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Written Statements

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Advanced Biofuels


The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): I have today launched the Government’s £25m Advanced Biofuels Demonstration Competition to support the development of a domestic advanced biofuel industry, we have also published the independent feasibility study on the Department’s website at www.gov.uk/dft into the project and the opportunities available for UK industry.

This is a major step forward for the UK. According to the feasibility study, gains from the domestic supply of converting low value waste to high value transport fuel could be worth up to £130 million Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK by 2030, and potentially up to £500m per year including exports. Therefore, I believe that using our world class research capabilities, this Competition will provide real opportunities for UK businesses to become a global leader in this market.

Originally announced by the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Norman Baker MP last August, the £25 million of capital funding, supported by significant private sector investment, is designed to achieve the construction of up to three demonstration-scale advanced biofuel plants in the UK. Awards will be made in 2015 and the funding will be available until 2018.

Relative to first-generation biofuels (those made from traditional crops, starch, sugars or vegetable oil), advanced fuels could deliver greater carbon savings without the same concerns around food security and land use change. Advanced fuel technologies have the potential to reduce our reliance on imported energy, by turning unwanted waste products into valuable transport fuel.

Alongside the Competition, the Department for Transport has also established a Transport Energy Taskforce to consider options for supporting advanced biofuels through policy mechanisms. We are also supporting a sub target at EU level.

Expressions of Interest (EoI) are now being sought from potential bidders until 13th February 2015, shortlisted projects will then be invited to submit full proposals.

Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Freud) (Con): My Right Honourable Friend The Minister for Employment (Esther McVey MP) has made the following Written Statement.

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I will be attending the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO), which will be held on 11 December 2014 in Brussels.

The Council will seek political agreement on a Directive concerning Working Time in inland waterway transport. It will also seek agreement on a General Approach to a Directive on the employment rights of seafarers.

The Council will seek a General Approach to the proposed Regulation on the European network of employment services (EURES).

There will be an exchange of views on the subject of “Investing in Youth Employment”, including discussions on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the European Alliance for Apprenticeships.

The European Commission will present the Annual Growth Survey 2015, the Joint Employment Report and the Alert Mechanism Report, and seek the views of Member States.

The Italian Presidency will report on the progress of the Directive to encourage improvements in the workplace health and safety of women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The Council will also seek a general approach to the proposed Directive on the gender balance of non-executive directors on company boards.

There will be a progress report and orientation debate on the first reading of a proposed Directive on equal treatment of persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. The Council will also adopt Conclusions on the review of progress of the EU institutions and Member States on the Beijing Platform for Action – “Beijing + 20”

Under Any Other Business, the Italian Presidency will present a report of the Rome conference on “Unlocking the potential of the Social Economy for EU Growth”, held in Rome on 17-18 November 2014. The Latvian delegation will present the work programme of their upcoming Presidency.

EU Competitiveness Council


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) (Con): The Competitiveness Council took place in Brussels on 4-5 December. I represented the UK during the Internal Market and Industry discussion on day one, with Shan Morgan the Deputy Permanent Representative to the EU representing the UK for the Research discussion on day two.

The Council opened with a discussion on the single market. The Commission noted that the President’s investment plan was not just about the €300 billion investment proposed but also the wider investment environment which included the single market. The Commission then emphasised that the single market in services, including the ambitious implementation of the Services Directive was a key priority and there would be a renewed strategy in 2015 focussing on the business services, construction and retail sectors; this reflects UK key priorities. Joint letters on services and the digital single market prepared by likeminded Member States (MS) and signed by the UK were presented to the Council. I spoke to support the Commission’s view

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that the single market was important in the context of the investment package and to argue for a sectoral approach to services. Several other MS intervened in support. Others welcomed the Commission’s approach to services and thought that there were many regulatory and non-regulatory obstacles in place and that priority should be to ensure existing legislation was applied correctly.

On the Digital Single Market, most MS supported the need for action, with different MS pressing different priorities such as ecommerce and copyright. A number of MS were keen to see more action on energy within the single market. The Commission noted MS support for a sectoral approach to services and potentially a need for a country specific approach. The Presidency concluded the discussion by noting the need to remove barriers to a single market including through a sectoral approach on services and through improvements to the investment environment.

I was pleased that the draft conclusions on smart regulation were adopted without amendment, including important language calling on the Commission to develop and put in place “reduction targets in particularly burdensome areas.” Others said that these were the most ambitious conclusions on the subject to-date and particularly welcomed the focus on targets. I believe these conclusions are a significant step forward and reflect a success for UK advocacy on better regulation.

The draft Council conclusions on Industrial Competitiveness were adopted, with the Commission noting that they were consistent with their priorities on smart, clean industry, digitalised manufacturing, the bio based economy and securing the energy supply through a single market for energy. I intervened to emphasise the importance of the single market to manufacturing, welcoming similar comments that the Commissioner has made in previous speeches. In response to the discussion paper most MS supported giving the Competitiveness Council a stronger role in commenting on dossiers in other policy areas. I intervened to propose inviting the relevant Commissioner to the Competitiveness Council. Council also recognised the importance of the first SME Envoy report.

The Presidency opened the debate on package travel by welcoming the progress on the questions of scope, insolvency protection and the level of harmonisation, which were identified by the Competitiveness Council in May 2014 as the outstanding issues. Although a general approach was agreed by a qualified majority, opposing voices came close to creating a blocking minority. Member States complained about a variety of more minor issues, including the speed of the negotiation and the new concept of ‘assisted travel arrangements’. I spoke in favour of the text with the caveat that the UK remained concerned about the potential implications for repatriation of holidaymakers in the case of airline insolvency within the context of the new Directive.

A general approach to the revised cableways installation was adopted without comment. The revised text was acceptable to the UK as it includes an exemption for historic installations, which avoids costly burdens for those who operate vintage funicular railways at resorts in the UK on a not-for-profit basis.

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A general approach was adopted on the revised Personal Protective Equipment regulation. I intervened to oppose the expansion of scope to include domestic dishwashing and oven gloves, which had not been justified by the impact assessment and was an example of overzealous regulatory approach by the Commission that needs to change. The Commission defended the inclusion of these products on the grounds that EU manufacturers already produced gloves to the higher standard; their representative body, the European Safety Federation, had raised no objections to protection. However the Commission noted UK concerns and looked forward to discussions with the European Parliament.

Day one concluded with a presentation of their work programme from the incoming Latvian Presidency. They highlighted their three main priorities: increasing competitiveness, seizing the digital agenda and strengthening the EU’s global reach.

I also attended an informal Council lunch at which Vice President Katainen presented the European Investment Plan for Europe and his plans for the €315bn growth fund. I emphasised and welcomed the third pillar of the Commission plan which is to improve the investment environment through work on the single market and regulatory barriers and asked about the implications for Horizon 2020 expenditure.

On research, innovation and space, this was Commissioner Carlos Moedas’ first Council meeting in his new role as Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.

The Italian Presidency opened the meeting with a discussion on Science with and for Society, linking the debate back to the recent Rome Declaration on Responsible Research and Innovation (which the UK supports). Common themes in discussion included the importance of open access to data and publications, education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), initiatives to improve gender equality in the field of research, and the need to reform funding streams for research to ensure they are focused on excellence.

The UK highlighted the importance of a sound science evidence base in policy making (referring to Sir Mark Walport’s recent report on risk and regulation) and reminded the Commission of the need to indicate how this will be handled in future within the Commission’s processes. Commissioner Moedas acknowledged the UK’s points on the importance of scientific evidence in his concluding remarks on the item.

The Council agreed Council conclusions on the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) initiative. Fourteen countries (not including the UK) have indicated their willingness to participate. The main subject of ongoing debate is the formal mechanism by which the initiative will be funded.

The Council also agreed without substantial debate a set of Council conclusions on the European Research Area (ERA), noting the positive findings in the Commission’s Progress Report published in September and looking forward to the finalisation by mid-2015 of the ERA Roadmap (a plan to secure greater benefit from ERA between now and 2020). Council conclusions

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were also adopted without debate noting the contents of the Commission’s communication on Research and Innovation as Sources of Renewed Growth.

The research session of the meeting concluded with two brief information items, one on the Blue Growth Research Initiative and another on the plans of the upcoming Latvian Presidency in the area of research and innovation. The Latvian Minister indicated that their Presidency will focus on the mid-term review of EU2020 (including Innovation Union), the enhancement of the European Research Area through the ERA Roadmap process, better governance of ERA, and advancing the Science 2.0 debate.

There were interventions at several points during the morning on the recently announced investment plan of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Commissioner Moedas said that research and innovation would play a central role in the package and emphasised the intention to leverage additional resources for these purposes. Several Member States, including the UK, asked for greater clarity on where the funding would come from and the impact this would have on basic and applied research.

The afternoon session was devoted to space matters, beginning with a debate on the future of European space policy. This was likewise the first meeting for Growth Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska (who is responsible for space). The Commissioner emphasised her intention to develop regular dialogue with the European space industry, to focus on delivery of the flagship Copernicus and Galileo programmes, and to stimulate research and innovation to ensure EU non-dependence in key technologies. A wide range of Member State views was expressed in the ensuing debate. The UK stressed the need for an EU space policy developed in partnership with ESA and Member States; the need to avoid legislation unless an internal market problem had been demonstrated; for future trade negotiations to consider the space sector; and for the EU and the European Space Agency (ESA) to consider themselves as equal partners.

The Council also adopted without debate Council conclusions on Space Renaissance. The meeting concluded with short information items on the Copernicus programme and the outcomes of the ESA Ministerial meeting, followed by a presentation by the astronaut Luca Parmitano.

Finance Bill 2015


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

The Government has consulted on a number of tax policies following their announcement at Budget 2014. Today, the Government is publishing responses to these consultations alongside draft legislation to be included in Finance Bill 2015. This fulfils our objective to confirm the majority of intended tax changes at least three months ahead of publication. Draft legislation will be open for technical consultation until 4 February 2015.

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The Government is publishing draft legislation on policies announced at Budget 2014 and earlier, including:

A package of four changes in response to the Office of Tax Simplification’s recommendations for simplifying the system of employee benefits and expenses.

The introduction of capital gains tax on future gains made by non-residents disposing of UK residential property from April 2015.

A measure to allow the Government to make regulations which give non-charity intermediaries a greater role in operating Gift Aid.

A registration scheme for alcohol wholesalers to reduce the illicit trade in alcohol products.

The Government will also publish draft legislation on policies announced at the Autumn Statement 2014, including:

An increase in the level of the income tax personal allowance to £10,600 from April 2015.

A new tax relief for the production of children’s television programmes.

A new tax—the Diverted Profits Tax—to counter the use of aggressive tax planning techniques used by multinational enterprises to divert profits from the UK will be applied from 1 April 2015 using a 25% rate.

Legislation that gives the UK power to implement the G20-OECD agreed model for country-by-country reporting.

The Government has also published draft legislation for the following Finance Bill 2015 measures, with effect from 10 December 2014:

Inheritance tax simplification of trust charges and new rules to target tax avoidance through the use of multiple trusts

The Government is introducing rules about adding property to trusts on the same day to target inheritance tax avoidance through the use of multiple trusts. This will apply to all charges arising on or after 6 April 2015 in respect of all relevant property trusts created on or after 10 December 2014. To prevent forestalling, it will also apply to relevant property trusts created before 10 December 2014 where property is added on or after this date to more than one trust on the same day. The Government is also making changes involving the relevant property rules relating to appointments for the benefit of the deceased’s surviving partner, which will apply to all deaths on or after 10 December 2014.

Simplifying “link company” requirements for consortium claims

With effect from 10 December, the Government has published draft legislation to simplify the tax system by removing all requirements relating to the location of the “link company” for consortium claims to group relief.

Detail of the clauses published today can be found in the Overview of Legislation in Draft document, which also includes tax information impact notes for each measure. All publications will be available on the gov.uk website.

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Justice and Home Affairs Council


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) (Con): The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council was held on 4 and 5 December in Brussels. My rt hon Friends the Home Secretary (Theresa May MP) and the Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling MP) attended on behalf of the United Kingdom. The following items were discussed.

The Justice Day began with a discussion on the proposed General Data Protection Regulation. The Presidency sought a partial General Approach on a number of articles intended to provide Member States with flexibility to adapt the application of the rules to their public sectors, and on Chapter IX, on rules for data processing for research, scientific and journalistic purposes. The Commission encouraged Member States to accept the compromise between common standards and a measure of flexibility now available for particular national approaches. A majority of Member States, including the UK, agreed the deal.

The discussion of the Data Protection Regulation continued with an orientation debate on the Presidency’s proposed structure for a “One Stop Shop” mechanism, which is intended to reduce burdens for business by enabling all of their operations in different Member States to be overseen by the data protection regulator in their home State. While there was support for the principle and most Member States accepted the compromise proposed by the Presidency, the UK and a number of other Member States expressed concerns that, with legally binding powers for the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) to resolve disputes, the model proposed would fail to achieve the stated objectives of legal certainty, quick decisions and proximity for the data subject. The Presidency concluded that a majority of Member States accepted the basic elements of its proposal, including the proposed European Data Protection Board, but noted that questions remained, and tasked the official-level working group to develop the detail in the light of this steer.

The Presidency also provided a separate update on the proposed Data Protection Directive covering the processing of personal data for criminal justice purposes. The file remains under discussion, and the working group has recently focused on the scope of the Directive. The UK Government believes that the priority should be on agreeing the text of the General Regulation.

The Council adopted a general approach on the proposed Directive on the Presumption of Innocence in Criminal Proceedings. Commissioner Jourová supported the Council compromise, though regretted that the absolute right to silence and right not to self incriminate had not been fully upheld in the proposed text. The UK has not opted into the Directive.

There was a partial General Approach on the draft Eurojust Regulation, covering all parts except the provisions covering its relationship with the European Public Prosecutor (EPPO) and data protection. However, the Commission stated that they still have a number of issues with the text, including the need for them to be able to participate in administrative decision-making because of their budgetary responsibility, and the

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proposed compensation mechanism. On the EPPO, Ministers concluded that there was a need to strengthen the Prosecutor’s independence within the supervisory regime. They noted the Presidency’s suggested drafting but mandated further discussion at expert level on this issue. The UK is not participating in the EPPO and has not opted in to the draft Eurojust Regulation.

Political agreement, supported by the UK, was reached on the proposal to amend the EU Insolvency Regulation 1346/2000. The Presidency noted the importance of this file for cross-border insolvency and the considerable work that had gone into finding an acceptable compromise with the European Parliament. The next step is for the text to be finalised by lawyers before adoption under the Latvian Presidency.

The Council adopted a general approach on the proposed Regulation on Small Claims, which the Government generally welcomes. The Council has agreed a threshold of £3,137 for the maximum value of a claim under the Regulation, but expects this to be one of the issues for negotiation during trilogue with the European Parliament, which will start in January.

Next, the Council endorsed, without discussion, orientation guidelines for the negotiation of the draft Regulation on Simplifying the Cross-Border Acceptance of Certain Public Documents (abolishing the process of “legalisation”). The guidelines will steer discussions at Working Group level, and narrow the scope of the draft Regulation; allow certified translations to be accepted in other Member States, and allow for simple translations of original national documents rather than translated standalone forms with their own evidentiary value.

In a “state of play” update on the proposed Legal Aid Directive, the Presidency noted that there were still divergences of views between Member States, some of which advocated more flexibility on the provision of legal aid in the case of minor offences, while others wished to see the Directive extended to ordinary legal aid, beyond the provisional legal aid proposed by the Commission. The Presidency will provide the incoming Latvian Presidency with a document setting out their understanding of the main outstanding points in the negotiations. The UK has not opted into this Directive.

The Presidency gave a state of play update on the draft Directive on the fight against fraud by means of criminal law (the so-called “PIF” Directive), noting that a few substantive issues remained. These included whether to include VAT in scope, the definition of fraud, and the definition of serious offences.

The Presidency invited Ministers to take note of its latest text of the proposals on the applicable law and jurisdiction in relation to Matrimonial and Registered Partnership property regimes, which it hoped would be an acceptable compromise. It suggested a period of reflection to last no longer than until the end of 2015 to allow Member States to consider whether unanimity could be reached. The UK has not opted into these proposals.

Under AOB the Presidency invited Council to take stock of the activities undertaken over the course of 2014 by the Special Committee on organised crime, corruption and money laundering Committee (CRIM), established by the European Parliament.

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The Latvian Justice Minister set out his priorities for their forthcoming Presidency. These included reaching a general approach on the Data Protection Regulation at the March Council, continuing work on the “PIF” Directive and the EPPO, reaching a general approach on the Legal Aid Directive by March, continuing work on the Small Claims Regulation, reaching agreement on the Access to Public Documents file, and continuing work on the Common European Sales Law.

The Interior day began in Mixed Committee which included a discussion on ‘Managing Migratory Flows’. This focused on the implementation of the October JHA Council Conclusions on this topic. The Commission introduced their “scorecard” on progress, and the incoming Latvian Presidency informed the Council of its commitment to continuing this work. There has been progress, including with the launch of the Khartoum Process, which focused on people smuggling and human trafficking in the Horn of Africa.

With regard to the Mediterranean, Member States continue to provide support for Frontex’s Operation Triton, while the Presidency confirmed that the Italian search and rescue operation ‘Mare Nostrum’ would be phased out by the end of January.

The Council underlined the importance of implementing the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and of all Member States providing concrete solidarity to those facing particular pressures. There were calls from some Member States for further resettlement activities, including for a ‘distribution key’ guiding allocation among Member States, whilst others made clear their views that resettlement should remain voluntary. The Council agreed that proposals for enhanced Regional Devolvement and Protection Programmes would continue to be taken forward.

The UK emphasised the need to focus on upstream activities in countries of origin and transit and to tackle smugglers and traffickers, and joined other Ministers in calling for all Member States to fully respect their responsibilities under the CEAS, including the need to fingerprint and register claims.

The Commission presented its latest biannual report on the functioning of the Schengen area, highlighting increased illegal migration at the EU’s external borders and calling for Member States to fulfil their commitment to share information on secondary illegal migration movements within the Schengen area. The Government has a strong interest in the effective functioning of the Schengen area and continues to work with European partners to tackle migratory pressures across the EU. The UK emphasised how the openness of the Schengen area and the principle of free movement continue to be exploited, for example by organised gangs and criminals, and how the EU needs to work harder to manage these risks and put the right safeguards in place.

The Council and the Commission noted achievements during 15 years of Schengen evaluation and agreed Council Conclusions which authorise the continuation of Schengen evaluation work within the Council under the new Schengen Evaluation Mechanism.

During the main Council, Member States returned to the issue of counter terrorism and in particular foreign fighters, following discussions on this issue at

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the October Council. Member States, along with the Commission and Europol, discussed how best to tackle the threat posed by those returning from Syria and Iraq, as well as efforts to tackle radicalisation.

Over lunch, the Commission (Avramopoulos) stressed its commitment to achieving an EU Passenger Name Records (PNR) Directive, despite the European Parliament’s referral of the EU Canada PNR Agreement to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The UK expressed disappointment at the likelihood of significant delay and stressed that in the face of a severe threat it was now essential for Member States to press ahead with bilateral arrangements for PNR. There was general agreement amongst Member States that an EU instrument was needed to set common standards and protect privacy and that the Directive should still be pursued. The UK agreed, but stated that we would not support a PNR Directive which was overly constrained and that in the interim further progress on intergovernmental agreements should be pursued.

Under AOB, the Commission congratulated the Presidency for the organisation of recent meetings on the Rabat and Khartoum Processes in Rome and said work would continue on greater coordination across the board on migration issues. Slovenia informed Council of the outcome of the Salzburg Forum Ministerial Conference in Slovenia on 11-12 November. The Conference had discussed the fight against foreign fighters, support for the integrated approach for the Western Balkan regions, strengthening regional cooperation and the new Regulation for training of law enforcement authorities.

The Presidency set out the background to the Students and Researchers Directive and updated Council on the recent progress made, in particular on the scope. They hoped that Member States could agree to a compromise package by the end of the year, so as to begin negotiations with the European Parliament early next year. The Presidency also said that negotiations continued on the amendments to the Dublin III Regulation and aimed to reach agreement on a Council position. The Commission hoped that Council would reach a balanced position and that trilogues could start as soon as possible.

The incoming Latvian Presidency explained its priorities for Interior business. It would concentrate on implementation of the strategic guidelines for the Justice and Home Affairs area, as agreed at the June European Council, with a particular focus on: countering foreign fighters, renewing the EU Internal Security Strategy and continuing the work on a comprehensive and structured approach to managing migratory flows. It would continue legislative work on the Students and Researchers Directives, amendments to the Dublin Regulation, the Visa Code recast, Europol, the European Police College (CEPOL) and the Smart Borders package and continue progress with PNR. A special priority for the Latvian Presidency would be strengthening co-operation with Eastern partners. Latvia would host an Eastern Partnership meeting in the margins of the informal Council on 29-30 January.

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On both days, under AOB, Council was informed of the outcome of the EU-US JHA Ministerial meeting, on 12-13 November.

Article 10 of Protocol 36 to the Treaties

Under the arrangements in Article 10 of Protocol 36 to the Treaties, which were negotiated by the last Government, the United Kingdom had the right to opt out of all EU police and judicial cooperation measures adopted before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. In July 2013, following votes in both Houses of Parliament endorsing the Government’s decision, the Prime Minister formally exercised the opt-out. This decision took effect on 1 December 2014 and on that date the United Kingdom opted out of more than 100 EU police and criminal justice powers.

The Government has always been clear that we wanted to remain part of a smaller number of measures which give our police and law enforcement agencies vital and practical help to tackle serious crime and keep the public safe. Following consultation with operational partners and the relevant Parliamentary Committees, and detailed discussions with the European Commission, the Council and other Member States, the Government reached final agreement to rejoin 35 crucial police and criminal justice measures with debates in both houses on the 10 and 17 November this year.

On 20 November 2014, following votes in both Houses of Parliament endorsing the Government’s package, the Prime Minister notified the President of the Council of Ministers of the United Kingdom’s wish to rejoin the 35 measures set out in Command Paper 8897: Decision pursuant to Article 10(5) of Protocol 36 to The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. A copy of the Prime Minister’s notification letter has been placed in the House Library.

A Council and a Commission Decision were required to give effect to the United Kingdom’s application to rejoin the measures. These processes were concluded on 1 December and copies of both Decisions were deposited in Parliament on 4 December. Explanatory Memoranda for both Decisions have now also been deposited in Parliament.

The Government voted, via the written procedure, to approve the adoption of the Schengen Council Decision, in order to ensure that it entered into force on 1 December without an operational gap for our law enforcement agencies occurring. This decision required the overriding of the Scrutiny Reserve Resolution, but did no more than approve the UK’s participation in the six Schengen measures that had already been endorsed by both Houses of Parliament. Given unanimity was required for the measure to pass, the Government had to vote to approve this Decision to ensure that the package of measures could come into operation as soon as possible, to avoid a legal vacuum which could have arisen, to allow negotiations to conclude, and in order to conclude an advantageous package deal with other Member States.

The Commission Decision, which contained no more than a short provision approving the UK’s application to rejoin the 29 non-Schengen measures, did not require the formal endorsement of the United Kingdom or other Member States prior to its adoption.

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Two further Decisions relating to this matter were adopted by the Council at the Transport Telecommunications and Energy (TTE) Council on 27 November. The UK did not have a vote on the Transitional Decision, but voted in favour of the Financial Consequences Decision in order to secure the advantageous deal we had reached with other Member States and ensure that the package of measures could come into operation as soon as possible. The European Scrutiny Committee did not clear the draft Council Decision on financial consequences from scrutiny ahead of this Council. As a result, this decision required the overriding of the Scrutiny Reserve Resolution to allow negotiations to conclude, and in order to conclude the deal with other Member States.

The Government’s undertaking not to override scrutiny save in exceptional circumstances is embodied in Scrutiny Reserve Resolutions of the House of Commons (last updated in 1998) and the House of Lords (in 2010). These Resolutions are the cornerstone of the scrutiny procedures and provide assurance to Parliament that Ministers will not agree to measures in the Council of Ministers unless scrutiny has been completed. Ministers are committed to the scrutiny process and do not override them lightly. However, the circumstances were such in this case that it was necessary in order to deliver on a significant and successful negotiation where the measures implemented an outcome endorsed by both Houses of Parliament.

The Government is confident that the deal reached is a good one for all parties and that the smaller package of measures that we have rejoined will give our police and law enforcement agencies vital and practical tools to maintain co-operation with our European partners.

Rail Franchising: InterCity East Coast


The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): My Right Honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Transport (Patrick McLoughlin), has made the following Ministerial Statement:

On 27 November 2014 I announced my intention to award the InterCity East Coast rail franchise to Inter City Railways Limited, a joint venture of Stagecoach Transport Holdings Limited and Virgin Holdings Limited, following the completion of a standstill period. I am happy to confirm to the House that the standstill period has now ended and that we completed the contract after the markets closed last night (9 December 2014). This means that Inter City Railways Limited can now begin the mobilisation process that will mean the new franchise will start on 1 March 2015.

The new InterCity East Coast franchise will last for 8 years and will deliver massive benefits for passengers, taxpayers and staff. Inter City Railways Limited will oversee and facilitate the introduction of the new state of the art Intercity Express Programme trains and will increase total capacity on the franchise by around 50%. They plan to deliver new services, including providing direct connections to London to 5 destinations that have not had services on the franchise before

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(Huddersfield, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Dewsbury and Thornaby) and faster journey times to many destinations along the route. Passengers will benefit from an investment of £140m in improving facilities at stations and on trains and the taxpayer will benefit from around £3.3bn of premium to be paid to government over the life of the contract.

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Inter City Railways Limited have great long term plans for the InterCity East Coast and are the right company to take them forward with passengers at the heart of the franchise. I am delighted with this award and look forward to working in partnership with the new operator for the benefit of passengers, taxpayers and the industry.