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Written Statements

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Business, Innovation and Skills

Statutory Guidance (Review Provision Requirements) and Statement on Definition of Control

The Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise (Anna Soubry): I am publishing today a guidance document and a statement to assist Departments in implementing the provisions of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (the Act).

The guidance sets out the test to be applied in circumstances where Departments think that it may not be appropriate to include a review provision in new secondary legislation. It must be taken into account by any Minister making such a determination.

The statement clarifies how Departments should determine whether regulated activities are carried out by public sector bodies. Regulatory impacts and regulations on public sector bodies are outside the scope of the business impact target, and the new duty relating to review provisions.

There have been no changes to either document from the drafts that were published in February this year in parallel with the passage of the Act.

The documents can be found at:



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



Design and Technology GCSE

The Minister for Schools (Mr Nick Gibb): We are reforming GCSEs to make sure that they give students the best possible preparation for further and higher education, and for employment. We want new GCSEs to set expectations which match those of the best education systems in the world, with rigorous assessment that provides a reliable measure of students’ achievement. The reforms are extensive and represent a new qualification gold standard.

Today we are publishing design and technology GCSE content that will assess both breadth and depth of knowledge, without limiting students on the materials they can work with. Current design and technology GCSEs have a wide range of titles each of which is focused on separate material areas—such as resistant materials, textiles or graphics. The new content will support a single qualification title, a change which subject experts felt is critical to the development of a qualification that requires students to have a broad knowledge of the design processes, materials, techniques and equipment that are core to the subject.

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The content emphasises iterative processes of designing which all students should understand and be able to demonstrate. Subject experts have advised that such processes are at the core of contemporary practice. By teaching students this approach, the new qualification will prepare them for further study and careers in design, engineering, manufacturing and related areas.

The content also sets out, in detail, the mathematical and scientific content that students must know and use that relate closely to design and technology.

Together these changes aim to ensure that all students have the knowledge and skills to design and make products or prototypes, using the best material, equipment and techniques, to solve real world and relevant problems across a range of contexts.


Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Foreign Affairs Council and General Affairs Council

The Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs attended the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 June. The Foreign Affairs Council was chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. She also hosted the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon for a working lunch with EU Foreign Ministers. The General Affairs Council was chaired by the Latvian presidency. The meetings were held in Luxembourg.

Foreign Affairs Council

A provisional report of the meeting and conclusions adopted can be found at:


Mediterranean migration

The Council approved the Council decision to launch the EU CSDP operation in the southern central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED), activating phase I—deployment and assessment. Ms Mogherini was grateful to member states for launching the operation in record time. The Foreign Secretary said that the UK supported the operation, and was contributing a ship, HMS Enterprise, and a Merlin helicopter. The Foreign Secretary called for an audit of additional EU activity in source and transit countries to be presented at the July FAC, work on a stronger evidence base on migrant movements in source and transit countries, enhanced EU investment and a clear roadmap to the Valletta summit.

Energy diplomacy

The Council discussed how to use EU foreign policy most effectively to meet the growing geopolitical risks associated with energy, with a focus on diversification, alternative routes, EU unity and work with a wider set of partner countries. The Foreign Secretary underlined the necessity of rapidly completing the internal single market in energy, noting the importance of harmonising strategic energy goals with market incentives.

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The Council held a strategic discussion on EU relations with Asia. There was general support for the need to continue to strengthen relations at a multilateral level, as part of a re-energised EU approach to the region. There was an emphasis on trade and economic co-operation, including in the exchange of views on relations with China, ahead of the EU-China summit, which took place on 29 June 2015. There was also discussion of developing better connectivity in Asia, with a focus on ensuring compatibility with European transport networks.

EU-UN co-operation

During lunch UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, focused on preparations for forthcoming UN high-level events, including those taking place in Addis Ababa in July on financing for development, in New York in September on the post-2015 agenda and the climate change COP21 in Paris in December. The discussion also covered EU-UN co-operation in tackling a number of current crises, and the Council approved EU priorities for the UN General Assembly.


The Council discussed the political situation in Macedonia. Ms Mogherini expressed grave concern regarding the ongoing political crisis, and welcomed the close co-operation between the EEAS and Commission. There was wide agreement that the current situation was unacceptable. Conclusions were subsequently adopted by the General Affairs Council on 23 June.

Any other business

Middle east peace process

Ms Mogherini briefed the Council following her recent trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah. Discussion centred on how the EU and its member states could most effectively support the peace process. The Foreign Secretary emphasised the need for a coherent approach, and noted the important role of the EU, particularly on issues around settlements and Gaza. Ms Mogherini proposed a discussion item on the middle east peace process at the 20 July FAC.

Ministers agreed without discussion a number of measures:

The Council launched the EU naval operation to disrupt human smuggling in the Mediterranean;

The Council adopted the EU priorities at the United Nations and the 17th UN General Assembly—September 2015 to September 2016;

The Council adopted conclusions on EU-ASEAN relations;

The Council adopted conclusions on the forthcoming elections in Burma;

The Council adopted conclusions on the EU strategy for central Asia;

The Council adopted conclusions on Burundi;

The Council adopted conclusions on Lebanon;

The Council extended the EU economic sanctions, which responded to Russia’s destabilising role in eastern Ukraine, until 31 January 2016;

The Council approved the EU annual report on human rights and democracy in the world in 2014;

The Council adopted conclusions on common principles for multi-purpose cash-based assistance to respond to humanitarian needs;

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The Council extended the mandate of Mr Lars-Gunnar Wigemark as European Union special representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a further four months—until 31 October 2015;

The Council amended the EU restrictive measures against the Syrian regime.

General Affairs Council

A provisional report of the meeting can be found at:


The General Affairs Council (GAC) on 23 June focused on: Macedonia; preparation of the European Council on 25 and 26 June 2015; the 2015 European semester; and the better regulation agenda.


The GAC adopted Council conclusions in response to the ongoing political crisis in Macedonia.

These call on the political parties to honour their 2 June agreement and implement all the recommendations of the European Commission, starting with urgent reform priorities in relation to rule of law issues confirmed by, or arising out of, the current crisis. The Council will revert to the issue in the next months.

Preparation of the June European Council

The GAC prepared the 25 and 26 June European Council, which the Prime Minister attended. The June European Council focused on: migration, including follow up to the April European Council; security issues including common security and defence policy, the European security strategy and follow-up to the February European Council on terrorism; and economic and competitiveness issues including the digital single market, 2015 European semester, TTIP and economic governance in the euro area.

I emphasised the importance of a comprehensive approach to the Mediterranean migration situation including conclusions language on tackling the smugglers and the root causes of migration. I reiterated the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of the extension of the Syria vulnerable persons scheme, and that the UK did not intend to participate in EU burden-sharing proposals.

I also stressed the importance of progress on the digital single market, one of the biggest opportunities for the EU to reinforce competitiveness and innovation and focus on consumers, including a swift end to mobile roaming charges in the EU.

European semester

The GAC considered the country specific recommendations (CSRs), published by the Commission to all non-programme EU member states on 13 May, as part of the European semester process. CSRs were also considered by the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council on 18 to 19 June and the Economic and Financial Affairs Council on 19 June.

The advice to the UK is to continue reducing the deficit, boost housing supply and address problems in the labour market, in line with the Government’s long-term economic plan.

Better regulation agenda

The GAC held an initial discussion on the recently published better regulation package by the European Commission. The key part of the package is theinter-institutional agreement (IIA) on better regulation, which focuses on

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red tape in the EU and the institutional co-operation among the Council of Ministers, the Commission and the European Parliament. The negotiations on the IIA are expected to commence shortly and expected to continue through the Luxembourg presidency of the EU.

I welcomed the Commission’s proposal and highlighted the importance of specifying regulatory burden reduction targets—in particular for SMEs—an independent assessment board, and the use of subsidiarity, proportionality, and national parliaments as the key vehicles to deliver democratic accountability to the EU.



Victims' Commissioner's Annual Report

The Minister for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice (Mike Penning): I am pleased to announce that the Victims’ Commissioner, Baroness Newlove of Warrington, has today published her annual report. I have placed a copy in the Libraries of both Houses.

The role of the Victims’ Commissioner, as set out in the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, is to promote the interests of victims and witnesses, encourage good practice in their treatment and keep under review the operation of the statutory victims’ code.

The report outlines the impressive work undertaken by the Victims’ Commissioner during her second year

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of office and highlights her priorities for the coming year. The Victims’ Commissioner will continue to ensure that the views of victims are represented to Government and I welcome the insight and challenge that she provides.


Self-inflicted Deaths in Custody

The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Michael Gove): We are today publishing the independent review report into self-inflicted deaths of young adults aged 18 to 24 in National Offender Management Service (NOMS) prison custody. The review, announced to this House on 6 February 2014 by the coalition Government, was carried out by the Independent Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody under the leadership of Lord Harris of Haringey.

I wish to thank Lord Harris of Haringey and the independent advisory panel for their work on this important review. Every death in custody is a tragedy. I thank the families of those who have taken their own lives, who gave evidence to this review in order to help avoid this happening to another family.

The independent report makes wide-ranging recommendations about the care and management of vulnerable young adults in custody to reduce the risk of future deaths. We will consider these carefully and respond to the report in the autumn.