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Written Question
Universities: Remote Education
25 May 2021

Questioner: Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many universities are continuing to use predominantly remote learning; what assessment they have made of reports of complaints by students that they are being discouraged from returning to campus; and what plans they have to reinforce the guidance that graduate and post-graduate students are entitled to face-to-face teaching.

Answered by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay

From the start of the pandemic, the higher education (HE) sector has put in significant resources and worked hard to provide learning materials and minimise the disruption to students. There have been some innovative and resourceful approaches to deliver high-quality learning online, and we welcome the huge amount of time and resources universities and other HE providers have devoted to ensuring that online teaching is of the high quality expected by students, Her Majesty's Government, and the Office for Students (OfS). Since early January, we estimate that 19% of students were on courses in scope for a return to face-to-face learning, and from 8 March 2021 this proportion increased to 49%. From 17 May 2021, all students have been able to return to in-person learning.

As autonomous institutions with a range of specific circumstances, we expect HE providers to make their own judgments to facilitate the return of students for face-to-face teaching, whilst following the latest public health guidance. We expect providers to continue work alongside local authorities and other agencies to put appropriate plans in place to control and manage any local outbreaks and to minimise transmission of COVID-19.

If students have concerns about their tuition, including the return to in-person teaching, there is a process in place. They should first raise their concerns with their university. If their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint. We expect providers to ensure that continuing and prospective students receive the clear, accurate, and timely information they need to make informed decisions. Whilst the OfS does not get involved in student complaints, students can notify it of issues which may be of regulatory interest to it. The OfS uses this information as part of its regulatory monitoring activity and keeps HE providers under review to ensure that they comply with the ongoing conditions of registration. The OfS has produced a guide for students to support them in this process. This is available here: https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/for-students/ofs-and-students/notifications/.


Written Question
Care Homes: Visits
16 Apr 2021

Questioner: Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans, if any, they have to introduce legislation to facilitate face-to-face visits between people in residential care homes and persons significant to them, in line with the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in their letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on 3 February.

Answered by Lord Bethell

We expect care homes to enable visiting unless they have a current outbreak, in which case visiting is more limited. We are currently pursuing non-legislative routes to make sure this is followed, involving our regional assistance team, local authorities and the Care Quality Commission. This approach allows us to move more swiftly in changing circumstances and to accommodate all care homes.


Written Question
Cycleways
21 Dec 2020

Questioner: Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government which local authorities the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Transport and Infrastructure has had direct communication with since March about the installation of bicycle lanes; and whether he indicated to any councils that any local authority that failed to install bicycle lanes could have its powers as a local highways' authority removed.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

The Department for Transport understands that the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on Transport and Infrastructure has had discussions with a number of local authorities since March on cycle lanes and other matters; but that he has not given such an indication to any authority.


Written Question
Roads: Closures
7 Dec 2020

Questioner: Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how the average journey time for cars and other vehicles has been affected as a result of road closures in London during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

The Active Travel Fund was announced on 9 May and provided £225 million of funding for local authorities to enable them to reallocate road space and make changes to road layouts in response to COVID-19.

Alongside the funding, the Department published statutory guidance to local authorities under the Traffic Management Act 2004. This provides advice on the changes that Government expects them to make to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. It is for local authorities to decide what specific measures are appropriate on their roads to achieve this.

The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 gives local authorities powers to close roads using Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). No new road closure powers have been granted. The emergency legislation which came into force on 22 May made some changes to the procedure for making TROs, but did not alter the pre-existing notice periods. Local authorities are still required to give 7 days’ notice of proposed temporary or experimental changes, to allow time for local residents or businesses to send in any comments or objections.

The monitoring and evaluation of schemes, including impact on traffic flows, is a matter for local authorities.


Written Question
Roads: Closures
7 Dec 2020

Questioner: Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government under what conditions councils in London have been given statutory authority to close roads during the COVID-19 pandemic; and how long any such temporary closures will be in place.

Answered by Baroness Vere of Norbiton

The Active Travel Fund was announced on 9 May and provided £225 million of funding for local authorities to enable them to reallocate road space and make changes to road layouts in response to COVID-19.

Alongside the funding, the Department published statutory guidance to local authorities under the Traffic Management Act 2004. This provides advice on the changes that Government expects them to make to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. It is for local authorities to decide what specific measures are appropriate on their roads to achieve this.

The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 gives local authorities powers to close roads using Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs). No new road closure powers have been granted. The emergency legislation which came into force on 22 May made some changes to the procedure for making TROs, but did not alter the pre-existing notice periods. Local authorities are still required to give 7 days’ notice of proposed temporary or experimental changes, to allow time for local residents or businesses to send in any comments or objections.

The monitoring and evaluation of schemes, including impact on traffic flows, is a matter for local authorities.


Written Question
Elections
30 Nov 2020

Questioner: Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to encourage voter turnout in the (1) local council, (2) mayoral, (3) Senedd, and (4) Scottish Parliament, elections in May 2021; and what arrangements they have put in place to ensure that everyone who wants to vote in these elections can do so.

Answered by Lord True

Further to my answer given to PQ HL10099 on 23 November, the Senedd Cymru and Scottish Parliamentary elections are the responsibility of the Welsh and Scottish Governments respectively. However, all three governments continue to communicate regularly on the delivery of the polls. We are also working with postal vote suppliers, electoral sector partners and election teams to ensure capacity for printing and administering postal votes.


Written Question
Local Government: Elections
30 Nov 2020

Questioner: Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Question

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of postal voting in the upcoming local elections in May 2021; whether they have a contingency plan to manage any significant increase in postal voting; and what steps they will take to ensure that any increase in postal voting is managed (1) effectively, and (2) fairly.

Answered by Lord True

Further to my answer given to PQ HL10099 on 23 November, the Senedd Cymru and Scottish Parliamentary elections are the responsibility of the Welsh and Scottish Governments respectively. However, all three governments continue to communicate regularly on the delivery of the polls. We are also working with postal vote suppliers, electoral sector partners and election teams to ensure capacity for printing and administering postal votes.