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Written Question
National Holocaust Memorial Centre and Learning Service: Victoria Tower Gardens
Thursday 4th January 2024

Asked by: Baroness Deech (Crossbench - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask His Majesty's Government what response they made to the request by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee that the plan to build a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens on the Westminster World Heritage site be abandoned; and what discussions they had with the World Heritage Committee at its meeting in 2023 about that matter.

Answered by Baroness Scott of Bybrook - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The Government noted that the independent planning inspector concluded, following an extensive public inquiry in 2020, that “…the proposed UKHMLC would not result in compromise to the Outstanding Universal Value of the World Heritage Site because it does not harm it or its setting, thus conserving it”. DCMS, acting as State Party to the World Heritage Convention, will continue to keep UNESCO updated.


Written Question
National Holocaust Memorial Centre and Learning Service: Victoria Tower Gardens
Thursday 4th January 2024

Asked by: Baroness Deech (Crossbench - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:

To ask His Majesty's Government for what reasons the planned construction of a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens has not resulted in the gardens and the Buxton Memorial being placed on Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register; and whether they will request that they be so placed.

Answered by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)

Heritage assets may be added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register for a variety of reasons, such as poor condition, disuse, and, in some cases, the quantifiable risks of development. Historic England has not made an assessment of the potential risks to Victoria Tower Gardens since the Holocaust Memorial Bill is still under consideration. It will continue to monitor the situation and keep its position under regular review.


Written Question
Universities: Antisemitism
Wednesday 3rd January 2024

Asked by: Baroness Deech (Crossbench - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of the responses by the University and College Union and relevant university authorities to complaints by students of anti-Semitism and violence perpetrated by fellow students and staff.

Answered by Baroness Barran - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

The department is deeply concerned about the growth in antisemitic incidents on campus since the 7 October terrorist attacks against Israel and this government takes antisemitism extremely seriously. Departmental officials have assessed evidence of antisemitism and racial hatred linked to incidents at English universities. There is an online "Reporting Extremism" page from where members of the public can raise concerns to the department directly. Where concerns have arisen, officials have reached out to relevant universities to understand what actions they have taken, including reporting issues to the police where appropriate.

The department is also concerned to see antisemitic motions being passed at some universities. The department urges universities to crack down on inflammatory, politically motivated displays of support for a proscribed terrorist organisation, and on demonstrations which make Jewish staff and students feel unsafe.

My right hon. Friend, The Secretary of State for Education and my right hon. Friend, the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education (HE), wrote to all schools, colleges and universities on 11 October, urging them to respond swiftly to hate-related incidents and actively reassure Jewish students that they can study without fear of harassment or intimidation. Minister Halfon wrote again to Vice Chancellors on 16 November, further emphasising the use of disciplinary measures and the importance of police engagement, as well as the suspension of student visas where the student is a foreign national and requested that the universities review its policies and procedures to ensure that they remain fit for purpose at this challenging time. This was one of the key actions set out in the five-point plan for tackling antisemitism in HE, which was published on 5 November. A link to more information can be found here: https://educationhub.blog.gov.uk/2023/11/05/how-were-protecting-jewish-students-on-university-campuses/.


Written Question
Pupils: Absenteeism
Wednesday 27th December 2023

Asked by: Baroness Deech (Crossbench - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Education:

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that children are not absent from school to take part in protests.

Answered by Baroness Barran - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)

The government is clear that missing school for events such as political protests is unacceptable and should not be condoned.

The department monitors events closely and has recently written to all schools and local authorities supporting leaders and teachers in taking firm action when necessary. The department encourages schools and local authorities to set clear expectations to parents on attendance and has confirmed that absence for this kind of activity should be treated as unauthorised. The department is clear that school leaders and local authorities should be enforcing attendance policies, and they should take immediate action where these policies have been breached. In the most egregious cases this can mean fines or prosecution. The department has shared this communication with Ofsted to ensure all inspectors are clear on the position.


Written Question
Victoria Tower Gardens
Wednesday 20th December 2023

Asked by: Baroness Deech (Crossbench - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask His Majesty's Government what options they are considering for the future management of the parts of Victoria Tower Gardens which will not be occupied by the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre.

Answered by Baroness Penn - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

Decisions on the future management arrangements for Victoria Tower Gardens will be agreed in good time before the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre opens.


Written Question
Victoria Tower Gardens: Monuments
Wednesday 20th December 2023

Asked by: Baroness Deech (Crossbench - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities:

To ask His Majesty's Government what arrangements, if any, they have made to transfer control of all or part of Victoria Tower Gardens to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, or another department, to enable the planned construction of a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre; and whether they intend to attach conditions to such a transfer to safeguard the interests of the Gardens' current users.

Answered by Baroness Penn - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

The Government’s aim, as part of the programme to establish the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, is to enhance Victoria Tower Gardens so that they can continue to be appreciated by everyone living in, working in or visiting the area. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport are discussing the arrangements which can best ensure safe and efficient construction while maintaining access to the Gardens. Those arrangements may include transfer of title for part of the gardens, especially in order to provide a suitably long lease for the Memorial and Learning Centre.


Written Question
Royal Parks: Finance
Tuesday 19th December 2023

Asked by: Baroness Deech (Crossbench - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:

To ask His Majesty's Government what changes they are planning in the future funding of Royal Parks to reflect the use of part of Victoria Tower Gardens for a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre.

Answered by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)

The proposed Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre will be managed and funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities, which will also take responsibility for the management of the relevant parts of Victoria Tower Gardens needed for the duration of the construction period. It is not therefore proposed to make any changes to the funding provided by HM Government to The Royal Parks.


Written Question
Victoria Tower Gardens: Monuments
Tuesday 19th December 2023

Asked by: Baroness Deech (Crossbench - Life peer)

Question to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:

To ask His Majesty's Government which department or other organisation will have responsibility for the maintenance of the Buxton Memorial following the planned construction of a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre.

Answered by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)

The Royal Parks will continue to have responsibility for the maintenance of the Buxton Memorial Fountain in Victoria Tower Gardens, which commemorates the Parliamentary campaign to abolish the slave trade, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will continue to have Departmental responsibility for it.


Written Question
Palestinians: Humanitarian Aid
Tuesday 21st November 2023

Asked by: Baroness Deech (Crossbench - Life peer)

Question to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office:

To ask His Majesty's Government, following reports that perpetrators of the 7 October terrorist attacks on Israel will be financially rewarded via welfare payments funded by the Palestinian Authority, what steps they are taking to ensure that aid coming from the UK does not support any such arrangements.

Answered by Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon - Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Following Official Development Assistance (ODA) prioritisation exercises undertaken in March 2021, the UK no longer provides direct financial aid to the Palestinian Authority. All UK support to the Palestinian Authority is provided through technical advice, procured through commercial suppliers. No UK aid is used for payments to Palestinian prisoners, or their families or the Martyrs Fund, nor has it ever been. We continue to deliver a clear and long-standing message to the highest levels of the Palestinian Authority that the prisoner payments system should be reformed so that it is needs-based, transparent and affordable. FCDO officials maintain a regular dialogue with international partners on this issue.


Written Question
IVF: LGBT+ People
Tuesday 14th November 2023

Asked by: Baroness Deech (Crossbench - Life peer)

Question to the Department of Health and Social Care:

To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that same-sex couples have equal access to IVF provision.

Answered by Lord Markham - Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)

Funding decisions for health services in England, including in vitro fertilisation (IVF), are made by integrated care boards (ICBs) and are based on the clinical needs of their local population.

The Government published the first Women’s Health Strategy on 20 July 2022, which contained several important changes and future ambitions to improve the variations in access to National Health Service funded fertility services. This includes improving access to IVF for female same-sex couples by removing the additional financial burden they face when accessing treatment. NHS England are developing guidance for ICBs to assist in their commissioning plans, which will be published shortly.