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Written Statements

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Armed Forces: Reserve Forces

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence (The Rt Hon Philip Hammond) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government has today published a White Paper on Reserve Forces, “Reserves in the Future Force 2020: Valuable and Valued”. The White Paper sets out our vision for the future of the Reserve Forces following the consultation I launched last October, and the detail of how we will make Reserve Service more attractive to individual reservists, their families and their employers. It also confirms our intention to change the name of the Territorial Army to the Army Reserve.

In order to deliver our vision for the Reserves as part of the “Whole Force”, it is necessary to make some changes to the Reserve structure and, in some cases, the basing lay-down. While the Maritime Reserves and Royal Auxiliary Air Force structures will see only minimal changes, the Army has had to undertake a fundamental re-design of its Reserve force structure to deliver the reserve component of the integrated Army 2020.

Against the backdrop of the revised offer to the Reserve Forces set out in the White Paper, the Army has developed a plan for the structure and basing of the Army Reserve, consistent with the recommendations of the Independent Commission’s review of the UK’s Reserve Forces1 led by General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, in 2011. It follows the July 2012 and March 2013 announcements on Regular Army structure and basing, and completes the announcements on the Army 2020 design. The plan provides clarification on the future purpose, roles and locations of Army Reserve units and, in doing so, generates the level of certainty needed to support the major recruiting drive we are undertaking to expand the Army Reserve. The restructuring will have impact across the United Kingdom and to assist right Hon. and Hon. Members in understanding the effect of these changes on their constituencies, documents setting out the detail have been placed in the Library of the House.

To achieve the Future Force 2020 design of a fully integrated, trained Army of 112,000, comprising around 82,000 regular personnel and around 30,000 reservists, with an additional 8,000 reservists in training, the Army Reserve will need to be restructured. The Territorial Army’s current structure was put in place in 2007 and based on some 36,500 posts. It was never fully resourced or manned, it is no longer consistent with Defence policy, and it would not fulfil the roles and capabilities required of the Army Reserve under Army 2020.

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We will increase the trained strength of the Army Reserve from about 19,000 to 30,000, but at the same time, we will decrease the number of posts in the structure to match the 30,000 target – delivering a fully manned force structure, for the first time in many years.

The revised Army Reserve structure of around 30,000 will no longer exist simply to supplement the Regular Army in times of national conflict but, as part of an integrated whole force, will be ready and able to deploy routinely at sub-unit level, and in some circumstances, as formed units. To deliver this effect, the Regular Army and the Army Reserve will, for the first time outside of the two world wars, be fully integrated within a single chain of command. Army Reserve units, like their Regular counterparts, will be distributed in varying proportions across the adaptable force brigades, the specialist brigades forming force troops and, to a lesser extent, the reaction force brigades. Most importantly, this structure will be properly resourced both in terms of equipment and training and, as spelled out in the White Paper, will be enabled by Terms and Conditions of Service more relevant to the future requirements of Reserve service.

This change is already underway, and the last 15 months have seen significant investment in personal and unit equipment, in the vehicle training fleet, and in UK and overseas training exercises for formed Reserve sub-units.

To ensure that formed Reserve units and sub-units can operate effectively alongside their Regular counterparts, Regular and Reserve units will be formally paired. Pairing will optimise the use of training and equipment resources, increase the capability of the integrated force, and will ensure force elements are available at appropriate readiness to deliver the Army’s outputs to Defence. While the majority of Army Reserve units will be at lower readiness than Regular units, the investment planned over the coming years will broadly align the equipment levels and training in Reserve units to those of Regular units.

Decisions on how to re-balance the Army Reserve structure have been based on military judgement taking account of the capabilities required from the Reserves in the integrated Army, the need to achieve full manning by 2018, and the greater efficiencies in training and equipment resulting from formal pairing between Regular and Reserve units. While some of the changes may be unwelcome by the units affected by them, they are necessary to deliver the effective, modern and integrated Army Reserve of the future and to enable us to deliver on our commitment to reservists of better training, better equipment and a fully integrated role.

These changes will involve the re-roling of some units, the raising of new units and the withdrawal of others from the Army Order of Battle. The capabilities which will make up the future Army Reserve will be different from today, and this change will also be reflected in the number of units and sub-units held under each cap-badge. The current Territorial Army structure supports 71 major units; overall it will reduce to 68 major units in the future structure:

Nine major units will be withdrawn, and their sub-units will either be withdrawn, re-roled or re- subordinated to another unit in the Army Reserve’s

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Order of Battle. They are: 100 (Yeomanry) Regiment Royal Artillery; 72 and 73 Engineer Regiments; 38 Signal Regiment; and from the Royal Logistic Corps 88 Postal and Courier Regiment; 160 Transport Regiment; 165 Port Regiment; 166 Supply Regiment and 168 Pioneer Regiment. A further three major units will be re-roled within the Royal Logistic Corps: 152 Transport Regiment will become 152 Fuel Support Regiment, 155 Transport Regiment will become 165 Port and Enabling Regiment, and 156 Transport Regiment will become 156 Supply Regiment. Six new major units will be created: in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, 101 Battalion, 104 Battalion, 105 Battalion and 106 Battalion, and in the Military Intelligence Corps, 6 Military Intelligence Battalion and 7 Military Intelligence Battalion. A number of existing sub-units will either be re-roled or re-subordinated to these new units. Decisions on withdrawal, re-roling or re-subordination of a sub-unit are completely separate from those regarding the sites each currently occupies, which are addressed later in this statement.

Additionally, there will be changes to structures at minor unit and sub-unit levels. Key details of these changes are contained in the documents that have been placed in the Library of the House.

With the exception of the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry, none of these decisions involves a cap-badge change. The Regimental HQ of the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry will move to Edinburgh where it will be closer to its paired Regular unit, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, which will be based at Leuchars. It will assume command of existing Yeomanry sub-units across Scotland and Northern Ireland. To better reflect its new geographical focus, it is planned to re-name this Headquarters; ‘The Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry’. A, C and D Squadrons of the RMLY will remain in their current geographical locations (respectively Dudley, Chester and Wigan), but will come under command of other Yeomanry regiment headquarters, improving their ability to train effectively, and draw on support from their formal pairing with Regular units; a troop will also remain in Telford, which will be subordinated to A Squadron in Dudley. We expect that those Squadrons will carry the RMLY cap-badge preserving it for the future, in addition to the antecedents they currently carry.

We will implement this structural re-balancing in a phased manner, and complete it by 2016, in order to ensure that those capabilities that the Army Reserve must deliver in the earliest phases of future operations, are available from 2017.

This restructuring will require changes to the current basing lay-down of the Army Reserve. The Army has taken the opportunity to review the lay-down not only to reflect the structural changes, but also to address the need to optimise recruitment and to facilitate effective training in the future.

The Territorial Army currently occupies 334 individual sites around the United Kingdom, including a number of locations with small detachments of fewer than 30 personnel—the approximate size of an infantry platoon.

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Some of these sites are seriously under-recruited. To maximise the potential for future recruitment, and particularly to capitalise on existing areas of specialist skills in the national workforce, the Army has determined that it should increase and rationalise the presence of the Army Reserve in urban areas, by merging small, and/or poorly recruited sub-units, into larger sites already occupied by other units in local or neighbouring communities. As well as improving recruitment opportunities the greater concentration of Reserve units in fewer locations, and their increased proximity to their paired Regular units, will enable more effective use to be made of manpower, infrastructure and equipment. As part of this exercise, the Army Reserve will open or re-open nine additional Reserve sites.

Because the Army will be delivering a focussed recruiting drive over the next couple of years, we have decided to retain a significant number of small and under-recruited sites, where long term viability is considered possible. The units on those sites will be challenged to recruit up to strength in the years ahead. From 2016, the Army’s Regional Chain of Command will gradually rationalise and consolidate any sites which remain persistently and seriously under-recruited and/or unable to generate effective Army capability.

Overall, the changes being announced today will result in the net vacation of 26 Army Reserve sites across the United Kingdom in the period up to 2016. The Army Reserve’s future lay-down will maintain the broad pattern of activity in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.

Further work will be undertaken to better define how those sites being vacated by the Army Reserve will be managed in the future and how retained sites will be improved and expanded where they are required to accommodate larger numbers following consolidation of Army Reserve units. We expect to invest around £80 million in improvements and expansion across the Army Reserve estate, as part of a £120 million overall investment in Reserve Estate.

Where Cadets are co-located on Army Reserve sites for which there is no longer a Defence requirement, we will pursue re-provision of facilities for the cadet unit to ensure that a local cadet presence is maintained.

Overall the structural changes to the Army Reserve and the changes to lay-down set out above will deliver a more efficient and effective structure which will allow the Army Reserve to develop in full its planned role in Army 2020. This announcement gives certainty to the Army Reserve as it embarks upon the twin challenges of recruiting and training to grow to a fully manned and fully trained establishment of 30,000 and restructuring the force to deliver the outputs required of it under Army 2020.

1 Future Reserves 2020. The Independent Commission to Review the United Kingdom’s Reserve Forces. London, July 2011.

Drugs: Khat

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Taylor of Holbeach): My right hon Friend the Home Secretary (Theresa May) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

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The Government will control khat under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as a Class C drug.

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) undertook a thorough and comprehensive scientific review which focused on the medical and social harms of khat consumption. The ACMD report gives considerable insight into the complexity of this matter and, based on the available evidence, it came to a reasonable conclusion in its recommendation to Government. Although it recommended that khat should not be controlled, the ACMD acknowledges that there is an absence of robust evidence in a number of areas and that there are broader factors for the Government to consider when making its decision. The decision to bring khat under control is finely balanced and takes into account the expert scientific advice and these broader concerns.

The whole of northern Europe—most recently the Netherlands—and the majority of other EU member states have controlled khat, as well as most of the G8 countries including Canada and the USA. In all these cases khat’s exportation, importation, supply and its possession or use has been banned. Failure to take decisive action and change the UK’s legislative position on khat would place the UK at a serious risk of becoming a single, regional hub for the illegal onward trafficking of khat to these countries. Seizures of khat transiting the UK en route to the Netherlands have already been increasing in size and frequency since the Dutch ban earlier this year. The ACMD report recognised the likelihood that some khat is being re-exported to countries where it is illegal. The ACMD could not determine the scale of this activity based on the available evidence and acknowledged that this concern forms part of Government consideration of the matter.

Khat continues to feature prominently amongst the health and social harms, such as low attainment and family breakdown, cited by affected communities and the police and local authorities working with them. The ACMD acknowledged that there was insufficient evidence to enable the ACMD to advise if khat use was a cause or a symptom of social harms. The Government is concerned that we risk underestimating the actual harms of khat in our communities owing to the limitations of the evidence base available to the ACMD. To ensure a proportionate and robust policing response, the Government will introduce an escalation framework for the possession of khat for personal use, similar to that in place for cannabis.

The Government will ban khat so that we can protect vulnerable members of our communities and send a clear message to our international partners and khat smugglers that the UK is serious about stopping the illegal trafficking of khat.

Finance Bill

Statement

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): I have made a statement under Section 19(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act 1998 that, in my view, the provisions of the Finance Bill are compatible with the Convention rights. A copy of the statement has been placed in the Library of the House.

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Gift Aid

Statement

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton): My honourable friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Sajid Javid) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Following the announcement at Budget 2013 that the Government is looking to improve the way Gift Aid works on digital donations, HM Treasury is today publishing a consultation document—‘Gift Aid and Digital Giving’. This document focuses on how to increase the level of Gift Aid take up on digital donations, such as those made online or by text message, as well as other improvements to Gift Aid.

This Government recognises the important work of charities in our society and has improved the support charities receive through the tax system with a variety of reliefs. Gift Aid alone was worth over £1 billion to charities last year, and with the rapid growth in digital donations, the Government wants to ensure that Gift Aid take up remains high.

The consultation seeks views on how intermediaries might collect Gift Aid on behalf of charities and how the wording of the Gift Aid declaration might be improved. It also invites thoughts on a database of universal Gift Aid declarations and wider improvements to Gift Aid.

The consultation closes on Friday 20 September 2013.

Immigration Bill

Statement

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

The forthcoming Immigration Bill will make it more difficult for illegal migrants to live in the UK unlawfully and ensure that legal migrants make a fair contribution to our key public services. I am launching two consultations to set out some proposals on how we will achieve this. Copies are available in the House Library and on the Home Office website at http://www.ukba. homeoffice.gov.uk/policyandlaw/consultations/. Further proposals will be set out over the summer.

The first consultation is on proposals to better regulate migrant access to health services in the UK and will run for eight weeks. We are responding to public concern that the current rules regulating non-EEA migrant access to publicly funded healthcare services are both overly generous, particularly when compared with wider international practice, and poorly applied. These current weaknesses result in the UK taxpayer unfairly bearing the healthcare costs of temporary non-EEA migrants, who will not make the same financial contribution to our healthcare systems as permanent residents over their working lives in the UK, and short term visitors and illegal migrants who access free health services when they should be subject to treatment charges.

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This consultation will run in parallel to a separate Department of Health consultation which analyses the vulnerabilities of the current charging regime for overseas visitors in England, and sets out a range of proposals for reforming the system, including through improved registering and tracking of chargeable patients.

The second consultation launched today concerns proposals to prohibit illegal migrants from renting accommodation in the UK and will run for seven weeks. This forms part of the Government’s wider drive to prevent illegal migration, including by removing the means by which migrants can live in the UK unlawfully. Our intention to take action in this area was signalled by my Rt Hon Friend the Prime Minister in his speech on immigration on 25 March, and the inclusion of related measures in the forthcoming Immigration Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech on 8 May.

The consultation seeks views on the creation of a duty to require landlords to conduct immigration status checks on tenants before providing residential accommodation, with financial penalties for those landlords who let property to illegal migrants having failed to conduct the necessary checks. The landlord checking proposal is modelled on the existing civil penalty scheme for employers of illegal migrant workers.

Machinery of Government Change: Youth Policy

Statement

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford): My Rt Hon Friend the Prime Minister has made the following statement:

Cross-cutting responsibilities for youth policy will today transfer from the Department for Education to the Cabinet Office which will now lead for the Government on: cross-government youth strategy and policy co-ordination; management of the statutory duty on Local Authorities for youth Provision in their areas; and, strategic relationship management with young people and youth sector organisations on policy development.

NHS: Migrant Access and Charges

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My Rt hon Friend the Secretary of State for Health (Jeremy Hunt) has made the following written ministerial statement.

The United Kingdom successfully attracts many millions of visitors and migrants each year. If our country is to remain competitive, we need to continue to welcome those who come here to work and to study. At the same time public services like the NHS are under increasing strain, coping with the demands of an ageing population and financial pressures. The NHS is and will remain free at the point of delivery for its residents, but it cannot continue as an international

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rather than a national health service. We urgently need to address this or the system is likely to become unsustainable.

Our health system is very generous to overseas visitors, perhaps one of the most generous in the world. We allow people who are living here temporarily to use the NHS and exempt many of them from charging, while any visitor, including tourists, can visit a general practitioner free of charge. These sorts of services are often not available for our citizens when they are abroad.

The NHS struggles to identify and recover the cost from those not entitled to free treatment. NHS resources, both financial and clinical, are used to treat and care for people who have no long term commitment to our country and should contribute towards it.

To address these issues, I am launching a consultation today inviting views on proposed changes to the way temporary migrants and visitors access the NHS in England. The purpose of this consultation is to examine critically who should be charged in the future; what services they should be charged for; and how we can ensure that the system is better able to identify chargeable patients and recover costs. As health is a devolved matter, this consultation is looking specifically at how to address the challenges for the NHS in England. The aim is to ensure they make a fair contribution to the cost of treatment, while not restricting access and maintaining the essential public health role of the NHS.

The Home Office will be running a linked consultation on UK-wide proposals to regulate migrant access to the NHS. This will explore proposals to ensure migrants contribute fairly to the cost of NHS care across the UK, including extending charging for primary care to visitors and illegal migrants, introducing a new qualifying test for non-EEA nationals accessing the NHS and a new mandatory health levy for temporary non-EEA migrants.

In the Department of Health consultation, the Government is proposing a new set of rules for accessing free NHS care, based on a principle of ‘everyone makes a fair contribution’; such that free treatment should only be provided to those people with settled residence here who have an established relationship with the UK.

This would mean that temporary migrants, including students and some workers, would in future have to contribute through a levy or a fee that would then allow them to register with the NHS and subsequently receive all necessary treatment without further payment. We propose to add a provision to waive the fee for some high value workers who choose to waive their right to free NHS care in favour of private healthcare provision.

In line with the principle of the established relationship we propose to extend the rights of ex-residents who have a long term record of national insurance payments to access free NHS treatment when returning to visit the UK—currently some are chargeable or have entitlement only to limited treatment. Short-term non-EEA visitors who are here for less than six months, and illegal migrants will continue to be directly chargeable.

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The consultation considers the operational and clinical case for charging for NHS care in all settings including GP, community services and will also consider A&E and emergency GP consultations for chargeable patients. Not compromising patient access would be a fundamental requirement for any such future change.

Finally the consultation addresses the current major weaknesses in the administration of charging. The consultation provides, in outline only, a potential new system, including a revamped registration system with data that identifies a person’s chargeable status. We will seek extensive front line NHS input to develop a detailed, fit for purpose model that has their support. This engagement will continue beyond the end of the formal consultation process.

The consultation will run for eight weeks and will close on 28 August 2013.

The consultation document and supporting evidence 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.

It is also available at: www.dh.gov.uk/consultations

Waterways: Canal and River Trust

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley): My Hon Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Natural Environment and Fisheries (Richard Benyon) has today made the following statement.

On 28 February 2011, I made a statement about inland waterways policy for England and Wales (WMS 52). I set out the Government’s vision of a national trust for the waterways that included the British Waterways and Environment Agency (EA) navigations. I said that there would be a phased approach to the delivery of this vision. In phase 1, the functions,

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liabilities and assets of British Waterways in England and Wales would transfer into a new charity and that in phase 2, the EA navigations would transfer in 2015/16. I made clear that the transfer would only take place if sufficient funding could be found in the next Spending Review to enable the charity to take on the liabilities associated with EA’s navigations, and that a transfer would be subject to the agreement of the charity’s Trustees.

British Waterways’ functions, assets and liabilities in England and Wales were transferred to the Canal & River Trust on 2 July 2012. This was a great achievement which has been widely welcomed and has already delivered considerable benefits such as raising almost £1m and drawing upon 29,000 volunteer days to support the waterways.

The fiscal situation remains challenging and as a result Defra must identify additional savings in 2015/16 to help deal with the deficit. Initial scoping work on transfer costs which was undertaken during the New Waterways Charity Project indicates that the transfer of EA navigations is unlikely to be affordable in the current climate. The Government has therefore decided that the Review planned for 2013/14 to consider options for the transfer will be postponed until Defra’s finances improve and there is a realistic prospect of the transfer being affordable and that it can take place on terms which would enable CRT’s Trustees to manage the additional liabilities involved.

I realise that this decision will come as a disappointment to all those with an interest in our inland waterways who share the Government’s view that a transfer to CRT offers the most sustainable long-term future for EA’s navigations. The Government, however, remains fully committed to transferring the EA navigations when the economic circumstances allow us to do so. The Government will review the position after the next Spending Period and will make a further announcement at that time on the timing of the transfer.