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Written Statements

Thursday 21 November 2013

Cabinet Office

Big Lottery Fund (Triennial Review)

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Mr Nick Hurd): I am today announcing the start of the triennial review of the Big Lottery Fund.

All Government Departments are required to review their non-departmental public bodies at least once every three years. The review will be conducted in two stages. The first stage will examine whether there is a continuing need for the functions performed by the Big Lottery Fund, and whether the organisation should continue to operate in its current form. If it is determined that there is a continuing need for the organisation in its current form, the second stage will assess whether the body’s control and governance arrangements continue to meet the recognised principles of good corporate governance and whether the fund operates in an effective and efficient way.

The findings of both stages of the review will be examined by a challenge group. Copies of the report will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Police and Guarding Agency

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Anna Soubry): On 27 March 2012, Official Report, columns 116-19WS, following a thorough and wide ranging review of the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) civil policing and guarding policy, the then Minister responsible for defence personnel, welfare and veterans my right hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire (Mr Robathan) announced some broad measures to adjust the number of policing and guarding posts at certain defence establishments, in order to maintain effective and proportionate protection, against the main security and crime risks faced by the Department.

Following that announcement, formal proposals for change were developed for consultation with the staff association and the trade unions representing the MOD police and the MOD guard service (MGS). Formal consultation commenced in October 2012, and concluded in June 2013.

This was a complex consultation. I should like to place on record my thanks to the trade union and staff association officials for the professional and constructive approach they have taken throughout the process. I know that my predecessor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) met them during the consultation to hear the views and concerns they wanted to express on behalf of their members.

Following the consultation, we have decided to implement the measures set out by my hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire, though in some cases with changes arising from the consultation process. For security reasons

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I cannot give details of our new arrangements, but I can say that while there will be prudent reductions in security personnel at some sites (reflecting the latest assessment of risk), many establishments will now have strengthened overall protection, particularly against the terrorist threat.

I very much regret that, as part of these changes, significant numbers of civilian posts in the MGS have been removed, with their duties passing to military personnel, who can be armed when necessary to counter the terrorist threat.

I would like, however, to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the MGS for the excellent contribution it has made over many years to security across the MOD, and will continue to make at the large number of defence sites where it will still operate.

I would stress that everything possible is being done to support those individuals in the MGS who have been adversely affected by these changes, including those potentially facing redundancy because their circumstances mean they are unable to move to a different location where work is available.

I should also like to place on record my thanks to members of the MDP and the military provost guard service (MPGS) for the very important roles they too perform in support of security across the defence estate.

Overall, these changes represent an improvement in security risk management in the MOD, and they have allowed significant recruitment campaigns to begin in the MDP, the MGS and also in the MPGS who will now play a more prominent role in guarding military establishments.

The House can be assured that the MOD attaches the very highest importance to security, and will continue to ensure that risks are kept under review and that effective protection is maintained at all our establishments.

Energy and Climate Change

Public Financing of Coal Plants Overseas

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Mr Edward Davey): Today, along with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development, I am announcing that the Government of the UK is joining the United States in agreeing to end support for public financing of new coal-fired power plants overseas, except in rare circumstances. We will work together to secure the support of other countries and multilateral development banks (MDBs) to adopt similar policies.

The UK Government recognise that energy infrastructure investment is critical to economic growth and poverty reduction in many developing countries, and that MDBs have an important role in financing energy investment. However, investments in new coal-fired energy production risk locking countries in to higher levels of carbon emissions over the coming decades. In order to avoid dangerous climate change, it is estimated that global coal demand will need to fall by 45% from 2009 levels by 20501. Globally we need to rapidly move away from unabated coal power generation. That is why we are calling for an end to supporting public financing of new coal-fired power plants overseas, except in rare circumstances.

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Our position brings the UK in line with the significant international actions already taken by others including:

The US: in June 2013, President Obama called for an end to US support for public financing of new coal plants overseas except for the most efficient coal technology available in the world’s poorest countries in cases where no other economically feasible alternative exists or facilities deploying carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

The World Bank: in July 2013, the World Bank’s board agreed to a new energy strategy to limit the financing of coal-fired power plants to rare circumstances.

The European Investment Bank: in July 2013, the European Investment Bank announced an end to funding coal power plants unless they can meet a new emissions performance standard.

Denmark, Sweden. Norway, Finland and Iceland: in September 2013, the leaders of these countries issued a joint announcement with the US that included a commitment to end public finance for new coal-fired power plants overseas, except in rare circumstances.

The UK Government will only consider MDB proposals for financing coal-fired power plants in the world’s poorest countries where no other economically feasible alternative exists. We will consider these on a case-by-case basis, and only when all of the following conditions are met:

The country is an IDA-only eligible country, where gross national income per capita is below $1,945.

There is a compelling poverty reduction case.

Full consideration has been given to the economic feasibility of low-carbon alternatives.

It is part of a credible low-carbon development pathway, and meets environmental and social standards.

There is a risk assessment of long-term financial viability.

The investment will use best available technology.

An assessment has been carried out of the technical, economic and financial feasibility of building the coal-fired power plant as CCS ready.

We would also be prepared to support MDB proposals for financing the additional costs of facilities fully deploying carbon capture and storage technologies.

These conditions will be used to guide UK assessment of coal-fired power projects developed by the MDBs. They will therefore inform UK views on board-level decision making at the MDBs, including where we are part of a constituency with other countries. They will guide the UK Government’s future interactions with MDB staff on project development. We will also promote these criteria with other countries, as the basis for decision making.

This statement applies to all UK official development assistance. CDC will also not finance any unabated coal plants overseas.

UK Export Finance (UKEF) is not presently legally able to discriminate between classes or types of exports, but as announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on 17 July 2012, UKEF will normally refuse support for projects that do not meet international environmental standards, principally those of the World Bank Group (International Finance Corporation “performance standards”). UKEF has not supported a coal-fired power station overseas since 2002.

1 EA, Energy Technology Perspectives 2012.

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Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Marine Conservation Zones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (George Eustice): Today I am pleased to announce the designation of 27 marine conservation zones (MCZs) in the waters off the English coast. A 28th MCZ at Hythe bay in Kent, will be further investigated by the Kent and Essex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority and Natural England before I make a final decision on this site early in the new year.

These new MCZs will protect nationally important habitats and species around the English coast and help improve our marine environment. The designations are the culmination of a great deal of hard work by a wide range of stakeholders in co-operation with Government and their agencies. This has been a huge undertaking and I would like to thank all who have contributed.

I am also pleased to announce that the process for designating further MCZs will now start in earnest with the aim of designating a second tranche in 2015-16 and a third in 2016-17. We anticipate that these tranches will combine with other marine protected areas to complete our contribution to an ecologically coherent network including the waters around our islands. To support this process we have been working with the devolved Administrations in the UK, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee and national conservation agencies to take stock of the habitats and species protected in existing and planned marine protected areas so that we can identify areas to be protected by future designations.

We will continue to make full use of the work of the earlier regional MCZ projects including considering whether some of the sites recommended by those projects are more suitable to be assessed as potential inter-tidal sites of special scientific interest. A review of reference areas as recommended by Natural England and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee is planned to start in early 2014.

The new MCZs will complement the protection given to the existing 113 English sites of special scientific interest with marine components, 44 English marine special areas of conservation (SACs) established under the EU habitats directive and 44 English marine special protection areas (SPAs) established under the EU wild birds directives. These marine protected areas taken together cover over 30,000 sq km in English inshore and offshore waters, an area broadly the size of Belgium. Since 2010 the area of inshore marine sites around England has increased substantially and with the MCZs designated today, just under 25% of English inshore waters are now within marine protected areas.

All of our marine SACs have now been adopted by the European Commission as sites of community interest which means that they will formally become part of the EU’s Natura 2000 network. Work is continuing to identify the remaining marine SPAs. We will shortly be consulting on two further SPAs for the protection of seabirds at Flamborough and Filey coast and at Falmouth bay to St Austell bay.

Successful management of marine protected areas requires stakeholders to work in partnership and co-operate with each other, with conservation advisers and with

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regulators. I want to see well managed sites which conserve and protect our important habitats and features and I strongly urge all those with an interest to work together, in partnership, to achieve this. Successful management of these areas also requires a good evidence base to inform the measures that need to be taken to protect their habitats and species. In the last three years DEFRA has spent over £8 million gathering evidence to support designation and management. I am pleased to announce that we have allocated a further £2 million this year and will continue to support this work going forward.

Building our network of marine protected areas is one strand of our ambitious programme to protect and enhance the marine environment while supporting sustainable use of its resources. We are working to implement the reforms we secured to the common fisheries policy to manage fish stocks more sustainably and eliminate the waste of discarding dead fish into the sea. We are pressing ahead with measures to protect cetaceans, sharks, skates and rays. We are also for the first time establishing marine plans around our coast to help achieve efficient management of competing uses of our seas while safeguarding the environment. These initiatives will all contribute to achieving good environmental status in our seas by 2020 as required under the EU marine strategy framework directive and move us towards achieving our vision of clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse oceans and seas that everyone can enjoy for years to come.

National Forest Company (Triennial Review)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Dan Rogerson): Today I am publishing the report of the triennial review of the National Forest Company (NFC) which was launched on 12 July 2013, Official Report, column 53WS. Triennial reviews of non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) are part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring accountability in public life.

The National Forest Company was set up in 1995 to oversee the creation of the National Forest—a multi-purpose forest across 200 square miles of the midlands. The NFC’s work plays an important part in realising the objectives of the Government’s forestry and woodlands policy statement (2013)—“protecting, improving and expanding” woodland assets, with its emphasis on economic growth and creating a woodland culture.

The review concludes that the NFC is the most appropriate body to continue to lead the creation, management and evolution of the National Forest and that it should remain as an NDPB.

In the longer run, the Government and NFC share the aim of a staged progression towards independence of the NFC from Government. This would see a viable and sustainable organisation passed from Government into the third sector and enable innovation and enterprise to be pursued with greater freedom. The NFC’s new 10-year strategy (2014-24), due to be published in summer 2014, should set out how the company will move towards independence.

To support the move toward independence, the NFC should set out how it will increase the use of wider funding sources. As part of this, the review has concluded

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that the NFC should undertake further work on the potential for further integration with the National Forest Charitable Trust (NFCT), including a possible merger, and taking on charitable status. The NFC and DEFRA should agree a decision on possible integration with the NFCT and charitable status once this further work has been carried out and a decision should be announced next year, ahead of publication of the NFC’s new 10-year strategy.

The review also concluded that the NFC should ensure that there is sufficient local representation in the NFC’s governance processes and that its future governance structures are as effective as possible.

The report of this review will be published online, and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Home Department

Deportation with Assurances Policy

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): Deportation with assurances (DWA) enables us to deport foreign nationals suspected of terrorism in compliance with our obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, the UN Convention on Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, Mr David Anderson QC, has accepted my invitation to undertake a review of our DWA policy. He will review the framework of the UK’s DWA policy and make recommendations on how the policy might be strengthened or improved, with particular emphasis on its legal aspects. The principle of DWA has been upheld by the European Court of Human Rights. To avoid duplicating or prejudicing the work of the courts, the review will not consider the merits of individual cases. Copies of the terms of reference for the review are available in the Vote Office.

When completed Mr David Anderson’s report will be laid before the House and copies will be available in the Vote Office. Following consultation with other relevant Departments and agencies, I will publish the Government’s response as a Command Paper in due course and this will be made available in the Vote Office.


Expert Evidence in Criminal Proceedings

The Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims (Damian Green): Today, I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses a copy of the Government response to the Law Commission’s report “Expert Evidence in Criminal Proceedings”. The Law Commission’s investigation followed concerns expressed by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee in 2005. The report was extremely thorough, and concluded that legislation was needed to bring existing common law provisions into statute, to provide judges with additional powers to exclude expert evidence, and to create a new “reliability

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test”. However, administration of this test would require additional pre-trial hearings, which have cost implications to which the Government cannot, at this time, commit.

Rather than seek to bring in new legislation, I intend to ask the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee to make changes to the rules relating to the timing and content of experts’ reports. Although this will not provide judges with additional powers—as proposed by the Law Commission—it will put them in a position to use their existing powers more effectively, by ensuring that they have more information at an earlier stage about any expert evidence which it is proposed to adduce.

Youth Justice Board for England and Wales

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Jeremy Wright): Today, I have published the report of the triennial review of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales (YJB). I have placed a copy in the Libraries of both Houses. Copies are also available from the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.

In line with the process and methodology established by the Cabinet Office, stage 1 of the review assessed the continuing need for the YJB to carry out each of its functions in their current form.

Stage 1 concludes that all of the functions remain necessary and makes 14 key recommendations relating to the delivery of these functions. It further concludes that it is appropriate for the majority of these functions to be delivered together as a critical mass of expertise. This decision recognises that the Government have repeatedly and recently stated their commitment to maintain a distinct youth justice system. Finally, stage 1 concludes that the appropriate delivery model for the delivery of these functions is, at this time, as a non-departmental public body.

Stage 2 assesses whether the YJB complies with the 11 principles of good governance. The review concluded that the YJB complied with the majority of the requirements which are placed on them and made several recommendations to improve governance, including increasing ministerial accountability, clarifying the role of the board and delegated authorities, making more effective use of public money by reducing duplication with the Ministry of Justice and clarifying the role of the sponsor Department.

I am very grateful to all those who took the time to respond to the call for evidence. Their contributions and varying perspectives were extremely valuable.


Airport Security Scanners

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): Security scanners are currently in operation at 10 of the UK’s largest airports. They were deployed in response to the threat to aviation posed by non-metallic improvised explosive devices, such as the device used in the attack on Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam Schiphol to Detroit on Christmas day 2009, and the device recovered in Yemen in spring 2012. These devices were designed to make detection by existing screening

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methods extremely difficult. More broadly, the UK threat level remains at substantial: an attack is a strong possibility.

It is for these reasons that, after careful consideration, I have decided that a further 11 airports will be required to deploy security scanners, and I will be issuing directions to that effect to the following airports:







Leeds Bradford

East Midlands



Belfast City


In parallel, work is under way with those airports which already deploy security scanners to consider the case for increasing their deployment of security scanners.

In the UK, all security scanners now use millimetre wave technology, which has no known health risks, and which is quite different from X-ray technology. Furthermore, all security scanners deployed now use automatic threat recognition software, which means that no image of a passenger is produced, thus alleviating any residual health or privacy concerns.

The overwhelming evidence from airports is that nearly all passengers accept the use of security scanners and find the process quick and convenient. However, I appreciate a small minority may still prefer to request an alternative procedure for a variety of reasons.

In the past, passengers who refused to be scanned by a security scanner were not offered an alternative, and were not allowed to fly on that occasion. This was a security and operational decision: only a private search (a thorough hand search in which the passenger may be asked to loosen or remove clothing) would offer a broadly similar security assurance to a scan, and it was considered that offering this as an alternative would be too operationally disruptive to the airport and to other passengers.

However, experience of operating security scanners for several years has shown that the vast majority of passengers are content to be screened by a security scanner if selected. Consequently the number of passengers refusing to be scanned is very low. As a result, and having reviewed the current position, I have concluded that from tomorrow, Friday 22 November, passengers who opt out of being screened by a security scanner will be allowed a private search alternative. This is a method of screening which we consider is of an equivalent security value to a security scan. These revised arrangements will be kept under review to ensure that high levels of security are maintained while avoiding disproportionate impacts on airports and passengers.

In addition, where it can be demonstrated that another security process, or combination of processes, offer the same level of security as a scan, then I will consider allowing further alternatives to a private search to be offered to passengers.

If a passenger does not accept this alternative method, and still refuses the security scan, they will not be allowed to fly on that occasion.

This approach will allow the small minority of passengers who continue to have concerns about the use of scanners to request an alternative method of screening while maintaining high levels of security at UK airports.