Tom Watson – 2019 Speech on the WhatsApp Data Breach

Below is the text of the speech made by Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, in the House of Commons on 15 May 2019.

Here we are again: another day, another major data breach from a Mark Zuckerberg company. I am glad that the Secretary of State is with Facebook today, because we can suggest a number of questions for him to put to Facebook.

First, what has happened? Spyware called Pegasus, created by the Israeli security company NSO Group, has been used to hack the phones of lawyers and human rights activists. The news reports read like a nightmare: a dystopian world of tech-enabled total surveillance. The spyware transits malicious code via a WhatsApp call. The target does not even need to answer the call for the phone to be infected. According to ​The New York Times, once the spyware is installed, it can extract everything: messages, contacts, GPS location, email and browser history. It can even use the phone’s camera and microphone to record the user’s surroundings. That is terrifying.

About 1.5 billion people worldwide use WhatsApp and millions are here in the UK. Many of them will have been drawn to the service for its unique selling point: end-to-end encryption that ensures user privacy. Now we find that a gap in WhatsApp’s defences has enabled complete violation of that privacy. What is the Minister doing to work with GCHQ, the National Cyber Security Centre and tech industry players to protect the UK’s digital communications and privacy?

Media reports say that WhatsApp contacted the US Department of Justice earlier this month when it found out about the hack, but when was the Minister notified about it? When was the Information Commissioner informed? How many users in the UK are affected? Have those affected been notified? If the Minister does not know the answers, will she commit to updating the House when she does?

The spyware was licensed for export by the Israeli Government. What assurances can the Minister provide to social media companies that any digital surveillance products that the UK exports will not be misused to track and monitor human rights defenders? The particular vulnerability of WhatsApp was the voice over internet protocol—the process for receiving calls over the internet. As telecoms companies modernise, they are all moving away from calls over copper lines and phasing in calling via the internet. What is the Minister doing to ensure that those companies do not have vulnerabilities such as those we are discussing today?

The attack looks as if it was carried out by malicious actors, possibly other state actors, trying to close down journalists, dissidents, human rights activists and lawyers seeking justice, but exactly that kind of surveillance was given legal basis in the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, which the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) and I fought in the courts and won concessions on. The Government want tech companies to build back doors into their services, but this is an example of what happens if malicious actors find those doors: those who are fighting for justice and what is right come under attack. The Government must not allow that to happen.

Philip Hammond – 2019 Speech at CBI Annual Dinner

Below is the text of the speech made by Philip Hammond, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the CBI Annual Dinner on 21 May 2019.

Thank you, John, for that introduction.

It is a pleasure to be here once again in the old Whitbread building.

And if the CBI is trying to make a cheap point by literally organising your annual piss up in a brewery, I am going to pretend I haven’t noticed it!

Actually, this building has a fascinating history.

For more than a hundred years, the Speaker of the House of Commons’ carriage was kept here.

If you haven’t seen it, it is a spectacularly grand, gilded and polished affair – I am talking about the coach, not the Speaker.

This was a working brewery until 1976. The year before I started my first job, and a time when the UK economy was fast-approaching its post-industrial revolution nadir…

… dominated by state-owned industries; crippled by unbridled Union power and incessant politically-motivated strikes and protected by rigid exchange controls and managed exchange rates…

…where credit was rationed by the government, and the top marginal tax rate on investment income was 98%.

Visibly falling behind the other Members of the EEC, which we had just joined.

And with our politics polarising to reflect the radically different solutions of left and right to the nation’s challenges.

We have come a long way since then.

Our economy is transformed. Our manufacturing sector once again boasts global champions;

British design and innovation, derided back then, is now respected throughout the world;

Our services sector has been liberated from stifling regulation and short-sighted protectionism to soar ahead as a powerhouse of the new economy;

And the UK has become a magnet for investment, for entrepreneurship and for talent from across the globe.

Our recovery from the fiscal consequences of the financial crisis a decade ago has reached a turning point: our deficit is now lower than it was before the crisis and our national debt is falling sustainably for the first time in a generation.

Meanwhile, the UK has grown continuously for nine straight years, and despite domestic uncertainty and a slowing world economy, the OBR is forecasting growth for the next five as well.

Judged against our peers, the UK economy is robust: Since 2010, we have grown as fast as Germany, and faster than France, Italy and Japan.

On jobs, we have a remarkable story to tell,with the employment rate at a record high and unemployment at its lowest rate since 1975.

Over 3 ½ million net new jobs since 2010. And of the nearly half a million net additional people in work over the last year, virtually all are in full time jobs.

And there’s good news on pay, too – with the OBR forecasting wages to rise by 3% or more in each of the next five years…

…while inflation is forecast to remain at, or very close to, the target of 2% throughout the forecast period.

This robust economic and fiscal performance is the result of nearly a decade of hard work by the British people, and of a clear economic strategy by the government.

My predecessor’s number one focus was, quite rightly, on fixing the public finances, inheriting, as he did, a record peacetime fiscal deficit.

But when I became Chancellor in 2016 I recognised that, as well as getting Britain’s debt down, our continued success as a nation depends on investing in our future, supporting our public services, and keeping taxes low to attract talent and investment.

This ‘balanced approach’ is now delivering, with the highest sustained levels of public capital investment in 40 years…

…a Modern Industrial Strategy to respond to the long-term challenge of low productivity;

Income tax cuts for more than 30 million people;

…and over £150 billion of new spending commitments since 2016, including a £34bn a year increase for the NHS…

…the single largest cash commitment ever made by a peacetime British Government…

…but all of it anchored in a framework of fiscal responsibility, with our deficit now just1.2% and our national debt falling sustainably for the first time in a generation.

Fiscal responsibility is a proud boast of Conservative Governments, and I know that, over the coming months, my colleagues will want to protect that reputation – and so will resist the ever-present temptation to write cheques the country cannot afford.

Because we must not undo a decade of hard work by the British people by making unfunded commitments that would send our national debt soaring; leave the economy vulnerable to future shocks; burden future generations; and waste billions on interest payments.

People must know they can trust Conservatives with the public finances.

So our economy and our public finances are in far better shape than they were 40 years ago.

Wages and living standards are dramatically improved since then.

And yet, there are worrying echoes of the 1970’s in the re-polarisation of the political debate today.

Populism is on the rise.

Globalisation – which has transformed the lives of hundreds of millions across the planet, and driven rising living standards here in the UK, has become something of a dirty word;

Free trade is under attack from all sides and the multilateral institutions which have upheld the post-war international system are challenged as never before;

Trade tensions and the rise of protectionism are now a real threat to world trade and economic growth.

On the left and right of politics, at home and abroad, the allure of superficially easy answers to complex problems – the political equivalent of the “free lunch” – fills the vacuum created by frustration with the politics of the centre ground.

And Brexit continues to wrap our economy in a cloud of uncertainty – with the continued possibility of a “No Deal” exit remaining a real threat to our future prosperity.

So I want to say a few words tonight about how we can meet this growing challenge.

But it is worth noting that doing so today will be more complicated than it was in the 1970s.

Because underpinning, and to some extent driving, the political malaise in Britain – and in many other developed economies, are four major, unavoidable, structural changes that are shaping the context for this debate:

1) The inexorable shift of economic power from the West towards the Emerging Economies of Asia, and its inevitable long-term consequence for the balance of strategic power as well.

2) The need for rapid de-carbonisation of our economy, with huge implications for the allocation of capital and the sustainability of current business models;

3) The ageing of our populations and the implications for our economies, for migration policy and for intergenerational equity;

4) And finally, the unparalleled scale of the technological revolution on which we are embarked – a revolution that will profoundly change our lives, our jobs, our economy and our politics.

And all of these will be happening at once; all imposing huge demands for resources and attention – both in terms of political bandwidth and in terms of business management-time.

So the background is challenging, to put it mildly. And against that background, we face real and present dangers to our economic well-being from populists of left and right.

On the populist right, there are those who now claim that the only outcome that counts as a truly legitimate Brexit is to leave with No Deal.

Let me remind them: the 2016 Leave campaign was clear that we would leave with a Deal.

So to advocate No Deal is to hijack the result of the referendum, and in doing so, knowingly to inflict damage on our economy and our living standards.

Because all the preparation in the world will not avoid the consequences of No Deal.

So I will continue to fight, in the face of this polarisation, for a negotiated Brexit…

…an outcome that respects the British people’s decision to leave, while recognising that there is no mandate for a “No Deal” exit; and that we have an absolute obligation to protect Britain’s jobs, businesses and future prosperity.

But we need to be clear, that if we do not resolve this issue in the next few weeks, there is a real risk of a new Prime Minister abandoning the search for a deal, and shifting towards seeking a damaging No-Deal exit as a matter of policy…

…in order to protect an ideological position which ignores the reality of Britain’s economic interests and the value of our precious Union.

And we need to be clear, too, that lurking ever larger behind this immediate challenge of right-wing populism, is the even greater danger of left-wing populism…

…manifest in John McDonnell’s increasingly brazen policy assault on the fundamental fabric of our modern, open, economy…

…with proposals for nationalisation of businesses without compensation; appropriation of equity shares; direction of investment; and ruinous levels of taxation and borrowing to finance yet another experiment in market manipulation and social engineering that is doomed to fail, as it predecessors, at home and abroad, have always done…

…and which must surely lead to capital flight and, ultimately, exchange controls.

Both approaches offer a disaffected electorate temptingly simple solutions to the complex problems that drive their discontent.

Neither will deliver.

Those who believe that they can make Britain better off by increasing barriers to trade and those who think that greater prosperity and a better society can be delivered by subverting the market rather than harnessing it, are both wrong – as history will confirm.

But the truth is that a gap has opened up – in Britain and in other developed countries – between the theory of how a market economy and free trade creates and distributes wealth, and the reality experienced by many ordinary people…

…creating a dissatisfaction that is fertile ground for populism to grow in.

And since populism cannot be defeated by confronting one set of simplistic, undeliverable solutions with another…

…we have to be prepared to eschew simple answers…

….and make again the complex, and to some, counter-intuitive, case for well-regulated open markets, free and fair trade, fiscal discipline and market economics;

Explaining how, as we tackle the great challenges of our economy in the 21st century – ageing, technology, climate change and productivity…

…the mechanisms of the market and the benefits of openness will allow us to create enduring, sustainable solutions.

Solutions that deliver real results, not empty promises.

But defending the market economy means demonstrating how, specifically, it can meet the challenges that matter most to a generation who may be pre-disposed to believe that it cannot.

And it means showing by doing, not by telling.

It means delivering rising real wages and living standards year after year;

Building the homes that the next generation needs – at prices they can afford;

Supporting people of all ages to embrace technology change through retraining and re-skilling, so that technology means higher living standards, not higher unemployment;

It means closing the gap between our regions through sustained investment in infrastructure, including strategic projects like HS2;

Demonstrating that higher productivity can provide the answer to the challenge of an ageing population;

And harnessing market-based solutions to show that de-carbonisation and rising living standards can go hand-in-hand.

In short, it means validating the open, free-trading market economy system as “fit-for-purpose” for the challenges that we face in the 21st Century

That’s necessary to re-build confidence in the politics of the Centre ground…

…and it’s necessary to “re-licence” business to play the vital role that it must in our society.

And it can only be done by Government and Business working together to deliver prosperity and opportunity in every part of Britain.

The immediate priority must, of course, be delivering a solution to the Brexit impasse.And we made a great step forward today.

Because the Government’s, and Parliament’s seeming inability to do so is undermining confidence in our political system…

…and because continued uncertainty is now having a real and damaging impact on our economy.

When I accepted this invitation to speak, back in January, I planned to speak about Britain’s future in the context of a Brexit deal that had been done!

And I didn’t even focus on the juxtaposition with the European Elections later this week!

The threat of “No Deal as Policy” should unite all those who reject it as reckless and dangerous.

I was an early advocate of seeking to reach a compromise agreement with other parties and factions to break the impasse in the House of Commons.

So, I was disappointed, but not surprised, when the Leader of the Opposition ended the formal discussions last week.

The truth is, the incentives in our political system discourage such initiatives.

But both of us have learned a great deal about each other’s positions from those talks…

…and I believe that the case for compromise remains as strong as ever.

If we are to have any hope of re-uniting our country and repairing our politics after the divisions of the last three years, we cannot have half the country feeling they have completely won and the other half, that they have completely lost.

Britain needs a Brexit that feels like a compromise; a Brexit that delights no-one, but one that everyone, or nearly everyone, can live with.

And in a Parliamentary democracy, which this country is, the only sustainable Brexit solution is one that can command a majority in the Parliament.

So the right way forward is to build on what we have learned of the concerns and aspirations on the Labour side…

…and add it to what we already know of the concerns and aspirations of our colleagues on the Government side, and others across the House who are open to a negotiated exit…

…to craft a compromise that can deliver Brexit and settle this question, once and for all,in a Withdrawal Agreement Bill that will represent a bold, new proposal addressed to MPs on all sides of the House of Commons.

But let me be clear on one thing: that is where the attempt at consensus with the Opposition ends.

Because beyond Brexit, we can and must challenge head-on the anti-market, anti-business ideology of the left…

…with its false promises and easy answers…

…and promote instead a clear plan to build on the strengths of the British economy as we tackle the challenges and harness the opportunities of the future…

…working in a partnership with business…

…using the authority of Government to set the direction of travel…

…but with the private sector as the front-line agent of change – mobilising private capital and harnessing the power of the market to ensure effective delivery.

Working together to raise productivity as the only sustainable path – not only to higher wages and rising personal living standards…

…but also to delivering our social objectives, and our strategic goals, such as decarbonisation.

That means capital investment, both public and private, in infrastructure and technology…

…and it also means a partnership to deliver the home-grown skills and training that Britain needs to prosper…

…and a genuine collaboration to ensure a future immigration regime that supports the needs of business and the economy without unnecessary bureaucracy.

That’s why we embarked on an unprecedented year-long consultation on the post-Brexit migration regime: we said we want to hear the views of business, and I am sure you are not going to disappoint us!

There is no doubt that we are facing an unprecedented period of challenge in our public life.

Uncertainty over Brexit.

Anxiety over our economic model.

Anger about our politics.

All set against the backdrop of a long, and sometimes apparently conflicting list of urgent imperatives:

Decarbonising our economy; rescuing our environment; housing our population; adopting new technology; increasing our productivity, and adapting to demographic change.

No wonder the British people are concerned,and it would be an insult to ignore them.

The populists do not have the answers – but they are pretty good at identifying the grievances.

To trump them, we need an optimistic vision for the future – but one that is grounded in reality…

…with solutions that work with the grain of our society and harness the power of markets, the energy of business and the resource of private capital…

…to deliver answers to these multiple,simultaneous, challenges.

And to allow us to harvest the tremendous opportunities that lie within them.

Solutions that address the future…

…not hark back to the past;

That promote unity, not further division;

That deliver real change, not simply rhetorical shift;

And that speak to our ambition for a country whose best years, we firmly believe, lie ahead of it.

Thank you.

Margot James – 2019 Statement on WhatsApp Data Breach

Below is the text of the statement made by Margot James, the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, in the House of Commons on 15 May 2019.

I am responding to this question from the shadow Secretary of State because the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is in Paris for the G7 Digital Ministers meeting. He is meeting political and digital leaders from across the world, including senior representatives of Facebook, which owns Whatsapp, to ensure that the technology that is an increasing part of our daily lives is developed and managed in a safe and ethical manner.

I share the concern of all Members of the House about WhatsApp’s announcement of this vulnerability and the steps that it is taking to address it. In this instance, the National Cyber Security Centre has acted quickly to assess the risk to UK users and to publish guidance for our user base here in the UK. The NCSC has recommended that users protect their devices by installing updates as soon as they become available, and I would encourage any users with concerns to check the NCSC website. It is right that people should have confidence that their personal data will be protected and used fairly and lawfully.

The Data Protection Act 2018, which the Government passed last year, imposes strict obligations on organisations to ensure that UK citizens’ data is processed safely, securely and transparently. Organisations that fail to comply with the legislation may be investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office, which received extra resources and more powers last year during the passage of that Bill. WhatsApp has designated the Irish Data Protection Commission as its European national regulator, and the ICO will work with and support its Irish counterpart so that the data of UK citizens is protected.

Cyber-security is of paramount importance to this Government, and our cyber-security strategy, which is supported by £1.9 billion of investment, sets out ambitious policies to protect UK citizens and businesses in cyber-space. Trust is the foundation of our digital economy. Cyber-security is absolutely vital in providing the stability and certainty that businesses need to thrive, and the public must have confidence in it.

Liam Fox – 2019 Speech to CityWeek

Below is the text of the speech made by Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, on 20 May 2019.

1. Introduction – the prophets of doom were wrong

If there is one sector in our economy that represents a combination of old-fashioned British grit and determination alongside global innovation and leadership, it must surely be financial services. Time and again doom-mongers have predicted the demise of the City. And time and again they have been proved wrong.

From the Big Bang deregulation of financial markets in 1986, when some predicted London would struggle to continue to compete as a global financial centre. To cries that the end was nigh for the City of London when the United Kingdom decided against joining the Euro – a decision that I believe has stood the test of time. To the 2008 financial crisis, which brought the sector to the brink. All wrong. But the City of London has not just survived the onslaught, it has positively thrived in the face of some formidable threats.

And as we prepare to leave the European Union, once again the death-knell has been sounded on the future of the UK’s financial sector. Now I understand people’s concerns – we are in the middle of a fundamental change of direction, and the unwillingness of Parliament I have to say to give certainty exacerbates the situation. But I am convinced that when the dust settles the City of London will do what it always does, which is to emerge fitter, stronger and more dynamic than ever.

2. The strength of UK financial services

Since the referendum in 2016, the United Kingdom has maintained – and even strengthened – its position as a global financial centre: I would argue as the leading financial centre. Just today, Deloitte’s Crane Survey shows that construction of new offices in London has hit its highest level since the referendum.

Office space under construction between October 2018 and March 2019 amounted to 13.2 million square feet: the equivalent of more than 22 Shards, up 12% compared to the previous survey, while volume of new office construction activity was 3.5 million square feet: some 38% higher than the previous survey. Office space under construction between October 2018 and March 2019 amounted to 13.2 million square feet: the equivalent of more than 22 Shards worth of office space – and a 12% increase compared to the previous survey.

It’s a far cry from the doom and gloom predicted when the UK voted to leave the European Union in 2016, and reinforces the City’s global pre-eminence as an investment destination. And this follows on from recent OECD figures which show the total value of foreign investment stock into the UK increased by a further 5% to £1.46 trillion in 2018, making the UK now home to more foreign investment than Germany, Spain and Poland all put together.

And the financial sector stands at the heart of that success. Our deep and liquid global capital pool, a pioneering regulatory framework, and world-class advisory, legal and related professional services have helped us run one of the greatest trade surpluses in our history: at around £43 billion a year. Some 4.2% of the UK’s working population, nearly 1.4 million people, are employed in finance and insurance. And, with two-thirds of these employed outside London, it’s important to remember that the City’s influence is not confined to the square mile; it stretches right the way across the UK with new jobs and opportunities being created all the time. The depth of our professional infrastructure runs from London to Edinburgh, to Bristol to Belfast. Goldman Sachs, for example, is opening a new office in Milton Keynes, creating up to 250 jobs. The new UK challenger bank OakNorth investment is bolstering its ranks, taking on new staff in Manchester, the Midlands and the South West to keep up with demand for its demand for business loans.

KPMG has announced plans to create up to 400 jobs over the next three years in Glasgow. This is truly a sector which benefits every part of the United Kingdom.

And it is of fundamental importance to the overall strength of our economy. According to the industry body TheCityUK, our banking sector is the largest in Europe. London alone hosts over 250 foreign banks, more than New York, or Paris or Frankfurt combined. It is our largest tax payer, contributing around 11% of total UK tax receipts – or £72 billion on the latest figures – paying for the schools, hospitals, security and the other public services on which we all rely. Those who threaten its viability or stoke up resentment against the sector should remember how much it pays the bills. It is the ability to innovate, to adapt and to change that keeps us on top. The UK was the first Western centre to embrace Islamic finance: the first to offer a Sharia-compliant bond, for example – and remains its leading western centre.

We also host the second largest offshore centre for Chinese renminbi clearing. Twice as many dollars are traded in the UK as in the US, and twice as many euros are traded in the UK as in the Eurozone.

The UK has more than 40% of the global market in Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodity trading. We have the second largest centre for debt financing globally after the United States. And we are – by far – the largest capital market in Europe, accounting for 20% of the bond and loan market, and 33% of all Initial Public Offerings and private equity activity in Europe. And of course the United Kingdom is the home of the FinTech revolution, making sweeping changes, delivering more control, access and increased competition.

It has been estimated that we have more software developers than Berlin, Dublin and Stockholm all combined. And of course we have Level 39, Europe’s largest fintech accelerator. And last year the UK attracted more venture capital investment than anywhere else in Europe, with £6.3 billion. And these advantages are showcased in our Fin Tech sector, with around 1,600 firms contributing approximately £7 billion to our economy and supporting over 75,000 jobs. Furthermore, the UK is now the number one investment destination in the world for mergers and acquisitions, ahead of the US, ahead of Germany and ahead of China, according to a report by EY. And these are just some of the achievements, I could go on and for a little bit of encouragement I might! But the point I want to make really is this: that this Government believes in the City and is behind you every step of the way in your success.

Our financial services are of huge value to this country’s overall prosperity and I am convinced that you will remain at the heart of the global financial system whatever the outcome of the Brexit process.

3. Facing the challenges ahead

Of course, there’s no room for complacency and we must face up to the fact that there will be significant challenges as well as opportunities ahead, not least because a number of new players will become apparent. I recognise that, for many firms in this room, the period since the Referendum has been one of uncertainty. So please be assured that we firmly believe the best approach is to leave the EU with a deal and we are continuing to work hard, including with parties across Parliament, to find a way forward. But whatever the outcome, I want you to know that this Government will remain your champion. We will never jeopardise the City’s success. We recognise your difficulties, we recognise your importance, and we want to work with you to give certainty and stability wherever possible as we move towards our new deep and special partnership with the European Union. But it is also worth stressing, and I think it does not happen enough, that there is a world beyond Europe and there will be a time beyond Brexit.

Britain stands on the brink of a new era in our trading history, continuing our close cooperation with our partners in European Union who still represent 44% of our exports, while reaching out as an independent trading nation for the first time in 40 years to friends old and new in the wider world. While our established partners such as the EU will continue to be of great importance, the locus of economic power is shifting rapidly, with an estimated 90% of global economic growth projected to occur outside the European Union over the next five years. That is where the markets are going to be, and that is where we need to be.

The world is becoming increasingly well educated, wealthier, and more urbanised. And it is predicted that the share of global GDP of the seven largest emerging economies – including China, India and Turkey – could increase from around 35% to nearly 50% of global GDP by 2050, which would mean that they overtake the current G7. It is a seismic shift in global economic power. When I try to explain it to people, I point out them that by 2030, China will have more than 220 cities with a population of more than 1 million people. The whole of continental Europe will have 35. It is worth understanding the scale of the change. This historic shift in global economic and demographic power will reshape the opportunities of international trade in the years to come.

The mission of my Department is to build a future for the UK’s international trade in this emerging environment: to open new markets, build new export and investment opportunities, investment into the United Kingdom and investment out from the United Kingdom, and, perhaps most importantly, champion the cause of free trade and trade liberalisation, especially in services in an era where protectionism is increasingly lifting its ugly head. In 2017-18 alone, my Department supported a total of 332 financial and related professional services projects, securing or safeguarding over 15,000 jobs in this country.

We have launched four public consultations, to seek new Free Trade Agreements when we leave the European Union, with the United States, with Australia to New Zealand, as well as the potential to seek accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP – which is always easier to say now than it is later in the day. Our new Export Strategy will help the UK climb the ranks of the 21st century’s great trading nations by encouraging, informing, connecting and facilitating finance for firms to realise their full exporting potential, and that is particularly true for SMEs where we need to find new exporters.

In addition to this, we continue to work with key economic partners around the world. For example, I was recently delighted to address Qatar Day, which highlighted the mutual opportunities for business across asset management, cyber security, capital markets, sustainable finance and FinTech, for UK and Qatari companies. Qatar incidentally has over £35 billion of investment in the UK, much of which is here in London. And FinTech is at the heart of our global technology and innovation strategy and our growth agenda. That’s why we are continuing to roll out our FinTech Bridges – links between Governments, regulators and private sectors – in priority global markets, from Singapore to China, from Hong Kong to Australia, where we launched our FinTech Bridge Pilot Programme last month. And these Bridges will promote regulatory cooperation to reduce barriers to entry in one another’s markets. We are also working to leverage the UK’s unique expertise and capacities to assist development in emerging economies. For example, in January my team visited Latin America to discuss how the UK’s insurance and risk modelling knowhow might help these emerging economies adapt and mitigate against the effects of climate change.

And both the UK Government and industry are developing an international road map for greening the financial system.

And my Department will be key to helping leverage UK expertise to combat climate change through Green Finance, in which the UK is – yet again – a world leader. The Government is also working with the London Stock Exchange and the wider capital markets community to target local currency bond issuances.
Just last Friday, the Indian state of Kerala issued the first sub-sovereign level bond for developing infrastructure in the UK, following in the steps of countries like Indonesia who did the same last year, showcasing once again the contribution the City is making to finance infrastructure worldwide and contributing to our international development agenda, a fact that is not nearly widely enough understood.

4. Conclusion

I know there are many people who are concerned that Brexit means Britain turning in on itself and becoming more introspective. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As we leave the European Union we will become more open to the world, not less, and more open to the great opportunities that lie beyond European shores. The financial sector and its related professional services will be at the centre of these new opportunities. Never before have prospects globally been so great. Yes of course there are challenges, as there always have been.

But I can assure you that the British Government stands ready to help you seize these opportunities, to make our financial sector’s future even brighter than the past has been.

… accelerating financial inclusion by giving people better tools to save, to manage, to borrow and invest their money … supporting the financial products, technical expertise and experience needed to grow developing economies, which will be in all our interests… … and building a more stable, secure and prosperous future, both for the United Kingdom and our partners around the world.

We have a great opportunity to shape the world around us. In fact, we always have a binary choice: to shape the world around us, or be shaped by the world around us. We must have the confidence and courage to do that shaping. The City has led the charge before. It will do so again. Thank you.

Theresa May – 2019 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by Theresa May, the Prime Minister, on 21 May 2019.

I became Prime Minister almost three years ago – immediately after the British people voted to leave the European Union.

My aim was – and is – to deliver Brexit and help our country move beyond the division of the referendum and into a better future.

A country that works for everyone.

Where everyone has the chance to get on in life and to go as far as their own talent and hard work can take them.

That is a goal that I believe can still unite our country.

I knew that delivering Brexit was not going to be simple or straightforward.

The result in 2016 was decisive, but it was close.

The challenge of taking Brexit from the simplicity of the choice on the ballot paper to the complexity of resetting the country’s relationship with 27 of its nearest neighbours was always going to be huge.

While it has proved even harder than I anticipated, I continue to believe that the best way to make a success of Brexit is to negotiate a good exit deal with the EU as the basis of a new deep and special partnership for the future.

That was my pitch to be leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister.

That is what I set out in my Lancaster House speech and that was what my Party’s election manifesto said in 2017.

That is in essence what the Labour Party’s election manifesto stated too.

And over 80% of the electorate backed parties which stood to deliver Brexit by leaving with a deal.

We have worked hard to deliver that – but we have not yet managed it.

I have tried everything I possibly can to find a way through. It is true that initially I wanted to achieve this predominantly on the back of Conservative and DUP votes.

In our Parliamentary system, that is simply how you normally get things done.

I sought the changes MPs demanded.

I offered to give up the job I love earlier than I would like.

And on 29th March – the day we were meant to leave the EU – if just 30 MPs had voted differently we would have passed the Withdrawal Agreement. And we would be leaving the EU.

But it was not enough.

So I took the difficult decision to try to reach a cross-party deal on Brexit.

Many MPs on both sides were unsettled by this. But I believe it was the right thing to do. We engaged in six weeks of serious talks with the Opposition, offering to compromise.

But in the end those talks were not enough for Labour to reach an agreement with us.

But I do not think that means we should give up.

The House of Commons voted to trigger Article 50.

And the majority of MPs say they want to deliver the result of the referendum.

So I think we need to help them find a way.

And I believe there is now one last chance to do that.

I have listened to concerns from across the political spectrum.

I have done all I can to address them.

And today I am making a serious offer to MPs across Parliament.

A new Brexit deal.

As part of that deal I will continue to make the case for the Conservative Party to be united behind a policy that can deliver Brexit.

9 out of 10 Conservative MPs have already given the Withdrawal Agreement their backing and I want to reach out to every single one of my colleagues to make the very best offer I can to them.

We came together around an amendment from Sir Graham Brady – and this gave rise to the work on Alternative Arrangements to the backstop.

Although it is not possible for those to replace the backstop in the Withdrawal Agreement, we can start the work now to ensure they are a viable alternative.

So as part of the new Brexit deal we will place the government under a legal obligation to seek to conclude Alternative Arrangements by December 2020 so that we can avoid any need for the backstop coming into force.

I have also listened to Unionist concerns about the backstop.

So the new Brexit deal goes further to address these.

It will commit that, should the backstop come into force, the Government will ensure that Great Britain will stay aligned with Northern Ireland.

We will prohibit the proposal that a future Government could split Northern Ireland off from the UK’s customs territory.

And we will deliver on our commitments to Northern Ireland in the December 2017 Joint Report in full.

We will implement paragraph 50 of the Joint Report in law.

The Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive will have to give their consent on a cross-community basis for new regulations which are added to the backstop.

And we will work with our Confidence and Supply Partners on how these commitments should be entrenched in law.

This new Brexit deal contains significant further changes to protect the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and deliver Brexit.

It is a bespoke solution that answers the unique concerns of all parts of the community in Northern Ireland.

But the reality is that after three attempts to secure Parliamentary agreement, we will not leave the European Union unless we have a deal that can command wider cross-party support.

That’s why I sat down with the Opposition.

I have been serious about listening to views across the House throughout this process.

That is why when two Labour MPs, Lisa Nandy and Gareth Snell, put forward their proposals to give Parliament a bigger say in the next phase of the negotiations I listened to them.

So the new Brexit deal will set out in law that the House of Commons will approve the UK’s objectives for the negotiations on our future relationship with the EU and they will approve the treaties governing that relationship before the Government signs them.

And while the talks with the opposition did not reach a comprehensive agreement, we did make significant progress in a number of areas.

Like on workers’ rights. I am absolutely committed to the UK continuing to lead the way on this issue.

But I understand people want guarantees. And I am happy to give them.

So the new Brexit deal will offer new safeguards to ensure these standards are always met.

We will introduce a new Workers’ Rights Bill to ensure UK workers enjoy rights that are every bit as good as, or better than, those provided for by EU rules.

And we will discuss further amendments with trade unions and business.

The new Brexit deal will also guarantee there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU.

And we will establish a new independent Office of Environmental Protection to uphold the highest environmental standards and enforce compliance. The new Brexit deal will also place a legal duty on the Government to seek as close to frictionless trade with the EU in goods as possible, subject to being outside the Single Market and ending freedom of movement.

In order to deliver this, the UK will maintain common rules with the EU for goods and agri-food products that are relevant to checks at the border. This will be particularly important for our manufacturing firms and trade unions, protecting thousands of jobs that depend on just-in-time supply chains.

The most difficult area is the question of customs.

At the heart of delivering Brexit lies a tension between the strength of our ambition to seize the new opportunities that Brexit presents – and the need to protect the jobs and prosperity that are built on an interconnected relationship with other European economies.

This ambition should not be divisive. There are many people who voted to Leave who also want to retain close trading links with Europe. Just as there are many people – like myself – who voted to Remain and yet are excited by the new opportunities that Brexit presents.

Indeed I believe that one of the great opportunities of leaving the European Union is the ability to have an independent trade policy and to benefit from the new jobs and industries that can result from deepening our trade ties with partners across every continent of the world.

But I have never believed that this should come at the expense of the jobs and livelihoods that are sustained by our existing trade with the EU.

And to protect these, both the Government and the Opposition agree that we must have as close as possible to frictionless trade at the UK-EU border.

Now the Government has already put a proposal which delivers the benefits of a customs union but with the ability for the UK to determine its own trade and development policy.

Labour are both sceptical of our ability to negotiate that and don’t believe an independent trade policy is in the national interest. They would prefer a comprehensive customs union – with a UK say in EU trade policy but with the EU negotiating on our behalf.

If we are going to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and deliver Brexit, we must resolve this difference.

As part of the cross-party discussions the government offered a compromise option of a temporary customs union on goods only, including a UK say in relevant EU trade policy and an ability to change the arrangement, so a future government could move it in its preferred direction.

We were not able to agree this as part of our cross-party talks – so it is right that Parliament should have the opportunity to resolve this during the passage of the Bill and decide between the government’s proposal and a compromise option.

And so the Government will commit in law to let Parliament decide this issue, and to reflect the outcome of this process in legislation.

I have also listened carefully to those who have been arguing for a Second Referendum.

I have made my own view clear on this many times. I do not believe this is a route that we should take, because I think we should be implementing the result of the first referendum, not asking the British people to vote in a second one.

But I recognise the genuine and sincere strength of feeling across the House on this important issue.

The Government will therefore include in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at introduction a requirement to vote on whether to hold a second referendum.

This must take place before the Withdrawal Agreement can be ratified.

And if the House of Commons were to vote for a referendum, it would be requiring the Government to make provisions for such a referendum – including legislation if it wanted to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement.

So to those MPs who want a second referendum to confirm the deal: you need a deal and therefore a Withdrawal Agreement Bill to make it happen.

So let it have its Second Reading and then make your case to Parliament.

Finally, we cannot expect MPs to vote on the same two documents they previously rejected. So we will seek changes to the political declaration to reflect this new deal.

So our New Brexit Deal makes a ten-point offer to everyone in Parliament who wants to deliver the result of the referendum.

One – the Government will seek to conclude Alternative Arrangements to replace the backstop by December 2020, so that it never needs to be used.

Two – a commitment that, should the backstop come into force, the Government will ensure that Great Britain will stay aligned with Northern Ireland.

Three – the negotiating objectives and final treaties for our future relationship with the EU will have to be approved by MPs.

Four – a new Workers’ Rights Bill that guarantees workers’ rights will be no less favourable than in the EU.

Five – there will be no change in the level of environmental protection when we leave the EU.

Six – the UK will seek as close to frictionless trade in goods with the EU as possible while outside the single market and ending free movement.

Seven – we will keep up to date with EU rules for goods and agri-food products that are relevant to checks at the border protecting the thousands of jobs that depend on just-in-time supply chains.

Eight – the Government will bring forward a customs compromise for MPs to decide on to break the deadlock.

Nine – there will be a vote for MPs on whether the deal should be subject to a referendum.

And ten – there will be a legal duty to secure changes to the political declaration to reflect this new deal.

All of these commitments will be guaranteed in law – so they will endure at least for this Parliament.

The revised deal will deliver on the result of the referendum.

And only by voting for the Withdrawal Agreement Bill at Second Reading, can MPs provide the vehicle Parliament needs to determine how we leave the EU.

So if MPs vote against the Second Reading of this Bill – they are voting to stop Brexit.

If they do so, the consequences could hardly be greater.

Reject this deal and leaving the EU with a negotiated deal any time soon will be dead in the water.

And what would we do then?

Some suggest leaving without a deal.

But whatever you think of that outcome – Parliament has been clear it will do all it can to stop it.

If not no deal, then it would have to be a General Election or a second referendum that could lead to revocation – and no Brexit at all.

Who believes that a General Election at this moment – when we have still not yet delivered on what people instructed us to do – is in the national interest?

I do not.

And my views on second referendum are well known.

Look at what this debate is doing to our politics.

Extending it for months more – perhaps indefinitely – risks opening the door to a nightmare future of permanently polarised politics.

Look around the world and consider the health of liberal democratic politics.

And look across the United Kingdom and consider the impact of failing to deliver on the clear instruction of the British people in a lawful referendum.

We do not have to take that path. Instead, we can deliver Brexit.

All the changes I have set out today have the simple aim of building support in Parliament to do that.

I believe there is a majority to be won for a Brexit deal in the House of Commons. And by passing a deal we can actually get Brexit done – and move our country forwards.

If we can do so, I passionately believe that we can seize the opportunities that I know lie ahead.

The world is changing fast. Our young people will enjoy opportunities in the future that my generation could have never dreamed of.

This is a great time to be alive. A great future awaits the United Kingdom.

And we have all we need as a nation to make a success of the 2020s and the 2030s. But we will not do so as long as our politics remains stuck in an endless debate on Brexit.

We all have to take some responsibility for the fact that we are in this impasse – and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to get out of it.

The biggest problem with Britain today is its politics.

And we can fix that.

With the right Brexit deal, we can end this corrosive debate.

We can get out of the EU political structures – the Parliament, the Commission, the Council of Ministers that are remote from our lives – and put our own Parliament back in sovereign control of our destiny.

We can stop British laws being enforced by a European court and instead make our own Supreme Court is genuinely supreme.

We can end free movement and design an immigration system based around skills that work for our economy and society.

We can stop making vast annual payments to the EU budget and instead spend our own money on our own priorities like the NHS.

We can get out of the Common Fisheries Policy and the Common Agricultural Policy, and design our own systems around our own needs and resources.

We can do all of these things.

And by leaving with a deal we can do so much more besides.

By reaching an agreement with our EU trading partners we can keep tariff barriers down and goods flowing friction-free across borders.

Protecting jobs, and setting our firms up for future success.

We can guarantee workers’ rights and environmental protections.

With a deal we can keep our close security partnerships – and keep working together to keep people safe.

We can ensure that the challenge of the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is met in a way that works for people on both sides.

This is a huge opportunity for the United Kingdom.

Out of the EU, out of ever closer union, free to do things differently.

And doing so in a way that protects jobs, protects our security, maintains a close relationship with our friends and works for the whole United Kingdom.

It is practical. It is responsible. It is deliverable.

And right now, it is slipping away from us.

We risk losing a great opportunity.

This deal is not the final word on our future relationship with the EU – it is a stepping stone to reach that future.

A future where the people of the UK determine the road ahead for the country we all love.

This deal lays the groundwork – and settles many of the core issues.

But in the years ahead, Parliament will be able to debate, decide and refine the exact nature of our relationship with the EU.

Some will want us to draw closer, others will want us to become more distant.

Both sides can make their case in the months and years ahead.

The key thing is, decisions will be made not by MEPs or Commissioners or the EU Council – but by the United Kingdom Parliament, elected by the British people.

That is what being an independent nation state is all about.

Those debates, those decisions, are for the future.

What matters now is honouring the result of the referendum and seizing the opportunity that is right before us.

So we are making a new offer to find common ground in Parliament.

That is now the only way to deliver Brexit.

Over the next two weeks the government will be making the case for this deal in Parliament, in the media and in the country.

On what is best and right for our country now and in the future. And on what the majority of British people of all political persuasions want to see happen.

Tomorrow I will make a statement to the House of Commons.

And there will opportunities throughout the Bill for MPs on all sides to have their say.

But I say with conviction to every MP of every party – I have compromised. Now I ask you to compromise too.

We have been given a clear instruction by the people we are supposed to represent.

So help me find a way to honour that instruction, move our country and our politics forward, and build the better future that all of us want to see.

Sajid Javid – 2019 Statement on Recovery Champion

Below is the text of the statement made by Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, in the House of Commons on 15 May 2019.

In the 2017 drug strategy the Government committed to appointing a national recovery champion. The recovery champion will play a key role in delivering the Government’s ambitions by helping improve the prospects of individuals seeking to recover from substance misuse.

I am pleased to announce today that I have appointed Dr Edward Day to the role of recovery champion. This appointment is for three years, with Dr Day’s appointment commencing on 15 May 2019 and ending on 14 May 2022. The recovery champion role will extend to England only.

Dr Day has a wealth of experience in the substance misuse field, dealing directly with those who are dependent on drugs as well as informing national guidance and debate. He was one of the first within the field to champion the recovery agenda and to embed it successfully in local services. I am confident that he will make effective use of his considerable experience and extensive knowledge in drug and alcohol treatment and recovery in this role.

It is clear that substance misuse has a hugely damaging impact on individuals, families and communities. To support effective recovery outcomes across the country, Dr Day will work towards galvanising partners at national and local levels, offering advice to local partners on how evidence-based practice can be most effectively applied, and supporting collaboration at a national level through the Drug Strategy Board.

Andrew Stephenson – 2019 Statement on Nuclear Energy

Below is the text of the statement made by Andrew Stephenson, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in the House of Commons on 15 May 2019.

Government’s preparations for the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom mean that the UK now has all the necessary measures in place to ensure that the UK nuclear industry can continue to operate with certainty in all situations.

On 22 February the UK and Japan signed an exchange of notes confirming how the terms of our existing 1998 nuclear co-operation agreement will operate in the context of the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom.

The Nuclear Safeguards (Fissionable Material And Relevant International Agreements) (EU exit) Regulations 2019 and the Nuclear Safeguards (EU exit) Regulations 2019 and the Shipments Of Radioactive Substances (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 have been made. This means that Government have put in place all legislation needed ahead of the UK leaving Euratom to ensure that it can now operate as an independent and responsible nuclear state, and that civil nuclear trade can continue.

Government have also published further guidance to industry on no-deal arrangements in relation to the Transfrontier Shipment Of Radioactive Waste And Spent Fuel (EU exit) Regulations 2019, and the Shipments Of Radioactive Substances (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

Today I will be depositing a report in the Libraries of both Houses that sets out further details on the overall progress on the Government’s implementation of their Euratom exit strategy, including EU negotiations, domestic operational readiness, legislation and international ​agreements. The report covers the three-month reporting period from 26 December to 26 March and is the third statutory report under section 3(4) of the Nuclear Safeguards Act 2018. The next report on Euratom exit progress is due to be deposited in July 2019.

George Eustice – 2019 Speech on Hares Preservation

Below is the text of the speech made by George Eustice, the Conservative MP for Camborne and Redruth, in the House of Commons on 14 May 2019.

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to prohibit the killing or taking of hares during the breeding season; to repeal the Hares Preservation Act 1892; and for connected purposes.

One of the things that we all need to learn when we are first elected to the House is that it can be surprisingly difficult to get things done. A Minister who remains in one place for long enough will, slowly but surely, get important issues over the line, but not everything. For me, following my time in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, modernising our rules relating to hare preservation and, in particular, a close season on the shooting of hares remains unfinished business.

Hares are an iconic and much-loved species, famed for their boxing behaviour in March. However, their population has fallen to an estimated 800,000, from what was thought to be about 4 million in the mid to late 19th century. Our hare population is under increasing pressure from disease—including the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus, which was identified in hares in January this year—and also from illegal hare coursing.

Let me take this opportunity to commend the work that the police are doing to tackle the illegal gangs who are responsible for hare coursing. Yesterday, I spoke to Phil Vickers, the national lead on these issues. We are now seeing far more police co-operation and co-ordination nationally. Police forces in Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Humberside and North Yorkshire are working together and sharing intelligence. The police estimate that about 150 hardened individuals are responsible for the majority of these illegal hare coursing events. Last year, the police prosecuted 47 individuals in Lincolnshire alone, so progress is being made. The police would welcome some changes in the law, such as a provision to make it easier for them to seize dogs and recover the cost of kennelling them, but that will be a matter for a different piece of legislation on a different day. My Bill addresses the shooting of hares.

The Government estimate that about 300,000 hares are shot each year, mostly during February and March. That figure sounds quite high, so when I first heard it, I felt some scepticism, and I took the liberty of talking to a gamekeeper on the Babworth estate, Jonathan Davis, about how it was possible for it to have become so high.

The figures are broadly as follows. There are 3,900 registered shooting estates in the UK. It is estimated that about 80% of them do not shoot hares, mainly because those in the shooting community increasingly recognise the plight of our hares and want to play their part in protecting them. However, around 20% of shooting estates—that is 780—still run organised hare shoots. They typically run across three days and the average take per day is 100 hares. If we add to that some of the more informal hare shoots that take place on farms, especially in Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire, we quickly realise that an assessment of 300,000 hares killed per year is indeed realistic, and if we set that against the estimated population of just 800,000 hares nationally, we see that that is of great concern.​

A key tenet of all game and wildlife conservation is that we should protect species during their breeding season. That is why we have statutory close seasons on everything from ducks and pheasants through to deer, woodcock and geese. There are also animal welfare issues in targeting species during their breeding season. A baby hare—a leveret—will be dependent on its mother for typically four weeks after it is born, and if its mother is killed, the leveret will perish, which is a welfare concern.

As long ago as 1892, our Victorian forebears recognised the need to protect hares during their breeding season. The Hares Preservation Act 1892 introduced what was called a close time during the breeding season and it delivered this close time in those days through implementing a ban on the sale of hares or hare meat during the months of March to July inclusive. This 127-year-old law remains in force today, but it predates the advent of refrigeration and freezer technology, and it was also introduced in an era when hares were hunted predominantly for food, not shot, as now, for sport. As a result, the 1892 Act is hopelessly out of date; it is no longer effective. It is, indeed, no longer even enforced. It also leaves in place a peculiar anomaly and legal uncertainty in some areas that a game pie sold from the freezer by a pub cannot be sold during the months of March to July inclusive even though the hare may have been killed during the winter months.

My Bill would replace the 1892 Act with its ban on sale with a modern-day close season prohibiting the killing or taking of hares during the breeding season. Northern Ireland and Scotland already have such legislation in place; indeed, virtually every other European country that has a brown hare population protects its hares. We in England and Wales are unique so far in failing to do so, and this is an oversight that must be addressed.

In Scotland, the close season runs from the beginning of February, and I am open to discussion about precisely when the close season should be for England and Wales. My starting point is that at the very least it must replicate the provisions of the 1892 Act and cover the months from the beginning of March to the end of July, but there is a very strong case to have protection at least from the beginning of February, possibly even earlier, since we know that hares are capable of breeding during February, and in practice the shooting estates that still run hare shoots do not really shoot hares during the winter months because they are targeting game birds, and there are also safety concerns in shooting hares in a shoot if they are targeting, for instance, pheasants. What they actually do, when the close season for game birds begins at the end of January or beginning of February, is have another month or two when they run hare shoots; that gives them a commercial income during February and March.

I should add that I am also open to making provision to license culling in certain circumstances to prevent severe damage to crops, or to have some kind of limited farmers’ defence as provided in other legislation such as the Deer Acts.

Occasionally, this House passes small but important legislation, which can get forgotten or even neglected over time. Despite multiple better regulation initiatives by Governments of all colours over the decades, Ministers and Whitehall have collectively repeatedly decided that now is not the time to take action. This House has chosen ​not to repeal this hare legislation because it recognises that its intent and purposes are as valid, or more valid, today than ever before, yet this House and successive Governments have failed to take the action necessary to make this legislation effective in a modern era.

I want to persuade the House that now, finally, is the time to put this right and introduce a modern close season to safeguard our hares, because in January this year the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs identified the rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus 2, which has devastated our rabbit population, in hares for the first time, and estates right across East Anglia are reporting a worrying concern. With the instant die-off of hares and many hare carcasses being found, it is clear that the RHDV2 is having a devastating effect.

As our hare population—what is left of it—faces this threat, it is essential that we act now to reduce the mortality of our hare population and to afford our hares the protection they deserve.

James Brokenshire – 2019 Statement on Councils in Northamptonshire

Below is the text of the speech made by James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, in the House of Commons on 14 May 2019.

On 29 November 2018 I told the House that I was launching a statutory consultation on the proposal for reorganising local government in Northamptonshire which I had received from seven of the area’s eight principal councils. The councils had submitted this proposal in response to the invitation issued on 27 March 2018 following the recommendations in the independent inspection report on Northamptonshire County Council.

This locally-led proposal is to replace the existing eight councils across Northamptonshire (the County Council and seven district councils) with two new unitary councils—one for North Northamptonshire covering the existing districts of Kettering, Corby, East Northamptonshire and Wellingborough, and the other for West Northamptonshire covering the existing districts of Daventry, Northampton and South Northamptonshire. The proposal envisaged the new councils being fully operational from 1 April 2020.​
The statutory consultation closed on 25 January and invited views from councils concerned, other public sector providers and representatives of business and the voluntary sector and welcomed views from any interested persons.

I have received a total of 386 responses. The district and county councils—except for Corby Borough Council—and councillors and public service providers, including the Police and Crime Commissioner and health partners, generally supported the proposal. Responses from businesses, members of the public, parish councils and community organisations were more mixed.

This consultation supplements the consultation exercise undertaken on behalf of the Northamptonshire councils by the independent opinion research services. This exercise included face to face workshops, a representative telephone survey of Northamptonshire residents and an open questionnaire.

Ninety per cent of respondents to the telephone survey agreed that there was a need to make changes to Northamptonshire local government and 74% agreed with the unitary proposal; 83% of the over 6000 individuals who responded to the open questionnaire agreed that there was a need for change, with 67% agreeing that a number of unitary councils should be introduced and 44% supporting the proposal for two unitary councils.

I have now carefully considered the councils’ proposal, along with the results of the consultation exercises, a report by the Northamptonshire Children’s Commissioner, submitted to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and me, on how best to ensure continued improvement of the fragile children’s social care service in Northamptonshire in the context of reorganisation, and all other relevant information and material available to me. I have concluded that the proposal meets our publicly stated criteria for local government reorganisation. If implemented, I am satisfied that the proposal would improve local government and service delivery in the area, has a good deal of local support and the area of each new unitary represents a credible local geography.

This is on the basis that there is a children’s trust covering the whole of Northamptonshire, which, with my support, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education is minded to establish, as recommended by the Children’s Commissioner, if the unitary proposal is to be implemented. With such an arrangement children’s social care would not be disaggregated with the trust discharging functions on behalf of both councils. My right hon. Friend will be publishing the Commissioner’s report today. It is also on the basis that work continues to be taken forward in Northamptonshire to do more to integrate adult social care and health services.

I have therefore decided, subject to the issuing of statutory directions requiring the establishment of a children’s trust and to parliamentary approval of the secondary legislation, to use my powers under the local government and public involvement in Health Act 2007 to implement the proposal. These powers enable me to implement a unitary proposal with or without modification and in this case, having carefully considered all the material available to me, I have decided to make one modification to the proposal.

This is to extend the period for fully implementing the new arrangements so that the new councils are operational from 1 April 2021. While I recognise that a ​delay in implementation will mean potential savings estimated in the proposal will not be realised for another year, I am clear that the extended implementation period means we can be confident that there will be a safe and effective transition to all the new service delivery arrangements across the whole of the area, including for those crucial services supporting the most vulnerable. Throughout this extended period my Commissioners will be able to continue to support the County Council.

To support the transition, I have decided to establish shadow authorities. I envisage the May 2020 local elections in Northamptonshire will be elections to those shadow authorities rather than to district councils, with the district elections currently due on that date being cancelled. In line with the approach in the proposal for elections to the new unitary councils, I also envisage the elections to the shadow authorities are held on the basis of three member wards resulting in the North Northamptonshire Council having 78 members and West Northamptonshire ​Council having 93 members. Those so elected would be members of the new councils when these go live in April 2021. Elections to parish councils will proceed as scheduled in May 2020.1 intend to confirm these electoral arrangements shortly after hearing any views the district and county councils may have on this.

I now intend to prepare and lay before Parliament drafts of the necessary secondary legislation to give effect to my decisions. Establishing these new unitary councils will be a significant step towards ensuring the people and businesses across Northamptonshire can in future have the sustainable, high-quality local services they deserve. I welcome the commitment of all the existing councils and their partners to drive forward this process of establishing new councils and transforming local service delivery. I am confident this will continue.

Robert Goodwill – 2019 Statement on the Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Below is the text of the statement made by Robert Goodwill, the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in the House of Commons on 14 May 2019.

Agriculture and Fisheries Council takes place in Brussels on 14 May.

As the provisional agenda stands, the primary focus for agriculture will be on the post-2020 common agricultural policy (CAP) reform package. Ministers will exchange views on the new delivery model in the regulation on CAP strategic plans.

Member states will also exchange views on the agricultural aspects of the Commission’s communication titled “Clean Planet for all: strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy”.

The Commission will then provide an update on the performance of EU agricultural trade after which Ministers will hold an exchange of views.

There are currently three items scheduled for discussion under ‘any other business’:

Information from the Netherlands delegation on the judgement of the Court of Justice on organisms obtained by mutagenesis (case C-528/16).

Information from the Spanish and French delegations on the regulation on the European maritime and fisheries fund.

Information by the Belgian delegation on the situation in the fruit sector for apples and pears.