals on which the Government invite comments.

The Government intend to legislate for these tax reliefs in Finance Bill 2014.

The document is available at:


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Communities and Local Government

Red Tape Challenge

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr Don Foster): Further to the statement made by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles), the Minister with responsibility for planning on, 31 January 2013, Official Report, columns 52-53WS, I would like to inform the House about the further consideration that has been given to the proposal to enable local authorities to provide building control services across local authority boundaries. This arose as part of my Department’s housing and construction theme for the red tape challenge when some local authorities indicated that they would like to provide building control services across boundaries to provide additional choice and consistency to small businesses.

The outcome is that we consider that local authorities in England may use the general power of competence provisions in the Localism Act 2011 to carry out such services outside of their local authority boundaries if they become approved inspectors. This opportunity should improve competition in the building control sector and help drive up standards. We will make local authorities aware of the provision in the Act to do this.

To become an approved inspector local authorities will need to set up a trading company which can then apply to the construction industry council for approval as an approved inspector. Local authority companies would only be able to act as approved inspectors in England outside of their local authority boundaries.

We will be providing further guidance to local authorities considering taking up this opportunity.

Culture, Media and Sport

Leveson Update

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Maria Miller): On 18 March 2013, we reached agreement about how we could deliver a new system of independent and robust self-regulation for the press as recommended in the report of Lord Justice Leveson. I want to update the House on developments since then.

The cross-party agreement, which continues to have cross-party support, included a royal charter to set up a verification body for a new independent press regulator; elements of legislation needed to secure the incentives for newspapers to participate; and a “no change” provision that protects the charter from future political interference. We have delivered those incentives through the provisions included in the Crime and Courts Act 2013 and the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.

On 30 April 2013, the Press Standards Board of Finance (PressBoF) formally petitioned the Privy Council Office with an alternative draft royal charter. When any petition for a royal charter is received by the Privy Council Office (PCO) it asks for an initial view from

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relevant Government Departments. This guides whether the royal charter should go forward for Privy Council consideration. On this occasion, Government have also taken advice from Counsel to ensure the procedure they follow is robust.

I will be requesting that the petition is added to the list of Privy Council business.

Cross-party discussions on the royal charter concluded on 18 March and a copy of that charter was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses. Work has continued to prepare the charter published on 18 March for formal submission to the Privy Council. Following the vote in the Scottish Parliament on 30 April, discussions have been held with the Scottish Government about the technical changes necessary to ensure its application in Scotland. The Commissioner for Public Appointments, who carries specific responsibilities under the charter, has also been consulted. Finally, a legal technical review of the charter has been undertaken as part of an overall assurance process. I will be publishing an updated version of the cross-party charter in due course.

We continue to support implementing the system of tough, independent self-regulation that Lord Justice Leveson recommended that protects a free press and delivers for the public and, especially those who are victims of press abuse. The press are making progress on setting up their self-regulator, which is an integral part of the process outlined by the Leveson report.


Ofsted Annual Report (Armed Forces Initial Training)

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr Mark Francois): Today Ofsted publishes its fifth report on welfare and duty of care in armed forces initial training, copies of which I have placed in the Library of the House. Following visits to 10 armed forces initial training establishments between October 2012 and February 2013, Ofsted reports that recruits and trainees feel safe and that their welfare needs are largely being met.

While all the locations visited by Ofsted are judged as “adequate” or better, including those which are judged as outstanding, there is still room for improvement and Ofsted has made a number of recommendations that will enable establishments to reduce wastage rates and improve procedures to share best practice in welfare and duty of care and for teaching and learning across their activities.

The armed forces are determined to ensure that the initial training environment is supportive of the needs of those new to the service and the particular focus of the Ofsted inspection provides additional detail on which to reflect and review the effectiveness of our training regimes.

Reserve Basing Statement Clarification

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond): Further to my announcement of 3 July about Reserves Forces and my associated written ministerial statement, Official Report, column 49WS, about “Army Reserve (Structure and Basing)” I wish to clarify three points:

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Kilmarnock is an existing Defence site and was included in the baseline of current Army Reserve sites in calculating the numbers of sites referred to in my statement. It will, in future, be occupied as an Army Reserve site. Arguably, we could have included it as a “new” site and reduced the baseline by one. The outcome is the same; that Scotland will have 46 Army Reserve sites in the future.

With regard to my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Alun Cairns), 3 July 2013, Official Report, column 944, I can confirm that there will be a Royal Naval Reserve presence at Barry and in Cardiff.

Finally for clarity, in relation to my response to the hon. Member for Dudley North, (Ian Austin), 3 July 2013, Official Report, column 939, regarding the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry, I can advise the House that, in addition to the regimental headquarters, to be known as the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry, there will also be a new headquarters squadron formed in Edinburgh; it is proposed that this is named HQ (Lothians and Border Horse) Squadron.

Deputy Prime Minister

Funding of Political Parties

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Nick Clegg): Following the publication of the 13th report from the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) in November 2011, I convened discussions between the three main political parties to discuss possible reforms to party funding.

Representatives met seven times during 2012 and 2013. Discussions were based on the principles identified by the CSPL, including reform of donations and spending, how to deal with affiliate bodies and the efficiency and balance of existing state funding.

I am disappointed that, as on previous occasions, there has been no agreement between the three parties on beginning party funding reform.

Although it is now clear that reforms cannot go forward in this Parliament, I hope that the principles explored can inform further discussions on this topic and that the parties will then return to this issue after the next election.

The Government have decided to proceed with sensible and necessary improvements to the controls on third parties which campaign at general elections to ensure that they are fully transparent and not allowed to distort the political process. These proposals will go ahead as part of a package of measures in a Bill which will include provisions for a lobbying register. We will introduce the Bill before the summer recess.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bovine Tuberculosis

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Owen Paterson): Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is the most pressing animal health problem in the United Kingdom. The crisis facing our cattle farmers, their families and their communities cannot be overstated. Bovine tuberculosis is a devastating disease which threatens

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our cattle industry and presents a risk to other livestock, wildlife species such as badgers, domestic pets and humans.

This was once a disease isolated to small pockets of the country. It has now spread extensively through the west of England and Wales. The number of new herd breakdowns has doubled every nine years and in the last decade we have slaughtered 305,000 cattle across Great Britain. In 2012 in England alone, over 5.5 million bTB tests were performed leading to the slaughter of 28,000 cattle with the disease costing the taxpayer nearly £100 million. In the last 10 years bTB has cost the taxpayer £500 million. It is estimated that this will rise to £1 billion over the next decade if the disease is left unchecked.

The Government are today publishing a consultation on a draft strategy for achieving official freedom from bTB in England. The strategy, which has been developed by the Animal Health and Welfare Board for England and the Bovine TB Eradication Advisory Group for England, draws upon successful approaches to eradicate bTB around the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Michigan in the Unites States of America and the Republic of Ireland. These demonstrate the importance of applying stringent cattle control measures in combination with tackling any significant reservoir of infection in wildlife, whether it is water buffalo, brush-tailed possums, white-tailed deer, or badgers. An additional factor which has contributed to their success is the fact that their programmes are either led by industry or delivered by Government and industry, with both parties contributing to the cost.

The strategy builds upon the measures applied currently including testing of cattle and other animals, additional controls in affected herds, and controls to address the reservoir of infection in badgers. The Government are proposing to work in partnership with the industry to develop risk-based packages using all available tools to protect low-risk areas of England, stop the geographical spread of bTB and bear down on the disease in endemic areas.

As well as using available tools the Government will continue to develop new ones. I have already achieved a major success in securing a concrete road map from the European Commission on the deployment of cattle vaccination. I am committed to meeting the minimum time scale but that is at least 10 years away. The Government will also continue to invest in the development of an oral badger vaccine and in new diagnostic tests for tuberculosis in cattle and badgers, which could pave the way for alternative approaches.

The final element is a consideration of options for governance, delivery and funding of the strategy. The New Zealand approach in particular, demonstrates the success of industry-led eradication strategies co-financed by industry and Government.

Tackling bTB will require long-term solutions and considerable national resolve. The strategy will deliver my ambition to reverse the rising trend in the worst affected areas of the country well before the end of this decade, achieve official freedom from bTB for parts of England on the same time scale and thereafter progressively rid the whole of England of bTB over 25 years. Our cattle industry and countryside deserve no less.

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Strengthening Corporate Accountability

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Norman Lamb): I am announcing today the publication of the consultation on strengthening corporate accountability in health and social care.

“Transforming care: A national response to Winterbourne View hospital”, published in December 2012, identified weaknesses in the system of accountability where leaders of health and care organisations are not held to account for the delivery of poor-quality care services or for allowing a culture where neglect and abuse are rife. The report committed the Department of Health and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to look at existing powers and options to improve corporate accountability for safety and quality in providers of health and adult social care registered with CQC and to bring forward proposals for consultation in spring 2013.

The consultation document sets out proposals to introduce a new registration requirement covering the fitness of directors of boards and to improve the way that existing sanctions are used to prosecute providers for failings in the quality and safety of care. “A new start: a consultation on changes to the way CQC regulates, inspects and monitors care” published on 17 June also sets out further details on these issues. The consultation will inform the new draft regulations which will be set out by the Department in the autumn and which we propose to lay before Parliament at the end of 2013.

The consultation will run until 6 September 2013 and applies to England only. “Strengthening corporate accountability in health and social care: A consultation” has been placed in the Library of the House. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office. It is also available at:


Home Department

Armed Forces Family Migration

The Minister for Immigration (Mr Mark Harper): This statement informs the House of changes to the immigration rules affecting members of Her Majesty’s forces and their families, which will be laid before Parliament in September to come into force on 1 December 2013. Full details are included in a statement of intent which I have published today. Copies are available in the Library of the House and on the Home Office website.

Changes to the immigration rules affecting non-European economic area (non-EEA) nationality family members of British citizens and persons settled here were implemented on 9 July 2012 as part of the Government’s overall programme of reform of immigration routes. Those changes aimed to ensure that non-EEA family members seeking to live in the UK will not become a burden on the taxpayer and will be able to integrate effectively in British society.

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Under temporary transitional arrangements, non-EEA family members of British citizens serving in Her Majesty’s forces were exempted from the family immigration rules changes pending a review of the rules affecting all non-EEA dependants of Her Majesty’s forces personnel, including family members of Foreign and Commonwealth citizens serving in Her Majesty’s forces. That review has now taken place and has produced a single set of rules covering the non-EEA family members of British service personnel and also the families of Foreign and Commonwealth citizens serving in Her Majesty’s forces, including Gurkhas discharged since 1 July 1997. The new rules will cover the dependants of service personnel currently dealt with under parts 7 and 8 of the immigration rules. They are intended to align the treatment of non-EEA family members of service personnel with the general approach to family immigration. At the same time they aim, so far as possible and appropriate, to treat all non-EEA dependants of service personnel in the same way, irrespective of the immigration status of the sponsor. And finally, they make special arrangements, in certain respects, to cater for the situations brought about by overseas postings which are a feature of service life.

With effect from 1 December 2013, the following rules will apply to armed forces families:

Service personnel who wish to sponsor their non-EEA dependants to enter or stay in the UK must meet a minimum income threshold of £18,600 for a partner, £22,400 for a partner and child and £2,400 for each additional child.

A basic English language requirement will also apply to all non-EEA partners seeking to enter or stay in the UK. This will be in line with the current such language requirement which applies to the partners of civilians and of serving British personnel.

Non-EEA partners of British and of Foreign and Commonwealth citizens serving in Her Majesty’s forces will serve a five-year probationary period before being eligible to apply for settlement.

To qualify for settlement, non-EEA partners and children between the ages of 18 and 65 will have to demonstrate a knowledge of language and life in the UK. This will involve passing the “Life in the UK” test and holding an intermediate level English language speaking and listening qualification. This is a new, more robust, requirement which is being introduced across the immigration system from 28 October 2013—as set out in the Home Office statement of intent on “Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK for Settlement and Naturalisation” published on 8 April 2013 and available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment data/file/182545/statement-of-intent-koll.pdf.

Dependants of serving British citizens, most of whom are already subject to a knowledge of language and life in the UK requirement, will switch to the new requirement from 28 October. Dependants of Foreign and Commonwealth citizens serving in Her Majesty’s forces, who are not currently subject to the requirement, will be required to meet it from 1 December.

The new armed forces family rules take full account of the principles set out in the armed forces covenant, which states that service personnel and their families should face no disadvantage as a result of service. Accordingly, the new rules will incorporate the following provisions specifically designed to accommodate overseas postings:

Applications may be made from overseas for all categories of leave under the armed forces rules.

The duration of a settlement visa under the armed forces rules will be extended to five years to enable a dependant to apply for settlement without having to renew their initial

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visa. This will remove the financial disadvantage currently faced by those who are overseas where application fees are more expensive than in the UK.

Time spent overseas on an accompanied posting will be regarded as time spent in the UK for the purpose of calculating the residence required for settlement.

The new rules will also remove some further anomalies and practical obstacles inherent in the current rules. Where a serving Foreign and Commonwealth member of Her Majesty’s forces naturalises as a British citizen, their family will be able to continue to progress to settlement; they will no longer need to switch immigration route because their sponsor’s immigration status has changed. Bereaved non-EEA partners of Foreign and Commonwealth citizens serving in Her Majesty’s forces will be treated in the same way as bereaved partners of British personnel and will be able to apply for settlement immediately if the sponsor dies in service, even if the death is not directly attributable to service. And alongside the new rules, we will deliver faster grants of settlement for service personnel on discharge, count reservist time on deployment towards residency requirements in the applicant’s substantive immigration status, and introduce an armed forces specific application form to facilitate identification and processing of applications from the armed forces community.

Transitional arrangements will apply to family members who already hold valid leave as a dependant of a service person, and to those who submit an application before 1 December 2013. These are set out in full in the statement of intent.

Taken together, these measures form a balanced set of provisions which reflect our overall approach to delivering a robust and sustainable immigration system, while taking account of the particular circumstances of the armed forces community.

Drug Paraphernalia

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): The Government have accepted the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to allow for the lawful provision of foil by drug treatment providers subject to the strict condition that it is part of structured efforts to get people into treatment and off drugs.

The Government’s 2010 Drug Strategy, “Reducing demand, restricting supply, building recovery: supporting people to live a drug-free life” is ambitious in its aims and takes a balanced approach. At its core is recovery—enabling individuals to live free from drug dependency, enabling them to rebuild their lives and address the criminality and health issues associated with drug abuse.

The available evidence shows that the provision of foil can encourage people to take their first steps into treatment, reducing the immediate harm and facilitating the onward journey towards recovery and abstinence. By lawfully providing foil under strict conditions, we also tackle the significant health risks associated with injecting behaviours, including the transmission of dangerous blood-borne viruses.

The Government will introduce legislation to ensure foil is only offered by drug treatment providers as part of structured efforts to get individuals into treatment,

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on the road to recovery and of drugs. We will also put in place mechanisms to carefully monitor and evaluate take-up, implementation and adherence to the conditionality over the next year.

Identity and Passport Service

The Minister for Immigration (Mr Mark Harper): The Identity and Passport Service—now renamed Her Majesty’s Passport Office—annual report and accounts 2012-13 has been laid before the House today and copies are available in the Vote Office.

UK Border Agency

The Minister for Immigration (Mr Mark Harper): The UK Border Agency annual report and accounts 2012-13 has been laid before the House today. Copies will be made available in the Vote Office.


Coroners and Justice Act 2009

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Mrs Helen Grant): Today I have published the Government’s response to the consultation on our plans for implementation of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, including new coroner rules and regulations and new statutory guidance for bereaved families. While we received a range of views on the consultation, there was broad consensus on most of the key issues.

We have made some changes to the detail of our original proposals to reflect the comments we received and I will lay in Parliament today the final versions of the rules and regulations that will underpin our reforms to the coroner system. We intend to bring the changes into force on 25 July.

The aims of the 2009 Act are to put the needs of bereaved people at the heart of the coroner system; for coroner services to be locally delivered but within a new framework of national standards; and to enable a more efficient system of investigations and inquests. I am confident that our reforms will enable these aims to be met.

The first Chief Coroner of England and Wales, His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC, with whom we have been working very closely in developing our proposals, will now oversee implementation of the reforms.

Copies of the consultation response paper have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses, in the Vote Office and in the Printed Paper Office. The document is also available online, at: http://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/coroner-reforms.


Motorcycle Test Review

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): Following research into the safety and feasibility of a single event on-road motorcycle test, I am today announcing the conclusion of the motorcycle test review.

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The test review was commissioned to consider alternative ways of providing a single event practical motorcycle test that can be carried out on the road in a way that would maintain riding standards, protect safety and increase accessibility of the test for candidates, while meeting the requirements of the European legislation.

The test is currently carried out in two separate modules. Module 1 is undertaken off-road on a purpose-built manoeuvring area and tests the higher speed and slow manoeuvres. Module 2 is the practical on-road ride.

The research, which ended in March 2013, used test-ready learners to complete the proposed on-road manoeuvres and the existing module 1 manoeuvres under mock test conditions. Direct comparisons were made between the on-road and module 1 test.

The research concluded that an on-road test:

would result in a substantial increase in the number of incidents during tests;

increased the duration of the test, which would result in higher costs for both candidates and the Driving Standards Agency;

resulted in significantly more faults than the off-road test; and

was likely to encounter technical difficulties in identifying suitable sites with appropriate signage, and suitable speed measurement equipment.

I have therefore concluded that a single event on-road motorcycle test would not be in the interests of motorcycle test candidates or their trainers and examiners and have decided to conclude the motorcycle test review.

The research findings have been published today on the gov.uk website.

This does not mean that the review has been in vain. It has provided a welcome opportunity for the Department of Transport and the Driving Standards Agency to work with stakeholders to look at how the module 1 test could be improved. The Driving Standards Agency made changes to the module 1 test by reordering the manoeuvres and introducing greater flexibility in the way that riders speed is assessed. These changes were welcomed by both examiners and trainers and have resulted in fewer incidents, particularly during the hazard-avoidance exercise.

Since the review started, the Driving Standards Agency has implemented a range of improvements for stakeholders and customers taking tests in Great Britain. Test provision has been increased by opening three additional sites for module 1 tests and introducing module 2 tests at an additional eight driving test centres. More motorcycle examiners have been made available following a successful recruitment campaign; and improvements to the booking system has resulted in more test bookings being made available at times and dates that provide better access for motorcycle trainers and candidates.

The Government will continue to seek out new ways of improving motorcycle training and tackling motorcycle casualties, so that motorcycle incidents continue to fall.

Work and Pensions

Workplace Defined-contribution Pension Schemes

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): I am pleased to announce that today the Government will publish a call for evidence into quality standards in workplace defined-contribution pension schemes.

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Automatic enrolment will lead to 6 million to 9 million people newly saving or saving more, primarily in defined-contribution pension schemes. Coupled with the introduction of a system of automatic transfers between workplace pension schemes, it is more important than ever that workplace pensions deliver a good experience for all their members.

While most schemes offer a good deal to savers, I am concerned there may be some—now or in the future—that do not deliver the standards that should be expected. Unlike other financial products, people who are automatically enrolled or automatically transferred into a workplace pension will not have made an active choice about which scheme to join. In addition, the long-term nature of pensions means it may not be clear how good an outcome a scheme will deliver for members until they have paid into it for many years. It is therefore particularly important that sufficient protections are in place to ensure that schemes are run in a way that is beneficial for members. The Government want to ensure that every defined-contribution scheme used for workplace saving delivers value for money and meets some essential minimum legislative standards.

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Charges are one important aspect of this. On 1 July I laid draft regulations to prevent the use of consultancy charges in automatic enrolment schemes. The Government also plan to publish a consultation on charges this autumn, following the Office of Fair Trading’s investigation into the workplace defined-contribution pensions market. This consultation will set out proposals on charges, including for introducing a charge cap.

The Pensions Bill currently before Parliament includes provision to specify minimum legislative standards for workplace money-purchase schemes, as part of the Government’s proposed system of automatic transfers. Responses to the call for evidence will form an important part of the development of a set of minimum standards that all such schemes will have to meet. In particular, we are seeking evidence and views on scheme governance, default strategies, administration and record keeping, and scale as these are the areas we are considering for minimum legislative standards.

I will place a copy of the call for evidence in the Libraries of both Houses. The call for evidence will also be available on the gov.uk website later today at the following address: https://www.gov.uk/government/ publications.