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Today's Written Statements Update

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Jane Ellison - Department of Health

The Health Council met in Brussels on 7 December 2015 as part of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council meetings. Jane Ellison MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Public Health, represented the UK.

Member States adopted Council conclusions on the reduction of alcohol-related harm, personalised medicine for patients, supporting people living with dementia and lessons learned from the Ebola outbreak. A number of Member States called on the European Commission to commit to a new EU Alcohol Strategy. The UK recognised the huge pressure on public services which results from alcohol misuse and welcomed the Presidency’s work. The UK stressed the importance of sharing information on best practice but cautioned that any further EU action on alcohol had to focus on areas of existing competence and had to fully respect Member States’ primary responsibility for the public health of their populations. On dementia, the UK underlined the importance of the issue and highlighted the considerable alignment with the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia 2020.

The Luxembourg Presidency gave a brief update on trialogue discussions regarding medical devices and in-vitro devices Regulations and outlined progress made through the General Approach agreed in October. The Presidency outlined that further positive steps had been taken on a number of issues through trialogue discussions.

The Commission gave an update on their report on trans fats in foods published on 3 December 2015. The Commission stated work would now begin on an impact assessment that would consider the available evidence.

The Dutch delegation set out its priorities for its upcoming EU Presidency, which begins on 1 January. These include anti-microbial resistance, innovative medicine, and healthy foodstuffs.


Tracey Crouch - Department for Culture, Media and Sport

I am today publishing the Government’s new Sport Strategy ‘Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation.

This new strategy for sport and physical activity represents a significant shift in government policy on sport. It moves beyond merely looking at how many people take part and instead considers what people get out of participating in sport and what more can be done to tackle head on the flatlining levels of participation and high levels of inactivity in this country. It also considers the value of broader engagement in sport, whether through volunteering, watching sport, or enjoying the shared pride that comes from sporting success

Through this strategy, government is redefining what success in sport means, with a new focus on five key outcomes: physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, individual development, social and community development and economic development. In future, funding decisions will also be made on the basis of the social good that sport and physical activity can deliver.

There are several demographic groups whose engagement in sport and physical activity is well below the national average. Government will focus on these under-represented groups, including women and girls, disabled people, those in lower socio-economic groups and older people. Government will also broaden Sport England’s remit so that it becomes responsible for sport outside school from the age of five, rather than 14.

This strategy sets out how we will transform the way in which success is measured by replacing the Active People Survey with a new survey called Active Lives. This will enable government to capture how active people are overall - rather than how often they take part in any particular sport. A new set of key performance indicators will be used to test progress towards the five key outcomes.

Government is reaffirming its commitment to Olympic and Paralympic success but also extending that ambition to non-Olympic sports where we will support success through grassroots investment in those sports, and by sharing UK Sport’s knowledge and expertise.

This strategy sets out plans to introduce a new, mandatory governance code that will be rigorously enforced and will help tackle doping, match- fixing and corruption wherever they occur in sport. We will make the sport sector stronger and more resilient through changes in governance, developing the workforce, and reducing the reliance on public funding. We will also introduce a new ‘Duty of Care’ for all athletes and participants, to make sure that sport is safe for and inclusive of everyone.

It is Government’s ambition that all relevant departments work closer together to create a more physically active nation, where our children and young people have access to the best sporting opportunities available and people of all ages and backgrounds enjoy the many benefits that sport and physical activity bring, at every stage in their lives.

I am grateful to all those who contributed to the Sport Strategy consultation which ran through the summer of 2015 and received over 3,000 responses. The responses to the consultation showed that the sector is united in our ambition to be a truly successful and thriving sporting nation. This strategy sets out our plan for achieving this.


The Strategy is being deposited in the House Libraries and is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/sporting-future-a-new-strategy-for-an-active-nation


Mr Robert Goodwill - Department for Transport

I attended the final formal Transport Council meeting under the Luxembourg Presidency (The Presidency) on Thursday 10 December 2015.

The Council held a policy debate on social aspects in road transport, which also covered broader market objectives. Several Member States made it clear that they could not support further market liberalisation without a greater harmonisation of social conditions, however I joined others in calling for a more balanced framework to ensure that social measures do not create barriers to the freedom to provide services. During the debate two Member States called for an extension of existing licensing rules to bring vehicles below 3.5 tonnes into scope, in order to ensure fair competition. I flagged significant reservations on any such extension due to our concerns over the likely rise in enforcement costs and potential negative impact on road safety.

Under Any Other Business, there were several aviation items, including: a presentation from the Commission on its proposed Aviation Package, published on 7 December, which aims to enhance competitiveness, improve growth and maintain high EU standards in safety, security, environment, social provisions and passenger rights; a presentation from the Netherlands on the investigation into the crash of flight MH17; and information from Bulgaria, together with other Member States in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Central European Rotation Group, on the 2016 election to the ICAO Council.

The Commission also gave a brief presentation on its State of the Energy Union report encouraging further Member State action, in particular calling on Member States to start drafting their national energy and climate plans, and updated Member States on Transport Security following recent tragic events. The Presidency encouraged Member States to ratify the Luxembourg Protocol, relating to the financing and purchasing of rail rolling stock, and finally, the Netherlands outlined their transport priorities for their upcoming Presidency which include taking forward negotiations on aviation proposals, opening trilogue discussions with the European Parliament on the Ports Services Regulation and completing them on the Fourth Railway Package, and promoting developments in innovative technology.

Following formal Council business I attended the lunchtime debate on Road Safety, which discussed ways in which to reduce fatalities and serious injuries across the EU, and held bilateral meetings with my French and Polish counterparts, as well as thanking the Luxembourg Minister for their very competent presidency.


Mr Robert Goodwill - Department for Transport

I am today publishing the Government’s timetable for the development of the first Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS)

In February 2015, the Government introduced a duty through the Infrastructure Act 2015 for the Secretary of State for Transport to bring forward a Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy in England. In July, Part 2 of the Infrastructure Act (Cycling and Walking Investment Strategies) was enacted.

The document, Setting the First Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, sets a long term vision for walking and cycling to 2040 through a series of consecutive five-year strategies. Our starting principle for the development of the investment strategy is a desire for cycling and walking to become the norm for short journeys or as part of a longer journey in places that are designed first and foremost for people on foot or bicycle.

The document also sets out the elements that will form the first investment strategy, which will be a step towards delivering our manifesto commitment to double cycling - an ambition document and Statement of Funds Available, governance structures, a performance monitoring framework, and a National Walking and Cycling Infrastructure Plan study. I plan to undertake public consultation on the draft first CWIS next spring with publication following in the summer.

I will be placing a copy of this statement and the document Setting the First Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy in the libraries of both Houses.


Mike Penning - Ministry of Justice

I am today publishing an update on the progress that has been made in addressing the rehabilitation needs of ex-armed services personnel in the criminal justice system (CJS), as agreed by the Ministry of Justice in the Government response to the independent review into former service personnel in the CJS by Stephen Phillips QC MP, published in December 2014.

I reiterate my belief that we have an obligation to ensure those who serve in the armed forces are not disadvantaged as a result of their service. We are clear that all offenders, including those with a military history, should have the support they need to turn their lives around and stop offending.

The key to providing better services to ex-service personnel who find themselves in the CJS is to make sure that we identify them. I am pleased to see that the early data collected by the Liaison and Diversion services programme and the Basic Custody Screening Tool at prison reception, show that the number of ex-service personnel in the criminal justice system continues to remain small.

We are also working to consolidate our understanding of the needs of this group of offenders. We published two pieces of analyses last year, which found that, in general, the needs of ex-service personnel are broadly similar to those of other offenders, although specific areas of need may be more prevalent. For example, ex-service personnel had similar levels of reported general mental health problems to other prisoners, but may have greater levels of need in depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. A fully rolled-out Liaison and Diversion service will provide a real opportunity to meet the mental health needs, as well as other vulnerabilities, of ex-service personnel, and we will continue to drive this.

I am pleased that the Covenant Reference Group identified support to ex-service personnel in the CJS as one of the funding priorities for the £10m Armed Forces Covenant Fund 2015/16. The Government has also awarded £1m to Care after Combat and £1.6m to Skillforce to support their work with ex-service personnel in prisons and police custody.

The full update can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/former-members-of-the-armed-forces-and-the-criminal-justice-system and copies will be placed in the libraries of both Houses.


Elizabeth Truss - Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I have today issued the UK plan for improving air quality. This Plan sets out a comprehensive approach that will reduce health impacts and meet our environmental and legal obligations by implementing a new programme of Clean Air Zones. It is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/air-quality-plan-for-nitrogen-dioxide-no2-in-uk-2015

Under this Plan, by 2020 the most polluting diesel vehicles - old polluting buses, coaches, taxis and lorries - will be discouraged from entering the centres of Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby. Newer vehicles that meet the latest emission standards, and private cars, will be unaffected.

Over recent decades, air quality has improved significantly. Between 2005 and 2013 emissions of nitrogen oxides have fallen by 38% and particulate matter has reduced by more than 16%. Over the past five years the Government has committed over £2 billion to help bus operators upgrade their fleets, reduce pollution from a range of vehicles such as refuse trucks and fire engines through cutting edge technologies, and promote the development of clean alternative fuels such as powering taxis with liquid petroleum gas in Birmingham.

In order to bring the UK into legal compliance and to reduce concentrations of nitrogen dioxide below 40 µg/m3 Clean Air Zones will be introduced in five cities. These Zones will reduce the pollution in city centres and encourage the replacement of old, polluting vehicles with modern, cleaner vehicles. Similar zones in Germany and Denmark have been shown to improve air quality.

These Zones will target air quality hot spots. Following scoping studies, which Government will provide funding for, Councils will consult on the details on these Zones.

In Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby, these Zones will cover old diesel buses, coaches, taxis and lorries. Newer vehicles that meet the latest emissions standards will not need to pay and, under this Plan, no private car will have to pay. The local authorities will have to set charges at levels designed to reduce pollution, not to raise revenue (beyond recovering the costs of the scheme).

Birmingham and Leeds will also discourage old polluting diesel vans and implement other measures including park and ride schemes, signage, changes in road layouts and provision of infrastructure for alternative fuels.

Many companies have already started to update their fleets to modern, cleaner vehicles. For example, by 2017 British Gas will have replaced at least 10% of their commercial fleet with electric vehicles, reducing emissions compared to their old diesel vans. The new electric vans also represent a saving over their diesel counterparts. In London the cost savings could be as high as 20%, with other locations saving between 6-10%.

The Environment Agency, winner of Green Fleet of the Year 2015, has committed to increase the number of ultra-low emission vehicles to more than 100 by the end of 2015.

Another example of businesses modernising their fleet is Reading Buses - 38% of their fleet are ‘ultra-clean’ drastically reducing their emissions. Drivers are also given advice on fuel efficient eco-driving techniques.

One of the main reasons our cities continue to face air quality problems is the failure of diesel vehicles to deliver expected emission reductions in real world driving conditions. We have recently secured agreement in the EU to introduce more stringent emissions testing across the EU, ensuring that vehicles live up to their low emission credentials. Our Plans fully factor in current car performance and future performance standards following this agreement.

The Mayor of London has a well-developed strategy for improving air quality by 2025, including the implementation of an ultra-low emission zone by 2020, retro-fitting of buses and licensing new taxis to be zero emission capable from 2018. We will continue to support and monitor the delivery of the Mayor’s plans.


Sajid Javid - Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

When the Steel Summit met on 16 October, I agreed that three Ministerial-led Working Groups would be set up immediately to address the ‘5 Asks’ of UK Steel and the longer-term future of the industry. This statement reports on the progress of the Working Groups and other action taken by government to support the industry and steel workers.

The three Working Groups are:

  1. Procurement – chaired by Matthew Hancock (CO);
  2. International Comparisons – chaired by Anna Soubry (BIS)
  3. Competitiveness and Productivity – chaired by Lord O’Neill (HMT)

Procurement

UK Steel asked at the Summit that the Government should:

“Support local content in major construction projects: British steel must have every opportunity to be at the heart of HS2 – the Government must look to unlock the significant opportunities for the steel sector and to strengthen supply chains on this and other major projects.”

Matthew Hancock’s group has met three times. It has brought together procurement leads from across government – Cabinet Office, HM Treasury, Infrastructure UK, Department for Energy and Climate Change, Department for Transport and Ministry of Defence – alongside representatives of the UK steel industry and the Scottish and Welsh Governments.

Areas focused on have been:

  • new guidelines for departments to apply when procuring major projects involving steel, as enabled by flexibilities in the new Public Contracts Regulations 2015, and consistent with value for money;
  • interrogating the National Infrastructure Plan and Government Construction Pipelines to better identify the future pipeline for steel; and;
  • updating the current British Standards for steel.

Specific outputs to date include:

  • A new Procurement Policy Note (PPN) on procuring steel in major projects was issued by Cabinet Office and the Crown Commercial Service on 30th October. This requires government procurers to consider wider socio/economic impacts and benefits in their procurement objectives so that issues such as skills, responsible sourcing, good supply chain management, and health and safety capability can be taken into account where relevant. This will help to level the playing field so that the true value and competitive edge of UK steel is fully recognised. The PPN applies to all Central Government Departments, their Executive Agencies and Non Departmental Public Bodies; and directly to any major procurement projects with a significant steel component, where the overall project requirement has a capital value of £10 Million or above. The PPN is at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/procurement-policy-note-1615-procuring-steel-in-major-projects

  • Further detailed guidance on how social issues should be taken into account in the procurement of steel for major projects was issued on 11th December. This covers all key stages of the procurement lifecycle, including pre-procurement, requirements and specifications, use of labels and standards (including reference to parts of BES 6001 relevant to responsible sourcing of steel), selection of suppliers, award of contracts, contract conditions and contract management. The guidance is at: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/484843/Social_guidance_supporting_PPN1615_.pdf

  • Indicative quantities of steel have been mapped for key projects in the Infrastructure and Government Construction Pipelines, including HS2, new nuclear and offshore wind, and shared with industry. Steps have also been agreed with industry on how to make better use of the pipelines as they are updated on a six monthly basis.

  • The British Standards Institute (BSI) has agreed to revise and update the voluntary British Standard BS4449 which applies to steel reinforcement bar (rebar), in the absence of a harmonised European standard. The revision, which is now being consulted on with a view to being implemented in Spring 2016, addresses concerns about the type and quantities of alloys and other “exotic” ingredients being added to some imported rebar that is used in construction. The revisions involve changes relating to: (a) Traceability, which means that chemical composition details will have to be listed, similar to an ‘ingredients’ label on food; and (b) Limits placed for the first time on the amount of boron and other alloys that can be added to rebar.

The Procurement Group will meet again in January.

International Comparisons

UK Steel asked at the Summit that the Government should:

Continue to back EU-level action on anti-dumping measures which support the UK steel sector against the rapid rise in global imports and push the European Commission to speed up its investigation process and action

Industry also suggests other member states get away with sailing closer to the wind on State Aid rules”.

  • The Prime Minister raised Chinese over-capacity with President Xi during his state visit to the UK. I did likewise with the Chinese Commerce Minister. Both recognised the issue for the UK and globally, and stated that China is taking action to reduce overcapacity. The Emergency Council also underlined that the EU should make use of both bilateral and OECD dialogues to raise the issue with China and other producer countries and we are following up to ensure this happens.

  • At our request, the Luxembourg Presidency convened an Extraordinary Competitiveness Council on Steel, which, recognising the severity of the crisis facing the Industry across the EU, concluded that concrete actions should be taken in a number of areas, including: making full and timely use of EU trade policy instruments; making best use of the possibilities given under the revised State Aid rules to support Energy Intensive Industries; considering, as part of the reform of the European emissions trading system (“EU ETS”), a more focused mechanism for free allocation of allowances; and a special High Level stakeholders’ conference to review the current situation and consider policy actions. We are now following up to ensure the conclusions are implemented and expect the conference to take place in the New Year. My fellow ministers and I have also been engaging with MEPs to ensure that the European Parliament amplifies the messages coming out of the Extraordinary Council.

Anna Soubry’s group has met four times and has brought together representatives from all major steel producers with trade and state aid policy leads from my department and other Whitehall leads – Foreign Office, HM Treasury. The Scottish and Welsh Governments have also been involved.

Areas focussed on have been:

  • Identifying opportunities for joint working between industry and government on current and forthcoming anti-dumping cases;

  • What more could be done to support the steel industry by speeding up anti-dumping cases and how we can work with our international counterparts to address steel dumping, in particular from China.

  • Assessing whether more can be done to support energy intensive industries, within existing state aid rules, compared to our European and international counterparts;

  • Addressing concerns about existing support given from other EU Member States to steel companies that may be out with State Aid rules.

Anti-dumping

  • Industry and Government have agreed to work together on forthcoming anti-dumping cases. This includes full evidence sharing, clarity on the timetable for each case and agreement on, if, how and when the Government should intervene. We are also working with industry on identifying ways for the Commission to accelerate and prioritise its trade defence investigations so as to get results quicker to prevent dumping.
  • In July, we voted in favour of EU anti-dumping measures on the import of Chinese wire rod products. We have also voted in favour of anti-dumping measures on the imports of steel tubing products and lobbied successfully for an investigation into cheap imports of Reinforcing Steel Bar.

  • The UK Government has been calling, at all levels for steel cases to be given priority. I have met with Commissioner Malmström to discuss how anti-dumping investigations can be accelerated and other related measures. Discussions have also taken place with other EU Ministers.

  • Following continued engagement with the Commission on the speed of investigations, the Commission has responded rapidly to an industry request for Registration of cold‑rolled flat steel products. This means that imports of this product will be registered in a timely manner so that, if appropriate, any future anti-dumping measures agreed will apply retrospectively from the date of registration rather than when the investigation has been completed. We will continue to press the Commission to ensure that ongoing investigations and requests for action will result in similarly rapid response from the Commission.

State Aid

  • We have undertaken a review of how other EU Member states support their energy intensive industries within existing rules. This work concluded that the UK is currently making full use of the scope to provide state aid compliant support to industry through the suite of measures in the Energy Intensive Industry compensation package. However, we are looking to see if there may be opportunities to make greater use of the EU’s General Block Exemption regime in other areas, particularly energy efficiency. Further, more detailed discussions will take place with industry.

  • We have looked into claims of wrong-doing in other EU member states and have found no evidence to back up these claims. We have shared this conclusion with industry and the Unions and asked them to provide us with any further evidence they may have. The industry has raised concerns about interventions by the Italian Government in favour of Ilva with the European Commission. The Commission is currently investigating this matter. Given the importance of ensuring a fair and level playing-field across the EU, we have asked the Commission to be extremely vigilant and respond quickly wherever suspicions of wrong-doing arise.

  • We have also examined state aid regimes in non-EU countries and have concluded that there is substantial subsidisation of steel sectors.

The International Comparisons group will next meet in January.

Competitiveness and Productivity

UK Steel asked at the Summit that the Government should:

(a) “Fully implement the Energy Intensive Industry Compensation Package ahead of April 2016. The sector is currently still paying 70% of the policy costs that the full Package aims to address.”

(b) “Bring Business Rates for capital intensive firms in line with their competitors, by removing plant and machinery from business rate calculations.”

(c) “Don’t gold plate regulations unfairly and deliver pragmatic implementation of regulatory frameworks vital the sector (e.g. Industrial Emissions Directive).”

(d) And for the longer-term: We call on the Government to develop a long term vision and strategy for the UK steel sector, through an independent report, demonstrating the broad value the sector adds to the economy and setting out a viable roadmap for safeguarding and growing this value for the UK.

Lord O’Neill’s group has met three times. It has covered: energy costs; business rates; regulation; and the longer-term future of the industry, taking evidence from industry, unions and government representatives, with involvement from both the Welsh and Scottish Governments.

Specific outputs to date include:

  • Energy Costs: The Prime Minister announced on 28 October that compensation for Energy Intensive Industries would be paid from the date State Aid clearance comes through. Today, we have received approval from the European Commission for the UK Government to commence relief in line with our initial notification for the most electricity intensive businesses for the costs of renewables policy in their bills. We are going further and at Autumn Statement 2015 the Chancellor announced that Energy Intensive Industries, including the steel industry, will be exempt from the policy costs of the Renewable Obligation and Feed-in Tariffs, to ensure that they have long-term certainty and remain competitive. Compensation will continue to be paid until the exemption is in place. This commitment will give the UK Steel Industry greater certainty around energy costs. Relief from energy policy costs will save industry hundreds of millions of pounds.

  • Business Rates: Through the Working Group, industry have had direct discussions with HMT to feed into the review of Business Rates and to give more detailed evidence on the impact on investment in Plant and Machinery. The review of business rates will be fiscally neutral and will report at Budget 2016.

  • Regulation – Industrial Emissions: The Government confirmed to the steel industry in October that it will be able to take advantage of special flexibilities to comply with new EU rules on emissions. The EU Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) was the industry’s primary concern and could have added millions of pounds of additional costs to the industry in January 2016 at a time when it is already facing unprecedented global pressures. The UK pushed for transitional arrangements and derogations in the IED, and both will benefit the steel industry following detailed work between government and steel companies.

  • Regulation – Other: The industry was invited to highlight any other regulatory concerns to the Working Group. None were identified, though the Working Group stands ready to take evidence and act should any other regulatory issues emerge.

  • Improvements to competitiveness: A workshop was organised to bring together representatives from the steel industry, trade unions and government in order to brainstorm interventions that could increase competitiveness within the areas of skills, innovation, exports and inward investment. Officials are working on the most promising proposals from these workshops to identify actions that industry and government may wish to explore.

  • As an immediate step on innovation, £400k has been provided this year to enable the Centre for Process Innovation on Teesside to extend its partnership programme to steel and other metals companies. The programme, which started with the chemicals industry, is focussed on equipping SMEs in the supply chain to innovate and grow. The extension follows a recommendation in the Metals Strategy and will be delivered with support from the Metals Processing Institute.

  • Industry future: We have been working very closely with steel stakeholders to understand the needs of the sector both now and going forward. Through the Competitiveness & Productivity Steel Working Group an independent external report has been commissioned to identify the relative strengths and weaknesses of the UK steel industry, and consider how this could change over different time horizons. The outcomes will support the UK steel industry develop a strategic forward plan, and will help clarify how HMG could support competitiveness in the sector over the short, medium and long term.

The Competitiveness and Productivity group will next meet in the New Year.

Local support

Notwithstanding the actions we can take as Government to support the industry, the UK steel sector is facing severe challenges and many companies have had to take difficult commercial decisions. There is no straightforward solution to the complex global forces facing the steel industry; the price of some steel has halved over the past year alone, there is 30% overproduction across the world, European demand has not returned to pre-crash levels and recent currency fluctuations have added further pressure.

I realise this is an incredibly difficult time for the employees affected by recent job losses, as well as their families and the local communities in which they live. The Government is committed to doing all we can to give these employees the help and training needed to quickly return to work and we have made available up to £89 million in support packages for those who have been affected.

Recently my Ministerial colleagues The Rt Hon Anna Soubry Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise and Nick Boles Minister of State for Skills visited Scunthorpe and Redcar respectively to better understand the issues currently facing the communities and how our support is having a real impact. We remain in regular contact with the companies and communities affected.

In Redcar, following the sudden closure of SSI in October, we set up a taskforce, chaired by Amanda Skelton, and agreed a support package worth up to £80 million. Over £40m of the support package is aimed at skills and jobs creation and includes:

  • £3m which has been made available to colleges in the region to support re-training activity, as well as a further £2.65m skills funding to plug any gaps in skills provision not available via the Further Education Offer;
  • £1.7m to ensure that the fifty apprentices who were with SSI can continue their apprenticeships with alternative employers;
  • A £16.5m Jobs and Skills Fund to help local firms employ former SSI workers or their spouses in full-time or part-time jobs for a minimum of three years;
  • £16m support for firms in the SSI supply chain and wider Tees Valley impacted by the Redcar steelworks closure, to safeguard jobs, provide the stimulus to create new posts and provide expert assistance to help them expand their business
  • £750,000 to fund advice and grants to start up a new business.

This is in addition to statutory payments made to former employees, which have been processed rapidly by the Redundancy Payments Service to ensure individuals received the money as quickly as possible.

These initiatives have so far seen 500 affected individuals find new employment. I am also pleased to confirm that all 51 apprentices that were affected by the sudden closure of SSI are in education, training or have been placed with employers.

In order to support the Tees Valley area going forward and ensure a strong economic outlook, Lord Heseltine has been appointed to lead the Tees Valley Inward Investment Initiative. He will be working to advance specific investment projects, to conduct a wider analysis on unlocking growth in the area and to help the new Combined Authority make the most of its new devolved powers. He has visited the region and met with key people on organisations several times and will be reporting back in the new year.

In Scunthorpe, we have announced a package, worth up to £9 million, jointly with Tata, to support Tata steelworkers, the local economy and supply chain. We are working closely with a local Task Force, chaired by Baroness Liz Redfern, to deliver this support. This package includes:

  • £3m from UK Steel Enterprise (Tata’s Regeneration arm) “to support job creation”
  • £3m of match funding from the Government to provide “support for more start-up businesses and companies that are looking to expand and create jobs”.
  • £3m of training of affected employees through local further education colleges.

We remain in close contact with Tata to understand their ongoing issues and how we can support them.

I am pleased to inform the House that Administrators for Caparo Group have been able to complete sales for all but one of the remaining business entities, preserving over 1,100 jobs mainly in the West Midlands.


Dominic Raab - Ministry of Justice

My noble friend the Minister of State for Civil Justice (Lord Faulks QC) has made the following Written Statement.

"The Government has made a priority of addressing the high costs of civil litigation in England and Wales.

To that end, Part 2 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012 reforms the operation of no win no fee conditional fee agreements. Those reforms came into effect generally in April 2013 but were delayed in respect of insolvency proceedings

After further consideration the Government has decided that the no win no fee reforms should now be applied to insolvency proceedings. The provisions will come into force for these cases in April 2016.

It has already been announced that there will be a Post Implementation Review of the LASPO Act Part 2 reforms between April 2016 and April 2018. The review will take place towards the end of that period. The review under s. 48 of the Act in relation to mesothelioma cases will also take place as part of the Post Implementation Review."


Michael Gove - Ministry of Justice

I will today publish the government’s response to the Harris Review into self-inflicted deaths in custody of 18-24 year olds.

The government is grateful to Lord Harris of Haringey and the Harris Review panel for their report on this important review.

We must never simply accept self-harm and self-inflicted deaths as an inevitable feature of prison life. Reducing the rates of violence, self-harm and deaths in custody is a priority for the National Offender Management Service. I have already made clear that our prison system needs urgent reform. I have also asked Charlie Taylor to review the current system of youth justice. We will be setting out more detail on our plans for reform in due course.

The government’s response to the Harris review sets out the wide range of action we are taking to reduce self-harm and self-inflicted deaths in custody, including giving greater support to those with mental health vulnerabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system and improving the management of “Safer Cells” in prisons. We are also increasing the number of prison staff. Over the last year we recruited 2,340 prison officers, a net increase of 540.

The Harris Review, and our response, will help to address the serious problems of self-harm and self-inflicted deaths as we develop our wider reforms to make prisons places of decency, hope and rehabilitation.

The response will be laid today and copies will be available in the Vote and Printed Paper Offices. The response will also be published online at www.gov.uk


Mr David Cameron - Prime Minister

I have today laid before both Houses the main findings of the internal review I commissioned in the last Parliament, to improve the Government's understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood; establish whether the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology or activities, or those of individual members or affiliates, put at risk, damaged, or risked damaging the UK’s national interests; and where appropriate inform policy.

The review involved substantial research and wide consultation, including Muslim Brotherhood representatives in the UK and overseas, and an open invitation to other interested parties to submit written contributions.

It is a complex subject: the Muslim Brotherhood comprises both a transnational network, with links in the UK, and national organisations in and outside the Islamic world. The movement is deliberately opaque, and habitually secretive.

Since the authors completed their initial research in 2014, and during the course of the Government’s examination of the findings, further allegations of violence carried out by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood have surfaced, which the Government will continue to investigate, taking action as appropriate.

As the Muslim Brotherhood continues to evolve so must our understanding of it. The findings have revealed much that we did not know but work will continue to ensure we keep up to date with developments.

The Government considers the following the most important findings.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s foundational texts call for the progressive moral purification of individuals and Muslim societies and their eventual political unification in a Caliphate under Sharia law. To this day the Muslim Brotherhood characterises Western societies and liberal Muslims as decadent and immoral. It can be seen primarily as a political project.

Parts of the Muslim Brotherhood have a highly ambiguous relationship with violent extremism. Both as an ideology and as a network it has been a rite of passage for some individuals and groups who have gone on to engage in violence and terrorism. It has stated its opposition to al-Qaida (AQ) but it has never credibly denounced the use made by terrorist organisations of the work of Sayyid Qutb, one of the Brotherhood’s most prominent ideologues. Individuals closely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK have supported suicide bombing and other attacks in Israel by Hamas, an organisation whose military wing has been proscribed in the UK since 2001 as a terrorist organisation, and which describes itself as the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood. Moreover, despite the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s public condemnation of violence in 2012/13 and afterwards, some of their supporters have been involved in violent exchanges with the security forces and other groups. Media reports and credible academic studies indicate that in the past 12 months a minority of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Egypt have engaged alongside other Islamists in violent acts. Some senior leaders have publicly reiterated the Muslim Brotherhood’s commitment to non-violence, but others have failed to renounce the calls for retribution in some recent Muslim Brotherhood statements.

Muslim Brotherhood–associated and influenced groups in the UK have at times had a significant influence on national organisations which have claimed to represent Muslim communities (and on that basis have had a dialogue with Government), charities and some mosques. But they have also sometimes characterised the UK as fundamentally hostile to Muslim faith and identity; and expressed support for terrorist attacks conducted by Hamas.

Aspects of the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology and activities therefore run counter to British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, equality and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. The Muslim Brotherhood is not the only movement that promotes values which appear intolerant of equality and freedom of faith and belief. Nor is it the only movement or group dedicated in theory to revolutionising societies and changing existing ways of life. But I have made clear this government’s determination to reject intolerance, and to counter not just violent Islamist extremism, but also to tackle those who create the conditions for it to flourish.

The main findings of the Review support the conclusion that membership of, association with, or influence by the Muslim Brotherhood should be considered as a possible indicator of extremism.

We will therefore keep under review the views that are promoted and activities that are undertaken by Muslim Brotherhood associates in the UK, in Arabic as well as English. We will consider whether any action under the Counter Extremism Strategy or as part of our wider work may be appropriate, including action in line with the new engagement policy the Government will develop to ensure central and local government does not inadvertently provide legitimacy or a platform for extremists. We will challenge extremists’ poisonous narratives and promote positive alternatives that show vulnerable people that there are better ways to get on in life.

We will continue to:

(a) refuse visas to members and associates of the Muslim Brotherhood who are on record as having made extremist comments, where this would be conducive to the public good and in line with our existing policy guidelines and approach to extremism in all forms;

(b) seek to ensure charities that have links to the Muslim Brotherhood are not misused to support or finance the Muslim Brotherhood instead of their lawful charitable purpose;

(c) strengthen liaison arrangements with international partners to ensure that allegations of illicit funding or other misuse of charities are robustly investigated and appropriate action taken;

(d) enforce the EU asset freeze on Hamas; and

(e) keep under review whether the views and activities of the Muslim Brotherhood meet the legal test for proscription.

We will also intensify scrutiny of the views and activities that Muslim Brotherhood members, associates and affiliates (whether based in the UK or elsewhere) promote overseas. As our Counter Extremism Strategy makes clear, insights from our overseas posts will help the Government better understand drivers, networks and ideologies. We will continue to consult, and share information and analysis with, governments in the Middle East and North Africa as appropriate. We will then take further decisions and actions as needed.


Ben Gummer - Department of Health

The Government remains committed to reform of the regulation of health and (in England) social care professionals. The Government is grateful for the work of the Law Commissions of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in making recommendations and has been considering how best to take these forward.

Our priorities for reform in this area are better regulation, autonomy and cost-effectiveness while maintaining and improving our focus on public protection. We intend to consult on how these priorities can be taken forward, taking account of the Law Commissions’ work on simplification and consistency and building on the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care’s paper Rethinking regulation published in August 2015. We will present proposals that give the regulators the flexibility they need to respond to new challenges in the future without the need for further primary legislation.

We recognise the need for some immediate reform in this area. Subject to Parliamentary time we plan to take forward reforms to regulators’ rule-making process and the way that the larger regulators deal with concerns about their registrants. This will improve accountability and make the system more efficient and effective.

This Government remains committed to the principle of proportionate regulation of healthcare professionals. Having considered the arrangements already in place to ensure that Public Health Specialists from backgrounds other than dentistry or medicine are appropriately registered and qualified, the Government does not consider that extending statutory regulation to this professional group is necessary. To this end, it will not be taking forward secondary legislation in this regard.