The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP): I wish to update the House on the progress of the Balance of Competences Review that my predecessor launched on behalf of the Government in July 2012. I am pleased to inform the House that the third set of reports has been published today on the gov.uk website. As per the Written Ministerial Statement of 23 October 2012, the reports were written by lead departments for each policy area. This set of reports covers Agriculture, Cohesion Policy, Competition and Consumer Policy, Energy, EU Budget, Fisheries, Fundamental Rights, the Single Market: Financial Services and the Free Movement of Capital, the Single Market: Free Movement of Services, Social and Employment Policy, and the Single Market: Free Movement of Persons.
Calls for evidence for these reports were published in May and October 2013. We saw a high level of interest and received over 800 pieces of written evidence from a broad spectrum of experts and interested parties including parliamentary committees, Members of Parliament, Members of the European Parliament, the Devolved Administrations and Crown Dependencies, business groups, think-tanks, academics, civil society groups and professional membership associations. The evidence we received was again of high quality and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who contributed.
As with semesters one and two, the reports have undergone rigorous internal challenge to ensure they are balanced, robust and evidence-based. Evidence submitted (subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act) has been published alongside the reports on the gov.uk website to ensure transparency. With publication of the third semester, 25 of the 32 reports are now complete. By bringing all the evidence together in one place, the review enables people to judge for themselves how the current arrangements are working, as well as providing a valuable contribution to the wider debate on EU reform.
Calls for evidence for fourth semester reports were launched in March 2014 and closed in July. Reports in this final semester cover: Economic and Monetary Policy; Education, Vocational Training and Youth; Enlargement; Information Rights; Police and Criminal Justice; Subsidiarity and Proportionality; and Voting, Consular and Statistics. These reports are expected to be published by the end of 2014.
The third semester reports, along with the first and second semester reports and calls for evidence for semester four are available here. Copies of the reports will be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses and hard copies are available in the Vote and Printed Papers Offices.