16 Jan 2014 : Column WS9

16 Jan 2014 : Column WS9

Written Statements

Thursday 16 January 2014

Disabled People


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): My honourable friend the Minister for Disabled People (Mike Penning MP) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

I am today publishing the latest part of our Fulfilling Potential cross-Government disability strategy: ‘Better Working with Disabled People: The Way Forward’. This sets out our new plans for Government engagement with, and advice from, disabled people.

The UK has a proud history of furthering the rights of disabled people, but we know more needs to be done to realise the Government’s aim that disabled people should be enabled to participate in every aspect of society.

The new arrangements will build on the achievements of Equality 2025. The ‘Better Working with Disabled People’ consultation, published in July 2013, sought views on how we can best do this. The responses to the consultation, and our extensive engagement with stakeholders, have helped us to shape the plans set out in “Better Working with Disabled People: The Way Forward”.

We aim to strengthen and broaden input to policy and strategy development from the lived experience of disabled people, and also from people with particular expertise on disability issues, in accordance with the principles of open policy-making.

The new arrangements are intended to contribute towards meeting our obligation under the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People to closely consult with, and actively involve, disabled people in decision-making processes relating to them.

We are establishing an engagement forum, the Fulfilling Potential Forum, involving around 40 disability organisations, including regional representatives. The Forum will meet quarterly to discuss and inform Government strategy. It will be co-chaired by the Minister of State for Disabled People and the Minister of State for Care and Support.

The work of the Forum will be complemented by the introduction of the Fulfilling Potential Policy Advice Service, a call-off list of disability experts who will advise Government policy makers. The management of the service will be contracted out, with the Office for Disability Issues in the Department for Work and Pensions managing the contract.

The first meeting of the Fulfilling Potential Forum is expected to be in April 2014, and the Fulfilling Potential Policy Advice Service should be operational by mid-2014.

I will place a copy of ‘Better Working with Disabled People: The Way Forward’ in the House Library.

16 Jan 2014 : Column WS10

EU: Agriculture and Fisheries Council


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord De Mauley) (Con): My Right Hon Friend the Secretary of State (Owen Paterson) has today made the following statement.

I represented the UK at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 16 December in Brussels. Richard Lochhead MSP, Alun Davies AM and Michelle O’Neill MLA also attended. I covered the agricultural issues while my Hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (George Eustice) covered the fishery issues which were reported on in separate letters dated 20 December 2013 and the last three any other business items on nutrition and labelling, animal plant and control package: smarter rules for safer food, and market access from Russia.

The legislative ‘A’ points were approved, which included the package of five Common Agricultural Policy regulations. The four main regulations were published on 21 December, while a transitional regulation was published on 27 December. Also approved was the Cohesion package on which I abstained. Germany and I voted against the extension of the scope of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund.

The non-legislative ‘A’ points included a Council regulation to fix certain agricultural prices and refunds, which Germany and I abstained on.

Promotion of agricultural products

The Council noted the Commission’s proposal for a new regulation on promotion of agricultural products. I welcomed the focus on exports and simplification but queried the budget increase. The Commission stressed that its aim was to boost efficiency and value-for-money, including through producers involvement as they would have more incentive to put together good schemes if they were to bear more of the cost.

Any Other Business

National Emissions Ceilings Directive

Germany requested that the Commission report to Agriculture Council on the progress of its proposal to revise the National Emissions Ceilings Directive. Germany was concerned by the potential impact of ammonia emission ceiling reductions on Europe’s agricultural industry. I supported the request. The Commission noted that the impacts on agriculture were fully considered within the Commission.

Organic agriculture

The Commission presented the results of its consultation on the future of organic agriculture regulation. It found that the majority of respondents were in favour of greater harmonisation and removing derogations from the legislation. I urged pragmatism and recommended focusing on opportunities for growth and exports including with China.

Dairy sector – September 2013 conference

The Commission presented the findings of its recent conference which considered the future of the dairy sector following the end of quotas in 2015. Many Member States argued that while they were not calling for the return of quotas, they did see the case for some

16 Jan 2014 : Column WS11

“collective management” of the sector or for greater focus on producer returns. I urged the EU not to move back towards market management, but to leave producers to take advantage of growing global demand for dairy products.

Local farming and direct sales labelling scheme

The Commission presented its report concluding that a specific, voluntary labelling scheme may help producers to market and sell their products locally and in short supply chains. The Presidency urged Member States to save discussion of this until early 2014 as the incoming Greek Presidency had committed to taking this issue forward.

Rice: Problems in the Sector

Italy presented a paper highlighting the problems faced by the EU rice sector with significant increases of duty free imports from some countries, particularly Cambodia and Burma. Italy suggested it might be time to consider safeguard measures. The Commission assured the Council that it monitored the EU rice sector, but noted that the EU was not self-sufficient in rice, and it would be premature to consider safeguard measures.

Nutrition labelling

The Italian delegation introduced a paper expressing concerns about the UK’s voluntary front of pack nutrition labelling. They cited concerns over: disruption to the internal market, consumer confusion and incompatibility with European quality schemes. My Hon Friend clarified the UK’s position: the scheme was voluntary and experience over eight years of similar colour coded schemes by most domestic retailers had not caused any disruption to the internal market. However seventeen Member States supported Italy. The Commission in its response made clear that such voluntary schemes were left to the discretion of individual Member States and that it would take action in any cases where the internal market did become seriously disrupted. The Commission reported that it had received assurances from the UK about the voluntary nature of the scheme and its monitoring arrangements.

Animal, Plant and Control package: smarter rules for safer food

The Council took note of the Presidency’s progress report on the five elements of the smarter rules for safer food package. Member States intervened on a variety of issues in the package: a positive list of plant products allowed in order to give greater protection against imports of pests; concerns over the introduction of fees in the controls package; concerns with the high number of delegated acts and the value of merging separate pieces of legislation.

The Greek delegation informed the Council that the package would be a priority and hoped to produce a preliminary compromise text to enable the Italian Presidency to begin negotiations with the European Parliament.

Market access to Russia for plants and plant products

The Commission updated the Council on negotiations with Russia on the export of plants and plant products from the EU. Russia had phytosanitary concerns and blocked imports of some plant products. Russia was, at the same time, insisting that the EU accept imports of some Russian products which the EU had phytosanitary

16 Jan 2014 : Column WS12

concerns about. The Commission would continue with the negotiations, being “cautiously optimistic” that the export ban would be lifted in the near future.

National Crime Agency Remuneration Review Body


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

I am pleased to announce that the Prime Minister has appointed David Lebrecht as the Chair of the new National Crime Agency (NCA) Remuneration Review Body until 31 August 2018, commencing 20 January 2014. Mr Lebrecht, who is currently an employment relations consultant, brings a wealth of experience to the role. He was previously the interim HR Director (and before that Head of Employee Relations) for British Airways, and a member of the Prison Service Pay Review Body.

I am also pleased to announce that I have appointed as members of the Review Body:

Dr Brian Bell, a Lecturer in Economics at the University of Oxford and a Tutorial Fellow at Lady Margaret Hall.Elizabeth Bell, Group Talent Development Director at Kingfisher plc.Patrick Stayt, a lay Member of the Office of Judicial Complaints and previously National Secretary of the Police Superintendents’ Association.Heather Baily, who has recently concluded her role as a Deputy Chief Inspector in Ireland and was previously Deputy Chief Constable of Hertfordshire Police.Christopher Pilgrim, HR Director at RWE NPower and a member of their Senior Management Team.

These appointments will be to 31 August 2017, commencing 20 January 2014.

Subject to Parliament’s approval, the Police Negotiating Board will be abolished in 2014 and a Police Remuneration Review Body established. Once established, the NCA Remuneration Review Body will be abolished and the Police Remuneration Review Body will make recommendations on the remuneration both of police officers and NCA officers designated with operational powers. This successor body will be renamed the NCA and Police Remuneration Review Body.

The Prime Minister (in the case of the Chair) and I (in the case of the members) have in the first instance, appointed these six individuals to the NCA Remuneration Review Body. We expect that they will take up their equivalent positions on the National Crime Agency and Police Remuneration Review Body when established.

These appointments have been made in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments.

16 Jan 2014 : Column WS13

NATO Parliamentary Assembly


The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): My right Honourable Friend, the Secretary of State for

16 Jan 2014 : Column WS14

Foreign Affairs (William Hague), has made the following written Ministerial statement:

My hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Tobias Ellwood) has replaced my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) as a member of the United Kingdom delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.