Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Portrait

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch

Labour - Life peer

Became Member: 5th June 2006

Shadow Spokesperson (Science, Innovation and Technology)

(since October 2023)

Horticultural Sector Committee
31st Jan 2023 - 26th Oct 2023
Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
18th Sep 2015 - 21st Jul 2022
Shadow Spokesperson (Education)
17th Oct 2011 - 18th Sep 2015
Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)
13th Oct 2010 - 13th Oct 2014
Opposition Whip (Lords)
8th Oct 2010 - 5th Sep 2011
Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee)
14th Nov 2007 - 6th May 2010
Draft Marine Bill (Joint Committee)
13th May 2008 - 22nd Jul 2008


Department Event
Tuesday 12th December 2023
15:45
Department for Science, Innovation & Technology
Orders and regulations - Grand Committee
12 Dec 2023, 3:45 p.m.
Draft Data Protection (Fundamental Rights and Freedoms) (Amendment)) Regulations 2023
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Scheduled Event
Thursday 14th December 2023
11:00
Oral questions - Main Chamber
14 Dec 2023, 11 a.m.
Accessing AI-generated public services
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Department Event
Monday 18th December 2023
Department for Science, Innovation & Technology
Legislation - Main Chamber
Victims and Prisoners Bill - second reading
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Department Event
Tuesday 19th December 2023
Department for Science, Innovation & Technology
Legislation - Main Chamber
Data Protection and Digital Information Bill - Second Reading
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Note: This event involves a Department with which this person is linked, and does not guarantee their actual attendance.
Division Votes
Monday 27th November 2023
Immigration (Age Assessments) Regulations 2023
voted Aye - in line with the party majority
One of 96 Labour Aye votes vs 0 Labour No votes
Tally: Ayes - 164 Noes - 75
Speeches
Wednesday 22nd November 2023
Data Protection (Adequacy) (United States of America) Regulations 2023
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, for raising his concerns about this SI this evening, …
Written Answers
Thursday 30th November 2023
Internet: Fraud
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to raise awareness of the risks of online scams, particularly …
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
None available
MP Financial Interests
None available

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Baroness Jones of Whitchurch has voted in 403 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Baroness Jones of Whitchurch Division Votes

Debates during the 2019 Parliament

Speeches made during Parliamentary debates are recorded in Hansard. For ease of browsing we have grouped debates into individual, departmental and legislative categories.

Sparring Partners
Lord Benyon (Conservative)
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
(81 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Legislation Debates
Environment Act 2021
(27,385 words contributed)
Fisheries Act 2020
(23,129 words contributed)
Agriculture Act 2020
(21,386 words contributed)
View All Legislation Debates
View all Baroness Jones of Whitchurch's debates

Lords initiatives

These initiatives were driven by Baroness Jones of Whitchurch, and are more likely to reflect personal policy preferences.


Baroness Jones of Whitchurch has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Baroness Jones of Whitchurch has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


256 Written Questions in the current parliament

(View all written questions)
Written Questions can be tabled by MPs and Lords to request specific information information on the work, policy and activities of a Government Department
1 Other Department Questions
16th May 2022
To ask the Leader of the House what steps she is taking to facilitate parliamentary scrutiny of the draft Environmental Principles Statement.

Section 18 of the Environment Act 2021 sets out the routes for parliamentary scrutiny of the draft Environmental Principles Policy Statement recently laid before Parliament by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This includes consideration by relevant Select Committees.

The Chief Whip will work with the Usual Channels to schedule any business resulting from these routes in the usual way during the scrutiny period.

22nd Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the membership of the Climate Action Implementation Committee; how many times it has met; and whether its minutes are published.

It is a long-established precedent that information about the discussions that have taken place in Cabinet and its Committees, and how often they have met, is not normally shared publicly.

Further details of the membership and terms of reference for Cabinet Sub-Committees are published on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-cabinet-committees-system-and-list-of-cabinet-committees.

Lord True
Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal
22nd Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the membership of the Climate Action Strategy Committee; how many times it has met since October 2019; and whether its minutes are published.

It is a long-established precedent that information about the discussions that have taken place in Cabinet and its Committees, and how often they have met, is not normally shared publicly.

Further details of the membership and terms of reference for Cabinet Sub-Committees are published on gov.uk at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-cabinet-committees-system-and-list-of-cabinet-committees.

Lord True
Leader of the House of Lords and Lord Privy Seal
24th May 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to strengthen the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator following the decision not to merge it with the Competition and Markets Authority.

The Government is currently undertaking the third statutory review of the effectiveness of the Groceries Code Adjudicator in enforcing the Groceries Supply Code of Practice, including whether the GCA has sufficient powers. The Government will carefully consider the views and evidence received. Our conclusions will be published and a report laid before Parliament in due course.

Earl of Minto
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
15th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what is the timetable for the review of the role of the Grocery Code adjudicator; and how Parliament will be notified of the outcome.

The Government is currently considering responses to the public consultation and other evidence to inform the third statutory review of the Groceries Code Adjudicator. A report on the findings of the statutory review will be published and laid before Parliament in due course.

Lord Johnson of Lainston
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
15th Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the importance of R&D investment in net zero technologies; and what steps they are taking to measure the outcomes from that investment.

Research and development (R&D) is critical for reaching net zero by 2050 and the government is investing £4.2 billion in net zero R&D over 2022-2025. This will support the development of the technologies and solutions needed to deliver the UK’s net zero target and to support innovative UK businesses to benefit from the growing global green economy. The Net Zero Research and Innovation Delivery Plan published in March 2023 sets out the details of this investment and an update on progress is planned to be published in 2025.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
15th Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay on 14 November (HL Deb col 472), what assessment they have made of whether they will achieve their target of at least 85 per cent of premises having access to gigabit capable broadband by 2025.

The Government is committed to delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity as soon as possible. According to ThinkBroadband, an independent broadband news and information site, over 78% of UK premises can now access gigabit-capable broadband, which represents significant progress since January 2019, when coverage was just 6%. We are currently on track to achieve our target of 85% coverage by 2025.

We have created a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable. This Government has also reduced barriers to broadband rollout. For example, we passed the Product Security and Telecoms Infrastructure Act in 2022, making it cheaper and easier for companies to deploy, upgrade and share infrastructure. As a result, there is now a thriving market of over 100 providers who are estimated to invest nearly £40bn by 2030 in rolling out gigabit broadband all over the UK.

The Government is also investing £5bn as part of Project Gigabit to ensure the hardest-to-reach areas in the UK receive coverage. Through our 12 Project Gigabit contracts and 27 current live procurements, we have made over £2 billion of funding available to suppliers to bring gigabit-capable broadband to up to 1.1 million premises in hard-to-reach parts of the country.

Viscount Camrose
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
15th Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to raise awareness of the risks of online scams, particularly for those with limited digital skills.

This Government is committed to protecting those who are most vulnerable to online scams.

The Online Safety Act will require social media providers to take steps to safeguard their users from illegal scams and fraudulent advertising. In overseeing the framework, Ofcom must ensure that there are adequate protections for those that are most vulnerable to online harm.

The legislation also expands Ofcom’s duty to promote media literacy under the 2003 Communications Act. The regulator is now required to raise the public’s awareness of how to keep themselves and others safe online. It will need to publish a strategy for achieving this, which must be updated every three years.

In tandem, the Government is taking action to improve people’s media literacy more widely. In July 2021, we published the Online Media Literacy Strategy. This seeks to support the empowerment of internet users with the skills they need to make safe and informed choices online. Through the Strategy, the Government is funding multiple organisations to support the media literacy and critical thinking skills of vulnerable internet users.

Viscount Camrose
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
13th Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reduce regional inequalities in government-funded research and development.

The Levelling Up White Paper (published in February 2022) committed to a R&D Levelling Up Mission, recognising the uneven distribution of gross R&D (GERD) spending across the UK.

DSIT is delivering this mission to increase public R&D investment outside the Greater South-East by at least 40% by 2030, and at least one-third over this spending review period.

We are making progress through investing £100 million for 3 Innovation Accelerators (Greater Manchester, West Midlands and Glasgow) for example, and investing £75 million for 10 Innovate UK Launchpads, £312 million for 12 Strength in Places Fund projects and £60 million for the Regional Innovation Fund.

Viscount Camrose
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
13th Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the regional allocations of government research funding.

The Levelling Up White Paper (published in February 2022) committed to a R&D Levelling Up Mission, recognising the uneven distribution of gross R&D (GERD) spending across the UK.

DSIT is delivering this mission to increase public R&D investment outside the Greater South-East by at least 40% by 2030, and at least one-third over this spending review period.

We are making progress through investing £100 million for 3 Innovation Accelerators (Greater Manchester, West Midlands and Glasgow) for example, and investing £75 million for 10 Innovate UK Launchpads, £312 million for 12 Strength in Places Fund projects and £60 million for the Regional Innovation Fund.

Viscount Camrose
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
13th Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the number of households that do not have access to reliable broadband, broken down by region.

The Government is committed to ensuring that all UK premises have access to fast and reliable broadband connectivity. Over 78% of UK premises can access gigabit-capable broadband, which represents significant progress since January 2019, when coverage was just 6%.

Ofcom estimates that around 30,000 premises in the UK (0.1%) lack access to either a fixed broadband network with ‘decent broadband’ (at least 10 Mbit/s download and 1 Mbit/s upload speed) or good indoor 4G coverage. A full breakdown is available by local authority and/or constituency in Ofcom’s Connected Nations 2022 report. Ofcom’s UK Home Broadband Performance Report also provides information on the reliability and peak performance of fixed broadband connections.

Viscount Camrose
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
23rd Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment the Grocery Code Adjudicator has made of egg production, and in particular whether rising costs of egg farms are being met by retailers; and what plans they have to intervene in the event of an assessment that these costs are not being met.

The Groceries Code Adjudicator (GCA) enforces the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (the Code) which does not regulate the price agreed between retailers and suppliers. The GCA has no role in determining what a retailer should pay for a product.

The GCA has, however, published seven golden rules to ensure that the 14 largest grocery retailers who are designated under the Code handle price negotiations lawfully and fairly.

The GCA is monitoring adherence to the golden rules and any direct supplier to one of the designated retailers that is having issues with a negotiation should contact the GCA whose details are available on the GOV.UK website.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
9th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what long-term impact assessments are required for home insulation and energy efficiency products in order for them to qualify for the PAS2035 standard.

Products used within the PAS 2035 process for measures referenced in the Annexes of PAS 2030:2019 standard must be compliant with the relevant British Standards which are referred to within the PAS 2035 document. These products are tested and certified by specialist industry bodies such as The British Board of Agrément (BBA), which include robust processes including research, auditing and inspection of the respective products. Products that have been tested and certified as safe and fit-for-purpose by product certification bodies are subjected to continuous inspection to ensure they remain so.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
9th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government whether they require all home insulation and energy efficiency products recommended for retrofitting domestic properties to have (1) the appropriate product accreditation, (2) building regulations approval, and (3) evidence of gas safety compliance.

The installation of insulation or energy efficiency products must comply with all relevant technical requirements in Building Regulations.

Ecodesign policy sets minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) which energy using products must meet when placed on the market. These must be sold with an energy label to help consumers identify the most efficient products. Compliance with MEPS and energy labelling are underpinned by robust test standards and the UKCA conformity marking.

All energy efficient products that burn gaseous fuels must be safe, demonstrating compliance with Regulation 2016/426 on appliances which burn gaseous fuels before being placed on the GB market.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
27th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what is their current policy on fracking; and whether the UK moratorium on fracking is still in place.

The Government supports the core ambitions set out in the 2019 manifesto and will therefore revert to a precautionary approach and only support shale gas exploration if it can be done in a way that is sustainable and protects local communities. The Government has confirmed that it will adopt a presumption against issuing further hydraulic fracturing consents. We will be led by the evidence on whether this form of exploration can be done in a way which acceptably manages the risk to local communities.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
27th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Callanan on 24 October (HL2423), what proportion of respondents to their informal consultations on the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill favoured a sunset clause for all existing EU legislation of December 2023.

The information requested is not held centrally.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by the Minister for Business, Energy and Clean Growth on 2 February (145087), whether the Green Home Grant allocations to local authorities set out in Lord Callanan’s letter to Peers on 29 January will still be applied if the £2 billion made available for Green Home Grants is not rolled over into 2021/22.

The £500m government funding for the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery (GHG-LAD) scheme is independent of the funding allocated to the Green Homes Grant Voucher scheme. The GHG-LAD scheme is being delivered in three phases:

- Phase 1A; over £74million was allocated to 55 Local Authorities in October 2020 to fund energy efficiency projects in over 100 Local Authorities by June 2021.

- Phase 1B:  around £126million of grant offers were made to 81 Local Authorities in January 2021, for delivery of energy efficiency projects by September 2021. Further details of these allocations will be announced in the coming weeks once Memorandums of Understanding with individual Local Authorities have been signed.

- Phase 2:  will see funding of £300m allocated to the five Local Energy Hubs this financial year who will work with Local Authorities in their region to deliver energy efficiency projects by December 2021.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
7th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) UK Leadership Team includes at least 50 per cent women.

The UK is committed to championing diversity and inclusion throughout our COP26 Presidency and all civil servants in the Cabinet Office COP26 Unit have been appointed in line with Civil Service guidance and rules.

Forty five percent of the Senior Management Team in the COP26 unit are women. My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister recently appointed the Hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Anne-Marie Treveylan MP) as the COP26 Adaptation and Resilience Champion.

In line with the Gender Action Plan agreed at COP25, the UK also recognises that the full, meaningful and equal participation and leadership of women in national and local level climate policy and action is vital for achieving long-term climate goals.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish the outcome of the second Statutory Review of the role of the Groceries Code Adjudicator.

A report on the findings of the second Statutory Review of the Groceries Code Adjudicator will be published and laid before Parliament as soon as practicable.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to ban sky lanterns.

The Government has no plans to place a ban on sky lanterns.

Local Authorities have powers to apply local controls to restrict or ban the use of sky lanterns on council or public land. Some councils in England, Scotland and Wales have applied a voluntary ban from council owned land.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute has published a Code of Practice for sky lanterns, which aims to provide guidance for manufacturers, importers, and retailers.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change have been chaired by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy since his appointment as president of the COP26 climate change conference.

The Cabinet Committee on Climate Change has only been chaired by the Prime Minister. The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has therefore not chaired the Committee but attends alongside the Ministers of other Departments with responsibility for taking forward the UK’s approach to tackling climate change.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how Parliament will be informed of progress towards preparing for COP26.

COP26 is a top international priority for the UK government and has rightly attracted parliamentary interest, attention and energy.

The Department is working closely with COP26 Unit to ensure that parliamentarians are engaged in the preparations and delivery of COP26, and that cross party ambition and support is galvanised to ensure the success of the conference.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the (1) effectiveness, and (2) accuracy, of Energy Performance Certificates as applied to domestic dwellings.

The Government launched a Call for Evidence on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) in 2018, which covered questions of both EPC effectiveness and accuracy. We are conducting analysis of the responses and will publish a government response in due course.

16th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what cross-departmental structures have been put in place to ensure they deliver on their global climate change commitments at the COP26 Summit in 2020.

The Government has set up a COP26 Unit within Cabinet Office. This unit leads on the delivery of the COP26 Summit and it will coordinate across Government departments and devolved administrations to ensure COP26 objectives are met.

The newly established Cabinet Committee on Climate Change will oversee preparations for COP26.

7th Sep 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure access to full fibre broadband for all properties and businesses in rural communities.

In March 2021 we launched Project Gigabit, our £5 billion mission to deliver lightning-fast, reliable broadband across the UK. Project Gigabit’s objective is to level up the UK by giving hard-to-reach areas access to gigabit-capable internet speeds and, coupled with commercial gigabit delivery, ensuring almost all of the UK has access to gigabit-capable internet as soon as possible.

Our Project Gigabit procurements are prioritising delivery to rural, hard-to-reach premises and to those with the lowest broadband speeds. We have recently signed our first local Project Gigabit contract in North Dorset and expect to award further contracts over the coming months.

Furthermore, up to £210 million is available for Gigabit Broadband Vouchers to support rural communities with the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections.

Building Digital UK’s legacy and current programmes have already upgraded over 740,000 premises to gigabit speeds, and we are continuing to move at pace.

26th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that remote rural locations in the UK which rely on the 3G mobile phone network will have a guaranteed continuation of service when the 3G signal is turned off in 2023.

The Government welcomes the responsible switching off of 3G networks, and will continue to work with mobile network operators to ensure a smooth transition that meets the needs of business users and consumers, including vulnerable groups.

We are committed to extending good quality mobile coverage across the UK. In March 2020, the Government announced a deal with the mobile network operators to increase 4G coverage to 95% of the UK landmass. The Government’s ambition is for the majority of the population to have access to a 5G signal by 2027 and we want to ensure that UK businesses reap the full benefits of 5G.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address the disparity in broadband connectivity between urban and rural areas.

The Government is investing £5 billion through Project Gigabit to support gigabit broadband coverage in areas not covered by commercial roll-out, adding to the 600,000 homes and businesses in hard-to-reach areas already covered by gigabit broadband with our support.

It is the Government's view that the best way to achieve nationwide gigabit coverage and eliminate the disparity in broadband connectivity between urban and rural areas is by creating a competition-friendly environment in areas where deployment is commercially viable. This will allow public subsidy to focus on the 20% of the country where commercial deployment is unlikely.

This approach is working. Today, we are on track for the biggest build in UK history. At present, 65% of premises can access a gigabit-capable connection, a huge leap forward from July 2019, when gigabit coverage was just 8%.

Our procurements are prioritising delivery to rural, hard-to-reach premises and to those with the lowest broadband speeds. To date, we have launched procurements targeting rural parts of Cumbria, County Durham, Northumberland, Dorset, and Cambridgeshire. Further information on the procurement approach and timeframes can be found in our latest Project Gigabit Delivery Update.

As part of Project Gigabit the Government is also investing up to £210 million in the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to support rural communities with the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections. The scheme provides a micro-grant of up to £1,500 for residents and up to £3,500 for businesses towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband.

The scheme enables those communities and businesses in rural areas not in line for commercial rollout, and those that do not want to wait for Project Gigabit procurements, to get more immediate help with the costs of installing a gigabit-capable connection. Further information is available on the gigabit voucher website including eligibility criteria and how to apply for the scheme.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
25th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the rollout of the mobile phone Shared Rural Network will be fully delivered by 2025

The Shared Rural Network remains on track and both the Government and the mobile network operators remain confident that their combined coverage is expected to be delivered to 95% of the UK by the end of 2025, with areas around the UK starting to see improvements to 4G coverage long before completion. The four operators have already commenced work on the first element of the Shared Rural Network which is funded by the industry, and are on track to eliminate the majority of partial not-spots - areas where there is currently coverage from at least one, but not all, operators - by mid-2024. Coverage upgrades in many partial not-spot areas are already being delivered, with work to improve coverage in other areas in progress. The 2021 Ofcom Connected Nations report, published in December, demonstrates increased coverage across the whole UK by the mobile network operators, including 46 deployments towards their Shared Rural Network commitments.

Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the lack of rural broadband and mobile phone connectivity; and how they plan to address the issue.

Over 96% of all premises in the UK can access superfast broadband thanks to the success of our Superfast Broadband Programme, meaning the UK has one of the highest levels of rural superfast connectivity in Europe. The Government is committed to further improve the UK’s broadband infrastructure and deliver nationwide gigabit connectivity as soon as possible. As part of this, we are investing an unprecedented £5 billion of subsidy to support the deployment of gigabit broadband in the hardest-to-reach, predominantly rural, areas of the country through our new UK Gigabit Programme.

We have already made significant progress in connecting rural premises to gigabit speeds and, since 2018, have delivered gigabit-capable connectivity to over half a million homes and businesses in some of the hardest to reach places in the country, through our existing Superfast Broadband and £200 million Rural Gigabit Connectivity programmes.

The Government is also committed to extending geographic mobile coverage to 95% of the UK. On 9 March 2020, we announced the £1 billion Shared Rural Network deal with the Mobile Network Operators. This landmark deal will see operators collectively increase mobile phone coverage throughout the UK to 95% by the end of programme, underpinned by legally binding coverage commitments.

On 27 January 2021, the operators Three, O2 and Vodafone announced a joint venture to build and share 222 new masts to boost coverage across the UK to deliver the first stage of the SRN. This will result in increased coverage in each of the UK nations.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government why school meal vouchers can only be used in certain shops and cannot be used in all supermarkets and convenience stores.

During this period of partial school closures, we are asking schools to support children who are at home and eligible for and claiming benefits-related free school meals by providing meals or food parcels through their existing food providers wherever possible. We know that many schools are successfully delivering food parcels or arranging food collections for eligible children, and we encourage this approach where it is possible. However, we recognise that providing meals and food parcels is not a practicable option for all schools. That is why on 31 March we launched a national voucher scheme as an alternative option, with costs covered by the department.

Through the national voucher scheme, schools and families could initially access e-gift cards for Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer. On Monday 27 April, we added Aldi to this list and on Wednesday 29 April, we added McColl’s. We recognise that it may not be convenient or possible for some families to visit one of these supermarkets and we have been working to see if additional supermarkets can be added to this list. Any additional supermarkets would need to have the right infrastructure to deliver e-gift cards across their network of stores.

If schools are unable to provide meals or food parcels and none of the supermarkets participating in the national voucher scheme are suitable for families, schools can purchase vouchers for alternative shops and claim costs back, up to a certain limit.

Guidance on providing free school meals during the coronavirus outbreak is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools.

Further guidance on financial support is available here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020.

These are rapidly developing circumstances. We continue to keep the situation under review and will keep Parliament updated accordingly.

21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to extend the range of supermarkets and convenience stores able to accept school meal vouchers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Free school meal vouchers can currently be spent in a variety of supermarkets. Initially, the scheme includes supermarkets that already have e-gift card arrangements in place with Edenred, including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, M&S and Waitrose. On 21 April we confirmed that Aldi will be added to the list of supermarkets from week commencing 27 April. We continue to work with a wide range of supermarkets to encourage them to join. This involves them having the right infrastructure to deliver e-gift cards in a uniform way across their network of stores.

21st Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what planning exercises have been undertaken in the past 10 years to test the UK’s preparedness for managing a farm animal disease outbreak.

There have been four UK-wide exercises involving Defra, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, and the Animal and Plant Health Agency, including their operational partners and stakeholder organisations:

Exercise Holly (July 2021) tested government’s response to an outbreak of African swine fever.

Exercise Blackthorn (November 2017 to July 2018) tested the response to a major outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD).

Exercise Willow (2016) examined the UK’s capacity to respond to a large cross-border outbreak of FMD.

Exercise Walnut (2013) tested the response to an outbreak of classical swine fever.

We have also completed numerous operational, field and laboratory-based exercises to test and refine contingency plans on a yearly cycle, and our response capability has been tested by real-world outbreaks such as the ongoing outbreak of avian influenza.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government when they intend to introduce legislation against (1) puppy smuggling, (2) puppy farming, (3) pet theft, and (4) live animal exports.

We remain committed to tackling puppy smuggling, pet theft and to banning the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter. We will be taking forward these measures individually through the remainder of this parliament. Parliamentary business will be announced in the usual way.

This Government takes the issue of low-welfare and illegal supply of puppies very seriously. Significant steps have already been taken to improve and update the laws on dog breeding in England to crack down on unscrupulous breeders who breed dogs purely for financial greed at the expense of animal welfare.

Under The Animal Welfare (Licensing of Activities Involving Animals) (England) Regulations 2018, anyone in the business of breeding and selling dogs and/or who breeds three or more litters in a 12-month period needs to have a valid licence from their local authority. Licensees must meet strict statutory minimum welfare standards, including provisions to protect dogs from being bred from too often or at too early an age.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government whether they are on track to meet the target of halting the decline of species abundance by 2030; and what steps they are taking to ensure the target is met.

We have set out our plan to deliver on our ambitious 2030 target, along with our other environmental targets, in the revised Environmental Improvement Plan published 31 January 2023. Here we link the different objectives, plans and mechanisms for recovering nature.

We know that to meet our targets we will need large-scale habitat restoration, creation and improved connectivity; to tackle pressures on species including pollution, unsustainable use of resources and climate change; and targeted action to recover specific species.

Our Nature for Climate Fund provides over £750 million for the creation, restoration and management of woodland and peatland habitats. We will also launch a new multi-million pound Species Survival Fund this summer, supporting the creation and restoration of wildlife-rich habitats.

We are ensuring that the design and implementation of our current and future agri-environmental schemes and Environment Act measures such as Biodiversity Net Gain and Local Nature Recovery Strategies support the target by focusing on the habitats we need and key actions to reduce pressures; and by supporting ‘crowding in’ of private investment.

The first round of Landscape Recovery focused on river restoration and species recovery. The 22 successful projects cover over 40,000 hectares and aim to restore nearly 700km of rivers and protect and provide habitat for at least 263 species. The second round was launched on 18 May and focuses on net zero, protected sites and wildlife-rich habitats, which includes rivers, streams, and other freshwater habitats. We will offer up to 25 projects a place on the Landscape Recovery scheme in this round, within the £15 million total project development budget.

In May 2022, we launched five nature recovery projects spanning nearly 100,000 hectares, which will see the creation and restoration of wildlife-rich habitats, corridors and stepping-stones. They will help wildlife populations to move and thrive, provide nature-based solutions, and enable people to enjoy and connect with nature. Natural England plans to launch another six Nature Recovery Projects in 2022/23.

The Government has an explicit duty to ensure long-term targets are met. The Environment Act’s statutory cycle of monitoring, planning and reporting ensures that the Government will take early, regular steps to achieve long-term targets, and is held to account with regular scrutiny from the Office for Environmental Protection and Parliament. Our evaluation framework will provide a level of assurance towards our progress on the targets through adaptive management and regular evaluations and reporting.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to maintain the quality and quantity of horticulture research previously funded by the statutory levy of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

Following the industry’s vote to end the AHDB horticulture levy in 2021 we have been working with the industry and the Devolved Administrations to put in place structures that will be more responsive to what the industry wants. This has included supporting the setting up of the industry-led Horticulture Crop Protection that has taken over some of the horticulture work formerly undertaken by AHDB.

We have also committed over £104 million so far through the £270 million Farming Innovation Programme for industry-led research and development in agriculture and horticulture in England. This investment is enabling more farmers, growers and agri-food businesses to become involved in agricultural R&D. This will maximise the impact of R&D investment in innovation and improve the take up of novel approaches on farms. To date 23 out of 100 projects are focussed on horticulture.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th May 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend the number of Highly Protected Marine Areas; and what is their timetable for the associated consultation.

In February 2023 the Government announced it would designate three Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) in English Waters before 6th July 2023. The Government will begin exploring additional HPMAs this year. Any future sites would be subject to consultation as required by the Marine and Coastal Access Act.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th May 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government when the measurable indicators of progress for the Environmental Improvement Plan will be finalised.

The Environment Act’s statutory cycle of monitoring, planning and reporting ensures that government will take early, regular steps to achieve targets and can be held to account with regular scrutiny from the Office for Environmental Protection and Parliament. A key part of this cycle is the Annual Progress Report (APR) which describes what has been done to implement the Environmental Improvement Plan and considers whether the natural environment, or aspects of it, have improved over the reporting period. The latest APR was published on 20th July 2022.

In addition to other sources, the APR utilises data from the Outcome Indicator Framework for the 25 Year Environment Plan which is a suite of outcome indicators that measure changes to the environment. The 2023 annual update to the Outcome Indicator Framework was published on 22 May 2023 and provides the latest available data on environmental trends. Defra intends to publish data for all indicators by 2024.

The Environmental Improvement Plan 2023 is the first revision of the 25 Year Environment Plan. The full Outcome Indicator Framework will be reviewed in 2024 to evaluate its ongoing suitability and consideration of best available evidence. This review will also consider the framework’s alignment with the planned monitoring of the Environmental Improvement Plan 2023.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th May 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what is their response to the Greenpeace report Forever Toxic: The science on health threats from plastic recycling, published on 24 May; in particular, the finding that "recycled plastics often contain higher levels of chemicals".

We welcome the breadth of ongoing work in this area such as the research carried out by Greenpeace. In accordance with the waste hierarchy, in all circumstances, preventing waste in the first place is the preferred option.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Apr 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government (1) when they intend to publish a response to their consultation on the fur market in Great Britain, and (2) what discussions they have had with the fashion industry on alternatives to fur.

We are carefully reviewing the evidence gathered both from our Call for Evidence and from wider engagement with the fur trade and stakeholders, and a summary of responses will be published in due course. We have not been holding discussions with the fashion industry about their use of alternatives to fur.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Apr 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that all consumers have access to a balanced, healthy and affordable diet given the increases in the price of fruit and vegetables.

The Government Food Strategy sets out a plan to transform our food system to ensure it is fit for the future.

We want to see a sustainable food system, from farm to fork and catch to plate, seizing on the opportunities before us, levelling up every part of the country and ensuring that everyone has access to nutritious and healthier food.

A healthy diet is a key component of good health and the Government advises people to follow the Eatwell Guide. Encouraging more people to follow the Eatwell Guide will have a substantial benefit on health as well as the environment.

To protect the most vulnerable from the worst of cost-of-living pressures, the Chancellor recently announced a package of targeted support worth £26 billion, which includes continued support for rising energy bills.

For 2023/24, households on eligible means-tested benefits will get up to £900 in Cost of Living Payments. This will be split into three payments of around £300 each across the 2023/24 financial year. A separate £300 payment will be made to pensioner households on top of their Winter Fuel Payments and individuals in receipt of eligible disability benefits will receive a £150 payment.

The Government is committed to a sustainable, long-term approach to tackling poverty and supporting people on lower incomes. More than 8 million families on means-tested benefits received a payment of up to £650 in 2022, made in two lump sums. This includes all families entitled to a payment of: Universal Credit, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit and Pension Credit.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Apr 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the reasons for the rise in the price of basic foodstuffs reported in the Which? monthly food inflation tracker.

Food price inflation is being driven by a combination of inflationary factors across the food chain – these include increased farmgate prices influenced by global commodity prices and farm input costs such as fertilisers and animal feed. For manufacturers production costs have increased because of a combination of factors including a tight labour market increasing wages, energy price increases, fuel and packaging materials.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Apr 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what funds are available through the new Environmental Land Management schemes to support the establishment of local abattoirs and food processing hubs to improve farmers’ access to food markets.

Our Environmental Land Management schemes do not include support for abattoirs or food processing hubs. However, the Government recognises the important role local abattoirs play in supporting rural economies and maintaining a robust and competitive sector. The first round of the Farming Investment Fund opened in 2022. This offered access to financial support to establish new producer led abattoirs through our Adding Value offer. We have previously offered support for a mobile abattoir through the Rural Development Programme for England. In February 2023, Mark Spencer, Minister for Food and Farming, announced the launch of a new smaller abattoir fund to help drive productivity, add value, promote innovation and utilise new technology and enhance animal welfare. Defra is working closely with the sector on the design and content of this fund and full details of the funding package will be announced later this year.

With regards to other support for farmers, we have committed to spend around £600 million on grants and other support for farmers to invest in productivity, animal health and welfare and innovation over three years and paid out over £30 million so far in grants for technology and equipment. We have also provided 10,000 farmers with help and advice through the Future Farming Resilience Fund, which provides farmers with free advice to help farmers work out what to do for their business. Finally, we are looking at how we can support new entrants into the sector and those looking to grow their farming businesses by developing their entrepreneurial capabilities through a pilot scheme being run in conjunction with Harper Adams and Landworkers’ Alliance.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Apr 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government (1) how many applications for Sustainable Farming Incentive payments were received during each of the last three quarters, and (2) of these, how many were approved.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) was opened to farmers on 30 June 2022. The SFI scheme has a rolling application window and quarterly payments begin midway through the fourth month after the start date of the agreements.

As of 20 April 2023, the table below shows the number of applications received and agreements paid over the last three quarters. For the period January-March 2023, payments started from mid-April and will continue to be released in May and June.

Application Received Quarter

Applications Received

Agreements Offered

Agreements Set Live

Agreements Currently Live

Volume Paid

Value Paid

Pre July 2022

69

68

63

60

60

£152,777

July - Sept 2022

865

822

735

726

715

£1,621,955

Oct - Dec 2022

1139

1125

1014

1014

907

£1,424,611

Jan - Mar 2023

982

968

867

865

1

£527

Total

3055

2983

2679

2665

1683

£3,199,871

The above table shows applications received in each quarter. It is important to note that payments are made in the fourth month after the agreement start date, which may not occur in the same quarter as the application is submitted. The table below shows the number of agreements with start dates in each quarter and which of those have been paid.

Agreement Set Live Quarter

Applications Received

Agreements Offered

Agreements Set Live

Agreements Currently Live

Volume Paid

Value Paid

July - Sept 2022

238

236

238

228

226

£504,144

Oct - Dec 2022

1152

1152

1152

1149

1139

£2,137,138

Jan - Mar 2023

878

878

878

877

318

£558,589

Post Mar 2023

411

411

411

411

Total

3055

2983

2679

2665

1683

£3,199,871

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role that (1) sea kelp, and (2) sea grasses, can play in capturing carbon and meeting the UK's net zero targets; and what steps they are taking to identify and preserve these marine sites for the future.

The UK Net Zero Strategy recognised that protecting, restoring, and sustainably managing blue carbon habitats like saltmarsh and seagrass can provide benefits for biodiversity and climate adaptation, as well as for carbon sequestration. However, the potential contribution of coastal blue carbon habitats to total annual UK emissions reductions is modest due to their relatively small area.

The marine arm of the Government’s Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment programme is supporting the UK’s commitments towards net zero through monitoring and mapping carbon storage and cycling capacity across England’s coastal and marine ecosystems, such as saltmarshes, kelp forests and the seabed. This will inform better management of our natural carbon sources and sinks, including the protection of key habitats for carbon storage. Furthermore, through the UK Blue Carbon Evidence Partnership, Defra is working with the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, alongside other UK Administrations, to address key research questions relating to blue carbon.

We are also working to protect these habitats, including through the Marine Protected Areas network, which already contains the majority of saltmarsh and seagrass habitats in the UK. A number of estuarine and coastal habitat restoration initiatives are also underway including the Environment Agency’s Restoring Meadow, Marsh and Reef (ReMeMaRe) initiative, which aims to reverse centuries of coastal habitat decline by restoring seagrass meadows and saltmarsh.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Mar 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to implement the requirements of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to record all rights of way on a definitive map; and what proportion of applications for new public rights of way are outstanding.

Local Authorities are responsible for implementing the requirements of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 for the recording of rights of ways on the definitive map and statement for the area they are responsible for. The Government is committed to taking forward a number of reforms which will streamline the process for the recording of all rights of way. Details on outstanding applications are not held centrally.

In addition, the Government has tabled an amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to amend the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 to undertake a review of open access land mapping before 1 January 2031 so that as many people as possible can enjoy more of England’s mountains, moor, heath, down and registered common land.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving (1) to licensing professional dog walkers, and (2) to limiting them to a number of dogs that can be walked at any one time.

Anyone walking dogs is required to comply with the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which requires individuals in control of animals to protect them from unnecessary suffering, and to provide for their welfare needs. Commercial dog walkers should also comply with any other relevant legislation, local authority and insurance policy requirements.

The government currently has no plans to introduce new mandatory licensing for professional dogs walkers or to introduce a new mandatory limit on the number of dogs that a person can walk at any one time. The Canine and Feline Sector Group has published guidance to assist dog walkers. This can be found here: General Guidance Documents – CFSG.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Benyon on 18 January (HL Deb col 1816), when they will publish their response to the Landscapes review (National Parks and AONBs): implementing the review consultation, which ran from 15 January 2022 to 9 April 2022; and what measures in that review have already been implemented.

The Government will publish a response to our public consultation shortly, ensuring that the proposals fit with the upcoming Environmental Improvement Plan. Our Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is a key part of implementing our response to the Landscapes Review and provides funding to deliver projects on the key themes raised by the review including climate, nature, people, and place.

We are helping to create a new partnership to enable National Parks, AONBs and National Trails to achieve closer collaboration on national priorities. Natural England is progressing the landmark designation programme which includes the consideration of two new AONBs and two extensions. This is expected to be completed by 2025 and will play a key role in meeting the government’s commitment to protect and improve 30% of UK land by 2030. Further measures and additional details will be set out in the consultation response.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on farm businesses of the withdrawal of the Basic Payment Scheme.

In October 2021, the Government published the Agriculture in the UK Evidence Pack. This publication included static analysis showing the profitability of farms in the absence of Direct Payments for the years immediately prior to the start of the agricultural transition. In 2019 the Government published the farming evidence compendium. This publication provided an in-depth assessment of the impacts of removing Direct Payments with analysis by sector, location in England and type of land tenure. This publication also provided analysis on how farm businesses, across all sectors, can offset the impact of Direct Payments.

The money freed from Direct Payments is being re-invested in our other schemes for farmers and land managers. For example, the Government has recently increased the payment rates of Countryside Stewardship to help more than 30,000 farmers and is introducing a new management payment for the Sustainable Farming Incentive. The Government is also offering grants to improve farm productivity and benefit the environment through our Farming Investment Fund. Farmers affected by the phasing out of Direct Payments can also receive free business advice and support through our Future Farming Resilience Fund.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
17th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what support they are providing to coastal communities dealing with the clean up of raw sewage spills.

It is the responsibility of the water and sewerage companies to ensure they clean up any sewage following pollution incidents, including in coastal areas. This is enforced by the Environmental Agency as part of their standard incident response procedures.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to a ban on the use of all non-medical single use plastics.

Where the evidence supports the case, we will not hesitate to introduce measures to limit the use of single-use plastics, as we have done with single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds. Such an approach will continue to be applied to our upcoming policy measures, like our proposed ban of single-use plastic plates, cutlery and polystyrene food and drinks containers, to make sure we have the best overall impact on our natural environment.

We prefer to help people and companies make the right choice, rather than banning items outright. It is ultimately for businesses to decide what materials they use to supply products to customers.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reverse the increased use of antibiotics in farmed salmon.

We are working with the salmon sector to better understand the reasons underlying this increase in antibiotic use and to promote responsible antibiotic use. The salmon sector have indicated that this increase can be attributed to a rise in bacterial infections for which no vaccines are available. They have suggested that the reasons for this bacterial infection can include difficult environmental conditions, with increased water temperatures and variations in the quality and composition of the water, including the presence of potentially harmful organisms in the water (algae, plankton and micro jellyfish) which can compromise fish health.

The Salmon sector practice a high level of preventative medicine (including vaccination) and only use antibiotics in response to clinical bacterial disease, with use of antibiotics supported by culture and sensitivity testing. It is also a requirement of membership of the producers organisation Salmon Scotland that companies adhere to the Code of Good Practice for Scottish Finfish Aquaculture and, under this, all farms must have a veterinary health plan which covers the responsible use of medicines. All antibiotics are prescribed by a Veterinary Surgeon and antibiotic use and stewardship are routinely discussed within a dedicated prescribing vets forum.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government how they will ensure that the legal duty on Ministers of the Crown to have due regard to the Environmental Principles policy statement when making policy, required under the Environment Act 2021, will be upheld across government departments once it is implemented.

Defra is supporting departments with a toolkit of resources that brings together information, examples, case studies and an optional template to help policymakers effectively implement the duty.

Individual Government Departments will determine the best way to integrate the new duty with their existing policymaking processes.

The OEP has committed in its Corporate Plan 2022/23 to “Monitor implementation of the Environmental Principles Policy Statement across UK government departments and publish an evaluation of its implementation in a future year”.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what is the operative date for the implementation of the ban on the use of single use plastic plates and cutlery.

The Government response to the consultation was published on 14 January 2022


Following overwhelming support from respondents, from October 2023 we will introduce legislation banning the supply to the end user of single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, except when used as packaging, and banning the supply of single-use plastic cutlery and balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene cups and food containers, in England.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jan 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government whether the Environmental Principles required under the Environment Act 2021 will be incorporated into the Treasury Green Book.

We remain committed to updating HM Treasury’s Green Book after the final policy statement has been published.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to include species-specific stunning requirements for farmed fish in slaughter regulations, in line with the protection afforded to terrestrial farmed animals.

As part of our Action Plan for Animal Welfare, we are considering improvements that could be made to the welfare of farmed fish at the time of killing. To inform this work, we have asked the Animal Welfare Committee for advice on the killing of farmed fish, and this is expected in the new year. The Committee’s advice will take into account species-specific welfare considerations for fish that are farmed in the UK.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the new regulations regarding mandatory recyclability labelling are enforced effectively.

The regulations will set out the role of the enforcement authority and the offences and penalties that will apply to businesses that do not comply with the labelling requirements. The Office for Product Safety and Standards (OPSS) has agreed in principle to become the enforcement body and is advising us on the development of the monitoring and enforcement regime.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government whether the full revenue from water company pollution fines will be passed to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for environmental improvements.

Further details on our announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/water-company-fines-to-be-channelled-into-environmental-improvements. A copy is attached to this answer.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the announcement that water company fines will be re-invested in schemes that benefit the natural environment, what will be the operative date of this scheme; and whether previously polluted environments will qualify for payments under the new scheme.

Further details on our announcement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/water-company-fines-to-be-channelled-into-environmental-improvements. A copy is attached to this answer.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the measures requiring mandatory recycling labelling on packaging enable consumers to recycle easily and accurately, and avoid causing confusion as a result of a multiplicity of designs and messaging.

The Government set out its proposals for recycling labelling on packaging in the consultation response published in March 2022. We stated that the labelling requirements would comprise a recycling symbol (the Recycle Now ‘swoosh’) and the appropriate wording (Recycle or Do not recycle). This will provide clear information to help consumers recycle easily and avoid confusion caused by the variety of current labelling.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Dec 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they have taken (1) to progress plans to introduce mandatory recycling labelling on packaging, and (2) to ensure businesses are able to implement these reforms effectively and at reasonable costs.

We confirmed our intention to require recycling labelling on packaging in March 2022 in the Government’s Packaging Extended Producer Responsibility consultation response. We continue to engage with stakeholders as we develop these requirements, the approach to assessing recyclability and the regulations to introduce mandatory labelling.


Labelling will be required by 31 March 2026 for all packaging except plastic films and flexibles which will be required to be labelled by 31 March 2027. This should provide sufficient time for business to adopt labelling as part of typical business cycles and to avoid unnecessary costs. It will also allow time for collection services to develop such that all local authorities collect the same packaging materials for recycling.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to protect UK egg producers from being undercut by imported eggs owing to higher feed and energy costs in the UK.

Defra is carefully monitoring levels of imports through the UK Agriculture Market Monitoring Group, which monitors UK agricultural markets including price, supply, inputs, trade, and recent developments. Domestic production of eggs provides around 85% to 90% of home use and last year accounted for 92% of eggs used domestically


Despite the recent tightening of the egg market which is mainly the result of the war in Ukraine and a global increase in input costs for feed and energy, the supply chain is robust and we believe there remains sufficient supplies of eggs to meet consumer demand. We are not currently seeing any dramatic increases in the import of eggs. Increases in the price of eggs can also be seen impacting countries across the European Union.


The UK egg industry operates in an open market and the value of egg commodities, including the farm gate egg price, is established by those in the supply chain including farmers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers. We are working closely with all stakeholders within the supply chain on how they might reduce short-term disruption to consumers. The Minister for Food and Farming recently hosted an egg industry roundtable with representatives from across the UK egg supply chain, to consider the challenges currently facing the industry.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of offshore wind farms on marine biodiversity.

Offshore wind developments have the potential to cause environmental damage. The main impacts are to seabirds (from collisions, displacement, and foraging pressures), to the seabed from cabling, and to certain cetaceans from construction noise.

In the British Energy Security Strategy, the Government committed to an Offshore Wind Environmental Improvement Package (OWEIP). This will deliver several measures to support the accelerated deployment of offshore wind developments while protecting and enhancing the marine environment. These measures include; reforms to Habitats Regulations Assessments for offshore wind, establishing a Marine Recovery Fund to deliver strategic compensation, delivering Offshore Wind Environmental Standards which will include standards for underwater noise, and agreeing a new approach to monitoring in order to increase our understanding of potential impacts of offshore wind on the marine environment.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to allow fishing to take place in highly protected marine areas.

Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs) would prohibit extractive, destructive and depositional uses and this would include all commercial and recreational fisheries. Defra’s 12-week consultation for five candidate HPMAs in English Waters closed in September. Defra officials are analysing all the responses to our consultation and will shortly publish a summary of these responses. Any pilot HPMAs will be designated by 6 July 2023. The Marine and Coastal Access Act states any designation order must be within a year of the consultation starting which is 6 July 2023.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to expand seagrass and seaweed marine protected sites to contribute to the UK’s net zero carbon target.

The UK recognises the important role that nature-based solutions, including blue carbon habitats such as seagrass can play in preventing biodiversity loss and in supporting healthy ecosystems and adaptation to climate change. Although set up primarily to conserve marine biodiversity, some features of the UK’s network of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) can also provide climate change mitigation, adaptation and resilience benefits. The MPA network already contains the majority of saltmarsh and seagrass habitats in the UK and our focus is now on ensuring these areas are effectively protected.

In addition, Natural England is leading a four-year £2.5 million EU-funded LIFE Recreation ReMEDIES project running to October 2023, which aims to restore seagrass and maerl habitat in five Special Areas of Conservation and the Environment Agency’s Restoring Meadow, Marsh and Reef (ReMeMaRe) initiative is working to restore our estuarine and coastal habitats to benefit people and nature. The EA’s restoration handbooks are a key tool to support restoration of coastal blue carbon habitats, including seagrass, in the UK and beyond. Furthermore, in April 2022, the UK Government launched its £140 million Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment (NCEA) programme, a flagship three-year R&D programme, spanning England’s land, coast and sea. Part of the marine arm of the programme is monitoring and mapping carbon storage and cycling capacity across coastal and sea ecosystems, including seagrass, kelp and the seabed, to inform better management of our natural carbon sinks and sources for climate change mitigation.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Benyon on 7 November (HL2422), what were the names of the 63 recipients of enforcement undertaking payments from water and sewerage companies, totalling £11.5 million, paid out between 2017 and 2021.

Attached is a list of all charities, groups and organisations that received payments from water companies through use of Enforcement Undertakings (EUs) for the period 2017–2021 inclusive. Please note that some EUs included payment to more than one recipient, which is why the number of recipients is greater than the number of EUs accepted.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what consideration they are giving to enabling courts to fine individual board members of water companies that persistently pollute rivers and coastal waters.

As set out in Reg 41 Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016, the courts do have power to fine directors and other officers of companies which are convicted of polluting rivers and coastal waters, where it can be proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of such officer or attributable to their neglect. The Environment Agency can and does prosecute company directors and other senior officers where the necessary evidence can be obtained to meet that test.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government why they failed to meet their statutory obligation to report on the disposal of urban waste water and sludge by the deadline of 31 December 2020.

The UK Government submitted the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive report on the disposal of urban waste and sludge to the EU Commission by the deadline of 31 December 2020.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
2nd Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government who is responsible for the maintenance and accuracy of water quality monitors measuring sewage outflows; and whether it is possible for water companies to disable the monitors at critical times.

Water and Sewerage Companies have a regulatory obligation to monitor how long and how often their storm overflows discharge to the environment. This is called Event Duration Monitoring (EDM).

We have increased the number of storm overflows monitored across the network from 5% in 2016 to almost 90% now monitored, and we will reach 100% cover by December 2023. Using powers in the landmark Environment Act, we will also significantly improve transparency by requiring companies to make discharge data available in near real time to the public and monitor water quality upstream and downstream of their assets.

The Environment Agency has also instructed water companies to install new flow monitors on more than 2,000 wastewater treatment works to identify what is happening at those works during the sewage treatment process itself. The monitoring equipment and processes used by water companies are subject to scrutiny by the Environment Agency through inspection and audit. Where there is breach of permit conditions the Environment Agency may take enforcement action against the Water and Sewerage Company in line with its Enforcement and Sanctions Policy.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what progress they have made in curbing agricultural carbon emissions in order to meet their 2050 net zero target.

Agricultural greenhouse gas emissions have reduced by 16% since 1990 (as of 2020), with many farms using more efficient agricultural practices. HM Government will support farmers to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions further. The Net Zero Strategy outlines an ambition for 75% of farmers in England to be engaged in low carbon practices by 2030, rising to 85% by 2035.

As published in January 2022 HM Government anticipates the collective actions of our farmers through our environmental land management schemes, the Farming Innovation Fund and other farming offers will reduce agricultural emissions by up to 6 MtCO2e per annum in Carbon Budget 6 in England. HM Government will also pursue opportunities through tree planting and peat restoration.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government under what conditions badger culls would be extended beyond 2025; and what evidence would be required before a decision on extension is made.

Controlling TB in wildlife reservoirs, specifically badgers, makes up part of the package of measures of Defra's bovine TB eradication strategy, with the aim of achieving Officially TB Free status for England by 2038.

As part of the next phase of the strategy, HM Government will now evolve its approach and gradually move on from intensive badger culling over the next few years. Localised badger culling will remain an option where epidemiological assessment indicates that it is needed. The detailed proposal for epidemiologically led culling is currently under development.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what was the total cost to the taxpayer of controlling bovine tuberculosis since 2012; and what analysis they have made of these costs.

Defra’s net expenditure on bovine tuberculosis (bTB) eradication in England since 2012 is set out in the table below.

For the financial year 2016/17, the lower figure shown is mainly due to a difference in the handling of salvage income rather than any cut in TB control expenditure in real terms.

For the financial years after 2016/17 the figures do not include the substantial, but separately costed, expenditure made by the Animal and Plant Health Agency and its predecessor bodies, which are accounted for separately by the relevant executive Agencies. That includes expenditure on contracted out TB testing as well as the work of the Agency’s various veterinary, scientific, and administrative teams and associated operating and overhead costs. We estimate that the total costs to the taxpayer for bovine TB-related work in England have remained at around £100 million a year for each of the last 10 financial years.

Defra’s bTB eradication strategy is working. A sustained downward trajectory in disease is being seen in areas of England at highest risk of bTB (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/incidence-of-tuberculosis-tb-in-cattle-in-great-britain).

Financial year

Amount

2012/2013

£96,000,000

2013/2014

£101,781,004

2014/2015

£92,944,731

2015/2016

£90,396,214

2016/2017

£19,324,857

2017/2018

£36,192,349

2018/2019

£37,625,125

2019/2020

£36,939,089

2020/2021

£31,635,562

2021/2022

£34,261,406

TOTAL

£577,100,337

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government when they expect vaccinations and Differentiate Infected from Vaccinated Animals tests to act as the primary control measure for bovine tuberculosis; and what assessment they have made of the costs of implementing such controls.

When combined with other disease control measures, we anticipate that a cattle vaccine, used in conjunction with a DIVA test to detect infected among vaccinated animals, has the potential to be a valuable additional tool in efforts to eradicate bovine tuberculosis. Vaccination is likely to enhance, not replace, existing control measures such as TB testing and movement controls.

HM Government is currently funding field trials in the United Kingdom aimed at gathering information to support applications for national marketing authorisations for the CattleBCG vaccine and DIVA skin test. Provided the field trials go as hoped and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate considers the applications satisfactory, we are aiming for marketing authorisations to be granted in 2025.

The cost of implementing cattle vaccination and DIVA testing will be dependent on the model of deployment adopted. Options for deployment are being considered and will likely be subject to consultation in the future.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to consult (1) farmers, and (2) environmental groups, during the review of Environmental Land Management schemes; and when the review will conclude.

The environmental land management schemes have been designed to be as accessible and attractive to as wide a range of farmers as possible. We continue to work closely with a range of environmental and agricultural stakeholders to collaboratively design our new approaches to ensure they are fit for purpose. There is no scheduled end date to our engagement.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what was the total cost of the badger cull in England in each year since 2012, including (1) costs to government departments, (2) costs to farmers, and (3) policing costs.

Badger cull operation costs incurred by HM Government are published annually on GOV.UK at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bovine-tb-government-badger-control-costs.

Badger control costs

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Government costs (excl. police)

£6.3m

£3.1m

£1.8m

£2.4m

£2.6m

£2.1m

£2.2m

£2.2m

Policing costs

£3.5m

£1.4m

£1.8m

£3m

£4m

£3.2m

£3.66m

£4m

Total

£9.8m

£4.5m

£3.6m

£5.4m

£6.6m

£5.3m

£5.86m

£6.2m

Number of areas

2

2

3

10

21

32

43

54

Total costs per area

£4.9m

£2.3m

£1.2m

£0.5m

£0.3m

£0.17m

£0.14m

£0.14m

Badger cull operations did not take place in 2012, therefore no costs were incurred that year.

Badger cull operations are an industry-led initiative, therefore the costs to industry are not published or known by HM Government.

HM Government costs for 2021 will be published in due course.

To put the badger cull operational costs into perspective, below are the annual compensation costs for cattle culled to control spread of bovine TB during the same period.

Cattle compensation costs

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

£31.4m

£30.5m

£29.9m

£27m

£37m

£35.3m

£32.2m

£30.8m

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to avoid food shortages this winter arising from water shortages and rising energy costs.

The United Kingdom has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the COVID-19 response. It is well equipped to deal with situations with the potential to cause disruption. Our high degree of food security is built on supply from diverse sources, strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes.

The United Kingdom’s consumers have access through international trade to food products that cannot be produced here, or at least not on a year-round basis. This supplements domestic production, and also ensures that any disruption from risks such as adverse weather or disease does not affect the UK's overall security of supply.

Defra has well established ways of working with the industry and across HM Government to monitor risks that may arise. This includes extensive, regular and ongoing engagement in preparedness for, and response to, issues with the potential to cause disruption to food supply chains.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Benyon (HL2226), how much compensation was awarded to victims of water pollution following a successful conviction by the Environment Agency in each of the last five years; and how much of any such compensation was awarded to consumers.

The Environment Agency (EA) does not administer compensation schemes to those affected by pollution or to water consumers.

An enforcement undertaking is a voluntary offer by an offender to put right the effects of their offending, its impact on third parties and to make sure it cannot happen again.

From 2017 to 2021 (inclusive), the EA accepted 63 enforcement undertakings from the main water and sewerage companies based in England, averaging a £181,690.21 pay-out for each.

The total value of these enforcement undertakings was approximately £11.5 million.

Where it is not possible to fully restore any environmental damage then the offer needs to include some form of environmental benefit or improvement or compensation for damage to the natural capital, for example, money for a project to improve river quality following a water pollution incident.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
10th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government when they will publish the National Action Plan on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides; and whether those proposals will feed into the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.

The United Kingdom upholds strict food safety, health and environmental standards, and our first priority regarding pesticides is to ensure that they will not harm people or pose unacceptable risks to the environment. HM Government has an excellent record on the environment enshrined in law in our landmark Environment Act. We are working to publish an updated National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides.

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill will enable HM Government, via Parliament, to adopt a home-grown regulatory approach and will make sure that HM Government can amend, repeal or replace retained EU law with domestic legislation which better suits the United Kingdom. Departments, including DEFRA, are already reviewing their Retained EU Law (REUL), and considering whether any changes are required in order to continue delivering their policy objectives. If changes are needed, departments will be able to use legislative powers, including those within the REUL Bill, to do so ahead of the sunset date.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Sep 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the CPRE report Building on our Food Security, published on 22 July, which identified a hundredfold increase in house and infrastructure construction on prime agricultural land since 2010.

We welcome the CPRE report and analysis on development on prime agricultural land. This report highlights some of the ongoing and emerging challenges of use of land to achieve food security, housing need and energy security.

The Government recognises the importance of food security, which is why we published the Food Strategy earlier this year. The Food Strategy puts food security at the heart of the government's vision for the food sector. It aims to broadly maintain the current level of food that we produce domestically and boost production in sectors where there are the biggest opportunities. We are seeking to deliver as much as we can on our limited supply of land, to meet the whole range of Government commitments on food, housing, climate, and the environment. To help achieve this, we will publish a Land Use Framework in 2023 which will set out land-use change principles to balance these outcomes.

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out clearly that local planning authorities should consider all the benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land when making plans or taking decisions on new development proposals. Where significant development of agricultural land is shown to be necessary, planning authorities should seek to use poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality.

We work closely with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to ensure that planning policy continues to support agriculture and food production as well as delivering other goals for housing, infrastructure and the environment.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Sep 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to ensure the availability of fertiliser and carbon dioxide to the farming and food sectors following the announcement by CF Fertilisers that they are halting production in the UK.

It is disappointing that CF Fertilisers has taken the decision to halt ammonia production at Billingham. However, since last autumn the CO2 market’s resilience has improved, with additional imports, further production from existing sources such as anaerobic digestion and bioethanol and better stockpiles. We expect the supply of ammonia (from imports by CF Fertilisers) and production of nitric acid and fertiliser to be unaffected. While the Government continues to examine options for the market to improve resilience over the longer term, we urge industry to do anything it can to meet demand, which is in the best interest of businesses and the public.

National Fertiliser Supplies

CF Fertilisers produces ammonium nitrate fertiliser and nitric acid in the UK at Billingham. The company expects to fulfil all ammonia and nitric acid contracts and all orders of Ammonium Nitrate contracted for delivery in the coming months. The supply and price of these products is a commercial matter for CF Fertilisers, and we expect supply to continue.

While global fertiliser prices have risen, the supply chain providing imports of fertiliser to the UK has remained dynamic. We are continuing to monitor the security and stability of fertiliser and other supply chains and work closely with colleagues across government and devolved administrations as well as industry figures.

Carbon Dioxide Supplies

Defra is working with sector stakeholders to encourage contingency planning and resilience and understand that various CO2 supply companies in the UK are working on or have secured additional CO2 to mitigate shortages. We are confident CO2 stocks are secure for the coming winter.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Sep 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what obligations, if any, water companies have to inform anglers of real time sewerage outflows into the sea which may affect the quality of the catch.

This Government has increased the number of storm overflows monitored across the network from approximately 5% in 2016, to nearly 90% in 2021. By 2023 we will have 100% coverage.

Under our landmark Environment Act, we have significantly improved transparency around storm sewer overflow discharges by making it a legal requirement for companies to provide discharge data to the Environment Agency and by 2023 water companies must make it available in near real time to the public. Our Environment Act also places new duties on water companies to monitor the water quality impacts up and downstream of all storm overflows and assets. Anglers will be able to use this data to inform their decisions when choosing where to fish.

The use of storm overflows is strictly set out in Environment Agency permits. If storm overflows operate outside of permit conditions, the EA will take the strongest enforcement action possible. Since 2015, the EA has brought 54 prosecutions against water companies, securing fines of almost £140 million.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Sep 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether anglers could be entitled to compensation from water companies as a result of pollution into fishing waters from sewerage outflows.

There is no specific compensation scheme for anglers. Enforcement action by Ofwat can lead to settlements where water companies agree to return money to customers as bill rebates. As a result of Ofwat’s action against Southern Water in 2019 and Thames Water in 2018, the companies are returning £123 million and £120 million respectively to customers over the next five years.

The use of storm overflows is strictly set out in Environment Agency permits who will not hesitate to use all options for robust enforcement action against illegal breaches of these permits. This can include unlimited fines via criminal prosecution by the Environment Agency for the most serious offences. Since 2015, the EA has brought 54 prosecutions against water companies, securing fines of almost £140 million.

Victims of environmental offending can apply to the court for compensation as part of proceedings brought by the Environment Agency and this is generally the first matter the court will address upon sentencing. Impacted parties can approach the Environment Agency and ask for their compensation claim to be included in the proceedings. Compensation may then be awarded by the Court on successful conviction.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will review the effectiveness of the Heather and Grass etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021 given evidence from the RSPB and Unearthed suggesting widespread breaches.

Reports of suspected unlawful burning received by Defra are being assessed and reviewed.  Early indications are that only a small number of those presented to us may represent a potential breach of the regulations.

Suspected breaches will be investigated, with the outcomes forming part of our ongoing review of the effectiveness of the Regulations.

8th Jul 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to investigate the data from the monitoring reports by the RSPB and Unearthed which suggest that over 50 burns in protected areas have taken place that may be in breach of the Heather and Grass Etc. Burning (England) Regulations 2021.

Reports of suspected unlawful burning received by Defra are being assessed and reviewed.  Early indications are that only a small number of those presented to us may represent a potential breach of the regulations.

Suspected breaches will be investigated, with the outcomes forming part of our ongoing review of the effectiveness of the Regulations.

9th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent marine protected areas from being (1) bottom trawled, and (2) dredged.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

We have designated over 100 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) since 2010, so that now 40% of English waters are within the protected area network. We have already committed that the next step is to ensure all of our MPAs are properly managed and supported by our proposed legally binding target under the Environment Act which we are consulting on at present. 98 MPAs in English inshore waters are already protected from damaging fishing activity and we have introduced byelaws in the first four offshore sites, which ban bottom towed gear over sensitive habitats. We have also published a call for evidence relating to the next 13 offshore sites. We are aiming to have all MPAs in English offshore waters protected from damaging fishing activity by 2024.

9th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Benyon on 8 June (HL Deb col 1151), what steps they are taking to ensure that private sector investment in the natural environment is carried out with "the proper social underpinning".

The Government has an ambitious target to raise at least £500m a year of private finance for nature’s recovery by 2027 and £1 billion by 2030. We are developing a number of tools to support that target, including standards and frameworks to ensure investments are robust and credible, as well as taking appropriate account of factors such as local community impacts. We intend to set out more detail on this work shortly, however in the interim there are several policies that aim to address this for current investments.

For example, the UK Woodland Carbon Code provides a robust, internationally recognised standard for investment in new woodland creation. The Woodland Carbon Code includes a requirement to adhere throughout the lifetime of projects to the social aspects of sustainable forest management set out in the UK Forestry Standard. This includes taking action to safeguard against negative social outcomes, as well as to manage for positive social outcomes. Furthermore, any large or commercial woodland creation projects would require an Environmental Impact Assessment which requires a public consultation.

Under our COP26 Presidency, the Government has supported action to raise standards for voluntary carbon markets. This includes the international Voluntary Carbon Markets Integrity Initiative, which published its draft Code of Conduct on 7 June.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to implement the recommendations of the Landscapes review: National Parks and AONBs led by Julian Glover.

The Government published its response to the Landscapes Review on 15 January. We have received over 15,000 responses to our consultation and are currently analysing the consultation responses.

Since the review was published, we have launched the Farming in Protected Landscapes programme to provide funding for farmers and land managers to work in partnership with National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) teams to deliver projects on climate, nature, people and place. In the first year of the programme, more than 1,000 projects have been supported.

The Government is supporting more diverse and inclusive engagement in our protected landscapes, through programmes such as Generation Green programme, which has been funded through our Green Recovery Challenge Fund. The Government is also running green social prescribing pilots at several sites in or near protected landscapes, which will test how connecting people with nature can improve mental wellbeing.

Natural England is implementing an ambitious new landscape designation programme, which includes considering the creation of two new AONBs in the Yorkshire Wolds and Cheshire Sandstone Ridge, and extensions to the Surrey Hills and Chilterns AONBs. The new programme is also exploring new approaches to improve landscapes for people and nature, particularly in and around towns and cities.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made with the roll-out of Local Nature Recovery Strategies.

The Government is working to put in place the key measures necessary for preparation of Local Nature Recovery Strategies (LNRS) to begin across England. We are developing regulations which will set out the process that must be followed in preparing a LNRS and guidance on what each Strategy should contain. Development of these two documents is being informed by over 400 responses we received to our consultation which closed in November as well as lessons learnt during our five LNRS pilots (report published here and attached).

We are working to identify the geographies that each LNRS will cover and appropriate "responsible authorities" to lead the preparation of each one. We have had very positive initial engagement with potential responsible authorities across the country, building towards agreeing LNRS areas and securing formal appointments later this year.

To enable these formal appointments, we are developing our financial offer for responsible authorities to ensure that they have sufficient resource to deliver their new role. We are also compiling the nationally-held data and information that we will provide to each responsible authority to help them prepare their LNRS.

26th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to discourage food producers from using palm oil following disruptions to the supply of sunflower oil as a result of the war in Ukraine.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain – which has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges. The world’s leading vegetable oil is palm oil, however, several other oils are often used by the food manufacturing industry. Many UK manufacturers use sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil in their products. It is important to note that both supermarkets and food producers are private businesses that each have their own approaches and it is not the role of the Government to direct their operations.

We are working closely with the food and feed industry to understand the impacts of the situation in Ukraine on sunflower seed, oil or sunseed meal supplies, whilst the Food Standards Agency have informed consumers that rapeseed oil may start to replace sunflower oil in some products

We remain in regular contact with major grain traders, manufacturers and food retailers to understand the impacts of global events on supply chains, monitor availability of key ingredients and to ensure the highest possible standards for our food products.

At the moment domestic edible oil refiners are reporting that the UK has adequate stocks of many different oils and food industry figures remain confident in the supply chain to adjust to any changes in ingredients which may be necessary.

26th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to adopt the EU’s ‘rolling list’ of potentially toxic chemicals as part of the UK's REACH register.

Defra continues to work closely with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Environment Agency (EA), Welsh and Scottish Governments to identify our priorities under UK REACH. To do this, we consider information from a range of sources, including reviewing action initiated under the EU.

Once we have identified priority chemical risks for GB we consider the most appropriate approach for managing them. This could include action under REACH, or action through other means, such as through the occupational health and safety regulations or the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) regulations.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to ensure that slight variations of existing banned chemicals are not allowed onto the UK market.

We recognise that when assessing the risk of hazardous chemicals, it is important to consider whether they might be substituted with others with similar hazards (known as regrettable substitution). We are aiming to tackle this issue by considering whole groups of chemicals, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), during our analysis of the various risk management options available under UK REACH, and at the same time considering the availability and suitability of alternatives.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of domestic demand for palm oil as a result of (1) disturbances to agricultural production in Ukraine, and (2) restrictions to imports from Russia.

The world’s leading vegetable oil is palm oil. However, several other oils are often used by the food manufacturing industry. Many UK manufacturers use sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil in their products.

Ukraine is a major producer of sunflower and oil seed rape, supply of which is threatened by the current situation in that region. However, the UK has a highly resilient food supply chain – which has coped well in responding to unprecedented challenges.

We remain in regular contact with major grain traders, manufacturers and food retailers to understand the impacts of global events on supply chains and to ensure the highest possible standards for our food products.

At the moment supermarkets are reporting product availability for many different oils and food industry figures remain confident in the supply chain to adjust to any changes in ingredients which may be necessary.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
29th Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support dairy farmers adversely affected by higher costs of (1) feed, (2) fuel, and (3) fertiliser.

Agricultural commodities are closely correlated to global gas prices. Dairy farmers are facing increased input costs, including feed, fuel and fertiliser prices. We continue to monitor the situation, including through the UK Agricultural Market Monitoring Group. Defra is in regular contact with key industry figures including the National Farmers Union, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and key sector representatives.

The Government announced on the 30 March a number of actions to address current fertiliser issues. These included changes to statutory guidance to the Environment Agency on how they should implement the "Farming Rules for Water" to provide clarity to farmers on how they can use slurry and other manures during autumn and winter to meet agronomic needs; increased grants funding to help farmers and growers boost research and development; and a delay to changes to the use of urea by at least a year. When the urea restrictions are introduced, they will be related to the use of ammonia inhibitors rather than a complete ban.

We recognise that fertiliser pressures on the livestock and arable sectors may differ, particularly over the farming seasons. On the 31 March Minister Prentis hosted the first meeting of the Fertiliser Roundtable with key industry bodies to discuss potential mitigations to the challenges which global supply pressures are causing. Ministers will continue to meet with key industry bodies for further fertiliser round-table sessions in the coming months, to help identify and mitigate potential risks.

Defra is working closely with its industry-led groups and key stakeholders to monitor the position on animal feed. This includes both availability and price of animal feed ingredients for all species, including the dairy sector.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce a ban on the import of hunting trophies.

We have pledged to bring forward legislation to ban imports of hunting trophies from thousands of species. This ban will be among the strongest in the world, leading the way in protecting endangered animals. We intend to bring this forward as soon as parliamentary time allows.

1st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consultation with stakeholders they have undertaken in preparation for the UN COP15 Biodiversity Conference.

The UK is committed to playing a leading role in developing an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity later this year. Defra continues to work closely with a wide range of NGOs, businesses and civil society organisations to deliver its objectives. Defra is also seeking input from its specialist arms-length bodies and other Government departments in developing its approach.

1st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the composition of the UK delegation to the UN COP15 Biodiversity Conference.

The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy identified tackling climate change and biodiversity loss as the UK’s international priority through COP26 and beyond. The UK is committed to playing a leading role at CBD COP15 this year to secure agreement to ambitious global action over the next decade. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we expect the COP itself to take place in the third quarter of 2022. I will head the UK delegation, and attendance by other UK Government Ministers and attendance by officials will be confirmed when revised dates for COP15 are available.

1st Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what target outcomes they have for the UK delegation to the UN COP15 Biodiversity Conference being held in Kunming, China, in April and May.

Biodiversity loss is a global problem that needs a global solution, and the UK is committed to playing a leading role in developing an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity later this year. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we expect the COP itself to take place in the third quarter of 2022.

The UK will be advocating for ambitious global targets to bend the curve of biodiversity loss by 2030. This includes targets to ensure at least 30% of the land and of the ocean is protected, ecosystems are restored, species population sizes are recovering, and extinctions are halted by 2050. The UK is calling for this ambitious set of targets to be supported by increased finance for nature from all sources (public and private) and at all levels (domestic and international), and for strengthened reporting and review mechanisms to facilitate the achievement of targets and hold Parties to account to their commitments.

28th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in support of voluntary efforts to phase out the use of lead shot by game hunters in England; and what plans they have, if any, to introduce a requirement to replace the use of lead shot with other materials which do not harm the countryside.

Nine high-profile shooting organisations released a joint statement in 2020 calling for an end to lead in ammunition used for taking live quarry with shotguns within five years. We welcomed this move away from lead and are committed to ensuring a sustainable, mutually beneficial relationship between shooting and conservation. By 2020, the use of lead ammunition in England had already been restricted in specific circumstances by existing legislation– including being prohibited in or over sites of special scientific interest including wetlands.

In spring 2021, Defra asked the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency (EA) to prepare a UK REACH restriction dossier for lead ammunition. The HSE and the EA are considering the evidence of risk posed by lead in ammunition on human health and the environment and, therefore, the case for introducing a UK REACH restriction on lead in ammunition. This process will take approximately two years (from spring 2021), after which the Secretary of State, with the consent of the Scottish and Welsh Ministers, will make a decision on the basis of this review. Further information can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/plans-announced-to-phase-out-lead-ammunition-in-bid-to-protect-wildlife

22nd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce a ban of the import of animal fur as part of their proposed animal welfare legislation.

Now we have left the EU, the Government is able to explore potential action in relation to animal fur. We are reviewing the evidence gathered both from our Call for Evidence and wider engagement with the fur trade and stakeholders, and a summary of responses will be published soon.

22nd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce a ban on the import of foie gras as part of their proposed animal welfare legislation.

The Government has made clear that the production of foie gras from ducks or geese using force feeding raises serious welfare concerns. Now we have left the EU we are able to consider any further steps that could be taken in relation to foie gras that is produced overseas using force feeding practices, such as restrictions on import and sale. We are gathering information and will continue to speak to a range of interested parties about the issues involved. This is in line with the Government’s commitment to improving animal welfare standards as set out in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

22nd Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the governments of the devolved nations regarding introducing Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) on all UK fishing fleets.

The Government has been clear that we see the potential for REM, including cameras, to support our ambitions for sustainable fisheries management and protecting the marine environment.

The enforcement of fisheries management measures and scientific monitoring of fish stocks are, however, devolved matters. It is therefore for each UK administration to decide its approach.

There are regular discussions on REM as part of the normal policy development process. We will continue to work with our colleagues around the UK to discuss our policies where it is right to do so.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what stakeholders they intend to involve when drawing up the new fair dealing Codes of Practice provided for in the Agriculture Act 2020; and in what ways those stakeholders will be involved.

The Government is committed to tackling the unfairness that can exist in the agri-food supply chain. Powers in the Agriculture Act allow us to introduce statutory codes of conduct which increase the transparency of business relationships and protect farmers from imbalanced commercial terms. We intend to use these powers in a targeted way where there is clear evidence of unfair practices in specific agricultural sectors and statutory codes will help address the issues.

A public consultation exploring the dairy supply chain was carried out in June 2020 and we are in the process of developing regulations which we intend to introduce later this year. In the coming months we are also launching a public consultation exploring how fairness and transparency can be improved in the pork sector.

The Government will continue to work closely with all sectors to discuss any supply chain issues and any regulations will be developed alongside industry with the close involvement of stakeholders.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent small farmers being pressured into signing unfair food supply deals by large supermarkets.

The Government is committed to tackling the unfairness that can exist in the agri-food supply chain. Powers in the Agriculture Act allow us to introduce statutory codes of conduct which increase the transparency of business relationships and protect farmers from imbalanced commercial terms. We intend to use these powers in a targeted way where there is clear evidence of unfair practices in specific agricultural sectors and statutory codes will help address the issues.

A public consultation exploring the dairy supply chain was carried out in June 2020 and we are in the process of developing regulations which we intend to introduce later this year. In the coming months we are also launching a public consultation exploring how fairness and transparency can be improved in the pork sector.

The Government will continue to work closely with all sectors to discuss any supply chain issues and any regulations will be developed alongside industry with the close involvement of stakeholders.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Feb 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their timetable for introducing the sector-specific codes on fair dealing in the food supply chain as set out in the Agriculture Act 2020.

The Government is committed to tackling the unfairness that can exist in the agri-food supply chain. Powers in the Agriculture Act allow us to introduce statutory codes of conduct which increase the transparency of business relationships and protect farmers from imbalanced commercial terms. We intend to use these powers in a targeted way where there is clear evidence of unfair practices in specific agricultural sectors and statutory codes will help address the issues.

A public consultation exploring the dairy supply chain was carried out in June 2020 and we are in the process of developing regulations which we intend to introduce later this year. In the coming months we are also launching a public consultation exploring how fairness and transparency can be improved in the pork sector.

The Government will continue to work closely with all sectors to discuss any supply chain issues and any regulations will be developed alongside industry with the close involvement of stakeholders.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
31st Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Benyon on 25 January (HL Deb col 69GC), how many of the dogs recently imported from Afghanistan have been found to have serious diseases; what steps are being taken to control the spread of Brucella canis, identified among some of these dogs; and whether the dogs will remain in quarantine until full biosecurity guarantees can be given.

We have some of the strongest biosecurity and safety controls in the world to help protect people and animals against diseases coming into the country.

Whilst I am unable to comment on individual cases, I can provide reassurance that the Animal and Plant Health Agency has worked closely and constructively with Nowzad to manage rabies and other disease risks effectively. Dogs were only released to Nowzad after fully completing the necessary rabies quarantine and treatment process.

We have separately taken a number of wider actions to address the risks posed by Brucella canis. Firstly, we have required that incidences of the pathogen in dogs are now reportable under the Zoonoses Order. This will allow us to monitor the number of cases and determine whether there is a wider problem within the existing UK dog population. In addition we are working to raise the profile of the disease with public health and veterinary professionals. We have undertaken a risk review and statement on the public health risk which was published on the UK Health Security Agency website on 12 February 2021, and our Chief Veterinary Officer has written an open letter to the Vet Record to warn veterinarians about the risk and what to look for in sick dogs. We will continue to gather information on the disease risk posed by Brucella canis and will consider any further actions as appropriate.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
31st Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to pass a bill to make provision about the welfare of certain kept animals that are in, imported into, or exported from Great Britain, in the current parliamentary session.

This Government is committed to increasing our already high animal welfare standards. Our Action Plan for Animal Welfare lays out how we will ensure the welfare of all animals, whether that be farm, pet or wild animals is set at the highest standards, as well as encouraging similar standards abroad.

The Government introduced the landmark Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill to Parliament on 8 June 2021. The Bill will extend and strengthen protections for pets, farmed animals, and kept wild animals. Following introduction, the Bill has subsequently passed the second reading and committee stage in the House of Commons. This Bill is currently awaiting a date for report stage when parliamentary timetabling allows.

28th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the consultation on the proposed changes to public sector food procurement policy will take place.

We will be consulting on a set of proposed changes to public sector food procurement policy, including the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services (GBSF), following the publication of the Government’s Food Strategy White Paper due to launch shortly. The consultation will seek views on ways to promote local, sustainable, healthier food in the public sector, open public sector procurement to a wider range of businesses, and increase the transparency of food supply chains.

The GBSF consultation will be an exciting opportunity for producers and consumers of public sector food to have their say and make suggestions to help shape future policy. We look forward to receiving input to the consultation from the sector, and more information will be released in due course once the consultation date has been confirmed.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Benyon on 19 January (HL Deb, col 1650), whether Ofwat has powers to insist that the remuneration and bonuses of individual water company executives should be limited in cases where raw sewage is allowed to persistently pollute rivers and waterways.

The pollution of rivers and waterways is unacceptable. We have been clear that water companies must do more to tackle their pollution, and if we do not see adequate improvements we will not hesitate to take further action.

The Board Leadership, Transparency and Governance principles issued by Ofwat set out expectations on transparency of executive pay. Ofwat now requires water companies to meet the objectives of the principles, and to demonstrate the link between their performance and performance-pay for executive teams as required by their license conditions.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what checks are carried out by the Environment Agency to ensure that water companies report all sewage discharges into rivers and waterways.

Water companies are required to monitor their processes and emissions, and report these to the Environment Agency (EA). Water companies provide this information through annual data returns or upon request by the EA. The EA runs this through compliance checks to ensure water companies are meeting permit requirements. The Environment Act 2021 also places new monitoring duties directly on water companies requiring the publication of storm overflow spill data in near real time and monitoring upstream and downstream of all storm overflows.

The monitoring equipment and processes used by water companies are subject to scrutiny by the EA through inspection and audit and, in the case of flow measurement, by independent and accredited flow experts. These experts are commissioned by the EA to inspect sites and ensure that flow measurements are accurate to exacting quality standards.

25th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with Ofwat about the powers it has to take action against individual water company executives in the event of illegal sewage discharges; and whether those discussions identified (1) any request from Ofwat for greater powers to fine water company executives, and (2) any lacunae in its regulatory powers in this area.

Water companies are separate legal entities from their directors, as per company law, and it is companies which undertake most of the duties associated with treatment and discharge of sewage. However, directors of companies can be held liable for the offences committed by their companies in the event that consent, connivance or neglect on their part can be shown.

The Government has made improving water quality a priority and has introduced reforms to enable that. The Environment Act has placed our ambition on a statutory footing, setting a duty for water companies to achieve a progressive reduction in the adverse impacts of discharges from Storm Overflows. The Act has also modernised water resources planning, and introduced statutory requirements on monitoring and transparency. The Secretary of State can also give general authorisation to Ofwat which will enable the regulator to take enforcement action should companies fail to meet these new duties.

The Strategic Policy Statement to Ofwat sets an expectation that they will challenge water companies to demonstrate how they will deliver improvements to environmental outcomes, sets a new course so the industry can deliver more for the environment, and includes an expectation for Ofwat to 'challenge water companies to demonstrate how they will achieve zero serious pollution incidents by 2030' which will provide a clear signal to companies.

11th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the criteria for applying for the Local Nature Recovery Scheme and the Landscape Recovery Scheme will be published.

As set out in our payment principles document published in June 2021, we aim to support the stacking of multiple public schemes and public and private finance so long as schemes are compatible, pay for different or additional outcomes and do not pay for the same action twice.

On 6 January 2022 we published further information on both Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery.

This included the broad themes that Local Nature Recovery will pay for and more detail on how it will work. This publication also confirmed that we will continue working with stakeholders to develop the detailed scheme rules for Local Nature Recovery. We will finalise and publish these as soon as possible to allow people to plan their participation in the scheme.

The publication also included initial information on the criteria for the first round of Landscape Recovery pilot projects. It confirmed that we will launch the application process shortly including publishing full guidance for applicants. This guidance will cover detailed information on how bids will be assessed and how the scheme will work for the selected projects. Projects will have 16 weeks to prepare their applications before the application window closes. Applications will then be assessed against our selection criteria and we will confirm the chosen first round pilot projects this summer.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether applications for the new Local Nature Recovery scheme and the Landscape Recovery Scheme will take account of whether potential recipients are already in receipt of funding from existing DEFRA payment schemes or other environmental land management schemes.

As set out in our payment principles document published in June 2021, we aim to support the stacking of multiple public schemes and public and private finance so long as schemes are compatible, pay for different or additional outcomes and do not pay for the same action twice.

On 6 January 2022 we published further information on both Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery.

This included the broad themes that Local Nature Recovery will pay for and more detail on how it will work. This publication also confirmed that we will continue working with stakeholders to develop the detailed scheme rules for Local Nature Recovery. We will finalise and publish these as soon as possible to allow people to plan their participation in the scheme.

The publication also included initial information on the criteria for the first round of Landscape Recovery pilot projects. It confirmed that we will launch the application process shortly including publishing full guidance for applicants. This guidance will cover detailed information on how bids will be assessed and how the scheme will work for the selected projects. Projects will have 16 weeks to prepare their applications before the application window closes. Applications will then be assessed against our selection criteria and we will confirm the chosen first round pilot projects this summer.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there is a target to retain the current levels of food grown and processed in the UK.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the Covid-19 response. It is well equipped to deal with situations with the potential to cause disruption. Our high degree of food security is built by supply from diverse sources; strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes. This provides us with the resilience we need in the face of risks such as adverse weather, animal or crop disease, or transport and border disruption.

Our production to supply ratio remains high in comparison with historical levels. We produce 60% of all the food we need, and 74% of food which we can grow or rear in the UK for all or part of the year, and these figures have changed little over the last 20 years. The UK’s year-round production includes cereals, meats, milk and some fresh produce. We have very high production to supply ratios in poultry, turnips, carrots, swedes, eggs and beef.

The UK Food Security Report (UKFSR) recognises the contribution made by British farmers to our resilience, and the importance of strong domestic production to our food security. It considers the UK's food supply sources overall, noting that domestic production and diversity of supply are both important to our food security. The UKFSR summarises existing information and understanding. It serves as an evidence base for future policy work, and does not contain policy recommendations.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
11th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they expect the Environment Agency to inspect all reports of water pollution to ascertain the seriousness of the incident.

The Environment Agency (EA) receives over 100,000 incident reports a year, every one of which is recorded and assessed. The EA then focuses its efforts and resources on where they will have the most impact - so those which pose the greatest risk to the environment.

The EA's Incident Triage Project is looking at how the EA can best use its resources and maximise benefits for the environment. While it continues to attend the most serious incidents, the EA will concentrate its efforts on regulatory activities which prevent incidents from happening in the first place. Intelligence from incident reporting helps the EA plan and prioritise work to protect the environment.

11th Jan 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the targets for each of the coming five years for reducing (1) nitrogen, (2) phosphate, and (3) sediment pollutants, entering UK watercourses.

We have existing regimes to set ambitions for local water bodies through River Basin Management Planning, including nutrient limits in certain areas. The draft River Basin Management Plans were published on 22 October 2021 for consultation, which will end on 22 April 2022.

The Government has taken powers in the Environment Act to create new, legally-binding targets in four priority areas including water, to complement the existing framework. These new targets will be an important mechanism to drive environmental improvement and meet our ambitious objectives for clean and plentiful water in the 25 Year Environment Plan.

We plan to publish our proposed targets along with supporting evidence for public consultation shortly. I would encourage all interested parties to engage in this process.

9th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, of the target of 5,000 hectares of trees planted, what proportion were planted in (1) 2020, and (2) 2021; and what the delivery target will be for 2022.

The Government committed to trebling woodland creation rates to 30,000 hectares per year in the UK by the end of this Parliament. The Government aims to at least treble woodland creation in England over that time period to contribute to that target and will maintain new planting at least at this level from 2025 onwards.

After centuries of deforestation, tree cover in the UK reached its low point in 1924, with only 5% of the UK forested after the First World War. Now, after a century of effort, we have brought woodland cover back up to 13% of our land. The areas of new planting (woodland creation) taken from the Forestry Commission’s Forestry Statistics are shown below:

Year (ending 31 March)

New planting in England (thousand hectares)

2019-20

2.34

2020-21

2.06

Since 2020-21 there are also quarterly interim reports (provisional statistics) on new planting of woodland published in the Forestry Commission Key Performance Indicators. In the first half of 2021-22 there were 856 hectares of new planting of woodland in England. We expect further trees to be planted throughout this tree planting season which ends in March 2022, and our projections show we are currently on the right trajectory to meet our commitments.

In England, we are boosting the existing £640 million Nature for Climate Fund with a further £124 million of new money, ensuring total spend of more than £750 million by 2025 on peat restoration, woodland creation and management - above and beyond what was promised in the manifesto.

9th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what penalties can be applied against individual directors of water companies who recklessly or repeatedly discharge unpermitted sewage into waterways.

There is a range of legal powers available to Defra and its regulators, such as the Environment Agency, to hold company directors to account when they cause or knowingly permit a breach of environmental regulations. These powers are used regularly to hold directors to account, including where necessary bringing forward criminal proceedings.

If successful, prosecution can lead to company director(s) being fined, imprisoned, handed a suspended sentence, ordered to do unpaid community work, and disqualified from holding office as a director for a fixed period of up to fifteen years.

9th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact on public health of toxic air from landfill sites.

Operators of landfill sites are required to apply to the Environment Agency (EA) for an Environmental Permit before operations can commence. During the application process the EA assesses the impact of emissions to air from landfills on the environment and human health. The EA also assesses emissions during routine check monitoring and in response to specific incidents.

Whenever there are concerns over potential impacts on human health the relevant data is forwarded to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) as the Government body responsible for protecting the health of communities. The predecessor to UKHSA, the Health Protection Agency, published advice in 2011 on the impacts on health of emissions from landfill sites. The report concluded that a well-managed modern landfill site does not pose a significant risk to human health. This advice remains consistent with the research sponsored by Defra in 2004, which was reviewed by the Royal Society. The UKHSA works with the EA to ensure that individual landfill sites do not contribute significantly to ill-health.

9th Dec 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, how they will evaluate the requirements on water companies in the Environment Act 2021 to make progressive reductions in sewage dumping.

Progressive reduction in harm means that we expect Water Companies in England to continue to take the steps necessary to reduce the harm caused by Storm Overflows, even after the next price review period. This duty will complement the 'significant' reduction required by the draft Strategic Policy Statement (SPS). We have been clear that we want to see meaningful action in this place, and will not hesitate to take further action if necessary.

The Environment Act transparency measures mean the public, stakeholders' regulators and Government will be able to proactively measure the performance of water companies in achieving this duty.

More information on ambition and timescales will be provided during the upcoming price review period - the Government, Ofwat and the Environment Agency all have roles to play in clarifying this detail. We expect to issue guidance to water companies early in 2022.

The Environment Act also commits Government to produce a Discharge Reduction Plan by September 2022. We have been clear that this Plan is the right place to set our guiding principles to reduce harm from storm overflows - including our level of ambition and this will be consulted on in Spring 2022.

24th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government which public body is responsible for ensuring the welfare of farmed fish at processing sites.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency is responsible for carrying out any investigations concerning the welfare of farmed fish at processing sites.

24th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in resolving the dispute over licences for French fishermen operating in UK waters.

The Government has continued to work at pace with the European Commission as well as with the French authorities, with regular meetings held to make progress on licensing issues.

735 French vessels have been licenced to fish in UK waters since 31 December 2020, with 104 licences of those vessels also licensed to fish in the UK’s 6-12nm zone.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
24th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the maximum penalty for fly tipping; and when this figure last was reviewed.

The maximum penalty for fly-tipping is 12 months’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine if convicted at a Magistrates’ Court, or five years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine if convicted at Crown Court. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 was amended in 2015 to remove maximum limits on fines for fly-tipping.

24th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps the Environment Agency is taking to ensure that all waste carriers are recorded accurately on their official register.

We are working to replace paper waste tracking forms with electronic waste tracking, and also on reform of the Carriers, Brokers and Dealers licensing regime. Taken together, these reforms will significantly reduce the opportunity for abuse of the waste system, whilst making it easier to prosecute waste criminals successfully. Consultations on the detail of these reforms are due to be published shortly.

24th Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many incidents of fly tipping were reported to the Environment Agency in each of the last five years; and how many of these cases resulted in a successful prosecution.

The Environment Agency tackles a wide range of waste crime including illegal dumping, responding to those incidents which pose the most significant threat to the environment due to their scale, impact or the involvement of organised crime groups. It is the role and responsibility of local authorities to handle smaller scale fly-tipping incidents. Any caller to the Environment Agency who identifies fly-tipping at the scale or nature that we do not handle is directed to the appropriate local authority.

In terms of illegal dumping and other waste crime, in 2020/21 the Environment Agency secured 25 successful prosecutions which resulted in total fines of £475,796 and seven custodial sentences. It is everyone’s responsibility to check they only use properly licensed waste carriers – if they do not, they risk a fine if that rubbish ends up being fly-tipped.

2nd Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to publish their response to the Consultation on Introducing a Deposit Return Scheme in England, Wales and Northern Ireland: Second Consultation, published on 24 March.

Final details and next steps for the deposit return scheme will be presented in a Government response which will be published in due course. An impact assessment to support final proposals for the introduction of the scheme will also be published alongside the Government response.

2nd Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with relevant industries regarding the membership of the proposed Deposit Management Organisation.

The formation of the Deposit Management Organisation is still being considered and we will work with interested parties (in particular drinks producers and retailers) to ensure a structure with appropriate expertise and representation is in place to manage the operation of the deposit return scheme. No formal engagement on this has yet taken place.

2nd Nov 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to publish their response to the Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging: Consultation Document, published on 25 March.

The Government continues to work closely with the Devolved Administrations in considering the responses to the consultation and final policy proposals. The Government consultation response is due to be published in early 2022.

28th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of how many pigs have been culled as a result of the shortage of slaughterhouse staff; and what has been the take-up to date of the extended seasonal workers scheme, due to end on 31 December.

Defra has been working closely with pig producers and the processing sector in recent months. We are very conscious of the impact that the culling of animals on farm has on individual pig farmers. We announced a series of measures on 14 October that will support the pig sector and help address the current challenges it is facing. These include allowing up to 800 pork butchers to apply for a six-month working visa to the UK, a suspension on the statutory levy for pig farmers and producers during November 2021, and a private storage aid scheme which will enable meat processors to store slaughtered pigs for three to six months so that they can be preserved safely and processed at a later date.

Defra does not collect data on the number of pigs culled on farms. Producers, who are responsible for the welfare of animals on farm, are also not required to submit such data to us. However, from our engagement with the pig sector, we understand that around 7800 pigs have been culled on farms as a result of the shortage of workers in slaughterhouses. This is largely due to the backlog of pigs on farm caused by a unique combination of factors including shortages of labour in the processing sector, disruption to the export market and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Government has announced that up to 5500 poultry workers and 5000 HGV drivers transporting food and fuel will be able to enter the UK for work in the lead up to Christmas 2021. HGV drivers entering under the temporary visa scheme will be able to stay in the UK up to 28 February 2022 and poultry workers up to 31 December 2021. In addition, up to 800 temporary pig butchers will be able to enter the UK to work for six months from the point of issue of the visa.

The temporary visa scheme for poultry and HGV workers has now opened and scheme operators are working directly with the sector. Industry interest and engagement has been positive.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
28th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to increase the proportion of food (1) grown, and (2) consumed, in the UK.

The Government has a manifesto commitment that 'we want people, both at home and abroad, to be lining up to buy British'.

To increase both domestic and overseas demand, we will use the UK's growing reputation for high-quality food and drink produced to high standards of food safety, animal welfare and sustainability.

We are working with the public sector to encourage them to buy seasonal and local produce, encourage variety in diets and support local businesses. This includes promoting the high standards of British produce.

We will always champion our farmers and producers, supporting them to grow more of our great British food, and to provide a reliable and sustainable food supply to the British public.

Farming efficiently and improving the environment can go hand in hand. This does not have to be a trade-off, as many land management activities will benefit the environment as well as productivity. Our future farming policy will not only reward a range of environmental improvements, but also support investment in technology and research to improve productivity – helping farmers to produce the high-quality food we are renowned for.

The new Farming Investment Fund will provide grants to farmers, foresters and growers (including contractors to these sectors) so that they can invest in the equipment, technology and infrastructure that will help their businesses to prosper, while improving their productivity and enhancing the environment. These grants will help producers to focus on more efficient production methods that will reduce resource costs, improve yields, and give them a better return.

These initiatives together with our new Farming Innovation Programme, a farmer-led funding programme for research and development to boost innovation and improve the productivity and prosperity of England’s agricultural and horticultural sectors, will provide a catalyst for growth for all regions of the UK.

Our food security depends on supply from diverse sources; strong domestic production as well as imports through stable export routes. Overall, we produce 60% of all the food we need. That figure increases to 74% as a percentage of the food which UK conditions allow us to grow or rear in the UK, for all or part of the year. These figures have changed little over the last 20 years. UK consumers have almost constant access through international trade to food products that we cannot produce here, or can only produce for some of the year; this also supplements our excellent domestic production. Importantly, this also ensures that any disruption from risks such as adverse weather or disease does not affect the UK's overall security of supply.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions, if any, they have had with Forestry England to ensure that peat free composts are used in their growing nurseries.

In the England Peat Action Plan, we have committed to undertake a full consultation in 2021 on banning the sale of peat and peat-containing products in the amateur sector by the end of this Parliament, and on an ambitious date for the professional sector.

All Government departments and their related organisations must make sure that they meet the minimum mandatory Government Buying Standards when buying goods and services. We also encourage the wider public sector to specify the minimum mandatory standards in tenders.

The relevant buying standards for horticultural products can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/sustainable-procurement-the-gbs-for-horticulture-and-park-services and include a mandatory requirement not to purchase growing media containing peat.

Forestry England currently uses peat-based growing media only in strictly limited circumstances where there is no current alternative product and where it is necessary to continue production of some of our most vulnerable trees, including several native broadleaf species. For example, alder and birch have, historically, not grown well in peat-free media; trials are planned to understand the reasons and identify the best alternative growing medium for these species.

However, Forestry England has committed to end the purchase of peat-based growing media by the end of this Parliament, well in advance of the rest of the professional sector. In order to achieve this ambitious commitment, Forestry England is continuing to lead the way, actively testing and trialling the use of non-peat growing media alternatives and aiming to provide the wider sector with confidence in these alternatives. This is crucial to supporting these emerging products and supporting the phase out of peat from the wider industry as a whole.

27th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to end their use of UK sourced peat-based compost.

In the England Peat Action Plan, we have committed to undertake a full consultation in 2021 on banning the sale of peat and peat-containing products in the amateur sector by the end of this Parliament, and on an ambitious date for the professional sector.

All Government departments and their related organisations must make sure that they meet the minimum mandatory Government Buying Standards when buying goods and services. We also encourage the wider public sector to specify the minimum mandatory standards in tenders.

The relevant buying standards for horticultural products can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/sustainable-procurement-the-gbs-for-horticulture-and-park-services and include a mandatory requirement not to purchase growing media containing peat.

Forestry England currently uses peat-based growing media only in strictly limited circumstances where there is no current alternative product and where it is necessary to continue production of some of our most vulnerable trees, including several native broadleaf species. For example, alder and birch have, historically, not grown well in peat-free media; trials are planned to understand the reasons and identify the best alternative growing medium for these species.

However, Forestry England has committed to end the purchase of peat-based growing media by the end of this Parliament, well in advance of the rest of the professional sector. In order to achieve this ambitious commitment, Forestry England is continuing to lead the way, actively testing and trialling the use of non-peat growing media alternatives and aiming to provide the wider sector with confidence in these alternatives. This is crucial to supporting these emerging products and supporting the phase out of peat from the wider industry as a whole.

27th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to ban the sale of peat based compost in the horticulture sector; and if so, when.

In the England Peat Action Plan, we have committed to undertake a full consultation in 2021 on banning the sale of peat and peat-containing products in the amateur sector by the end of this Parliament, and on an ambitious date for the professional sector.

All Government departments and their related organisations must make sure that they meet the minimum mandatory Government Buying Standards when buying goods and services. We also encourage the wider public sector to specify the minimum mandatory standards in tenders.

The relevant buying standards for horticultural products can be found at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/sustainable-procurement-the-gbs-for-horticulture-and-park-services and include a mandatory requirement not to purchase growing media containing peat.

Forestry England currently uses peat-based growing media only in strictly limited circumstances where there is no current alternative product and where it is necessary to continue production of some of our most vulnerable trees, including several native broadleaf species. For example, alder and birch have, historically, not grown well in peat-free media; trials are planned to understand the reasons and identify the best alternative growing medium for these species.

However, Forestry England has committed to end the purchase of peat-based growing media by the end of this Parliament, well in advance of the rest of the professional sector. In order to achieve this ambitious commitment, Forestry England is continuing to lead the way, actively testing and trialling the use of non-peat growing media alternatives and aiming to provide the wider sector with confidence in these alternatives. This is crucial to supporting these emerging products and supporting the phase out of peat from the wider industry as a whole.

22nd Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the government of the Republic of Ireland about illegal puppy breeding and smuggling.

The Government takes puppy smuggling and illegal dog breeding seriously. Now we have left the EU, we have the opportunity to manage our own pet travel and commercial importation rules. We continue to work closely with other countries and authorities, including Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) in Republic of Ireland, to provide protection for those animals brought in by unscrupulous traders and to prevent the trade as much as we can.

The Government has a manifesto commitment to crack down on puppy smuggling. We are now making some significant changes to domestic law through the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill which includes measures to address puppy smuggling. The Bill was introduced in Parliament on the 8 June and second reading took place on 25 October. The Bill will progress through Parliament when parliamentary time allows.

While the UK Government cannot guarantee that other countries will adopt similar welfare standards to our own, we are able to encourage others to do so through membership of international organisations such as the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will also continue its work to raise concerns about the welfare of animals with other Governments and international authorities at every suitable opportunity.

21st Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to counter puppy smuggling through the port of Belfast.

Defra is responsible for safeguarding animal welfare and biosecurity, including the commercial and non-commercial movement of cats, dogs and ferrets into Great Britain. However, pet travel is devolved, and we work with the devolved administrations to combat puppy smuggling.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland (DAERA) is the competent authority for Belfast Port.

The Government takes puppy smuggling seriously. We continue to work closely with our colleagues across the devolved administrations and non-governmental organisations to provide protection for those animals brought in by unscrupulous traders and to prevent the trade as much as we can.

21st Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to address the funding gap for the updating of the Ancient Woodland Inventory.

In the England Trees Action Plan (ETAP), we committed to update the ancient woodland inventory to cover the whole of England. The ETAP is our ambitious vision for trees in England, providing a framework for delivering our commitment to at least treble tree planting rates in England by the end of this Parliament, reflecting England’s contribution to meeting the UK’s overall target of planting 30,000 hectares per year by the end of this Parliament.

It is supported by over £500 million from the Nature for Climate Fund, including the additional £124 million announced as part of the Net Zero Strategy, ensuring total spend of more than £750 million by 2025 on peat restoration, woodland creation, and management – above and beyond what was promised in the manifesto.

For 2021/22, £250k will be used to map smaller ancient woodland sites of 0.25 hectares for Herefordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxford, Surrey, and will also specifically create a Long-Established Woodland layer for the whole of England. Plans for the next stage of the project in 2022/23 will be developed in the new year, with the support of Natural England, Woodland Trust, and local partners.

21st Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish their response to the National Food Strategy: Part One report, published on 29 July.

Part One of Henry Dimbleby's independent review of the food system was published on 29 July 2020 and contained recommendations on trade and food security in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has already acted on these recommendations, with the announcement of the Covid Winter Support package on 8 November 2020 that ensured vulnerable households would not go hungry, and with announcements on trade last year, which included putting the Trade and Agriculture Commission onto a statutory footing.

The second and final report from the independent review of the food system was published on 15 July 2021. We would like to thank Henry Dimbleby and his team for their work over the last year examining our food system and the vital role it plays in all our lives.

We are considering the evidence Henry Dimbleby set out in both parts of his independent review, which will inform the Government’s Food Strategy that will be published in early 2022.

The forthcoming Government Food Strategy is a once in a generation opportunity to create a food system that feeds our nation today and protects it for tomorrow. It will build on existing work across Government and identify new opportunities to make the food system healthier, more sustainable, more resilient, and more accessible for those across the UK. We will also look to drive growth and innovation across the agri-food chain and set a direction for key players within the food system.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
21st Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what they estimate the cost to be of creating 30,000 hectares of woodland per year; and whether sufficient money has been allocated to meet these costs.

We are committed to increasing tree planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by the end of this parliament. We published our ambitious England Trees Action Plan on 18 May which sets out our plans to at least treble tree planting rates in England in support of this, using more than £500 million from the Nature for Climate Fund.

In the recently published Net Zero Strategy, we also announced we will boost the Nature for Climate Fund with a further £124 million of new money, ensuring total spend of more than £750 million by 2025 on peat restoration, woodland creation and management - above and beyond what was promised in the manifesto.

Each hectare of woodland created has different costs depending on the condition of the site, the woodland design, location, and scale. On average, it is estimated that to plant and establish a hectare of woodland it costs landowners approximately £9,500-£12,500/ha, although some more complex delivery mechanisms may have higher associated costs.

We will continue to proactively monitor tree planting rates and take-up of grant schemes throughout this Parliament to ensure that funding allocated is both sufficient and maximizes the amount of woodland created and brought into effective management. Our goals can only be met through greater investment by the private sector in woodland creation and this means our grant offers will act to stimulate private investment, such as through payments for carbon captured by woodlands and building new markets for ecosystem services.

21st Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what percentage of English rivers have been assessed as being of a good ecological standard; and how has this percentage changed over the last three years.

The most recent full assessment of the ecological status of all water bodies in England was made in 2019, when 14% of rivers were reported at good ecological status. This proportion was unchanged from the previous assessment reported in 2016.

Pressures on our water environment have increased significantly in recent years, including due to population growth and climate change. The Environment Agency and Defra work together closely on addressing the pressures that prevent water bodies in England from meeting ‘good’ status. Improving water quality is a priority for the Government and we are committed to the ambition of the 25 Year Environment Plan supported by at least one legally binding water target in the Environment Bill.

Through regulation, enforcement, financial incentives and educational schemes, we are improving poor farming practices which lead to water pollution. Water improvement is also supported by significant funding from water companies, required in their statutory duties. In the current Price Review period (2020-25) they have committed £7.1 billion towards environmental improvements.

13th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish the latest cost-benefit analysis of the impact of the UK–EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement on (1) the UK fishing industry, and (2) coastal communities.

The UK now has greater shares of fishing quota under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), and more fishing quota available than last year. The total value of EU-UK fishing opportunities for the UK in 2021 is approximately £333 million – an increase of around £27 million on last year.

The Marine Management Organisation has recently published analysis of the quota share uplifts gained during the TCA. In November, the Government will publish a summary of UK fishing opportunities in 2021, which is the outcome of both the TCA quota share uplifts and the annual fisheries negotiations.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much of the promised £100 million of the UK Seafood Fund they will spend supporting (1) the UK fishing industry, and (2) the communities around the industry.

Thus far, £24 million of the £100 million UK Seafood Fund has been allocated to the Science and Innovation pillar, which includes the Fisheries Industry Science Partnerships (FISP) scheme and the Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF). The Infrastructure and Skills and Training pillars will be announced in due course.

FISP will support the seafood industry to work jointly with scientists to gather new data to manage the UK’s fish stocks more sustainably, gather new data on gear selectivity and build a better understanding of the ecosystem benefits and impacts of Aquaculture.

SIF will fund projects that develop innovative ideas and technologies, such as new biodegradable packaging for chilled fish and seafood to reduce single-use plastics.

The UK Seafood Fund has been set up specifically to support the UK seafood industry. The Infrastructure pillar will prioritise applications from coastal communities and the most deprived areas across the four nations while Skills and Training will invest directly in the workforce which make up the communities built around the industry.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
13th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much of the promised £100 million of funding for the UK Seafood Fund they have allocated.

Thus far, £24 million of the £100 million UK Seafood Fund has been allocated to the Science and Innovation pillar, which includes the Fisheries Industry Science Partnerships (FISP) scheme and the Seafood Innovation Fund (SIF). The Infrastructure and Skills and Training pillars will be announced in due course.

FISP will support the seafood industry to work jointly with scientists to gather new data to manage the UK’s fish stocks more sustainably, gather new data on gear selectivity and build a better understanding of the ecosystem benefits and impacts of Aquaculture.

SIF will fund projects that develop innovative ideas and technologies, such as new biodegradable packaging for chilled fish and seafood to reduce single-use plastics.

The UK Seafood Fund has been set up specifically to support the UK seafood industry. The Infrastructure pillar will prioritise applications from coastal communities and the most deprived areas across the four nations while Skills and Training will invest directly in the workforce which make up the communities built around the industry.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will end the use of cages for animals reared on British farms.

The Government shares the public’s high regard for animal welfare. We are delivering a series of ambitious reforms, as outlined in the Action Plan for Animal Welfare which was published in May this year. The Action Plan for Animal Welfare is available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/action-plan-for-animal-welfare and as an attachment to this answer. One of the ways we wish to improve the welfare of farm animals is strengthening protections against animal confinement.

We have a strong track record for raising the bar when it comes to animal welfare. We want to improve and build upon that record and are currently exploring the options around introducing further cage reforms, in areas such as the use of farrowing crates for pigs and cages for laying hens. Ending the use of cages would have a significant impact on some sectors of the farming industry and so we would need to consult.

12th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to tackle the estimated 500,000 job vacancies across the food and drink sector.

Defra is working closely with the food and drink sector to understand labour demand and supply, including both permanent and seasonal workforce requirements.

The Seasonal Workers Pilot was expanded for 2021, from 10,000 to 30,000 visas, granted for workers to come to the UK for a period of up to six months to work in the edible horticulture sector.

Although pilot numbers have increased, it is not designed to meet the full labour needs of the horticultural sector. This workforce boost will complement the workers already resident in the UK and looking to take up farm work during the busy harvest months, following in the footsteps of those who took up positions last summer to help keep the nation fed despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

In response to the current exceptional circumstances, up to 5500 poultry workers and 5000 HGV drivers transporting food and fuel will be able to enter the UK for work in the lead up to Christmas 2021. This is a temporary, emergency measure. 800 pork butchers will also be able to enter and work in the UK for a period of six months. This additional temporary adjustment is in addition to foreign butchers already being eligible since January 2021 to apply to come to the UK through the Skilled Worker Route as part of the point-based immigration system.

In 2021 and beyond, businesses will continue to be able to rely on EU nationals living in the UK with settled or pre-settled status. Over 5.3 million EU citizens and their families have been granted status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

The Government is encouraging all sectors, including the food and drink sector, to make employment more attractive to UK domestic workers through offering training, careers options, wage increases and to invest in automation technology.

To help with these efforts, Defra is working with industry and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to raise awareness of career opportunities within the food and drink sector among UK workers.

All food and drink sector businesses are encouraged to advertise roles through the Find A Job website, where they can upload and manage their vacancies. DWP does not charge for this service and it is available across the United Kingdom.

Defra also welcomes the Ministry of Justice’s work on the Release On Temporary Licence scheme for work across a number of sectors, including the food and drink sector. The scheme aims to help prisoners gain useful skills and work experience as they approach their release.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that public sector food procurement policies give priority to locally sourced food.

We want the public sector to lead by example, championing local food and farmers, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), high production standards and sustainable produce.

We have a manifesto commitment to encourage the public sector to buy British, to support our farmers and reduce environmental costs. To help meet this commitment, we will be consulting on proposals to strengthen the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services early in 2022. The consultation will seek views on ways to promote greater take-up of local produce and make public procurement more accessible to SMEs.

We are also working across Government to identify and trial new approaches to public food procurement. This includes a pilot in collaboration with Crown Commercial Service, aimed at simplifying the route into the public sector for local and sustainable SME businesses. If successful, the approach will be rolled out nationally, extending opportunities to local food producers from all regions and nations of the UK.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the report by the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations Brexit Balance Sheet, published on 30 September.

Now we have left the EU, we have taken back control of our waters, and we will always work hard to deliver sustainable and viable fishing opportunities for fishers across the UK.

We have greater shares of fishing quota, and the total value of UK-EU fishing opportunities for the UK in 2021 is approximately £333 million – an increase of £27 million on last year.

We have agreed a quota exchange mechanism and recently announced the first investment from our £100 million UK Seafood Fund to boost science and innovation in the industry.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
12th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of reported falls in farm incomes; and what steps they are taking to tackle the financial hardship experienced by small farmers.

The Government continues to monitor farm incomes. In the short term, farm incomes are sensitive to food prices and input costs, such as fertiliser prices, as well as exchange rates. Real output prices for grains, beef, lamb, poultry, and milk are at or above recent averages. However, real prices for fertiliser and feed are up significantly, whilst fuel price and wage data are largely within historic norms. We will continue to monitor the situation.

The Government has also considered the medium-term trajectory of farm incomes. This has included publishing a comprehensive evidence compendium, updated in September 2019. This set out the impacts of removing Direct Payments, including analysis by sector, location in England and type of land tenure. It also provided analysis on how farm businesses, across all sectors, can offset the impact of Direct Payments. We are planning to publish further analysis by the end of this year. This will analyse farm incomes and how these will change between now and the end of the Agricultural Transition.

Over the last 12 months, average output prices have risen faster than average input costs across UK farms. Data released on Thursday 21 October shows a 12.7% increase in output prices in the year to August 2021 - set against an 11.8% rise in input costs. Data on farm incomes are lagged and largely pre-date this period of output prices rising faster than input prices. Our most recent data for England shows that in real terms, farming incomes fell by 11% between 2018/19 and 2019/20. New data on farm incomes will be available in November.

We are designing our farming reforms in collaboration with those who work in agriculture, considering their personal and business resilience issues. In August, we launched the Interim Phase of the Future Farming Resilience fund; a £10.7m grant funding project that will provide resilience support to farmers and land managers in England, to help them prepare for the Agricultural Transition period.

The Agricultural Transition Plan sets out how we will maintain the same level of investment for farmers in England, which is £2.4 billion a year across this parliament. We will reinvest money saved by reducing Direct Payments into improved and new environment schemes and schemes which will help farmers get their businesses ready for the transition. These will include grants to invest in productivity measures, support to new entrants, supporting farmer-led innovation and improving farm resilience.

Lord Benyon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jul 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government into what fund the fines levied against Southern Water by (1) Ofwat on 25 June 2019, and (2) the Environment Agency on 9 July, were paid; and what consideration they have given to using this money to make reparations for the environmental damage caused by the company.

On 9 July 2021, Southern Water was handed a record £90 million fine after pleading guilty to thousands of illegal discharges of sewage which polluted rivers and coastal waters in Kent, Hampshire and Sussex. This court ordered fine, the largest ever imposed on a water company, is absolutely appropriate and welcomed. It will rightly be paid solely from the company's operating profits, rather than customer bills.

In accordance with Managing Public Money (the official guidance on government handling of finance), fines and penalties income are surrendered to the Consolidated Fund. The Consolidated Fund receives the proceeds of taxation and other government receipts which fund public expenditure.

In June 2019, Ofwat imposed a penalty package on Southern Water of £126 million for spills of wastewater into the environment from its sewerage plants and for deliberately misreporting its performance. Of the £126 million Ofwat penalty package, £3 million was paid as a fine, while the remaining £123 million was to be reimbursed to customers. Southern Water customers received a £17 rebate in 2020/21 and can expect a £11 rebate in each of the following four years.

The Government is committed to improving the water environment. On 22 July, the Government and water regulators set out an ambitious programme of reform to build back greener from the pandemic through the review of the Water Industry National Environment Programme (WINEP). The amended WINEP will deliver greater environmental benefits for every pound invested by companies.

From 2020 to 2025 water companies are investing £7.1 billion to protect and improve the environment. This includes the £5.2 billion invested through WINEP.

24th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much Amazon has paid in charges under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013 in each of the last three years.

The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013 place certain obligations on Amazon as a producer and distributor of household electrical and electronic equipment (EEE).

As a UK-based producer Amazon pay an annual registration fee of £750 to the Environment Agency. Amazon meet their wider financial obligations as a UK based producer via membership of a Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS) approved by the Environment Agency. The amount charged to Amazon by their PCS for discharging obligations to finance their share of annual targets for collection, treatment, recycling, recovery and environmentally sound disposal of household WEEE is a commercial matter between the two businesses and is therefore not held by the Government.

Amazon also has take-back obligations under the regulations in respect of their role as a seller of equipment directly to household consumers. Amazon discharge that obligation via membership of the Distributor Takeback Scheme approved by the Secretary of State under the WEEE Regulations. In total, the DTS has raised nearly £1.8 million over the past three years. This money is used to fund Local Authority projects aimed at improving their collection infrastructure to ensure more electricals are being properly reused or recycled. For larger organisations, the fee is based on their volume of unit sales across the different categories of electrical equipment. The amount charged to individual businesses is not published.

The Government plans to consult on reforms to the WEEE Regulations later this year and will seek views on placing new responsibilities on Online Market Places.

24th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what advice the Environment Agency has given Amazon about the need to (1) separate, (2) re-use, and (3) recycle, unwanted stock.

We are aware of the recent news regarding Amazon and the alleged destruction of unsold stock and are closely monitoring the situation.

Businesses that handle waste, including companies like Amazon, are obliged to follow the waste hierarchy, under our Waste Regulations 2011, which requires action to prevent waste as the priority option. Failure to meet the legal obligation to take all reasonable steps to apply these steps can lead to enforcement action from the Environment Agency in England. Waste is a devolved matter and SEPA is the regulator in Scotland.

The Government recently consulted on its draft Waste Prevention Programme. The consultation document outlined the potential for, and benefits of, action on waste prevention and sets out the actions that the Government intends to take. It recognised that action is required across society – by government, businesses, local authorities, consumers and others - for progress to be made. Responses to the consultation are currently being analysed.

The Government also plans to consult on reforms to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations later this year. Amongst a number of issues, we will seek views on placing new responsibilities on Online Market Places such as Amazon and reviewing existing obligations placed on retailers to ensure they play their part in maximising collections of unwanted electricals for re-use and recycling. We also want to gather views on ways in which we can make it easier for all businesses with unwanted electricals to return them under a system of producer responsibility that respects the waste hierarchy.

The Environment Agency has had no direct contact to date with Amazon over destroying, separating, re-using, or recycling unwanted stock.

24th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps the Environment Agency is taking to prevent Amazon destroying unsold stock.

We are aware of the recent news regarding Amazon and the alleged destruction of unsold stock and are closely monitoring the situation.

Businesses that handle waste, including companies like Amazon, are obliged to follow the waste hierarchy, under our Waste Regulations 2011, which requires action to prevent waste as the priority option. Failure to meet the legal obligation to take all reasonable steps to apply these steps can lead to enforcement action from the Environment Agency in England. Waste is a devolved matter and SEPA is the regulator in Scotland.

The Government recently consulted on its draft Waste Prevention Programme. The consultation document outlined the potential for, and benefits of, action on waste prevention and sets out the actions that the Government intends to take. It recognised that action is required across society – by government, businesses, local authorities, consumers and others - for progress to be made. Responses to the consultation are currently being analysed.

The Government also plans to consult on reforms to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations later this year. Amongst a number of issues, we will seek views on placing new responsibilities on Online Market Places such as Amazon and reviewing existing obligations placed on retailers to ensure they play their part in maximising collections of unwanted electricals for re-use and recycling. We also want to gather views on ways in which we can make it easier for all businesses with unwanted electricals to return them under a system of producer responsibility that respects the waste hierarchy.

The Environment Agency has had no direct contact to date with Amazon over destroying, separating, re-using, or recycling unwanted stock.

22nd Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to reverse the decline in cheese exports to the EU.

The deal that we achieved with the EU based on zero tariffs and zero quotas, provides cheese and other dairy producers with the certainty that they require to continue trading with the EU.

The lower level of cheese exports to the EU for the start of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020, needs to take account of a unique combination of factors. These include the impact of reduced demand in the EU due to Covid-19 lockdowns and businesses adjusting to a new trading relationship. The decline has also been partly balanced by a significant increase of cheese exports to the EU towards the end of 2020 compared with previous years. Provisional HMRC 2021 data on cheese exports volumes in February also indicates a notable improvement on January. This is in line with the larger recovery from the initial disruptions to overall agri-food exports between January and February.

We are providing a range of support to help businesses adjust to our new trading arrangements with the EU and to seize the fantastic opportunities to trade around the world. The majority of businesses are adapting well to the new requirements. Our focus is now on making sure that any business that is still facing challenges gets the support they need.

The Government is also stepping up delivery of its manifesto commitment to build demand and promote British food both home and abroad. We are working with the sector to raise domestic and international awareness of the UK’s reputation for high-quality food and drink produced to high standards of food safety, animal welfare and sustainability. This will provide a catalyst for growth for all regions of the UK and increase global recognition of the UK as an innovative food nation.

22nd Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to ban the sale of horticultural garden peat; and if so, when.

We are committed to phasing out the use of peat in horticulture in England. The biggest user of peat is the amateur sector, and this is an important part of our policy focus. We signalled to the industry that if we have not seen sufficient movement to peat alternatives by 2020, then we would look at further measures that could be taken. We are working towards publishing a formal consultation this year on further measures to end the use of peat in horticulture.

14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the first date by which farmers can receive payments for improving public access and enjoyment of the countryside as set out in the Agriculture Act 2020.

The Agriculture Act allows us to introduce schemes that reward farmers and land managers for providing public goods, including access to and engagement with the environment.

In addition to Countryside Stewardship, open now to applications for 2022, we are introducing three schemes that do this: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, the Local Nature Recovery scheme and the Landscape Recovery scheme.

An early version of the Sustainable Farming Incentive is being progressively rolled out from 2022, with full offers of all three new schemes being available from 2024.

14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to extend the deadline of January 2026 for the registration of new public rights of way under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.

Defra intends to lay legislation this year to streamline the process of recording and changing rights of way. A deadline for recording unrecorded historic rights of way will be brought into force which will finalise the legal record of rights of way. This will bring about certainty for users and landowners about where rights of way exist.

Whilst the cut-off date is currently 2026, this could be extended by regulation for a maximum of five years. Defra is working closely with stakeholders to understand different views and will take these views, along with the delays which this project has experienced, into account when reaching a decision.

After the cut-off date it will still be possible to record newly created rights of way on to the definitive maps.

14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the farm trials taking place to prepare for the implementation of the Agriculture Act 2020 are focused on improving public access to the countryside.

To support the development of the future environmental land management schemes, we are undertaking a number of tests and trials. We are working with a range of stakeholders to facilitate the tests and trials, including farmer groups, representative bodies and non-governmental organisations. Six tests and trials are focusing on access; details on each are provided below.

  • Kent Downs AONB, Enhancing access opportunities

The Kent Downs AONB is working with two farmers and land manager groups to enhance access to landscapes and nature for public benefit and co-develop a template of practical ways that the future schemes can support better and more diverse access. Local trusted experts will be used to work with farmers and land managers and their representative organisations and explore existing best practice; experts in access health and wellbeing will be involved to understand benefits and barriers. This test will run until June 2021.

  • National Trust, Payments for Outcomes

The National Trust have produced a manual of outcome-based measures, for a ‘payments for outcomes’ scheme. It focused on upland priority habitats, pollinator health and soil health. It reviewed and refined these measures considering lessons learned to date, drawing on current work on natural flood management, public access and historic and landscape features in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The test has now concluded.

  • Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Catchment Partnership, Cuckmere and Pevensey Levels Land Management Pilot

The Cuckmere and Pevensey Level Catchment Partnership is a well-established partnership which brings together 55 different farmers, the local authorities, the water board, artists, and other stakeholders in the area. The trial developed a landscape scale plan for the Cuckmere and Pevensey Catchment with a wide range of partners, including local planning authorities, farmers and the local community, aimed at delivering public goods including access. The plan was then used to develop farm holding management plans. The trial has now concluded.

  • The Trails Trust, How to incentivise green infrastructure access and biodiversity creation

The Trails Trust is exploring the opinions and potential solutions to creating, upgrading and maintaining infrastructure networks. The trial will involve 50 farmers and land managers; facilitators will examine existing data to identify access opportunities on the farmers’ holdings. The trial aims to identify barriers to delivering access; potential solutions, including incentives and mechanisms; what payment levels and mechanisms would be required to enable collaboration across holdings; how could access be included as part of a land management plan. The test is due to conclude in June 2021.

  • South Downs National Park Authority, South Downs Farm Clusters

The South Downs National Park Authority held a series of workshops to identify the format of land management plans; what outcomes should be prioritised; what advice farmers and land managers require; and what role farm clusters could play in scheme design and delivery. This test concluded in December 2019. In the final report, public access was cited as an area where farmers and land managers may require specialist advice.

  • Forestry Commission, Urban Woodland Creation

The Forestry Commission’s Urban Woodland Creation test seeks to develop and test a support package aimed at encouraging community woodland creation and the management of urban community woodland. The test will focus on establishing what public goods can be delivered by urban and peri-urban forestry; assessing the benefits of public engagement and access; and testing methods, activities and payment mechanisms for planting and managing trees and woodland in an urban and peri-urban setting. The test is due to conclude in May 2021.

14th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether payments made under the pilot Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme will reward initiatives to support public access to the countryside.

We are piloting the Sustainable Farming Incentive in order to test how it works in practice, learn from that and apply what we learn in future phases of the pilot and the full scheme offer from late 2024.

The Sustainable Farming Incentive scheme is based on sets of standards covering different activities producing desired environmental benefits. In the first phase of the pilot we are working with the first 8 standards that have been developed and will add to these over the course of 3 years of piloting.

We are exploring the development of a standard covering public access to the countryside. The current Countryside Stewardship offer is open now to applications and includes options supporting public access to the countryside.

4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Dogs Trust Puppy Smuggling, published on 4 December 2020; and what steps they are taking to address the illegal trade in puppies.

Defra takes the abhorrent trade in puppy smuggling seriously. We operate a rigorous pet-checking regime, and the Animal and Plant Health Agency works collaboratively with other agencies and bodies to share intelligence, disrupt illegal imports and seize non-compliant animals.

The end of the transition period has created new opportunities for cracking down on puppy smuggling, and in line with our manifesto commitment the Government is considering a range of options. These options will take into consideration the results from our latest disease risk assessments for GB, the recommendations of stakeholders such as the British Veterinary Association and Dogs Trust, and recent Parliamentary work from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee.

4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking in response to the report by Amanda Blanc Independent Review of Flood Insurance in Doncaster, published on 14 April 2020, which found that flood risk insurance is not available to households that need it most.

The Independent Review of Flood Insurance in Doncaster was published on 5 November 2020. The report examined the level of insurance cover held by those affected in Doncaster, the barriers they may have faced in obtaining cover and whether there are any systemic issues in the provision of flood insurance.

The report identifies that 95% of homeowners were able to confirm that they had both buildings and contents insurance that covered flood risk. This compares with 94% of households at risk of flooding in Defra’s national looking at the availability and affordability of flood insurance. This shows the sustained availability of home insurance for homeowners, especially in this area of high flood risk. The report signals that around 7% of insurance policies held by Doncaster homeowners did not cover floods and 45% of tenants said they did not have contents insurance.

The reviewer made 12 recommendations addressing the accessibility and affordability of flood insurance, which government is considering and will respond in due course.

Research has found that since the launch of the joint government and industry initiative Flood Re in 2016, availability of flood insurance has increased. Around 96% customers with prior flood claims can now get five or more quotes from insurers ad four out of five householders with a prior flood claim saw price reductions of over 50%. More than 300,000 properties have benefitted since the Scheme’s launch.

4th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Interim Office of Environmental Protection will be able to receive complaints and issue provisional decisions in advance of its statutory empowerment.

The Interim Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) will be able to receive complaints from members of the public about failures of public authorities to comply with environmental law, as the Interim Environmental Governance Secretariat has been doing since 1 January 2021.

The Interim OEP will check the complaints it receives to determine if they will fall within the remit of possible investigation by the OEP once it is established as a legal body. This will involve, for example, establishing whether a complaint concerns compliance with environmental law by a public authority. On the basis of this assessment the Interim OEP will make and issue provisional decisions on this question of whether complaints will fall within the OEP’s statutory remit, informing complainants and the relevant public authorities.

The Interim OEP will not be able to take any formal decisions or enforcement action pending the necessary legislative provisions taking effect. However, as part of its work before it has statutory powers, the Interim OEP may enter into dialogue with specific authorities about complaints against them. It will be for the Interim OEP, once its Board has been appointed and assembled, to determine how to approach this.

22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated timetable for producing electronic certification to replace paper documentation for foodstuffs being exported from the UK to the EU.

The majority of export health certificates have been digitised so can be completed online and they are now hosted on EHC Online, replacing the manual process that was previously required to request and certify a certificate. Further progress in the digitisation of EHCs will be made later this year with electronic signatures and the removal of Crown Gold paper being phased within EHC Online. As part of the broader strategy for 2025, we want to work towards full end to end development of electronic signatures and certificates, including the exchange of these with trading partners' IT systems.

22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the required official veterinarians have been recruited to ensure that food standards border checks on products of animal origin can be maintained.

When the next phase of border controls start from 1 April 2021, Defra estimates that we will have 100% of the required OVs in place.

Defra has provided £14m funding to local authorities in England to support Port Health Authorities (PHAs) with the recruitment and training of over 500 new staff, including Official Veterinarians, to conduct the new checks on EU imports of animal products, including physical checks. The readiness team in DEFRA continue to engage regularly with all PHAs who have received funding to provided support on isolated challenges and ensure that this funding is used as effectively as possible.

22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what compensation is available for perishable foods in just-in-time supply chains which have been delayed at the EU border and had to be destroyed as a result.

The Seafood Disruption Support Scheme provided support to seafood businesses exporting highly perishable fresh and live seafood which lost value or were destroyed as a result of export delays in January. The scheme closed on 28 February. The Marine Management Organisation is assessing claims and will make payments during March.

We are working closely with traders to identify and unblock issues as quickly as possible to avoid the need for disposal.

9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to ban the live export of animals for consumption overseas.

Leaving the European Union has enabled us to take a major step forward in delivering on our commitment to end excessively long journeys for animals going for slaughter or fattening.

We are currently consulting in England and Wales on proposals to end the unnecessary practice. This is a key priority for the Government, and we hope to have legislation in place by the end of the year.

The consultation period closes on 25 February 2021. Further details can be found at the document attached.

9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how much of the £23 million promised for the fishing industry affected by disruption following the UK’s departure from the EU has so far been distributed.

The Government has provided up to £23 million to deliver the Seafood Disruption Support Scheme. This will provide financial support to seafood businesses that have experienced a verifiable loss due to disruption during the movement of goods to the single market. The scheme opened for applications on 9 February and will close on 28 February, after which we will begin communicating the outcome of applications to applicants and processing payments. Data on the amount of funding distributed through this scheme will therefore not be available until mid to late March.

Drawing on the existing £23 million, the Government announced enhanced support on 21 February to provide cash grants for more fishing and shellfish aquaculture businesses affected by a reduction in demand from the hospitality sector in the UK and abroad.

1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to their report Landscapes Review, published in September 2019, what plans they have to introduce a National Landscape Service.

The independent Landscapes Review, led by Julian Glover, set out a compelling vision for more beautiful, more biodiverse and more accessible National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We welcome this ambition, as the Government is committed to ensuring our protected landscapes flourish as havens for nature and are places that everyone can visit and enjoy.

The Landscapes Review included recommendations for long-term structural changes, such as creating a new National Landscape Service and changing National Park and AONB statutory purposes, that would require legislation were they to be taken forward.

We are taking time to consider carefully the recommendations and working with partner organisations to inform and develop our response to the review, which we will publish in due course.

1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when the statutory instrument to protect peatlands will be laid before Parliament; and whether it will be subject to the affirmative procedure.

We intend to lay the relevant statutory instrument as soon as parliamentary time allows. It will be subject to the negative procedure.

1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to publish further details of the National Pilot for Environmental Land Management Schemes for farm support.

We will be publishing more information about how we will be piloting the new environment schemes in spring 2021. Around that time, we will be inviting expressions of interest from farmers who want to take part in the first phase of piloting covering the Sustainable Farming Incentive Scheme. Following that call for interest, around 1,000 farmers will be invited to join piloting in early summer.

1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what additional funds are being allocated for agricultural research and development; and how applications for such funds will be administered.

As part of green growth, the Government is committed to investing in research and development to unlock innovation and drive up agricultural productivity, whilst enhancing the environment and helping the sector achieve net zero carbon emissions.

As highlighted in the recently published Agricultural Transition Plan, we will build on previous R&D funding, such as the £160m 2013 Agri-tech Strategy and the £90m Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund 'Transforming Food Production' initiative, to provide additional investment. This will be administered through a new R&D funding package for England as part of proposed productivity measures to stimulate innovation and boost sustainable productivity in agriculture.

Application guidance will be published prior to scheme launch, including a summary of application deadlines, funding criteria, timetable and themes. Competitions are expected to open in early 2022, with communication to farmers and growers in advance, and projects are expected to begin later that year.

1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to announce the 2021 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs budget allocations for national parks.

The Government announced some £75m of funding to National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty as part of the 2020 Spending Review. Defra is currently finalising its business planning for 2021/22 and will inform national parks of their individual budget allocations shortly.

25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the report by the Climate Change Committee Sixth Carbon Budget, published on 9 December 2020, what plans they have to plant 440,000 hectares of mixed woodland by 2035.

We are considering the Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) advice ahead of setting the sixth carbon budget in legislation this summer. It is right that we take time to consider the recommendations carefully and in full. We have committed to increase planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares per year by 2025 – in line with CCC advice. We are also considering whether setting longer-term statutory targets for trees in England would be appropriate. To help meet our commitments we announced a £640 million Nature for Climate Fund to increase planting in England over this parliament and will publish a new England tree strategy in the spring.

25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any hauliers carrying live exports of animals have been held up at the UK borders as a result of the UK's departure from the EU; and what welfare provisions they have put in place to protect any such live exports.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has not been advised of livestock or horses being held up at the UK border.

For an export consignment of live animals to be approved a completed contingency plan must be submitted by the haulier to APHA. These plans include the details of welfare provisions that have been put in place by the individual transporter.

There have been no ‘Journey Logs for Exports’ approved since the UK’s departure from the EU.

25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that the distant fishing fleet can continue to operate.

The Fisheries Framework Agreements secured with Norway and the Faroe Islands provide for annual negotiations on fishing opportunities and access. The UK’s bilateral negotiations for fishing opportunities in 2021 with the Faroes Islands have commenced, whilst we expect bilateral negotiations with Norway to begin imminently.

The UK’s overriding priority in these negotiations is to agree the right deal, which is balanced in the best interests of the entire British fishing industry.

Ahead of the conclusion of those annual negotiations, the UK’s distant water fleet already has access to Norwegian waters to fish in the waters around Svalbard, by separate arrangement with the Norwegian authorities. The details of these opportunities were published on 14 January in the Secretary of State determination of fishing opportunities for British fishing boats covering the period to 31 March 2021.

25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the fishers on the distant fishing fleet are eligible for the financial support for fishing businesses that export to the EU, announced on 19 January.

The £23 million announced for the fishing industry will provide financial support towards verifiable losses incurred by seafood exporting businesses that are registered in the UK. We will assist such businesses with losses that occur during movement of live and fresh seafood goods from the UK to the EU due to events outside their control. Fishers on the distant fishing fleet who meet the scheme conditions may be eligible for funding. Each application will be individually reviewed and assessed against the scheme criteria.

25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they plan to bring forward legislation to increase penalties for animal cruelty.

The Government remains committed to animal welfare and fully supports increasing the maximum custodial sentences for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years. This will enable courts to take a firmer approach to cases such as dog fighting, abuse of puppies and kittens, or gross neglect of farm animals. The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill was introduced into the House of Commons by Chris Loder MP on 5 February and Committee stage took place on 3 February. The Government will continue to support it as it makes its way through Parliament.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to increase warehouse capacity for food being imported and exported between the UK and EU from 1 January 2021.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain based on strong domestic production and supply from a diverse range of sources. The availability of certain fresh seasonal produce, such a salad products imported from the EU may be temporarily impacted by reduced border flow rates but there will not be an overall shortage of food in the UK. Many such products are short shelf-life and imported on a just-in-time basis, and increased storage capacity would not effectively mitigate this risk.

The UK Government has published on Gov.uk planning assumptions on border flows for imported goods at the end of the transition period.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/920675/RWCS_for_our_borders_FINAL.pdf

To support the smooth flow of food goods across the border from January 2021 onwards, we have put in place traffic management mitigations such as Operation Brock, published the Border Operating Model which prioritises border flow in the early months of 2021, and worked with ports to provide additional inland sites for customs checks. The Government is carrying out ongoing work to help businesses and traders get ready for the 1 January including potential border disruption, this includes extensive engagement with agri-food supply chain stakeholders.

Changes to consumer food prices depend on several factors including agri-food import prices and currency exchange rates and energy prices. Many food sub-sectors are accustomed to short-term fluctuations in supply chain costs, and this does not necessarily translate into consumer price rises.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they expect to see price increases in salad goods imported from the EU from 1 January 2021; and, if so, how much they expect the rise in such prices to be.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain based on strong domestic production and supply from a diverse range of sources. The availability of certain fresh seasonal produce, such a salad products imported from the EU may be temporarily impacted by reduced border flow rates but there will not be an overall shortage of food in the UK. Many such products are short shelf-life and imported on a just-in-time basis, and increased storage capacity would not effectively mitigate this risk.

The UK Government has published on Gov.uk planning assumptions on border flows for imported goods at the end of the transition period.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/920675/RWCS_for_our_borders_FINAL.pdf

To support the smooth flow of food goods across the border from January 2021 onwards, we have put in place traffic management mitigations such as Operation Brock, published the Border Operating Model which prioritises border flow in the early months of 2021, and worked with ports to provide additional inland sites for customs checks. The Government is carrying out ongoing work to help businesses and traders get ready for the 1 January including potential border disruption, this includes extensive engagement with agri-food supply chain stakeholders.

Changes to consumer food prices depend on several factors including agri-food import prices and currency exchange rates and energy prices. Many food sub-sectors are accustomed to short-term fluctuations in supply chain costs, and this does not necessarily translate into consumer price rises.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what delays they expect to the import of fresh salad products from the EU from 1 January 2021; and what contingency arrangements they have put in place to keep any such delays to the minimum.

The UK has a highly resilient food supply chain based on strong domestic production and supply from a diverse range of sources. The availability of certain fresh seasonal produce, such a salad products imported from the EU may be temporarily impacted by reduced border flow rates but there will not be an overall shortage of food in the UK. Many such products are short shelf-life and imported on a just-in-time basis, and increased storage capacity would not effectively mitigate this risk.

The UK Government has published on Gov.uk planning assumptions on border flows for imported goods at the end of the transition period.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/920675/RWCS_for_our_borders_FINAL.pdf

To support the smooth flow of food goods across the border from January 2021 onwards, we have put in place traffic management mitigations such as Operation Brock, published the Border Operating Model which prioritises border flow in the early months of 2021, and worked with ports to provide additional inland sites for customs checks. The Government is carrying out ongoing work to help businesses and traders get ready for the 1 January including potential border disruption, this includes extensive engagement with agri-food supply chain stakeholders.

Changes to consumer food prices depend on several factors including agri-food import prices and currency exchange rates and energy prices. Many food sub-sectors are accustomed to short-term fluctuations in supply chain costs, and this does not necessarily translate into consumer price rises.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have considered the introduction of additional controls on the use of flea treatments for domestic pets to help prevent the contamination of rivers and waterways by insecticides.

Medicines containing imidacloprid and fipronil are accompanied by advice to users to keep treated animals out of watercourses for 2 to 4 days after treatment. If these measures are followed, it is expected that exposure to the environment should be negligible.

Due to concerns and uncertainties raised by previous research and monitoring data, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) commissioned research in 2019 to investigate the potential environmental exposure pathways for dog and cat flea and tick products, to assess the significance of the use of neonicotinoids (e.g. imidacloprid) and other parasiticides (e.g. fipronil) on the aquatic environment. This research is ongoing. In addition, the relevance of other sources and exposure routes of these parasiticides, which could be significant, is yet to be elucidated.

Pending the findings from this commissioned research, and other available evidence, currently we do not have any plans to change the existing regulatory controls on veterinary medicines, including the use of flea treatments for pets and the existing risk mitigation warnings, which protect animal health, human health and the environment.

The VMD is committed to continuing to consider the evidence to inform any policy decisions or other interventions such as reinforcing the message not to wash animals for the period stipulated.

28th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps (1) they, and (2) the Environment Agency, are taking to ensure that surface water bodies in England meet a ‘good’ standard under the Water Framework Directive.

The Environment Agency (EA) and Defra work together closely on addressing the pressures that prevent water bodies in England from meeting 'good' status.

Through regulation, enforcement, financial incentives and educational schemes, we are improving poor farming practices which lead to water pollution. We are also working with water companies to tackle head-on, sewage discharge from storm overflows. A new Taskforce has been set up between Defra, the EA, Ofwat and water companies which will meet regularly and set out clear proposals to reduce the frequency and volumes of sewage discharges.

In 2019 the EA issued, monitored and enforced 4,263 water quality permits, protecting water quality. In the last five years the EA has undertaken 44 prosecutions against water companies, securing fines of £34 million. Since 2008 the EA made changes to over 300 abstraction licences that have returned 47 billion litres of water a year to the environment, improving river levels and flows.

Water improvement is also supported by significant funding from water companies, required in their statutory duties. In the current Price Review period (2020-25) they have committed £4.6 billion towards environmental improvements.

28th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to address (1) low pay among those living in rural areas, and (2) the gap in average earnings between those living in rural and urban areas.

There is no gap in median earnings between those living in rural and urban areas. Indeed, on a residence basis, in 2019 median gross annual earnings of £24,300 in predominantly rural areas were on a par with those in predominantly urban areas excluding London, which were £24,200.

Government policy is based on economic prosperity and helping people out of poverty wherever they live. The National Living Wage was increased by 6.2% to £8.72 per hour from 1 April 2020, above inflation and average earnings. Rates for younger workers were also increased. These increases were estimated to raise the pay of over 2 million workers across the UK.

Universal Credit promotes work as an effective route out of poverty. The Government has made significant investment to improve Universal Credit through the reduction in the taper rate from 65% to 63% in 2017, and an extra £1.7 billion a year put into Work Allowances by 2023/24, increasing them by £1,000 a year for working parents and disabled claimants from April 2019. This has put an extra £630 a year in the pockets of 2.4 million of the lowest paid households.

27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have conducted an environmental impact assessment of the disposal of single use face masks; and if so, what was the outcome of any such assessment.

We have not carried out an assessment on the environmental impact of the disposal of single-use face masks.

Face coverings required indoors are not the same as the single-use surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of their PPE. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace. Instead, the latest Government advice on face coverings provides instructions on how people can make and care for reusable face coverings at home using scarves or other washable textiles. This is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-to-wear-and-make-a-cloth-face-covering

Reusable cloth face coverings are also available to buy from a wide range of retail outlets, including online.

The Government has published guidance on the disposal of face coverings and other PPE during the coronavirus pandemic. This is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-disposing-of-waste

27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to publish annual league tables of the performance of water companies in tackling leakage.

Water company performance data is already published annually on the Discover Water website at www.discoverwater.co.uk, including leakage, and companies provide data to the Environment Agency on water losses.

Our 2018 Water Conservation Report sets an ambitious target of 50% reduction in leakage by 2050, endorsing the industry’s existing commitment to this reduction. We will continue to hold the water industry to account on this and to support measures taken to reduce leakage.

27th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the target date for the completion of the planting for the Northern Forest; and whether they are on target to meet that date.

As part of the 25 Year Environment Plan, we provided a kick-start investment of £5.7 million to support the Northern Forest Partnership (NFP) of the Community Forests and the Woodland Trust. The partnership’s long-term ambition is to plant 50 million trees across the North. Our initial investment is funding at least 1.8 million new trees by 2022, and through further investment in tree planting in this parliament we will go above and beyond that.

We continue to work with the NFP to identify, develop and implement delivery plans to ensure new trees are planted in the places of greatest need and that these trees are well managed and maintained for current and future generations to enjoy.

22nd Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer from Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 19 October (HL8726), whether the interim Office of Environmental Protection will have the resources to begin to investigate complaints prior to the granting of formal powers to do so when it is established in law.

Members of the public will be able to submit complaints about alleged failures of public authorities to comply with environmental law to Defra's interim environmental governance secretariat from the start of next year until the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) begins its statutory functions. The secretariat will assess complaints received against the criteria specified in the Environment Bill to determine if they will fall within the remit of possible investigation by the OEP.

The secretariat will have the resources to conduct these processes, interacting with the complainants and public authorities in question to gather further information where needed. It will assess the information received and pass it on to the OEP once established, so that the OEP can determine which complaints to consider further through the exercise of its legal functions including formal investigations and, where necessary, enforcement.

22nd Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer from Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 19 October (HL8726), whether the Office of Environmental Protection will be granted additional resources to deal with any backlog of complaints occuring following the delay in its establishment.

As specified in the Environment Bill, the Secretary of State will provide the OEP with the resources that he considers reasonably sufficient to enable the OEP to carry out its functions. This will include consideration of what resources the OEP will need to handle complaints, including those passed to it from the interim arrangements. Defra will agree the OEP’s resourcing with HM Treasury through a budget that will be announced after the Environment Bill achieves Royal Assent.

22nd Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer from Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park on 19 October (HL8726), what will be the status of environmental complaints involving the UK currently under consideration by the EU if they are unresolved when the transition period ends on 1 January 2021.

Unresolved environmental complaints that are currently under consideration can continue to be considered by the EU after the transition period. As specified in the Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, with limited exceptions the Commission will continue to be competent for administrative procedures initiated before the end of the transition period, and the EU Court of Justice will continue to have jurisdiction over such cases. In addition, the withdrawal agreement includes a further four years from the end of the transition period, during which the Commission may bring cases before the Court of Justice for alleged infringements of EU law that occurred before the end of the transition period.

21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 20 October (HL Deb, col 1471), what is the timetable for the consultation on the update to the UK National Action Plan for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides.

The revised UK National Action Plan or the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (NAP) is currently under ministerial review. The public consultation is due to be published in November. This will be a full public consultation lasting 12 weeks and we are actively encouraging a range of stakeholders to provide their views. All responses will be carefully considered.

21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the UK Expert Committee on Pesticides has conducted a review into the effectiveness of regulatory enforcement of pesticide spraying in fields adjoining residential areas.

The UK Expert Committee on Pesticides (ECP) has not conducted such a review.

Pesticides are only authorised for use in situations where scientific assessment finds that this will not harm human health, including that of local residents, and will not pose unacceptable risks to the environment. Those using pesticides are required to take all reasonable precautions to protect human health and the environment and to confine the application of the pesticide to the area intended to be treated. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) considers reports of non-compliance in line with its published enforcement policy.

Incidents in which people may have been affected by pesticides are monitored, including through work carried out by the National Poisons Information Service. HSE uses the intelligence gathered to inform decisions on enforcement priorities and the ECP regularly reviews the data produced.

5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the regulatory gap that would occur as a result of the Environment Bill not being enacted by 1 January 2021; and what steps they plan to take to ensure there is continuity in the transfer of EU protections into UK law during any such gap.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 will make sure all existing EU environmental law continues to operate in UK law at the end of the transition period, providing businesses and stakeholders with certainty. We have a long history of environmental protection supported by a strong legal framework which predates membership of the EU, and we will safeguard and improve on this record.

As regards scrutiny of the implementation of environmental measures, the Government intends to bring the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) into operation in 2021. The delay to the Environment Bill due to Covid-19 means it will not be formally established by the beginning of the year. However, an interim secretariat will support the OEP Chair and will receive complaints about alleged failures of public authorities to comply with environmental law from the start of next year. This will be in place until the OEP can begin its statutory functions. Once established, the OEP will then be able to use its legal powers to investigate complaints reported to the interim team from 1 January 2021, and could take enforcement action against serious failures if necessary. As a result, there will be no gap in time where public authorities cannot be held to account.

5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect that the Office for Environmental Protection will be fully operational; and what its budget allocation will be from 1 January 2021.

The Government still intends to bring the Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) into operation in 2021, but due to the pause in the Environment Bill’s passage and the wider context of Covid-19, we cannot yet confirm exactly when the OEP will start. We will implement transitional arrangements, with a secretariat to support the OEP chair currently being sought in a public appointment campaign. This will be in place from the start of next year until the OEP can begin its statutory functions.

Defra will agree with HM Treasury a budget that will be ring-fenced for each spending review period, giving the OEP greater certainty over its finances. The budget will be announced as soon as possible after the Environment Bill achieves Royal Assent.

5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include legally binding targets to restore populations of wild species to a 1970’s baseline, including binding interim targets, in the forthcoming Environment Bill.

Domestic biodiversity is a devolved matter in the UK. In England, our 25 Year Environment Plan (25YEP) marked a step change in ambition for wildlife and the natural environment. We are already taking steps to meet this ambition, including bringing forward the Environment Bill, investing in woodland expansion and peatland restoration, and developing a new Environmental Land Management scheme that will reward farmers and land managers for delivering environmental public goods.

We are exploring the use of powers in the Environment Bill to strengthen our commitments. The Bill requires us to set at least one biodiversity target in law, as set out in our recently published policy paper on environmental targets. The Government will also be required to set interim targets that set out the trajectory for progress and help to ensure the Government stays on track to achieve long-term targets.

For biodiversity, the objectives under consideration for targets include the populations of species in the wider countryside, alongside the condition of our protected sites, and habitats outside of protected sites. All targets will be based on scientifically credible evidence, as well as economic analysis, seeking advice from independent experts and stakeholders. The public will also have an opportunity to provide input. When developing targets, we will consider any relevant best practice and commitments, including new international biodiversity targets expected to be finalised under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) next year. We are not yet able to commit to the specific targets we will set or the metrics we will use. It would be premature to do so without further evidence gathering, public consultation and international processes.

5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the UK–Norway Fisheries Framework Agreement includes a guarantee that neither country will fish above the minimum sustainable yield, as set by UK scientists, from year one of the agreement.

The agreement enters in to force on 1st January 2021. It will require the Parties to cooperate to achieve the sustainable use of marine living resources. This will be underpinned by using the best scientific evidence available to both parties and the further requirement that due account is taken of the need to preserve marine biological diversity.

5th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress they have made in reaching agreement between the devolved nations that Remote Electronic Monitoring will be enforced on all fishing fleets in UK waters.

We have launched a call for evidence on expanding the use of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) on English registered vessels and other vessels operating in English waters. The call for evidence is available on GOV.UK and closes on 30 November.

The Government has been clear that we see benefits of expanding the use of REM, but we must develop the right policy for our industry and the marine environment.

Many of the objectives a REM programme could help to deliver are devolved matters, including control and enforcement and fisheries science. Defra will continue to work with the other administrations to make sure we have a coherent UK approach on REM but one that recognises the different needs of each administration.

19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to bring forward amendments which would include the World Health Organisation’s guideline air pollution limits in the Environment Bill.

Government is committed to tackling a diversity of pollutants which harm human health and the environment. We already have ambitious and statutory emission reduction ceilings in place for five key air pollutants, as well as legally binding concentration limits. However, the case for even more ambitious action on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is especially strong, as it is the pollutant that has the most significant impact on health.

The Environment Bill establishes a legally binding duty to set a target for PM2.5, in addition to a long-term air quality target. We are committed to setting challenging targets and following an evidence-based process, seeking advice from a range of experts, in addition to giving consideration to the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines. The targets will be set in secondary legislation at the end of this process. It would not be an effective approach to commit in primary legislation to achieving a target, without giving due consideration to its achievability and the measures required to meet that target. Stakeholders, Parliament and the public will have the opportunity to comment on, and input into, the process of developing this target.

19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what arrangements they have put in place for blind and partially sighted people to have priority for supermarket online delivery slots.

The Government has been working closely with local authorities, retailers, food businesses and charities to ensure that blind and partially sighted people have access to the food and essential goods that they need.

We have published guidance online that explains what steps people can take if they are unable to access food. This guidance has been shared with local authorities, retailers and charities to help them respond to enquiries from those seeking help. The guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-accessing-food-and-essential-supplies.

Various sight loss charities are working directly with some of the major supermarkets to take forward some practical initiatives to help people with sight loss to access supermarkets.

This crisis has seen a surge in community spirit not seen in many decades, with grassroots support networks springing up all over the country. There are many local community groups who can help, as well as local shops which may be able to provide orders for delivery (by phone or by email). Many local authorities are now publicising such initiatives on their Covid-19 websites and through their Covid-19 helplines.

In addition, over 600,000 people are now registered as NHS Volunteer Responders. Verified volunteer responders can receive tasks to help those in their communities, including through shopping for vulnerable people for food and essential supplies. Health and care professionals and approved charities (including Citizens Advice and Age UK) are now able to refer vulnerable individuals into the system to receive support from volunteers.

Further, it is now possible for individuals to self-refer for assistance from the NHS Volunteer Responders, if they consider themselves to be vulnerable and in need of support.

13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Gardiner of Kimble on 7 May (HL3400), what plans they have (1) to encourage more flexible and part time seasonal employment on farms, and (2) to encourage more British workers to apply for vacancies through the Pick for Britain scheme.

There are already a number of recruitment efforts under way by industry and we encourage as many people as possible to take up seasonal work on farms. We took the decision to allow thousands of furloughed staff to take additional jobs and top up their income.

We know people are signing up for extra work and we are working with industry to highlight these jobs and encourage recruitment. We are working with industry to encourage farmers, growers and Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) licensed businesses with vacancies to add their websites to the Pick for Britain (PfB) website through the ‘Are you an employer’ page. We are also working with industry recruiters to encourage them to post vacancies on the GOV.UK Find A Job digital platform so farmers can access a broader number of jobseekers.

Jobs will continue to be added by these recruiters as more workers are needed and we will be working with industry to promote the PfB website throughout the summer. Further communications on PfB will be released based on the needs of the sector- this may include regional variations and targeting towards specific audiences such as students.

We are in regular contact with the industry and current sentiment is that labour demands are being met for May. But we will monitor this across the picking season and work with growers and industry to join up potential sources of labour, including highlighting the benefits of a diverse and flexible workforce.

13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many current seasonal farm workers are (1) Eastern European, and (2) UK recruits through the Pick for Britain scheme.

Defra does not hold details of the number of seasonal farm workers from eastern Europe versus those recruited through the Pick for Britain (PfB) scheme, but we understand that this year’s workforce is likely to be more diverse than in previous years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Industry tells us that demand for seasonal workers in May is currently being met, but we know that demand will rise from June onwards. A number of workers from within and outside of the UK have already been recruited and trained and will continue to work on our farms throughout the season.

There are already brilliant recruitment efforts underway by industry and there has been a strong response with thousands of British people expressing their interest in agricultural work in the upcoming months.

The PfB website acts as a central hub to signpost people to recruiters of seasonal agricultural workers and jobs will continue to be added to the website by these recruiters as more workers are needed. We will be working with industry to promote the PfB website throughout the summer.

We will continue to work closely with industry to ensure our food supply chain remains resilient and to help our world-leading farmers and growers access the labour they will need over the busy harvest months.

13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they will publish the UK’s negotiating position on a future fisheries agreement with the European Union.

The UK published its approach to fisheries negotiations on 27 February and has since published its draft Fisheries Framework Agreement legal text, as set out in a Written Ministerial Statement laid before the House on 19 May.

13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment will be made of the adequacy of their financial package of support for the dairy industry during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Government has continued to engage closely with representatives from all parts of the dairy supply chain throughout this difficult period to assess the challenges facing the industry and to ensure that appropriate financial support is provided. The vast majority of Britain’s dairy farmers continue to supply their contracts at or around the usual price. Approximately 5% of total milk production, however, goes to the service trade. A small proportion of farmers supplying milk to processors that sell into the food service sector have seen a reduction in demand with the closure of food service. A small proportion of suppliers have therefore seen a reduction in demand. We have provided a range of support to help these affected farmers.

At the outset of the pandemic, the Government announced a number of emergency measures to support farmers, processors and retailers. These include designating the food sector as critical to the response, with people working in the production, processing, sale, distribution or delivery of food categorised as key workers and granting derogations on drivers’ hours limitations.

In addition, to support milk producers, the Government announced on 17 April a temporary easing of some elements of competition law to make it easier for the dairy industry to come together to maximise production, processing and storage efficiency and to ensure that as much product as possible can be processed into high quality dairy products. This Statutory Instrument was laid on 1 May and applies retrospectively from 1 April.

On 6 May we announced a new scheme specifically to provide support to eligible dairy farmers in England who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May because of coronavirus disruptions. This will provide farmers with funding of up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during the qualifying period, enabling them to continue to operate and to sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

Defra and the devolved administrations are also jointly contributing towards financing the new £1 million campaign by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board and Dairy UK to drive an increase in the consumption of milk. Running over 12 weeks, the campaign is highlighting the role that milk plays in supporting moments of personal connection during times of crisis.

Our Coronavirus Business Interruption Loans Scheme is available to farmers, milk buyers and processors. Responding to industry feedback on this scheme, Defra held urgent discussions with the major banks to ensure they understand that farmers, milk buyers and milk processors are eligible. In addition, the new Bounce Back Loan scheme, which applies to businesses operating in agriculture, ensures that the smallest businesses can access loans up to £50,000. To give lenders the confidence they need, we have provided them with a 100% guarantee on each loan and will cover the first 12 months of interest payments and fees.

Public intervention for skimmed milk powder (SMP) and butter continues to be available in the UK. Alongside this we have also ensured the availability to UK dairy processors of private storage aid for cheese, butter and SMP. These measures will help to underpin prices, providing a floor in the market by reducing the volume of product coming on to the market.

We will continue to engage with the dairy industry throughout this period of disruption to monitor the impact of the range of financial and other measures we have implemented, ensuring that the sector continues to have the support that it needs.

5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest estimate of the timetable for the conclusion of negotiations with the EU on fisheries.

Negotiations on a potential future fisheries agreement are ongoing after a brief pause due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The UK and EU have committed to use best endeavours to agree a new fisheries framework agreement by 1 July this year.

As negotiations progress the government will ensure that Parliament is kept updated.

5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they intend to update Parliament on the progress of the talks with the EU on fishing access to UK coastal waters.

Negotiations on a potential future fisheries agreement are ongoing after a brief pause due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The UK and EU have committed to use best endeavours to agree a new fisheries framework agreement by 1 July this year.

As negotiations progress the government will ensure that Parliament is kept updated.

28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the timetable for distributing the £10 million of financial support for fishing businesses in England affected by COVID-19; and what additional resources will be made available to the Marine Management Organisation to ensure applications for the grants to fishers whose business has suffered market disruption are processed in a speedy manner. [T]

The Fisheries Response Fund (FRF) is the first part of a £10 million funding package for the English fishing and aquaculture industries which was launched into operation by Marine Management Organisation (MMO) within two hours of receiving approval on 20 April 2020. In the first nine days 1200 fishing businesses have been contacted, 750 have responded and so far 550 payments have been made direct into business’ bank accounts. To date a total of £2.3 million has been paid out under the fund with more payments continuing to be made each day.

The second part of the fund is a grants scheme, the Direct Seafood Supply Scheme (DSSS), for projects that will support the sale of locally caught seafood in domestic markets as well as supporting the consumption of locally caught seafood. This scheme was launched on 29 April 2020 and will close on 11 May 2020. A panel of industry representatives will meet to review applications and MMO will announce the grants to be made from 15 May 2020.

MMO used its current resources to design and develop the processes for both funds within days of their announcement. MMO has trebled the size of its grants team (redeploying colleagues from other MMO teams) and extended its opening hours to include evenings and Saturdays to support applicants for both schemes and ensure payments are issued as quickly as possible.

28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure that UK meat and dairy products are properly labelled from farm to fork.

In the UK we maintain high standards on information provided to consumers about their food, including the labelling of our high quality meat and dairy products. This is done through our legislation on the provision of food information and although food is a devolved matter, the same rules currently apply across all of the UK

The rules are based on the fundamental principle that information must not mislead consumers as to a food’s characteristics, including its place of provenance and method of manufacture or production. Rules on traceability are in place through various regulations such as General Food Law 178/2002 which require businesses to be able to identify from where they have received food and to where they have supplied it (‘one step forward and one step back’). It also requires food to be adequately labelled or identified to facilitate its traceability, including relevant documentation to support any claims about the food’s origin or characteristics later made to consumers.

Rules on the marketing of milk and milk products, including those which reserve dairy terms including “milk” and “cheese” specifically for the marketing of dairy products, are included in the Common Organisation of the Agricultural Markets (Regulation 1308/2013). Rules requiring origin labelling of fresh and frozen meat are included in our food information regime.

New rules were introduced across the UK in April of this year that require the origin of the primary ingredient of a food to be made clear to the consumer. The rules require that labels inform consumers if the country or place of origin of the primary ingredient of a food product is different to that of the origin stated, or implied, for the product as a whole, or at least a statement that the origin of the ingredient is different. This will further help UK consumers to identify whether foods have been wholly or only partly produced here in the UK. These rules augment existing legislation requiring the origin labelling of a range of foods including most fresh and frozen meats, the origin of which must be traceable under the regulations. There are no plans for information permitted or required on labels to change when the Transition Period ends.

Consumers are further informed about the provenance of their UK produced foods by a number of voluntary assurance schemes. Any such scheme or retailer providing such assurance must be able to show a proven chain of provenance supporting such claims.

28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage UK consumers to support UK farmers by buying their meat, dairy and vegetable products during the current COVID-19 crisis.

Half of the food that the UK population consumes is home-grown, once we take account of food production that is exported, and is renowned for its quality and high standards of food safety, traceability, animal welfare and sustainability. We will always champion our farmers and producers; supporting them to grow more of our great British food, and to provide a reliable and sustainable food supply to the British public.

The Government is aware that coronavirus represents a very significant challenge, affecting daily life and farming businesses up and down the country. We are supporting British farmers and the UK food and drink industry through this crisis and beyond.

We are working closely with the sector as they develop consumer-facing marketing campaigns. Specifically, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Dairy UK are launching a £1 million campaign, supported financially by Defra and devolved government partners, to encourage consumers to reconnect with milk.

Separately, Quality Meat Scotland, AHDB and Meat Promotion Wales have launched a £1.2 million ‘Make It beef’ campaign, aimed at showing consumers how they can recreate easy to cook restaurant-style meals with high-quality cuts, like steak.

We will continue to engage with and support similar initiatives that highlight the qualities of British meat, dairy, and vegetable products.

23rd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to recommending the re-opening waste and recycling centres to alleviate the increased incidence of fly-tipping on agricultural land.

This is a devolved matter and the information provided therefore relates to England only.

We are aware of reports of an increase in fly-tipping and that, anecdotally, this may be a result of the closure of household waste recycling centres. However, this does not appear to be consistent across the country.

It is legal for household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs) to remain open during the Coronavirus pandemic. However, we know that some local authorities are finding this challenging, which is why on 5 May Defra published some guidance to help local authorities do this.

We worked with industry, local authorities and other Government departments, including Public Health England, on developing the guidance which includes a section on workforce safety. The key principle of the guidance is that human health must be protected while maintaining safe systems of working. Social distancing must also be observed by both staff and visitors to HWRCs wherever possible. The guidance makes it clear that residents must only visit HWRCs if they cannot store safely at home the items they wish to dispose of.

The guidance was published this week after close consultation with the police. The guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-to-local-authorities-on-prioritising-waste-collections/managing-household-waste-and-recycling-centres-hwrcs-in-england-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic

23rd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to encourage more flexible and part-time seasonal employment on farms in order to encourage more British workers to apply for the vacancies.

We know how important seasonal workers are to our farmers and we are aware of the impact that restrictions on travel from other countries, as a result of Covid-19, is having on the number of seasonal workers coming to work in the UK. We need to mobilise the British workforce to fill that gap and make sure our excellent fruit and vegetables are on people's plates over the summer months.

The Pick for Britain (PfB) website is a recently launched joint Defra and industry initiative to support this effort. The website acts as a central hub to signpost people to the jobs available. It provides guidance and resources so growers, workers and industry can have a single place to go, available at https://pickforbritain.org.uk/. The website also provides links to a wide range of recruitment campaigns organised by labour providers. The PfB website includes links to the Government’s ‘Find A Job’ website, giving access to a wide reach of potential applicants. The Find a Job website has more than 1.6 million registered users and is available here: https://findajob.dwp.gov.uk/.

Our farmers are doing a fantastic job of feeding the nation during this challenging time. To help our farmers, industry Best Practice Guidance for employers of seasonal agricultural workers to avoid the spread of coronavirus has also now been published, which has been endorsed by Public Health England: https://ahdb.org.uk/coronavirus/social-distancing-farm-businesses.

23rd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that supplies of imported food are not delayed at UK ports.

The UK is working with national governments across the globe to ensure supply chains remain open and businesses have access to the information they need to keep goods moving. We have been monitoring the impacts of the coronavirus on supply chains from as many sources as possible, including our ongoing dialogue with business.

Defra and the Food Standards Agency have been developing a range of temporary easements for application in the UK for both intra-EU movements and third country imports to ensure that trade continues to flow during the Covid-19 outbreak. We consider that these temporary measures will not compromise biosecurity and public health. Separately, the European Commission has adopted Implementing Regulation (EU) 2020/466 that provides a number of discretionary, temporary official control easements, some of which overlap with the ones we have been developing. We have written to Border Control Posts to confirm the temporary easements that can be put in place, and will keep these under review to ensure that trade continues without compromising biosecurity and public health.

21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to promote the Pick for Britain initiative, which aims to fill vacancies on fruit and vegetable farms.

We know how important seasonal workers are to our farmers and we are aware of the impact that restrictions on travel from other countries, as a result of Covid-19, is having on the number of seasonal workers coming to work in the UK. We need to mobilise the British workforce to fill that gap and make sure our excellent fruit and vegetables are on people’s plates over the summer months.

The Pick for Britain (PfB) website is a recently launched joint Defra and industry initiative to support this effort. The website acts as a central hub to signpost people to the jobs available. It provides guidance and resources so growers, workers and industry can have a single place to go, available at https://pickforbritain.org.uk/. The website also provides links to a wide range of recruitment campaigns organised by labour providers. The PfB website includes links to the Government’s ‘Find A Job’ website, giving access to a wide reach of potential applicants. The Find a Job website has more than 1.6 million registered users and is available here: https://findajob.dwp.gov.uk/.

Our farmers are doing a fantastic job of feeding the nation during this challenging time. To help our farmers, industry Best Practice Guidance for employers of seasonal agricultural workers to avoid the spread of coronavirus has also now been published, which has been endorsed by Public Health England: https://ahdb.org.uk/coronavirus/social-distancing-farm-businesses.

21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support and guidance they have provided to local authorities, volunteer groups and supermarkets to ensure efforts to provide food to vulnerable people are coordinated.

We are working closely with other Government departments and Local Government representatives to provide a coordinating and supporting function to support local authorities, supermarkets and the voluntary and community sector to provide access to food to vulnerable people.

To date we have arranged for considerably more than 500,000 food parcels to be delivered to the most vulnerable and at risk. We are working with major retailers to prioritise delivery and click & collect slots for those who are most vulnerable and at risk. We have shared with supermarkets the details of those who have registered as extremely clinically vulnerable and needing to shield, and who need help accessing food. Supermarkets have matched these names against their own customer databases and offered people the option of priority access to online delivery. Most supermarkets are also offering prioritised delivery or click and collect slots to those they have identified as vulnerable from their own customer database.

We are working closely with local authorities, retailers, food companies and charities to enable those vulnerable people outside the most vulnerable and at risk to access food through a variety of ways, including: volunteers shopping for them, deliveries from local retailers and food companies, as well as accessing supermarkets for a priority delivery or click and collect slot.

The NHS Volunteer Responders programme is available to help support people who are struggling to access food. In addition to health and care professionals, a number of approved Voluntary and Community Services organisations are now able to refer vulnerable individuals into the system to receive support from the volunteers. And we have been supporting the NHS with working with retailers on payment solutions for paying volunteers.

21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the £304 million announced in the 2020 Budget for local authorities to improve air quality will be allocated, and what time period the fund covers.

The 2020 Budget allocated an additional £304 million to support delivery of the NO2 plan, bringing the total amount of funding committed to tackling NO2 to £880 million. This further funding covers the years 2020-2022 and will be used to support those local authorities identified in the NO2 plan to deliver and mitigate the impacts of measures to tackle exceedances of legal limits for NO2.

21st Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on imports of (1) wheat and (2) rice.

The Government has been regularly meeting industry and utilising our global diplomatic network to identify and monitor global supply issues across agricultural commodities, including wheat and rice. The Government is also engaged with the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), an international body established in the wake of the 2007/08 food price hike to promote policy dialogue and market transparency.

In addition, the UK made a joint statement with G20 Agriculture Ministers at the G20 Extraordinary Agriculture meeting to affirm the importance of the continued flow of food, products and inputs for agriculture and food production. To date, we have seen only a few small-scale export restrictions announced by our trading partners, some of which have already been eased. We are aware industry are currently facing logistical challenges sourcing basmati rice as an indirect consequence of COVID-19 restrictions in some countries and will continue to explore options to support them in the short and medium term. While there are challenges around basmati rice, other rice varieties are continuing to trade although at a higher price.

AMIS estimates suggest that global cereal production is currently close to historic highs and stocks of rice and wheat are considered to be at comfortable levels. We will continue to work closely with industry, the international community and across our network to monitor markets and respond to emerging issues as they arise.

16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the Budget 2020’s commitment to provide £304 million to help local authorities improve air quality, what assessment they have made of the likely annual reduction in overall nitrogen dioxide emissions.

Emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) reduced by 33% from 2010-18[1] and we are projecting a further 12% reduction in emissions between 2018 and 2020[2], ensuring that we comply with the 2020 NOx emissions target under the Gothenburg Protocol. We are currently working with local authorities with the worst air pollution concentrations to ensure that they take robust action to accelerate air quality improvement. The financial commitment awarded in the Budget will provide local authorities with the funds to take the necessary action and support individuals and businesses that are impacted by local air quality plans.

[1] https://naei.beis.gov.uk/resources/Annex_I_Emissions_reporting_2020_GB_v2.0.xls

[2] https://cdr.eionet.europa.eu/gb/un/clrtap/projected/envxmo40w/index_html

16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government following the Budget 2020's commitment to plant enough trees to cover an area the size of Birmingham over the next five years, how many trees they intend to plant in each financial year.

The Budget announced a £640 million Nature for Climate Fund to increase tree planting in England. This will contribute to the UK-wide planting commitment of 30,000 hectares per year by 2025 set out in the Government’s manifesto. We are working with the devolved administrations to ensure we all deliver towards this UK commitment over this Parliament.

We have not set annual targets but are developing an ambitious programme to deliver the manifesto commitment. Working with key delivery partners and stakeholders, we are developing policies for a new English Tree Strategy, which we will consult on this spring.

16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, as part of their plans to introduce a new Plastic Packaging Tax from April 2022, they will also introduce consistent national guidelines for the recycling of such packaging.

The Government is committed to increasing the amount of packaging collected for recycling. The Environment Bill, which is currently going through the Committee Stage in the House of Commons, includes legislation so that all collectors of waste must collect a core set of materials from households, businesses and other organisations such as schools. The core set of materials will be paper and card, plastic, metal, glass, food and garden waste. The core set will have to be collected separately from residual waste and the dry recyclable materials must not be mixed with food and garden waste. We will consult on the detail of the policy later this year. As stated in the Resources and Waste Strategy, we expect consistency in recycling to be in force from 2023.

16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on their ability to deliver urgent repairs and upgrades to flood defences.

Following this winter’s flooding the Environment Agency (EA) is completing inspections of impacted assets and prioritising repairs to those assets that are below required condition. The COVID-19 outbreak may impact the EA’s ability to deliver the asset repair programme as quickly as planned, but it will continue to prioritise the repair of assets that pose the most significant risk to lives and livelihoods.

11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following reports that the voluntary target to reduce the use of peat in horticulture will not be met, what plans they have to legislate for a ban on the use of such peat.

The Government is committed to phasing out the use of peat in horticulture in England by 2030. In 2011 we introduced a voluntary target for amateur gardeners to phase out the use of peat by 2020 and a final voluntary phase-out target of 2030 for professional growers of fruit, vegetables and plants. While some progress has been made, we stated in the 25 Year Environment Plan that we would consider implementing further measures if there is insufficient movement to peat alternatives by 2020. We will set out our plans around the use of peat in horticulture in due course.

We are working with the industry to make the transition to peat alternatives and to overcome barriers to their use. This includes, for example, jointly funding research with the industry on peat replacements in professional horticulture.

11th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how Parliament will be informed of progress made in their negotiations with the EU on fishing rights.

On 20 December 2019 the Prime Minister, at the Second Reading of the Withdrawal Agreement Act, committed to keeping Parliament fully informed of the progress of negotiations.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to deal with the containers of plastic waste returning to the UK from Malaysia; and how they intend to police any further offshore waste contracts.

The Government is deeply concerned about the illegal trade in waste, including reports of illegal plastic waste exported from the UK to Malaysia. Recognising the difficulties experienced by some countries in managing imports of plastic waste the Queen’s Speech on the 19 December included a commitment to ban the export of polluting plastic wastes to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Environment Bill includes a power which will enable us to deliver on this commitment and we will consult this year on the date by which this should be achieved. The Bill also includes a power to introduce electronic tracking of waste to help tackle waste crime here in the UK and prevent illegal waste from being shipped abroad.

The Environment Agency (EA), as competent authority of England, is overseeing the voluntary return of all 42 improperly documented containers of plastic waste from Malaysia and subsequent lawful recovery or disposal of the waste in the UK. Currently, 35 of the containers have already arrived in England and the remaining 7 are scheduled to be returned shortly. The return of these containers is being managed and financed by the parties involved in the original export to Malaysia as it is their responsibility.

In addition, the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur is currently supporting the Malaysian government in tackling the wider plastic waste problem. This includes sharing UK experience as well as collaborating with the Malaysian government in developing a Malaysian version of a Plastics Pact (a cross stakeholder grouping) to drive more effective management of plastic and plastic wastes. My department and the British High Commission also facilitated a technical meeting in Kuala Lumpur between UK and Malaysian enforcement authorities to improve plastic waste export/import protocols.

Compliance with the legislation on waste shipments is monitored by the UK’s four environmental regulators[1]. In England in 2018/19 the EA inspected almost 1,000 shipping containers at ports and returned over 200 of those to sites. During this period, the EA also prevented 12,000 tonnes of waste from reaching ports which may have otherwise been exported illegally. Any operators found to be illegally exporting waste can face severe sanctions – from financial penalties to imprisonment for a period of up to two years.

[1] The Environment Agency in England, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales

16th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many new trees have been planted in the UK in each of the last five years.

The Forestry Commission produces statistics on new planting of woodland by area, but not by tree numbers, in the UK. These are Official Statistics produced to meet the standards of the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Woodland area statistics can be found on the Forest Research web site together with background information at:

https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/tools-and-resources/statistics/forestry-statistics/

The area of new planting (woodland creation) for the UK in each of the last five years, taken from the published statistics (which are reported in hectares) is shown below.

Woodland Area (thousands of hectares)

Year (ending 31 March3)

New planting

UK

2014-15

10.30

2015-16

5.65

2016-17

6.51

2017-18

9.09

2018-19

13.40

Source: Forestry Commission, Forestry England, Scottish Forestry, Forestry and Land Scotland, Natural Resources Wales, Forest Service grant schemes.

16th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the remarks by the former Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Rt Hon George Eustice MP, on 14 November (HC Deb, cols 424–6), what plans they have, if any, to review the terms of the trade agreement with the government of Australia.

The UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement gives British companies unprecedented access to the Australian market. It is expected to increase trade with Australia by 53% and grow our economy by up to £2.3 billion in the long-run.

The Government is taking the necessary steps to bring this agreement into force as soon as possible so businesses can reap the many benefits. The Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill is currently proceeding through Parliament.

Lord Johnson of Lainston
Minister of State (Department for Business and Trade)
22nd Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the economic impact of the trade deal with New Zealand on the Welsh lamb industry.

Following the conclusion of negotiations, a full impact assessment will be published prior to scrutiny by Parliament. This will present the results of economic impacts of the agreement, including on UK sectoral output and employment. It will provide an assessment of the potential implications for the UK nations and English regions.

22nd Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the National Farmers' Union about the impact on UK farmers of the recent trade deal with New Zealand.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has established an extensive engagement framework and has consulted regularly with the UK agricultural sector throughout the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with New Zealand.

Prior to the start of talks, the Government carried out one of the largest consultations ever undertaken to inform its approach to FTAs, including New Zealand. Throughout negotiations, the UK negotiating team has continued to closely consult experts, including in dedicated trade groups set up by DIT such as the Trade Advisory Groups (TAGs). The National Farmers Union (NFU) have formed part of these consultations throughout, and in May 2021 DIT Ministers held discussions with the NFU across the UK.

22nd Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the estimated value per annum of New Zealand lamb that will be imported to the UK as the result of the recent trade deal.

New Zealand is already able to export its lamb to the UK tariff free via a sizeable World Trade Organisation tariff rate quota. Usage of this quota has been declining, and in 2020 less than half of this quota was filled. It is therefore unlikely there will be an increase in lamb imports from New Zealand as a result of a new deal.

Following the conclusion of negotiations, a full impact assessment will be published prior to scrutiny by Parliament. This will present the results of economic impacts of the agreement, including on UK sectoral output.

12th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce a framework for national food and farming standards against which any proposed Free Trade Deal could be measured, as proposed by the Trade and Agriculture Commission.

The Government published its response to the report of the Trade and Agriculture Commission on 21 October.

The Government response explicitly upholds and affirms the manifesto commitment to not compromise on the UK’s high food production, animal welfare and environmental standards for which our country is rightly renowned.

Our response makes clear that we will not pursue any trade deals that would undermine UK farmers unfairly or compromise these high standards and that all food imports must comply with our high standards. Nor will we put consumers at risk from unsafe food which does not meet those high standards.

21st Jun 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government whether they plan to require all new homes to have an electric car charging point.

Following changes to the building regulations in December 2021, all new or majorly renovated homes with associated parking in England require the installation of an electric vehicle chargepoint. Larger parking areas are also required to install cable routes to facilitate the installation of additional chargepoints in the future. These requirements also apply to non-residential buildings such as shops and workplaces.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
28th Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of low emission zones as a means of tackling air pollution in urban areas.

The 2017 Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) plan sets out the actions Government is taking to deliver compliance with legal limits for NO2 in the shortest possible time. This includes a national-level assessment of the potential impact of charging Clean Air Zones in achieving this objective.

As a result of the plan, Government continues to support a number of local authorities to produce local plans that identify and implement measures to tackle NO2 exceedances in their areas. These plans must be supported by suitable evidence to demonstrate the type of intervention required, and whether this needs to include a Clean Air Zone.

Local Authorities have existing powers to implement charging zones as a means of achieving air quality and other environmental objectives where they deem this to be appropriate.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
16th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the Budget 2020’s commitments on electronic vehicle charging infrastructure and consumer incentives for ultra-low emission vehicles, what assessment they have made of the likely annual reduction in overall domestic transport emissions.

The Budget 2020 commitments are an integral part of our strategy for decarbonising road transport. The commitments are a key part of a package of measures that will enable a mass transition to zero emission vehicles and see the carbon emissions from road transport reduce between now and 2050. The benefits of this funding from a climate change perspective go considerably further than the direct emissions savings generated by the resulting higher short-term uptake of zero emission vehicles.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Secretary (HM Treasury)
21st Nov 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Buscombe on 5 June 2018 (HL8200), what testing and examination was carried out to ensure that any artificial intelligence software supplied for use in the Department for Work and Pensions is safe and without risks, as required by section 6 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

We will continue to work in close collaboration and partnership with other government departments and bodies to align with government’s AI approach, particularly the AI Safety Institute. DWP is exploring the use of AI and how it can support better digital services in a safe, transparent, ethical and considered way. We will work with HSE as and where it is appropriate to do so.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many incidents of adverse impacts from exposure to pesticides have been considered by the Health and Safety Executive, in each of the last three years.

The Health and Safety Executive has investigated a number of cases related to the use of plant protection products notified to their Concerns and Advice Team or through the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

Year

Number of cases investigated by HSE

2019-20

23

2018-19

47

2017-18

49

9th Nov 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government what steps they are taking, if any, to analyse the risk of radon gas build-up in homes arising from the installation of insulation and other retrofit products approved by Government.

Indoor radon concentration is a complex combination of factors, including underlying geology, building structure and settlement, usage, occupancy, indoor versus outdoor air temperature, ventilation, air pressure, wind speed and outdoor radon concentration. Radon concentration cannot be predicted; only the probability that a property in a particular location will have a radon level above the ‘Action Level’ threshold.

In 2019, the former Public Health England co-authored a paper through the Complex Urban Systems for Sustainability and Health project, which analyses the effect of energy efficiency measures on radon levels in homes. This analysis suggested that energy efficiency measures in homes should be reviewed to account for the potential for increased radon exposure as a result of air tightening and especially in high radon areas. A copy of the analysis is attached.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is continuing research on radon levels, including indoor air quality. On 3 November 2022, the UKHSA held an annual forum for stakeholders during Radon Awareness week, including discussions on the effect of energy efficiency and sustainability on indoor radon concentrations.

Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Markham on 13 October (HL2225), on how many occasions the Food Standards Agency was informed of sewage spills in (1) rivers, or (2) inshore waters, in each of the last three years.

The information requested is shown in the following table.

Incidents in rivers

Incidents in inshore waters

2022

1

1

2021

2

2

2020

1

4

Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Oct 2022
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Markham on 13 October (HL2225), which organisation is responsible for informing (1) commercial fishers, and (2) recreational anglers, about the food safety risks of fish caught in water polluted by sewage outflows.

Where a local authority is aware of sewage pollution events which occur in its area, it will take action and inform interested parties of potential food safety risks, as needed. The local authority will inform the Food Standards Agency (FSA) if it determines the event presents a serious or widespread risk to public health. In such cases, the FSA will work with the local authority to assess the risks and provide risk management advice and risk assessment where necessary.

Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
6th Sep 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps, if any, the Food Standards Agency are taking to ensure there is no public health risk arising from eating fish caught in UK waters which have been contaminated by sewerage outflows.

When the Food Standards Agency is notified of a potential food incident, such as sewage spills, which may lead to a food safety risk, it works with local authorities to take appropriate action to protect public health.

Fish and fishery products sold for consumption in the United Kingdom must meet the requirements of food hygiene legislation. Local authorities are responsible for enforcement and carry out official controls, such as inspection and taking samples for laboratory testing, to verify that food business operators comply with the legislation.

Food businesses are responsible for ensuring the food sold is safe to eat and that fishery products comply with the relevant health standards. There is currently no evidence that fish caught in UK waters are unsafe to eat.

Lord Markham
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
21st Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many incidents of adverse health impacts from exposure to pesticides have been reported to the National Poisons Information Service by (1) trained operatives, and (2) members of the public, in each of the last three years.

The National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) provides advice to health professionals across the United Kingdom on the management of poisoned patients. Since 2004, the NPIS has conducted a pesticide surveillance study, collecting data on all pesticide exposures for which they are notified in the UK. NPIS annual reports describe the incidence and character of pesticide exposures in the UK that result in contact with health professionals. Enquiries are not reported directly by members of the public or trained operatives.

During the financial year 2019/2020 the NPIS were notified of 282 exposures where adverse health effects were reported, 272 reported minor symptoms and 10 reported moderate or severe symptoms.

In 2018/2019, 311 exposures reported adverse health effects, 303 of these reported minor symptoms, seven moderate or severe symptoms and the NPIS was notified of one fatality.

During 2017/2018, 320 exposures reported adverse health effects, 301 reported minor symptoms, 16 reported moderate or severe and there were three fatalities.

3rd Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to include clarifications for drinks producers on the application of VAT on deposits in their response to the consultation on introducing a Deposit Return Scheme, which closed on 4 June 2021.

It is a fundamental principle of VAT that all amounts paid for the purchase of goods are subject to VAT, including amounts under drinks deposit return schemes (DRS). The Government is committed to making DRS work effectively and is exploring how the VAT regulations may be amended to support the schemes. HMRC will issue guidance on the application of VAT to deposit refunds in advance of the introduction of any scheme.
Baroness Penn
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
3rd Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact that VAT laws would have on the rollout of a Deposit Return Scheme.

It is a fundamental principle of VAT that all amounts paid for the purchase of goods are subject to VAT, including amounts under drinks deposit return schemes (DRS). The Government is committed to making DRS work effectively and is exploring how the VAT regulations may be amended to support the schemes. HMRC will issue guidance on the application of VAT to deposit refunds in advance of the introduction of any scheme.
Baroness Penn
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
3rd Mar 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce regulations to amend VAT law to accommodate the introduction of the Deposit Return Scheme.

To ensure that new drinks deposit return schemes (DRS) being introduced across the UK operate effectively, the Government is exploring how VAT regulations may be amended to support the operation of new DRS and will continue to work closely with stakeholders.
Baroness Penn
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
21st Oct 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Financial Conduct Authority about enforcement action against the food delivery company Just Eat over its failure to comply with the mandatory requirement to disclose climate change risks to investors in its annual report.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) does not generally confirm or deny whether it is investigating a particular firm or individual.

The FCA has powers to take a variety of enforcement actions against firms that breach its rules. It is the responsibility of the independent regulator to investigate and decide upon the appropriate course of action in a particular case. The Treasury has no general power of direction over the FCA and cannot intervene in individual cases.

23rd Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many customs border points will be in place between Northern Ireland and Britain at the end of the transition period of the UK's departure from the EU; where any such border points will be sited; and how many trained inspectors will be employed at each border point.

The Government has been clear that it does not see the need to construct any new bespoke customs infrastructure in Northern Ireland (or in Great Britain ports facing Northern Ireland) in order to meet its obligations under the Protocol.

As set out in the Command Paper on the Northern Ireland Protocol, the Government guarantees unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the UK market. This means no declarations, tariffs, new regulatory checks or customs checks. There will be only very limited exceptions to this, for example in upholding international obligations (such as in the movement of endangered species).

Goods moving from GB into NI will be subject to very limited additional processes such as electronic import declarations and traders can receive assistance for these from the free-to-use Trader Support Service.

16th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of the £9.2 billion funding to invest in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals announced in the Queen's Speech is new money that has not already been allocated.

The Government takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously and is committed to meeting net zero by 2050.

Any spending decisions are for future fiscal events. This year’s Budget and Spending Review will confirm multi-year budgets including those commitments made in the Queen’s speech.

We are considering what further fiscal and other policy measures are needed to meet our net zero target and HMT Net Zero Review will be looking at how to pay for net zero over the course of this year.

Earl of Courtown
Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard of the Yeomen of the Guard (HM Household) (Deputy Chief Whip, House of Lords)
9th Jun 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to prevent seasonal agricultural workers being charged recruitment fees; and how many UK recruitment firms have lost their licence for charging such fees illegally.

A key objective of the Seasonal Workers Scheme is to ensure that migrant workers are protected against modern slavery and other labour abuses, including the charging of recruitment fees. The safety and wellbeing of workers is considered paramount.

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) assess overseas labour providers when they apply for a licence to be a part of the Seasonal Workers Scheme. Charging recruitment fees would be a breach of the licensing standards. Any labour provider found to be in breach of the licensing standards is not provided with a licence or would have their licence revoked. To date, no licence holder part of the Seasonal Workers Scheme has been found to be in breach of the standards related to recruitment fees.

The GLAA is undertaking work in partnership to prevent exploitation of workers. For example, the GLAA and seasonal worker pilot operators are jointly developing an informative video, specifically addressing issues related to recruitment fees. The video is due to be launched in the coming weeks. The GLAA is also developing specific guidance aimed for overseas businesses will also be published shortly. Finally, the GLAA is working with UK embassies to engage more closely with in-country government agencies and ensure local laws and regulations are always met.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many new customs agents have been recruited to staff the UK's borders in the light of the UK's departure from the EU; and what is their eventual target for the recruitment of such agents.

Since 2018-19, Border Force has been building its staffing to meet the requirements of exiting the European Union and the end of the transition period.

By the end of the transition period, over 1,350 permanent staff were in post. Whilst recruitment and training continues, Border Force is also using contingency resources to provide additional short-term coverage where required.

Border Force anticipates requiring a total of 2,000 additional operational staff by July 2021, when full customs import controls are implemented on movements of goods from the EU to Great Britain but continues to keep the position under review based on operational requirements.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they consider that people designated as "no recourse to public funds" under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 will have access to food during the lockdown.

The Home Office is working closely with other government departments, including the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs to support people, including migrants with no recourse to public funds (NRPF), through this crisis.? Departments are sharing what they are learning from other bodies and charities with each other to ensure we continue to take a compassionate and pragmatic approach to an unprecedented situation.

Many of the wide-ranging Covid-19 measures the Government has put in place, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Self-employment Income Support Scheme and rental and mortgage protections are not public funds and therefore are available to migrants with NRPF.

Local authorities can provide basic safety net support if it is established there is a care need which does not arise solely from destitution, for example, where there are community care needs, migrants with serious health problems or family cases where the wellbeing of a child is in question. The Government has provided more than £3.2 billion of funding to local authorities in England, and additional funding under the Barnett formula to the devolved administrations to enable them to respond to Covid-19 pressures across all the services they deliver, including services helping the most vulnerable. In addition, on the 8th April the Chancellor announced an additional £750m package of support for charities across the UK to ensure they can continue their vital work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

More information on the support available for migrants affected by Covid-19 can be found on Gov.uk https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-get-support-if-youre-a-migrant-living-in-the-uk.

We will keep the situation under review and consider further measures if needed.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms (HM Household) (Chief Whip, House of Lords)
1st Feb 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government, further to their A Fairer Private Rented Sector white paper, published on 16 June 2022, whether they intend to introduce legislation to allow more people to be able to own a pet in their rented home; and if so, when.

The Government has committed to giving tenants the right to request a pet that the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. We will amend the Tenant Fees Act 2019 so that landlords can require insurance to cover damage to their property caused by pets. We will legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
1st Feb 2023
To ask His Majesty's Government what progress they have made towards increasing the availability of pet-friendly housing for people renting their homes.

The Government has committed to giving tenants the right to request a pet that the landlord must consider and cannot unreasonably refuse. We will amend the Tenant Fees Act 2019 so that landlords can require insurance to cover damage to their property caused by pets. We will legislate as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
16th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether a requirement to deliver biodiversity net gain will be obligatory for planning decisions under the proposed Levelling up and Planning legislation.

As the requirement for mandatory biodiversity net gain has already been introduced through the Environment Act 2021, and will be brought into force by 2023, it is not necessary to make provisions for mandatory net gain in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

We are working alongside the principles in the Environment Act 2021 to ensure that development results in environmental improvement rather than merely preventing harm. We will work with Defra to further embed this approach through updates to national planning policy, to ensure that environmental considerations feature fully in all planning decision making.

16th May 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Greenhalgh on 28 April (HL7965), how many applications for the Community Right to Bid have been received for local land sales.

The Department does not collect this information. Councils in England are responsible for overseeing their own Community Right to Bid schemes and are not required to provide updates to Government on local applications. They are however required to make this information available locally by publishing local updates.

26th Apr 2022
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have, if any, to introduce land reform measures to enable local people to bid for land put up for sale.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.

22nd Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to require all new-build properties to be built to high energy efficiency standards of a minimum of Energy Performance Certificate C.

The Government is committed to meeting its of net zero emissions by 2050 and recognises the important contribution that the energy efficiency of buildings has to make in meeting it


By 2025, the government will introduce a Future Homes Standard for new build homes to be future-proofed with low carbon heating to create healthy homes that are fit for the future, with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency


As a stepping stone to the Future Homes Standard we are proposing a meaningful but achievable strengthening in these requirements in 2020.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)
22nd Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the of the speed of recovery in the communities affected by the November 2019 floods.

The Government has been supporting local authorities from the outset of the November flooding. The Flood Recovery Framework was swiftly activated, to ensure that local authorities could implement local recovery schemes. In partnership with BEIS, the framework provides funding for local authorities to help affected residents and businesses to recover from the flooding, as well as reimbursements to local authorities for providing 100% council tax and business rates to these affected properties.

The Government also committed to matching up to £1 million of funds raised by the South Yorkshire Flood Disaster Relief Appeal Fund. We have pledged a further £300,000 of match-funding for other eligible areas affected by recent flooding, where the Flood Recovery Framework has been activated.

Government continues to engage with local partners to wholly understand the local situation and provide adequate support.

Viscount Younger of Leckie
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Work and Pensions)