Kemi BadenochSecretary of State for Business and Trade
Oral Answers to Questions is a regularly scheduled appearance where the Secretary of State and junior minister will answer at the Dispatch Box questions from backbench MPsOther Commons Chamber appearances can be:
Westminster Hall debates are performed in response to backbench MPs or e-petitions asking for a Minister to address a detailed issue
Written Statements are made when a current event is not sufficiently significant to require an Oral Statement, but the House is required to be informed.
A Bill to provide for the regulation of competition in digital markets; to amend the Competition Act 1998 and the Enterprise Act 2002 and to make other provision about competition law; to make provision relating to the protection of consumer rights and to confer further such rights; and for connected purposes.
A Bill To Enable the implementation of, and the making of other provision in connection with, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
A Bill to provide for the payment out of money provided by Parliament of expenditure incurred by the Secretary of State under, or in connection with, schemes or other arrangements to compensate persons affected by the Horizon system and in respect of other matters identified in legal proceedings relating to the Horizon system.
Department for Business and Trade has not passed any Acts during the 2019 Parliament
e-Petitions are administered by Parliament and allow members of the public to express support for a particular issue.
If an e-petition reaches 10,000 signatures the Government will issue a written response.
If an e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures the petition becomes eligible for a Parliamentary debate (usually Monday 4.30pm in Westminster Hall).
Montenegro is a valued trading partner and work continues towards a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which would include commitments on trade.
The Global Investment Summit was a roaring success, unveiling £29.5 billion of investment, creating 12,000 jobs in some of the fastest-growing sectors of the UK, including data centres to support AI and life sciences.
Many of the projects announced are nationwide in their application so we cannot forecast regional spend of the combined investment total. We are working with investors to ensure the projects deliver the maximum economic benefit.
The investment announced on the day is a colossal vote of confidence in the UK and this government, and the benefits will be felt across the whole of the UK.
The UK seeks to prevent the proliferation of military and dual-use technologies that risk being misused in space through a robust system of export controls.
We rigorously assess every export licence application on a case-by-case basis against the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria (the Criteria). We draw on all available information, including reports from NGOs and our overseas network, ensuring that UK exports are consistent with our national and international obligations and standards.
We will not grant an export licence where to do so would be inconsistent with the Criteria.
The Northern Ireland Investment Summit was approved by our current Prime Minister when he was the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Currently there are no plans for another Summit, but we are working to ensure a strong legacy from it, including linked activity such as the No. 10 hosted Venture Capital Roundtable, aimed at encouraging venture capital investment into Northern Ireland.
We also offered support for Joe Kennedy III’s incoming mission to Northern Ireland in October 2023 (US Special Economic Envoy to Northern Ireland).
As of June 2023, the National Security Strategic Investment Fund (NSSIF) has committed £220m to British Business Bank backed funds, of which £92m has been invested in 217 companies across twelve areas of interest. Private sector investors have invested £718m alongside NSSIF. The sectoral breakdown across the twelve areas of interest is as follows: Audio and Visual Processing £1.1m, Biorisk and Medtech £10.8m, Commercial Space, Platforms and Robotics £1.6m, Computational Behavioural Analysis £1.3m, Cyber Security £14.0m, Data Analytics and AI £28.6m, Financial Technologies £21.7m, Identity Technologies £6.8m, IOT and the Evolving Environment £1.0m, Novel Data Transport £0.1m, Quantum Technologies £2.1m, Sensors, Novel Materials and Power Sources £2.9m
The purpose of the subscriptions chapter in the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill is to protect consumers from harm caused by unwanted subscription contracts, amounting to £1.6 billion per year.
Generally, charities will only be in scope to the extent that, in the course of their business, they enter into auto-renewing subscription contracts with consumers for the supply of goods, service or digital content in return for payment by the consumer. The Government understands the importance of Gift Aid to charities and officials are engaging with relevant stakeholders and HM Revenue and Customs to ensure the two regulatory frameworks work effectively.
Negotiations with Canada on market access are ongoing. Both countries share the view that free and fair trade is good for economies, good for business and good for consumers. The UK’s key aim is to secure comprehensive access for UK agricultural goods into the Canadian market through the reduction or elimination of tariffs.
Negotiations with Canada on this issue are ongoing. The UK is seeking to develop simple and modern rules of origin that reflect UK industry requirements and consider existing, as well as future, supply chains supported by predictable and low-cost administrative arrangements.
The EU’s Entry Price System was removed by the UK with the introduction of the UK Global Tariff in 2021. Market access negotiations between Canada and the UK are ongoing.
The publication entitled Inward investment in to freeports: December 2021 to November 2023, published on 24 November 2023 confirms verified foreign investment into Freeports. The Department for Business and Trade can only provide verification for foreign direct investment into the UK, not domestic investment, so we are unable to provide equivalent estimates.
The Government’s objective continues to be ensuring the provision of a sustainable, accessible and affordable universal postal service.
As a private business, Royal Mail sets the prices for its services and the Government does not have a role in its day-to-day commercial decisions. However, Royal Mail must work within the regulatory framework set by Ofcom, the independent regulator, including the current second-class price cap that prevents second class post rising above inflation ensuring a basic affordable universal service is available to all. Ofcom has consulted on proposals for safeguard caps applicable from April 2024 and will announce its decision in the coming months.
Ofcom is the designated independent regulator for the postal sector and the Government has no role in its regulatory decisions. It is for Ofcom to decide how to respond should Royal Mail fail to meet its obligations and I note that the regulator recently fined the business £5.6m for failing to meet its service delivery targets in 2022-23.
Minimum wage legislation prohibits unpaid work trials that are excessive and not part of a genuine recruitment process. An unpaid trial work period lasting a few hours may be reasonable and legal. This is because the main purpose would be to test the individual, and what is done would probably have little or no other value to the employer. However, an unpaid trial lasting more than one day is probably illegal in all but exceptional circumstances.
DBT does not hold information about the number of people who have undertaken unpaid trial shifts in England, Wales and Scotland in each of the last five years.
If someone has undertaken an unpaid work trial and thinks they should have been paid NMW, they can call the ACAS helpline or make a complaint to HMRC.
There have been no judicial reviews against Companies House for refusal to grant applications to restrict personal data under section 790ZG of the Companies Act 2006 in the last three years.
The table below sets out the number of applications received to restrict the publication of personal data under section 790ZG of the Companies Act 2006
There is 1 application currently pending. These figures have been manually collated. This is supplied as management information; it is unaudited and is subject to change. It should, therefore, be used for indicative purposes only.
I am aware that Royal Mail continues to have particular service challenges in some postcode areas. I note that Royal Mail management accepts its performance needs to be much better and has started to address this, for example, by recruiting an additional 3,000 postmen and women so far with a further 500 permanent delivery positions a week going forwards.
Ofcom sets and monitors Royal Mail’s service standards and has powers to investigate and take enforcement action where there are reasonable grounds for concluding Royal Mail has failed to achieve its obligations. I note that the regulator recently fined the business £5.6m for failing to meet its service delivery targets in 2022-23.
The investments making up the totals published on 24 November 2023 are spread across the 12 Freeports but details of individual investments are commercially sensitive. This means that publishing the specific location associated with these investments risks identifying such commercially sensitive information. The limitation prevents the Department for Business and Trade to publish further detail about the investments.
Individuals on zero-hours contracts represent a very small proportion of the workforce – around 3.6% for the period April – June 2023, according to the ONS. The share of the workforce in the North West on a zero-hours contract is 3.5%. For this small group, a zero-hours contract may be the type of contract which works best for them. Zero hours contracts are an important part of the UK’s flexible labour market, for both employers where there is not a constant demand for staff and for individuals who may need to balance work around other commitments such as childcare and study.
Many businesses benefitted from the £13.6 billion support package provided at Autumn Budget 2022, including those in rural communities. The government has gone further at this year’s Autumn Statement, announcing a business rates support package worth £4.3 billion. This includes protection for businesses who lose eligibility for Small Business or Rural Rate Relief through a generous Supporting Small Business scheme worth over £500 million.
The government provides extensive support to businesses, through Help to Grow Management, Business Support Helpline and a network of Growth Hubs. The Government has also increased the British Business Bank’s regional financing programmes by £1.6 billion.
The Department publishes its support to local government and other bodies as part of the annual report of the application of the Industrial Development Act 1982. This includes details of support to Local Enterprise Partnerships (and relevant Mayoral Combined Authorities) for the delivery of Growth Hubs under sections 11 and 12 of the Act. The budget for 2023/24 is £11.9 million. Future years’ budgets are subject to confirmation under the Department’s normal business planning processes.
The Department for Business and Trade (DBT) is committed to supporting UK businesses to export to Morocco. The UK-Morocco Association Agreement, which entered into force in January 2021, facilitates our trading relationship. Bilateral trade was worth £3.4 billion in the four quarters to the end of Q2 2023, up £661 million in current prices on the same period the previous year.
In February 2023, the 2nd Association Council was held where Ministers discussed commercial opportunities and collaboration to increase bilateral trade and investment. DBT continues to provide export support to companies through a network of trade advisers, sector specialists, Export Support Service, Export Academy, International Markets network as well as through UK Export Finance, where £4.5bn of credit is available for Morocco.
The third round of negotiations between the UK and Israel for an upgraded, innovation-focused Free Trade Agreement (FTA) took place in Israel in July this year.
Both sides remain committed to strengthening our £6.6bn trading relationship, and we are engaging regularly with our Israeli counterparts to progress our FTA negotiations.
We look forward to holding the fourth round of negotiations with Israel in due course.
The Government has no plans to change the daylight saving arrangements. The Government believes that the current daylight saving arrangements represent the optimal use of the available daylight across the UK.
While there is the potential for some benefits from a change in the current arrangements, there is also a real risk of negative impacts. A change to permanent summertime or double summertime may also have significant impacts on certain sectors and businesses.
A response was issued to the Hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran on 27 November 2023.
The Turkmen Government choose participants on their side, made up mainly of government ministries, but of late, with business representatives. On the UK side, the British Embassy in Ashgabat suggests companies that might be interested in joining, in consultation with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the Department for Business and Trade. Our criteria is to identify companies with an interest in exporting to the market.
The Kazakh-British Trade and Industry Council no longer exists.
The Department for Business and Trade supports UK businesses looking to invest in Morocco by offering advice on the market and communicating opportunities which may be of interest to UK business. In 2021, the outward stock of foreign direct investment from the UK in Morocco was £904 million.
At the UK-African Investment Summit on 23-24 April 2024, the UK will showcase investment and commercial opportunities in Morocco.
The British Embassy have set up a registration site that is open to all interested parties. The event is published publicly on the GREAT website, and the Department for Business and Trade and Uzbekistan's Ministry of Investment work together to amplify and raise awareness of the event among businesses. No criteria is applied to those that wish to register and attend.
My department is leading the Smarter Regulation programme which is working cross-government to reduce burdens on business and improve outcomes for people across the UK.
As part of this programme, we have announced reforms to reduce time-consuming reporting requirements under the Working Time Regulations, which could save employers up to £1bn a year, and streamline wine labelling requirements and specifications on production methods to provide a £180m boost to our wine industry.
We are committed to removing red tape to allow UK businesses to focus on growing their business and creating jobs.
The Department is actively expanding trade with Africa through 9 agreements across 18 nations, offering preferential access to UK markets. The Department’s recently launched Developing Countries Trading Scheme, effective in 65 countries, including 37 in Africa, simplifies rules and lowers tariffs to boost exports and stimulate growth. In Spring, the Prime Minister will host the second UK-African Investment Summit in London, fostering modern partnerships in trade and investment. Bilaterally, the Department is also working to enhance market access across the continent, solidifying our commitment to mutually beneficial economic ties with African nations.
Almost all the G20 countries have operational blast furnaces, and a number of those are transitioning to electric arc furnaces as well.
We know the importance of Scunthorpe, which is a key driver of economic growth. British Steel provides a third of all domestic production supplied to the construction and rail industries.
We continue to be in negotiations to make sure that we secure the best deal, and one that is good value for taxpayers, when it comes to Scunthorpe.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership investment chapter includes investment protections that are backed by a modern and transparent investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. These provisions play an important role in protecting UK investors abroad and levelling the playing field. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership also protects states’ right to regulate proportionately, fairly and in the public interest, including in relation to the UK’s water industry.
The UK already has investment agreements containing investment protections and Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions with over 90 trading partners and there has never been a successful Investor-State Dispute Settlement provisions claim brought against the UK.
The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership is a comprehensive agreement that provides investors with investor protection provisions that seek to guarantee the treatment they can expect to receive when accessing and operating in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership markets.
The agreement contains a modern, transparent investor-state dispute settlement mechanism for investors to seek independent legal redress should they not receive this treatment.
These provisions play an important role in protecting UK investors abroad and levelling the playing field. At the same time, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership protects states’ right to regulate proportionately, fairly and in the public interest.
Over the last two financial years (including 2023-24), the Department for Business and Trade has organised international activations for UK export-ready small and medium sized enterprises at over 90 international trade shows listed below.
Bio Convention - San Diego
Gulfood (February 2023)
International Atomic Energy Agency General Conf
Investing in Africa Mining, Indaba
JP Morgan Healthcare conf
Middle East Beauty
Mobile World Congress (MWC)
International Defence Industry Exhibition MSPO
Singapore Fintech Week
South By South West (SXSW)
Web Summit 2022
Asia Pacific Maritime
Australia Space Policy Forum
Bengalaru Tech Summit
Big 5 Construction
Defense & Security
GCC Beauty World ME
Global Health Expo
Global Space & Technology Convention
Investing in Africa Mining Indaba
International Defence Industry Exhibition (MSPO)
International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF)
JP Morgan Health Tech
Middle East Rail
Mobile World Congress
Paris Air Show
PCHI (Personal Care and Homecare Ingredients)
Singapore Fintech Week
Singapore Maritime Week
Space Tech Expo
Wind Europe 2024
World Defense Show
World New Energy Vehicle Congress
World Nuclear Exhibition
The Department does not have an estimate of the cost of the Department’s work on reform of audit and corporate governance. Information on internal costs is not broken down in this way.
The Government has not set out a timescale for introducing legislation relating to audit reform. The Government is committed to legislating when Parliamentary time allows.
Since launching trade negotiations with Switzerland in May 2023, the UK has held two rounds of negotiations on an Enhanced Free Trade Agreement. Discussions have been constructive and collaborative, and we have made good progress in starting to agree draft treaty text in several chapters.
The third round of negotiations is currently underway and is expected to conclude in early December 2023. The negotiating team will continue to keep Parliament and the public informed with a ministerial statement and published GOV.UK update following the round.
The British Business Bank launched the £70m Investment Fund for Northern Ireland on 16 November 2023 in Belfast and will be promoting it to smaller businesses, their advisers, and the business community in Northern Ireland.
The appointed fund managers, Whiterock Capital and Clarendon Fund Managers, will host a webinar on 12 December 2023. This will introduce their teams, present the product offering, and explain how smaller businesses can apply for funding.
Any business seeking information on the fund should visit the British Business Bank’s website where they can sign up to receive more information.
In 2022-23, the previous Department for International Trade spent £9.8m on IT infrastructure.
Information is not available on IT infrastructure purchased prior to 2013 as this predates the creation of the Department for International Trade in 2016.
Table 1 shows expenditure on legacy infrastructure from 2017/18, the first full year for which information is available.
As of 21st November 2023, the Department for Business and Trade, as a Ministerial Department, has one red-rated legacy IT system as defined in the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) Legacy IT Risk Assessment Framework.
Last year my Department published the UK's Critical Minerals Strategy to accelerate domestic production, collaborate with international partners, and enhance international markets to strengthen supply chains.
The Strategy commits to boost global environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance to support a more transparent, responsible, and sustainable critical minerals and mining industry. The UK is playing a leading role in international efforts to drive up ESG performance through its bilateral and multilateral engagements, including the Minerals Security Partnership. The UK is also a strong supporter and implementing country of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
Further, we will ensure UK domestic mining complies with permitting and planning regulations that protect the interests of communities and our natural environment.
The Government’s objective continues to be ensuring the provision of a sustainable, accessible, and affordable universal postal service.
It is for Ofcom, as the independent regulator of postal services, to set and monitor Royal Mail’s service standards and decide how to use its powers to investigate and take enforcement action where there are reasonable grounds for Royal Mail failing to achieve its obligations.
Following its investigation into quality of service performance for 2022-23, Ofcom imposed a £5.6 million fine on Royal Mail for contravening its service conditions. Ofcom has committed to closely monitoring Royal Mail’s performance and the steps it is taking to return delivery offices to pre-pandemic practices.
It is for Local Authority Trading Standards to enforce against the illegal sale of fireworks in their local area and to determine what steps need to be taken to protect the public.
It is an offence for a retailer to sell F1 fireworks (other than Christmas crackers) to anyone under the age of 16 or F2 or F3 fireworks to anyone under the age of 18. Retailers committing a sales offence could be subject to a fine or imprisonment.
The Government consulted on options for how additional fees and so-called drip pricing should be regulated.
Following assessment of the consultation responses, the Government announced in the Autumn Statement that it will be introducing new measures to tackle drip pricing. Further details will be provided in the Government's formal response to the consultation.
A response was provided on 21 November 2023.
My Department meets regularly with the hospitality sector and understands the challenges businesses face. The Hospitality Sector Council is focusing on steps to build the sector’s resilience.
In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced a business rates support package worth £4.3 billion over the next five years to support small businesses and the high street. The small business multiplier will be frozen for a fourth consecutive year, and Retail,
Hospitality and Leisure (RHL) relief will be extended, ensuring the most vulnerable
businesses continue to be supported.
The Chancellor also announced a freeze on alcohol duties until 1 August 2024 to give businesses time to adapt to the duty system introduced on 1 August 2023.
In the UK children’s employment is regulated through national and local legislation. In England the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (amended 1998), along with byelaws made by local authorities, prohibits employment of children aged under 14, and places restrictions on the hours and types of work those aged 14 and over can undertake.
We engage in regular conversation with businesses who utilise the service of delivery drivers. This department continues to work closely with business to ensure that risks are minimised by ensuring business has robust onboarding systems and processes in place, to cover matters such as age verification.
Last year my Department published the UK’s Critical Minerals Strategy to accelerate domestic production, collaborate with international partners, and enhance international markets to strengthen supply chains.
The Strategy commits to boost global environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance to support a more transparent, responsible, and sustainable critical minerals and mining industry. The UK is playing a leading role in international efforts to drive up ESG performance through its bilateral and multilateral engagements, including the Minerals Security Partnership and Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance.
The UK has re-affirmed its commitment as a member of the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), advocating for better governance of the extractives and critical minerals sectors. At COP 15 the UK, along with Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the United States, signed up to the Canada-led Sustainable Critical Minerals Alliance, committing to promote high environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards and net zero mining practices, employing a nature forward approach.
The UK Government is supporting the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to rationalise the range of existing mining sustainability standards and bring them together.
(a) The Import of Goods (Control) Order 1954, together with licences made under it, do not make Chinese-origin firms the subject of any restrictions on trade and investment.
(b) Export controls apply to anyone exporting controlled items from the UK, regardless of country of origin. The Government assesses all export licence applications against the Strategic Export Licensing Criteria. We will not licence the export of equipment where to do so would be inconsistent with these Criteria.
(c) None. The Procurement Act is not due for commencement until Autumn 2024.
(e) Eight final orders (which imposed conditions on, or blocked or unwound deals) issued involved acquirers linked to China. All notices of final orders are available on gov.uk.