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Written Statements

Tuesday 9 September 2014


Gifting of Equipment

The Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Fallon): I am laying a departmental minute today concerning the gifting of military equipment to the Government of Iraq (GoI), including the Kurdish Regional Government. This is at the request of the GoI.

The UK is committed to assisting the GoI by: alleviating the humanitarian suffering of those Iraqis targeted by ISIL terrorists; promoting an inclusive, sovereign and democratic Iraq that can push back on ISIL advances and restore stability and security across the country; and working with the international community to tackle the broader threat that ISIL poses to the region and other countries around the world, including the UK. The Kurdish forces remain significantly less well equipped than ISIL and we are responding to help them defend themselves, protect citizens and push back ISIL advances.

The initial gifting package is scheduled to arrive in Iraq on Wednesday 10 September and will consist of heavy machine guns and ammunition. The total cost is approximately £1.6 million plus an estimated £475,000 in transport costs.

Energy and Climate Change

Climate Change

The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change (Mr Edward Davey): Climate change is almost universally recognised as a serious threat to global prosperity, security and well-being. We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change within the UK. Extreme weather events at home and abroad already cause significant costs and disruption to UK businesses, and we are predicted to experience increasingly frequent and severe flooding and are vulnerable to a predicted rise in heat waves, storms and gales, as well as rising sea levels which will cause increased encroachment on our coastal areas.

The world is not asking if we need to tackle climate change, but how. Over 90 countries, covering 80% of global emissions, have already pledged to cut their emissions by 2020 under the Copenhagen accord. But this is not nearly enough to prevent global temperatures exceeding the globally agreed target of 2° C and, as a consequence, the world is increasingly experiencing the worst impacts of climate change. Action is needed on a co-ordinated global scale from every country in the world.

All countries of the UNFCCC agreed in 2011 to negotiate a global legally binding agreement by 2015, to come into force by 2020. These negotiations are progressing, and will conclude at the 21st UNFCCC conference of parties in Paris in December 2015. The UK is at the forefront of helping to shape and deliver this agreement.

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Paris will not be the end of the road in terms of tackling climate change, but an ambitious agreement would be a huge step forward which we can then build on in the future.

That is why today I am publishing the UK Government’s view on why we need a global deal on climate change, why one is good for the UK and what such a deal needs to look like. “Paris 2015: Securing our prosperity through a Global Climate Change Agreement” sets out:

what the science says and what the direct and indirect climate impacts are for the UK and the world, some of which we are already seeing today;

the benefits of low-carbon action for our prosperity, security and well-being, and how many leading British businesses, including SMEs, are already realising the commercial gains from climate action;

the scale of the challenge, the progress made so far and why we are better placed than we have been for a long time to reach a global agreement; and

our vision for what a successful global agreement needs to include and the UK’s role in helping to deliver that.

The Government are not alone in advocating action. Featuring support from businesses, NGOs and organisations, the publication demonstrates that we are united in our call for global action.

Copies of the publication will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Bovine TB

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Elizabeth Truss): I am today announcing that the second year of our planned, four-year badger culls is underway. This is part of our comprehensive strategic approach to make England TB-free. This approach includes cattle movement restrictions, vaccination in the edge area, and culling where the disease is rife. Culling operations started last night in the same areas as last year, west Gloucestershire and west Somerset.

It is vital that we work to make England bovine TB-free—doing nothing is not an option. England now has the highest incidence of TB in Europe—greater than the sum of all other EU member states combined. Between 1997 and 2010, TB in cattle increased ninefold, threatening the future of our beef and dairy industries and our nation’s food security.

That is why this Government are pursuing a comprehensive strategic approach, based on best international practice, supported by leading vets and endorsed by the Government’s chief scientific adviser, DEFRA’s chief scientist and the chief veterinary officer.

Overseas experience shows that in order to eradicate the disease, the problem must be tackled in both cattle and wildlife. Therefore, our approach includes tighter cattle testing and movement restrictions, vaccination of badgers in the edge area and culling of badgers in those areas where the disease is rife. This approach has worked in Australia which is now bovine TB-free, and Ireland and New Zealand, where incidence has dramatically reduced.

Last week I launched the badger edge vaccination scheme to support badger vaccination projects in those areas next to the high- risk area. Vaccinating healthy badgers in this way is intended to create a buffer zone to

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help prevent the spread of bovine TB to new parts of the country where the incidence of the disease is currently very low. Vaccination cannot, however, replace culling in TB hot spots such as Gloucestershire and Somerset as it does not cure infected badgers who will continue to spread disease.

This year’s culls incorporate improvements learned from last year’s culls and those set out in the independent expert panel’s report. We have made changes to improve the humaneness and effectiveness, including better training and monitoring.

The culls will be monitored closely and we have published details of the monitoring procedures that AHVLA and Natural England will follow on gov.uk. As with last year, these results will be independently audited.


Local Authority Funding (Public Health)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Jane Ellison): Today I am announcing public health allocations for local authorities in England for 2015-16 and details of a new health premium incentive pilot scheme.

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After the significant increases in 2013-14 and 2014-15, in real-terms funding for local authorities will remain at £2.79 billion for 2015-16. This funding will remain ring-fenced for use exclusively on public health measures, and we are confident of local authorities’ continuing ability to sustain and improve the quality of their services in the coming financial year.

Taken together over the period 2013-14 to 2015-16 we have increased public health spending by 4.7% in real terms and over 10% in cash terms. This represents a major investment in health and the prevention of illness.

We will also allocate an additional £5 million towards a new health premium incentive pilot scheme in 2014-15, meeting our commitment to introducing a health premium that will encourage local authorities to improve the health of their populations and will reduce health inequalities. Local authorities are invited to give us their views on this scheme.

“Health Premium Incentive Scheme 2014-15 and Public Health Allocations—A Technical Consultation”, which contains details of the allocations and the incentive scheme, has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. Members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office.