12 Jan 2015 : Column WS73

12 Jan 2015 : Column WS73

Written Statements

Monday 12 January 2015

Libya Training Report


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

On 11 June 2014, my predecessor informed the House (Official Report, column 49WS) that the UK had started training personnel from the Libyan General Purpose Force at Bassingbourn Camp as part of an international commitment with other G8 nations. I updated the House on 4 November 2014, Official Report column 44WS, and confirmed that, in agreement with the Libyan Government, the training completion date was being brought forward and the recruits would return to Libya.

On 5 November 2014, the Prime Minister announced that, in response to allegations linking some of the Libyans undergoing training at Bassingbourn, he had asked for a report into the training programme by Christmas. I have today placed a copy of the report’s conclusions and recommendations in the Library of the House.

We accept all of the report’s conclusions and recommendations. The report highlights some of the significant challenges we faced delivering this training programme, and also highlights a number of areas in which my Department could have done better: we are looking at these very carefully.

The report raises the issue of communication with the local community. I regret the fact that my Department did not communicate effectively with the local MP and local authorities and community over the change to the walk out policy for the recruits. I have asked officials to implement the lessons we have learned from this so that we can apply them in future, while noting that no future GPF training will take place at Bassingbourn Camp.

The report also highlights the issue of maintaining discipline amongst the recruits. While it is clear that the breakdown in the political situation in Libya played a large role in the problems we encountered, there are things we could have done better. In particular, the report recommends that in future we consider ‘pre-training’ the command element of any future cohort and carrying out basic training for the rest of the recruits in their own country, and I have instructed officials to take this forward, in the event we were to run further such training in the UK again.

Finally on discipline, the report asks whether, in the future, we could apply UK Service Discipline to training foreign troops in the UK: I have tasked officials to investigate this.

I also would like to commend the performance of the trainers from 3 SCOTS themselves who, despite the severe challenges they encountered, were able to

12 Jan 2015 : Column WS74

deliver the training objectives for the majority of the trainees who remained in the programme until the end.

Finally, I would like to repeat that it is regrettable that there were disciplinary issues and how grateful we were for the support the Ministry of Defence received from the local community, the Cambridgeshire Constabulary and other Government Departments throughout the training programme.

Low Pay Commission Report (National Minimum Wage)


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Neville-Rolfe) (Con): My hon Friend the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs (Jo Swinson) has today made the following statement.

I am pleased to announce that I have published the final evidence that the Government has provided to the Low Pay Commission on the National Minimum Wage.

This report updates the evidence that the Government provided in October 2014. The report reflects the latest information on earnings, the labour market and economic forecasts.

A copy of the final evidence will be placed in the libraries of the House and will be available at www.gov.uk.

This Statement included the following attachment: Final Government Evidence (201420140108_Final Goverment Evidence for LPC.pdf)

Maximising Voter Registration


Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Right Honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister (Nick Clegg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement:

I am pleased to announce that the Government is making available up to £9.8 million pounds this year to support the costs of activities aimed at increasing the completeness and accuracy of the electoral register. This funding will help build on the work delivered through the £4.2 million maximising registration funding which the Government made available in 2013/14.

The Government has modernised the system of electoral registration to make it fit for the 21st century. Individual Electoral Registration was introduced on 10 June in England and Wales and 19 September in Scotland. Almost nine in ten existing electors in Great Britain were automatically transferred to the new electoral registers under IER without needing to take any action. Another key feature of the transition has been the introduction of on-line registration which makes registering to vote more convenient and accessible than ever before. Registering on-line takes as little as three minutes and can be done on a smartphone or tablet. It is proving to be a success. Over 4 million people have submitted applications to register to vote since the launch of IER with the majority of these made on-line. The on-line service has consistently achieved a high user satisfaction rate of over 90%.

12 Jan 2015 : Column WS75

Whilst the Government welcomes this progress, there is more to do. We are determined to ensure everyone in the country is signed up to the electoral register and has their chance to vote. Alongside the transition to IER, it is therefore essential that further steps be taken to ensure everyone who is eligible is on the register. This further funding will help meet this aim.

The funding will be allocated at both a national and local level. At a local level, every Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) in Great Britain will receive a share of £6.8 million with allocations based on levels of under registration. Activity delivered by EROs as a result could include further letters to households - to help identify those who have moved home and invite those that need to register to do so - and more door-to-door canvassing, targeted either at under-registered groups such as students, or specific wards where registration rates are lower. Up to £2.5 million funding will be available to fund wider activity, including working with national organisations. This funding will support activity to encourage specific under registered groups such as students, overseas electors and armed service personnel to register to vote. Finally, up to £500k will be used to support efforts to boost confidence in the integrity of the electoral process in areas where a number of allegations of impropriety have been made in the past.

Pension Guidance Service


The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Deighton) (Con): My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer (George Osborne) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

12 Jan 2015 : Column WS76

At Budget 2014, the government announced a fundamental change to how people can access their pension savings. From April 2015, everyone with defined contribution pension savings, who is aged 55 and over, will be entitled to access their defined contribution pension savings as they wish, subject to their marginal rate of income tax.

In order to help consumers make confident and informed decisions on how they use their pension savings, everyone approaching such a decision will be entitled to free, fair and impartial guidance.

In response to the ‘Freedom and Choice in Pensions’ consultation on the changes, a team was established within HM Treasury to lead the creation of this guidance service. The government also committed to publish a progress update on the service design and implementation strategy.

The progress update, Delivering Pensions Guidance: January 2015 Update, is available on the GOV.UK website at:


It includes:

an announcement of the brand name and logo of the new guidance service;details of how interested potential users can register their interest in early access to the service and be part of piloting activities;an explanation of the service design, and how this will be delivered; andthe estimated cost of the service in FY 15/16 of £35m, to be raised through an FCA levy. Costs will be confirmed in March 2015.