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Written Statements

Monday 17 March 2014

Cabinet Office

City Deal

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Greg Clark): Following the successful completion of the first wave of city deals in July 2012, with the “core cities” the Government committed to work with a further 20 cities and their wider areas to negotiate a second wave of city deals in October 2012.

I can today inform the House that the Government, businesses and civic leaders in Sunderland and South Tyneside have reached agreement on a city deal.

The Sunderland city deal, in partnership with South Tyneside, will support the future development of the new international advanced manufacturing park—a proposed 100 hectare development to the west of the Sunderland city centre that will house new automotive, logistics and offshore wind-manufacturing businesses. This development will build on the existing strengths of Sunderland and South Tyneside, supporting the vision for local economic growth as set out by the north-east local enterprise partnership and increasing private sector growth and employment.

The city deal also confirms the local and Government investment to construct the New Wear crossing, a key component of the Sunderland strategic transport corridor which will support the international advanced manufacturing park and the wider economic growth of Sunderland.

Alongside these agreements the city deal also includes local commitments to deliver the development of the former Vaux brewery site and to increase private sector investment in the skills of the local work force.

Through the development of the international advanced manufacturing park enabled by the city deal, Sunderland city council and South Tyneside council predict that, by 2027, 5,200 new jobs will be delivered. The New Wear crossing is predicted by the local authorities to enable up to 60,000 square metres of new commercial, office and housing development and create between 1,500 and 2,250 new jobs.

Deregulation Bill

The Minister for Government Policy (Mr Oliver Letwin): At the Second Reading of the Deregulation Bill on the 3 February I intervened on the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) in relation to clause 47 to say that the Newspaper Society had not provided evidence to the Joint Committee on the Draft Deregulation Bill. I have since been informed that this statement was incorrect. While the Newspaper Society was not called to provide oral evidence to the Joint Committee, it did provide written evidence. This evidence, however, was not referred to in the Joint Committee’s final report.

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Media organisations were consulted previously by the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee. However, in response to concerns expressed directly to me and at the Second Reading debate, I met on 11 February representatives of both print and broadcast media groups, including lawyers and union representatives. The meeting was also attended by the hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) as the secretary of the NUJ parliamentary group. At that meeting we agreed that our objectives were in fact the same and that we would work together to find a mutually agreeable amendment to the Bill. Some additional consultation is currently under way, I hope to be able to table such an amendment at Report stage.

Open Public Services

The Minister for Government Policy (Mr Oliver Letwin): We are today announcing the publication of the annual open public services progress report for 2014. This document shows the significant progress made by the coalition Government in reforming our public services against the five principles of open public services, originally articulated in the White Paper of July 2011. The report will be available online and in the House Library.


Double Taxation Convention (UK/Belgium)

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (Mr David Gauke): A second protocol to the double taxation convention with Belgium was signed on 13 March 2014. The text of the protocol has been deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and made available on HM Revenue and Customs’ website. The text will be scheduled to a draft Order in Council and laid before the House of Commons in due course.


Chemical Weapons Convention

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Andrew Murrison): The UK’s chemical protection programme is designed to protect against the use of chemical weapons. Such a programme is permitted by the chemical weapons convention, with which the United Kingdom is fully compliant. Under the terms of the convention, we are required to provide information annually to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In accordance with the Government’s commitment to openness, a copy of the summary that has been provided to the organisation outlining the UK’s chemical protection programme in 2013 will be placed in the House Library.

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Higgins Review

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): Sir David Higgins has today published proposals to build HS2 better and bring the benefits to the north sooner. The Government strongly support this ambition and welcome his report. HS2 is vital for the economic health of this country and our international competitiveness.

It was in this context that I asked Sir David Higgins, when he became chair of HS2 Ltd, to undertake a review on maximising the benefits of HS2 and managing costs. Given his experience on delivering the Olympics, there was no one better equipped for the role.

Sir David has carried out a robust and rigorous review of the cost estimates for constructing phase 1 and confirmed they are right. He proposes to use any savings to protect the contingency at this early stage in the parliamentary process and the project as a whole. The Government support that.

Sir David’s report also proposes to deliver benefits, particularly benefits to the midlands and the north, more quickly. The report sets out a clear proposal to accelerate construction so that the Crewe section of phase 2 would be completed by 2027, not 2033, and to build a new integrated hub station at Crewe. Therefore, I am commissioning HS2 Ltd and Network Rail to undertake work to allow both these proposals to be considered in detail as part of my consideration of the public consultation responses to phase 2.

Sir David also makes recommendations about connectivity in the midlands and the north. He says the key to improving this is to integrate decision making on HS2 with Network Rail’s decision making for improvements

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to the existing network during control period six (2019-2024). I am, therefore, commissioning HS2 Ltd and Network Rail to make recommendations before our response to the phase 2 consultation.

Our priority must be to get the benefits to the midlands and the north as soon as possible. Our proposals must stand the test of time and we must put our money where it will do the most good. Sir David is clear that he does not think the existing proposals for the HS2/HS1 link meet those tests. His report concludes that the link proposed in the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill has not secured a consensus. The link requires too many compromises in terms of impacts on freight, passengers and the community in Camden. I, therefore, intend to take the necessary steps to remove the link from the Bill and withdraw the safeguarding of this section of the route as soon as possible. I will also commission a study into ways to improve connections to the continent that could be implemented once the initial stages of HS2 are complete.

I also agree with the report that more can be made of Euston station. It is a significant opportunity to maximise the economic potential of the line and regenerate a site that has been neglected. It is also a significant opportunity to generate private sector investment that can reduce the overall burden on the taxpayer. I will, therefore, ask HS2 Ltd and Network Rail to develop more comprehensive proposals for the redevelopment of Euston, working with the rail industry and the local community. This work should include proposals for the Euston Arch which should never have been knocked down and which I would like to see rebuilt.

HS2 is a project that will be built over many Parliaments and will serve people for many generations. We must design it carefully and build it correctly. The Government are keen to rise to the challenge and we hope that hon. Members on all sides of the House will do the same.

Copies of Sir David’s report have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.