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Written Statements

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Alcohol: Licensing


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): My hon Friend the Minister of State for Crime Prevention (Lynn Featherstone) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

Today I am publishing a consultation on the Community and Ancillary Sellers’ Notice (CAN). The CAN will allow particular low-risk businesses and community groups to sell a small amount of alcohol, while providing appropriate, light-touch controls. This new authorisation under the Licensing Act 2003 has been introduced in the Deregulation Bill, which is currently being considered by Parliament. This consultation asks for views on the details that will be set out in regulations.

Under existing arrangements small accommodation providers such as bed and breakfasts and community groups are subject to the same licensing regime and scrutiny as businesses which sell much higher quantities of alcohol including large hotels and off-licences. These groups have told us that these requirements are heavy handed for those who want to sell small amounts of alcohol as part of a wider service. The Coalition Government is committed to reducing the unnecessary burdens on responsible businesses, but not at the expense of undermining safeguards against crime and disorder or public nuisance and we want to get this balance right. I hope that all those with an interest in this matter will respond to the consultation.

A copy of the consultation document will be placed in the House Library.

Armed Forces: Reserve Forces


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): My right hon. Friend theMinister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr Mark Francois) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A new call-out order has been made under section 56(1B) of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to enable Reservists to be called into permanent service as part of the UK’s contribution to train, advise and assist operations in Afghanistan.

Reservists have already made a significant contribution to operations in Afghanistan, as part of Operation HERRICK. We will continue to utilise our Reserves as the UK moves from a combat role to one focussed on the higher level development of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), including the Afghan National Army Officer Academy and GIRoA ministries, as part of the NATO Operation RESOLUTE SUPPORT train, advise and assist mission. We expect around 50 personnel

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to be mobilised, including a formed Army Reserve infantry platoon, initially from 3


Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (3 PWRR).

Reservists will operate alongside their Regular colleagues, providing advice and assistance to the ANSF and ministries, protection for our own forces and carrying out support and enabling functions. This is fully in line with our policy of having more capable, usable, integrated and relevant Reserve Forces.

Currently, we plan on calling out only willing and available Reservists, who have the support of their employer.

The order takes effect from 10 November 2014 and ceases to have effect on 9 November 2015.

Child Maintenance: Credit Reference Agencies


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

Section 40 of the Child Maintenance and Other Payments Act 2008 gives the Department for Work and Pensions’ Child Maintenance Group the power to disclose client information to credit reference agencies. This can be done when a client has been non-compliant and has a liability order imposed on them or where they have requested that their information is shared.

It is our intention to commence this power in February 2015. We intend to lay regulations setting out the information that can be disclosed, and thus enabling the power to be used, in March 2015 with the intention of them coming into force by the end of the same month. These regulations will be confined to setting out the information required by credit reference agencies to affect the credit rating of a non-compliant non-resident parent against whom the Department holds a liability order.

This power was consulted on as part of the 2006 Command Paper Cm 6979 “A New System of Child Maintenance”. The responses received were generally supportive of implementing this power.

In my response to Written Parliamentary Question 213703 tabled by the hon Member for Edinburgh East, Sheila Gilmour MP on the subject in July 2014, I said I would consult on this power before regulations were laid.

Further investigation has shown that there is no flexibility regarding the information we will need to provide to credit reference agencies to affect a credit rating of a non-resident parent against whom we hold a liability order. Given this position, a consultation would have no scope for changing the information that would be set out in these regulations. Consequently I have decided not to consult on this power at this stage.

However, if it is decided that further information should be disclosed to credit reference agencies under this power, there will be a consultation in advance of any further regulatory changes.

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Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) (Con): My right hon Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Eric Pickles) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In my Written Statement of 21 July 2014, Official Report, Column 100WS, I informed the House that that I intended to bring the statutory corporate governance intervention in Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council to an early close, once the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust was fully up and running.

The Doncaster Children’s Services Trust has now had responsibility for children’s social care services in the area since 30 September. I am therefore today revoking the intervention directions made under the Local Government Act 1999 to end the statutory corporate governance intervention in Doncaster.

I put the Doncaster corporate governance intervention in place in 2010 following an independent inspection report which raised serious concerns about the governance and performance of the council. I asked a team of three Commissioners to oversee the council’s governance. In June of this year, a Local Government Association Peer Challenge found that the council’s performance had materially improved, both politically and managerially, and that the council was no longer an outlier in terms of the performance expected of a local authority, except with regard to children’s services which have now been transferred to the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust.

This shows that such a targeted approach to intervention can turn around a dysfunctional mayoral administration.

On 10 Septemberfollowing serious concerns raised about child sexual exploitation in the neighbouring Borough of Rotherham, I announced (Official Report, Column 37WS), that I was appointing Louise Casey to undertake a statutory best value inspection of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, and to report to me on whether she considered, as result of undertaking the inspection or otherwise, there are any further matters which might appropriately be drawn to the attention of authorities and other local service providers generally to assist them to improve the delivery of their services, particularly those relating to children and young people.

The Government considers that it is of the utmost importance that councils everywhere vigorously and effectively undertake their responsibilities for safeguarding children and young people. In the light of Louise Casey’s reports, we will take all actions necessary in relation to Rotherham or councils more generally, and my decision today is of course without prejudice to that.

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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 (Elizabeth Truss) has today made the following statement.

The next Agriculture and Fisheries Council will be on 10 November in Brussels. My hon. friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord de Mauley), will represent the UK. Richard Lochhead MSP will also attend.

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

On fisheries, agreement of the Council Regulation fixing fishing opportunities for EU vessels for certain deep-sea fish stocks in 2015 and 2016 is expected.

On agriculture, there will be an exchange of views and possible agreement on state aid in the Republic of Cyprus in the form of a tax exemption on motor fuel used for agricultural purposes. There will also be an exchange of views on the Commission’s amending letter No.1 to the draft general budget 2015, which relates to the use of the Crisis Reserve to fund the support schemes available to farmers affected by the Russian import ban on agricultural food products.

There are currently five Any Other Business items:

Organic production and labelling of organic products;Peaches and nectarines in relation to the Russian ban;Protection of honey bees in Europe;Authorisation scheme for plant protection products;Young farmers.

Modern Slavery


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

Following my statement on the 9th April this year announcing a review of the National Referral Mechanism, I am pleased to announce that the Review has concluded, and its report is published today. The Review examined whether the National Referral Mechanism provides an effective and efficient means of supporting and identifying potential victims of human trafficking and whether it can, or should, cover all victims of Modern Slavery.

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The review team has undertaken extensive research, and engaged with a wide range of organisations from across the UK and beyond. The review has made some sound recommendations, focused on improving the victim experience, which I welcome. The report also makes recommendations specifically aimed at protecting child victims of trafficking. These proposals, other than those concerning support, will apply in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It should be noted that Scotland and Northern Ireland have differing support arrangements for victims.

Strengthening support for victims of modern slavery and human trafficking is a major part of our response to this evil crime, which we are tackling through both legislation in the Modern Slavery Bill, and non legislative work. A copy of the review will be placed in the House Library and our response will be set out in our Strategy on Modern Slavery which will be published shortly.

Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC Review


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

On 7 July I announced to the House that Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC would be conducting a Review of two Independent Reviews that were commissioned by the Permanent Secretary at the Home Office in relation to child abuse. The full report by Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC will be placed in the House Library today and will also be available on Gov.uk.

In response to public concern, Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC were asked to lead this work to address the allegation that, in the 1980s, the Home Office failed to act on information received in respect of child sexual abuse.

They have concluded that, in respect of the first Review commissioned by the Permanent Secretary, “the conclusions were reasonably available to the Reviewer on the information then available” and that they “agree with recommendations made”. In respect of the second Review commissioned by the Permanent Secretary, Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC make clear that they “have seen no evidence to suggest PIE was ever funded by the Home Office because of sympathy

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for its aims”. Their Review makes three recommendations for the Department, all of which have been accepted. These were that: • They endorse the recommendations made in the first Review • Where an allegation of child abuse is made it must be recorded and the file marked as significant. That significance should then inform the Department as to how to handle that file, its retention and the need to record when [if at all] it is destroyed. This approach is relevant, not only to the Home Office, but could usefully be adopted across Government as well. • There should be a system within the Home Office of recording what information is sent to the police and then a formal procedure of confirming what the result of that reference is.

My officials have already implemented the recommendations from the first Review commissioned by the Permanent Secretary, which have now been endorsed by Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC. They will work to implement recommendations two and three of Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC’s Review as soon as possible.

I have also written to Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC today on two particular aspects on which I am seeking further reassurance, firstly their consideration of how the police and prosecution authorities handled any material that was handed to them at the time. The Home Office will publish their response to this question, to ensure full transparency on this point.

Secondly, I have asked them for similar assurance in relation to the full unredacted final reports of the first investigation, and the list of the 114 files considered in their Review, to establish whether any of the material mentioned in these was ever passed to the Security Service and, if so, what action the Security Service took in respect of this material.

Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC’s full report, which is being placed in the House Library today, contains a number of Annexes. These Annexes include copies of the full reports from the first Review that the Permanent Secretary commissioned. Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam have made only the redactions that they judge are necessary to ensure publication does not jeopardise any future criminal investigations or trials.

Publication of this Review today is an important step in ensuring institutions take seriously their duty to protect children from abuse and to learn lessons from any failures.