Baroness Kennedy of Cradley Portrait

Baroness Kennedy of Cradley

Non-affiliated - Life peer

Baroness Kennedy of Cradley is not a member of any APPGs
Affordable Childcare
12th Jun 2014 - 11th Feb 2015
Draft Modern Slavery Bill
15th Jan 2014 - 3rd Apr 2014


There are no upcoming events identified
Division Votes
Thursday 10th June 2021
Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development etc.) (England) (Amendment) Order 2021
voted Aye
One of 12 Independent Aye votes vs 7 Independent No votes
Tally: Ayes - 260 Noes - 229
Speeches
Thursday 8th July 2021
Independent Office for Police Conduct

My Lords, in March this year the noble Baroness advised the House that, from this autumn, the Government would ask …

Written Answers
Wednesday 23rd June 2021
Land Mines: Bomb Disposal
To ask Her Majesty's Government to which countries they have provided (1) advice, and (2) support, on landmine clearance programmes.
Early Day Motions
None available
Bills
None available
Tweets
Saturday 24th July 2021
16:05
MP Financial Interests
None available

Division Voting information

During the current Parliamentary Session, Baroness Kennedy of Cradley has voted in 135 divisions, and never against the majority of their Party.
View All Baroness Kennedy of Cradley 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
Baroness Williams of Trafford (Conservative)
Minister of State (Home Office)
(11 debate interactions)
Lord Keen of Elie (Conservative)
(6 debate interactions)
Baroness Barran (Conservative)
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
(6 debate interactions)
View All Sparring Partners
Department Debates
Home Office
(19 debate contributions)
Ministry of Justice
(10 debate contributions)
Department of Health and Social Care
(6 debate contributions)
View All Department Debates
View all Baroness Kennedy of Cradley's debates

Commons initiatives

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

MPs who are act as Ministers or Shadow Ministers are generally restricted from performing Commons initiatives other than Urgent Questions.


Baroness Kennedy of Cradley has not been granted any Urgent Questions

Baroness Kennedy of Cradley has not been granted any Adjournment Debates

Baroness Kennedy of Cradley has not introduced any legislation before Parliament

Baroness Kennedy of Cradley has not co-sponsored any Bills in the current parliamentary sitting


182 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
20th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what five African countries have the largest total value of trade with the UK.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have, therefore, asked the Authority to respond.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond | National Statistician

The Baroness Kennedy of Cradley

House of Lords

London

SW1A 0PW

26 April 2021

Dear Lady Kennedy,

As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking what five African countries have the largest total value of trade with the UK (HL15101).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publishes monthly ‘All countries statistics’[1]. Services data for 2021 Q1 are not currently available at a geographical level but will be published in August 2021. Tables 1 and 2 provide details of UK Trade in Goods imports and exports for the top five African countries. Please note that data are in current prices and, as such, include the effect of inflation.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

Table 1: Trade in Goods imports, top five African countries, seasonally adjusted, £ million

Imports February 2021

South Africa

714

Morocco

93

Egypt

92

Kenya

37

Ivory Coast

35

Source: ONS

Table 2: Trade in Goods exports, top five African countries, seasonally adjusted, £ million

Exports February 2021

Egypt

156

South Africa

122

Nigeria

81

Ghana

40

Morocco

39

Source: ONS

[1]https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/nationalaccounts/balanceofpayments/datasets/uktradeallcountriesseasonallyadjusted

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus' statement on 9 July that "the greatest threat we face now is not the [COVID-19] virus itself, rather it is the lack of leadership and solidarity at the global and national levels".

The UK takes a strong global leadership role in collaborating with other countries in efforts towards the development and distribution of a successful vaccine for COVID-19 and we encourage other countries to do the same.

COVAX is an international initiative to support the discovery, manufacture and fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for one billion people by the end of 2021.

The UK is actively engaging with the World Health Organisation, which has an important role to play in leading the global health response. The UK is committed to supporting the WHO as well as multilateral and international partners, such as Gavi and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
18th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what the level of trade is between the UK and Taiwan.

The information requested falls under the remit of the UK Statistics Authority. I have therefore asked the Authority to respond.

----------------------

Dear Baroness Kennedy,

As National Statistician and Chief Executive of the UK Statistics Authority, I am responding to your Parliamentary Question asking what the level of trade is between the UK and Taiwan (HL8281).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) publish UK export/import statistics in our quarterly UK total trade: all countries, non-seasonally adjusted release. For 2019, the UK estimates of trade with Taiwan were £2.99bn worth of goods and service exports to Taiwan, and £4.1bn worth of goods and service imports from Taiwan.

For more detail, full annual and quarterly timeseries data on the export and import of goods and services by the UK from Taiwan can be found on our website.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/internationaltrade/datasets/uktotaltradeallcountriesnonseasonallyadjusted

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what scientific modelling they have seen to inform the development of possible strategies to replace the COVID-19-related lockdown in place in England.

Scientific advice and analysis have underpinned the Government's policy making in the development of current social distancing measures and our recently published roadmap. We will continue to be guided by science in our approach.

Lord True
Minister of State (Cabinet Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potentioal for exporting green energy in the next (1) five, and (2) ten, years.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. I will correspond directly with the noble Baroness.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
15th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the future of combined heat and power plants in the UK.

The government is currently reviewing the role of combined heat and power plants, as the economy transitions to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy held a call for evidence, Combined Heat and Power (CHP): the route to 2050, between 12 June and 4 September. The responses are currently being analysed and a government response will be published in due course.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the proposal for a tidal lagoon near the Port of Mostyn in north Wales.

The Government has not yet received a detailed proposal from project developers for a proposed tidal lagoon near the Port of Mostyn in North Wales.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
9th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the UK's future energy needs; and what plans they have to increase the generation of nuclear power.

The Government believes that nuclear power will play a key role in our future energy mix. Alongside other technologies, such as renewables, nuclear will enable us to remain a world leader in tackling climate change, helping to transition our energy system so that we can achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The forthcoming Energy White Paper will address changes to our energy system, promoting high-skilled jobs and clean, resilient economic growth.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of (1) the number, and (2) the total cost, of fraudulent claims that have been made to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

As part of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme application process lenders undertake fraud checks, including Know Your Customer and Anti Money Laundering checks as required. In addition, the application form is clear – any individual who knowingly provides false information is at risk of criminal prosecution. We are working across Departments, and with lenders and law enforcement agencies, to tackle fraudulent abuse of the scheme.

Details of how we expect the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to perform is set out in our accounts for 2019-20, a copy of which has been placed in the Libraries of the House. At this early stage, such estimates are naturally highly uncertain as reflected in the explanatory notes of the Accounts.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the amount of energy generated from wind power; and how they plan to assist private and public sector businesses (1) to start, or (2) to increase, generating wind power on land they own or occupy.

Achieving our ambitious 2050 Net Zero target will require significant increases in renewable electricity generation, and we will need to increase deployment across a range of technologies, including wind.

We now have 14.2GW installed onshore wind (ONW) capacity and we are a world leader in offshore wind (OFW) with installed capacity of 10.1GW (which will rise to 19.5GW by the mid 2020s).

On 6 October 2020, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced new plans to Build Back Greener by building on the UK’s success in wind energy. As part of this, we increased the offshore wind ambition to 40 GW by 2030, introduced a new target to deploy 1GW of floating wind by 2030, and to support up to double the capacity of renewable energy in the next Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction, which will open in late 2021.

This CfD allocation round will be open to both onshore and offshore wind (as well as other technologies) as announced on Monday 2 March 2020.

The Contracts for Difference scheme is the government’s main mechanism for supporting new renewable generation projects in Great Britain and to this date has secured clean energy for 12 million homes. Both public and private sector businesses are entitled to bid into the Contracts for Difference scheme.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the decision not to proceed with the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon

There are no current plans to review the decision not to proceed with the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
7th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect the rollout of the latest version of smart meters to be completed.

In June 2020, the Government confirmed that from July 2021 a new four-year policy framework will be implemented with fixed annual installation milestones for energy suppliers that will drive continued investment and support the cost-effective delivery of net zero and our clean economic recovery. The framework seeks to achieve high levels of overall smart meter coverage across Great Britain over the four-year period.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
17th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to instruct pubs to close an hour earlier in areas under local restrictions to address the COVID-19 pandemic; and if so why.

My Rt. Hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced on 22 September that, as from 24 September, all pubs in England must have a 10pm-5am closing time to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
8th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many earthquakes have been recorded in the UK in the last 12 months with a magnitude of over two; and where they have been located.

In the last 12 months a total of 23 earthquakes have been recorded in the UK with a magnitude of over two. Details of the locality, date and magnitude are provided in the table below:

Date

Time (GMT)

Magnitude

Locality

24/09/2019

13:38:15

4.2

CENTRAL NORTH SEA

02/10/2019

19:22:07

2.4

MELTON MOWBRAY LEICS

05/10/2019

15:35:47

2.1

SOUTHERN NORTH SEA

14/10/2019

16:51:49

2.4

BISHOP'S CASTLE SALOP

08/11/2019

16:12:07

2.3

HALIFAX WEST YORKSHIRE

17/11/2019

22:31:54

2.1

MULL ARGYLL & BUTE

05/12/2019

22:49:18

3.2

BRIDGWATER SOMERSET

15/12/2019

21:19:53

2.1

IRISH SEA

07/01/2020

10:36:46

2.3

ARNISDALE HIGHLAND

23/01/2020

05:57:00

3.1

STOCKTON COUNTY DURHAM

31/01/2020

11:53:34

2.2

NORTHAMPTON NORTHANTS

01/02/2020

01:20:28

2.9

SOUTHERN NORTH SEA

01/02/2020

01:19:39

2.7

SOUTHERN NORTH SEA

07/02/2020

15:04:52

2.4

SOUTHERN NORTH SEA

22/02/2020

18:43:02

4

CENTRAL NORTH SEA

24/03/2020

17:19:20

2.3

PONTRILAS HEREFORDSHIRE

27/03/2020

03:25:28

2.8

SOUTHERN NORTH SEA

04/04/2020

15:28:17

2.2

BRACKLEY NORTHANTS

23/04/2020

05:30:50

3.3

SOUTHERN NORTH SEA

04/06/2020

12:48:16

2.1

WALSALL WEST MIDLANDS

06/06/2020

14:22:39

2.2

COMRIE PERTH & KINROSS

21/08/2020

17:41:52

2.6

SKYE HIGHLAND

08/09/2020

08:45:29

3.5

LEIGHTON BUZZARD BEDS

Data supplied by the British Geological Survey.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to stop all non-essential construction work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Construction plays a crucial role in supporting our public services, maintaining the nation’s infrastructure, and providing safe, decent homes for people to live in. Construction workers who cannot work from home, who show no symptoms of Covid-19, and who live in households where no person is self-isolating, should still go to work. This is consistent with the advice of the Chief Medical Officer.

However, the Government is clear that construction activity should only continue where it can take place in line with the social distancing guidance provided by Public Health England. Through the Construction Leadership Council, the construction industry has issued Site Operating Procedures which align with this guidance.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
24th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to add outsourced cleaners to the list of key workers.

Key workers are defined as those whose work is critical to the Coronavirus response, based on consultation across the Government. This includes those who work in the health and social care sectors, as well as those providing essential services in industries such as education and childcare, transport, food and delivery, utilities, communications, public safety, and the Government. We are actively keeping guidance on key workers under review.

Employers should carefully consider the guidance, which sets out the key workers who will not be able to work from home. They can contact the Government department responsible for their sector if they have any questions.

If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work, provided you are well and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer.

Lord Callanan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the National Theatre's decision to postpone tours in the EU due to uncertainty about work permits.

Touring in Europe is currently not possible due to Covid-19 and EU Member States have not set out plans for when it will be. We are working urgently with the UK’s creative industries to help ensure they can work confidently in Europe once touring can safely resume. In the meantime, we also urge EU member states to at least match what the UK offers to all EU artists touring here. The UK government strongly believes supporting touring is in the interests of both the UK and EU, and we continue our work on solutions.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the distribution of funds to football teams in the National League during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On 19 November 2020, the government announced a £300 million Sports Winter Survival Package (SWSP) to provide a lifeline to organisations that would otherwise not survive the winter as a result of the restriction on spectators announced from 1 October. A provisional allocation of up to £25 million was made to support the National League. This is in addition to the £10 million cash injection from the National Lottery in October last year, the result of a unique promotional deal facilitated by the government.

Whilst the distribution of National Lottery support is a matter for the National League, the government was clear in supporting the deal that it expected the proceeds to be allocated sensibly to support clubs for as long as possible.

The government further confirmed on 27 January 2021 that Steps 3-6 of the National League system will receive up to £10 million of grant support from the Package to protect the immediate future of approximately 850 clubs over the winter period. This support is being distributed at pace by the Football Foundation and is available with immediate effect.

The National League has also benefited from the multi-billion pound package of cross-sector business support from the Government that has enabled many sports clubs and leisure businesses to survive, including the furlough scheme and business interruption loan scheme. Sports have accessed many hundreds of millions of pounds of support through this.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
1st Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role of the cultural sector in aiding economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government understands the importance of the cultural sector in aiding economic recovery post-Covid, evidenced by unprecedented support for the sector, including the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund (CRF).

So far, over £1 billion worth of funding from the CRF has been allocated across all four nations of the UK. This funding is supporting over 3000 arts and heritage organisations in England affected by COVID-19 restrictions, and more than 75,000 jobs.

The second round of funding (which recently closed) will also support organisations to transition from the challenging months of lockdowns and social distancing to welcoming audiences and visitors back to the country’s much loved and important theatres, museums, cinemas, music venues and heritage sites over the summer.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
10th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the answer by Baroness Barran on 9 November (HL Deb, col 808), what funding streams constitute the £119 million which Arts Council England has made available for individuals; what is the relative value of any such funding streams; and whether such funding derived from (1) Arts Council England’s regular funding, (2) the Culture Recovery Fund, or (3) any other sources.

The £119 million which Arts Council England made available for individuals is derived from ACE’s own funding (National Lottery reserves, Grant-in-Aid reserves and from repurposing some of their current funding programmes) and is made up of the following:

  • £17.1 million distributed through the Emergency Response Fund for individuals;

  • £6 million distributed by a series of Benevolent Funds focused on the self-employed.

  • £18 million available through their Developing Your Creative Practice fund. This came from an underspend from the £160m made available for the Arts Council’s Emergency Response Fund.

  • £77.9 million available through National Lottery Project Grants (available to both individuals and organisations). This is from ACE’s existing National Lottery money and an underspend in the Emergency Response Funds.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
24th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent discussions they have had with social media platforms regarding misinformation about COVID-19.

Ministers and officials have regular meetings and discussions with a wide range of stakeholders, including social media platforms, on a variety of issues, including misinformation about COVID-19. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the GOV.UK website.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
8th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have taken to enable sports stadiums to reopen safely in England.

The Government continues to liaise closely with the Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) and sporting bodies whilst developing its guidance to support the safe return of spectators to stadia more widely no earlier than October 1st. As announced by the Prime Minister, this remains subject to review. Pilot events will now be capped at 1,000 people.


Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) Google, (2) Twitter, (3) Facebook, and (4) other social media sites, about (a) the action, and (b) the time, those companies take to remove (i) racist, (ii) anti-Semitic, (iii) abusive, (iv) criminal, and (v) illegal, content online.

Ministers and officials have regular meetings and discussions with social media platforms such as Google, Twitter and Facebook on a range of issues, including hate speech, abusive and illegal online content. Details of Ministerial meetings are published quarterly on the Gov.uk website.

We are aiming to publish the full government response to the Online Harms White Paper consultation later this year which will outline the detailed proposals for keeping users safe online. We will continue to engage with industry representatives as we finalise proposals and move towards legislation.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of data theft in the UK.

The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020 shows that 46% of businesses and 26% of charities identified cyber breaches or attacks in the last 12 months. Of these, 1% of businesses and 4% of charities had personal data altered, destroyed or taken. In addition, 1% of businesses and charities which experienced a breach or attack said they suffered lost or stolen assets, trade secrets or intellectual property, which may include personal and non-personal data.

Through the National Cyber Security Strategy, the Government is investing £1.9 billion to help organisations stay secure and make the UK the safest place to live and work online.

As part of the current cross-Government Cyber Aware campaign, the National Cyber Security Centre recently launched a Suspicious Email Reporting Service to enable the public to report suspicious emails and help prevent data theft.

We have also strengthened our data protection legislation through the Data Protection Act 2018. The Act includes criminal offences of unlawfully obtaining personal data and/or re-identifying pseudonymised data. The legislation is enforced by the Information Commissioner's Office who can - and do - bring prosecutions where appropriate.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to support local and regional newspapers following the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Government is clear that local and regional newspapers play an invaluable role in the fabric of our society. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government committed to supporting local and regional newspapers, both through its manifesto, and in response to the 2019 independent Cairncross Review on the future of high quality journalism.

The Cairncross Review looked at the overall state of the news media market, identifying a range of challenges and making nine recommendations for Government, regulators and industry to support sustainability within the sector, including at a local and regional level. The Government response, published in January this year, set out support for the majority of the recommendations, and the Government had already begun taking some of them forward before the onset of the current health crisis.

Covid-19 has exacerbated and accelerated many of the issues identified in the Cairncross Review and, in recognition of the importance of high quality local news provision, the Government has focused both on alleviating the existential threat posed by the pandemic and simultaneously continuing to progress commitments made in our response to the Review.

To date, we have worked with Nesta to develop a £2million pilot innovation fund, launched in October 2019, which seeks to invest in new technological prototypes, start-ups and innovative business models to explore new ways of sustaining the industry. The pilot Future News Fund is due to come to an end in June. The Government is considering options for a full, expanded fund ahead of the next Spending Review.

The Cairncross Review noted that society is increasingly moving online and news publishers are facing significant challenges in transitioning to sustainable digital business models. Covid-19 has expedited these structural changes. As set out in our response to the Review, the Government agrees that codes of conduct that formalise the relationships between news publishers and online platforms may help to rebalance that relationship. We are continuing to consider options in this area in the context of wider work on competition in digital markets, and look forward to the recommendations in the Competition and Market Authority’s final report into the online advertising market, due by 2 July.

The Government will continue to consider all possible options in the interests of promoting and sustaining high-quality news journalism beyond the immediate threat of Covid-19. We are committed to getting this work right, so future generations can engage with and be inspired by a free and vibrant press.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the England and Wales Cricket Board to enable spectators to watch First Class and National Counties cricket safely this summer.

We are working closely with the sector, including the England and Wales Cricket Board, to facilitate the return of spectators to elite sport. A multidisciplinary working group, including medical directors from a number of sports, has begun to develop Stage 5 guidance around the return of spectators to stadia. Guidance will incorporate medical, sports, and venue expertise as well as the experience of other sectors that will reopen to audiences.

We will continue to be led by wider public health guidance and the working group will reflect on all emerging best practice, both domestically and internationally, in their work.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
16th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the future of English regional theatre following the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Government recognises how severely regional theatres, and the Arts sector in general, have been hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

That is why, in order to support the sustainability of the Arts sector, including regional theatres, DCMS has worked closely with Arts Council England (ACE) to provide a tailored package of financial support. In March, ACE announced a £160m emergency response package to complement the financial measures already announced by the Government and to ensure immediate resilience of this vital sector. This package includes £140 million of support for artistic organisations including regional theatres; and £20 million of financial support for individuals, including self-employed theatre practitioners, so they can better sustain themselves, and their work, in the coming months.

On 23 June, the Prime Minister also announced that from 4 July theatres will be able to reopen for rehearsal, pre-production and broadcast, although not yet for live performance with an audience. I believe that this, alongside the work that we are doing with representatives of the entertainment and events industry to develop supporting guidance, represents the first steps in the roadmap to recovery for our nations’ theatres.

The Secretary of State, Minister for Digital and Culture, and officials continue to consult the Arts sector extensively to ensure we fully understand the financial impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the sector. On the basis of that engagement, DCMS and ACE are continuing to work closely to consider the additional measures that are needed to ensure the long-term recovery and growth of the cultural sector, including regional theatres and theatre practitioners.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
6th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the support provided by the BBC for film production in the UK.

The BBC makes an important contribution to film in the UK. The BBC Board is responsible for ensuring the BBC meets the requirements set in the Charter and Framework Agreement, including those on support for film production.

The British Film Institute releases information on Public Investment in Film in the UK and the financial contribution of organisations including the BBC. In 2017/18, BBC Films contributed £11.3m to the public funding available for UK film production.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are giving to regional theatres in England.

Government funding for arts organisations and individuals is provided through our arm’s length body, Arts Council England (ACE). In the past five years, ACE has invested over £650 million in theatres in England, of which almost £400 million was to theatres outside of London. Theatres across England have also benefited from the introduction of the Theatre Tax Relief (TTR), which is helping to support the increase of theatre productions, especially via touring. Since the introduction of the TTR in 2014, £208 million has been paid out relating to 2,520 claims, which represents 8,395 productions.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are giving to women’s football.

We are determined to encourage more women and girls to get active, something we set out in our sport strategy, Sporting Future. Football is a popular choice for women and girls to get active: it is the second most popular team sport in terms of participation for adult women, and the top ranked team sport in terms of participation for girls. It is also growing in appeal for spectators with a record total audience of 28.1 million tuning in to watch the BBC coverage of last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Through our national sports council, Sport England, the government is investing £24.6m in The Football Association over the course of 2016-21 for its work on grassroots participation, the football talent pathway, and coaching programmes. Within this, there is no specific ring-fencing of funding between men's and women's programmes, apart from £2.6m which is specifically reserved for women and girls talent programmes.

Sport England has also awarded The FA £544,500 to date to deliver The FA FIVES national promotion programme, a mass participation five a side football competition linked to EURO 2020. Its aim is to provide opportunities throughout England for men and women to take part in a fun, friendly football event.

Separately, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport invested £18m in football facilities through the Football Foundation in each of 2017, 2018 and 2019. It is not possible to separate out the investment amounts by gender.

The Government has also committed to investing £550m into grassroots football facilities, for all ages and genders, over the next 10 years to support plans to bid for the 2030 Men’s FIFA Football World Cup.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are giving to non-league football

The Government is committed to supporting all levels of football including non-league. We have an established partnership with the Football Association and the Premier League focused on investment into community facilities, the Government contributing £18m each year.

The three-way partnership sees a combined £70m go to new facilities delivered by the Football Foundation charity each year. The charity has coverage across the country with funding reaching 98% of all local authorities and boroughs in England.

The Government has also committed to investing £550m into grassroots football facilities, for all ages and genders, over the next 10 years to support plans to bid for the 2030 Men’s FIFA Football World Cup.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
30th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the number of staff employed by Premiership or Championship football clubs that are paid less than the living wage.

DCMS has not made an assessment of the number of staff employed by Premiership or Championship football clubs that are paid less than the living wage.

The National Living Wage is the statutory minimum wage for those aged 25 and over, and the Government is committed to ensuring that everyone entitled to the National Living Wage receives it.

It is up to individual businesses to decide whether they would like to pay employees under the age of 25 the National Living Wage.

Baroness Barran
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)
18th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of mental health support for students in (1) further, and (2) higher, education in England to deal with issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As my right hon. Friends, the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer, have both made clear, the government will do whatever it takes to support people affected by COVID-19.

Protecting students’ mental health and wellbeing is a priority. This government is doing everything it can to promote good mental health in further and higher education settings.

Many further and higher education providers are bolstering their existing mental health services and adapting delivery to means other than face-to-face. Providers have responded quickly to transform mental health and wellbeing services, showing resourcefulness and there are many examples of good practice.

In addition, the Office for Students (OfS) recently announced the Student Space platform, which seeks to bridge gaps in mental health support for students arising from this unprecedented situation. Funded with up to £3 million by the OfS and led by Student Minds, it is designed to work alongside existing mental health services.

During Mental Health Awareness Week, the government announced £4.2 million for mental health charities, including Young Minds, the Samaritans and Bipolar UK. This is in addition to the £5 million Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund for mental health charities administered by Mind.

The government has also worked closely with the OfS to help clarify that higher education providers can draw upon existing student premium funding to increase their hardship funds and support disadvantaged students impacted by COVID-19. Providers are able to use the funding, worth around £23 million per month for April, May, June and July, towards student hardship funds, including mental health support.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
3rd Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what exact metrics will be used to determine whether schools need to shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, following their partial reopening to all pupils.

To help schools manage wider opening we have published guidance for schools including how any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 should be handled:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

Where a child or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class or ‘bubble’ should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms. Closure of the school itself will generally not be necessary where the school is observing guidance on infection prevention and control which will reduce the risk of transmission.

As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the cohort or school, a Public Health England local health protection team will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise the school on the most appropriate action to take.

Baroness Berridge
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education)
30th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are giving to increase the opportunities for children to play cricket in schools.

The physical education (PE) national curriculum is designed to ensure that all pupils develop competence to excel in a broad range of physical activities, are physically active for sustained periods of time, and lead healthy and active lives.

State schools are free to organise and deliver a diverse and challenging PE curriculum that suits the needs of all their pupils. Cricket is specifically listed as an example of a sport that can provide important elements of the PE national curriculum programme of study in key stages 2 to 4.

The School Sport and Activity Action Plan sets out how the Department for Education, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department for Health and Social Care are collaborating at national level. It will ensure that sport and physical activity are an integral part of both the school day and after-school activities, so that all children have the opportunity to take part in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This includes working with sports governing bodies, including the England and Wales Cricket Board, in developing the proposals. As an example of the range of excellent sporting opportunities available to schools, the action plan highlights the England and Wales Cricket Board’s All Stars programme for primary school children.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
17th May 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to stop exporting waste to other countries for disposal or recycling.

The export of UK waste for disposal is generally prohibited, save for the strictly limited exceptions which are laid out in the UK Plan for Shipments of Waste.

In addition, the UK Government is committed to banning the export of plastic waste for recycling to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Government will consult on this measure and work is underway to make this happen.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role that parish and community councils have played in raising awareness of (1) flood risks, and (2) flood prevention measures.

Parish and community councils can play an important role in working with local residents to improve awareness of flood risk and prevention measures. Parish Councils have powers under the Local Government Finance Act and Localism Act to incur expenditure or use precept income for the purposes of flood and coastal erosion risk management.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to address the avian influenza outbreak; and what assessment they have made of the risk of transfer to the human population.

Defra's approach to disease control is set out in the Notifiable Avian Disease Control Strategy for Great Britain ( www.gov.uk/government/publications/notifiable-avian-disease-control-strategy and the Contingency Plan for Exotic Notifiable Diseases of Animals in England ( www.gov.uk/government/publications/contingency-plan-for-exotic-notifiable-diseases-of-animals-in-england)

Once disease has been confirmed, susceptible birds are humanely culled and disease control zones are put in place around the infected premises. These are to reduce the risk of disease spread further. Movements of live birds, eggs, poultry carcases, poultry litter and manure are subject to restrictions. Veterinary investigations and epidemiological assessments are carried out at each infected premises, including the tracing of all movements of birds on and off, and surveillance is carried out within the disease control zones.

The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza virus associated with the current outbreak in the UK has been analysed in the international reference laboratory at Weybridge, Surrey, part of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). It has been shown to be genetically the same as that found in the current outbreaks on the continent of Europe. The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) assessment ( https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/6379) is that the viruses identified in those outbreaks are not related to the Asian H5N1 ones which have caused some human infections elsewhere in the world.

In the light of the current outbreak we have established a statutory Avian Influenza Protection Zone (AIPZ). All bird keepers are required by law to take a range of further precautions including keeping their birds indoors except in very specific circumstances. Similar measures were also introduced in Scotland and Wales. I refer the Noble Lady to my statement of 8 December 2020: https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-statements/detail/2020-12-08/hlws621

Public Health England advises that the risk to the public's health from the virus in the current outbreaks is very low. The Food Standards Agency advises that on the basis of the current scientific evidence, avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers.

15th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to address light pollution in the countryside.

The Government has put in place a range of measures to ensure that light pollution is effectively managed through controls in the planning system, the statutory nuisance regime, and when improvements are made to street lighting.

The National Planning Policy Framework sets out how the possible ecological impacts of artificial light should be considered in the planning system. It makes clear that policies and decisions should limit the impact of light pollution on local amenity, dark landscapes and nature conservation, including where there may be impacts on wildlife and ecosystems. Defra has contributed to associated guidance published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Defra has published or contributed to a range of assessments of the impact of artificial light on insects and wider biodiversity, which are published on our science website. Defra also keeps under review relevant, externally funded studies, for example on potential impacts of artificial light pollution on insects with our academic partners on the National Pollinator Strategy for England.

We strongly welcome the designation of the South Downs and Exmoor National Parks as International Dark Sky Reserves, two of only 16 in the world. As a result of this designation these National Parks have incorporated local policies to protect dark skies. We welcome the adoption of these local policies for dark sky protection and understand their extension to other National Parks is under consideration.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
29th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support hop growers in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hop growers can access a range of financial support options, such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

On September 24, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced updated terms to the financial support package, including extended loan application deadlines to November 30, longer loan repayment times and further extensions to the grant scheme for the self-employed.

The relaxation of restrictions over much of the country during the last few months has allowed the hospitality sector, including pubs, bars and restaurants, to partially re-open for business. This will have provided some relief to the sector and its supply chains. However, with the current increase in Covid-19 cases and the introduction of Local Alert Levels, certain parts of the hospitality sector will see further restrictions. The Chancellor announced a new package of financial support on 9 October which will benefit the hospitality sector and its supply chains.

29th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government, other than the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, what support they are providing to plant and flower growers in England.

The ornamental horticulture sector can access a range of financial support options including the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Bounce Back Loan Scheme and the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

On September 24, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced updated terms to the financial support package, including an extension of loan application deadlines to November 30, longer loan repayment times and further extensions to the grant scheme for the self-employed.

HMG is collaborating with the sector on a sustainable, industry led, growth strategy for the sector to ensure it continues to thrive and to ensure its long-term viability.

18th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the levels of pollution in rivers and lakes in England; and how many have achieved a good ecological status.

The Environment Agency's State of the Environment: Water Quality Report 2018 is the most recent assessment of water pollution. The Environment Agency's water body classification results 2019 show that 16% of England's surface water reached good ecological status. More needs to be done and we need to go further and faster. We are tackling pollution from poor farming practice with regulation, financial incentives and educational schemes for farmers. In addition to Government investment in many local improvement schemes, water company investment is being scaled up to £4.6 billion, the highest yet, in the next five-year period. A new task force comprising Government and water companies will help address the problem of sewage discharge from storm overflows and our new chemicals strategy will build on a robust statutory regime to ensure chemicals are managed and handled safely.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the progress made by the African Union in delivering the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The UK welcomes the commencement of trading under the terms of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement on January 1st 2021, and the potential that the AfCFTA offers to significantly boost intra-African trade once it is fully implemented.

The UK has supported the AfCFTA negotiations directly through our African Union Support Programme, providing targeted technical assistance to negotiators.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Trading under Phase I of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which began on 1st January 2021, marks a key turning point in African economic integration. It will reduce barriers to intra-African trade and diminish the complexity and costs of operating across African countries for British businesses. It should lift millions out of poverty too, and drive industrialisation on the continent.

To fully realise its benefits, the ongoing Phase II negotiations must be successfully concluded, and the agreement fully implemented. The United Kingdom has supported AfCFTA negotiations with targeted technical assistance and my Hon. Friend, the Minister for Africa (James Duddridge), recently expressed our support for AfCFTA to its Secretary-General.

Lord Grimstone of Boscobel
Minister of State (Department for International Trade)
15th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the potential social benefits of reopening railways in the countryside.

As part of the levelling-up agenda,?the Government announced in January that it has pledged £500 million for the Restoring Your Railway fund to deliver its manifesto commitment and start reopening lines and stations, reconnecting smaller communities, regenerating local economies and improving access to jobs, homes and education.

We recognise that improved connectivity has social benefits that are hard to quantify and are therefore not explicitly reported in terms of social value.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment have they made of (1) the dangers of the use of electric scooters on public highways, and (2) any safety measures which may be required as a result.

E-scooters are a new vehicle type and evidence around their associated benefits and risks is limited. However, a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concluded that the risks of using a bicycle or e-scooter are broadly comparable.

We are using on-road trials of rental e-scooters to further understand the benefits, risks and wider impacts of e-scooters. Vehicles used in the trials must all meet a set of safety standards, and their speed, power and weight are all limited to constrain how an e-scooter can be used. Users receive a form of training before using the vehicle for the first time and are being actively encouraged to wear a protective helmet.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
9th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment, if any, they have made of the impact digital health passes could have on international travel.

Our approach has had to balance the risks of imported COVID-19 cases whilst also enabling international travel, which is critical to our economy. To support these objectives, we have worked closely with health and policy experts from across Government.

We keep all measures under constant review; the Global Travel Taskforce is working at pace to consider how testing, technology and innovation can drive a recovery for international travel and tourism.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
7th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to increase the number of charging points for electric vehicles in England.

The Government has put in place a raft of grant funding schemes to assist with the cost of installing chargepoints across the UK in motorists’ homes, at work places and on residential streets.

In May, the Government published an ambitious vision for rapid charging infrastructure along the strategic roads in England over the next decade. This vision sets out the number of rapid chargepoints that will be located across motorways and major A roads to meet the future demand for electric vehicles. Additional funding of £500 million over the next five years, announced in the March Budget, will help to support the delivery of this vision and the rollout of a fast-charging network for electric vehicles.

We have also consulted on proposals requiring chargepoint infrastructure to be installed in all newly built homes and non-residential buildings in England, where appropriate. These new regulations, alongside our grant schemes and our £400m public-private Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund, will see thousands more electric vehicle chargepoints installed across the UK.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
24th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest assessment of the level of road tax evasion.

The Department for Transport carries out a roadside survey every two years. The survey estimates the rate of vehicle excise duty evasion among vehicles seen on UK roads. The latest survey, conducted in June 2019 and published in November 2019, estimated the rate of on road evasion to be 1.6%. The results confirmed that this is statistically significantly lower than in the previous survey carried out in 2017, which measured the level of evasion at 1.8%.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the financial preparedness of train operators to meet any ongoing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department has agreed new Emergency Recovery Measures Agreements with the rail industry which ensures our railways can continue to support the UK’s recovery from COVID-19. These agreements will be in place for up to 18 months, where the Government pays train companies a small performance-related management fee to keep services running through the pandemic.

These agreements, like the Emergency Measures Agreements before them, bring stability and certainty to the rail industry to meet the challenges that this pandemic continues to present.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
17th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of campaigns to encourage people to cycle more; and what support they are giving to teach adults to ride a bike.

The Government supports various campaigns to encourage people to cycle more, including the Big Bike Revival programme delivered by Cycling UK, and local programmes delivered by local authorities under the Department’s £20 million per annum Access Fund. The effectiveness of these and other campaigns is considered in the first Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy Report to Parliament published in February 2020.

The Government is committed to ensuring that every adult and child who wants it can be trained how to ride a bicycle safely. This builds on our manifesto commitment to offer Bikeability training to all schoolchildren. This year, the Department’s Bikeability funding has enabled 28 local authorities to offer adult cycle training, and £235,000 of it will go towards family cycle training. The Department has also provided £2 million to Transport for London to support adult cycle training in the capital, and its Access Fund has allowed 16 local authorities to provide adult cycle training in their areas.

Decisions on future funding for campaigns and Bikeability will be a matter for the Spending Review in the autumn.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
18th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many transport authorities in England have had bailout deals agreed with the Department for Transport.

The Department made available to transport operators and local authorities in England outside London funding to keep bus and light rail services running during lockdown and help increase services as quickly as possible so that people can travel safely as we reopen the economy.

The Government has agreed a £1.6 billion support package for Transport for London to enable them to continue operating essential services safely and support the capital’s gradual recovery from COVID-19.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
13th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to place further rail services under the control of Transport for London.

The Department carefully considers business cases from scheme promoters on a regular basis. At this stage no decision to devolve services has been taken, and while we are exploring devolution of services to Transport for London we would only do this if it was in the best interests of all passengers.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
12th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of airlines operating in the UK which serve peanuts to passengers and of the risk that poses to passengers with peanut allergies.

Government is committed to seeing improved clarity and consistency in how airlines deal with nut allergies. We are keen to ensure that passengers with peanut allergies have the confidence to travel safely.

The sale of nuts onboard aircrafts is a commercial decision for individual airlines. We are encouraged by some of the recent measures taken by industry and we encourage industry to continue taking appropriate measures.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
30th Jan 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government (1) how many Mayoral Combined Authorities have introduced bus franchising, and (2) how many other authorities have applied to the Secretary of State for Transport for the powers to introduce bus franchising, since the introduction of the Bus Services Act 2017.

Under the Bus Services Act 2017, mayoral combined authorities (MCAs) have powers to implement a franchising scheme without further involvement from Government.

Transport for Greater Manchester concluded a consultation exercise on their proposals to franchise bus services in Manchester on 8 January. A decision is expected later this year.

Under the Bus Services Act 2017, only MCAs have automatic access to franchising powers. Other types of local transport authority must seek permission from the Secretary of State for Transport. None have yet done so.

Baroness Vere of Norbiton
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
8th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have identified any shortages in the supply chain that provides chemicals and equipment that have adversely affected the COVID-19 testing capacity.

As part of our concerted national efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are doing everything we can to ensure patients continue to have access COVID-19 test equipment and chemicals such as reagents and raw materials in all scenarios.

The Department has well-established procedures to deal with shortages and works closely with industry, the National Health Service and others in the supply chain to address supply disruption events that arise, regardless of the cause.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of smoking amongst the population in England during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public Health England (PHE) has produced an online monitoring tool ‘Wider Impacts of COVID on Health’ which is designed to allow users to explore the indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the population's health and wellbeing. The tool presents a range of health and wellbeing metrics, including bringing together several indicators on smoking and alcohol consumption in England over the pandemic period.

Data from PHE’s latest summary on the Wider impacts of COVID-19 on health published 24 September 2020 suggest considerable volatility in smoking behaviours.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
24th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of alcohol consumption amongst the population in England during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public Health England has published an online monitoring tool to track behavioural changes, including alcohol consumption. The findings on alcohol consumption throughout the COVID-19 pandemic are that intake across the population as a whole remained about the same during lockdown. Those aged 18 to 34 were more likely to report consuming less alcohol each week than before and those aged 35 to 54 were more likely to report an increase. There was an increase in the proportion of ‘high risk’ drinking between February and June 2020.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
17th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of campaigns to encourage people to walk more.

The Government supports various campaigns to encourage people to walk more, including the Walk to School programme delivered by Living Streets, and local programmes delivered by local authorities under the Department for Transport’s £20 million per annum Access Fund. The effectiveness of these and other campaigns is considered in the first Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy Report to Parliament published in February 2020.

Public Health England’s One You campaign launched the free Active 10 brisk walking app designed to encourage adults to undertake more physical activity by simply going for a brisk 10-minute walk. The app was relaunched in December 2019 to align with the new United Kingdom Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines that every minute of physical activity counts and provides health benefits.

Decisions on future funding for future campaigns will be a matter for the Spending Review in the autumn.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
8th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how they involve members of both Houses of Parliament in their decisions to instigate to instigate local lockdowns in their constituency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have encouraged local authorities to discuss with local hon. Members proposals for changes to restrictions applying in their areas. Our Contain Framework sets out how we will work with local authorities to respond to local outbreaks. Local authorities now have powers to give directions, in particular to close premises, to protect residents from the threat of coronavirus, and we will report on use of these powers to Parliament. Where more serious restrictions are needed, those would be implemented through regulations laid before and, in due course, debated in Parliament.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of mental health and other occupational health support for staff employed by the NHS in England.

The health and wellbeing of National Health Service staff is, and has always been, very important to the Government. At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak we assessed that they would potentially need additional mental health and occupational health support.

We commissioned NHS England and NHS Improvement to develop a comprehensive package of emotional, psychological and practical support for NHS staff - building on the support already in place in local NHS organisations. The support package was launched by NHS England and NHS Improvement on 8 April.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have also launched a new framework, which will enable employers to buy-in additional occupational health support for their staff. This will supplement support already available in NHS organisations.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
18th Jun 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the supply chain is sufficiently robust enough for non-medical face coverings in the UK.

To provide a more comprehensive response to a number of outstanding Written Questions, this has been answered by an information factsheet PPE - note for House of Lords which is attached, due to the size of the data. A copy has also been placed in the Library.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of any correlation between nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide levels in the air and COVID-19 (1) infection, and (2) death rates.

Currently, there is no clear evidence to suggest that nitrogen dioxide and/or nitric oxide have a direct link to the infection rate or death rate of COVID-19.

Public Health England and other Government departments are reviewing and considering factors such as air pollution which may influence the health impact of COVID-19. This includes assessing whether there is any evidence of an association between exposure to gaseous pollutants or particulates and COVID-19 mortality in the United Kingdom.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
19th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of human exposure to high levels of ultrafine particulate matter from air pollution on the expression of Angiotensin I converting enzyme 2.

Public Health England (PHE) is aware of evidence linking exposure to particulates in the air to altered expression of Angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), and of emerging evidence that this is a potential mechanism by which air pollution exposure could theoretically increase the spread or severity of COVID-19.

PHE is continuously reviewing and considering the evidence on the health impacts of air pollution exposure, as well as potential associations between air pollution and the health impacts of COVID-19.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest estimate of the positive effect of social distancing on decreasing the spread of COVID-19; and what estimate they have made of the possible negative effects as restrictions are gradually lifted.

On 26 March 2020 the Government introduced a series of social distancing measures based on scientific advice. These are strict measures, but they are measures that we must take in order to protect the National Health Service, slow the spread of the virus so the NHS would not be overwhelmed, and save lives. Helped by these measures, we have started to reduce the spread of the disease and ensured that the NHS was not overwhelmed.

On 16 April, the First Secretary of State (Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab MP) outlined, in line with scientific advice, five criteria that would be considered as part of assessing the necessity of the measures and whether they could be eased. These consider NHS capacity, death rates, transmission rates, availability of personal protective equipment, and avoidance of a second peak of the virus that overwhelms the NHS.

The Government will continue to review the measures, assessing them to ensure that they continue to be necessary and proportionate based on available scientific evidence.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what security and privacy provisions are being used to protect the data of the users of the NHSX contact-tracing app, while making it effective for use by epidemiologists and public health officials.

NHSX recognises that users must have trust and confidence in the way personal data is collected by the app and subsequently used by epidemiologists to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. We have prioritised security and privacy in all stages of the app’s development and have drawn on expertise from across Government and industry to review our app designs. Any user data collected centrally by the National Health Service will be held to the highest security standards. In addition to the continual monitoring, review and oversight undertaken by the NHS we have consulted with the National Cyber Security Centre to review and supplement our processes. Companies working for the NHS will be bound by data processing agreements that specify how the data must be secured, used, and destroyed. For an explanation of how the risk scoring algorithm works we have published an explanation on the FAQ page of the NHS COVID-19 website.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what work is taking place with the devolved institutions in the United Kingdom, as lockdown restrictions are lifted, to keep any changes as simple as possible for the general public to receive and understand, and to avoid any unnecessary confusion.

The United Kingdom Government is working closely with the devolved administrations on decisions and guidance related to the current measures, coordinating and sharing information as appropriate to ensure all four nations can respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19. This includes taking opportunities to adopt common elements, where it makes sense to do so.

Where a matter is devolved, the UK Government’s guidance available online on GOV.UK is clear that measures apply in England only and should be considered alongside local public health requirements, guidance and legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what lessons they have learnt from the experience of the authorities in South Korea in tackling COVID-19; and how that is informing their actions in the next phase of the lockdown.

The Department is regularly in discussions with other countries on a wide range of issues of issues relating to COVID-19, including lockdown measures.

COVID-19 presents a global challenge which requires a collaborative response. The Department will continue to work with other countries throughout the crisis and beyond.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the best types of materials to be used when making a face mask at home to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies considered the very limited evidence available on the use of face coverings and advised that there was some positive benefit for reducing the transmission of COVID-19. However, the main ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are social distancing and washing hands regularly.

The Government is now advising wearing a face covering in situations where it is difficult to manage social distancing and there may be close contact with people the wearer would not usually meet. Guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering was published on 11 May in an online only format on GOV.UK.

This guidance refers to the use of cotton fabric, which is consistent with the limited available scientific literature on the use of face coverings.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
13th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what safeguards to individual privacy they are putting in place in respect of the use of personal data, applications and other forms of technology to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

We have worked rigorously to make the app as privacy-conscious as possible, only collecting the data necessary to fulfil its epidemiological purpose and save lives. Existing law and National Health Service standards set out a framework of protective measures which ensure that user data remains secure and confidential and that the app is legally compliant. These standards include those set out within the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Act 2018 in cases where data is provided that might identify an individual. The details of how an individual’s data will be used and how the requirements of GDPR and the European Convention on Human Rights apply have been set out in the Privacy Notice and the Data Protection Impact Assessment but these include that data sharing will always be proportionate and the collected data will be minimised. The key security and privacy designs of the app have been published, along with the source code, and we have welcomed scrutiny from experts at the National Cyber Security Centre, our independent Ethics Advisory Board, the Information Commissioner’s Office, and security researchers and ethicists from industry.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government at what state of readiness Nightingale hospitals will be maintained if and when it is decided they will no longer accept new admissions.

The establishment of the Nightingale hospitals was an unprecedented response to an unprecedented challenge and they provided extra capacity to manage surges in demand due to COVID-19.

Now that we are coming through the peak of infection rates, it has been decided that the National Health Service currently has sufficient capacity to deal with anticipated demand.

As such, the Nightingale hospital in London has been placed on standby for now but will retain the capacity required to stand it back up should the need arise.

Work is underway to consider how the Nightingale’s role may further adapt as the NHS seeks to resume activity that had to be paused in the first phase of our response to the pandemic.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many critical care beds are currently in use, and how that compares to the total number available.

The number of critical care beds in use changes over time, particularly since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. The National Health Service is currently flexing critical care beds numbers to meet demand - including the availability of additional facilities from the independent sector providers and the development and occupancy of Nightingale Hospitals.

The NHS will be provided with the resources it needs to keep the public safe at this time.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the ability to treat other conditions, including (1) HIV and (2) tuberculosis.

Sexual and reproductive health services are open. They have reduced their face-to-face appointments to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection but they will be able to see urgent, priority or vulnerable clients in person. Services are also maintaining access during this time through scaling up on online services. This can be achieved through a variety of routes, such as increasing eligibility through current provision or utilising a neighbours’ service for residents of another local authority. Public Health England is also seeking to establish a national framework for online sexual and reproductive health services that local areas can choose to commission for their residents.

NHS England has published a number of specialty guides to help hospital departments continue essential care for patients within their speciality, whilst supporting the wider hospital and community in providing care for patients with COVID-19. On 26 March 2020, NHS England published a letter about the importance of maintaining the provision of tuberculosis services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to (1) monitor and (2) treat the impact of the lockdown on children's mental health.

The Government and NHS England recognise that the mental health impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak are significant and are working closely with mental health trusts to ensure those who need them, including children, have access to National Health Service mental health services. NHS mental health services have remained open for business throughout this time, including delivering support digitally and over the phone where possible.

We have also issued guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak, and we have provided £5 million of additional funding for mental health charities to support adults and children.

NHS England also asked mental health trusts to review advice lines to ensure 24 hours a day, seven days a week advice is available to everyone, including children and young people, through a single point of access.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk that COVID-19 poses to recipients of kidney transplants.

Public safety throughout this period has been the Government’s top priority. Patients who have had a kidney transplant, along with other patients who have had solid organ transplants and remain on long-term immune suppression therapy, have been classified as clinically extremely vulnerable. All transplant recipients have received information about what steps they should take to make sure they remain shielded and how they will continue to receive healthcare and support.

Work is underway with the transplant community to support clinicians’ understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic in transplant recipients. Research is looking at links to specific anti-rejection medication, comorbidity and other factors that predict hospitalisation and subsequent patient outcomes. International collaboration is well established to share experience and learning about the impact of COVID-19 on transplanted patients.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that travel restrictions do not impede the movement of medical personnel and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government has published safer travel guidance for passengers and operators online at GOV.UK. Services might be operating at a reduced rate and passengers are urged to identify alternative routes and options in case of unexpected disruption. It is advised that all other forms of transport should be considered before using public transport and that where possible, people should walk or cycle.

There will be some exemptions to the border control measures, such as to ensure the continued security of United Kingdom supply chains, or journeys within the Common Travel Area. We will set out further detail in due course.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
30th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk that COVID-19 poses to BAME individuals; and how that compares to other ethnic groups.

Public Health England (PHE) has been asked by the Chief Medical Officer to review the potential that some ethnic minority groups are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. As part of this review, PHE is matching laboratory records of COVID-19 cases to other health records to draw down accurate data on ethnicity, age, sex and geographical region. The first results were published on 2 June.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are taking to ensure medical supply lines are not compromised.

As part of our concerted national efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are doing everything we can to ensure patients and health and social care workers continue to access the appropriate medicines and medical supplies.

The Department is working closely with industry, the National Health Service and others in the supply chain to help ensure patients and health and social care workers can access the medical supplies they need, and precautions are in place to reduce the likelihood of future shortages.

The Department shares regular information about impending supply issues and management plans with the NHS and industry and will liaise with relevant patient groups about issues affecting specific medicines and other medical supplies.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the shortage of the drug Chloroquine.

The Department is working closely with industry, the National Health Service and others in the supply chain to help ensure patients can access the medicines they need, including chloroquine, and precautions are in place to reduce the likelihood of future shortages.

Chloroquine is not currently licensed to treat COVID-19 related symptoms or prevent infection. Clinical trials are being established to test chloroquine as an agent in the treatment of COVID-19. Supplies of chloroquine for patients that are using this medicine for its licensed indications can be accessed through usual routes. The company has experienced a significant increase in demand recently, so are working with their wholesalers to manage orders and are working hard to make further stocks available. In addition, there is an export ban in place to protect United Kingdom stocks of chloroquine that are intended for UK patients.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
28th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many operations for cases of cancer have been cancelled in England since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information on operations for cases of cancer cancelled in England since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is not held centrally.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
23rd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on (1) the prevalence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in those patients who contract bacterial pneumonia, and (2) the spread of such bacteria in hospitals.

Public Health England (PHE) regularly reports on healthcare-associated infections and resistance to key antibiotics, which can be viewed online on the antimicrobial resistance Fingertips webpage. PHE will track the impact of COVID-19 on these infections using these established surveillance data systems.

Analysis looking at bacterial species which commonly cause pneumonia following flu showed a reduction in overall bacterial reports with antibiotic resistance remaining relatively stable, as the COVID-19 incident developed. PHE will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect of air quality on the exacerbation of COVID-19 symptoms.

There is no clear evidence yet to suggest that air pollution has a direct link to the spread or severity of COVID-19.

Public Health England and other Government departments are reviewing and considering factors such as air pollution which may influence the health impact of COVID-19. This includes assessing whether there is any evidence of an association between exposure of particulates and COVID-19 mortality in the United Kingdom. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ independent Air Quality Expert Group has launched a call for evidence to assess the impact of the pandemic on air quality issues.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many staff currently working in the NHS are in England on a family reunion visa that is due to expire before 1 October 2020.

Information on the number of staff currently working in the National Health Service on a family reunion visa that is due to expire before 1 October 2020 is not collected centrally.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they have put in place to provide additional (1) monitoring, and (2) reporting, of anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide, and other mental illnesses, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Public Health England has instigated processes with the aim of providing near to real time information about changes to the population’s mental health and wellbeing during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. These processes will identify, gather and analyse available sources of real time (or near to real time) data about population mental health and wellbeing and will bring together, in one place, information on anxiety, depression, loneliness, stress, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

There is currently no national real-time suspected suicide surveillance system - although some local areas have developed such systems. Public Health England is considering how variation in the number and nature of deaths by suspected suicide in the population might be assessed during and beyond the COVID-19 outbreak.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the use of plasma transfusions from survivors of COVID-19 to patients in a critical condition.

There is emerging evidence from China of some effectiveness of using convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19. The Department and NHS Blood and Transplant are aware that research protocols are being developed to assess the possibility of using convalescent plasma from United Kingdom donors to determine its efficacy for treating COVID-19.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
25th Mar 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of complications experienced by patients with COVID-19 who have lung conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are at very high risk of severe illness as a result of COVID-19.

From 21 March, letters are being sent out from general practitioners to the 1.5 million patients with pre-existing health conditions which put them most at-risk from serious complications from COVID-19.

People who are extremely vulnerable will be advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day they receive their letter.

Lord Bethell
Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care)
9th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest assessment of the (1) economic, and (2) political, situation in Sri Lanka.

The UK government monitors economic and political developments in Sri Lanka very closely, including through the British High Commission in Colombo. As for many countries, the pandemic has affected Sri Lanka's rate of economic growth and level of debt. The UK has underlined the importance of an inclusive economic response including for marginalised groups and those most affected by the impacts of the pandemic.

The political and human rights situation in Sri Lanka remains concerning, including measures which extend executive control over independent institutions and the judiciary, pressure on civil society, continued militarisation of civilian functions, and increased marginalisation of minorities. On 23 March the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a new resolution, 46/1, led by the UK alongside our partners in the Core Group on Sri Lanka. This resolution provides a continued framework for international engagement on human rights in Sri Lanka, and highlights serious concerns about the situation, including those detailed in the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). It calls on the government of Sri Lanka to make progress on accountability and human rights, and stresses the importance of a comprehensive accountability process for all violations and abuses committed in Sri Lanka.

Minister for South Asia Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon has raised the importance of human rights, accountability and reconciliation with Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister and the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK in January and May respectively. The UK government will continue to engage with the government of Sri Lanka on our human rights concerns.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest assessment of the political situation in Nicaragua; and what representations they have made to the government of Nicaragua following the arrest of opposition politicians in June.

The UK is concerned by the unacceptable actions of the Nicaraguan authorities in preventing opposition candidates from taking part in November's presidential elections. The arrests represent yet another anti-democratic development in Nicaragua at the behest of President Daniel Ortega, further depriving the people of Nicaragua of the right to choose their own political leaders, and parliamentary representatives freely.

Since the Nicaraguan authorities' lethal clampdown of protests in 2018, the UK has regularly voiced its concern over the country's deteriorating human rights, and democratic situation. On 4 June, the UK issued a statement condemning the arrest and disqualification of potential presidential candidate, Cristiana Chamorro. A number of international partners have expressed the same concern. We continue to call on the Nicaraguan authorities to support the steps necessary for upholding the rights of all Nicaraguan voters to exercise their right to vote freely, safely, and without interference; to ensure that all political parties, their chosen candidates, and supporters can campaign freely, and safely in advance of this year's elections; and to ensure that journalists and the media are allowed to operate impartially, and without restriction.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government to which countries they have provided (1) advice, and (2) support, on landmine clearance programmes.

Since 2018 we have funded programmes to clear landmines and other explosive hazards in Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Colombia, Georgia, (Abkhazia), Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Myanmar, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Vietnam, Yemen and Zimbabwe. In most countries these programmes include capacity development for national authorities to help them manage contamination and education for populations to help keep them safe. In November 2020 the UK successfully fulfilled its own obligation under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention with the completion of the Falklands Demining Programme.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest assessment of the (1) economic, (2) political, and (3) security, situation in Zimbabwe.

The Zimbabwean economy faces severe challenges largely due to corruption, poor fiscal policies and economic mismanagement by the Government. Our Embassy in Harare continues to monitor developments closely, encouraging the Government of Zimbabwe to focus on taking urgent coordinated measures to stabilise the economy while protecting the poorest.

The UK remains concerned about the current political situation in Zimbabwe, particularly human rights violations and the pattern of arrests of prominent opposition, civil society figures and journalists. We remain clear that the Government of Zimbabwe must meet its international and domestic obligations by: respecting the rule of law and the freedoms and rights enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution; safeguarding human rights; and committing to genuine political and economic reform for the benefit of all Zimbabweans.

On 9 June, the Minister for Africa spoke to Foreign Minister Shava. The Minister for Africa emphasised our human rights concerns and the need for reform. He also discussed potential opportunities for the UK and Zimbabwe, including in relation to trade and climate change (COP 26).

While the human rights situation is worrying, the security situation remains stable. We will continue to speak out, both privately and in public, where we have concerns, and, work alongside the international community to support a better future for all Zimbabweans.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are giving to the African Union for the development of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The UK welcomes the creation of the AU's African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which began trading on 1 January 2021. When fully implemented, a common African market will have a combined GDP of $2.6 trillion (approximately £1.84 trillion) and could lead to a 33% increase in intra-African trade, with opportunities for the African continent and for UK businesses and investors. The UK is supporting the AfCFTA through secondment of experts into the AfCFTA Secretariat in Accra, Ghana, the provision of research support through the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and capacity-building events for national and regional trade negotiators involved in the ongoing AfCFTA negotiations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have they made of the implications for free speech in Nigeria following the decision of the Nigerian government to ban the use of Twitter in that country.

We are concerned that the Nigerian Government has suspended Twitter in Nigeria. In response, the Minister for Africa publicly reiterated the importance of all Nigerians being able to enjoy their right to freedom of expression responsibly. Our High Commission in Abuja and likeminded countries issued a statement conveying disappointment over the suspension and affirming our strong support for freedom of expression. On 7 June, our Acting Head of Mission in Abuja, Gill Atkinson, along with senior representatives from likeminded diplomatic missions, met the Nigerian Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, to discuss the suspension and statement, and to reiterate our position. We urged the Nigerian Government to continue dialogue with Twitter to resolve this issue. Freedom of expression and the media are essential elements of a democracy.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest assessment of the (1) economic, (2) political, and (3) security, situation in Burkina Faso.

The UK is deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation and humanitarian crisis in Burkina Faso. Over 1 million people are displaced due to conflict and parts of the country are facing severe food insecurity. The attack in Solhan, Burkina Faso, on 4 June, was the deadliest attack to take place in Burkina Faso since 2015. The Minister for Africa called for a swift and transparent investigation, ensuring those responsible are held to account. On 11 June, the Minister for Africa spoke with the Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso where he gave his condolences and discussed UK support to regional stability in the Sahel.

Following presidential elections in Burkina Faso in 2020, the Minister for Africa welcomed President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré's commitment to peace and development during his second term in office. The Minister for Africa has since discussed regional insecurity and its impact on Burkina Faso with him in January this year. Through our recent deployment to the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and our programmatic support for stabilisation and conflict resolution, the UK is committed to building long-term peace and stability in the Sahel. In Burkina Faso we use our humanitarian assistance to support those worst affected by conflict, as well as providing access to education in emergencies and supporting women's sexual and reproductive health.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
7th Jun 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest assessment of the (1) economic, (2) political, and (3) security, situation in Uganda.

The UK is a long-standing partner of Uganda which we are supporting to become more democratic and prosperous - and to continue to play a positive regional role - through our diplomacy, aid, defence co-operation, trade and investment. Uganda's GDP per capita has doubled and the proportion of the population in extreme poverty fell by a third over the past 30 years, but COVID-19 has damaged growth and livelihoods, pulling an estimated 3.1 million people below the poverty line. Population growth is increasing pressure on infrastructure, services and jobs, making it critical that Uganda supports family planning, invests in young people to promote a healthy and educated workforce and protects Uganda's environment so it can better adapt to climate change. We are concerned about the political climate in Uganda following the 2021 elections, including the treatment of opposition candidates and their supporters and restrictions on civil society and media freedom. Our High Commission in Kampala and the Minister for Africa have urged Uganda to meet its human rights commitments, particularly in relation to missing persons and those arbitrarily detained, and to increase efforts to build strong and independent institutions to strengthen democracy. The UK continues to act as a critical friend to make the case for these advancements.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) economic, and (2) political, assessments they have made of Chile following its adoption of a new constitution.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are providing (1) to the government of Bangladesh, and (2) to the government of Pakistan, to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they are providing to the government of India to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Prorogation. The Minister will write directly to the Member with a response shortly.
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest assessment of the (1) economic, (2) humanitarian, and (3) political, situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The UK is deeply concerned about the economic and humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 66 million people living in absolute poverty and a GDP per capita of only $545. It is also the world's largest food security crisis, with 27.3 million requiring food assistance. As one of the largest bilateral donors to DRC, we are providing life-saving assistance to 3 million people and playing a leading role in raising the profile of the humanitarian crisis. We are also providing basic health and education services, improving the environment for business, increasing people's incomes, and strengthening stability and governance.

Following appointment of the new Government in April, the UK is working closely with the DRC authorities to ensure that they deliver on their commitment to widespread reforms. Reforms are crucial to ensure credible 2023 elections, improve stability in the east, increase revenues, and tackle corruption to unlock DRC's huge economic potential. The Minister for Africa discussed the importance of delivering on this agenda with President Tshisekedi during his visit to DRC in November 2020 and again during a telephone call in March this year.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
19th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what (1) advice, and (2) support, they are giving to the African Union to minimise the number of COVID-19 vaccinations that expire before being used.

The UK has deployed a Senior Global Health Security Adviser to the African Union (AU), and through membership of the Africa Vaccines Delivery Alliance provides advice to the AU on vaccine planning and deployment. The FCDO draws upon its network of Embassies and country based technical advisers to identify challenges on the ground, sharing information with the AU to determine an appropriate response. Through the World Health Organisation's (WHO) African COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Taskforce the UK works with partners, including the Africa Centre for Disease Control, to assess country preparedness and build capacity for vaccine deployment. At national level, FCDO programmes have adapted to support vaccine campaigns. For example, in Nigeria, the Lafiya programme contributes to vaccine technical working groups including data and monitoring adverse events and wastage.

The UK has committed £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment to support global equitable access to vaccines. This includes technical support to countries to develop and implement National Deployment and Vaccination Plans, guiding the rapid roll of out of vaccines from COVAX, bilateral deals and other donations in line with WHO guidelines. The UK has provided £20m to the AU's Covid-19 Response Fund, which provides equipment and supplies to Member States to support vaccine deployment.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
16th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk posed to rain-fed agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa from a lack of progress at the COP26 conference in November.

Countries across sub-Saharan Africa are among the worst affected by climate change, despite being some of the least responsible for historical and current global emissions. Future warming of 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius represents a substantial threat to rain-fed agriculture across the continent, which is already being adversely affected by the warming that we have seen to date. Limiting warming as well as adapting to climate change is crucial for this region. Driving global action to reduce emissions and support countries adapt to climate change, and build resilience to its impacts, is a priority for the UK's COP26 Presidency. It is crucial that we target research to find solutions to the needs of local communities, and to understand climate risks, and that is why we are working with partners to address these research gaps for example through the Adaptation Research Alliance.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
16th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to support independent power producers in the renewal energy sector on the continent of Africa through the African Union.

The African Union (AU) is a continental leader on climate change. We are helping to bolster this leadership through support for their AU Green Recovery Action Plan, endorsed in November 2019 by the AU Commission. Promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency is a central pillar of the Action Plan. It prioritises: "Work to secure investment (public and private) and technology transfer in grid expansion, transmission, distribution and efficiency improvements, to widen access to electricity, while increasing the roll-out of mini-grids and off-grid products to those that cannot reach the national grid".

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the voter registration exercise in Ethiopia.

The UK is supporting the organisation of elections with up to £15m assistance to a UN programme which supports the National Elections Board of Ethiopia (NEBE). There have been substantial improvements delivered by NEBE, but candidate registration and voter registration have been subject to profound delays and difficulties. The UK, together with the EU, US, Sweden and UN, met with Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen and Attorney General Gedion Timothewos on 14 April to raise our concerns about those delays. The Foreign Secretary spoke with Prime Minister Abiy during his visit to Ethiopia on 22 January and discussed the importance of credible elections in maintaining peace and stability.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Ethiopia regarding reports of women being held in sexual slavery in Tigray.

The UK is appalled by the widespread reports of women taken hostage and enduring torture, cruel treatment and sexual violence, in the Tigray region. The G7, under the UK Presidency, issued a statement on 2 April condemning human rights violations including sexual violence. The UK also condemned in the strongest terms the reported killings of civilians and acts of sexual violence via a joint statement on Ethiopia with 41 other countries at the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council. We continue to call for independent, international investigations into allegations of human right abuses.

British Embassy staff conducted a specific protection mission to Shire in Tigray on 4-7 April. It assessed of the current Gender-Based Violence (GBV) response, specific emergency services provided in camps and the remaining gaps. They interviewed staff and volunteers supporting survivors of sexual violence to identify essential activities required to address the immediate needs of the survivors as well as the accountability needs.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the scale of COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud in Africa.

The UK is providing £548 million to the COVAX initiative, which enables equitable access to vaccines. COVAX is led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which works closely with governments and other development partners to ensure robust governance and programme management measures are in place to deliver vaccines. The UK has zero tolerance for corruption, which extends to the roll-out of vaccines. In recognition of the increased risks associated with COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud, Gavi is supporting additional measures to strengthen health systems and increase transparency, which includes digital tracking and immunisation records. Stakeholders, including civil society at country level can report concerns directly to Gavi partners or use the Gavi Ethics Hotline.

The WHO is also supporting countries to prevent, detect, and respond to the growing threat of substandard and falsified (SF) medical products, including for COVID-19. WHO Member States are encouraged to report SF medical products, including for COVID-19, to the WHO Global Surveillance and Monitoring System (GSMS). Since March 2021, the GSMS has recorded over 50 SF medical products globally (including vaccines) that have a link to the ongoing pandemic. In Africa, SF products have been identified and reported in Ghana, Kenya, South Sudan, RSA, and Nigeria.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken in response to the recent ballistic missile tests conducted by North Korea in the Sea of Japan.

The UK is deeply concerned by the launch on 25 March of two short range ballistic missiles by North Korea in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. The Minister for Asia made clear our deep concern in a statement that day and called on North Korea to refrain from further provocations and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the United States. The UK joined other members of the UN Security Council in requesting that the Council address North Korea's latest actions at its meeting on 30 March. We remain committed to securing peace on the Korean peninsula, working closely with allies and partners in upholding the rules-based international system and securing an end to North Korea's illegal activities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the humanitarian situation in North Korea.

The UK is concerned that humanitarian needs may be growing in North Korea. According to UN figures, 40% of North Korea's population were food insecure in 2019. We assess that North Korea's own restrictions at the border have prevented aid shipments from entering the country since January 2020, and that natural disasters last year may have reduced harvest yields. Restrictions on internal movement, including for UN agencies and NGOs, have also severely impacted the distribution of aid and support, and resulted in the departure of most of the international community. Without an international presence able to access affected areas, it is not possible to arrive at a full assessment. We encourage North Korea to allow entry for humanitarian workers to carry out an independent assessment of humanitarian needs, and to allow aid to flow freely into the country. We fully support the delivery of humanitarian support to the most vulnerable in North Korean society and continue to urge North Korea to concentrate on improving the lives of its most vulnerable people rather than developing its illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government to which international elections the UK has sent observers in each year from 2015 to 2020.

We do not hold a central database of information related to the number of UK observers who have engaged on elections overseas.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
23rd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the elections in the Republic of Congo; and whether the UK sent observers to monitor those elections.

The UK notes the re-election of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who received 89 per cent of the vote in the Republic of Congo's Presidential election as announced by the Republic of Congo's authorities on 23 March. The Electoral Commission estimates turnout was 67.5 per cent. The UK has no permanent diplomatic presence in Republic of Congo and it was not possible to deploy a British official to monitor the election under the terms set out by the Republic of Congo authorities. The African Union observer mission noted several irregularities. One of the candidates in the election also sadly passed away on the day it took place. The UK is concerned about the reported irregularities and urges the Republic of Congo authorities to ensure its constitution is followed in respect of the election results.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the political and economic situation in Rwanda.

As set out in our statement on Rwanda at the Human Rights Council in January, the UK Government is concerned about restrictions on civil and political rights and media freedom in Rwanda. Civil society and opposition parties in Rwanda must be able to operate freely, holding the Government of Rwanda to account and contributing to the debate on how Rwanda should be governed. We regularly raise specific cases of concern with the Rwandan Government and the Rwanda Investigation Bureau, and call for free and fair trials for all those in detention. We will continue to urge Rwanda, as a member of the Commonwealth, and future Chair-in-Office, to uphold and champion Commonwealth values of democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.

Following strong growth for over a decade, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically stalled economic progress and increased poverty in Rwanda. We welcome the Government of Rwanda's ongoing commitment to development and its COVID-19 response, which includes an economic recovery fund to support hard hit businesses, and expanded social protection programmes for the poorest and most vulnerable. However, this commitment to social and economic progress must be matched with gains in civil and political rights for its people.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the political and economic situation in Niger.

The UK welcomes the first democratic transition of power in Niger's history with the upcoming inauguration of President-Elect Mohamed Bazoum on Friday 2 April. We hope this achievement will help pave the way for greater political stability in the future. However, the UK remains concerned about human rights abuses and violations in Niger. The recent attacks in Niger's border areas are also deeply troubling.

Regarding the economic situation in Niger, the country remains at the bottom of the Human Development Index. We are focused on supporting stability in Niger and the wider Sahel. We are providing humanitarian assistance, support for conflict resolution, and tackling the root causes of instability and poverty, including through support to girls' education.

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park
Minister of State (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
25th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what diplomatic engagement they have with the African Union.

The UK's strategic approach to Africa is closely aligned with the African Union's (AU) 'Agenda 2063' that sets out the framework and objectives for the AU's work. We work closely with the AU on peace and security issues, trade, health, and climate issues. The AU leads on the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), mediation efforts in Sudan and supports security in the Sahel. The AU is a champion of continental trade, as shown by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) under which trading began on 1 January 2021. We are investing up to £20 million in the AU's COVID-19 Response Fund and worked closely with the AU on the development of their Green Recovery Action Plan to ensure Africa builds back sustainably from the pandemic.

The Minister for Africa underlined the importance of the UK-AU partnership when he met Chairperson Faki at the Ghanaian Presidential inauguration in January 2021. HM Ambassador Dr Alastair McPhail CMG OBE is the UK's Permanent Representative to the African Union and the Deputy Permanent Representative holds Ambassadorial rank. They are supported by an extensive team working across the Africa Strategy objectives to further the UK-AU Strategic Partnership.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 programme.

The UK's strategic approach to Africa is closely aligned with the African Union's (AU) 'Agenda 2063' that sets out the framework and objectives for the AU's work. We work closely with the AU on peace and security issues, trade, health, and climate issues. The AU leads on the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), mediation efforts in Sudan and supports security in the Sahel. The AU is a champion of continental trade, as shown by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) under which trading began on 1 January 2021. We are investing up to £20 million in the AU's COVID-19 Response Fund and worked closely with the AU on the development of their Green Recovery Action Plan to ensure Africa builds back sustainably from the pandemic.

The Minister for Africa underlined the importance of the UK-AU partnership when he met Chairperson Faki at the Ghanaian Presidential inauguration in January 2021. HM Ambassador Dr Alastair McPhail CMG OBE is the UK's Permanent Representative to the African Union and the Deputy Permanent Representative holds Ambassadorial rank. They are supported by an extensive team working across the Africa Strategy objectives to further the UK-AU Strategic Partnership.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) economic, (2) humanitarian, and (3) political, situation in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan continues to require support from international donors. Low economic growth has been compounded by the effects of Covid-19. In 2019/20, 15.6 million Afghans were living below the national poverty line. At the 2020 Geneva Conference, the UK committed to continuing to support Afghanistan's development. The humanitarian situation is concerning due to the high rate of poverty, internal displacement and civilian casualties from the continued conflict. 16.9 million people face acute food insecurity. In 2020-21, the UK is on course to provide up to £59.6 million in humanitarian assistance to help over two million people. UK Aid and development projects have helped lift life expectancy from 50 years in 1990 to 64 in 2018 and there are 8.2 million more children in school since 2002. Girls, who did not attend school pre-2001, now make up 39% of children enrolled.

Only a negotiated and inclusive political settlement between Afghans will bring a sustainable end to conflict. The UK supports negotiations between the Afghan Government and the Taliban. However, the high levels of violence are deeply concerning, especially targeted attacks on civilians. It is vital that there is a reduction in violence, leading to a comprehensive ceasefire, and meaningful engagement in a political process that can deliver the peace that Afghans want and deserve.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
22nd Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) economic, (2) humanitarian, and (3) political, situation in Cote d’Ivoire.

Côte d'Ivoire is one of the world's fastest growing economies, despite a slowdown in growth in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is listed as number 41 on the World Bank Index and its Annual Growth Rate was 6.2% in 2020. The UK Government is working with the Government of Côte d'Ivoire on the implementation of our Economic Partnership Agreement, signed in October 2020. The agreement will allow businesses to trade without any additional barriers or tariffs. The humanitarian situation in the country remains stable, but a large number of Ivoirians continue to live below the poverty line.

In October 2020, thousands of Ivoirian refugees crossed into neighbouring countries following violence around the presidential elections. The UK Government condemned the electoral violence and supported Ivoirians' right to demonstrate and protest peacefully. The Minister for Africa issued statements on 30 October and 5 November 2020 urging all parties to refrain from spreading disinformation, hate messages and inciting violence. Alongside international partners, we called for genuine political dialogue between all parties in order to resolve outstanding differences and ensure peace and stability for all Ivoirians. The legislative elections on 6 March are on track to take place in a more inclusive environment, with ongoing political dialogue and participation by opposition parties.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support they have given to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.

The UK engages the African Union's Peace and Security Council (AU PSC), on issues of interest to the UK and the UN Security Council, when invited to its open sessions, and through regular contact with AU PSC Permanent Representatives. The UK also provides technical support to the AU PSC Secretariat, through Amani Africa (£110,000 funding over 2 years). UK support (£2,103,570 over 2018-2021) to the African Union Commission's Political Affairs and Peace and Security Departments includes technical assistance for the AU's Continental Early Warning System, which informs AU PSC procedures and decision-making. The UK also supports the AU's Peace Support Operations Division, enabling it to respond to AU PSC direction e.g. we have provided significant levels of financial, political and training support for the African Union Mission in Somalia since it first deployed in 2007.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to assist African nations to access adequate supplies of COVID-19 vaccine.

The UK is committed to rapid equitable access to safe and effective vaccines. The UK has committed £548 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) - the international initiative to support global equitable access to vaccines, of which the UK is one of the largest bilateral donors. Through match funding, the commitment encouraged other donors to commit $1 billion by the end of 2020. Our commitment will contribute to the supply of at least 1.3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021 for up to 92 countries in the global south, including 46 countries in Africa.

To ensure equitable vaccine access and delivery is achieved in Africa, FCDO has strengthened its engagement with regional bodies such as the African Centre for Disease Control and World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa, alongside country relationships. FCDO is tracking assessments of country preparedness and is working at national and regional levels to support efforts to build country capacity to deliver vaccines and monitor vaccine roll-out, ensuring high risk groups are prioritised. The UK is also contributing up to £20 million to the African Union's continental response to COVID-19.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
8th Feb 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the situation in Somalia.

The UK engages in Somalia to support progress across a broad range of security, political, development and humanitarian issues. In terms of recent political developments, Somalia is at a critical stage. It is vital that talks resume and leaders come to an agreement on the implementation of an inclusive electoral process, to be held as soon as possible. The UK, with its international partners, continues to call on Somalia's leaders to reach this consensus, in the interests of the people of Somalia.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their most recent assessment of the (1) economic situation, and (2) political situation, in Mali.

Mali is marked by chronic poverty and increasing humanitarian needs, driven by factors including rapid population growth, political instability, conflict and climate change. The International Monetary Fund estimates that COVID-19 and the socio-political crisis has resulted in the Malian economy contracting by 2 per cent in 2020, although a recovery to 4 per cent growth is expected in 2021. The UK Government are concerned that over 7 million people need humanitarian assistance in Mali, according to the UN. In December 2020, the UK announced an additional £8 million of emergency aid to reach 275,000 more vulnerable people in the central Sahel, including Mali.

The UK has welcomed the priorities set out by Mali's Transitional Government and the establishment of the National Transitional Council. We hope that the Transitional Government will prepare for credible elections, take steps to implement the 2015 Peace Agreement, and tackle corruption and impunity. In the UN Security Council, the UK has called for the Transitional Government to build consensus across society ahead of elections and investigate allegations of human rights violations and abuses. Through our programmes, our diplomatic work and our recent deployment of 300 troops to the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, the UK is supporting stabilisation and progress on the peace process.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their most recent assessment of the (1) economic situation, and (2) political situation, in Nigeria.

As Africa's largest economy and most populous country, Nigeria's success matters to the UK and to the continent as a whole. We want to see Nigeria thrive, delivering jobs and opportunities for its people, and creating opportunities for British business to invest through reform. We were deeply concerned by violence during protests in Lagos and other major cities in Nigeria in October 2020, which tragically claimed lives. We remain concerned about security issues elsewhere, particularly the situation in the North East, where terrorist groups including Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa continue to conduct attacks, causing immense suffering to all communities. The FCDO also remains committed to supporting the democratic process in Nigeria, and continue to stress the importance of free and fair elections ahead of the 2023 presidential race.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the World Health Organization about the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to less economically developed countries.

The UK is committed to rapid equitable access to safe and effective vaccines. The World Health Organization (WHO) is a co-lead for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a coalition of leading international organisations and partners in the development and equitable delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics. The UK is a founding member of the ACT-Accelerator, and is represented on its Facilitation Council. The UK engages regularly with WHO and other ACT-Accelerator partners on strategic direction, resource mobilisation, and implementation.

The COVAX Facility is the vaccines pillar of the ACT-Accelerator. It aims to secure 2 billion vaccines doses in 2021, including 1.3 billion for 92 developing countries through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). The WHO provides key technical support, guidance, and assessment to countries on vaccine regulation, equitable allocation, and national deployment and vaccination plans. The UK has committed £548 million to the COVAX AMC, which aims to start vaccine deliveries in the first quarter of 2021.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the (1) political, and (2) economic, situation in Columbia.

Significant progress has been made in Colombia since its 2016 Peace Accords, and supporting the Colombian government in implementing them fully remains a UK Government priority. Challenges remain, however, particularly related to security in some areas, and the threats faced by human rights defenders and social leaders.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant economic impact on Colombia. Its economy has shrunk for the first time in over 20 years. However, the IMF emphasises that the Colombian economy has "strong underlying fundamentals," and the government has ambitious plans to support economic recovery. The UK Government considers Colombia an attractive opportunity for British business. Our continuity Free Trade Agreement has been ratified by the Colombian Congress, and is now being considered by the Constitutional Court.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
26th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the governments of (1) India, and (2) China, about the dispute in north Sikkim.

We welcome ongoing discussions between Indian and Chinese military commanders along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and efforts to deescalate tensions, including the ninth round of Corps Commander-Level talks on 24 January. The status of the border is a bilateral matter for India and China to resolve and we continue to support a peaceful resolution between India and China of the border question.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Uganda about the detention of Bobi Wine.

Following the Presidential election results on 16 January 2021, the Minister for Africa set out in a statement our significant concerns about the overall political climate surrounding the elections and have urged the Government of Uganda to meet its international human rights commitments. The treatment of opposition figures post-election, including Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, is unacceptable and the Minister for Africa expressed these concerns in his tweet on 19 January 2021. HMG welcomes the High Court of Uganda's decision of 25 January that the detention of Kyagulanyi was unconstitutional and unlawful and that these restrictions have been lifted. The British High Commission Kampala pressed the Ugandan authorities to end these unacceptable restrictions on his liberty. Our High Commissioner in Kampala continues to meet political actors from all parties and met Robert Kyagulanyi on 27 January 2021. They discussed the political situation in Uganda, the restrictions to political freedoms before and after the elections and the concerns raised over electoral processes. The High Commissioner urged all parties to reject violence, engage in peaceful dialogue and follow due process to address any electoral irregularities. As a long-standing partner to Uganda, and a steadfast advocate for Ugandan democracy, the United Kingdom will continue to follow post-election developments closely.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what recent assessment they have made of the maritime border dispute between Kenya and Somalia.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hear the case of the maritime boundary dispute between Somalia and Kenya in March 2021; subject to the ICJ's timelines it is possible that there will be a ruling around six months later. It would be inappropriate to pre-empt the ICJ's ruling. Recognising their shared interests in regional security and stability, the UK continues to encourage dialogue and co-operation between Kenya and Somalia on all areas of their bilateral relationship.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
25th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the current (1) political, and (2) economic, situation in Ghana.

The Government welcomes the peaceful conduct of the presidential and parliamentary elections in Ghana on 7 December 2020. Ghana continues to provide regional leadership in upholding strong democratic traditions. We are aware that the National Democratic Congress has contested the results of the election. As with all democracies, any candidates or parties seeking to challenge the result should do so peacefully through the correct legal channels. On 8 January 2021, the Minister for Africa attended the inauguration of President Nana Akufo-Addo, where he met with the President and underlined the Government's enthusiasm to continue our strong partnership, including opportunities for mutual prosperity.

While Ghana has seen rapid economic growth in the past decade, the pandemic has slowed progress significantly. The Government is working with the Government of Ghana to minimise the impact on Ghanaian businesses. The UK and Ghana have also reached consensus on the main elements of a trade agreement. Negotiations are progressing at official level, and with willingness on both sides, the agreement can be finalised and brought into force quickly.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the political situation in Tunisia.

Ten years after the fall of President Ben Ali, Tunisia continues to consolidate its transition to democracy. The UK works closely with Tunisia to support political and economic reform, bolster democratic institutions, and build the country's resilience, as part of a broad and growing partnership.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the political situation in Malawi.

The UK Government is encouraged by the political situation in Malawi. Malawians can be rightly proud of their commitment to resolving political differences through their country's democratic institutions and processes, including in the aftermath of the contested 2019 Presidential elections, which resulted in fresh elections in June 2020. When the Minister for Africa visited Malawi in October 2020, he had the opportunity to congratulate President Chakwera and Vice President Chilima on Malawi's peaceful transition of power, and to explore areas where the UK can support the government's planned reform agenda, including on anti-corruption, long-term economic development and supporting the poorest.

The UK and Malawi share an historically close relationship, with strong people-to-people links. We have a long-standing development relationship with Malawi, and a warm and encouraging partnership on areas of mutual interest. As a long term friend of Malawi, we look forward to working with President Chakwera's Government to tackle the issues that matter to all Malawians

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the role of the African Union in Africa.

Partnering with African countries and institutions is at the heart of the Government's approach to Africa. The UK-AU Strategic Partnership, signed in February 2019, is testament to this. The Minister for Africa underlined the importance of the UK-AU partnership when he met Chairperson Faki at the Ghanaian Presidential inauguration earlier this month. The AU is increasingly assertive and important on global issues of importance to Africa and the UK including climate change, health, trade and COVID recovery. The AU's 54 UN votes and three non-permanent seats in the UN Security Council also give it influence in multilateral fora.

The UK strongly supports the role of the AU and its sub-regional organisations. The UK's strategic approach to Africa is closely aligned with the AU's 'Agenda 2063' that sets out the framework and objectives for the AU's work. This includes leading on the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), leading mediation efforts in Sudan and supporting security in the Sahel. The AU is a champion of continental trade, as shown by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which began trading on 1 January 2021. The AU and Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have led the continent's response to Covid-19. We are supporting this effort through the provision of technical advice (Public Health England)) and up to £20m. The AU is also a continental leader on climate change. We want to bolster this leadership through the UK-AU Green Recovery Action Plan, signed in November 2019 by the AU Commission and UK COP26 Ambassador for Africa, Sir Nicholas Kay.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
20th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the validity of the presidential and parliamentary elections held in Ghana in December 2020.

The UK welcomes the peaceful conduct of the Presidential and parliamentary elections in Ghana on 7 December 2020. Ghana continues to provide regional leadership in upholding strong democratic traditions. Alongside other international observers, the British High Commission in Accra deployed observation teams across the country and noted that the vote was calm and orderly. We are aware of reports that the opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has contested the results of the election. As with all democracies, any candidates or parties seeking to challenge the result should do so peacefully through the correct legal channels.

On 8 January 2021, the Minister for Africa attended the inauguration of President Nana Akufo-Addo. The Minister had the opportunity to meet with the President to underline the UK's enthusiasm to continue our strong partnership, built on our Commonwealth ties, shared values, our people-to-people links and a common interest in promoting stability, democracy and prosperity in West Africa

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the ongoing conflict in Tigray.

We remain concerned about the impact of the continued fighting in Tigray on both the humanitarian situation and on wider stability in Ethiopia and beyond. We continue to urge both parties to bring an end to fighting, prioritise the protection of civilians and allow unfettered humanitarian access, points the Foreign Secretary raised when he met with Prime Minister Abiy during his visit on 22 January. The Foreign Secretary also discussed the importance of independent human rights investigations taking place and the need to ensure that perpetrators are brought to account.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Ethiopia following the decision by the electoral board to deregister the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

We are aware that the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia has revoked the legal status of the Tigray People's Liberation Front as a political party.

The Foreign Secretary spoke with Prime Minister Abiy during his recent visit to the country and discussed the importance of credible elections in maintaining peace and stability. Ensuring security, freedom of the media and allowing political parties to organise and campaign are critical to credible elections. It is vital that the people of Tigray are represented by leadership which they consider to be legitimate.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the outcome of the Presidential election held in Uganda on 16 January.

Voting in Uganda's Presidential election concluded on 14 January and we note the re-election of President Museveni. However, significant concerns remain unaddressed including the treatment of opposition candidates in the runup to and since the elections, and the internet shutdown during the elections. These restrictions on opposition activity do not provide for an open political landscape, within which democracy can flourish. We deployed 51 Election Observers across Uganda on election day. They observed and evaluated the elections and reported back to our High Commission in Kampala. We have been consulting with the diplomatic community in Kampala, civil society actors, other international observers, and the Government of Uganda to ensure we have a comprehensive and accurate picture of the elections. We have also urged the Government of Uganda to respond to the concerns raised. The Minister for Africa set out in a statement our concerns about the overall political climate surrounding the elections and has urged the Government of Uganda to meet its international human rights commitments. The treatment of opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi is unacceptable and the Minister for Africa expressed his concerns about this in his tweet on 19 January. Political freedoms are vital for democracy to prevail and the UK will continue to make representations on this issue to the Ugandan authorities.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
19th Jan 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission in Gambia.

The UK Government welcomed the establishment of the independent Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) in 2018 to gather information about human rights violations which took place under the presidency of Yahya Jammeh. The UK has provided £75,000 through the International Centre for Transitional Justice for an outreach programme to raise awareness and promote engagement. Our High Commissioner in Banjul regularly meets TRRC officials and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office hosted the TRRC Vice Chair and officials in London in 2019. We look forward to further engagement before the TRRC presents its findings in May this year.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest assessment of (1) the economic and (2) the political, situation in Sri Lanka.

The UK Government monitors economic and political developments in Sri Lanka very closely, including through the British High Commission in Colombo. Like all countries, Sri Lanka has been affected by the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and the government of Sri Lanka has introduced measures to respond to this. On 10 December, the Sri Lankan parliament passed the government's budget for 2021. The UK Government has underlined the importance of an inclusive economic response, including for marginalised groups and those most affected by the impacts of the pandemic.

Sri Lanka held parliamentary elections in August. In November, the government passed a constitutional amendment which consolidated executive power over appointments to the judiciary and independent institutions. The human rights situation remains concerning, including harassment of civil society, continued militarisation of civilian functions, and increased anti-Muslim sentiment. The UK Government regularly engages with the Government of Sri Lanka up to ministerial level on a broad range of issues, including our human rights concerns.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they have given to the government of Lebanon following the explosion in Beirut on 4 August.

The UK remains committed to supporting the Lebanese people deal with the tragic explosion in Beirut Port. The UK was one of the biggest donors to the crisis. We have now spent over £27 million in our response package which is helping support the most vulnerable people in Lebanon to meet their immediate survival needs. A British team of medics specialising in trauma, emergency nursing and rehabilitation flew out on 7 August, and we also provided medical equipment for Lebanese hospitals and clinics. In addition, the UK gave medical, strategic air transport, engineering and communications support to the Lebanese Armed Forces as they responded to the explosion and its aftermath, and the Royal Navy ship HMS Enterprise was deployed to survey the damage to the Port.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest assessment of (1) the economic and (2) the political, situation in Zimbabwe.

The UK is deeply worried about the state of the Zimbabwean economy, which continues to face unprecedented challenges largely due to poor fiscal policies and mismanagement by the Government. Corruption continues to hamper Zimbabwe's development by capturing public and private resources, distorting economic-decision making and undermining governance and accountability. We continue to urge the Government of Zimbabwe to make the comprehensive and difficult reforms needed to address Zimbabwe's economic challenges.

We are equally concerned by the political and human rights situation. Zimbabwe remains one of the UK's 30 human rights priority countries globally. We have been clear that the Government of Zimbabwe must meet its international and domestic obligations by respecting the rule of law, safeguarding human rights, and committing to genuine political and economic reform for the benefit of all Zimbabweans. The Minister for Africa delivered these messages when he spoke to Foreign Minister Moyo on 8 June, and in a letter he wrote to the Foreign Minister on 12 August. Our Ambassador in Harare reinforced these messages when she met Foreign Minister Moyo on 3 December.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their latest assessment of (1) the economic and (2) the political, situation in Venezuela.

The economic crisis in Venezuela continues to deepen, exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19. It is forecast that by the end of 2020, Venezuela will be recording an 80% contraction in GDP since 2014. Chronic economic mismanagement, hyperinflation, a massive exodus of Venezuelan talent as a result of the disastrous political and humanitarian situation, and repeated critical infrastructure failures are all factors contributing to this. The UNHCR calculates that more than 5 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees have left Venezuela, the largest exodus of people in South American history. Economic activity is at minimal levels, and the fiscal balance has worsened.

The political crisis has been further complicated by the Maduro regime taking forward an illegitimate legislative election on 6 December. Many opposition parties, led by interim constitutional President Juan Guaido, refused to participate because of electoral conditions that were neither free nor credible. The FCDO published a statement on 7 December, making clear that the UK considers the election to have been illegitimate, and does not recognise the result. The International Contact Group on Venezuela, the Organisation of American States, the Lima Group, and others have all made similar statements. We will continue to work closely with like-minded partners.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the domestic situation in Kenya.

Kenya remains a beacon of stability in Africa, even though it has had a challenging year, contending with the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impacts, drought, severe flooding and two waves of locusts. The economic toll of COVID-19 has been significant, particularly for Kenya's tourism industry, and agricultural and horticultural export sectors. Above normal rainfall - the result of climate change - has helped create the conditions for Kenya's worst locust infestation in 70 years, potentially plunging millions into food insecurity. Through this, the UK has provided much needed support: launching programmes providing cash transfers to help some of Kenya's most vulnerable citizens; by keeping supply chains operating; advising business on how to operate in a COVID-19 compliant manner; and working closely with the IMF and the World Bank to provide concessional loans to support the Government of Kenya's budget. This work has noticeably contributed to the recovery of key export sectors and bolstered Kenya's response to the locust infestation, preventing further damage to crops and livelihoods.

With the Prime Minister and President Kenyatta's launch of the UK-Kenya Strategic Partnership in January, an already strong bilateral relationship has been enhanced by an agreed focus on five shared priorities: mutual prosperity; security and stability; sustainable development; climate change; and people to people links. This has helped deliver swift progress towards a Trade Agreement, which will help bring certainty to Kenyan businesses reliant on access to UK markets. It has also deepened our security cooperation - particularly in the field of counter-terrorism - to better protect Kenyan citizens and British nationals in Kenya alike. This Partnership commits the UK and Kenya to joint leadership on some of the key international policy challenges of today - such as climate change, whose harmful impacts are already evident in Kenya - but also provides a forum to discuss other priorities, including anti-corruption and police reform. We look forward to building on these achievements in UK/Kenyan relations.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the domestic situation in Eritrea.

We are concerned about reports of Eritrea's involvement in the current conflict in Tigray in Ethiopia, which has seen rocket attacks on Asmara and elsewhere in Eritrea by the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front (TPLF) since mid-November. We are urging Eritrea and all parties to de-escalate, urging unfettered humanitarian access to those in need and protection of civilians and human rights.

The Eritrean Government has introduced COVID-19 restrictions across the country, including a ban on travel between the main towns and closure of the hospitality sector, although Eritrea is largely case free other than in the quarantine camps in the border areas.

Desert locusts have badly affected the Southern Zone, including Asmara, as spraying is halted due to the conflict in Ethiopia. Eritrea is also experiencing food shortages, which are reported to be particularly severe in more remote locations including Northern and Southern Red Sea regions, that has led to a 25 percent increase in food prices since March.

Eritrea is also experiencing significant power outages across the country, with some areas without power for up to 12 hours per day.

UK Aid has funded life-saving humanitarian assistance in Eritrea since 2011; £2 million is planned to be disbursed through UNICEF in 2020/21 to provide access to safe hygiene and sanitation services and to help treat malnutrition in under-fives. During 2020 the UK has provided £25 million to support the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Regional Emergency Appeal for the locust outbreak in the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the domestic situation in Somalia.

The UK supports efforts towards a more stable, secure, prosperous and resilient Somalia, with progress towards agreeing a political settlement and a reduction in threats from Al Shabaab and to regional stability. Multiple shocks, including threats from Covid-19, desert locusts and floods, have deepened Somalia's protracted climate and conflict-induced humanitarian crisis and disrupted progress towards stability and economic recovery. The UK observes with regret that the model for the upcoming electoral process falls short of longstanding Somali commitments on direct voting. We encourage Somali leaders to engage in dialogue to make the process timely, transparent and inclusive.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the domestic situation (1) in Ethiopia, and (2) in Tigray.

The UK is concerned by the violence between federal and regional forces in the Tigray region and the risk it poses to civilians, and by reports of ethnically-motivated attacks both within Tigray and elsewhere in Ethiopia. We are gravely concerned at Amnesty International's report of killings of civilians on 9 November; we call for transparency and accountability to be delivered for such incidents. We are also concerned about the risk these events pose to Ethiopia's overall political stability and its democratic transition of which the UK has been supportive. The Foreign Secretary called Prime Minister Abiy on 10 November to raise our concerns and stress the urgent need to prioritise the protection of civilian lives, restore services (including banks and telecommunications) and enable humanitarian access. He also urged de-escalation swift moves to political dialogue. He reiterated these messages when he met Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister Demeke on 25 November. We will continue to track the situation and to raise with the Government of Ethiopia and regional leaders these concerns, our concerns about civilian deaths and casualties, and the importance of respect for human rights.

27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the domestic situation in South Sudan.

Despite significant progress, including the formation of the transitional government in February 2020, the situation in South Sudan is of deep concern. Implementation of the 2018 Peace Agreement has stalled, contributing to increases in violence in a number of areas. The South Sudanese economy remains in crisis and many South Sudanese are facing the effects of flooding. Over 50% of the population are experiencing severe acute food insecurity and there is threat of famine in several areas. South Sudan also remains one of the most dangerous places in the world for aid workers with at least nine killed in 2020.

South Sudan's best chance of a more stable and prosperous future remains in the full implementation of the 2018 Peace Agreement. The UK continues to push for progress, alongside our international partners, including the Troika. We remain the second largest bilateral donor and in 2019 UK aid reached over 200,000 with food assistance and one million people with vaccinations for preventable illnesses. During a visit to South Sudan in October, the Minister for Africa pressed President Kiir and other key figures on the need for real political progress and announced a further £8 million of UK aid to help mitigate the risk of famine and assist the victims of flooding.

27th Nov 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the domestic situation in Sudan.

Eighteen months after the removal of Omar al-Bashir as President, Sudan has begun the process of transitioning to democracy after decades of misrule. In order to deliver the stability required for this transition to succeed, the civilian-led Government of Sudan has committed to important reforms to address Sudan's economic crisis and to a process that aims to bring an end to conflict. There has been progress on economic reforms, including the removal of fuel subsidies in November, but severe challenges remain. Inflation exceeds 230%, the humanitarian situation is worsening, 7.1m face food insecurity and there has been an influx of over 45,000 refugees as a result of the situation in Ethiopia. On securing comprehensive peace, we welcome the signing of the Juba Peace Agreement on 3 October between the Government of Sudan and a number of opposition groups, and continue to urge those outside the agreement to engage in negotiations. In addition the civilian-led government has delivered a number of welcome legal and human rights reforms, including the criminalisation of Female Genital Mutilation and on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

As a leading donor to Sudan, the UK is providing extensive support to Prime Minister Hamdok and his government to help deliver stability and improvements for the lives of ordinary Sudanese. Most significantly, the UK will provide up to £160m in economic assistance this financial year, including £80m to help ensure economic reforms are delivered. We have also helped ensure international support for Sudan through the establishment by the UN Security Council, of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission Sudan (UNITAMS), which is mandated to help with the transition and peace process. The Foreign Secretary spoke with Prime Minister Hamdok on 12 November to discuss regional issues, progress on economic reforms, and UK support for Sudan's economic transition. The Minister for Africa also spoke with Foreign Minister Omer Gamereldin Ismail on 02 December.

15th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of BBC radio on (1) attitudes, and (2) lives, in Africa.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) strongly supports the BBC's mission to bring high quality and impartial news to African audiences, including where free speech is limited. FCDO investment into the BBC World Service via the World2020 programme has led to expansions in radio offerings for services in Nigeria, Eritrea and Ethiopia. In 2020, over 50% of Nigerians surveyed said that the BBC informs their world view, which demonstrates the impact of the World Service in one of its largest markets (GAM 2020*).

Our investment has also helped the BBC to produce its award-winning investigative programme, Africa Eye, which shines a light on issues that local journalists are unable to investigate. For instance, Africa Eye's 'Sex for Grades' investigation led to the Nigerian senate introducing a bill which would criminalise sexual harassment in universities.

*Source: BBC Global Audience Measure 2020

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
15th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Russia about Yulia Tsvetkova.

Though we have not made representations to the Russian Government about Ms Tsvetkova's case specifically, the UK is deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Russia, including the persecution of LGBT rights campaigners and others who speak out against the Russia Government.

The UK Government continues to raise our concerns about the human rights situation with the Russian Government. We have made clear that Russia must fulfil its international commitments as a Council of Europe and OSCE member to ensure respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of expression. On 17 June 2020, Minister Morton raised our concerns with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Titov. In addition, the British Embassy in Moscow continue to raise our concerns, including at Ambassadorial level with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

15th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Burkina Faso on the issue of forced marriage.

Whilst we have made no representations on this issue to the Government of Burkina Faso the UK is committed to supporting women and girls across the Sahel, ensuring they have access to the opportunities needed to participate in the social, economic and political life of their communities. Up to £30 million of our contribution to Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies, is earmarked for the Sahel and surrounding countries to help children (at least 50% girls) in fragile areas access education.

The UK Government strongly condemns forced marriage and has a dedicated Forced Marriage Unit leading efforts to combat it both at home and abroad. The Unit works with our High Commissions and Embassies overseas to support vulnerable British nationals who may be potential victims of forced marriage. The UK is also a leader in global efforts to end child marriage. Between 2015 and 2020 we invested £39m in UN and civil society programmes. This included over £26m to the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to End Child Marriage, which operates in 12 countries including Burkina Faso. The programme supported development of the National Strategy to Prevent and Eliminate Child Marriage and the National Coalition Against Child Marriage, which brings together more than 60 civil society organisations to undertake advocacy and community mobilization, engaging opinion leaders, media, youth and women leaders at the national level.

9th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support, if any, they are providing to the fair trade movement.

The UK Government has been a long-time supporter of the Fairtrade movement with support dating back over a decade. The Fairtrade movement plays an important role in helping producers around the world improve their lives and by making agricultural practices more sustainable.

The UK Government is currently funding the Fairtrade Foundation to support Kenyan flower workers and Ghanaian cocoa farmers to recover from the impact of COVID-19. This support is in partnership with a range of retailers through the Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility.

The Vulnerable Supply Chains Facility is a newly launched programme that enables vulnerable people and supply chains in agriculture and the garments sectors to recover from and remain resilient to the economic and social impacts of COVID-19. Over the coming 12 months the portfolio will benefit over 800,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
18th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of relations between the governments of Greece and Turkey.

We believe it is critical for stability in the Eastern Mediterranean and for the integrity of the rules-based international system that tensions be reduced and disputes are resolved through dialogue and in accordance with international law, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). We will continue to work with Greece, Turkey and all parties in the region to that end.

30th Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to help foreign nationals in the UK who wish to return home but who are unable to book travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We would advise all foreign nationals in the UK who wish to return home to contact their Consulate to find out what assistance they are able to offer. For Foreign nationals who have been working or studying in the UK they can find further information on Gov.UK Coronavirus (COVID-19): get support if you're a migrant living in the UK.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
6th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the value of the BBC World Service to the UK.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office supports the BBC's mission to bring high quality and impartial news to global audiences, including where free speech is limited. The BBC World Service provides a link to the UK for people and communities who wouldn't otherwise have this opportunity. This is invaluable for our soft power and influence at an important time.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)
9th Dec 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many retail businesses that have traded throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have offered to repay any business rates relief they have received.

Several businesses have publicly announced their intention to return their business rates relief or otherwise entered discussions with the Government on this issue. The Government has been clear throughout the pandemic that businesses should use support appropriately, and it welcomes any decision to repay support where it is no longer needed. Any funds returned will support the continuing efforts to protect people’s jobs and incomes.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
13th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of calls for debt relief from emerging economies to help manage (1) the healthcare, and (2) the economic, consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government is concerned with the rising debt vulnerabilities in low-income and emerging economies. In April 2020, G20 Finance Ministers agreed to pause debt repayments from the most vulnerable countries in 2020. On 14 October, the Chancellor met with his G20 counterparts where they agreed an extension of this initiative by 6 months, with the possibility of a further six month extension to be reviewed in 2021. The G20 focused on these countries as they are particularly vulnerable to the economic pressures of the pandemic.

On 14 October, G20 Finance Ministers also agreed, in principle, to a “Common Framework for Future Debt Treatments beyond the DSSI”. This historic achievement marks the first time creditors from the G20 and Paris Club of official creditors have agreed to participate in coordinated debt restructurings. The Common Framework will initially apply to countries eligible for the DSSI. The UK will continue to push for strengthened coordination on emerging economy debt issues.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
8th Oct 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of (1) the number, and (2) the total cost, of fraudulent claims that have been made to the Job Support Scheme.

The Job Support Scheme is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses that are facing lower demand over the winter months due to COVID-19, to help keep their employees attached to the workforce. This scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and will run for six months. The scheme will build on other support schemes announced by the Chancellor and administered by HM Revenue & Customs.

As the scheme is yet to open there is no information held on the number or cost of fraudulent claims made under the scheme. In line with the other payment-out regimes they administer, HMRC will, when the scheme opens, undertake pre-payment authentication and risking to identify and block fraudulent claims. HMRC will also carry out proportionate risk-based, post-payment compliance checks to test the veracity of claims made using the normal compliance tools available.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
24th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the support (1) banks, and (2) other financial institutions, are providing to businesses trading in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To support businesses and relieve pressure on their finances and cashflow, the government launched three loan guarantee schemes to give banks and other lenders the confidence they need to lend to businesses: the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), and Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS). As of 20 September, over £57bn has been approved under the three schemes. On the 24th September, the Chancellor announced an extension to the deadline for new loan applications for CBILS, CLBILS, BBLS and the Future Fund to 30 November.

The Government also recognise the vital role that non-banks and challenger banks play in the provision of credit to SMEs. We are grateful for the way the sector has responded to the current crisis, and we remain committed to promoting competition and widening the funding options available to UK businesses.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
18th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the likelihood of negative interest rates being introduced in the current financial year.

Monetary policy, including decisions on Bank Rate, is the responsibility of the independent Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of England. Therefore, the Government does not comment on the conduct of monetary policy.

As noted in the minutes published on 17 September, the MPC will continue to review the appropriateness of a negative policy rate as a policy tool alongside its broader toolkit.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
8th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what support are they giving to the Fair Tax Mark certification scheme.

The Government is committed to ensuring all businesses pay their fair share of tax in the UK and has taken significant steps to ensure that this objective is realised. This includes introducing the Diverted Profits Tax in 2015, the Interest Restriction Rules in 2017, and the Digital Services Tax from April 2020.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) are responsible for the administration of the UK tax system. HMRC use the most appropriate, cost-effective, and high-impact methods to support all taxpayers in complying with their obligations, and impose sanctions on those who do not.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
8th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the level of fraud that has taken place in relation to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; and what action they are taking in response.

Using the very limited useful evidence available at the time from labour market programmes and HMRC’s knowledge of the characteristics of organised fraud, HMRC’s early view of the level of error and fraud on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is that it could range from five to ten per cent. This analysis has been used to help HMRC to design the schemes and calibrate their compliance work.

Following the granting of Royal Assent for the Finance Act on 22 July, HMRC now have the legal powers to carry out investigations into suspected CJRS fraud. Before then, HMRC carried out more than 5,000 targeted calls to high-risk cases, to reduce the chance of further error and make clear that HMRC would be investigating excessive claims.

The Finance Act gives employers a 90-day window to correct claims. HMRC are writing to every employer where they have concerns from the data HMRC hold that they may have overclaimed. By the end of November, HMRC will have written to about 27,000 people prompting them to use the opportunity to self-correct.

Starting this month, HMRC will also conduct up to 10,000 one-to-one interventions. This will include cases where HMRC have received information through their fraud hotlines. HMRC’s priorities are to support those correcting a genuine error, while taking action against those who have deliberately sought to abuse the scheme.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the size of the tax return backlog; and when they estimate to complete processing those returns.

HMRC currently have 57,000 2019-20 Self-Assessment tax returns on hand and aim to process 99% of these by the end of December; this is in line with previous years.

Lord Agnew of Oulton
Minister of State (HM Treasury)
16th Apr 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the compliance by UK companies doing business in Africa with legislation and regulations in respect of combating forced labour.

It has not proved possible to respond to this question in the time available before Dissolution. Ministers will correspond directly with the Member.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to stop scams that aim to defraud customers with the sale of non-existent pets.

We are aware that some criminals are seeking to exploit the present demand for pets.

The Government launched a new campaign in March 2020, raising awareness of the dangers associated with buying pets online and deceitful sellers. The campaign, including advice for potential owners to follow, can be found at: https://getyourpetsafely.campaign.gov.uk/.

In parallel, City of London Police, as the National Lead Force for fraud, has been raising awareness about the specific risk of pet fraud. They publicised a story focused on this issue in May 2020 through social media. Their advice was highlighted by a number of news outlets, including the BBC.

We would encourage those who have been victimised to report their case to Action Fraud.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many staff who are currently working in the NHS in England are on a Tier 2 visa that is due to expire before 1 October 2020.

The Home Office does not collate or publish the information requested. The published statistics relating to Tier 2 are available on the GOV.UK website at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/managed-migration-datasets

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many care workers in England are currently working on a Tier 2 visa that is due to expire before 1 October 2020

Whilst some senior and managerial roles as well as other health professionals, including nurses, working within the care system may be eligible to apply under Tier 2, care workers, including senior care workers, do not currently meet the required skill level to qualify for this route.

Under the UK's Points-Based Immigration system we will expand the skills threshold to jobs at Regulated Qualification Framework level 3 and above.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
22nd Apr 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many care workers in England are currently working on a family reunion visa that is due to expire before 1 October 2020.

We are extremely grateful for the vital contributions of medical professionals during these unprecedented times, however the information requested on care workers currently on a family reunion visa is not collated or published by the Home Office.

Individuals who enter the UK under family reunion have the right to work, but are under no obligation to inform the Home Office if they enter into employment after they arrive.

The Home Office published data on Family Reunion visa grants can be found here ‘Immigration Statistics Quarterly Release’. Data on the number of on Family Reunion visas granted to family members of refugees, broken down by nationality, sex and age are published in tables Fam_D01 of the asylum and resettlement detailed datasets.

Baroness Williams of Trafford
Minister of State (Home Office)
12th Feb 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the amount of munitions dumped in Beaufort’s Dyke in the Irish Sea.

Documents publicly available at The National Archives indicate that an estimated million tons of conventional munitions may have been dumped in Beaufort's Dyke between 1945 and 1973.

These documents can be found at:

https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20121203135425/http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/CorporatePublications/HealthandSafetyPublications/DSEA/DisposalOfMunitionsAtSea.htm

The Ministry of Defence holds no additional information relating to the amount of munitions dumped in Beaufort's Dyke.

Baroness Goldie
Minister of State (Ministry of Defence)
2nd Mar 2021
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to review the role of parish councils in England.

The Government recognises the important role that town parish councils play in their communities. In many parts of the country, parishes are the first tier of local government and important providers of local services. The Government has no plans to review the role of parish councils.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
29th Sep 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to protect high streets and shopping parades in England.

This Government is fully committed to supporting the businesses and communities that make our high streets and town centres successful as the nation responds to the impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak. Now more than ever, it is vital that we continue to help our local economies by supporting town centres and high streets to recover, adapt and evolve.

We have worked with local authorities to make grants of over £11 billion to more than 890,000 businesses via three funds to support small businesses as well as businesses in hard hit sectors such as retail, hospitality and leisure.

In addition to these funds, in May government announced the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund which is providing £50 million from the European Regional Development Fund to councils across England to support the safe reopening of high streets and other commercial areas. This new money will support practical measures so businesses can re-open quickly when they are allowed to, staff get back to work and customers return to shops confident it is safe.

Government is also delivering the £3.6 billion Towns Fund to re-energise local economies, which includes the accelerated £1 billion?Future High Streets Fund competition. The fund will support local areas in England to renew and reshape town centres and high streets. Government announced in September £80m from the Towns Fund would be delivered to over 100 places to kick start regeneration projects; and we will make an announcement on places receiving funding via the Future High Streets Fund in Autumn.

Government is also providing support to places through the High Streets Task Force. Over five years this is providing hands-on support to local areas like Coventry to develop data-driven innovative strategies to tackle issues such as empty properties and connect local areas to relevant experts. The Task Force will be rolling out its expert, training and data offer across the country in due course and has already launched a range of online support.

We have also set out our plans to reform the planning process in the Planning for the Future consultation, open until 29 October. As part of this, we seek to streamline and modernise the planning process, meaning places across the country are able to respond to the needs of their communities and best utilise the land available for more homes in and around town centres and high streets, levelling up the economic and social opportunities available to our communities.

Finally, since March the Government has implemented a range of measures to support commercial property tenants and landlords. The objective of these measures was to preserve tenants’ businesses through the Covid-19 lockdown and to give time and space to landlords and tenants to agree reasonable adjustments to rent and lease terms,?including terms for the payment of accumulated rent arrears. This included a moratorium on the landlord’s right of forfeiture for non-payment of rent, restrictions on the service of statutory demands and winding-up petitions and publishing a voluntary Code of Practice to encourage constructive dialogue between tenants and landlords.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
27th Jul 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the fairness of contract terms associated with retirement villages, particularly in respect of assignment fees or event fees that are levied when the property is sold after the owner passes away or moves into long-term care.

In 2017, the Law Commission published a report of their review of event fees on behalf of this Department. This followed concerns raised by the Competition and Markets Authority about the fairness of some retirement property leases that have resulted in leaseholders paying an event fee of between 0.25% and 30% of the sale price of the property when selling or sub-letting. Concerns were also raised about the lack of transparency of event fees for older people and their families when purchasing a leasehold retirement property. The Law Commission made a number of recommendations in its report, which can be downloaded (attached) at http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/project/event-fees-in-retirement-properties.

The Government responded to the Law Commission in March 2019 and agreed to implement the majority of the recommendations. The Government is further considering two recommendations, on succession rights and a database of leasehold retirement properties with event fees.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the numbers of high-rise buildings both in the private and public sector with serious fire safety defects relating to compartmentation and fire stopping failures.

Work is ongoing to establish a robust estimate that can be published in due course of the numbers of high-rise buildings with serious fire safety defects relating to compartmentation and fire stopping failures.

The Government has published guidance (attached) which makes it clear that building safety is the responsibility of building owners.?The Independent Expert Panel’s advice has highlighted the importance of internal fire safety measures, including considering whether adequate compartmentation is in place. The consolidated advice note available at the following recommends that building owners to seek professional advice where there is any doubt:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/869532/Building_safety_advice_for_building_owners_including_fire_doors_January_2020.pdf

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government who is responsible for setting and changing building regulations.

The Building Regulations 2010 (as amended) govern most building work (e.g. new builds, renovations, refurbishment and installation of controlled fittings and services) carried out in England. The Regulations provide minimum standards for building work and a system to assess the work. Section 14 of the Building Act 1984 provides that before making any building regulations containing substantive requirements, the Secretary of State shall consult the Building Regulations Advisory Committee [for England] and such other bodies as appear to him to be representative of the interests concerned. Establishing a new Building Safety Regulator is a key part of the building safety reforms; it will have oversight of the regulation and performance of all buildings, delivering specific interventions for buildings requiring enhanced safety measures.

The responsibility for building regulations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are a devolved matter.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the total cost of remediating all buildings within the scope of the Building Safety Fund.

The value of the Building Safety Fund has been assessed on the basis of the proportion of building owners that we expect to be eligible, given that Government expects those who are already remediating their buildings to continue to do so. Building owners should also explore every opportunity to fund this work via those originally responsible for the defects and warranty claims before seeking Government funding, or passing on costs to their leaseholders.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what estimate they have made of the total number of buildings that are eligible for funding from the Building Safety Fund.

The estimated 1,700 residential buildings over 18m in height with potentially unsafe non-ACM cladding is a working estimate produced by MHCLG officials to help with development of the Building Safety Fund.

The estimate is continuously under review as we receive further information from building owners and local authorities and housing associations. A refined estimate is due to be published in due course and will also be informed by the data we will gather from building owners following opening of registration for the Building Safety Fund on 1 June 2020.

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
21st May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government what proposals they have to deal with buildings with cladding made from unsafe non-aluminium composite materials which are less than 18 metres in height.

Government’s decision to place the scope of the Building Safety Fund at buildings over 18m reflects the exceptional fire risk that certain cladding products pose at that height, as previously noted by the Independent Expert Advisory Panel and Dame Judith Hackitt.

It remains building owners’ responsibility to address unsafe cladding on buildings of all heights. We have provided advice from the Expert Panel on the measures building owners should take to ensure their buildings are safe. This can be found (attached) at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/building-safety-advice-for-building-owners-including-fire-doors

Lord Greenhalgh
Minister of State (Home Office)
5th May 2020
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many prisoners have been released under the End of Custody Temporary Release scheme, and what assessment have they made of the number of prisoners that need to be released in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the prison population.

As of 11 May, 78 prisoners have been released early; 52 were released as part of the End of Custody Temporary Release (ECTR) scheme, and 26 were released on compassionate grounds.

We are working hard to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the prison system as part of the national plan to protect the NHS and save lives. Modelling has provided an early indication that our COVID-19 strategy in prisons is having a positive impact on limiting deaths and the transmission of the virus within the estate.

Releases are just one part of a wider strategy to create headroom, including by increasing the capacity of the existing prison estate. Modelling suggests that the headroom required to fully implement compartmentalisation of prisons as a control on the spread of the virus is around 5,500. We are on track to achieving this target.