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Today's Written Statements Update

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Written statements are published on the internet as soon as possible after Parliament receives them and are also published in the next day’s edition of Hansard.

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Matthew Hancock - Cabinet Office

Enhancing transparency and accountability continues to be at the heart of our approach to government, ensuring that Whitehalls elected representatives and senior officials uphold the highest standards in public life through transparency and democratic scrutiny.

In support of this aim, the Government is today publishing:

  • The list of Ministers Interests. Under the terms of the Ministerial Code, Ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or could reasonably be perceived to arise, between their Ministerial position and their private interests, financial or otherwise. The list captures those interests relevant to Ministers Ministerial responsibilities, and should be read alongside the two Parliamentary Registers. In addition, we have today published an update report by the Prime Ministers Independent Adviser on Ministers Interests, Sir Alex Allan.

  • The list of special advisers. The list sets out the names of the special advisers in post as of December 2015, each special advisers pay band, and actual salary (where this is higher than the Senior Civil Service entry-level salary), together with details of the total pay bill for 2014-15 and the estimate for 2015-16. The cost has fallen from last year, and the cost represents just 0.08 per cent of the Civil Service pay bill.

  • Details of the salaries of officials in departments, agencies and non-departmental public bodies earning 150,000 and above. Excluding machinery of government transfers, the number of people of people earning 150,000 and above in central government has reduced by a third since 2010.

  • Details of Ministerial meetings with external organisations and overseas travel, Ministerial and Special Adviser gifts and hospitality, the use of official residences and the Prime Ministers UK visits and charity receptions for the period April to September 2015.

  • Details of Permanent Secretary meetings with external organisations, and senior officials travel and gifts and hospitality for the period April to September 2015.


Copies of the List of Ministerial Interests and the List of Special Advisers have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. All publications will be available on Gov.uk.


Mr Robert Goodwill - Department for Transport

My Honourable Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

I am publishing today details of the charges incurred by Departments for the use of official government cars provided to Ministers by the Government Car Service (GCS) during the financial years 2012/13, 2013/14, and 2014/15.

Charges to Departments have not increased since 2010. The GCS has reduced its running costs by over two thirds since the start of the reform programme and we are committed to continue reducing the cost to the taxpayer of the provision of secure Ministerial cars. As a result of a series of changes, including closure of the Government mail service, overall operating costs have fallen from 21.617m in 2010/11 to 6.325m in 2014/15.

The charges recorded in this Statement reflect the service model which came into effect in April 2012. This provides Departmental Pool Cars which are a shared resource for a Department to use as efficiently as possible. In addition, the Car Service offers a small pre-bookable service utilising any spare capacity.

These charges do not necessarily reflect the total spend on car services for Ministers as some departments have arrangements with other providers. The Chancellor uses the Government Car Service to supply a driver and vehicle for his protection package whereas the PM, Home, Foreign, Defence and Northern Ireland Secretaries of State use the Metropolitan Police. Their charges are not included in the attached tables.


Mr Shailesh Vara - Ministry of Justice

I will today publish the Government Response to the consultation on proposals to increase court and tribunal fees. The consultation paper was published on 22 July 2015 and the consultation closed on 15 September 2015.

The Government announced in the spending review that it will be investing 700m in reforming the courts and tribunals during the next five years. This crucial investment will allow us to modernise and improve the service we provide to the public.

There remains a need to ensure the courts are not placing too great a burden on the taxpayer. Courts and tribunals in England and Wales cost 1.7 billion in 2014-15, but we only recovered 700 million in income. That is a net cost to the taxpayer of around 1 billion.

It is therefore right that we ask for a greater contribution from court users who can afford to pay more. We have balanced this need alongside the responses we received to our consultation and decided to:

  • Implement fee increases of 10% across the range of civil proceedings, including enforcement proceedings, determination of costs proceedings, and civil business in the Magistrates Courts.
  • Introduce fees for the first time in the General Regulatory Chamber and the Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal and in the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Chamber.
  • Keep the maximum fee cap in money claims at 10,000. A number of consultees were concerned about the proposal to raise the cap to 20,000. We accept that it is too soon to understand the full impact of the first round of fee increases introduced in March this year. We will therefore not implement the further increase at this stage, but keep this option under review.
  • Introduce a fee of 20 for an appeal against a financial penalty in the Tax Chamber. Some respondents felt that it was unfair to charge an issue fee of 100 for an appeal against a financial penalty of 100 or less imposed by HM Revenue and Customs, so we have decided to introduce a lower fee than initially proposed.
  • Introduce fees of 100 to issue proceedings in the Property Chamber and 200 for a hearing. There will be an exception for proceedings relating to rent levels and pitch fee applications, where a lower fee of 20 will apply. This will mean fees are more proportionate to the amount in dispute. We will not implement the higher fees for leasehold enfranchisement proceedings that were proposed in the consultation paper at this stage, so these proceedings will be subject to the standard fees in the Chamber.
  • Defer any decision on whether to introduce a fee for bringing an appeal against a decision of the Information Commissioner until the Independent Commission on Freedom of Information reports next year.

HMCTSs remissions scheme will apply to all of the new and increased fees, with the exception of those in the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal where there is a separate exemptions policy to protect vulnerable users. As proposed in the consultation document, we will introduce an additional exemption for those whose humanitarian protection or refugee status is at risk of being revoked.

Fees are never popular, but they are necessary if we are to reduce the burden of the courts and tribunals on the tax payer.

We have sought to protect the vulnerable at every stage. We have also listened very carefully to concerns raised during the consultation and modified our proposals accordingly.

This balanced package will put the courts and tribunals on a more sustainable footing as we create a modern efficient service, fit for the 21st Century.

Full details of how the Government intends to take forward these proposals are set out in the consultation response document which has been published on the gov.uk website.


Mike Penning - Home Office

The Government is committed to building on the success of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) model by further strengthening their role; for example, the government is proposing to enable PCCs to take on the governance of fire and rescue services as part of driving greater collaboration between emergency services. The Government intends to bring forward legislation to enable PCCs to take on responsibility for key parts of the Police complaints system making that process more transparent and easier to navigate.

With PCCs taking on a greater role in the handling of complaints made against their police force, and with the responsibilities held by a PCC increasing, I believe the time is right to amend the system for complaints made against a PCC. I have today published a consultation paper to seek views on proposals to improve the system for handling non-serious complaints made about a PCC. The consultation paper proposes:

  • Clarifying, through non-statutory guidance, what constitutes a complaint, ensuring Police and Crime Panels (PCPs), who scrutinise the work of PCCs, take forward complaints about a PCCs conduct rather than their policy decisions.
  • Providing PCPs with greater investigatory powers to seek evidence pertinent to a complaint.
  • Clarifying, through non-statutory guidance, the parameters of informal resolution and setting out that, where agreement cannot be reached, it is open to PCPs to make recommendations on the expected level of behaviour of a PCC, and that they have powers to require the PCC to respond.

The consultation ends on 10 December 2015. Copies of the consultation paper have been placed in the House Library.

The proposed changes to the complaints system ensure the fundamental principle of the PCC policy, that of accountability to the electorate, is not undermined. The proposals will improve the transparency of the complaints procedure and deliver more satisfactory outcomes for complainants.


Karen Bradley - Home Office

Section 48(7) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires the Government to lay before Parliament a report setting out the steps it proposes to take in relation to independent child trafficking advocates, within nine months of Royal Assent of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

My rt hon Friend the Home Secretary has today laid before Parliament our report outlining the Governments next steps. We have also published the independent evaluation of the child trafficking advocate trial conducted by the University of Bedfordshire. Our report, along with the independent evaluation, will be published on www.gov.uk. Copies of the Government report will be available in the Vote Office. A copy of the independent evaluation will be available in the House library.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Barnardos, who provided the child trafficking advocates service during the trial, the University of Bedfordshire for undertaking the evaluation of the trial and the 23 local authorities and all the other parties involved who played such a significant role in supporting the trial. Child victims of trafficking are among the most vulnerable in our society. This report sets out our response to the evaluation of the independent child trafficking advocates trial and what steps we intend to take to ensure trafficked children get the protection they need.

I would also like to thank my Parliamentarian colleagues for their ongoing advice and support in this area and I look forward to your continued support as we take this important work forward.

 


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