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Written Statements

Thursday 19 June 2014

Business, Innovation and Skills

Ordnance Survey Performance Monitors

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Michael Fallon): I am today announcing that performance targets have been agreed for Ordnance Survey for the period 2014-15. Ordnance Survey will report externally against these targets as is required of all Executive agencies in Government. The targets are:

To achieve earnings before interest, depreciation and amortisation of £45.8 million for the financial year 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015.

To achieve a customer index score of at least 80%.

Some 99.6% of significant real-world features greater than six months old are represented in the database.

These targets reflect Ordnance Survey’s continuing commitment to its customers. The simplified agency performance monitors are key drivers in allowing Ordnance Survey to provide an exemplar commitment to Government policies, while improving value for money for the taxpayer.

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Regional Growth Fund

The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Michael Fallon): Today my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister will announce the opening of round 6 of the Regional Growth Fund (RGF).

Under round 6, at least £200 million of new money will be available to bidders seeking support in order to fund high-quality projects and programmes.

The RGF continues to aim to stimulate private sector investment and to create sustainable private sector employment, particularly in areas dependent on the public sector.

RGF round 6 will operate in the same way as round 5, focusing on bids from the private sector with a minimum bid threshold of £1 million. All funds for round 6 will need to be drawn down by March 2017. Round 6 will remain open to bids until midday on 30 September 2014.

RGF round 6 road shows will be held across England throughout July and August. Dedicated expression of interest days will follow in each region shortly after each road show, where bidders can discuss their application with an RGF economist. Expression of interest appointments will also be available in London.

Details for these events are listed below:

Road ShowsExpression of Interest Meetings
LocationDate and TimeVenueLocationDateVenue

Doncaster

10 am on 8 July

Keepmoat Stadium, Stadium Way, Doncaster, West Riding of Yorkshire, DN4 5JW

Sheffield

28 July

2 St Paul’s Place, 125 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, S1 2FJ

Gateshead

10 am on 11 July

Future Technology Centre, Barmston Court, Nissan Way, Sunderland, SR5 3NY

Gateshead

21 July

St George’s House, Kingsway, Team Valley, Gateshead, NE11 0NA

Bristol

10 am on 15 July

University of the West of England, (UWE), Exhibition and Conference Centre, North Entrance, Filton Road, Bristol, BS34 8Qz

Bristol

13 August

Rivergate House, 2 Rivergate, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6EH

Derby

10 am on 21 July

The Roundhouse, Roundhouse Road,

Pride Park, Derby, DE24 8JE

Nottingham

5 August

Apex Court, City Link, Nottingham, NG2 4LA

Manchester

10 am on 23 July

Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester, M60 2LA

Manchester

4 August

Piccadilly Gate, Store Street, Manchester, M1 2WD

Cambridge

10 am on 25 July

Eastbrook, Shaftesbury Road, Cambridge, CB2 8DR

Histon

7 August

The Business Centre, Station Road, Histon, CB24 9NP

Coventry

10 am on 29 July

University of Coventry, Faculty of Computing and Engineering, Priority Street, Coventry, CV1 5FB

Birmingham

12 August

Victoria House, Lower Ground Floor, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4AJ

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Plymouth

10 am on 31 July

Plymouth University, Tamar Science Park, 9 Research Way, Derriford, Plymouth, PL6 8BT

Plymouth

14 August

Cobourg House, Mayflower Street, Plymouth, PL1 1DJ

Portsmouth

10 am on 6 August

University of Portsmouth, Richmond Building, Portland Street, Portsmouth, PO1 3DE

Guildford

30 July

Bridge House, 1 Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 4GA

 

London

To be confirmed in August

For further information about the Regional Growth Fund, including guidance for bidders and application forms, please visit: www.bis.gov.uk/rgf.

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, local businesses and civic leaders from Cambridge, south Cambridgeshire and Cambridgeshire have reached agreement on a city deal.

This deal will provide funding through an innovative “gain share” mechanism where the area is rewarded for investing in transport projects that will deliver the greatest economic impact over 15 to 20 years. The agreement will launch a programme to enhance transport capacity, strengthening employment hubs and high-tech clusters through the development of a sustainable transport network that will make movement between them more efficient and convenient.

Substantial new investment in the area will help create a locally responsive skills system, forging stronger links between employers and the education system to deliver the jobs that are needed. Local skills teams will be created to work with small and medium-sized businesses to support development of their training plans and by working more closely with employers and young people, generate increased demand for apprenticeships in areas aligned to key growth sectors.

Business and civic leaders anticipate that the deal will enable accelerated delivery of over 33,000 new homes, deliver an additional 1,000 homes, help create 45,000 new jobs and deliver 1,556 apprenticeships, making this one of the most ambitious city deals to date.

The deal also reaffirms long-term partnerships at a local level and signals that local partners are committed to a step-change in governance which will bring together decision making and funding on strategic transport, housing and economic development issues and enable the local area to take advantage of opportunities such as those presented by east-west rail.

Treasury

ECOFIN

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Nicky Morgan): A meeting of the Economic and Financial Affairs Council will be held in Luxembourg on 20 June 2014. Ministers will discuss the following items:

Draft general EU budget for 2015

Following the publication of the European Commission’s draft general EU budget for 2015, the financial programme and budget Commissioner will make a presentation to Ministers on the statement of estimates for 2015. The Government view is that at a time when countries across Europe continue to take difficult decisions to deal with deficits, the European Commission should not be asking for a cash increase to the annual budget of almost 5% compared to the agreed 2014 annual budget. The UK will work with other Governments to achieve a budget for 2015 that ensures budget discipline and reflects the economic climate in Europe.

Parent Subsidiary Directive

Council is expected to reach political agreement on an amending directive to the parent subsidiary directive. The Government support the proposed amendment, which will effectively close a tax loophole whereby companies operating across Europe could exploit differences between member states in the tax classification of certain financial instruments in order to reduce their overall tax liability.

Current Legislative Proposals

The presidency will provide an update on the ongoing work on financial services.

Level 2 legislation on bank contributions under Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and the Single Resolution Mechanism

The Commission will brief the Council on the preparation of implementing legislation that will determine the contributions to be paid by banks to resolution funds established under the directive on bank recovery and resolution (BRRD) and the regulation on the single resolution mechanism (SRM).

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Code of Conduct (Business taxation)

Ministers will endorse the report on business taxation prepared by the code of conduct group (“the group”). The group reports on business taxation every six months.

European Semester 2014

Ministers will approve recommendations for 26 member states and the euro area as a whole, in preparation for discussions at European Council on 26 and 27 June, and subsequent adoption at ECOFIN on 8 July.

Implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact

Council will adopt decisions bringing to an end excessive deficit procedures for six member states.

Also, Ministers will endorse terms of reference on the review of the methodology for assessing effective action in the context of the excessive deficit procedure.

Joint ECB and Commission Convergence Reports (including euro area enlargement)

Euro area member states will adopt a recommendation on the adoption of the euro by Lithuania, in preparation for discussions at European Council on 26 and 27 June, and formal adoption at ECOFIN on 8 July.

Bank Structural Reform and Reporting and Transparency of Securities Financing Transactions

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Andrea Leadsom): This Government have decided to opt in to the justice and home affairs (JHA) provisions within the European Commission’s proposals on structural measures to improve the resilience of EU credit institutions, and on the reporting and transparency of securities financing transactions.

The first proposal aims to improve the financial stability of the EU by reforming the structures of systemically important banks to make them more stable, and by prohibiting them from engaging in proprietary trading activities. The Government are in favour of this proposal as a means to reduce the implicit taxpayer guarantee which stems from the expectation that the largest banks will be bailed out by the taxpayer, which distorts the EU economy. This proposal is made under a legal base of article 114 (title VII) of the treaty on the functioning of the EU.

The proposal on reporting and transparency of securities financing transactions aims to improve the transparency of certain shadow banking activities by imposing reporting, transparency and consent obligations on firms engaging in such transactions. The Government are broadly supportive of this proposal as a means of increasing the transparency of the shadow banking sector and improving the information available to supervisors. This proposal is made under a legal base of article 114 (title VII) of the treaty on the functioning of the EU.

Both measures include a provision requiring law enforcement bodies to co-operate during the investigation of criminal offences. The relevant provisions are article 28(3) of the structural reform proposal and article 20(3) of the SET proposal. The Government consider that these are JHA obligations on which the Government should exercise their right to chose whether or not to participate.

The Government decided to opt in to these provisions. For those member states who choose to lay down criminal sanctions for breaches of the regulation, the provisions would aid international regulatory co-ordination. Trading

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activities are often cross-border, and will include activities conducted in other member states. Exchanging information with law enforcement bodies in other member states about specific criminal investigations could be helpful in enforcing such sanctions.

Scotland Analysis

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Danny Alexander): The Government have today presented to Parliament the 15th and final paper in the Scotland analysis programme. “United Kingdom, united future: Conclusions of the Scotland analysis programme” (Cm8869) sets out the programme’s key findings on currency, businesses and jobs, the affordability of public services, personal finances, and Scotland’s place in the world.

The paper shows that Scotland is better off as part of the UK, now and in the future:

The best of both worlds: With a strong Scottish Parliament, Scotland can make its own decisions in devolved areas, while sharing risks and resources with the other parts of the UK. More than 200 UK public institutions serve people in Scotland, underpinned by shared principles and values. If Scotland votes for independence this will come to an end. Scotland will leave the UK and become a new, separate state.

The advantages of the pound: As part of the UK, Scotland has one of the oldest and most stable currencies in the world, supported by the UK’s strong political union. It would not be possible to recreate today’s arrangements if that political union did not exist. That is why all three of the largest political parties in the UK have ruled out sharing the pound or the Bank of England in a formal currency union.

Lower taxes, higher public spending: A great weight of evidence says that Scotland’s finances are stronger as part of the UK. Independent experts agree that the UK offers people in Scotland lower taxes and higher public spending than would be possible in an independent Scotland. HM Treasury estimates that this is worth £1,400 per person per year for each person in Scotland. The Government of an independent Scotland would exercise additional responsibilities, but it would also have to choose whether to raise taxes, or cut public services, or both.

The Scotland analysis programme has examined how Scotland contributes to and benefits from being part of the UK, and how the rest of the UK benefits from its partnership with Scotland. The work is comprehensive, based on expert legal opinion and robust publicly available data. It has been informed by professionals in their fields—particularly those in Scotland.

Transport

London and Continental Railways

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): I can today inform the House that the Department for Transport has transferred its 40% stake in Eurostar (held through London and Continental Railways) to Her Majesty’s Treasury.


This is to address any perceived or actual conflict of interests resulting from the interaction between the Government’s stake in Eurostar and the east coast

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franchise competition, and in particular any perception of bias arising out of the Secretary of State’s shareholding in London and Continental Railways.

Rail Franchising (Inter City West Coast)

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): Today I have announced the successful conclusion of negotiations for a new directly awarded franchise agreement with West Coast Trains Ltd (Virgin). This deal will see Virgin continue to run passenger rail services on the Inter City West Coast franchise for a period of two years and nine months until the start of the services on the next competed franchise, which is expected in April 2017. The additional benefits secured in this direct award are so great that I have also agreed to terminate the current franchise early so that services can begin on the new terms on 22 June this year.

The new franchise will see significant improvements for passengers during the term of the contract, with benefits totalling around £35 million. This will include more capacity with 5,500 extra standard-class seats per day from a reconfiguration of first-class seating; improvements to on-board wi-fi and the introduction of free wi-fi at all of Virgin’s stations. The operator will also support the Government’s commitment to get more people into work by creating jobs for young and

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unemployed people, including apprenticeship and traineeship schemes. Investments at stations will see improvements in the quality of waiting rooms, seats and shelters and more than 200 new automatic ticket gates will be installed across the franchise.

New passenger satisfaction, punctuality and cleanliness targets will be introduced on the franchise. These tough new targets will help make sure that Virgin continues to provide improving standards for its 30 million annual passengers. In addition the company will step up its engagement with Network Rail, communities and stakeholders so that all the users of the franchise can have a say in how it can continue to improve services. This includes working with Network Rail to try to improve journey times between London and Scotland, especially through supporting the remodelling of Carstairs junction, a significant bottleneck on the network.

Virgin will also seek permission from the ORR to extend services from London to include some new services between the capital and Shrewsbury and, separately, Blackpool from December 2014. The franchise will also see an improved position for the taxpayer, with increased premiums due to be returned to the Government under this contract.

This agreement is a ringing endorsement of what the rail franchising programme can achieve; working in partnership with the rail industry to deliver better services for passengers and improved returns for Government.