Written Question
Visas: Foreign Nationals
22 Oct 2020, 4:44 p.m.

Questioner: Allan Dorans

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to extend the visas of foreign nationals stranded in the UK due to travel restrictions during the covid-19 pandemic.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

The Home Office has put in place measures for visa customers both in the UK and overseas to help during the Covid-19 outbreak and will continue to monitor the situation. The latest information and guidance for customers is available on GOV.UK:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-uk-visa-applicants-and-temporary-uk-residents.

It confirms if you intend to leave the UK but have not been able to do so and you have a visa or leave which expires between 1 September and 31 October 2020, you may request additional time to stay, also known as ‘exceptional assurance’, by contacting the coronavirus immigration team (CIT).

The UK Government is committed to supporting the most vulnerable and is closely monitoring the Covid-19 situation worldwide. Policy decisions will be taken as needed based on how the situation develops.


Written Question
Police: Coronavirus
22 Oct 2020, 4:13 p.m.

Questioner: Matt Western

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment her Department has made of the adequacy of police resources during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

The Government has been clear that it will provide police forces with the support they need to continue protecting the public and keeping communities safe through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government is taking steps to mitigate forces’ COVID-19 related financial pressures. It is reimbursing all their additional expenditure on medical-grade personal protective equipment between 27 February and 27 July, and has launched an income loss recovery scheme for Police and Crime Commissioners to claim a proportion of their budgeted income on sales, fees and charges in 2020/21 lost due to the coronavirus.

On 8 October the Government announced an additional £30m for police forces in England and Wales to step up their enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions through the autumn and winter months.

The department continues to work closely with the policing sector to monitor and make decisions on their current and future funding needs.


Written Question
Fixed Penalties
22 Oct 2020, 4:08 p.m.

Questioner: Ellie Reeves

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will publish the number of cases issued under a fixed penalty notice in (a) 2020, (b) 2019, (c) 2018, (d) 2017, (e) 2016 and (f) 2015.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

The Home Office routinely collects and publishes data on the number of recorded Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) issued by the police in England and Wales for motoring offences. These data are published as part of the annual ‘Police Powers and Procedures’ statistical bulletin and can be found here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/841256/fixed-penalty-notices-police-powers-procedures-mar19-hosb2519-tables.ods.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council has been regularly publishing the number of FPNs issued by the police in England and Wales for breaches of the public health regulations that have been introduced this year to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19). The latest published information can be found here:

https://news.npcc.police.uk/releases/crime-is-close-to-pre-lockdown-levels-and-fines-given-to-the-public-rise-as-new-regulations-are-introduced-1

The Home Office does not collect information on FPNs issued by other public bodies, such as local authorities, who have powers to issue them with respect to anti-social behaviour, environmental breaches and parking offences.


Written Question
Alcoholic Drinks: Minimum Prices
22 Oct 2020, 4:06 p.m.

Questioner: Derek Thomas

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the potential merits of introducing a minimum price for alcohol.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

The Government continues to monitor the impact of minimum unit alcohol pricing in Scotland and Wales as it emerges. Minimum unit pricing has been in place in Scotland for less than two years. The Scottish Parliament will not consider its extension until April 2024.


Written Question
Factories: Conditions of Employment
22 Oct 2020, 3:49 p.m.

Questioner: Dr Lisa Cameron

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent assessment she has made of the level of labour exploitation in garment factories in the UK; and if she will make a statement.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

The Government is committed to tackling labour exploitation and protecting workers’ rights. We have taken a number of steps to deal with the issues in the textiles sector and take this issue very seriously. In light of the very concerning recent allegations of illegal and unsafe working conditions for garment workers in Leicester, a multi-agency Taskforce, led by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has been established to enable the relevant enforcement bodies to work together at pace, to take appropriate action against unscrupulous employers and individuals who exploit workers.

We are also working in partnership with the industry through the Apparel and General Merchandise Public and Private Protocol, a partnership between enforcement bodies and industry partners - including, the British Retail Consortium, UK Fashion and the Textile Association – aimed at tackling all forms of labour exploitation in the garment industry. Given the serious nature of the allegations in Leicester and the spectrum of labour market non-compliance issues that have been raised, it is imperative that we have a strong evidence base to inform the options we are considering to protect vulnerable workers and drive up standards. The Government will continue to work closely with the taskforce to consider the most appropriate measures to tackle labour exploitation in this sector.

The Government is committed to improving enforcement of employment rights. We have announced the intention to introduce a Single Enforcement Body, which will provide a clearer route for workers to raise a complaint and get support, enabling more coordinated enforcement action and the use of pooled intelligence to better target proactive enforcement. The public consultation on the establishment of the new Single Enforcement Body included questions on extending licensing to other high-risk sectors. We will publish a response to this consultation in due course.


Written Question
Factories: Conditions of Employment
22 Oct 2020, 3:49 p.m.

Questioner: Dr Lisa Cameron

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will introduce a fit to trade licensing scheme to tackle labour exploitation in garment factories.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

The Government is committed to tackling labour exploitation and protecting workers’ rights. We have taken a number of steps to deal with the issues in the textiles sector and take this issue very seriously. In light of the very concerning recent allegations of illegal and unsafe working conditions for garment workers in Leicester, a multi-agency Taskforce, led by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has been established to enable the relevant enforcement bodies to work together at pace, to take appropriate action against unscrupulous employers and individuals who exploit workers.

We are also working in partnership with the industry through the Apparel and General Merchandise Public and Private Protocol, a partnership between enforcement bodies and industry partners - including, the British Retail Consortium, UK Fashion and the Textile Association – aimed at tackling all forms of labour exploitation in the garment industry. Given the serious nature of the allegations in Leicester and the spectrum of labour market non-compliance issues that have been raised, it is imperative that we have a strong evidence base to inform the options we are considering to protect vulnerable workers and drive up standards. The Government will continue to work closely with the taskforce to consider the most appropriate measures to tackle labour exploitation in this sector.

The Government is committed to improving enforcement of employment rights. We have announced the intention to introduce a Single Enforcement Body, which will provide a clearer route for workers to raise a complaint and get support, enabling more coordinated enforcement action and the use of pooled intelligence to better target proactive enforcement. The public consultation on the establishment of the new Single Enforcement Body included questions on extending licensing to other high-risk sectors. We will publish a response to this consultation in due course.


Written Question
Knives: Safety
22 Oct 2020, 3:39 p.m.

Questioner: Andy Slaughter

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answers of 10 September 2020 to Question 85969 and 14 October 2020 to Question 100312, if she will take steps with knife (a) manufacturers and (b) retailers to change the design of kitchen knives to replace pointed ends with rounded ends.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

We know that knives are used for legitimate purposes by the vast majority of people. Bladed articles with pointed ends have legitimate uses and are often needed for a wide range of purposes, including as tools for work for instance in farming or fishing and in private such as in the household for use during cooking. While we are always ready to engage with manufacturers and retailers to help ensure public safety, it is important that the government strikes the right balance between allowing access to knives for legitimate reasons, with the need to protect the public from dangerous weapons. We believe the current legislation strikes the right balance. We will, however, continue to do everything we can to ensure that people do not carry dangerous weapons and commit violent crime in the first place.

This is why we have invested £176.5 million over two years in preventing serious violence in local communities and bolstering police capacity to respond to serios violent crimes when they do occur.

It is also why we have launched a consultation on new powers for the police to target those who have been convicted of knife related offences. We will also be piloting new Knife Crime Prevention Orders, introduced through the Offensive Weapons Act 2019. These new preventative orders will provide an additional tool for police to steer people away from serious violence.


Written Question
Forensic Science
21 Oct 2020, 5:51 p.m.

Questioner: Jane Hunt

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to Recommendation 21 of the Third Report of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee’s report, Forensic science and the criminal justice system: a blueprint for change, published on 1 May 2020, HL Paper 333, what recent discussions she has had with forensic science stakeholders on the potential merits of establishing a Forensic Science Institute; and what the outcome of those discussions was.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

My officials have been working closely with colleagues across Government as well as the forensic science sector to ensure that policing and the CJS benefits from advances in science and technology by developing and implementing new forensic techniques more coherently. The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice have strengthened further our working relationship with UKRI as we work with them and other strategic partners including providing funding for the police-led Forensic Capability Network to develop and set the research priorities for forensic science research and development.

The Forensic Capability Network have been working with user communities to identify what they need from the research system, and what changes are needed as well as interrogating existing links and resources to understand the extent to which the current system is ready to meet user needs. The Forensic Capability Network is actively identifying, the connections, infrastructures, or programmes in order to develop, support and coordinate research for the justice system.

A Science for the Justice System Advisory Group has also been established, working with a UKRI project to devise options for future mechanisms to effectively and efficiently coordinate forensic science in the UK. Initial consultation with key stakeholders has identified common areas of research need, and mapping of relevant UKRI investments has also been undertaken to support ongoing development of funding and coordination options to ensure research can better meet different forms of user need.

Considerations of the case for a National Institute are ongoing, but we consider work in progress to represent a significant step in the right direction and will continue to monitor progress at the Criminal Justice Board (CJB) Forensics Sub-Group.


Written Question
Coronavirus: Quarantine
21 Oct 2020, 5:49 p.m.

Questioner: Sir Mark Hendrick

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many (a) British and (b) foreign travellers have been fined for breaching quarantine rules following arrival to England from a non-exempt country in the last six months.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

On 30 September, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) published its latest report on the police use of Covid-19 enforcement notices issued under all emergency health protections. The data covers up to the 21 September and shows that 38 fines had been issued to individuals who have contravened the International Travel regulations by failing to self-isolate after arriving in England from a country on the UK government list. These were issued across 14 forces. The data does not specify the nationality of the recipient of a fine and this information is not held by the Home Office.


Written Question
Retail Trade: Abuse and Violence
21 Oct 2020, 5:47 p.m.

Questioner: Gareth Thomas

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to tackle violence and abuse experienced by shop workers; and if she will make a statement.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

Last year the Home Office ran a call for evidence, to understand further the issue of violence and abuse toward shop workers and the measures which may help prevent these crimes. The Government published a response to the Call for Evidence on Violence and Abuse Toward Shop Staff in July. Action the Government is taking to reduce violence and abuse experienced by shop workers is set out in the response, which is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/violence-and-abuse-toward-shop-staff-call-for-evidence


Written Question
UK Visas and Immigration: Correspondence
21 Oct 2020, 3:28 p.m.

Questioner: Steve McCabe

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, on how many occasions hon. Members have waited longer than 20 working days for a response to their enquiry from her Department in the last (a) three and (b) six months.

Answer (James Brokenshire)

Over the last three months the Department has replied to 10,079 letters from hon. Members. Of these, 3,471 (34%) have been replied to in over 20 days.

Over the last six months the Department has replied to 21,204 letters from hon. Members. Of these 7,179 (34%) have been replied to in over 20 days.

Performance has been impacted by a very significant increase in the volume of correspondence received, alongside the need for Ministers and officials to instigate a remote process for drafting and signing correspondence during the period of COVID-19 restrictions. An action plan is currently in place to clear backlogs and drive up performance.


Written Question
Fraud: Coronavirus
21 Oct 2020, 3:24 p.m.

Questioner: Colleen Fletcher

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps her Department is taking to (a) prevent, (b) protect people from and (c) warn people about scams related to the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (James Brokenshire)

The Government is aware that fraudsters are exploiting the pandemic to commit opportunistic crimes such as fraud. Along with partners in law enforcement, the public sector and the private and third sectors, we have been implementing measures to ensure the public has the protection and advice needed to shield themselves from these crimes.

This has included working alongside the National Cyber Security Centre to establish a new Suspicious Email Reporting Service. This service allows the public to report potential scams safely and effectively. To date, this has already led to over 13,000 scams being thwarted and taken down. Members of the public can forward suspicious emails to this address: report@phishing.gov.uk

However, law enforcement cannot do this alone. In addtion, the public should be well-informed on the steps they can take to guard against becoming the victim of crime. That is why we have launched a gov.uk page that contains easy-to-follow steps for people to spot potential frauds and the steps they can take to avoid them. It also signposts advice and support to those who may unfortunately have fallen victim. This page can currently be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-fraud-and-cyber-crime


Written Question
Travel: Coronavirus
21 Oct 2020, 3:09 p.m.

Questioner: Mr David Davis

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate her Department has made of the compliance rate for travel quarantine rules.

Answer (Kit Malthouse)

A robust system is in place for ensuring the compliance of those who should be self-isolating after travelling to the country. In the vast majority of cases, the public are complying with these measures. However, where we cannot confirm this is the case, referrals are made to the police who will follow up with the individuals directly.

On 30 September, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) published its latest report on the police use of Covid-19 enforcement notices issued under all emergency health protections. The report showed that up to 22 September, 4,114 case referrals from public health authorities were accepted by police forces in England and Wales relating to the isolation status of a member of the public following travel, under the International Travel Regulations. Of these, 3,216 cases investigated by officers found the individual to be complying with the regulations, with no further action being necessary.

In addition, in the period from 8 June to 14 October, 18 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) have been issued by Border Force for failure by individuals to provide information at the border.


Written Question
British Nationality: Assessments
21 Oct 2020, 2:20 p.m.

Questioner: Bell Ribeiro-Addy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether the revised Life in the UK test will (a) include a history of Britain’s colonial past and (b) include important colonial figures and people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

When the Life in the UK handbook is next reviewed the Home Office will consider all feedback on what should be covered in it.

All those required to pass the Life in the UK test are also required to demonstrate knowledge of spoken English language at a level equivalent to B1 or above on the Common European Framework for Reference (CEFR). The Home Office continues to work with the handbook and test provider to ensure the test is accessible to all candidates who meet that level of language proficiency.


Written Question
British Nationality: Assessments
21 Oct 2020, 2:20 p.m.

Questioner: Bell Ribeiro-Addy

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that people (a) from disadvantaged backgrounds and (b) who do not speak English as a first language are supported to pass the Life in the UK immigration test.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

When the Life in the UK handbook is next reviewed the Home Office will consider all feedback on what should be covered in it.

All those required to pass the Life in the UK test are also required to demonstrate knowledge of spoken English language at a level equivalent to B1 or above on the Common European Framework for Reference (CEFR). The Home Office continues to work with the handbook and test provider to ensure the test is accessible to all candidates who meet that level of language proficiency.


Written Question
Immigration: Married People
21 Oct 2020, 2:19 p.m.

Questioner: Christian Wakeford

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for what reasons a UK citizen living in the UK is charged a fee for the citizenship applications process to bring their non-UK citizen spouse to the UK and a EU citizen living in the UK is able to bring their spouse to the UK through the settled status scheme.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

The Immigration Act 2014 gives the Home Office statutory powers to set fees for applications for entry or residence documentation issued under our domestic Immigration Rules and fees currently charged to non-EU citizens, including the dependants of British citizens, take into account wider factors within primary legislation.

At the end of the transition period, we will introduce a new fairer immigration system. This new points-based immigration system, to be implemented from 1 January 2021, will focus on the skills migrants possess and the contribution they can make to the UK, not where their passport comes from. Our intention is to align the immigration arrangements for newly arriving EU citizens with those for migrants from the rest of the world, including in respect of family reunion. Further details of the new system will be set out in due course.

The EU Settlement Scheme reflects our obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU in relation to EU citizens resident in the UK by the end of the transition period and their family members. British nationals living in the UK are not exercising free movement rights and therefore need to sponsor family members under the UK’s immigration rules.


Written Question
Visas: British National (Overseas)
21 Oct 2020, 2:17 p.m.

Questioner: Owen Thompson

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that known human rights abusers in Hong Kong do not benefit from the bespoke immigration route being developed for British Nationals (Overseas) passport holders from Hong Kong.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

Consistent with the Immigration Rules, we will refuse applicants for the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa from those who have serious criminal convictions, have been otherwise engaged in behaviour which the UK Government deems not conducive to the public good, or are subject to other general grounds for refusal.


Written Question
Immigration
20 Oct 2020, 5:14 p.m.

Questioner: Stephen Timms

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 13 October 2020 to Question 100882 on Immigration, whether the figures given for in-country family extensions include all family and human rights extensions.

Answer (Chris Philp)

We can confirm that the figures given in the Answer of 13 October 2020 to Question 100882 include all initial decisions for ‘family and human rights’ applications.

Fee Waiver applications are recorded as a separate case in our systems and so the data does not allow us to report which immigration decision a successful Fee Waiver application relates to, although caseworkers making immigration decisions are able to see all relevant information when considering the application. To manually check each immigration decision would incur a disproportionate cost.


Written Question
Immigration: Fees and Charges
20 Oct 2020, 5:14 p.m.

Questioner: Stephen Timms

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 13 October 2020 to Question 100882 on Immigration, in how many cases in each of the four quarters given were fee waivers granted for extension applications in which it was subsequently decided (a) to apply the No Recourse to Public Funds condition and (b) to grant Recourse to Public Funds.

Answer (Chris Philp)

We can confirm that the figures given in the Answer of 13 October 2020 to Question 100882 include all initial decisions for ‘family and human rights’ applications.

Fee Waiver applications are recorded as a separate case in our systems and so the data does not allow us to report which immigration decision a successful Fee Waiver application relates to, although caseworkers making immigration decisions are able to see all relevant information when considering the application. To manually check each immigration decision would incur a disproportionate cost.


Written Question
Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence
20 Oct 2020, 4:20 p.m.

Questioner: Alex Davies-Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when she plans to publish the annual report on progress on UK ratification of the Istanbul Convention in line with the Government's responsibilities under section 2 of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

The UK signed the Istanbul Convention in 2012, signalling its strong commitment to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG) and this Government remains committed to ratifying it.

The Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017 requires Ministers to publish annual reports on their progress towards being able to ratify the Convention. The third such report was published on 31 October 2019.

We will shortly be publishing this year’s report on our progress, which will set out our compliance position and the steps we are taking towards ratification.


Written Question
Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence
20 Oct 2020, 4:20 p.m.

Questioner: Alex Davies-Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to ensure that Article 4(3) of the 2012 Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and girls is ratified into UK law.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

The UK signed the Istanbul Convention in 2012, signalling its strong commitment to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG) and this Government remains committed to ratifying it.

The Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017 requires Ministers to publish annual reports on their progress towards being able to ratify the Convention. The third such report was published on 31 October 2019.

We will shortly be publishing this year’s report on our progress, which will set out our compliance position and the steps we are taking towards ratification.


Written Question
Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence
20 Oct 2020, 4:20 p.m.

Questioner: Alex Davies-Jones

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many of the 81 articles in the 2012 Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and girls have yet to be confirmed in UK law.

Answer (Victoria Atkins)

The UK signed the Istanbul Convention in 2012, signalling its strong commitment to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG) and this Government remains committed to ratifying it.

The Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017 requires Ministers to publish annual reports on their progress towards being able to ratify the Convention. The third such report was published on 31 October 2019.

We will shortly be publishing this year’s report on our progress, which will set out our compliance position and the steps we are taking towards ratification.


Written Question
Visas: Skilled Workers
20 Oct 2020, 4:05 p.m.

Questioner: Lloyd Russell-Moyle

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether people applying for a skilled workers visa after 31 December 2020 will be subject to a market labour test.

Answer (Kevin Foster)

As already set out in the Government’s Policy Statement on the UK’s Points-Based Immigration System, published on 19 February, and the 13 July Further Details document, we will be abolishing the Resident Labour Market Test.

This will take effect when the new Skilled Worker route launches later this year.


Written Question
Asylum: Coronavirus
19 Oct 2020, 5:21 p.m.

Questioner: Paul Blomfield

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she is taking to reduce the need for vulnerable asylum seekers to travel for appointments and reporting requirements during the covid-19 outbreak.

Answer (Chris Philp)

The Home Office takes the wellbeing of asylum seekers extremely seriously and has already put in place a range of measures to support asylum applicants affected by the covid-19 outbreak.

In line with the Home Office’ commitment to protect the health and wellbeing of its staff and applicants as a top priority, we have introduced regional intake units to allow asylum claims to be registered in a safe way that adheres to social distancing guidance and minimises travel.


Written Question
Asylum: Coronavirus
19 Oct 2020, 5:20 p.m.

Questioner: Paul Blomfield

Question

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the covid-19 risks of her Department resuming its requirement for asylum seekers to attend reporting centres.

Answer (Chris Philp)

Immigration Enforcement recommenced face to face reporting in July and August for limited, priority cohorts of people. We have implemented Safe Systems of Working (SSOW) and Risk Assessments in all our Reporting Centres where we have put in place robust social distancing measures; health screening questions are asked as a person enters; face masks are offered to those who have travelled without them; and sanitiser stations are placed throughout our buildings. We continue to review our current reporting arrangements in line with any new local and national COVID restrictions that are put in place.

Before inviting individuals into reporting, case owners will make an assessment based on the harm that those who are Foreign National Offenders may pose to the public, as well as the vulnerability and personal circumstances of all of those we ask to report. We continue to keep in contact with the overall reporting population by telephone to update individuals on the current reporting position. An SMS text or email/letter is sent to those required to recommence reporting informing them of the date and time they should report, along with relevant advice on COVID. We have also updated the reporting pages on GOV.UK for those who report and their representatives. This information includes how to travel most safely by public transport, avoiding both busy transport hubs and traveling at peak times; advice on reporting alone where possible; and what to do if those reporting have symptoms or are shielding.