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Oral Statement To Parliament: British Steel Compulsory Liquidation

Statement on British Steel by Business Secretary Greg Clark

The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP

The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP

With your permission Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about British Steel.

It was announced this morning that the court has granted an application by the Directors of British Steel to enter an insolvency process. Control of the company will now pass to the Official Receiver – an employee of the Insolvency Service – who will run a compulsory liquidation.

The Official Receiver has made clear that British Steel employees will continue to be paid and employed and the business will continue to trade and supply its customers, whilst he considers the position of the company. In fact, employees were paid early with the May payroll being run yesterday, through cash being advanced by the company’s lenders.

As the House will recall, I made a statement on 1 May, setting out details of a bridging facility that the government agreed to provide to ensure that British Steel was able to meet its obligations under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) which fell due on 30 April.

The government provided the facility to purchase allowances worth £120 million against the security of 2019 ETS allowances which are currently suspended pending ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Without this facility British Steel would have faced a financial pressure of over £600 million – the ETS liability plus a £500 million fine. This would not only have placed British Steel into an insolvent financial position but the charge, attached to its operational assets, would have been likely to prevent any new owner from acquiring these assets in the future.

This transaction demonstrated the government’s continuing willingness to work closely with all parties to secure the long term success of this important business.

Following this agreement, the government has worked intensively with the company for many weeks to seek solutions to the broader financial challenges it has been facing.

The government and individual ministers can only act within the law, and this requires that any financial support to a steel company must be made on a commercial basis.

In the case of the ETS facility, this was based on the security of future ETSallowances.

In order to provide liquidity to the business in the face of its cash flow difficulties, the government was willing to consider making a cash loan to the company and worked hard to investigate exhaustively the possibilities of this. However, the absence of adequate security; no reasonable prospect that any loan would have been repaid; and the shareholder being unwilling to provide a sufficient cash injection itself, meant that this did not meet the required legal tests.

I am placing in the Library of the House the Accounting Officer’s assessment of these proposals, drawing on professional and legal advice, which concludes:

It would be unlawful to provide a guarantee or loan on the terms of any of the proposals that the company or any other party has made, or any others we have considered. You must note that such an offer cannot be made legally, and that by making it you would be in breach of the Ministerial Code.

The insolvency removes Greybull from day to day control of British Steel. Given the government’s willingness to help secure British Steel’s future, demonstrated in the ETS facility, and the discussions that have taken place in recent weeks, the government will work closely with the Official Receiver and prospective new owners to achieve the best outcome for these sites. The government has provided an indemnity to the Official Receiver, who is now responsible for the operations, and we will take every possible step to ensure that these vital operations can continue, that jobs are secured, and that the sites at Scunthorpe, Skinningrove and on Teesside continue to be important centres of excellent steelworking.

During the days and weeks ahead I will work with the Official Receiver, the special managers and with a British Steel support group of trade unions, management, suppliers, customers and the local communities to pursue remorselessly every possible step to secure the future of these valuable operations.

Mr Speaker, this is a very worrying time for everyone associated with British Steel. Each one of British Steel’s sites has a proud record of steelmaking excellence and I am determined to see it continue. Britain and the world will continue to need high-quality steel, and British Steel is amongst the best in the world.

Today is a very big setback for these operations, but it is far from being the end and we will take every possible step to secure a successful future for these vital assets – both people and plant.

F-35 Lightning Aircraft Take Off For Inaugural Overseas Exercise

The Royal Air Force’s newest fighter left its home base for Cyprus today to take part in its first overseas training exercise following introduction. This follows the announcement of their deployment to RAF Akrotiri in April 2019

A pair of F-35B's take part in some formation flying over the east coast of England. Crown copyright

A pair of F-35B’s take part in some formation flying over the east coast of England. Crown copyright

Several F-35B Lightning aircraft from 617 Squadron, “The Dambusters,” flew from their base at RAF Marham in Norfolk to spend six weeks at RAF Akrotiri as part of Exercise Lightning Dawn.

RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Townsend said:

It’s just over 76 years since 617 Squadron formed to conduct ground-breaking operations, they are once again called upon to take a capability forwards for the first time. The exercise in Akrotiri will prove our ability to operate F-35 away from RAF Marham and allow us to learn the lessons of operating the air system whilst on deployment.

Today’s departure reflects a tremendously collegiate effort from the RAF, Royal Navy and industrial partners who are now focused on ensuring the deployment is as successful as the preparation phase.

Owned and operated by the RAF, the Lightning Force is jointly manned by both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. This training exercise will allow personnel from both services to gain vital experience in maintaining and flying the aircraft in an unfamiliar environment.

The exercise will also examine all aspects of moving this aircraft to a new location, including logistics, maintenance, and sustainment of all the equipment and crew that comes with this impressive aircraft, whilst also enhancing its preparedness for its first operational carrier deployment.

Station Commander RAF Akrotiri, Group Captain Christopher Snaith, said:

It is a privilege to welcome 617 Squadron and the F-35B Lightning aircraft to RAF Akrotiri. This is the first overseas training deployment of the aircraft and marks another key milestone for the aircraft in UK service.

Akrotiri has been home for British Forces personnel for nearly 70 years; we are hugely grateful for the support and hospitality from the people of Cyprus and I know that all those involved in the F-35 programme, both Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, are delighted to be here.

What is important now is to maximise the opportunities that being in Cyprus presents and ensure we learn the lessons from what I know will be an incredibly successful deployment.

The Lightning, as the aircraft is known in the UK, is the first to combine radar-evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds and the ability to conduct short take-offs and vertical landings. With the ability to operate from land and sea, the F-35 forms a vital part of delivering a ‘carrier strike’ capability to the UK when combined with Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

The UK currently owns 17 F-35B aircraft with the reformed 617 Sqn arriving back in the UK last year. More jets are due in Britain over the coming years, and there is an overall plan to procure 138 aircraft over the life of the programme.

The F-35 is the world’s largest defence programme at over $1.3 trillion, with UK industry providing 15% by value of every one of over 3,000 jets set for the global order book. That makes the economic impact greater than if we were building 100% of all 138 aircraft which we intend to buy. The programme has already generated $12.9 billion worth of orders and at peak production will support thousands of British manufacturing and engineering jobs.

Government And Tech Industry Collaborate To Improve Cyber Security Of IoT Devices

DCMS and Which? hold roundtable on cyber security with senior representatives of leading Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturers and retailers

Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Department for Culture, Media & Sport

On 30 April 2019, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and Which? convened a roundtable on the cyber security of consumer smart products with senior representatives of leading Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturers and retailers. Chaired by Margot James MP, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, the purpose was to hear the steps manufacturers are taking to secure their products and drive the adoption of security good practice.

The UK Government takes the issue of IoT security seriously and is undertaking substantial work to protect consumers’ privacy and online security. As increasing numbers of these devices are brought into our homes, it is now more important than ever for industry and government to address the issue.

It was clear from discussions at the meeting that all participating manufacturers recognise the need to prioritise security in the design, development and ongoing support of their IoT products. Retailers in attendance highlighted the need for consumers to feel confident that the products they are purchasing are secure in order for the sector to thrive. We have a shared aim to make it easier for consumers to use their smart products securely – reducing the burden to keep devices and personal data secure.

All of the firms in attendance committed to taking steps to ensure that effective security solutions are being implemented across IoT products on the market.

The UK Government will continue to work closely with industry to move the sector to a place where implementation of good practice, such as set out by the Code of Practice for Consumer IoT security and the ETSI TS 103 645, is commonplace.

Agreed by organisations represented at the 30 April roundtable including Amazon, Legrand, Miele, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Yale.

New Appointees To British Transport Police Authority Board

Former Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service is among 4 new board members appointed to the authority that oversees the British Transport Police

British Transport Police

British Transport Police

  • new members bring wide range of experience and expertise to BTPA board
  • backgrounds include rail industry, police force, parliament and nuclear industry
  • authority plays vital role in overseeing effective and efficient police coverage on rail network

Four new members have been appointed to the board of the British Transport Police Authority (BTPA), Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced today (21 May 2019).

Sir Craig Mackey, previously Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service is appointed alongside Andy Cooper, soon-to-retire as Managing Director of Cross Country Trains, former MP and parliamentary private secretary Graham Evans, and former member of the Civil Nuclear Police Authority Kenna Kintrea.

They officially joined the body that oversees the British Transport Police (BTP) on 20 May and will work with Chair Ron Barclay-Smith who took on the role in March last year.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

The BTPA prides itself on having the expertise and experience to guide British Transport Police performance and objectives, and the new board members will bolster these vital qualities.

With passenger numbers at record levels, it is vital that we ensure an effective and efficient network police force continues to maintain exceptional safety standards, guided by a skilled and adept board.

BTPA chair Ron Barclay-Smith said:

I am delighted to welcome our 4 new members – Graham, Craig, Andy and Kenna. They bring a wealth of experience from across policing, industry and the public sector and I look forward to their contributions towards the work of the authority.

The BTP is a specialist, national force that provides a service to rail operators, their staff and passengers. It also polices other networks – the London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, Croydon Tramlink, Tyne and Wear Metro and Glasgow Subway. It has around 3,000 police officers and around 600 PCSOs and special constables.

The BTPA was established in 2004 to improve the public accountability of the BTP. It is responsible for setting objectives, strategic direction and performance standards for the BTP. It works closely with train and freight operators to ensure adequate policing levels across the network on trains, at stations and other railway property.

New Measures To Improve Care For People With Autism And Learning Disabilities

The measures include a new working group for learning disabilities and autism and funding specialist advocates to review the care of patients in segregation or long-term seclusion

Carer talking to man in with learning disability

Carer talking to man in with learning disability

The care of every patient in segregation or long-term seclusion will be reviewed as part of plans to improve the model of care for autistic people and people with learning disabilities.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, has announced that the government will fund specialist, independent advocates who will:

  • work with families
  • join up services
  • work to move people to the least restrictive care and then out into the community

There are currently 2,245 patients in mental health inpatient settings in England. The government has committed to halving this number by 2024. Since 2015, the number has reduced by 22%.

The plans have been announced ahead of the publication of the Care Quality Commission’s interim report into the use of restraint, segregation and prolonged seclusion in health and care settings. The report was commissioned by the Health and Social Care Secretary last November.

The Health and Social Care Secretary will accept all of the CQC report’s recommendations and has announced a wider package of measures to improve care for autistic people and those with learning disabilities, including:

  • funding for specialist advocates to review the care of every patient in long-term seclusion or segregation
  • a new working group for learning disabilities and autism, bringing together experts, clinicians, parents and carers to develop a new model of care
  • a new awareness campaign, to encourage staff, families and friends to come forward if they have concerns about care

The commitments build on proposals announced earlier this year, which will see all health and care staff undertake mandatory training on learning disability and autism to ensure that the care offered is high quality, sensitive and compassionate.

Learning disabilities and autism are one of the 4 clinical priorities in the NHS Long Term Plan. The plan sets out ways to improve community support and halve the number of people in mental health hospitals with a learning disability or on the autism spectrum by 2024.

Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said:

I have been deeply moved and appalled by the distressing stories of some autistic people and people with learning disabilities spending years detained in mental health units. These vulnerable people are too often left alone, away from their families, friends and communities.

At its best, the health and care system provides excellent support to people, backed by a dedicated workforce. But a small proportion of some of the most vulnerable in society are being failed by a broken system that doesn’t work for them.

I commissioned the Care Quality Commission to review the use of segregation in health and care settings to tackle this issue head on. Today I have accepted their recommendations in full. I hope this is a turning point so everyone receives the care they need.

I will not let these people down – they deserve better.

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