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Written Statements

Thursday 28 February 2013

Fire Service College


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Brandon Lewis) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In my Written Ministerial Statement of 13 December 2012 (Official Report, col. WS42) I announced that Capita had been chosen as the preferred bidder for the purchase of the Fire Service College following a thorough, fair and open process. I am pleased to inform the House that the sale process has today been successfully concluded, following a full TUPE consultation with college employees and their union representatives.

The college has been sold to Capita for an enterprise value of £10 million, which will be subject to adjustments for stamp duty and to take account of the college’s financial position at completion of sale. This deal will deliver new investment to secure the future of the college, and represents a good deal for taxpayers and value for money for the public purse.

In addition to this consideration, the department will share in any future profits from the development of college land through a clawback provision, and will receive further revenue from the sale of a number of houses previously part of the college estate.

More importantly, Capita has also committed to a significant programme of infrastructure and transformation at the college, and are keen to ensure that training courses deliver improved value for money.

Taken together the sale of the college has the potential to deliver an estimated benefit of £30 million to the taxpayer in the first few years and at the same time secure the college’s future.

The Government have insisted on a number of conditions on the sale, including commitments not only that the college will continue in use as a national training college for fire and rescue authorities, but also that it will continue to offer wider national resilience and emergency services training and exercises, and that Government permission will be required if Capita wishes to sell the incident ground.

The Government would like to place on record their thanks to the senior management team and staff of the college for their efforts in bringing the sale to a successful conclusion. The Government also wish Capita every success in its future operation of the college.

Immigration Rules


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Immigration (Mark Harper) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

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I am today announcing the renewal of concessions to the Immigration Rules for Syrian nationals lawfully in the UK.

In light of the ongoing violent conflict in Syria it has been decided that the UK Border Agency should continue to operate some discretion to enable Syrians legally in the UK to extend their stay here.

Syrians in the UK with valid leave (or leave which has expired within the past 28 days) in specified visa categories will continue to be able to apply to extend their stay in that visa category, or switch into a different specified category from within the UK (with some restrictions) rather than being required to return home first. Those applying will still need to meet the requirements of the relevant visa category, pay the appropriate fee, and adhere to the normal conditions of that category—no access to public funds, for example. If a required document is not accessible due to the civil unrest in Syria, UKBA may apply its discretion and the requirement to provide that document may be waived where appropriate.

These concessions will remain in force for one year from today. The Government continue to monitor the situation in Syria closely in order to ensure our response is appropriate and that any emerging risks are addressed.

I am placing a copy of the authorisation for this concession in the Library of the House.

Legal Aid Agency


The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): I am pleased to announce that the Ministry of Justice will create the Legal Aid Agency, a new executive agency, on 1 April 2013.

The Legal Aid Agency will assume responsibility for the administration of legal aid in England and Wales from the Legal Services Commission, a non-departmental public body. On 1 April 2013 the Legal Services Commission will be abolished and the Lord Chancellor will become responsible for securing that legal aid is made available in England and Wales, in line with the provisions contained in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. That Act also contains the legislative provisions needed to abolish the Legal Services Commission.

Today the framework document which details the governance arrangements between the department and the Legal Aid Agency has been published. The framework document will come into force on 1 April 2013. In line with the requirements for all executive agencies, the framework document sets out the overarching framework for the governance and accountability arrangements between the department and the agency.

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 also requires the Lord Chancellor to designate a civil servant as the Director of Legal Aid Casework. This is a statutory office, with the function of making independent decisions on whether to grant legal aid in individual cases. The director will assume this function on 1 April 2013, following the abolition of the Legal Services Commission. The Lord Chancellor has designated Matthew Coats as the first Director of Legal Aid Casework.

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The creation of the Legal Aid Agency is an important step for the Ministry of Justice in strengthening the governance arrangements and accountability for legal aid, and ensuring that there is an appropriate delivery structure in place. Legal aid is a significant area of public expenditure and it is vital that its administration is undertaken by an appropriate body.

Part 1 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 will be commenced on 1 April 2013. Part 1 sets out the new framework for legal aid in England and Wales which, as well as the abolition of the Legal Services Commission, includes reforms to the scope of civil legal aid.

Copies of the framework document and code of conduct have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and on the department’s website at: www.justice. gov.uk.



The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I would like to inform the House of the successful bids from round 2 of the advanced manufacturing supply chain initiative.

A total of 12 supply chain projects will receive approximately £73 million through AMSCI subject to due diligence, with a further £140 million being leveraged from private sector partners.

The supply chain projects cover the aerospace, automotive, aerospace, chemicals, construction, electronics, materials and offshore wind sectors, and are expected to create over 11,000 new jobs and safeguard another 5,000.

With available finance of up to £125 million, the initiative was established in December 2011 to help existing UK supply chains grow and achieve world-class standards, while encouraging major new suppliers to come and manufacture here in Britain.

The initiative is part funded by the Government’s regional growth fund and is delivered in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board—the UK’s innovation agency—Birmingham City Council and Finance Birmingham on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Chancellor announced additional funding of £120 million for two further AMSCI rounds in the 2012 Autumn Statement. The competition brief for these new rounds (AMSCI rounds 3 and 4) will be published today on the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) website: www.innovateuk.org

Project successes in round 2 include:

Aerospace Growth Partnership—National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme (NATEP)

Lead Organisation: ADS Group Limited Partners: Airbus Operations, Shorts Brothers plc, Spirit Aerosystems (Europe) Limited, GKN Aerospace

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Service Limited, Rolls Royce Goodrich Engine Controls Limited & Rolls Royce plcLocation: The programme will benefit aerospace SMEs throughout England


Lead Organisation: TIMET UK Ltd Partners: MTC; University of Birmingham Location: West Midlands

Construction UK Supply Chain

Competitiveness and Innovation

Lead Organisations: J.C. Bamford Excavators Limited and Perkins EnginesPartners: 48 yellow construction sector suppliersLocation: West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England, North

Niche Luxury Vehicle Cluster Supplier Capacity Building


Lead Organisation: Bentley Motors Ltd (Crewe)Partners: Rimstock PLC, Thomas Fattorini Limited, Pilkington Automotive Limited, ADV Manufacturing Limited, CAB Automotive Limited, Borough Limited, SCA Packaging Limited, WCM Europe Limited, Luxfer Gas Cylinders Limited, Bedford Dials Limited, Titan Motorsport & Automotive Engineering Limited, Prodrive Automotive Technology (Europe) LimitedLocation: West Midlands, East of England, North West, South East

Proving Integrity of Complex Automotive Systems (PICASSOS)

Lead Organisation: Ricardo UK LtdPartners: Jaguar Land Rover, Axeon, York Metrics, D-RisQ, Oxford University, Coventry University, University of Warwick & York Metrics.Location: West Midlands

An Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain for Aluminium Matrix Composite Components with 3D Fibre Reinforcement

Lead Organisation: Composite Metal Technology Limited Partners: C&J Antch & Sons Ltd Location: South East, South West, Yorkshire

STRIVE—Simulation Tools for Rapid Innovation in Vehicle Engineering

Lead Organisation: The Northwest Automotive Alliance Partners: Bentley Motors, VEC (University of Liverpool) ,Optis, Icona, SimX,Location: North West

Flow Reactor Supply Chain

Lead Organisation: AM Technology Partner: Autico Location: North West, South West

Indigenous Sustainable Manufacturing Supply Chain for Solid State Lighting

Lead Organisation: Zeta Controls Limited Partners: Plessey Semiconductors Limited Location: South East, South West

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Supply Chain Innovation for UK Production of Large Wind Turbine Gearboxes

Lead Organisation: David Brown Gear Systems Ltd Partners: University of Nottingham, Holts Brothers Ltd, University of Huddersfield, Parkers Hannifin Manufacturing UK Ltd, Russlle Ductile Castings Ltd, DHL, Trac Group Ltd, UnilatheLocation: West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire

The Composites inno

vation Cluster (CiC)

Lead Organisation: Cytec Industrial Materials LtdPartners: Cobham Advanced Composites Limited, Aviation Enterprises Ltd, ARRK Europe Ltd, Sigmatex (UK) LTD, GE Aviation Systems Ltd (trading through its Dowty Propellers Facility), NetComposites Ltds, Tilsatec (a division of Sirdar Spinning Ltd), Axon Automotive Ltd, Dyne Technology Ltd, FORMAX (UK) Ltd, Technical Fibre Products Ltd, Altair Engineering Ltd, Tods Aerospace Ltd, Gudel Lineartec (U.K.) Ltd, EPL Composite Solutions Ltd, Granta Design Limited, FAR-UK Ltd, Assyst Bullmer Ltd, Surface Generation Ltd, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), Imperial College, National Composites Certification and Evaluation Facility (NCCEF), University of Hertfordshire, Royal Holloway University of London, University of Nottingham & Cranfield University Location: West Midlands, East Midlands, East of England, North West, South East, Yorkshire

Development of Advanced High Temperature Bearing Steel

Lead Organisation: Tata Steel UK Limited Partners: SKF, University of Cambridge, AFRC (University of Strathclyde) Location: South West, Yorkshire

Northern Ireland: Security


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Wales Office (Baroness Randerson): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Theresa Villiers) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

Following the joint decision by the UK and Irish Governments to wind up the Independent Monitoring Commission in 2011, my predecessor made a commitment to provide biannual updates to the House on the security situation in Northern Ireland. This is my first such Statement as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Overall threat in Northern Ireland

Since the Statement in July 2012, the threat level in Northern Ireland has remained at “severe”. This means that an attack remains highly likely. There were 24 national security attacks during 2012, compared with 26 attacks in 2011. So far, there have been three national security attacks in 2013. A majority of attacks have involved the use of crude, but potentially lethal, pipe-bomb devices; there were also a number of more sophisticated and serious attacks.

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The cowardly murder of prison officer David Black, in November 2012, by a group referred to as the “new IRA” was a brutal reminder of the continuing threat posed by dissident republican terrorists. They continue to target police officers, soldiers and prison officers. Yet these are also attacks on the wider community causing disruption and discomfort to the daily lives of many people.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Security Service, along with An Garda Siocana, continue to demonstrate a robust commitment to bringing to justice those who carry out attacks. Across the island of Ireland 173 arrests and 64 charges were made during 2012. There were also 18 convictions of individuals involved in planning and participating in attacks. Many more attacks were prevented and disrupted.

During 2013, Northern Ireland has a great opportunity to showcase itself through events such as the G8 summit, World Police and Fire Games, and Derry-Londonderry City of Culture. The PSNI, the Security Service, and An Garda Síochána will continue working together to ensure these events happen safely and successfully. PSNI have a wealth of experience at managing large events and will also be able to call for assistance from police services in Great Britain where necessary, particularly with regard to the G8 summit.

Threat to GB from Northern Ireland related terrorism

In October 2012, the threat level from Northern Ireland related terrorism in GB was reduced from “substantial” to “moderate”. The Security Service reached this assessment on the basis of current intelligence, although it recognises that dissident republican terrorists continue to aspire to conduct attacks in GB. All threat levels are, of course, kept under review.

Activity of republican paramilitary groups

New IRA—in July 2012, a number of disparate groups came together to form an organisation generally referred to as the “new IRA”. This new grouping primarily consists of members of the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs (which conducts brutal shootings against nationalist members of the community) and a number of unaffiliated individuals who we believe have connections to the fatal attack against Massereene barracks in 2009. This group has already demonstrated its lethal intent, claiming responsibility for the murder of David Black last November. The group also conducted an unsuccessful attack in September 2012, in which it attached a bomb to a bicycle as part of a trap to kill police in Londonderry. It has, however, also suffered setbacks. For example, on 6 December 2012 a number of individuals were arrested and charged after being found in possession of an explosively formed projectile capable of penetrating armoured vehicles

Continuity IRA—this group is dangerous and continues to conduct attack planning. In late January, CIRA claimed responsibility for a shooting attack against police officers in Lurgan, though nobody was injured.

Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH) has also continued to be active over the past six months. We judge that this group is responsible for two attempted under vehicle car-bomb attacks since December 2012. Fortunately

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none of these were successful. Had they exploded they would almost certainly have been fatal for anyone in the vicinity, potentially including families and young children. Most recently, we believe that ONH were responsible for throwing a pipe bomb which struck a PSNI vehicle in north Belfast on 30 January.

All of these groups remain heavily involved in criminality, in particular fuel laundering and smuggling, but also drugs, robbery and extortion.

Activity of loyalist paramilitary groups

The leaderships of the main loyalist paramilitary organisations, the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), remain committed to their ceasefires. While individuals associated with the UVF were involved in recent loyalist public disorder, the PSNI do not believe that this was sanctioned by the UVF leadership. Both the UDA and the UVF have endorsed calls for an end to the public disorder. Both groups do, however, remain involved in organised crime, including smuggling and other criminal activity.

During the public disorder over 140 police officers were injured. To date there have been more than 170 arrests and over 125 charges. We shall continue to do all we can to support the PSNI in policing the protests and bringing those involved in public disorder and other illegal activities to justice.

Paramilitary style shootings and assaults

Both republican and loyalist paramilitary groups continue to carry out paramilitary style assaults—so-called “punishment attacks”—by which they seek to intimidate whole communities. Within the communities affected there is, rightly, widespread revulsion against such activities.


I meet regularly the Northern Ireland Minister of Justice, David Ford, and the chief constable, Matt Baggott, to discuss the terrorist threat. The Government continue to offer their full support to the PSNI. We are currently examining future funding needs when the current £200 million security package that the Government agreed in 2011 expires in March 2015.

I will also be working with the Minister of Justice, the chief constable and colleagues in Whitehall to ensure the people of Northern Ireland receive the best possible protection against international crime. These include activities such as child abuse and human trafficking. The Government were extremely disappointed at the decision by the Northern Ireland Executive not to pursue a legislative consent motion for the operation of the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland. We do, however, remain willing to consider proposals by the Executive which would amend the arrangements for the National Crime Agency to reflect Northern Ireland’s specific circumstances.

Cross-border co-operation with our colleagues in the Republic of Ireland remains excellent. An Garda Síochána have made a significant number of arrests in recent months as a result of its own investigations into republican paramilitary activity. This has undoubtedly saved lives. AGS continues to work tirelessly to bring those involved in criminality and terrorism to justice. I speak frequently to the Irish Justice Minister, Alan Shatter.

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I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to PSNI Constable Philippa Reynolds, who died in the service of her community on 8 February, and offer my condolences to her family. I would also to place on record my condolence to the family of Garda Adrian Donohoe who was murdered by criminals operating across the border on 25 January. Both Constable Reynolds and Garda Donohoe died as they worked, to keep people safe in the communities they served.


It is clear from the violence carried out by both republican and loyalist groups that there are still people in Northern Ireland who demonstrate contempt for democracy and the rule of law. Their numbers remain small, but the threat they pose continues to be very real. While these groupings enjoy virtually no public support, sectarianism and division can fuel grievances on which they will seek to capitalise. There is a responsibility on local politicians and community leaders to work together to address sectarianism and build a shared future for everyone in Northern Ireland. For our part, this Government remain fully committed to tackling the threat from terrorism and keeping the people of Northern Ireland safe and secure.

Shipping: Towing Vessels


The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Wallace of Tankerness): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland (Michael Moore) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

Following discussions with interested parties in Scotland, the Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, in June 2012 I confirmed that the Government would establish a new contract for an emergency towing vessel to be held in stand-by in waters around Scotland for the duration of the current spending review period.

In parallel, discussions have continued with interested parties in the private sector on possible arrangement to complement this service. I am pleased to announce that agreement has been reached with BP and North Star Shipping to release a vessel to respond to an incident in waters around Scotland. An operational and commercial model has been brokered allowing HM Coastguard to call on the BP-chartered vessel, the “Grampian Frontier”, to provide support in the event of a pollution incident. North Star Shipping is working with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to ensure that the crew and equipment are able to respond.

Now that an operational and commercial model has been identified, it is hoped that the scheme will be broadened out to include other suitable vessels identified by offshore industry around Scotland. Oil & Gas UK, who helped to broker the agreement, will work with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to evaluate operation of the agreement and explore the possibility of other industry vessels that may be suitable to register to assist. As a signal of their commitment, BP also announced investment of up to $250,000 towards new towing equipment to upgrade its fleet of Caledonian regional support vessels, enhancing their ability to respond.

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This is the first agreement of its kind in the UK and the private sector partners involved are setting a positive example to wider industry. I am grateful for efforts on

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the part of Oil & Gas UK, BP and North Star Shipping in facilitating this agreement and to Oil & Gas UK for its assistance with future wider industry participation.