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Today's Written Statements Update

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Mr Philip Dunne - Ministry of Defence

I am pleased to place in the Library of the House the annual publication of the Defence Equipment Plan. Building on the progress outlined in the previous three equipment plans, we again have a stable and realistic programme of work that sets out a strong foundation on which to shape the future construct of the Armed Forces in the forthcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

We continue to plan for the future with confidence. The summer budget announcement outlined the Governments commitment to grow the Defence budget by 0.5% above inflation. This will enable us to fulfil the commitment to grow the equipment budget by 1% above inflation year on year and to invest more than 160 billion on defence equipment and support over the next 10 years. The Equipment Plan sets out our plan, pre-SDSR, to spend 166 billion on capabilities the Armed Forces need over the 10 year planning period out to 2024-25.

The Equipment Plan is being published in parallel with the NAOs independent assessment into both the Equipment Plan and also 17 of the MODs largest projects known as the Major Projects Report. I welcome the NAOs view that there are indications that the Equipment Plan will remain affordable for the rest of the Parliament if financial stability is maintained. Supporting this, the Major Project Report saw a fall in the reported cost of the projects for the second consecutive year. There are still improvements to be made in the ways that Defence procures and supports equipment, which the Defence Equipment and Support transformation programme and the establishment of the Single Source Regulations Office are seeking to address, but it is reassuring that the NAO acknowledge the continued progress we have been making.

Throughout Annual Budget Cycle 2015 the focus was on ensuring the continued stability of the Equipment Plan, and ensuring that the levels of capability and financial risk were balanced. The Equipment Plan demonstrates that we achieved this, giving a stable baseline as we enter the Spending Review and SDSR.


Mr John Hayes - Home Office

My rt hon Friend the Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Bates) has today made the following written ministerial statement:

My rt hon. Friend the Home Secretary (Theresa May) is today laying before the House Statistics of Scientific Procedures on Living Animals Great Britain 2014 (HC 511)

The adoption of the EU Directive 2010/63/EU has brought about changes to how the data on the use of animals in science is categorised, and provides consistency across EU Member States in the data to be published by the Commission in due course. There has been little change to the numbers or types of procedures that are required to be counted. However, the codification of the procedures has changed in line with the EU requirements for reporting.

Overall, the annual statistical report shows a decrease (6%) in the total number of procedures (3.87 million) performed during 2014 compared with 2013. Of the total number of procedures 1.94 million (50%) are related to the creation/breeding of genetically altered animals that were not used in further procedures and the remaining 1.93million (50%) were experimental procedures. Given the changes to methodology the precise size of the reduction cannot be quantified.

Mice, fish and rats were the most commonly used species in 2014 accounting for 86% of experimental procedures carried out.

Specially protected species, horses, cats, dogs and non-human primates accounted for 0.8% (16,000) of experimental procedures (0.4% of all procedures) in 2014, the same proportion as in 2013.

I particularly welcome the new requirement for the reporting of the actual severity experienced by animals in the course of procedures. The publication of actual severity increases transparency about the real harms of animal use and will help to drive improvements in welfare standards through targeted refinement initiatives.

The severity of breeding procedures is considered separately from experimental procedures. Of the returns for severity for the 1.94 million breeding procedures, the majority (94%) of animals bred and not used in further procedures were classed as either sub-threshold or mild, 46% and 48% respectively. Only 4% were classed as moderate and 2% as severe. Of the returns for the 1.93 million experimental procedures, those classified as sub-threshold or mild were 9% and 51% respectively, 25% were classified as moderate and 8% as severe. A further 7% were classified as non-recovery.

The latest statistical report and supplementary information, including those for previous years, can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-of-scientific-procedures-on-living-animals

I am pleased to inform the House that I have also today placed in the Library the Annual Report of the Home Office Animals in Science Regulation Unit (ASRU) for the year 2014. The Annual Report can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/animals-in-science-regulation-unit-annual-report-2014 and describes how the Home Office has delivered its responsibilities under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 to regulate the use of animals, implement the regulations as part of the delivery of the transposed Directive, and engaged with stakeholders. The report also provides details of inspection and cases of non-compliance and the outcomes of those cases concluded in 2014.

The UK is a strong advocate for the life sciences. I am firmly committed to the properly regulated use of animals that continues to play an important role in improving the lives of humans and animals and the safety and sustainability of the environment. This Government seeks to maintain the UKs world leading position by building on our strengths in the life sciences and innovation. To do this we must ensure the 3Rs (Replacement, Reduction and Refinement) are at the heart of what we do.

I am pleased to, therefore, announce that from 1 November 2015, a policy ban on the testing of finished household products, and a qualified ban on the testing of ingredients primarily intended for use in household products, will come into effect. Testing of ingredients will only be exempt from the ban if there is a regulatory requirement for the testing, in which case testing can take place but retrospective notification will be required. In very exceptional circumstances, testing not required by regulations may be allowed but only after a full and detailed application has been considered and specific approval granted.

I am also publishing two Advice Notes to support how we administer and enforce the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. The first Advice Note reaffirms my expectation that all project licence proposals will have fully considered all practicable opportunities to either re-home or set animals free after being used in research. However, the welfare of the animals must always be the primary consideration. Secondly, I am publishing advice on the re-use of animals under the Act. This Advice Note has the 3Rs at its core and aims to strike a balance between reduction and refinement considerations, taking account of the legal constraints on keeping animals alive and re-using them in further procedures.

The UK has a proud tradition of high-quality science coupled with high standards of animal welfare. Both these documents, together with the other announcements I have made in this statement today, aim to support these important considerations.


Justine Greening - Department for International Development

On 26 October, I will attend the Foreign Affairs Council for Development in Luxembourg. The meeting will be chaired by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. This is the first Council meeting since the new Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030, which the UK played a strong leadership role in shaping, was adopted by world leaders at the post-2015 Summit in September. As Secretary of State for International Development, I look forward to participating in the meeting to share the UK experience, including on humanitarian issues and improving the lives of girls and women, and to work with other Member States and the Commission to deliver the new Global Goals by 2030. The UKs continued focus on international development is very much in the national interest.

Agenda for Sustainable Development 2030

I will strongly welcome and underline the UKs continued commitment to championing and implementing the Global Goals. Building on the Prime Ministers co-chairing of the UN High Level Panel, the UK played a key role in creating a set of goals that are universal and inclusive, underpinned by a commitment to leave no one behind. The new Global Goals address the key elements of the golden thread, including peace, governance and justice and also an unprecedented ambitious Goal on Women and Girls empowerment. The UK will continue to invest 0.7% of GNI on ODA and I will lobby others to meet their aid obligations. I will push the EU to come up with a comprehensive and ambitious plan for implementation.

Migration and Refugees

Ministers will discuss preparations of the EU Africa Valletta Summit in November. It is the UKs view that Valetta needs to demonstrate Europes leadership, commitment and ability to respond quickly to the serious problems posed by migrants crossing the Mediterranean. I believe Valletta needs a substantive discussion on tackling the root causes of migration, which are a mutual challenge faced by Europe and Africa a lack of growth, jobs, opportunity in African countries and the concrete actions needed to turn the situation around. The UK has been taking a leading role in ensuring that Valetta will address the underlying causes of migration and displacement. I will continue to press the Commission and other Member States to ensure that we approach Valletta with a positive and bold agenda.

World Humanitarian Summit

Ministers will discuss next years World Humanitarian Summit. I will strongly welcome the Summit, underlining the need to be ambitious and deliver genuinely transformative change. The UKs key priorities are: (1) a focus on the protection of civilians and International Humanitarian Law, (2) building resilience to natural disasters, (3) a new approach to smart finance, (4) a strong focus on women and girls throughout the Summit. The Summit must deliver significant reforms to the way in which we address humanitarian crises, in particular those associated with long-term conflict. I am particularly concerned to ensure that we leave Istanbul with a better approach to supporting long-term refugees: they must be able to access livelihoods and education if they are to have hope for the future. The UK is committed to longer term financing for protracted crises, such as our work in Syria.

Girls and women

On girls and women, as successfully with the Global Goals, the UK has been a key actor in shaping and developing the new Gender Action Plan (2016-2020) (GAP). I have continuously pushed for girls and women to be prioritised in the new Commission. Moreover the UKs important role in the GAP Taskforce has ensured the document demonstrates a significant shift in the Commissions commitment to girls and women. The publication of the new EU GAP provides a landmark opportunity for the EU to take significant steps forward in delivering tangible results for women and girls across the world. The Council will endorse the new GAP at the FAC-DEV. I will press for its full implementation, ensuring that the Commission and EEAS are held accountable when and where the GAP is not implemented.

Post-Cotonou

The Commission and European External Action Service (EEAS) have launched an online public consultation on the future of EU-ACP (Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific) relations once the Cotonou agreement expires in 2020. This is an important opportunity for the EU to modernise its relationship with the ACP, so that it is relevant, forward-looking and consistent with Agenda 2030. I will call for the Commission to keep all options open, base policy decisions on the evidence of Cotonous impact and actively seek a broad range of views during the consultation period, including with individual states and regional bodies that are inside and outside the ACP grouping.

Council Conclusions and other agenda items

Council Conclusions on the Gender Action Plan and Policy Coherence for Development will be approved. In addition, three AOB topics have been tabled: (1) Burkina Faso, (2) a joint letter from the Netherlands, France and Germany calling for a European initiative to support African Youth and (3) Capacity Building for Security and Development.


Elizabeth Truss - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The next Agriculture and Fisheries Council will be on 22 October in Luxembourg. My Hon friend, the Minister of State for Farming, Food and Marine Environment (George Eustice), will represent the UK.

As the provisional agenda stands, the following items will be discussed:

There will be a proposal for a Council Regulation fixing the 2016 fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks in the Baltic Sea, as well as an exchange of views on the EU-Norway 2016 consultations.

An exchange of views on climate friendly agriculture will also take place.

There are currently five confirmed Any Other Business items:

- The use of plant protection products in sustainable agriculture (requested by the Netherlands);

- Report on the necessity, if any, of provisions for milk-based products destined for infants and sports products (requested by France);

- GMO-free agriculture in Europe (requested by Slovenia);

- Antimicrobial resistance (requested by Germany);

- Information presented by the Visegrad Group countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) plus Bulgaria, Austria, Romania and Slovenia, on agricultural markets development, particularly with regards to the dairy sector, and best practices in land management including soil protection and management (requested by Czech Republic).


Andrew Selous - Ministry of Justice

When I wrote to the Justice Select Committee on 29 September 2015 to announce our approach to smoking in prisons, I committed to inform Parliament through a written ministerial statement after recess. This statement confirms the announcement in my letter to the Justice Select Committee and does not add any detail.

It is the intention of the Ministry of Justice to implement a full smoke free policy in all prisons in Wales from January 2016 and at 4 early adopter sites in England (HMPs Exeter, Channings Wood, Dartmoor and Erlestoke) from March.

Since the introduction of smoking legislation in 2007, our desire has been to move towards smoke free prisons but, given the high prevalence of smoking and the unique environment of prisons, implementation of smoke free prisons is a challenge.

National policy currently allows prisoners to smoke in their cells but not in communal areas. The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has continued to keep this issue under review and introduced measures to reduce the risk of exposure to second hand smoke while ensuring order and control is maintained. This requires a careful and phased approach as we move towards fulfilling our long standing goal of smoke free prisons.

Our steps to date include the recent and highly successful roll out of electronic cigarettes to all prisons. These are available in every prison shop and offer a comparable alternative to traditional tobacco products in cost terms. From next month, prisoners in open prisons will not be able to smoke indoors and will only be able to smoke in designated outdoor areas. Plans are also underway to provide voluntary smoke free areas in all prisons from early next year.

However, we need to do more. Two recent academic studies commissioned by NOMS have identified that high levels of second hand smoke in some communal areas are still prevalent in some prisons. These were published on GOV.UK on 29 September 2015.

The findings of these studies have reinforced our commitment to move towards smoke free prisons as soon as possible in a safe and controlled way.

In developing our plans for smoke free prisons, we have learnt from a number of other jurisdictions who have already successfully implemented a smoke free policy across their prison estate. Canada has been smoke-free since 2008, New Zealand since 2011, and parts of Australia since 2013. Broadmoor Secure Hospital also went smoke free in 2007. We have used the lessons from their experiences to inform our strategy, including a long, phased implementation period, in order to move to smoke free safely.

Following these preparations, we are now ready to move forward with these plans in a controlled and careful way. In partnership with the Welsh Government we will begin to implement a smoke free policy in all prisons in Wales (HMPs Cardiff, Parc, Swansea and Usk/Prescoed) from January 2016, and at 4 prisons in England (HMPs Exeter, Channings Wood, Dartmoor and Erlestoke) from March 2016. From now until the smoke free implementation date these prisons will be encouraging and supporting prisoners to stop smoking through a range of smoking cessation support and advice, including nicotine replacement therapy. We will continue to take a sensible and considered approach, using the experience of the first prisons to go smoke free to inform the speed at which we move to smoke free across our remaining prisons.

We have no plans to move to smoke free prisons overnight and will only do so in a phased way that takes into account operational resilience and readiness of each prison. The operational safety and security of our prisons will always be our top priority.

 


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