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Written Statements

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Businesses: Regulation

Statement

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Viscount Younger of Leckie) (Con): My Rt hon Friend the Minister for Business and Energy (Michael Fallon) has today made the following statement.

The Government is today publishing the Eighth Statement of New Regulation. This Statement reports on regulations within the scope of the One-in, Two-out rule which are expected to come into force between 1 July and 31 December 2014. The 8th Statement shows that the sum total of government deregulation from January 2011 to June 2014 is reducing the net annual cost to business by around £1.5 billion.

The Statement also reports on over 150 Red Tape Challenge measures expected to come into force. These include the scrapping of around 50 pieces of redundant legislation, the introduction of over 100 regulatory reforms and EU measures which are implemented by UK regulations.

In parallel, Departments are each publishing a summary of the regulations they intend to introduce.

I am placing copies of the Statement in the House libraries.

Child Abuse: Independent Inquiry

Statement

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:

In my statement to the House on 7 July I announced that I was establishing an independent inquiry panel of experts in the law and child protection to consider whether public bodies – and other, non-state, institutions – have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse. I undertook to report back when the inquiry panel chairman and terms of reference for the review have been agreed. I wish to inform the House that I have now appointed the rt hon Baroness Butler-Sloss GBE to chair the independent inquiry panel. Baroness Butler-Sloss brings with her many years of experience in the field of child protection and law, and I am confident that she will deliver the thorough, robust and independent review that I have promised.

To ensure that the terms of reference for the inquiry are sufficient to deliver the robust review which is required I have asked that Lady Butler-Sloss agree the final terms of reference with the full panel, when appointed. The inquiry will begin its work as soon as possible after the appointment of other members of the panel and I shall provide a further update in due course.

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EU: Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Statement

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.

The next Agriculture and Fisheries Council will be on 14 July in Brussels. My honourable friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (George Eustice), will represent the UK.

There are both agriculture and fisheries items on this month’s agenda.

The Italian Presidency will outline its work programme for the next six months.

On agriculture, there will be a policy debate on organic farming and further discussion of Council conclusions on the future of the dairy sector, which may be adopted.

On fisheries, there will be a presentation by the Commission on a consultation on fishing opportunities for 2015 followed by an exchange of views.

There are currently two Any Other Business items:

• Fisheries Protocols with Morocco and Mauritania • Food control and food fraud

National Audit Office

Statement

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

I am today pleased to announce, on behalf of the Prime Minister, that, following a selection process, the Lord Bichard KCB is the successful nominee for appointment as the next Chair of the National Audit Office, to succeed Professor Sir Andrew Likierman at the end of his term, from 1 January 2015.

In accordance with the Budget Responsibility and National Audit Act 2011, Her Majesty the Queen by Letters Patent appoints the Chair of the National Audit Office. Her Majesty's power is exercisable on an address of the House of Commons. The Prime Minister will, with the agreement of the Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, on a date to be arranged, move a motion of this House that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will appoint the Lord Bichard KCB to the Office of Chair of the National Audit Office.

Overseas Territories

Statement

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): My Honourable Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mark Simmonds), has made the following written Ministerial statement:

I would like to inform the House of three important developments that will benefit the British Overseas Territories and British Overseas Territories Citizens.

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This Government set out, in our 2012 White Paper, a vision for the Overseas Territories to be vibrant and flourishing communities. We established a Joint Ministerial Council, bringing together UK Ministers and Territory leaders and representatives, to drive forward implementation of our strategy.

I am delighted that from 9 June 2014 the European Union has agreed visa free travel to the Schengen area for British nationals who are not citizens of the United Kingdom (this includes British Overseas Territory Citizens, British Subjects, British Overseas Citizens, and British Protected Persons). This decision will enable nearly 300,000 British nationals from the Territories to travel freely on British Overseas Territories Citizen passports in 30 countries in Europe. British Overseas Territories Citizens can already visit the UK without visas. Most British Overseas Territories Citizens are also British Citizens. The EU’s decision reflects the successful conclusion of three years of negotiations involving the UK Government, Territory Governments and the European Commission.

I am also pleased to inform you that United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI) has made arrangements to provide their Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) to companies located in the Overseas Territories from June 2014. This service is chargeable and assists companies to access the right international contacts or partners, find the best way to do business in a market and help to penetrate new markets. UKTI experts can also advise on local conditions including competitors, regulations and advise on accessing and influencing decision makers.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that the third round of the Overseas Territories Environment & Climate Fund, known as Darwin Plus, was launched on 22 May. This initiative currently supports 29 projects in the Territories to value of approximately £4million. In all of this, the UK Government remains committed to the development of strong and sustainable local economies, with flourishing communities, and setting world standards in our stewardship of the extraordinary natural environments in the Overseas Territories.

Presumption of Death Act 2013

Statement

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Faulks) (Con): I am pleased to announce that I have made a commencement order, The Presumption of Death Act 2013 (Commencement and Transitional and Saving Provision) Order 2014, bringing the remaining provisions of the Presumption of Death Act 2013 into force on 1 October 2014.

Syria: Chemical Weapons

Statement

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

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Following Syria’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) last year, and as part of the process to eliminate its chemical weapons (CW) programme, Syria provided a confidential declaration to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) which lists a number of states from which it obtained supplies of goods used in its CW programme.

The information in Syria’s declaration is classified under the terms of the CWC. However, I wish to inform the House that a review of our own files suggests that there were a number of exports of chemicals to Syria by UK companies between 1983 and 1986 which were likely to have been diverted for use in the Syrian programme.

These exports were:

- several hundred tonnes of the chemical dimethyl phosphite (DMP) in 1983 and a further export of several hundred tonnes in 1985;- several hundred tonnes of trimethyl phosphite (TMP) in 1986;- a smaller quantity of hydrogen fluoride (HF) in 1986 through a third country.

All these chemicals have legitimate uses, for example in the manufacture of plastics and pharmaceuticals. However, they can also be used in the production of sarin. DMP and TMP can also be used for the production of the nerve agent VX. That is why the export of such goods is strictly prohibited under the UK export regime introduced since the 1980s and progressively strengthened.

From the information we hold, we judge it likely that these chemical exports by UK companies were subsequently used by Syria in their programmes to produce nerve agents, including sarin.

Some of the companies involved no longer exist. Furthermore, some of the chemicals in question may have been sourced by a UK chemical trader, rather than produced in the UK.

The review of our records also confirmed an export of ventilation fans by a UK company to Syria in 2003. The fans were not controlled goods. Following an enquiry by the exporter, officials considered the export under licensing procedures, and insufficient grounds for refusal were found. Syria appears to have diverted these fans for use in a chemical weapons facility.

In the early 1980s, the exported chemicals were not subject to any international or UK export controls. However, knowledge of these exports, and growing concerns that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was developing a chemical weapons capability, helped prompt the introduction of tighter controls, both in the UK and internationally.

The Export of Goods (Control) Order was amended to control DMP in July 1985, and TMP and HF in June 1986.

There has been a complete overhaul of export control legislation, policy and practice since the 1980s, designed to ensure that such exports could not happen today. The UK operates a robust export control regime, and takes international obligations on this issue very seriously.

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Key instruments and legislation include:

- The Chemical Weapons Convention. The Chemical Weapons Act 1996 implements the provisions of the Convention which imposes specific controls on the transfer of certain chemicals including DMP and TMP.- The development of the Australia Group, of which the UK was an original member in 1985. As a matter of routine, all changes to the Australia Group control lists are reflected in UK national export controls. It controls trade in HF as well as DMP and TMP.- The Export Control Act 2002. Replacing legislation passed in 1939, the current legislation provides for controls on the export and brokering of listed goods and technologies, in addition to controls on unlisted items where it is believed they may be intended for use in weapons of mass destruction programmes.

Furthermore, the EU has developed EU wide controls on the export of dual use goods, including chemicals. Our ability to control exports is underpinned by the

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Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria, adopted by the UK in 2000 and updated in March 2014. The Criteria set a clear basis for the assessment of export licences. This is undertaken on a case by case basis taking account of all available information.

Today, the UK is playing its full part in the international effort to eliminate Syria’s programme. As the House is already aware, the UK is accepting 150 tonnes of B precursors from the Syrian chemical stockpile for destruction. I can today also inform the House that in addition to those chemicals, a further 50 tonnes of the industrial chemicals hydrogen chloride and hydrogen fluoride will also be destroyed in specialised commercial facilities in the UK. We expect the ship transporting all these chemicals to arrive in the UK next week. The Members of Parliament in whose constituencies destruction will take place have been informed.