14 July 2014 : Column WS45

14 July 2014 : Column WS45

Written Statements

Monday 14 July 2014

Afghanistan: World Trade Organisation


The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Livingston of Parkhead) (Con): I wish to inform the House that on 23 June 2014 the Government opted in to the Council Decision relating to the Accession of Afghanistan to the World Trade Organisation.

The Government has supported the accession of Afghanistan to the WTO on the right terms. In acceding to the WTO, Afghanistan will embrace a series of rules and commitments which form the foundation of an open, transparent and non-discriminatory global trading system and which will provide important guarantees for them and for other WTO Members. Accession to the WTO will bring Afghanistan more firmly into the global economy and help make Afghanistan a more attractive place to do business.

Afghanistan’s accession to the WTO is consistent with the UK’s policy of helping Least Developed Countries to take advantage of the international trading system. It is also in line with the UK’s policy of helping to establish a viable Afghan state, to help Afghanistan develop a more dynamic economy and become more able to meet its economic needs without external support.

The Council Decisions has the effect of extending to the Afghanistan the horizontal commitments the UK makes to all WTO members, including in the provision of services by natural persons from third countries, otherwise known as “Mode 4”. It is the presence of these Mode 4 commitments in the relevant instruments which triggers the UK Justice and Home Affairs opt-in.

British Transport Police Authority: Triennial Review


The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): I am today publishing the Part 1 report of the Triennial Review of the British Transport Police Authority (BTPA).

The BTPA is the non-departmental public body (NDPB) responsible for ensuring an efficient and effective British Transport Police (BTP) force for rail operators, their staff and passengers.

The Review has been progressed in two parts. Part 1 – the core triennial review – has considered the continuing need for the BTPA’s functions and the case for it to remain a NDPB. It has also looked at the control and governance arrangements in place to ensure that the BTPA is complying with recognised principles of good corporate governance.

Part 2 of the review considers a wider range of issues raised by the industry about the effectiveness of the BTPA in the discharge of its functions and the industry’s ability to influence outcomes.

I am pleased to announce the conclusion of the Part 1 review and the publication of the report.

14 July 2014 : Column WS46

The report concludes that the functions of the BTPA are still necessary, that it remains the right body for delivering them and that the BTPA should remain a NDPB. The report also concludes that the overall level of compliance with good practice on corporate governance is good, with just a few omissions and weaknesses which should be capable of being quickly addressed. The Department for Transport will be taking these recommended measures forward in discussion with the BTPA over the coming months.

I would like to thank Peter Murphy for carrying out a thorough analysis of the BTPA and its governance arrangements, and the BTPA for their assistance as well as all the other stakeholders who were involved during the course of the review including those who were part of the Challenge Group which was set up to oversee the review.

The review was conducted in accordance with Cabinet Office guidance (Guidance on reviews of non-departmental public bodies, June 2011).

The report is available on GOV.UK and I have made available copies in the libraries of the House.

Energy: Oil and Gas


The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): My right honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Nicky Morgan) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Following the announcement at Budget 2014 that the government would conduct a review of the oil and gas tax regime, HM Treasury is today publishing a call for evidence – “Review of the oil and gas fiscal regime: a call for evidence”. Copies of the document have been deposited in the Libraries of the House.

The review comes at an important time for the UK Continental Shelf. There is still a considerable amount of oil and gas left to recover – up to around 21 billion barrels of oil equivalent – and the government’s tax regime has helped support record levels of investment to find and extract it. But exploration and production is becoming harder and more expensive, and the UK is facing competition for capital from other countries.

The review will look to ensure the UK’s oil and gas tax regime continues to encourage investment in the North Sea and maximises the benefits of the country’s hydrocarbon resources for the economy, whilst ensuring a fair share of profits for the nation. The call for evidence marks the beginning of 12 weeks of discussion with the oil and gas industry and other stakeholders about the long-term shape of the tax regime.

The deadline for responses is 3 October 2014.

The call for evidence is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/review-of-the-oil-and-gas-fiscal-regime-a-call-for-evidence

Land Registry


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

14 July 2014 : Column WS47

Today I am publishing our response to the consultation on the Introduction of a Land Registry Service Delivery Company.

Land Registry has recently celebrated its landmark 150th year and continues to be a cornerstone of property ownership in England and Wales. It undertakes a range of functions and responsibilities which are critical to the effective functioning of the property market.

Land Registry has developed an ambitious new Business Strategy which includes moving complex applications online and automating processes. This requires a complete change both in the way that the business is operated and managed, and in its IT architecture.

In light of the scale and complexity of this transformation, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills launched a consultation which proposed to introduce a new service delivery company with the governance and incentives to be able to deliver it effectively.

The consultation received a good response and we have endeavoured to address and clarify the issues raised where possible in the response published today.

Given the importance of the Land Registry to the effective operation of the UK property market, we have concluded that further consideration would be valuable. Therefore, at this time, no decision has been taken to change Land Registry’s model.

It may be helpful to note that measures introduced in the Infrastructure Bill amend the Land Registration Act 2002 and Local Land Charges Act 1975 are changes required for Land Registry to play a wider role in the property market and to take on responsibility for providing a single, digital Local Land Charge register. The Infrastructure Bill does not include any measures having the aim of changing Land Registry’s model and introducing a new service delivery company.

The Government’s ambition for effective, digital-by-default data services remains an underlying policy objective. The business has already started its digital transformation, which has resulted in the organisation’s headcount reducing by more than half over the last 20 years. This modernisation will continue irrespective of the need to consider further the Land Registry’s commercial model, and will deliver improved services for customers.

The response to consultation is being laid in both Houses of Parliament and is available on www.gov.uk.

NHS: Cost Recovery


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

The Government has today published the Visitor and Migrant NHS Cost Recovery Programme - Implementation Plan 2014-16. This document acts a statement of purpose and includes commitments for programme delivery as well as announcing policy for increasing cost recovery rates.

14 July 2014 : Column WS48

The Department of Health is working to create a fairer NHS by improving the systems for charging overseas visitors and migrants to make sure they contribute towards their NHS healthcare. It is clear that more can be done to increase cost recovery; our independent research estimated that in the financial year 2012-13 we recovered an estimated £73m, which represented less than 20% of the estimated total possible recovery. To deliver this the Department has been working with the NHS, its Arm’s Length Bodies, and key stakeholders to design and test measures to encourage providers to identify and charge non-EEA visitors and identify and report EEA visitors’ usage of NHS services.

The implementation plan provides a guide to the NHS of how this will be achieved. A key aspect of this is a new financial incentive which will increase the level of cost recovery from chargeable patients from outside the European Economic Area (non-EEA). This process will enable NHS providers to bill chargeable non-EEA patients at a rate of 150% of standard NHS tariff for the cost of the care provided. The Department intends to lay secondary legislation before Parliament by the end of the 2014-15 financial year to enable this. The Department will keep the rates of the incentives under review to ensure that it is effective and is driving change.

The plan also includes increased scrutiny of the cost recovery from non-EEA patients by NHS providers. This will ensure that their statutory obligation to support NHS sustainability through appropriate identification and charging of visitors and migrants is being met.

These measures will help to underpin and maintain the principles that the NHS will always treat those in urgent need of care and that NHS care is free at the point of delivery for residents. This programme aims to reinforce the fairness of our health service by ensuring that everyone who is not entitled to free healthcare contributes to the cost of running the NHS.

Visitor and Migrant NHS Cost Recovery Programme - Implementation Plan 2014-16 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.

Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict


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

I wish to inform the House of the next steps in the UK’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) following my statement to the House on 16 June [HC Hansard Col 852].

The aim of PSVI is the eradication of rape as a weapon of war, through a global campaign to end impunity for perpetrators, to deter and prevent sexual violence, to support and recognise survivors, and to change global attitudes that fuel these crimes.

14 July 2014 : Column WS49

We have made considerable progress since the launch of PSVI in May 2012. There is a new readiness among national governments and international institutions to confront sexual violence in conflict as a war crime and social taboo, and to introduce practical measures to combat it. The Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict launched at the UN in September 2013 has now been endorsed by 155 governments. At the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, which I hosted in June with the Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Angelina Jolie, we brought together over 125 countries, eight UN Agencies, the major multilateral institutions, over 900 experts and survivors from around the world, and thousands of members of the public who visited the Fringe or took part in our social media campaign.

We launched the first International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict. Cameroon, Benin and Niger endorsed the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, significantly increasing its impact in Africa. The Federal Government of Somalia presented a National Action Plan for addressing sexual violence, with the backing and support of the UN and the international community. Ministers of the Democratic Republic of Congo committed themselves to implementing quickly their National Strategy to Fight Sexual Violence and the commitments made through the Declaration of Commitment to End Sexual Violence in Conflict. The African Union announced the launch of a pilot project in the Central African Republic (CAR) to respond to the urgent needs of victims of sexual violence, and will now deploy a team of experts including medical doctors, psychologists, lawyers and police officers under the AU Mission in CAR, MISCA. The Libyan government pledged funding to enact into law the recognition that victims of sexual violence and their families are victims of war, and are therefore entitled to health care, scholarships and rehabilitation services. A number of countries including the UK and US also pledged funds to support survivors of sexual violence.

Our goal now is to embed, once and for all, international acknowledgement and agreement that we can end sexual violence in conflict. We want to see clear evidence that countries are living up to the commitments they have made – by putting in place measures to bring more perpetrators to justice, by providing better support to survivors and by ensuring that this issue remains at the heart of conflict prevention and foreign policy worldwide.

The United Kingdom will therefore now seek:

• To implement globally the International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict. This will include translating and disseminating the Protocol internationally, and providing training that will help national authorities improve investigations and mount successful prosecutions. There must be no impunity for rape and sexual violence in conflict. • To persuade other governments to incorporate the prevention of sexual violence into their military doctrine and training, including zero tolerance for

14 July 2014 : Column WS50

all such violence, improved military conduct and discipline, and the recognition that this is a vital aspect of conflict-prevention and peace-building.• To ensure that international multilateral institutions adopt measures to address sexual violence in conflict. For example, we will intensify work with the EU to ensure that preventing sexual violence in conflict is included in all Common Security and Defence Policy missions and relevant EU external funding instruments, including for training, protection, and support to survivors. • To support the efforts of the African Union and United Nations to ensure that the protection of civilians includes action to prevent and respond to sexual and gender-based violence, zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by UN and AU personnel in peacekeeping settings, and women’s participation and the promotion of gender equality in all peace and security efforts. • To use UK expertise to help national governments to prevent and prosecute sexual violence in conflict, to improve care for survivors, and to provide training to improve their military and police capability. We will focus this work in the first instance on Libya, Somalia, Bosnia and the DRC and the Syrian National Coalition, to ensure that a future Syrian government treats this as a priority. • To ensure the reform of national domestic legislation where necessary to enable the prosecution of internationally-recognised war crimes, as part of wider efforts to further promote the universality of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. • To ensure global recognition of the dignity, needs and rights of survivors of sexual violence in conflict, and greater support and protection to survivors of sexual violence, including children.• Increased support for Human Rights Defenders, including by lifting legal and administrative restrictions and ensuring that violations against them are investigated promptly and impartially and to hold perpetrators to account.• The formal inclusion of women in peace processes as a new international norm which is implemented in practice.

In support of these goals, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will:

• Maintain Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict as part of the core business of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – as an essential aspect our work to prevent conflict, promote human rights, and exercise the soft power of the United Kingdom. This includes lobbying for action to address sexual violence in conflict in all countries and settings where it occurs. • Use the networks of UK posts overseas to pursue these objectives, and ensure that Embassies will write PSVI objectives into either their country or multilateral business plans where relevant.• Strengthen the UK Team of Experts, to support an increase in the number of International Humanitarian Law deployments and the ability to provide a wider package of training to militaries, as well as provide

14 July 2014 : Column WS51

an ambitious level of training to support implementation of the International Protocol in Libya, Bosnia, Somalia and the DRC, and in relation to the Syria conflict. • Increase work with other government departments who come into contact with survivors of sexual violence in conflict, including through the asylum system and the Crown Prosecution Service, to ensure consistency in across HMG policy commitments and approaches. • Consult NGOs and survivor groups and their representatives on the further development and implementation of PSVI, and work to strengthen bipartisan support across UK politics for these goals and objectives. • Propose new means of monitoring international progress towards tackling warzone sexual violence.• Use the UK’s influence to promote and increase the participation of women in peace processes worldwide, and to lobby other governments to do the same.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will develop a detailed plan of activity for the next twelve months to implement these objectives internationally and monitor progress.

We will use milestones in the international diplomatic calendar to advance these goals, including the UK Presidency of the Security Council, the NATO Wales Summit, the UN General Assembly, the African Union Summit, and the G7.

We will maintain strong visible UK leadership, while working to a sense of collective international responsibility and national determination to root out these crimes wherever they occur, so that the cause of ending sexual violence in conflict generates unstoppable global momentum.

Supply and Appropriation (Main Estimates) Bill


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

14 July 2014 : Column WS52

Transport: Local Sustainable Transport Fund


The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): I am today announcing the successful bids for the Local Sustainable Transport Fund 15/16 revenue funding competition. Almost all eligible local authorities submitted a bid for funding, and 44 were successful. The successful schemes will deliver a range of sustainable transport interventions across England, including enhanced cycling and walking infrastructure, improved bus journeys and better transport interchanges. All bids needed to demonstrate how the proposed programme would deliver economic growth, benefit the environment, influence greater uptake of cycling and walking, improve health and create a more joined-up door-to-door journey for people.

The successful projects will share over £64m in revenue funding. Each project has provided its own matched contribution; the overall total of this matched funding is over £375m. This includes over £100m sourced directly from the Local Growth Fund. This means that for every £1 the Department for Transport will invest through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund in 2015/16, local authorities will contribute £5.80 over the six years to 2020/2021.

Examples of some successful projects include:

• Birmingham will be continuing their ambition to become a premier cycling city through an extension of their Cycling Ambition programme;• Devon’s successful Access 2 Education programme will be extended to continue their work encouraging students across the country to travel more sustainably to school and training;• Jobseekers in Tamworth will be supported to access employment through cycling training and improved transport interchanges; and• East Lancashire will benefit from a range of cycling improvements, including an enhanced strategic cycle network that will provide links between housing, employment and town centres.

The announcement contains a number of projects that will significantly support the Government’s Moving More, Living More campaign, which seeks to create a more active nation as part of the Physical Activity Legacy to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The full list of successful schemes has been published on the Department for Transport's website at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/local-sustainable-transport-fund