Written Statements

Friday 24th May 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

Written Statements
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Friday 24 May 2024

Companies House: 2024-25 Public Targets

Friday 24th May 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

Written Statements
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Kevin Hollinrake Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Business and Trade (Kevin Hollinrake)
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I have set Companies House the following targets for the year 2024-25:

Use our new powers to ensure companies on the register have a legitimate address—in particular, by taking action against identity and address theft. 100% of companies that have been defaulted to Companies House’s address due to not providing an appropriate office address, or using an address that has been hijacked, will have been removed from the register, be pending removal, or have been updated to an appropriate registered office address, in accordance with the law.

Eradicate the use of PO box addresses as a registered office address by companies on the register.

Introduce the technical capability to verify an individual’s identity by March 2025. This will help ensure Companies House is prepared for the anticipated transition process whereby all new and existing company directors and persons of significant control will be required to verify their identity, either directly through Companies House or through authorised third parties.

Develop a strategic intelligence assessment to identify the priority areas for action in the fight against economic crime, and act upon it.

Digital services are available for a minimum of 99.5% of the time.

80% of customers are satisfied with Companies House.

Incoming calls to the contact centre to be answered within an average of four minutes.

Manage expenditure within budgetary limits and utilise central government funding.

[HCWS501]

Growth Guarantee Scheme: Contingent Liability Notification

Friday 24th May 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

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Kevin Hollinrake Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Business and Trade (Kevin Hollinrake)
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I am tabling this statement for the benefit of hon. and right hon. Members to bring to their attention the details of the growth guarantee scheme, which will replace the recovery loan scheme on 1 July 2024 and run until at least 31 March 2026.

The growth guarantee scheme is facilitated by the Government-owned British Business Bank and delivered through its delivery partners. Under the scheme, lenders will offer facilities of up to £2 million to support businesses that would otherwise be unable to access the finance they need, or would only be able to do so on worse terms. The scheme is forecast to facilitate £2.19 billion of finance between 1 July 2024 and 31 March 2026.

Some notable features of GGS are as follows:

The maximum amount of external finance available will be £2 million per business in Great Britain; for businesses in scope of the Windsor framework, the maximum amount will be £1 million per business.

To lend through the scheme, lenders will be required to certify that they would not have been able to offer a facility to the business on their normal commercial terms, or that they would have only been able to do so at a higher interest rate.

Personal guarantees will be permitted, but not required, for all facilities in line with delivery partners’ usual policies. Principal private residences may not be used as security under any circumstances.

The minimum facility size will be £25,001 for loans and overdrafts and £1,000 for asset and invoice finance products. Businesses will be required to meet the costs of interest payments and any fees from the outset. The lender must establish that the borrower has a viable business proposition assessed according to its normal commercial lending criteria. Businesses who have made use of the previous coronavirus loan schemes, or the recovery loan scheme, will be able to access the scheme.

Given the above, the maximum contingent liability for the forecast £2.19 billion scheme is £1.533 billion.

I will be laying a departmental minute today containing a description of the liability undertaken.

[HCWS502]

Shipbuilding Credit Guarantee Scheme

Friday 24th May 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

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Alan Mak Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business and Trade (Alan Mak)
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The shipbuilding credit guarantee scheme is a finance instrument that provides guarantees to banks in respect of loans made to vessel owners and operators seeking to place orders at UK shipyards. The scheme was launched in July 2023 and the Department for Business and Trade is the accountable Department.

The export credits guarantee department—operating as UK Export Finance, or UKEF—acts as service provider to the Department for Business and Trade via a memorandum of understanding. UKEF manages inquiries and applications under the scheme, as well as assisting with the set-up and implementation of the scheme, and DBT covers resource and other costs. In order to have the necessary approvals to progress actual transactions, or potential transactions, on behalf of DBT, ECGD must apply for a Contingencies Fund advance to cover the vote on account period in financial year 2024-25. This Contingencies Fund advance of £90,000 was made over recess, and I am notifying Parliament at the earliest opportunity.

Parliamentary approval for additional resource of £90,000 for this new service will be sought in a main estimate for the export credits guarantee department. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £90,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the Contingencies Fund.

[HCWS503]

Carbon Budgets

Friday 24th May 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

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Claire Coutinho Portrait The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero (Claire Coutinho)
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Earlier this week we were proud to be able to announce that we had decided to forgo the option to carry forward any over-performance from the third carbon budget to the fourth carbon budget. Following that, I want to give an update on our progress on delivering against the UK’s world-leading system of carbon budgets.

We are extremely proud to have met, and indeed exceeded all three of the carbon budgets to date. In 2013, the Climate Change Committee said the Government were “not currently on track” to meet the third carbon budget. But our continued delivery of emissions-reducing policies meant that we were in fact able to exceed the target.

When the fourth carbon budget was set in 2011 it was considered by some, including in Government, to be so stretching, that a review point would be needed to see if it was actually achievable. As late as 2019, the Climate Change Committee said that “Government continues to be offtrack for the fourth” carbon budget. But again, with continued policy delivery, the UK is now on track to more than exceed the fourth carbon budget. And a future Minister will have to make a decision, like the one we announced earlier this week, as to whether to carry forward that over-delivery.

The fifth carbon budget goes further still in reducing emissions. But since that was set, we took the decision to move to net zero by 2050 target. That means we will have to significantly overdeliver on the fifth carbon budget. And our own plans show that we are indeed on track to overdeliver yet again.

Ministers took decisions on the level of the sixth carbon budget (CB6) in March 2021. This was the first net zero-aligned carbon budget and so requires an even more challenging level of emissions reduction. We are still more than eight years away from the start of the sixth carbon budget period and more than 13 years away from the end of it—despite which, we have around 300 policies in place to deliver emissions reductions required over the sixth carbon budget period, with around 200 of these having quantified savings associated with them. The most recent assessment showed that 90% of the savings required to meet the CB6 target are covered by quantified policies.

The UK has reduced emissions further and faster than any major economy, becoming the first to halve its emissions against the 1990 baseline, and we remain steadfastly committed to net zero. This is a record of which we are immensely proud, and indeed a record in which everyone in this country should feel pride.

[HCWS505]

Oil and Gas Overlaps: Offshore Wind Projects

Friday 24th May 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

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Claire Coutinho Portrait The Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero (Claire Coutinho)
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The North Sea Transition Authority has announced three tranches of licences from the 33rd oil and gas licensing round. Production from these licences will support our world-class oil and gas industry and help maintain the UK’s energy security. Data published by the Climate Change Committee shows that the UK will continue to need oil and gas, alongside abatement technologies, even when we reach net zero in 2050.

A number of licences from the third tranche of the 33rd oil and gas licensing round have direct overlaps with, or come within 500 metres of, areas which are already under agreement for offshore wind development. It is important to note that the oil and gas licences grant exclusivity to explore the licence area, but they do not confer consent for any operational activity. This would require separate consents from the North Sea Transition Authority.

Oil and gas developments and offshore wind developments already co-exist and my expectation is that they will continue to do so. Oil and gas developers and offshore wind developers are already expected, through their respective consenting and stewardship processes, to take account of other projects when planning their developments.

To give greater reassurance to affected offshore wind developers that oil and gas licensees will take account of their developments, and to promote co-existence, the North Sea Transition Authority has introduced a new clause in relevant licences following discussions with the Crown Estate and Crown Estate Scotland. The new clause will require the oil or gas licensee to have a co-location agreement with the affected offshore wind developer in place before any operational activity can take place in that licence area, which includes seismic surveying, drilling exploratory wells or installing subsea or surface infrastructure.

Co-location agreements will be the way forward for resolving any issues arising from overlaps and I expect all parties to engage constructively, to act in good faith and to behave reasonably when approaching discussions on co-location. Where there are difficulties in reaching a suitable co-location agreement, the parties should first seek independent mediation or discuss a way forward with the North Sea Transition Authority and the Crown Estate or Crown Estate Scotland.

Some stakeholders have asked about the role of the oil and gas clause in Crown Estate leases in the event an oil or gas developer asks for it to be used. This clause allows the Crown Estates to determine an agreement for lease or lease, in whole or in part, at my request where this is necessary to enable an oil or gas project to proceed. This clause has never been used and no oil or gas developer has ever asked, a Secretary of State to determine an offshore wind lease.

I would like to clarify that there should be no assumption that oil and gas has primacy over offshore wind, or vice versa. In the highly unlikely event that I receive a request from an oil or gas developer to ask the Crown Estates to determine an offshore wind lease, there should also be no assumption that I would agree to do so. In line with previous Government guidance, it would only be used in very exceptional circumstances, only after all avenues for co-existence had been explored and only after appropriate compensation for the offshore wind developer had been assured. For the sake of clarity, I would like to emphasise that co-location agreements will be the primary mechanism for resolving any issues arising from overlaps.

The previous guidance on the oil and gas clause in Crown Estate leases was published in 2014 and I recognise that the oil and gas industry, the offshore wind industry and UK energy policy have all changed significantly since then. My officials will consult with the North Sea Transition Authority, the Crown Estate, Crown Estate Scotland, Scottish Government, the offshore wind industry and the oil and gas industry on appropriate changes to the 2014 guidance in order to incorporate the new requirements on co-location agreements and to reflect wider updates since the guidance was published.

[HCWS504]

Decision Deadline Extensions for Proposed Developments and National Networks NPS.

Friday 24th May 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

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Mark Harper Portrait The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Mark Harper)
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This statement confirms that it is necessary to extend the deadlines for decisions on the following three applications made under the Planning Act 2008:

The A122 (Lower Thames Crossing) Development Consent Order for the proposed development by National Highways for a new road crossing connecting Kent, Thurrock, and Essex. It will connect to the existing road network from the A2/M2 to the M25 with two tunnels (one southbound and one northbound) running beneath the River Thames. The Secretary of State received the examining authority’s report on 20 March 2024, and the current deadline for a decision is 20 June 2024.

Associated British Ports (Immingham Eastern Ro-Ro Terminal) Development Consent Order for the proposed development by Associated British Ports of a new roll on-roll off ferry terminal at the Port of Immingham. The Secretary of State received the examining authority’s report on 25 April 2024 and the current deadline for a decision is 25 July 2024.

London Luton Airport Expansion Development Consent Order for the proposed development by Luton London Airport Ltd for the construction of a new passenger terminal and aircraft stands at London Luton airport, to allow passenger capacity to increase from 18 million per annum to 32 million. The Secretary of State received the examining authority’s report on 10 May 2024 and the current deadline for a decision is 10 August 2024.

Under section 107(1) of the Planning Act 2008, the Secretary of State must make his decision within three months of receipt of the examining authority’s report unless exercising the power under section 107(3) to extend the deadline and make a statement to the Houses of Parliament announcing the new deadline. The new deadline for all the above applications is 4 October 2024. This is due to the general election and to allow appropriate time for any new Secretary of State to consider the applications. The Department will however endeavour to issue decisions ahead of the deadlines above wherever possible.

The decision to set new deadlines is without prejudice to the decisions on whether to give development consent for the above applications.

National networks national policy statement

I laid the national networks national policy statement for parliamentary approval on 6 March 2024. Following the approval of the House, I am today, 24 May 2024, designating it as a national policy statement under section 5(1) of the Planning Act 2008 and have duly arranged for publication as required by section 5(9)(a) of that Act.

This designation supports the development of critical transport infrastructure. The updated NPS provides a robust and up-to-date policy framework that clarifies what is required to enable the development of major road, rail and strategic rail freight projects while setting clear and strengthened requirements around the environment.

[HCWS506]