Written Statements

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

Written Statements
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Tuesday 26 March 2024

Export Statistics Update

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

Written Statements
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Greg Hands Portrait The Minister for Trade Policy (Greg Hands)
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On 31 March 2021, the previous Government published their policy on support for the fossil fuel sector overseas[1]. As part of this, the Government set out that they would withdraw all new financial and promotional support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas, with very limited exemptions.

Since the introduction of this policy, the Government can confirm that no such overseas fossil fuel projects have received financial funding or support from UK Export Finance; nor have they received any Government investment. However, I regret to inform the House that we have recently discovered that a limited number of projects did receive other support that contravened this policy in the period between April 2021 and October 2023. Support typically focused on market entry and trade promotion advice.

During this period, 134 projects worth £747 million were recorded as having been supported by departmental officials in some capacity. These 134 projects are a small proportion (1.00%) of the 13,457 projects, and the £0.747 billion of export wins are similarly a small proportion (1.35%) of the total value of £55.342 billion of exports in these years.

None of these projects were subject to the approval of Government Ministers, and Ministers were not made aware of these projects until the discrepancies were discovered recently by officials. The projects were, however, included in the Government’s “Export Wins” data between 2021 and 2023.

My Department has taken steps to rectify and remedy the issue. We have put in place additional measures, checks and reporting to ensure that all staff understand and adhere to the policy and can demonstrate clearly that no support is being given that contravenes the policy.

We have also written to colleagues who were inadvertently given incorrect information.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-the-government-will-implement-its-policy-on-support-for-the-fossil-fuel-energy-sector-overseas

[HCWS383]

Wider Service Medal

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

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Grant Shapps Portrait The Secretary of State for Defence (Grant Shapps)
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It gives me great pleasure to announce to the House the introduction of the wider service medal, a new medal to recognise the service of personnel outside the traditional “risk and rigour” criteria of existing medals.

The wider service medal represents a significant change in medallic recognition for the UK armed forces, and on occasions other public servants, acknowledging the evolving context within which our personnel operate. The medal ensures that the operational impact of many activities, previously considered out of scope for medallic recognition, is now able to be recognised.

The overarching eligibility criteria for the medal is defined as follows:

Operational activity where there is evidence of operational impact, non-physical risk, and rigour.

Personnel must have accrued 180 days aggregated service on eligible operations. Subsequent service of 180 days will result in the award of a bar to the medal, up to a maximum of three bars.

The medal will be retrospective to December 2018 for ongoing operations.

The medal is evidence of our gratitude and respect for the dedication of our armed forces, and other public servants, and recognises the diverse roles our personnel play in the defence of our nation. The initial tranche of medals will be awarded in the early summer.

[HCWS386]

Schools Funding: SEND, Alternative Provision and Building Conditions

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

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Gillian Keegan Portrait The Secretary of State for Education (Gillian Keegan)
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Today, I am announcing a further £850 million investment in places for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities or who require alternative provision. I am also announcing £1.8 billion in capital funding for the 2024-25 financial year to improve the condition of buildings at schools and sixth-form colleges.

Funding for SEND and AP places

Spread over this financial year and next, our £850 million investment forms part of our record £2.6 billion funding in high needs capital between 2022 and 2025, and represents a significant, transformational investment in new high needs provision. This funding will support local authorities to deliver new places in mainstream and special schools, as well as other specialist settings, and will also be used to improve suitability and accessibility of existing buildings. Along with the funding already provided, it will mean this Government are delivering over 60,000 new places for children with SEND or who require AP since 2010.

The methodology for calculating each local authority’s allocation has been updated to target the funding to the areas where it is needed most. This will help to ensure that families have access to the localised, specialised support that their children need. 30 successful applications to run special free schools have also been announced today.

Full details of this announcement, including allocations broken down by local authority and the methodology used to distribute funding, have been published on the Department for Education section on the gov.uk website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/high-needs-provision-capital-allocations

Funding for school condition

Today’s announcement on funding to improve school condition means we will have invested over £17 billion since 2015 to support local authorities, academy trusts and other bodies responsible for school buildings, to keep their estates safe and well-maintained.

The £1.8 billion includes £450 million made available through the condition improvement fund programme for financial year 2024-25. As part of this, we have today announced projects to improve conditions across 733 schools and sixth-form colleges. It also includes almost £1.2 billion in school condition allocations, including for local authorities, large multi-academy trusts and large voluntary-aided school bodies, to invest in improving the condition of their schools. The proportion of funding allocated through SCA continues to grow as more schools become part of large, strong academy trusts. Over £200 million in devolved formula capital will also be allocated directly for schools to spend on their capital priorities.

The amount of SCA allocated to each eligible responsible body, and the total for CIF, have been calculated informed by evidence from the condition data collection. Previous Administrations took no action to have a national assessment of the condition of the school estate. This Government introduced the condition data collection: the first ever comprehensive survey of the school estate and one of the largest data collection programmes of its kind in Europe.

Condition allocations for 2024-25 are in addition to our continued investment in the school rebuilding programme and our commitment to remove all RAAC from the school estate in England.

Details of today’s CIF announcement are being sent to all CIF applicants and a list of successful projects will be published on gov.uk. Copies will be placed in the House Library. The full methodology, guidance and allocations amounts for SCA and DFC will also be published on gov.uk.

[HCWS384]

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe: UK Delegation

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

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Leo Docherty Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs (Leo Docherty)
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My hon. Friend the Member for South Derbyshire (Mrs Wheeler) has been appointed as a full member of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in place of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central (Jo Gideon).

The hon. Member for Jarrow (Kate Osborne) has been appointed as a full member of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Lord Griffiths of Burry Port has been appointed as a full member of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in place of Baroness Massey of Darwen.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Strood (Kelly Tolhurst) has been appointed as a substitute member of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in place of my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Nickie Aiken).

The right hon. the Lord Touhig has been appointed as a substitute member of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

[HCWS393]

NHS England: Financial Directions

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

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Andrew Stephenson Portrait The Minister for Health and Secondary Care (Andrew Stephenson)
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The Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, my noble Friend Lord Markham, has made the following written statement:

“I am revising the 2023-24 financial directions to NHS England made on 30 March 2023 and setting the 2024-25 financial directions to NHS England. The amendment to the total revenue resource use limit for 2023-24 has been agreed with NHS England as required under section 223D(4) of the National Health Service Act 2006.

The directions include a number of transfers of funding between the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England that are in addition to the headline spending review/autumn statement settlement for the NHS. This includes the outcome of the supplementary estimates process and the spring Budget 2024. Funding is being transferred for the voluntary scheme for branded medicines pricing, access and growth (VPAG), the covid-19 vaccination programme, 2023-24 pay awards, as well as to fulfil manifesto commitments on primary care, car parking and nursing recruitment.

The directions will be laid in Parliament and published on gov.uk. The existing NHS mandate remains unchanged by these publications.”

[HCWS388]

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust: CQC Review

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

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Victoria Atkins Portrait The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Victoria Atkins)
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On 30 January 2024, I requested that the Care Quality Commission conduct a special review of mental health services in Nottinghamshire under section 48 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008. The review includes three strands of activity.

Part 1 is a rapid review of the evidence related to the care of Valdo Calocane. I have asked the CQC to report on part 1 by June, with the aim of providing much needed answers to the families of Barnaby Webber, Grace O’Malley-Kumar and Ian Coates whose lives were taken so brutally in the horrific events in June 2023.

Part 2 is an assessment of patient safety and the quality of care provided by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to improve the standard of mental health care at the trust.

Part 3 is an assessment of progress made at Rampton Hospital since the most recent CQC inspection activity to offer an up-to-date assessment of the service provided at the hospital.

Today the CQC have reported on part 2 and 3 of this review.

I am grateful to the CQC for the rapid and extensive work that has been undertaken as part of this review. As set out in its report, the CQC has found highly concerning failings in the trust’s ability to manage demand for services and access to care, staffing, and issues of leadership at the trust. This is not acceptable and must be improved. The trust has already begun work to address areas of risk such as patients who are waiting to access care. The trust board have accepted the recommendations made by the CQC and will address each recommendation through an improvement plan.

Since I asked for the review, the trust has been evaluated by NHS England and given a rating within their national oversight framework of 4, which means it now subject to regulatory action and the highest degree of national oversight. This includes being entered into the national recovery support programme. An improvement director has been appointed to manage the trust’s progress through the recovery programme, and delivery of its improvement plan, which is being supported by system partners and NHS England.

I expect to see significant action and improvements. I have asked NHS England to work with my officials to provide assurance that their programme will provide targeted support for the issues identified, and to be updated on improvements at the trust.

I also asked that the CQC, as part of its review, assess the services at Rampton Hospital to inform my decision about the reauthorisation of Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust as a provider of high-security psychiatric services. The CQC has found that, while some progress has been made at Rampton since its last inspection, there are still significant improvements to be made. Following this assessment and the recommendations from NHS England’s assessment across all three high-security hospitals, I have decided to reauthorise Rampton for a period of 12 months only, with conditions attached to address the concerns raised by the CQC and to continue to sustain the improvements it found at the hospital. I will review the progress made against these conditions before the end of the 12-month period and make a further decision about whether to renew the authorisation and what further steps are necessary, if any.

The Government remain committed to expanding and improving mental health services. This is reflected in the investment that has gone into services, with NHS spending on mental health increasing by £4.7 billion in cash terms between 2018-19 and 2023-24.

I will update the House again when the CQC provides its report on part 1 of the review in June.

[HCWS391]

Healthy Start Uptake Data

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

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Andrea Leadsom Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Dame Andrea Leadsom)
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I would like to make the following statement on Healthy Start.

Background

Healthy Start is a passported scheme with eligibility being derived from certain qualifying benefits, such as universal credit and child benefit. The uptake percentage for the Healthy Start scheme is calculated by comparing the number of eligible people to the number of beneficiaries (individuals who were eligible and accessing the scheme).

I regret to inform the House that an issue has been identified with the statistics provided that means that the uptake figures used in PQ198857, PQ199201, PQ199480, PQ201335 and PQ9386, and referenced by Viscount Younger in a debate in December 2023, were incorrect.

It is important to state that this issue affected eligibility uptake statistics only; it did not impact any Healthy Start individual applicants, existing beneficiaries, or live claim processes.

Issue

Healthy Start uptake percentage statistics are calculated using information provided by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The DWP generates potential eligibility statistics through matching DWP benefit data with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) child benefit data. When a new HMRC child benefit data feed was introduced in June 2023, the DWP omitted to add it to the matching process. This means that the figures provided between July 2023 and February 2024 were inaccurate.

Impact

Due to the missing data feed, the Healthy Start statistical data provided has led to an underestimated number of eligible beneficiaries from July 2023 to February 2024; this in turn has led to an overstated estimated uptake percentage for the same period.

It should be noted that while these statistics are a key element for reporting uptake of the Healthy Start scheme, there has been no impact on new claims where volumes have remained stable. The scheme continues to be promoted by NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), which administers the scheme on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), through a variety of publications, social media, exhibits and other routes.

Corrective Action

The DWP has now added the new data feed to the matching process and has provided the updated statistical data for March 2024. Additional checks have been added to ensure the issue does not occur in the future.

The incorrect statistical data has been removed from the NHS Healthy Start website; the revised March figures will be published shortly by the NHSBSA.

Unfortunately, we are unable to publish corrected historical figures as the two systems involved in the matching process do not have the historical data that could be matched.

This issue did not impact any Healthy Start individual applicants, existing beneficiaries, or live claim processes but did affect eligibility uptake statistics. The DWP will continue to work closer with HMRC and DHSC to ensure the quality of this data going forward.

[HCWS389]

Police Covenant Annual Report

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

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James Cleverly Portrait The Secretary of State for the Home Department (James Cleverly)
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I am delighted to lay before Parliament the second annual report for the police covenant. The report will also be available on www.gov.uk.

The police covenant aims to provide recognition by Government, policing and society as a whole of the sacrifices involved in working in policing, with the intention of ensuring that members of the police workforce suffer no detriment as a result of their role.

Since the first police covenant report was laid before Parliament in May 2023, significant progress has been made on all priorities. Several additional priorities have also been delivered successfully.

A major issue identified early on in the development of the police covenant was a need to better link across to the NHS and to develop a greater understanding of the impacts of policing among certain parts of the medical profession. To address this, we have appointed a permanent chief medical officer who will work to bridge the work of the NHS with the needs of the policing community through the new clinical governance group workstream. We have also seen training developed for general practitioners on the specific needs of the police workforce, which has now been shared with the Royal College of General Practitioners.

We have also taken steps to address issues around officer and staff roadside safety with new sentencing guidelines for situations where a car is used as a weapon.

This year, the Home Office sought to expand the police covenant further by incorporating new priorities and initiatives to combat the ever-changing challenges faced by police. In doing so, we have been able to identify and incorporate four new priorities into the police covenant:

tackling fatigue within the workforce;

providing, for the first time, proactive suicide prevention resources for forces and individuals;

the creation of a new authorised professional practice specifically centred around wellbeing; and

re-purposing the Operation Hampshire priority to focus on efficient data gathering for assaults on police.

The remaining workstreams continue to be priorities for the covenant. This year, there has been a particular effort made to understand and find the most effective support for police families and police leavers, leading to the creation and further development of resources to help these groups.

Our police officers and staff put themselves in challenging and dangerous situations daily for the benefit and protection of the communities they serve. It is vital that our police workforce feels supported, not just by the statements that go out from Government and Parliament, but also in the actions we take to look after them. That is why I particularly welcome the improvements in how the covenant is being publicised by the Home Office, forces and the national police wellbeing service.

It has been this Government’s privilege to support the improvements being made to police wellbeing. In taking forward the work of the covenant over the past year, I am grateful for the support, professionalism and collaboration of our valued policing partners including the College of Policing, National Police Chiefs’ Council, the staff associations and unions, the chief medical officer, His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, the Welsh Government and non-Home Office forces for their vital contributions.

This Government will continue to push to progress and deliver the police covenant. We have a duty to support and protect the wellbeing of the police and that should never be forgotten.

[HCWS385]

Cambridge: Development Proposals

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

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Michael Gove Portrait The Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Michael Gove)
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Today, I set out the next steps in this Government’s commitment to realise the true potential of greater Cambridge.

Cambridge, as part of the “Golden Triangle”, is an exceptional place that for centuries has been one of the intellectual centres of the world. The city is internationally renowned for its strengths in research and innovation, particularly in the life sciences sector. It is one of the UK’s most prized assets, with an academic, scientific, financial and technical ecosystem that is already well established—but can go much further. “The Case for Cambridge” published at spring Budget 2024, explains why its successes can neither be taken for granted nor easily replicated elsewhere, and sets out the economic and architectural opportunity in growing the city to achieve its full potential.

The Government are firmly committed to supporting Cambridge through its next chapter, both for the benefit of the local area and the UK economy as a whole. That is why at spring Budget 2024 we announced that the next spending review will confirm a long-term funding settlement for the future development corporation in Cambridge, commensurate with the Government’s level of ambition. This long-term commitment is being bolstered by funding for immediate priorities: a £7.2 million investment for locally led transport schemes to provide the Cambridge biomedical campus with the connectivity it needs to thrive; and £3 million to support Cambridge University NHS Trust to support plans for future growth.

We are also delivering ambitious plans to make sure that greater Cambridge has a safe and sustainable supply of water. We set out these plans in a policy paper, published at the Budget, which includes a unique offsetting intervention to save water now through improving efficiency, and support sustainable growth. In addition, DLUHC issued a joint statement with the Environment Agency, greater Cambridge shared planning and DEFRA, outlining our commitment to sustainable growth and development on the basis of our water credits scheme.

I have asked Peter Freeman, who is leading the Government’s Cambridge delivery group, to establish a dedicated growth company for Cambridge as the next step towards a development corporation. As set out in the terms of reference, published today, the growth company will focus on establishing a strong Cambridge presence and brand, developing the evidence base and case for investment to support our long-term strategy, and enabling and accelerating existing developments in and around the city.

A range of local partners, including local authority leaders and representatives of the academic, innovation and infrastructure sectors, will be invited to an advisory council to support the growth company.

This Government remain steadfast in their commitment to promoting and increasing the use of high-quality design for new build homes and neighbourhoods. Ambitious development and growth should not come at the expense of this commitment. In Cambridge, the very best design principles will be used to enhance what is special about the city and to create a model for ambitious urban growth, based on connected city quarters, that reflects what communities want and demonstrates how new places can be equal to, and even better than, the old.

[HCWS390]

Supporting Families Annual Report 2024

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

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Felicity Buchan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Felicity Buchan)
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I am pleased to inform the House that the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has published the 2023-24 annual report of the Supporting Families programme, as required by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, section 3(1). The report sets out how the programme is helping our most disadvantaged families who face multiple and complex problems. A copy of this report will be placed in the House of Commons Library.

Supporting Families—previously the Troubled Families programme—funds local authorities to join up local services to help families combat problems such as domestic abuse, unemployment, poor school attendance, and crime. Funding allocations are based on deprivation and population figures. It has been at the heart of the Government’s work to strengthen families and improve their futures for over 10 years. This phase of the programme has been expanded with an increase of £200 million additional investment. This is approximately a 40% real-terms uplift in funding by 2024-25, taking total planned investment over the spending review period to £695 million.

This is the Supporting Families programme’s final year under the remit of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The programme moves to the Department for Education on 1 April 2024, bringing together the spectrum of reforms to children’s services following the independent review of children’s social care. These reforms aim to deliver a co-ordinated system of support for children and families, as well as ensuring services are sustainable for local government.

Since 2012, the programme has directly helped vulnerable families across the country. Importantly, the programme has shown what is possible when we act early to help families and prevent problems from escalating. The programme’s evaluation showed that, of those on the programme, children going into care reduced by a third, the proportion of adults receiving custodial sentences decreased by a quarter, juveniles receiving custodial sentences decreased by almost 40%, and the proportion of adults claiming jobseeker’s allowance decreased by 11%. Not only has the programme delivered benefits for families, but it has provided a net benefit to the taxpayer. By reducing demand on high-cost acute services, every £1 spent on the programme delivers £2.28 of fiscal and economic benefits.

“Supporting Families—a foundation for family help: Annual report of the Supporting Families programme 2023-2024” is the eighth annual report of the Supporting Families programme. This document provides an update on the programme’s performance figures and policy developments for the programme.

Between April 2023 and January 2024, the programme has achieved positive outcomes with 77,203 families. The programme is progressing towards its aim of helping 300,000 families between 2022 and 2025. This year’s outcome takes the total number of families helped since 2015 to 612,164. The programme continues to join up with support for children and families across Government. This includes contributions to the “Working together to safeguard children” guidance and the Families First for Children pathfinder which is testing a new family help system.

As well as outlining our key national policy developments, the report sets out how the programme has continued to drive improvement of local services for families. For example, the programme produced a high-level “blueprint” for local authorities to rebalance their children’s social care system towards earlier, whole-family help and has begun implementation of its national good practice projects.

Alongside the annual report, I have also published the evaluation report for the data accelerator fund. The evaluation report looks at effective practice and service delivery. The report has found that the data accelerator fund has progressed the data maturity of participating local authorities and partners. A copy of this evaluation report will be also placed in the House of Commons Library.

I am immensely proud of the achievements made in the last 11 years, and I look forward to working alongside the Department for Education as we hand the programme to it for future delivery.

[HCWS392]

Investigatory Powers Commissioner: Annual Report 2022

Tuesday 26th March 2024

(2 months ago)

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Rishi Sunak Portrait The Prime Minister (Rishi Sunak)
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I have today laid before both Houses a copy of the annual report of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, the right hon. Sir Brian Leveson. This report covers the activities of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office, the Office for Communications Data Authorisations, and the Technology Advisory Panel for 2022.

Sir Brian Leveson oversees the use of investigatory powers by over 600 public authorities, including the intelligence and security services and law enforcement agencies. Overall, his report demonstrates the extremely high levels of operational competence and respect for the law, of our security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, and other relevant public authorities when using investigatory powers.

Where the Investigatory Powers Commissioner has identified concerns, he is clear to point out that this does not detract from the strong culture of compliance and dedication across our agencies, Departments, and public authorities. I am confident that our agencies and Departments are working hard to address any concerns, and I thank them for their hard work to protect the UK at home and abroad.

Now in its sixth year, the IPCO continues to provide independent oversight of the use of investigatory powers, providing assurance to both the public and Parliament that privacy safeguards are applied. For this reason, I wish to express my sincere thanks to Sir Brian, his team of judicial commissioners, and all their staff, for their work.

Maintaining public trust and confidence in the exercise of investigatory powers is vital for national security and public safety, and a top priority for this Government. This report demonstrates the high quality of oversight over our intelligence and security agencies’ use of the most intrusive powers. I am satisfied that our oversight arrangements are among the strongest and most effective in the world.

In accordance with section 234(6)(b) of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, I wish to notify both Houses that there is material considered too sensitive for the open report, on which I have been briefed separately. I am satisfied that, following consultation with relevant Departments and agencies, the contents of this open report are not prejudicial to national security or ongoing investigations.

A copy of this report has been provided to Scottish Ministers for laying in the Scottish Parliament, as required under section 234(8) of the Investigatory Powers Act, and I commend this report to the House.

[HCWS387]