2 Dec 2013 : Column 33WS

Written Statements

Monday 2 December 2013

Education

Education Reform: National Curriculum

The Secretary of State for Education (Michael Gove): On 11 September 2013, I published the new national curriculum for all subjects except for English, mathematics and science at key stage 4.

Today, I am publishing for consultation the programmes of study for English and mathematics at key stage 4. The consultation will run until 3 February 2014. On 1 November we published the new GCSE subject content for English language, English literature and mathematics. It is important to consider these programmes of study alongside the GCSE subject content to ensure that the curriculum and qualifications are fully coherent.

The programme of study in mathematics at key stage 4 is more challenging. It has been drafted by experts to ensure that it sets expectations that match those in the highest performing jurisdictions. There is broader and deeper mathematical content with a focus on application of mathematical knowledge and skills to solve problems. The content is closely aligned to GCSE content. More challenging content specifically for higher achieving students is explicitly identified. There is a focus on consolidation and building on key stage 3, emphasising that mathematics is an interconnected subject. The proposals will provide better preparation for post-16 mathematics by providing foundations for advanced topics like calculus.

In English, the programme of study has been strengthened to ensure all pupils read a wide range of high-quality, challenging and classic English literature. There is a renewed focus on the reading of whole texts which should include at least one play by Shakespeare, works from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries and poetry since 1789, including romantic poetry. The language requirement is also more demanding and pupils will be expected to speak fluently and use linguistic and literary terminology effectively and confidently in their written and spoken English.

The programmes of study for English and mathematics will be introduced from September 2015, alongside first teaching of the new qualifications. We will be consulting on science at key stage 4 in the spring of 2014 in line with the timetable for the development of the new science qualifications.

Copies of the consultation on programmes of study for key stage 4 English and mathematics will be placed in Libraries of both Houses.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bovine TB

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Owen Paterson): A key element in the comprehensive strategy this Government are finalising to eradicate bovine TB (bTB) in England within 25 years is successfully tackling the disease reservoir in the badger population.

2 Dec 2013 : Column 34WS

Culling is only one part of our approach to tackle the spread of TB. We are using every tool available including tougher movement controls for cattle (the latest of which I announced to the House on 28 November, 2013, Official Report, column 23WS), better biosecurity on farms and working to develop effective and usable cattle and badger vaccines. We continue to make good progress on all aspects of our draft strategy to eradicate the disease in England within 25 years.

The two badger control pilots, in Somerset and Gloucestershire, were designed to test the assumption that controlled shooting is a safe, humane and effective means of reducing badger numbers.

Natural England granted an eight-week extension in Gloucestershire on 23 October, in line with the chief veterinary officer’s (CVO’s) advice.

Today I am announcing to the House that the extension period in Gloucestershire concluded on Saturday 30 November at the behest of the cull company and the National Farmers Union (NFU), with the agreement of Natural England to coincide with the end of the open season for cage trapping.

The aim of the extension was to achieve the earliest and greatest possible impact on bTB in the area, in line with the CVO’s advice that a further significant reduction of the badger population in the first year would increase the likelihood of disease benefits in cattle over the full four years of the cull.

The decision to extend has been shown to be the right one, with significant numbers of badgers removed at the point that the extension was ended. In the additional five weeks and three days of culling, 213 badgers have been removed, giving an overall total of 921. This represents a reduction of just under 40% in the estimated badger population before culling began.

The extension in Gloucestershire has therefore been successful in meeting its aim in preparing the ground for a fully effective four year cull. In the randomised badger culling trial there was a range of culling effectiveness across the 10 areas in the first year of the culls, but the trial still showed overall benefits at the end of sustained culling and these benefits have been maintained for at least a further seven years. The two pilots in Gloucestershire and Somerset have similarly shown a range of culling effectiveness and at the end of four years of sustained culling long-term overall benefits can be expected to be delivered.

The independent panel of experts will now consider the information collected during the pilots on the safety, effectiveness and humaneness of controlled shooting. This will inform my decision on the wider roll-out of badger control in those parts of England most severely affected by this disease. The independent panel of experts report will be made available to Parliament and the general public at that time.

While there are important lessons to learn, completing two pilots this year has been a significant achievement and is another major step towards halting the spread of bTB.

I would like to pay tribute to the local farmers and landowners who have undertaken the pilots in both areas, often in difficult terrain and weather, and often in the face of intimidation by a small minority who resorted to widespread criminality in their determination to stop this disease control policy.

2 Dec 2013 : Column 35WS

It is unacceptable that in the ten years to 31 December 2012, more than 305,000 cattle were compulsorily slaughtered as reactors or direct contacts in Great Britain. Moreover, since 1 January to August, a further 22,512 otherwise healthy cattle have been slaughtered solely because of bovine TB.

Controlling the disease in wildlife is and will remain a key part of our TB strategy—no country has successfully dealt with TB without tackling the disease in both wildlife and cattle. This Government are resolved to do this.

Achieving this aim will require long-term solutions and considerable national resolve. This Government are committed to tackling the disease in all reservoirs and by all available means.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Eastern Partnership Summit

The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister attended the third Eastern Partnership summit on 28 and 29 November 2013 in Vilnius, Lithuania. My right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Warsi accompanied him. The summit was attended by Heads of State and Government or representatives of the European Union member states and Eastern Partnership member countries. President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso; President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy; President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz; the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland; Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Füle; and the Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht were also in attendance for parts.

28 November 2013

The President of the Republic of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, chaired a working dinner for the Heads of State and Government, which the Prime Minister attended. The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, also chaired a working dinner for Ministers of Foreign Affairs. My right hon. Friend, Baroness Warsi attended. Both dinners focused on the future of the Eastern Partnership. The Prime Minister welcomed the signing and initialling of the agreements (listed below) due to take place on the 29 November; they mark a significant step forward in the EU’s relationship with the region. He expressed disappointment with Ukraine’s decision to put on hold the preparations for signature of its association agreement the EU, but made it clear that the door is still open in the future.

29 November 2013

In the presence of the Heads of State and Government, the agreement between the EU and the Republic of Azerbaijan on facilitating visas (relevant for Schengen member countries only); the agreement between the EU and Georgia establishing a framework for the participation of Georgia in EU crisis management operations; the agreements between the EU and the European atomic energy community and their member states and Georgia and the Republic of Moldova were signed. The association agreements, incorporating deep and comprehensive free trade areas, between the EU and Georgia and the Republic of Moldova were also initialled.

2 Dec 2013 : Column 36WS

Heads of delegation then convened at the plenary Session where the UK was represented by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and subsequently by my right hon. Friend Baroness Warsi. The discussion focused on welcoming the progress made by Georgia and Moldova and looking to the future of the Eastern Partnership. The majority of EU member states also expressed disappointment that Ukraine was not signing its association agreement with the EU. All delegations agreed that the Eastern Partnership offers opportunities for increased prosperity and support for reform in eastern partner countries, which should enhance their wider relationships in the region.

In discussion with other Heads of State and Government, the Prime Minister made the case for the need to reform welfare rules and return the concept of free movement of people within the EU to a more sensible basis, as an essential step to regain the trust of people in member states in future enlargement of the EU.

Home Department

National Fraud Authority

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): As part of the Government’s reforms to policing and the fight against serious and organised crime, I have decided to close the National Fraud Authority and realign its responsibilities to reflect the creation of the National Crime Agency.

The National Crime Agency, with its economic crime command, will bring a single national focus to cutting economic crime and will lead and co-ordinate the national fight against fraud, working with law enforcement agencies, regulators, Government and the public, private and voluntary sectors. While the National Fraud Authority has been successful in raising awareness of fraud and improving co-ordination, the focus should now be on cutting economic crime. The National Fraud Authority will close by 31 March 2014 and its functions will be transferred as follows:

Strategic development and threat analysis will be led by the National Crime Agency;

Action Fraud, the national fraud and financially-motivated internet crime reporting centre, will become the responsibility of the City of London police, to create a stronger end-to-end fraud reporting and analysis system;

Work to raise awareness of fraud, including delivery of the national e-confidence campaign, will transfer to the Home Office; and

Development of the counter fraud checking service will be led by the Cabinet Office.

The closure of the National Fraud Authority will strengthen the Government’s fight against economic crime by concentrating effort into law enforcement bodies and improving the fraud reporting and analysis service. The changes will further support the National Crime Agency’s role in leading the fight against serious and organised crime.

Eurojust

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (James Brokenshire): The Government have decided not to opt in to the European Commission’s

2 Dec 2013 : Column 37WS

proposal for a regulation on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Co-operation (Eurojust) at this time. The Government will, however, conduct a thorough review of the final agreed text to inform active consideration of opting into the Eurojust regulation post adoption.

The Government value UK membership of Eurojust as currently established where Eurojust’s role is about providing support and co-ordination to investigations and prosecutions in cases of cross-border crime. That is why the Government are seeking to rejoin those arrangements as part of the 2014 opt out decision. However, the Commission’s new proposal creates substantial concerns; most notably by extending the mandatory powers of Eurojust national members and through the proposed interaction between Eurojust and the parallel proposal for the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).

As confirmed in the coalition agreement, the Government will not participate in the establishment of any EPPO.

We will remain a full and active participant in both the Eurojust and EPPO negotiations to defend our national interests.

2 Dec 2013 : Column 38WS

Work and Pensions

Child Support Regulations

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): On 5 November 2013, the Government published their response to the consultation “Supporting separated families; securing children’s futures” (Cm 8742). This response outlines important changes that we have made to our proposed strategy for closing existing Child Support Agency cases and introducing fees for the new 2012 child maintenance scheme.

Today we intend to lay the draft Child Support Fees Regulations 2014 and the draft Child Support (Ending Liability in Existing Cases and Transition to New Calculation Rules) Regulations 2014, the primary effects of which will be to introduce application, collection and enforcement fees for the 2012 child maintenance scheme and to begin the process of ending liability on all 1993 and 2003 scheme Child Support Agency cases.

These draft regulations are subject to the affirmative procedure and I look forward to discussing them with colleagues in the new year.