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Andrea Leadsom - Department for Energy and Climate Change

14th Onshore Licensing Round

I am pleased to inform the House that the Oil & Gas Authority (OGA) the UKs oil and gas regulator has today announced that licences for a total of 159 blocks are being formally offered to successful applicants under the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round.

A Petroleum Exploration and Development Licence (PEDL) gives the licensee exclusivity over an area of land for onshore hydrocarbon exploration, appraisal and extraction, including for shale gas and oil as well as conventional forms of oil and gas. To be clear, a PEDL does not itself give any permission for operations to begin. Before the licensee can begin any operations such as drilling, hydraulic fracturing or production, they must be granted a number of further permissions and consents. These include, for example, planning permission, environmental permits from the Environment Agency, scrutiny by the Health and Safety Executive, and OGA consents under the provisions of the PEDL.

The 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round was launched on 28 July 2014 and closed on 28 October 2014. A total of 95 applications were received from 47 companies covering 295 Ordnance Survey Blocks. Following scrutiny of the applicants competency, financial viability, environmental awareness and geotechnical analysis, and following the decision not to award PELDs in Scotland and Wales, 159 blocks were taken forward for further consideration.

In August 2015, the OGA announced its intention to offer PEDLs covering 27 blocks. In addition to this, 132 blocks were subsequently subjected to further detailed assessment in accordance with the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, and a public consultation on that assessment was carried out. Following the conclusion of the consultation process, the OGA is now satisfied that the approval of the 14th Licensing Round, and the offer and eventual award of each of the PEDLs under Round, will not have an adverse effect on the integrity of any protected European site. As a result, the OGA is today offering PEDLs for a total of 159 blocks. For 75 of these blocks, the PEDL will contain a condition that prohibits all or specific activities in parts of the block.

The 159 blocks covered by todays announcement will be incorporated into 93 onshore PEDLs. A map of the licence blocks being offered can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/oil-and-gas-licensing-rounds.

Gas is central to our long-term energy security. The gas used to heat our homes is amongst the cheapest and most secure in Europe, despite the decline in our domestic gas production from the North Sea. However, we cannot be complacent. We currently import around half of our gas needs, but by 2030 that could be as high as 75%. Thats why were encouraging investment in our shale gas exploration so we can add new sources of home-grown supply to our real diversity of imports.

This Licensing Round will see the great majority of the UKs shale prospectivity licensed to be explored and tested. The 14th Onshore Licensing Round has attracted a high quality of proposed work programmes and a mix of conventional and unconventional proposals. About 75% of the blocks being offered relate to shale oil or gas.

Once the companies being offered these licences accept these offers, they will be issued with PEDLs covering the blocks which they have been awarded, and will subsequently be able to begin planning their future strategies for exploration activities.

I have today written to all Members of the House within whose constituencies licences are being offered.

Environmental Monitoring

Following the award of funding in the Autumn Statement 2014, DECC has grant-funded a research consortium led by the British Geological Survey to support it to create a baseline of environmental data in the Vale of Pickering, North Yorkshire, as well as expanding the consortiums existing base-lining activity in the Fylde, Lancashire. Applications for shale gas activity have been made in each area. The Government wishes to ensure that a robust and independently gathered baseline of data on environmental conditions, such as the quality of ground-water or air and the levels of seismic activity, is in place prior to the start of shale gas operations in these areas, which are dependent on consents including planning permission. If shale gas projects take place in future in these areas, future data can be checked against these baseline data. This would allow any significant changes to be flagged for further scrutiny.

The Government regards such independent baseline data as important to building public trust in the first exploration-phase wells developed by the UK shale gas industry, in addition to the industrys own monitoring data, which is provided to regulators. Our aim is therefore to provide support for appropriate baseline monitoring for areas identified for the first exploration-phase wells. This work will be reviewed periodically alongside the development of the industry.


Harriett Baldwin - HM Treasury

The Treasury has laid before the House of Commons a report required under section 231 of the Banking Act 2009 covering the period from 1 April 2015 to 30 September 2015. Copies of the document are available in the Vote Office and the Printed Paper Office.


Mr Sam Gyimah - Department for Education

Today I am announcing details of school revenue funding for 2016 to 2017. My announcement includes the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) the Education Services Grant (ESG) and the Pupil Premium.

The distribution of the DSG to local authorities will continue to be set out in three spending blocks for each authority: a schools block, a high needs block and an early years block.

The schools block has been allocated on the basis of the schools block units of funding announced in my statement to the House on 16 July 2016. To protect schools from significant budget reductions, we will continue with a minimum funding guarantee that ensures no school sees more than a 1.5% per pupil reduction in its 2016-17 budget (excluding sixth form funding and ESG) compared to 2015-16, and before the Pupil Premium is added.

We have been able to provide an additional 92.5 million for the DSG high needs block. The high needs block supports provision for pupils and students with SEN and disabilities (SEND), from their early years to age 25, and alternative provision for pupils who cannot receive their education in schools.

The DSG early years block comprises funding for the 15 hour entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds; participation funding for 2 years old from the most disadvantaged backgrounds; and the early years pupil premium. The rates per child for this block will be maintained at their 2015-2016 level.

The ESG retained duties rate will remain at 15 per pupil. We have applied an efficiency saving to the ESG general funding rate for 2016 to 2017, and the rate will reduce from 87 per pupil to 77 per pupil. We will continue to provide a protection to limit the reduction of academies budgets as a result of changes to the ESG.

The pupil premium per pupil amounts for 2016 to 2017 will be protected at the current rates, which are:

Pupils

Per pupil rate

Disadvantaged pupils: Primary

1,320

Disadvantaged pupils: Secondary

935

Pupil Premium Plus :Looked After Children (LAC) 1 and those adopted from care or who leave care under a Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangements Order (formally known as a residence order).

1,900

Service children

300

1. A looked after child is defined in the Children Act 1989 as one who is in the care of, or provided with accommodation by, an English or Welsh local authority.

Pupil premium allocations for financial year 2016 to 2017 will be published in June 2016 following the receipt of pupil number data from the spring 2016 schools and alternative provision censuses.

As announced in the Chancellors spending review statement we will introduce a national funding formula from 2017. We will consult on proposals in the new year.

Details of these arrangements have been published on GOV.UK.


Michael Fallon - Ministry of Defence

During my oral statement on 20 July 2015 (Official Report, column 1233), I committed to continue to be transparent about UK service personnel embedded in other nations armed forces on operations.

Today I am publishing details of UK Service personnel embedded in other nations armed forces who are deployed on operations together with those who work on operations in deployed coalition or single nation headquarters roles. Embeds play an important role in enhancing our national security interests around the world, strengthening our relationships with key allies and developing our own capabilities. These personnel perform a wide range of roles for their host nation including staff in headquarters planning for operations and training missions, members of a Ships Company, helicopter pilots, transport pilots, fast-jet pilots and aircrew and air traffic control.

Following this first report to the House, future updates will be published annually through my Departments Annual Report and Accounts. For operational and personal security reasons the information that can be routinely released is limited.

All of our Armed Forces, including embeds, are bound by and operate in accordance with the law of England and Wales and international law, in particular, the Law of Armed Conflict.

UK SERVICE PERSONNEL EMBEDDED IN OTHER NATIONS ARMED FORCES AND DEPLOYED ON OR IN SUPPORT OF OPERATIONS.

(Data correct as at 30 November 2015)

HOST NATION / HEADQUARTERS

EMBEDDED HQ STAFF

EMBEDDED EXCHANGE OFFICERS

Australia

2

Canada

2

France

3

5

New Zealand

3

Spain

1

United States of America

13

17

Coalition HQs

94

EU HQs

18

NATO HQs

9

UN HQs

10

TOTAL

147

30

Notes:

  1. The data comprises: UK service personnel embedded in another nations armed forces, who are deployed on operations together with those who work on operations in deployed coalition or single nation headquarters roles.

  1. Due to the short nature of some attachments, the figures change regularly. The information is a snap-shot as at 30 November 2015.

Nick Gibb - Department for Education

The government is reforming GCSEs and A levels to be rigorous and more knowledge-based and to match the qualifications used in the best education systems in the world.

Schools are now teaching some of the new reformed GCSEs and A levels, and we have already published reformed subject content for those GCSEs and A levels to be taught from September 2016. Content for reformed GCSE subjects can be found here and content for AS and A level subjects here.

The new GCSEs will be more academically demanding and will be qualifications that command the confidence of students, employers, and further and higher education institutions. At A level, our reforms aim to ensure that they prepare students for undergraduate study and the world of work.

Today I am publishing revised subject content for some of the GCSEs and AS and A levels that will be taught in schools from September 2017:

  • GCSEs in astronomy, business, economics, engineering, geology and psychology; and
  • AS and A levels in environmental science, design and technology, music technology and philosophy.

The astronomy GCSE requires greater depth of knowledge, for example by expanding topic areas such as the evolution of the stars. The content has also been brought up to date to reflect the latest knowledge, and the mathematical requirements are more demanding.

The business GCSE content has added breadth and depth with new requirements to understand business decision-making in more detail, including business growth and development.

The new economics GCSE content is more demanding and includes detailed requirements for specific mathematical knowledge. All students will now be required to understand more of the essential concepts of economics, and depth and breadth have been increased by adding a number of new topics.

The engineering GCSE has increased demand through a greater emphasis on systems-related content and requiring additional mathematical knowledge. A detailed section on testing and investigation has been introduced which includes content such as predicting performance through calculations, simulations and modelling.

Environmental science AS and A level requires students to know and understand the science behind environmental issues and, in line with other reformed science A levels, to use scientific theories, models and ideas.

The new geology GCSE content has increased demand by requiring increased mathematical knowledge, and the study of new content on planetary geology and a greater number of minerals, rock types and fossil groups. Fieldwork remains a fundamental part of the subject, with students required to spend at least two days engaged in fieldwork.

In music technology AS and A level content, students are now required to develop an in-depth knowledge of the principles of sound and audio technology and the development of recording and production technology. Recording and production techniques for both corrective and creative purposes are also included.

Philosophy AS and A level content will enable students to gain a thorough grounding in key philosophical questions and concepts. Students are required to study the ideas of key philosophers.

Psychology GCSE content will require all students to study five compulsory topics (development; memory; psychological problems; social influence; and the brain and neuropsychology) and two optional topics. The study of these is underpinned by the study of key theories and all students will be required to develop a strong understanding of research methods, including quantitative analysis.

The new design and technology A level will require all students to study the iterative design processes and technical principles that are at the core of contemporary design practice. There will be options in design engineering, product design and fashion textiles to allow students to specialise. Students will also undertake a substantial design and make task at A level.

 


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