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Written Statements

Thursday 5 September 2013

Business, Innovation and Skills

Transfer of Undertakings Regulations (TUPE)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills (Jo Swinson): Earlier this year I published a consultation seeking views on how we should reform the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE regulations). This consultation was part of the Government’s Parliament-long employment law review. The review is reforming employment laws so that they support the flexibility and effectiveness of our labour market; and ensuring that our employment laws firmly establish fairness for workers and employers.

The TUPE regulations protect employee rights when the business or undertaking for which they work transfers to a new employer. Our consultation presented a number of proposals to improve the regulations by removing unnecessary “gold plating” and bureaucracy whilst retaining important protections to ensure that transfers continue to be fair for employees.

I have published the Government’s response to the consultation today. In our response we outline a package of reforms that remove unfair legal risks that businesses currently face, give businesses more legal certainty in what they can do and reduce the bureaucracy of a transfer.

Our intention is that regulations will be laid before Parliament in December 2013.

The amendments will include changing the wording of the provisions in TUPE in respect of restricting changes to contracts and protection against dismissal so that they more closely reflect the wording of the acquired rights directive and the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

We will allow terms derived from collective agreements to be renegotiated one year after a transfer provided that overall the change is no less favourable to the employee.

We will also amend the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 so that, in certain circumstances, consultation which begins prior to a transfer can count for the purposes of complying with the collective redundancy rules. Many businesses already engage in such consultation but businesses that do so run the risk of a legal challenge that it may not count—our amendment seeks to provide certainty to employers on this point.

In addition we will also allow small firms, in some situations, to inform and consult employees about transfers directly. We will improve the guidance on a range of issues.

In light of the responses received during the consultation, the Government have decided to retain the transfer test for service provision changes. We have also decided to retain the requirements on employee liability information that must be given to the new employer, as business

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generally finds these provisions helpful. We have, however, decided to extend the usual deadline for providing this information from 14 to 28 days before the transfer takes place. We believe that by providing information about transferring employees earlier in the TUPE process, new employers can better prepare for their new staff.

A copy of the response document and impact assessment has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Cabinet Office

Charity Law and Regulation

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr Nick Hurd): I can announce the publication today of the Government’s responses to two reports on charity law and regulation: (1) Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts’ statutory review of the Charities Act 2006; “Trusted and Independent; Giving charity back to charities” and (2) the Public Administration Select Committee’s third report of 2013-14; “The role of the Charity Commission and “public benefit”: Post-legislative scrutiny of the Charities Act 2006”.

I thank both Lord Hodgson and the Public Administration Select Committee for their detailed, thorough and well-balanced reports. Careful consideration was given to all of the recommendations in both reports, and feedback from charities and other partners was taken into account in developing the response.

The Government have accepted many, but not all, of the recommendations made by Lord Hodgson and the Public Administration Select Committee. We will focus on those recommendations which make it easier for people to set up or run a charity, or which boost public trust and confidence in charities. Implementation has already started on several recommendations, and we will report on progress next year.

The Government’s response will be laid before the House later today. It will also be available from: www.gov.uk/government/publications.


Equitable Life Payment Scheme

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Sajid Javid): As of 31 August 2013 the scheme has made payments totalling £734 million. The scheme has also published a further progress report, which can be found at:


The scheme has now contacted all the eligible individual policyholders it can trace. Any holders of an individual non with-profits annuity or with-profits annuity who have not been contacted by the scheme should call the scheme on 0300 0200 150 to confirm the eligibility of their policy and be advised of the next steps they should take.

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The scheme has also started making payments to those who bought their Equitable Life policy through a company pension scheme, with circa 148,000 payments already made to this group. All the traced company pension schemes have been written to by the payment scheme to begin the process of data exchange. As a result of this, agreements have been completed that cover circa 95% of policyholders, with data covering 65% sent to the scheme. Trustees who have not yet provided data have been asked to do so as soon as possible. On receipt of data from company pension scheme trustees, payments are being issued by the scheme.

The process of identifying, tracing and contacting the estates of deceased policyholders has been completed. Payments to all those estates that have responded to the scheme will continue over the coming months.


National Employer Advisory Board

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr Mark Francois): Following an open competition, I am pleased to advise the House of the appointment of three new members to the National Employer Advisory Board (NEAB). They are:

Mr Alun Griffiths

Mr Kevin Goodman

Mr Paul Noon

They join the other 11 members of the board, which is chaired by Mr Richard Boggis-Rolfe and which continues to provide informed independent strategic advice to Ministers, the chiefs of staff and the reserves community about how the Ministry of Defence can most effectively gain and maintain the support of and for employers of reservists for Britain’s reserve forces. I take this opportunity to thank NEAB for its work which is greatly valued by the Ministry of Defence.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Biodiversity Offsetting/Ecosystems Markets Task Force

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Owen Paterson): The Government are today publishing a Green Paper on biodiversity offsetting and their response to the Ecosystems Markets Task Force (EMTF) report.

Published on 5 March 2013, the EMTF report made recommendations to enhance the environment and drive growth across a range of sectors, including water, energy, knowledge services, construction and manufacturing.

The taskforce’s report highlights and builds on many important areas that we are actively pursuing, such as anaerobic digestion and innovative woodland and water management. The Government’s response explains how we intend to drive these opportunities forward and maintain pace in our work to firmly establish natural capital in our decision making. The taskforce identified biodiversity offsetting as its first area for action.

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Biodiversity offsets are conservation activities that are designed to give biodiversity gain to compensate for residual losses. They are different from other types of ecological compensation as they need to show measurable outcomes that are sustained overtime. Biodiversity offsetting is already used in more than 25 countries including Australia, Germany, India and the United States.

The Government are interested in how a biodiversity offsetting scheme tailored to England can help the country meet its need for both nature and development for its long-term prosperity. The planning system should help deliver both these objectives. The best planning decisions do manage to protect and enhance biodiversity; however, the system does not always work as well as it should. Some planning decisions take too long and the outcome can be too uncertain, which can hinder development. At the same time biodiversity impacts are not always adequately taken into account, or mitigated or compensated for in ways that deliver enduring environmental benefit.

Biodiversity offsetting has the potential to help the planning system deliver more for the environment and the economy. This Green Paper:

Explains what biodiversity offsetting is;

Sets out the Government’s objectives to avoid additional costs to developers and achieve better environmental outcomes and explores how offsetting could help achieve these objectives;

Sets out the options for biodiversity offsetting and the Government’s preference to give developers the choice to use offsetting and seeks comments;

Seeks evidence to improve Government’s understanding of the costs and benefits of biodiversity offsetting compared to existing approaches;

Asks questions about how detailed design of an offsetting system should be approached.

The biodiversity offsetting consultation paper and the Government’s response to the EMTF report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The consultation runs until 7 November 2013. Following the consultation, the Government will develop their detailed proposals for using biodiversity offsetting and plan to set these out by the end of 2013.

Home Department

Specialist Printing Equipment and Materials

The Minister of State, Home Department (Mr Jeremy Browne): The police and the specialist printing equipment and materials industry have identified a rising trend in illegal document factories buying such goods in order to produce counterfeits of credit cards and Government-issued documents including passports and driving licences. This trend helps criminals to enter the country illegally, commit benefit fraud and evade criminal records checks. Not only do the public suffer from billions of pounds worth of fraud each year, but counterfeit documents also help criminals to avoid the law and safeguard their ill-gotten gains.

The Government published a consultation on 2 March on preventing the supply of highly specialist printing equipment to fraudsters. Today, we are publishing an analysis of the consultation responses and the Government

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response. The consultation enabled us to evaluate evidence from suppliers of specialist printing equipment and materials to develop a proportionate and effective response to tackle this problem. As a result of the consultation we are today also publishing guidance on voluntary procedures businesses can adopt to protect themselves from becoming victims of payment fraud and reduce their risk of inadvertently supplying specialist printing equipment and materials for use in criminal conduct. A copy of the Government response and the guidance will be placed in the House Library.

We will also be supporting the hon. Member for Dover’s (Charlie Elphicke) Private Member’s Bill, the Specialist Printing Equipment and Materials (Offences) Bill, which seeks to make it a criminal offence to knowingly supply specialist printing equipment and materials for use in criminal conduct.

Opt-in Decisions

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (James Brokenshire): In his written ministerial statement on 20 January 2011, Official Report, column 51WS, the Minister for Europe outlined the coalition Government’s commitment to further strengthen parliamentary scrutiny of JHA opt-in decisions. This included a commitment, where there is strong parliamentary interest, to set aside time for a debate in both Houses on their proposed approach.

The Government have decided to offer debates in Government time on the following proposals, which it is anticipated will be published in 2013:

Home Office dossiers

Proposed regulation on Europol

On 27 March 2013 the European Commission published a draft regulation to repeal the existing Council decisions governing the European Police Office (Europol) and the European Police College (CEPOL). This will establish Europol as the “European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training”. This measure has already been the subject of an opt-in debate in the House of Lords on 1 July 2013 and in the House of Commons on 15 July 2013. The Government have decided that the UK will not opt in to the regulation at the initial stages but that they should opt in post-adoption, provided that Europol is not given the power to direct national law enforcement agencies to initiate investigations or share data that conflicts with national security. The UK will remain fully engaged in the negotiations at all levels.

Proposed regulation reforming Eurojust

This draft regulation, which was published on 17 July, aims at developing and reinforcing Eurojust’s functioning and determining arrangements for involving the European Parliament and national Parliaments in the evaluation of Eurojust’s activities.

Proposal for a European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO)

On 17 July, in parallel with the Eurojust proposal, the Commission also published a proposal to establish a European Public Prosecutors’ Office (EPPO). It is envisaged that the EPPO will initially be responsible for crimes against the financial interest of the EU. The Government have made clear in the coalition agreement that the UK will not participate in any proposal for a European Public Prosecutor.

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Proposal on fighting money laundering

Money laundering is already a criminal offence in all EU member states and is listed in the treaty as one of the areas where the EU may create minimum standards for offences and penalties. The Commission has concluded that the absence of a common approach in member states to this issue hinders cross-border investigations and police co-operation, and is therefore suggesting the need to harmonise the offence of money laundering at EU level.

Ministry of Justice dossiers

Proposal for a directive on special safeguards in criminal procedures for suspected or accused persons who are vulnerable

The measure will aim to ensure that special attention is shown in criminal procedures throughout the EU to suspected or accused persons who are vulnerable, such as children and vulnerable adults (initiative 45). This will form measure E of the criminal procedural rights road map. It is expected that this proposal will be published in November 2013.

Initiative regarding legal aid in criminal proceedings

This will be the fourth step on the criminal procedural rights road map. The road map tasked the Commission with bringing forward a measure on access to a lawyer and legal aid at the same time. The Commission has decoupled the two, publishing the proposed directive on access to a lawyer in June 2011, with the measure on legal aid expected sometime in 2013.

Department for Transport dossier

Proposal for a directive on the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the commercial road transport field

This measure is expected to establish common minimal rules with regard to the definition of offences and sanctions, including criminal offences, in the field of commercial road transport. Such a harmonisation aims to reduce distortions of competition and the unequal treatments when committing infringements. Formal proposals are currently expected in the autumn of 2013 as part of an internal road market package.

Measures may be added to or removed from this list depending on the level of parliamentary interest that is generated by the published proposal. The list is provisional depending on the Commission’s timetable which may change. It is also not always possible to predict, ahead of analysis of the final proposal, whether the opt-in will apply. Parliament will be kept informed of any changes, which will be discussed with the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee and the House of Lords European Union Committee.

The content of this statement primarily relates to arrangements for debates in the House of Commons. It is anticipated that the House of Lords will continue to call debates under existing procedures.

Regulatory Regime (Private Security Industry)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (James Brokenshire): I am today publishing a summary of responses to the Home Office consultation on the Government’s preferred option for reforming how the private security industry is regulated—a transition to a business regulation regime.

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The current arrangements for the regulation of the private security industry in the United Kingdom are set out in the Private Security Industry Act 2001. Responsibility for delivering regulation lies with the Security Industry Authority (SIA), a non-departmental public body accountable to the Home Secretary. Following the public bodies review in 2010, the Government concluded that the SIA’s functions should be reformed. The consultation provided a detailed proposal for a new regulatory regime for the private security industry.

Overall, there was strong support for the Government’s proposed reforms and the majority of respondents supported the introduction of business regulation, together with a new individual licensing process, as soon as possible.

The key reform outlined in the Home Office consultation was that a new regulatory regime would be introduced which will require businesses providing security industry services to be approved by the Security Industry Authority (SIA). In order to be approved, companies would be required to ensure that they meet certain minimum standards appropriate to the industry. In return, businesses will be given greater responsibility for checking their employees’ suitability for working in the industry.

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A copy of the consultation response will be placed in the House Library and will also be available on the GOV.UK website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/consultation-on-future-regulatory-regime-for-the-private-security-industry.


Transforming Legal Aid

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): I am today publishing the Government response to the consultation paper “Transforming Legal Aid: Delivering a More Credible and Efficient System”, published on 9 April this year as well as further consultation on some revised proposals. Copies of “Transforming Legal Aid: Next Steps” will be placed in the Library and will be available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

I will make an oral statement to the House on this matter later today.