Written Question
Small Business Commissioner
3 Aug 2020, 4:40 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 26 February (HL1663), what progress they have made on the measures announced in June 2019 to strengthen the role of the Small Business Commissioner.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government is fully committed on fulfilling its manifesto commitment to strengthen the powers of the Small Business Commissioner. We still plan to consult on extending those powers, to allow the Commissioner to advocate for and support small businesses, as soon as we are able to do so.


Written Question
Sizewell C Power Station: Construction
3 Aug 2020, 4:37 p.m.

Questioner: Lord West of Spithead

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they estimate the construction of Sizewell C nuclear power station will begin; and what funding model will be used for that construction.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

It is for individual developers to consider milestones, such as estimates of when construction will commence. Any funding model would be agreed as part of a negotiation, should the Government enter into one.


Written Question
Business: Human Rights
3 Aug 2020, 4:29 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ensure that all firms based in, and selling products in, the UK comply with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in conducting due diligence on the impact of the products they sell.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government supports the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights - the authoritative, voluntary international framework, which encourages businesses to conduct due diligence as part of their approaches to protecting human rights. The Government also drives transparency from our businesses to hold them to account on human rights. UK listed companies cover relevant human rights issues as part of their annual corporate reporting and our large businesses publish supply chain transparency statements according to the Modern Slavery Act, including on due diligence approaches where these are followed. In May, the Government published two policy papers which provide an update on what the Government has done to implement the UN Guiding Principles and to give an overview of how each government department contributes to this work.


Written Question
Sizewell C Power Station: Coronavirus
3 Aug 2020, 4:20 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Marlesford

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to pause consideration of the application by EDF to construct the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station at the end of the pre-examination stage, until those who are unable to take part in a virtual examination as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic may take part in an open examination.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Examining Authority at the Planning Inspectorate will proceed with its consideration of EDF’s application in line with the published guidance on current procedures for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. The Planning Inspectorate is considering ways in which the process can be conducted to ensure that Interested Parties are able to take part. There are currently no plans to pause the application at the end of the pre-examination stage. Further information is available at the GOV.UK website.


Written Question
Insolvency
3 Aug 2020, 4:18 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many meetings have taken place between the Pre Pack Pool and the Insolvency service in (1) 2019, and (2) 2020; and what subjects were discussed.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

Officials from the Insolvency Service attended three meetings of the Pre-Pack Pool Oversight Group in 2019 and one meeting so far in 2020. The Pre-Pack Pool Oversight Group includes representatives from the Pre-Pack Pool. The meetings attended by officials discussed the operation of the Pre-Pack Pool and the Insolvency Service’s review of voluntary measures to reform pre-pack sales in administration.


Written Question
Insolvency
3 Aug 2020, 4:17 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what support the Pre Pack Pool has received from the Insolvency Service; and what plans they have, if any, to enhance this support.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Pre-Pack Pool’s operation is overseen by the Pre-Pack Pool Oversight Group, which comprises representatives from the creditor community, the insolvency profession, insolvency regulators and officials from the Insolvency Service. The Insolvency Service also provides secretariat support to the Oversight Group.


Written Question
Insolvency
3 Aug 2020, 4:17 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, for each of the pre-pack administrations referred to the Pre Pack Pool since the beginning of February, what was the amount owed to unsecured creditors.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

Applications to the Pre-Pack Pool are made in confidence and the Insolvency Service does not hold this information. However, if a company subsequently enters administration, details of amounts owed to unsecured creditors must be set out in a statement of affairs of the company, which must be filed at Companies House and made available on the company’s public record as soon as reasonably practicable by the administrator.


Written Question
Insolvency
3 Aug 2020, 4:16 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Mendelsohn

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many pre-pack administrations were referred to the Pre Pack Pool in each week since the beginning of February.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

There were 16 referrals to the Pre-Pack Pool between 1 February 2020 and 24 July 2020. The table below provides a weekly break down of referrals for the period in question.

Referrals made to the Pre-Pack Pool between 1 February 2020 and 24 July 2020

Week commencing

Number of pre-pack referrals

9 March 2020

1

13 April 2020

2

1 June 2020

1

8 June 2020

1

15 June 2020

1

29 June 2020

1

6 July 2020

4

13 July 2020

5


Written Question
Sizewell C Power Station
3 Aug 2020, 4:15 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Marlesford

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to announce details of the financial funding arrangements for the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station, in particular the method by which electricity consumers would be protected from future project cost escalation; and what plans they have to publish those details before the Development Consent Order application, accepted by the Planning Inspectorate on 26 June, is considered at Examination.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government is reviewing options for the financing of new nuclear projects. In 2019, we consulted on a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) as a possible funding model for future nuclear projects. The consultation sought views from stakeholders on proposed design principles for a nuclear RAB, including risk sharing arrangements with consumers. Our consultation was not project specific, as each project has its own financial considerations. We are currently considering consultation feedback and will respond in due course.


Written Question
Viagogo
3 Aug 2020, 4:11 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are providing to those who have been refused refunds for cancelled events by the ticket resale site Viagogo.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

Under consumer protection law where a cancellation occurs, consumers may be entitled to a refund within 14 days, depending on the nature of the contract in place. Some businesses are also offering consumers alternative arrangements which individuals are able to choose should they wish. Consumers who paid by debit or credit card for an event, may also be able to secure a refund from their bank or credit card provider.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has created a Covid-19 taskforce and set up an online form to enable consumers to report any business they believe is behaving unfairly during the coronavirus pandemic. The online form can be found on the CMA’s website. The CMA also announced on 30th April that in response to complaints about refunds they would be considering enforcement action in a number of sectors.

The CMA has published guidance to help consumers understand their rights and to help businesses treat their customers fairly. The guidance, “Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, consumer contracts, cancellations and refunds” is available on the CMA’s website.

Consumers can also seek free advice and help from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133, consumers living in Scotland should contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 800 9060 or through their website.


Written Question
Boilers: Waste Heat Recovery
3 Aug 2020, 4:10 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Foster of Bath

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 23 July (HL6670), what estimate they have made of how much less carbon dioxide would be emitted if boilers in all large houses were fitted with stored passive flue gas heat recovery technology (1) when such houses are built, or (2) when boilers in such houses are replaced.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

Passive Flue Gas Heat Recovery System’s (PFGHR) with thermal storage can deliver total annual gas savings for heating hot water of around 30% for a typical domestic building. This is equivalent to a boiler efficiency improvement of around 5% versus a system without. These savings can vary significantly depending on the volume of the thermal store, space heating demand, usage patterns and property type.

Domestic hot water gas savings will typically be close to 20% for a new-build dwelling, and up to 35% for a larger existing property.


Written Question
Companies: Annual reports
3 Aug 2020, 4:09 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy research paper Stakeholder perceptions of non-financial reporting, published in October 2019, (1) why they commissioned PwC to undertake this research; (2) whether the tendering process took account of any financial interest PwC had in non-financial reporting systems relating to that company’s audit services; (3) why the paper does not specify (a) which stakeholders were involved in the research, and (b) how they were selected; (4) what assessment they have made of the relative benefits of UK-led non-financial reporting standards compared to international standards; and (5) what assessment they have made of the difficulty in reaching a consensus on common international standards for non-financial reporting of (a) human rights, and (b) climate change, impacts.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The PWC research was commissioned to inform work on a post-implementation review of non-financial reporting regulations, covering:

a) the 2013 regulations which required all companies, apart from those subject to the small companies’ exemption, to produce strategic reports, and

b) the 2016 non-financial reporting regulations which required all large (>500 employees) Public Interest Entities to report on environmental, social and community matters to the extent necessary for an understanding of the company’s development, performance and position, and the impact of their activities.

The research project was put out to tender in line with the Public Procurement Guidelines. BEIS received two bids to carry out the work and PWC was selected as the preferred contractor, based on the quality of the bid including their expertise. The project was managed by a social researcher who agreed all details related to the methodology and its implementation. The focus of the report was on stakeholder and company perceptions of the regulations and their impact in general and did not use, or consider the use of, non-financial reporting systems by PwC or any other company.

For the qualitative interviews, the Department selected stakeholders covering a likely cross section of views, including a range of investor groups and non-profit and professional bodies and they are listed on page 12 of the report. The stakeholder interviews were intended to complement the quantitative survey of over 100 companies, who provided their views on a confidential basis.

Although different reporting frameworks and international standards were not a focus of the 2019 research, the UK Government supports the use of international frameworks or standards for reporting on non-financial issues where this is possible. We have commissioned further research, which will include looking at the role of domestic and international reporting frameworks.


Written Question
Industrial Health and Safety: Coronavirus
3 Aug 2020, 3:45 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Jolly

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide guidance about (1) employment rights, and (2) COVID-19-related health and safety issues, to all employees and employers in the UK from 1 August.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government’s guidance on work and financial support in relation to coronavirus includes information about employment rights as well as other key issues such as how to access financial support, safe working and childcare. This can be found on the GOV.UK website.

Acas also offers guidance and advice for employers and employees. This can be accessed through the Acas website or by calling the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100.

The Government has also provided clear and comprehensive safer workplaces guidance for employers and employees. This guidance has and will integrate, where appropriate, the Department for Health and Social Care’s guidance on protecting people who are clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19. The safer workplaces guidance is non-statutory but does not change existing obligations relating to health and safety, employment, or equalities. Employers have a duty under UK law to protect the health and safety of their workers and other people who might be affected by their business. This includes considering the risks that COVID-19 represents.

The Health and Safety Executive website also has specific guidance on the risk assessment process and the steps businesses should take.


Written Question
Fuels: Prices
3 Aug 2020, 3:14 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to recent decisions by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the current wholesale cost of fuel, what assessment they have made of the cost of fuel at petrol stations in the UK.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

Her Majesty’s Government monitors the national average retail prices of fuels and these are published on GOV.UK.

BEIS analysis shows that changes in the price of crude oil are the main driver of movements in the national average retail prices of fuels such a petrol and diesel. Other factors include currency exchange rates and the balance of supply and demand for these fuels in the wholesale petroleum products markets. Changes in the price of crude oil feed through to the retail prices over the course of about 6 weeks.

The Government believes that a competitive market is the best way to keep prices low. Retail fuels markets are subject to UK competition law under the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).


Written Question
Nuclear Power Stations: Construction
3 Aug 2020, 2:49 p.m.

Questioner: Lord West of Spithead

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with ACU Strategic Partners about the future construction of nuclear power stations.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government engages in discussions with numerous companies in the nuclear sector. I am unable to comment on any specific discussions due to commercial sensitivities.


Written Question
Wylfa Power Station: Development Consent Orders
3 Aug 2020, 2:43 p.m.

Questioner: Lord West of Spithead

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they estimate the development consent order for the proposed nuclear power station at Wylfa Newydd will be approved.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Secretary of State is considering the Examining Authority’s Recommendation Report regarding development consent for the proposed Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station. This Report is being reviewed alongside the further information received following the Government’s post-examination consultation on the application. The deadline for the Secretary of State’s decision is 30 September 2020.


Written Question
Oneweb: Investment
3 Aug 2020, 2:40 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Birt

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the letter from the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on 26 June, what assessment they have made of the accuracy of the statement “there is a possibility that the entirety of the investment is lost and no wider benefits accrued” in relation to the investment into OneWeb.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government carried out a detailed examination of the business which demonstrated a commercial case for investment.

The fact that we are investing alongside a private commercial investor indicates a rational commercial case for investing. The deal will support the UK to be a pioneer in the research, development, manufacturing of novel satellite technologies, whilst boosting UK manufacturing.


Written Question
Oneweb: Investment
3 Aug 2020, 2:22 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Birt

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 15 July (HL6348), how they propose to be publicly accountable for their investment in OneWeb.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The deal is subject to certain regulatory clearances and is expected to close before the end of the year.

We will have strong representation on the board, fully involved in setting the strategic direction of the business and developing the company’s business plan.

Mechanisms will be implemented for the continued monitoring and evaluation of the investment.


Written Question
Hydrogen Advisory Council
3 Aug 2020, 2:10 p.m.

Questioner: Lord West of Spithead

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to expand the Hydrogen Advisory Council as part of the formation of a wider UK hydrogen strategy.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

We are committed to developing hydrogen as a decarbonised energy carrier and are developing our strategic approach to growing the UK hydrogen economy. In order to support this, we established the Hydrogen Advisory Council, which first met on 20th July 2020. The Council will enable Government to work in partnership with Industry to ensure the UK is at the forefront of low carbon hydrogen production and supply, which will have a key role to play in supporting clean growth and tackling climate change.

The Council will initially focus on actions to enable the scale up of hydrogen production, and its membership reflects this. The Council will oversee a range of workstreams in support of its objectives. If deemed appropriate, some of the workstreams may be delivered by working groups, membership of which may come from the organisations represented on the Council and/or more widely according to need.


Written Question
Flexible Working
3 Aug 2020, 2:05 p.m.

Questioner: Baroness Jolly

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have (1) to strengthen the right of employees to request flexible working, and (2) to ensure that employers prioritise arrangements for staff to work from home rather than in offices, from 1 August.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government is clear about the benefits of flexible working for employers and their employees. All employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service with their employer have the right to request Flexible Working.

In our manifesto we said that, subject to consultation, we would introduce measures to make flexible working the default.

From 1 August, we are giving employers more discretion to make decisions about how their staff can work safely.

This could mean continuing to work from home or it could mean working in a covid-secure workplace. We encourage employers to discuss this with their employees.

The Government has clearly set out how to make workplaces covid-secure in its Safer Workplaces guidance. As we reopen our economy, it’s right that we give employers more discretion while continuing to ensure employees are kept safe.


Written Question
Hospitality Industry: Coronavirus
3 Aug 2020, 2:04 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Roberts of Llandudno

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will take action to protect diagnosed diabetics returning to work in the hospitality industry from the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

It is for each business to carry out its own risk assessment, in consultation with their workers, to inform the actions they should take to reduce the risks of COVID-19.

The Government has published guidance – specifically, section 3.1 ‘Protecting people who are at higher risk’ – to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These guides cover a range of working environments and are available on the Government’s website.

Nothing in this guidance affects employers’ existing responsibilities under employment and equalities legislation. Employers therefore need to bear in mind the particular needs of different groups or individuals, and make sure that the steps they take to address the risk of COVID-19 do not unjustifiably impact on some groups compared with others.

The safer workplaces guidance provides information to employers on how best to meet these responsibilities in the context of COVID-19.


Written Question
Oneweb
3 Aug 2020, 2:02 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Stevenson of Balmacara

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the statement by Lord Callanan on 8 July (HL Deb, col 1119) that OneWeb “has many applications that the UK can leverage, including defence applications” and the Written Answer by Baroness Goldie on 14 July (HL6644) which stated that “the investment in OneWeb is not a Defence matter”, whether OneWeb has any current defence applications; if so  what those applications are; and if not, when they became aware that OneWeb could not be applied to defence matters.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The current OneWeb offering does not include any defence specific applications. The investment in OneWeb is not a defence matter. Moving forward, OneWeb’s capabilities around its second-generation satellite offering will be reviewed in the context of the UK’s evolving civil and military space requirements.


Written Question
Oneweb
3 Aug 2020, 2 p.m.

Questioner: Lord West of Spithead

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Lord Callanan on 8 July (HL Deb, col 1119), how long they estimate it will take OneWeb to provide the UK with sovereign-controlled satellite capabilities.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

We are working with the company and our partners, and the capability will be available once the constellation reaches minimum viable service.


Written Question
OneWeb: Investment
3 Aug 2020, 1:59 p.m.

Questioner: Lord West of Spithead

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to utilise OneWeb in their future defence and commercial strategies; and how many jobs they estimate will result from their investment in OneWeb in the UK.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

OneWeb and its capabilities will be considered as part of the Space Strategy under the direction of the National Space Council. As the OneWeb offering matures, we will monitor its utility to critical national infrastructure, as we do with a variety of capabilities and providers.

The agreement we have secured with Bharti secures 70 existing UK jobs in OneWeb, and we will be looking to expand the company and its supply chain in the UK.


Written Question
Insolvency
3 Aug 2020, 12:42 p.m.

Questioner: Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to bring forward proposals for the regulation of Prepack Administrations; and if so when.

Answer (Lord Callanan)

The Government will publish a report in due course of its review of the voluntary measures that were introduced in 2015 to enhance regulation of pre-pack administrations. The report will set out the Government’s plans for the future of pre-pack administrations.